Warm milk in the microwave milk for 15-30 seconds. It should be warm but not hot to the touch (about 105 degrees F).
Place milk into the bowl of your standing mixer, then add 1 TBS sugar and yeast to the warm milk. Stir and let it sit (proof) for five minutes or until it becomes foamy.
Add ¼ cup sugar, melted butter, pumpkin puree, egg, and vanilla to the mixture in the bowl of your standing mixer. Use a dough hook to stir until combined
Add 2 cups flour, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice and stir the dough hook, starting on low and increasing to high.
Add more flour ¼ cup at a time until a smooth ball is formed. The dough should be smooth and only slightly tacky to the touch.
Knead dough in the standing mixer until a large ball is formed.
Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead with your hands until it is smooth and elastic (about 3-5 minutes). Form it into a ball.
Grease a large bowl and place the dough inside.
Cover the bowl with a warm, damp towel and put the bowl in a warm place to rise for 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.
Make the filling:
While the dough is rising, make the filing. Combine the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and sugar in a small bowl. Then melt the butter and set aside (It will be brushed on the dough later).
Alternately, you can combine butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice until mixture is homogenous (uniform throughout). Set aside.
Assemble Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Sprinkle a large work surface with flour.
Gently press the gas out of the dough and form it into a rectangle.
Roll the dough into a rectangle that’s 18” long and 8” wide (18x8”), and about ¼ inch thick.
Either: 1) Use a pastry brush to spread the melted butter all over the dough. Then sprinkle the dough with cinnamon sugar mixture and pat it down gently to insure it sticks. Or 2) Spread the filling over the dough using greased hands or a greased spatula. This process can seem difficult but it gets easier as you spread it.
Tightly roll the dough and cut into 9 equal sized rolls (I recommend measuring by placing a tape measure next to the rolled dough to ensure it’s 18” long, then make marks every 2 inches and cut the rolls to be 2” wide).
Line an 8x8” or 9x9” baking dish with parchment paper and lightly grease. Then place rolls in 3 rows of 3, evenly spaced.
Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30-60 minutes.
Bake Cinnamon Rolls
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once rolls are doubled in size, bake them in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. They will rise more in the oven.
Make the Cream Cheese Frosting
While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and salt until smooth. Do NOT chill the frosting. Keep it at room temperature until the cinnamon rolls are baked.
Once the cinnamon rolls have bene removed from the oven, spread the cream cheese frosting on them while they are still warm.
Cool & Serve!
Let cool slightly and serve warm.
Tip: When done flip over onto a baking sheet and let juices go back into rolls.*Nutrition values calculated without the frosting (since the amount put on each roll varies).
How to make pumpkin cinnamon rolls in advance:
I receive many questions about making these in advance. There are many ways to do this, here are my suggestions below. Always tightly cover the rolls so no air can get to the dough and dry it out.
Refrigerate dough after 1st rise before making rolls.
Punch down the dough after the first rise.
Place the cinnamon roll dough in a large bowl and tightly cover it with plastic wrap and a tea towel or with a lid and refrigerate overnight.
To make the rolls: remove the dough and proceed with the recipe. Keep in mind assembled rolls may take longer to rise if the dough is cold.
Refrigerate assembled cinnamon rolls to bake the next day (my choice)
Tightly wrap the assembled, but not risen, cinnamon rolls with plastic wrap and cover with a damp tea towel or the lid to the baking dish.
In the morning, remove the assembled rolls from the refrigerator. Loosen the plastic wrap and let the cinnamon rolls come to room temperature and complete their second rise covered with loose-fitting plastic wrap and a warm, damp tea towel.
Bake risen rolls according to the recipe!
Freeze assembled cinnamon rolls to bake at a later date.
Tightly wrap the assembled, but not risen, cinnamon rolls with plastic wrap and cover with tin foil or the lid to the baking dish.
Place the pumpkin cinnamon rolls in the freezer for up to 1 month (but I don't recommend any longer than 1 month).
To bake, remove cinnamon rolls and let them come to room temperature overnight and complete their second rise.
Bake according to recipe instructions.
Whole Milk. 2% milk works well, but I do not recommend using a liquid dairy product with less than 2% fat.
Salted Butter. Unsalted butter or ghee both work well in this recipe.
Pumpkin Puree. No substitutes here! Be sure to use pure pumpkin (either canned or homemade) and not pumpkin pie filling.
Vanilla Extract. Vanilla bean paste can be used in place of extract. Or you can switch it up and try maple extract, etc.
All-purpose flour. bread flour may be used in place of all-purpose flour for a slightly lighter texture.
Light Brown sugar. If you love the molasses-y taste of dark brown sugar you can use that in place of some or all of the light brown sugar.
Ground Cinnamon. The quality of cinnamon used in this recipe really matters. Please choose your cinnamon wisely!
Pumpkin pie spice. store bought or homemade both work well.
Cream cheese. Full fat or light cream cheese both work well in this recipe!
Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice (1 TBS)
Stir the following spices together and use in the recipe in place of pumpkin pie spice.
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp allspice
How to store pumpkin cinnamon rolls
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. Be sure to warm them up in the microwave or oven before enjoying them to restore their fresh-from-the-oven taste. Store cream cheese frosting in an airtight container.
How to freeze baked cinnamon rolls:
Let the rolls cool and freeze them (either frosted or unfrosted) in an airtight container for up to 2 months. Let thaw in the refrigerator and warm in the microwave or oven.Store