Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Brown Butter Frosting
Comfort Food | Published Sep 20, 2022 | Updated Sep 19, 2022 | By Tawnie
I am beyond happy to be sharing these best ever pumpkin cinnamon rolls with you today!
Each bite is filled with ooey-gooey brown sugar, pumpkin spice filling and plenty of luscious brown butter infused cream cheese frosting. Yes, you read that correctly. Brown.Butter.Cream.Cheese.Frosting. !!! <— You’ll see why I’m so excited.
Table of contents
After making my famous blueberry cinnamon rolls, I knew I had to make a version for Fall that involved pumpkin! And also I’ve been swooning over these pumpkin spice cinnamon roll cookies so I was craving the real deal.
My recipe has just the right amount of pumpkin flavor, it’s not overpowering but you still get plenty of warm and cozy hints of pumpkin and cinnamon in each bite.
Get ready to unravel the best, flaky, epic pumpkin cinnamon roll of your life. 😍
You’ll love these cinnamon rolls because…
- First of all, they TASTE AMAZING
- They’re comforting and just oh-so cozy with the most pillowy interior.
- It’s a labor of love that is 10000% #worthit
- They are deliciously soft and fluffy
- Full of pumpkin pie spice in every bite
- Tender, light and topped with a gooey, glorious cream cheese frosting
- Are you convinced? It’s a Fall inspired must-bake that will fill your home with the best scents!
The dough comes together with less than 10 ingredients and I’m using lots of pantry staple items.
- Milk: Whole milk works best for this recipe since fat adds a rich mouth-reel. But 2% will also work fine!
- Pumpkin puree: be sure to use 100% pumpkin puree, and not the pumpkin pie mix.
- Bread flour: I’ve found bread flour yields a moist and soft roll compared to all-purpose flour. This is due to the liquid bread flour can absorb. I highly recommend bread flour, but all-purpose will work OK if you’re in a bind!
- Active dry yeast: Using active dry yeast makes the rise time a little bit longer (~20 minutes). But good news is, you can use instant yeast too and follow the directions the same!
- Egg: be sure to use a room temperature egg. 1 is all you’ll need!
- Sugar and Brown sugar: I love using a combination of both sugars to feed the yeast and activate the dough. Light or dark brown sugar works. (I usually use dark!)
- Spices: pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and salt. Feel free to use fresh nutmeg, cloves, etc. if you’d like to add more warming, cozy vibes!
- Softened butter: be sure to use softened butter, not melted butter, when making the brown sugar filling.
- For the brown butter cream cheese frosting: be sure to use softened cream cheese. You’ll also need powdered sugar, brown butter that’s been chilled in the fridge to a solid state (see video for guidance on making this), vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice and a pinch of kosher salt.
Step by Step Directions
The dough is made entirely in the stand mixer and believe it or not, really easy to make! This is a general step by step process, find the full directions in the recipe card below.
- Make the dough in a stand mixer. You’ll need the whisk attachment and the dough hook attachment.
- First rise: grease a large bowl with baking spray and transfer the dough to the bowl, turning it to coat each side with spray (or you can use oil). Cover with a clean kitchen towel, or plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. It may take more or less time depending on the humidity and temperature in your environment.
- Make the brown sugar filling by combining the ingredients together in a medium sized mixing bowl.
- Roll the dough out on a clean, well floured surface, and roll into a large rectangle.
- Spread the delicious pumpkin pie spice brown sugar filling from edge to edge on the dough.
- Slice the rolls, you should get about 12 rolls and place in a greased 9×13 inch pan.
- Second rise: Cover with plastic wrap and a warm kitchen towel and rise again for 30 minutes – 1 hour.
- Bake and make the frosting. Let the rolls cool 5-10 minutes before adding the frosting & enjoy warm.
Cinnamon Roll Tips & Variations
- My #1 tip: When warming the butter and milk, be sure not to exceed 115°F. The milk should not be too hot because if the milk being added into yeast gets too hot (120°F+) it can kill the yeast and your dough won’t rise and that is really upsetting when taking the time to making cinnamon rolls. The sweet spot is 105°F-115°F so 110°F always works perfectly! In active dry yeast, the cells are alive but dormant because of the lack of moisture. So, when mixed with the warm milk (105°F- 115°F) the cells become active. This process is commonly known as “activating the yeast.”
- Use room temperature eggs because yeast likes a warm environment.
- Knead the dough in the stand mixer just until the dough is pulling away from the sides of your mixer, but is tacky (not sticky) to the touch.
- Be sure to oil the bowl the dough is in for the first rise. It can help the dough rise higher!
- Flour your work surface generously so the dough doesn’t stick.
- Line your pan with parchment paper if you want so it’s easier to clean the pan if any filling oozes out.
- Use a different frosting if you prefer!
- Add chopped pecans or walnuts on top of the frosting for crunch.
Yes! To make these so they sit in your fridge overnight and you can bake in the morning, after you place the sliced rolls into the greased pan, immediately cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge. In the morning, let the cinnamon rolls come to room temperature for at least 30-45 minutes, pour the warmed heavy cream on top and bake as directed.
Yes! I recommend keeping the frosting on the side if you plan the freeze them. Allow them to cool completely, cover tightly with plastic wrap or in an airtight container. When ready to eat, defrost at room temperature then heat in the oven or in the microwave.
It could be you added too much bread flour. Be sure to spoon and level the flour instead of sticking the measuring cup into the bag. Be sure to also prevent over baking. Cinnamon rolls internal temperature should be 190°F.
Don’t skip out on the heavy cream step. Before baking, after the second rise, pour heavy cream over the rolls. This is a yummy secret to keep your cinnamon rolls soft and gooey!
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Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting
For the dough
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 cup 100% pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1, .25 oz. package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
- 4 cups bread flour, plus more as needed for surface and rolling
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
For the filling
- 1/2 cup softened butter, unsalted
- 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
For the frosting
- 1/3 cup butter, unsalted
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- pinch of kosher salt
- Heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan just until it reaches 105°F-115°F. It should be lukewarm so this won't take long at all. If milk gets too hot, it will kill the yeast and oh em gee we don't want that! Set milk/butter aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed, combine the pumpkin, both sugars and salt. Add in the milk/butter mixture, egg and yeast just until combined. (We will use the heavy cream later)
- Add the dough hook and add 1 cup of bread flour on medium speed. Mix for ~1 minute. Add another cup. Mix 1 minute, and repeat twice more. Scrape down sides to incorporate flour as needed. With the mixer on medium-low speed, knead the dough for ~8 minutes. Knead just until the dough is pulling away from the sides of your mixer, but is tacky (not sticky) to the touch.
- Grease a medium sized bowl with baking spray or oil and place the dough in the bowl, turn once to grease the top too. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise for 1 ½ hours – 2 hours. The dough should almost double in size.
- During this time, make the brown butter for the cream cheese frosting. In a stainless steel skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Swirl the pan occasionally to help the butter melt evenly. The butter will begin to foam, and then the foam will begin to subside and you’ll start to see tiny specks at the bottom of the pan, stir with a heat resistant spatula or wooden spoon and constantly stir and scrape so milk solids that are browning don’t stick. (These are what give brown butter it’s yummy flavor.) As soon as the butter turns chestnut brown and omits a nutty aroma, remove the pan from the heat and scrape the brown butter and all of the delish brown bits into a heat proof bowl. It’s important to remove to a bowl immediately so the residual heat from the pan doesn’t burn the butter. Place in the fridge so the butter can cool and solidify.
- Grease a 9×13 inch pan with baking spray. You can line with parchment paper to catch any filling that may ooze out if desired.
- Combine the ingredients together for the filling in a medium sized mixing bowl until smooth.
- Roll out the dough. Turn out the dough onto a well floured work surface. Roll the dough into a large rectangle, spread the brown sugar filling all over the dough. Leave a small margin on the edges so you can roll, but I pretty much spread it all the way to the edge!
- Roll the dough up tightly, slice with a sharp knife or use the floss method and arrange the rolls in the prepared pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and a warm kitchen towel and allow to rise again for 30 minutes – 1 hour. (Or see the overnight option in the notes below).
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Warm the heavy cream in the microwave for 15-20 seconds, just until lukewarm to the touch. Pour the cream over the cinnamon rolls right before you put in the oven. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until cinnamon rolls are lightly browned on top and reach an internal temperature of 190°F. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes while you make the frosting.
- Using a hand held mixer or the stand mixer, beat the prepared brown butter in a mixing bowl until smooth. Add the cream cheese and combine again until smooth. Add in the remaining ingredients and beat until creamy. Spread the frosting over warm rolls and enjoy!
- Overnight instructions: After you place the sliced rolls into the greased pan (step 9), immediately cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge. In the morning, let the cinnamon rolls come to room temperature for at least 30-45 minutes, pour the warmed heavy cream on top and bake as directed.
- Using active dry yeast makes the rise time a little bit longer. BUT good news is, you can use instant yeast too and follow the directions the same and the rise times will be slightly shorter.
- Recipe inspired by Sallys Baking Addiction.
Hi, I’m Tawnie!
Welcome to my tiny “korner” on the Internet! I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who loves cookies as much as kale. (OK, maybe I like cookies a little bit more but shh, don’t tell anyone). I am so glad you’re here! Follow along for hassle free, realistic and approachable recipes.More about Tawnie
Absolutely delicious! Your recipe and directions were spot on! Thank you!
Thank you so much Wendy! I’m so glad. Love the photo! Enjoy!! xo, Tawnie
When I saw this recipe Tuesday night I knew I had to make it asap. It was so desperate, I even dreamt I baked these when I went to bed that night. (I’m a weirdo, I know.) I got around to making them yesterday and I’m so so glad that I did l! My only complaints have to do with the way the recipe was written- I would’ve loved a guideline on the speeds of the mixer more. Also I weighed my bread flour, using 480 grams but I never expect that to be perfect, and I’m always anticipating adding a few TBSPs of flour to get it to the right consistency. But I swear I had to add almost two more cups of flour to get it to even begin to pull away from the sides of the bowl. I’m quite experienced with yeast based recipes, so I know when the dough is too sticky, too dry etc. I wonder if I should’ve just measured the flour by scooping into the cup? Or do you have a guideline on how much a cup of flour weighs for your recipes? That took me a while, and made me almost want to give up, but the end results were so so worth it! Soft, fluffy, and flavorful, I almost never want to make regular cinny rolls again! Also I was super hesitant about the brown butter flavor coming through with the ratio of cream cheese, but man it was absolutely perfect. Thank you for a great recipe!
Hi Sandra, thank you so much for making this recipe! I updated the recipe to include mixer speeds and also I’ve added the approx. grams for the bread flour. ~550 g. I am so sorry you had to keep adding flour. I am glad you didn’t give up and got to experience these yummy rolls! Thank you again for the great review and I am sure this will be helpful to other readers as well. Happy Fall! xo, Tawnie