Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls


My feet barely stabilize my bumbling, energetic body as I dart around from one pen to the next. The velcrow flaps left carelessly unhinged, collect strands of hay and clumps of dirt.  My prepubescent, shrill voice spews out nonsense as I try to make up my mind. My small brother trying to keep up, pulls at my arm, pushes me, or yells – whatever it takes to get my attention. He thinks he knows better. He’s found the best there is!


“This one!” I finally proclaim. My brother frowns; I ignored his suggestion. My brows lowers as the seriousness of the matter sets in. “No! Nevermind. I don’t like this one.” My feet carry me off again. My brother’s smile returns again and he begins to chase.


Pumpkins litter the ground and from our small stature, they seem to go on forever. Like children in a candy store my brother and I are overwhelmed with the amazing potential this field of large orange beasts has to offer. Excitement slowly fades to concern and concern slowly becomes despair. One turned pumpkin reveals a big dent, another has some gross black scar, a third one is cracked. My overly unstable, sugar-high, undeveloped emotions begin to induce panic. What if I can’t find the perfect pumpkin?


“Broder! Over here!” my brother proclaims with an adorable – and annoying at the same time – childly inflection and perfected pouty eyes. I drag my now upset body to my little brother as he tries to pick up a pumpkin nearly as big as he is. I smirk, thinking what a fool this young chap is. I go to lift the pumpkin with no avail. We look at each other and nod. We both try to pick it up, to look at the spot that is hiding from us. No luck. My father, not far behind, soon swipes up the ginormous gourd. My brother and I get a glimpse at the perfect underside and in unison, “THIS ONE DADDY!”


He places the pumpkin in the small red wagon he has been tasked with pulling. The large orange beast barely fits next to the three other perfect specimens my brother and I found earlier. With ‘hurry!’s and ‘are we there yet?’s we whisk our way home. Newspapers cover the table and our prizes our lined up. Mom and dad remind us the dangers of wielding a knife and to show we acknowledge the seriousness my brother and I pretend to have a sword fight. It is a ritual. Soon gargantuan, glowing, goofy faces sit by our front door, ready to scare off any daring trickers.


Today I still take much joy in pumpkin season. October to me is all about two things – halloween and pumpkins. While I use to find the biggest I could for carving, now I look for smaller varieties. My kitchen is filled with pie pumpkins and my recipe to-do list with pumpkin treats. And while I will still carve a pumpkin or two for the big day, my favorite ones are the ones I get to eat.


These cinnamon rolls are not far removed from their traditional variant as the pumpkin adds a subtle layer of creamy pumpkin flavor. The spices in the dough work well with the rich, spicy cinnamon swirl and pumpkin cream filling.



Cinnamon Rolls, like all yeast breads, require a little patience. The rising times should not be rushed – there are only two in this recipe – , ingredients should be weighed precisely and care taken with both the temperature of the liquid in which you are dissolving the yeast and of the room in which the dough is rising. Each, while seeming tedious, will give you incredible, consistent results when followed to a t; if ignored you will end up with a hockey puck. This recipe calls for bread flour – which I suggest using if you have it – but you can substitute all purpose if that is all you have.


Pumpkin Puree – This recipe calls for making pumpkin puree from scratch. To do this I suggest buying a pie pumpkin. They are much smaller than the jack-o-lantern variety and have a fuller, sweeter flavor.


To make the puree, cut the pie pumpkin in half and scoop out all the seeds and stringy stuff. Remove the stem and place the halves cut side down on a baking sheet. Place the sheet in an oven preheated at 375°F and roast for  35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick easily pierces the skin. Juices will begin to run form the pumpkin and portions may sag. Scoop the meat from the skin and place in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Store extra in the refrigerator. You should only need one pie pumpkin for this recipe.



Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This recipe is modified from a basic cinnamon roll recipe from Bo Friberg. The pumpkin is farely subdued in this recipe so if you are looking for something that screams pumpkin, you may want to substitute more butter or liquid with pumpkin - remember to keep the overall weight and weight ratio of dry to wet ingredients the same.
Recipe by:
Difficulty: Intermediate
Great for: Breakfast, Dessert
Makes: 12 cinnamon rolls
Dough Ingredients
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm (110-115°F) whole milk, scalded and cooled
  • 3 ounces granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 eggs (at room temp)
  • 1 lb 6 ounces bread flour
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 ounces pumpkin puree - see the above note on how to make pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Filling Ingredients
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temp.
  • 1 ounce unsalted butter, at room temp.
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 ounces pumpkin puree
Cinnamon Sugar Mix
  • 4 ounces sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 4 ounces walnuts, optional
Icing Ingredients
  • 4 ounces unsalted buter, at room temp.
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  1. Prepare the Dough - Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk (be sure it is between 110 and 115). Add the sugar, spices, eggs and flour and mix until just combined.
  2. Knead the Dough - Add the salt, melted butter and pumpkin puree and knead for about 6 minutes. The dough should be smooth, elastic and quite sticky.
  3. Fermentation/Rising - Place the dough in a buttered bowl and cover loosely with a towel. Set the bowl in a warm place (ideally around 80°F) and let rise until doubled in volume about 2 hours.
  4. Punch Down the Dough - Flatten the dough in the bowl until most of the air is released. Using your hands gently knead the dough in on itself for a few seconds.
  5. Bench Proofing - Let the dough rest, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes before rolling it out. While the dough rests you can prepare the filling and cinnamon sugar mix.
  6. Filling -  Beat the cream and butter until they are smooth and mixed together. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until the mixture is smooth. Set aside. For the cinnamon sugar mix, mix both together in a bowl.
  7. Shaping - Roll the dough out on a lightly flowered surface until it is 9 inches by 18 inches, with the long side facing you. This will take some patiences as the dough will want to pull in on itself. Spread the filling over the dough leaving a one inch strip bare on the bottom closest to you. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mix on top of the filling again leaving the one inch strip. Add the walnuts if you are adding them.
  8. Shaping - Starting at the end farthest from you, roll the dough tightly together pulling towards you. Using a very sharp, slender knife (I use a sharpen pastry scraper) mark and cut the roll into 12 equal portions. To ensure equal portions mark the center of the roll, then the center of each half. You will now have four quarters that can be divided into three rolls. (Because of the filling and cinnamon sugar mix, this step is going to be very messy - just a warning.)
  9. Panning  - Line an 11x17 inch shallow baking sheet with parchment paper and lay the cut rolls in 4 rows of 3. Tuck the end piece of dough under the roll so it does not unroll as it rises and bakes.
  10. Final Proofing - Place the rolls, covered, in a warm place (ideally 80°F) and let rise until just under doubled in volume about 1 hour - the rolls will expand into each other and they should be touching before you bake. Preheat the oven to 410°F.
  11. Baking  - Place the baking sheet in another baking sheet - this will keep the bottom of the rolls from browning too much - and place in a preheated oven. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until they are golden brown. Mine baked for 13.5 minutes.
  12. Cooling/Icing - Prepare the icing by mixing the butter, sugar and vanilla together until it comes together. Add the hot water and mix until smooth. The consistency should not be runny but a little thinner than typical buttercream frosting. Spread the icing over the warm cinnamon rolls.

What’s your favorite type of cinnamon rolls? Do you have a favorite add-in?



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AUTHOR - Russell van Kraayenburg

Food nerd. Cookbook author. Founder of Chasing Delicious. Pastry cook at Fluff Bake Bar. Lover of hot dogs. Russell van Kraayenburg founded Chasing Delicious in 2010 and has been chasing delicious recipes ever since. Russell is author of the cookbooks Haute Dogs and Making Dough.


  • Paula @ Dishing the Divine

    when I saw the title of this recipe, I couldn’t wait to go drool over the rolls. :) I want to make pumpkin cinnamon rolls soon. Damn diet is interfering with my mo-jo. :(

  • Stephanie

    mini pumpkins!!!

    These look delicious and combine two of my favorite things :yeasted dough and pumpkin. I think they would be perfect for a fall brunch.

    Growing the perfect shaped pumpkin has become a recent interest to some commercial pumpkin growers here in Canada. They sell for significantly more but are tedious to produce. I was at a commercial greenhouse recently where the owner was dealing with “flat side” issue in an attempt to get perfectly round pumpkins.

  • Cassie l Bake Your Day

    I love making cinnamon rolls. I can nearly smell these through the screen. These are lovely Russell!

  • Steph@stephsbitebybite

    I am so DROOLING over these! They sound like heaven!!

  • The Mom Chef ~ Taking on Magazines One Recipe at a Time

    Oh wow, those are gorgeous. I love the fact that the pumpkin is there but won’t overwhelm the rest of the flavors. You did an absolutely perfect job with the recipe and the photos. I want to grab that try of them so badly.

  • Liz

    These look so tender and amazing! I don’t think my family would even notice that I added pumpkin :)

  • Erin

    I love cooking with fresh pumpkin puree. Great idea making rolls with it!

  • Tina@flourtrader

    The extra flavor addition to cinnamon rolls does sound divine and bright orange and screaming is really not what I would want in this. I like your tips in this recipe, especially since I am not real familiar with fresh pumpkins. Nicely written lead in story.
    Great post!

  • Mary Kay

    I’ll bet those are great!

  • Kimberly (unrivaledkitch)

    just beautiful. I’m sure your house smelled of fall in all its glory. amazing photos as always

  • Lynda

    These look glorious. What a wonderful idea to add pumpkin.

  • Jon @ Candid Appetite

    You had me at cinnamon. My head got hazy, I lost all train of thought, sight, or hearing for a second, as I envisioned the smell of what has to be the world’s best spice. Another amazing recipe….but then again I’m not surprised. A perfect was to start your pumpkin to-do list. Can’t wait to see what you come up with next. Pumpkin Cinnamon Coffee Cake….maybe?!

  • Elies_Lie

    pumpkin and cream cheese!
    I wonder how tasty could it be…
    Hmm… already tempting just reading the ingredients list!
    well done russel! u got my buzzed! ;)

  • Claudia

    I cannot think of a better way to wake – than with the aroma of this!In truth, I never make cinnamon rolls – I have no self-control. But maybe for the big day? But my favorite thing about cooking with pumpkins – is roasting those delectable seeds!

  • Happy When Not Hungry

    Wow these rolls look amazing!!! Love all the flavors in there. Would make an awesome brunch treat!

  • Yudith @ Blissfully Delicious

    Oh yum, I love how delicious this looks. Would be perfect for those cool lazy fall weekends.

  • Angela@mytastyliving

    Wow, these look amazing! :)

  • Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen

    Pumpkins and cinnamon always signals the holidays are around the corner. I love those fall flavors!

    • Hairul

      Everything’s bigger in Texas! Not quiet. Texas’ lasregt pumpkin on record weighed 657 pounds (lbs.) in Mount Vernon, an Atlantic Giant (AG) grown by Jessica Smith in 2006. Pumpkins have better luck in the northern states of the US. But, even bigger than Chris Stevens’ 1810.5 lb. AG is that of this year’s 2011 lasregt pumpkin ever, an 1818.5 pounder raised by Jim and Kelley Bryson from Ormstown, Quebec. O’ Canada! Hoorah! Google changes its page image frequently to keep up with the times, prominent stories, and of course whichever holiday season. Googles Halloween home page is quiet a treat this 2011. Six 1000-lb AGs from Half Moon Bay, California sit atop six hay bails for real. This is not the usual Google illustration, but a lapse-time movie of the Google illustration staff pumpkin carvers in action to represent the six letters of g-o-o-g-l-e. Following the short film are several Halloween links including the Story behind Google’s 1000-lb pumpkins published by the Christian Science Monitor (CSM), presumably a reliable sounding source. Some were more than half a ton! It is interesting to note after doing the conversion that the previously mentioned Canadian AG is almost 91% of a full ton! The CSM goes on to point out the lasregt of Google’s fruits was for the letter L at 1298 lbs. and that upon carving the walls of the fruits were estimated at six inches thick.Comparing record pumpkins from the pumpkinnook.com and backyardgardener.com it is apparent that vegetables and fruits entered in contests are increasing in weight yearly. I created a spreadsheet with linear graph to post as soon as possible. Questions can be raised about expectations from this data such as, when will pumpkins meet the full-ton mark? As it stands, presumably the full-ton pumpkin will be achieved by 2014 or 2015.Considering typical sized pumpkins of the standard orange variety, they might be classified accordingly: small (2 to 5 lbs.), medium (8 to 15 lbs.), large (15 to 25 lbs.), and jumbo (50 to 100 lbs.) The varieties include names such as the small Baby Bears or New England Pies, the medium Autumn Golds or Bushkins, the large Aspens or Big Autumns, and the jumbo AGs (not grown for contest) or Big Moons. All of these and other kinds of typical pumpkins are of the usual spherical shape compared to the contested giants which are flat and pancake in form.The mathematical idea of similarity is not applicable because the giants have a different shape because of their increased size. The internal forces and stresses of gravity on the contest grown giants morphs the pumpkins for survival purposes. Cell division is increased based on these stresses in different places making for different rates of growth around the pumpkin. Information from both NPR’s Science Friday including a couple of videos on AGs’ growth and David Hu’s research from Georgia Tech point out the 50% height-to-width ratio of the flattened AGs. The AGs grown for contest are actually not to be eaten. Side note, they are usually grown with additives not for our kitchens and only for carving purposes or even making canoes for pumpkin boat races (truly). Hu notes pumpkins to be one of the fastest growing organisms in the world at a rate of over 1000-lbs. within four months, nearly 50-lbs. per day. AGs are recognized as 100 times the weight of an average pumpkin. Interestingly, Hu turns to the 1936 study by Edmund Sinnott which sheds light about pumpkin morphing based on weight. Hu uses Sinnott’s shape index as the ratio of length to width. Texas’ climate must yield to bigger things produced in foreign lands.

  • Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction

    Wow… These cinnamon rolls look absolutely amazing. I have a soft spot for cinnamon rolls, and the pumpkin spice twist is just perfect. Hand me a latte, and I will be a very happy girl. Love all of the photos, too. Just stunning!

  • Baker Street

    These look absolutely delicious! Lovely clicks too !

  • Jen

    Those look ridiculously good! Gooey, warm, cinnamon and pumpkin, oh my.

  • Kaitlin

    Oh my goodness, your photos are phenomenal. Not to mention, I NEED to try these pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls, they look delicious!

  • RavieNomNoms

    Jackpot Russell! I LOVE cinnamon rolls. I love your Fall version of the traditional cinnamon roll. I bet they smelled amazing as they were baking

  • kitchenriffs

    Wow! Great writing, great photos, great recipe. Your posts are a pleasure to read. Thanks.

  • Rachel @ My Naturally Frugal Family

    These look delicious and perfect for the fall weather that is coming up on us fast. :)

  • Lacy

    I’m absolutely in love with everything you post on this site! Now pumpkin + cinnamon rolls!? I was going to make plain old cinnamon rolls tonight but I think I might try these instead, yum!

  • Charles

    These look delicious! And I love cooking pie pumpkins!

  • Nelly Rodriguez

    Oh these looks sooo amazing! Wish I had these for breakfast!

  • Ali

    Got me salivating over this. Looks so delicious. I want some pumpkin rolls right now!! nice photos.

  • Adele Forbes

    My mouth is soooo watering right now and the coffee is smelling divine! Nice

  • Eliot

    Love that this recipe calls for pumpkin puree and that you roasted your own pumpkins.


  • Sandra

    Congratulations on top 9!

  • Kristy

    Your photos are fantastic! And while I’m not a huge fan of cinnamon rolls (scandalous – I know), my entire family would love these. Maybe I’ll whip them up for Thanksgiving. One thing is for sure though – I’m making the homemade pumpkin puree. I have so many recipes lately that call for it and how fun to make it myself! (Plus my kids like to scoop the seeds!)

  • Beth Michelle

    I have fond memories of pumpkin picking also. I still enjoy going pumpkin picking, though in Israel we unfortunately dont have pumpkin patches to do so. It will have to wait till I move back to the states.
    Your pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls look amazing. Just when I thought that cinnamon rolls couldnt get any better!!

  • Liz

    These look fabulous…so tender and delicious! I’d skip dinner for a couple of these beauties :)

  • Margaret Murphy Tripp

    Well, they look simply amazing!

  • Snippets of Thyme

    What an absolutely delightful story about your childhood recollections. This is exactly why we all take our kids to pumpkin patches and hope they remember these wonderfully carefree chapters of life. Well…not really carefree…that was some serious business getting just that right pumpkin!!

  • Nava Krishnan

    extremely gorgeous, love anything cooked with pumpkin.

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food

    I have I said “Wow”? Because, really… WOW! These look terrific! There’s nothing I love more than a good cinnamon roll and you have nailed it, my friend!

  • Lilly

    Hi Russell, seems like you’ve made plenty of cinnamon rolls! They look so good I don’t think you’ll have any problems with getting rid of them.
    I’ve never actually carved a pumpkin before, but it seems like fun. I do hope you’ll post some pics of the pumpkins you make.
    On a different note: I’ll be in Houston for the first 9 days of 2012 and if you have some time, would you like to grab some coffee?

    • Russell

      You should def try carving a pumpkin; It is definitely fun and you get a bunch of seeds to roast out of it! I’ll be sure to get some pics of the pumpkins I carve up.

      That sounds like fun, Lilly. I’d love to meet a fellow foodie over coffee!

  • Dee at Deelicious Sweets

    Wow Russell, these look so tasty! I have never used a real pumpking for baking. Thanks for all of the tips. I don’t know why I was so scared of using them before! As usual, loved your story :)

  • Anna @ Food Fitness Frolicking

    These look fabulous! I have been craving cinnamon rolls for while now, and this is perfect!!

  • Ellie | Gourmand Recipes

    Thanks for the detailed instructions in your recipe. Very well written Russell and your cinnamon rolls kook fabulous.

  • Cyndeehule

    Hey! I love your website! If you are interested in ideas, my website is vegan, and vegetarian gourmet food! http://gangybuffet.com/
    I am a college student journaling my way through cooking.

  • Elyse @The Cultural Dish

    Oh this would be such an amazing breakfast right now! Love the flavors and your photos!

  • Reem | Simply Reem

    What a perfect perfect recipe…..
    God your pictures are to die for…
    These rolls will make any meal into a celebration….

  • Erin

    I love cinnamon rolls. They are one of the most sinful breakfast foods but I don’t care, slather them with more of that fantastic icing! And I’m way to excited that these are pumpkin.

  • Anne@frommysweetheart

    Russell….these are BEAUTIFUL rolls. And I love the addition of pumpkin and so impressed that you made your own puree. (Great tip about purchasing smaller pie pumpkins…something I had not thought about!) Great post and gorgeous pics as always!

  • Lynda L.

    These look fantastic!! Any suggestions for making this ahead the night before?

  • torviewtoronto

    delicious looking pumpkin rolls looks wonderful

  • Lynne @ CookandBeMerry

    I really enjoy your photographs and your food styling. I have never used pumpkin in a baked good, just pumpkin pie. So now I am motivated to give this a try. Thanks for stopping by my blog and your nice comment.

  • Marina {Yummy Mummy}

    Oh my gosh, I have SO been wanting to make pumpkin cinnamon rolls. These look amazing. Thank you for commenting on my Pumpkin French Macarons so I could find you. Following this gorgeous blog now :)

  • sarah

    These cinnamon rolls sound absolutely fantastic and I’m thinking they just might need to be a part of my weekend. I used to love pumpkin season as a kid and I still do today- lovely post!!

  • Spiced Pumpkin Oat Cookies with Pumpkin Seeds | Chasing Delicious

    […] my chewy trail mix cookies but the star here is pumpkin. While the pumpkin is muted like in my pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls, the pumpkin seeds add a very unique texture for cookies. While I won’t call a cookie health […]

  • A Brown Table

    Your photographs are always a beautiful treat. Your pumpkins have me drooling, great idea on mixing them in the rolls.

  • JulieD

    Would you believe that I don’t like pumpkin? Your rolls look amazing though…maybe you can send me over one so I can try it? :)

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