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Pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls are the perfect Thanksgiving morning treat
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Pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls are the perfect Thanksgiving morning treat

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I’ve never been much of a baker. The most I do is bake cakes, cookies and the occasional pie — and the crust is not made from scratch (after trying that once and hating it, I vowed to never do it again).

But recently, for some unknown reason, I decided to get brave and make some cinnamon rolls from scratch. My reasoning at the time was I wanted to make something unique — not like the regular kind you get from the Pillsbury can (which, I’d like to make clear, are perfectly fine and delicious).

So I scoured the internet to find a unique kind of cinnamon roll. I searched and searched and finally landed on a site with 20 different “unique” recipes. While they all looked amazing — blueberry lemon, carrot ginger cake, peppermint white chocolate, s’mores, chocolate hazelnut — one stood out to me. And if you know me well at all, you wouldn’t be surprised.

I decided to make pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls with maple cream cheese glaze. I thought, how hard could it be?

It turns out, I’m still not much of a baker. And I still don’t enjoy making or dealing with dough. Still, despite the work, they were absolutely delicious. I made them for a chill and cinnamon roll work event, and they didn’t last long.

These cinnamon rolls would be perfect paired with fruit and a steaming cup of coffee on a chilly fall or winter morning. I suspect you’d make the entire family immensely happy if they woke up to these bad boys on Thanksgiving morning.

Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Cream Cheese Glaze

Makes 12 cinnamon rolls


For the dough:

3/4 cup milk

1 package active dry yeast (1/4 oz, not instant yeast)

1/2 cup warm water (as per yeast package directions, typically 100-110F)

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter melted

1 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1 1/2 Tbsp pumpkin spice (see note)

4 cups all-purpose flour

For the filling:

4 oz cream cheese room temperature

1/2 cup pumpkin puree (approximately 1/3 can)

1 Tablespoon pumpkin spice (see note)

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1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 Tablespoons butter melted

2/3 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup pecans chopped (or walnuts) (optional)

For the glaze:

4 oz cream cheese room temperature

1/3 cup milk room temperature

1 Tablespoon maple syrup

3 cups powdered sugar


1. First, scald the milk by heating 3/4 cup in a skillet over medium heat. Once it’s simmering, turn the heat off. You should have 1/2 cup left (discard the little bit that is left).

2. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water as per package directions for the correct temperature (usually between 100 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit). We used a kitchen thermometer for this.

3. Next, mix the 1/2 cup of milk, sugar, melted butter, salt, egg and 1 1/2 tablespoons of pumpkin spice together in a large bowl. Add two cups of flower and mix to combine. It’s important to not pack down your flour in the measuring cups. Too much and the dough will be too cake-like.

4. Add in the yeast. Then add the additional flour, 1/2 cup at a time until the dough is easy to handle (the amount of flour that you need will vary).

5. Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes. Place the dough into a greased bowl (I used 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to coat the bowl I mixed everything in). Cover the bowl with Saran wrap and then a kitchen towel. Let sit until the dough has doubled in size, approximately 60 to 90 minutes.

6. After the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and put it back onto the floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough in a rectangular shape, approximately 15x9 inches in size.

7. Next it’s time to make the filling. Combine the cream cheese, pumpkin puree and 1 tablespoon of pumpkin spice together. Spread this mixture over the dough in a thin layer.

8. Spread two tablespoons of melted butter on top of the cream cheese mixture. Mix the cinnamon with the brown sugar and sprinkle the mixture over the butter. If you’re using nuts (walnuts or pecans), now is the time to add those.

9. Starting from the long edge, tightly roll the dough all the way to the other long edge and pinch dough together to seal.

10. With a serrated knife, cut the log in half. Then cut each half into half again so there are four equal pieces. Cut each piece into three rolls so you have 12 rolls total.

11. Coat the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish with melted butter or cooking spray. Add the cinnamon rolls, making sure to place them close together. I did four rows of three. Then let them rise until the dough has doubled again (approximately 45 minutes). If you’re planning to make these the next morning like I did, just cover them in plastic wrap after they’ve doubled in size and put them in the fridge. Just get them out in plenty of time before baking so they can warm to room temperature.

12. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the rolls have doubled in size (or are at room temperature the next morning), bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until they are starting to brown.

13. While your cinnamon rolls are baking, it’s time to make the icing. To start, whisk the cream cheese in a stand mixer until creamy. Then add in the milk and maple syrup, and whisk in until combined. Sift in the powdered sugar and whisk until smooth. After taste-testing, I couldn’t taste the maple so I added a little extra. I wanted to taste it, but didn’t want it to be overpowering.

14. After the rolls are finished baking, let them cool slightly and then drizzle the icing over them. These are best served warm.

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