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Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls


Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Leaves are changing, football jerseys are on display, and I had my first sips of cider this weekend.

Of course, I’m also still wearning flip flops, driving with the windows down, and picnicking, but that is not the point. Despite the perks of 70-degree weather, I am craving fall. The surest sign: everything I make is turning to pumpkin.
I am pumpkin obsessed. As soon as the calendar flips to September, pumpkin works its way into every aspect of my culinary life. My pantry is stocked with canned puree to handle emergency pumpkin cravings (bi-weekly) or a freak pumpkin outage (for which I will be partially responsible). Over the course of the past 10 days, I launched myself into pumpkin paradise. My pumpkin-centric exploits included:

Pumpkin Spice Lattes
Frothy fall flavor to rival Starbucks.

Pumpkin Praline Waffles
topped with Cinnamon Sauteed Applesand 
Maple Greek Yogurt Whipped Cream

For breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Brownies
topped with Pumpkin Frozen Yogurt
Like pumpkin pie melting all over a hunk of brownie fudge.

Creamy Pumpkin, Spinach, and Sausage Penne
The perfect amount of pumpkin flavor.
So rich and warming, I couldn’t believe it was healthy!

Pumpkin Spice Candle
OK, obviously I didn’t make this, but it transformed my apartment into pumpkin-cinnamon-spice heaven.

and today’s feature….


This might be the best cinnamon roll you ever eat.
My (and now your) secret: they are whole wheat and light! Dreams do come true.

I made these rolls in honor of Ben and I’s good friends and recent house guests, Lisa and Ted. The two visited us from Minneapolis for the weekend, and if there is one thing I love to with friends, it’s overfeed them. Lisa and Ted’s visit was no exception.

We started the weekend by sampling food from the city’s best restaurants, food trucks, and bakeries at the Taste of Madison (truffle fries and bread pudding were the favorites).

Twin Cities friends at the Taste of Madison.
We came. We saw. We (over)ate.

Our festivities ended as any good Wisconsin weekend shouldwith real-deal fried cheese curdsand in the middle of our food-centric fun: PUMPKIN CINNAMON ROLLS!

I am in love with these PUMPKIN CINNAMON ROLLS, and you will be too. They are shockingly straight forward to prepare and can be assembled the night before. Make them as a special treat for friends, Thanksgiving breakfast, or just because they taste like gooey pinwheels of heaven. No one (not even you) will believe they use whole wheat flour and are based on a recipe from Cooking Light.

Lovers of fall, of pumpkin, of healthy living, and of darn good-breakfasts rejoice. PUMPKIN CINNAMON ROLLS have arrived. And next year, I’m not waiting until September.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Pumpkin, brown sugar-swirled heaven.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Yield: 12 Rolls

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls


    For the Rolls:
  • 1 package dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
  • 1/4 c. warm water (100° to 110°)
  • 1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for dusting
  • 1 c. whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 c. pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 c. non-fat milk
  • 1/4 c. (4 T.) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1 T. granulated sugar
  • For the Filling
  • 3 T. granulated sugar
  • 3 T. brown sugar
  • 2 T. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 T. chilled butter, cut into small pieces
  • For the Glaze:
  • 3/4 c. sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 T. hot water
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. butter extract


  1. To prepare rolls: dissolve yeast in warm water in a large mixing bowl (or the bowl of a standing mixer that can be fitted with a dough hook). Let stand for 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine whole-wheat flour, 1 c. all-purpose flour, spices, pumpkin, and next 5 ingredients (salt through cloves). Set aside.
  2. Add pumpkin, milk, butter, and 1 T. granulated sugar to yeast mixture. Beat gently until combined. Gradually add dry ingredients, mixing at medium speed until smooth. Turn dough out onto a floured surface (or fit your stand mixer with the dough hook). Knead dough until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes).
  3. Add enough of the remaining 3/4 c. flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough no longer sticks to your hands. The dough should still feel tacky. (I found I needed nearly the full amount.)
  4. Place the dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 45 minutes or until doubled in size. An unheated oven is a great location for this. (To tell if the dough has risen enough: Press two fingers into the dough. If an indentation remains, the dough is ready).
  5. To prepare filling: Combine 3 T. granulated sugar, brown sugar, 2 T. flour, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. (Fingers work well too.)
  6. Punch dough down; cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Roll into a 12 x 10-in. rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle with brown sugar mixture, ensuring you go all the way to the edge.
  7. Roll up the rectangle tightly, starting with a long edge (you are creating a 12 in. log). Press firmly as you go to eliminate air pockets. Pinch edge seam and roll ends to seal. Cut roll into 12 (1-in.) slices.
  8. Arrange the rolls in a greased 9-in. square or round baking pan. Cover pan and let rise 25 minutes or until doubled in size. If you are preparing the rolls the night before: At this step, instead of letting rise for 25 minutes at room temperature, cover pan with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to rise overnight. Let stand 1 hour at room temperature before baking.
  9. Preheat oven to 375°. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 15 minutes in pan on a wire rack.
  10. To prepare glaze: Combine all ingredients a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Spread glaze over rolls and serve warm.

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Author: Erin Clarke

I'm Erin, and I'm on a mission to cook everything that's tasty, {mostly} healthy, and budget-friendly—all while Mr. Right is in the library. I'm convinced that cheese and chocolate are the answer, that you can love sweets and veggies equally, and that delicious, satisfying food should be accessible to everyone. The recipes here are affordable, approachable, and delectable, and I can't wait to share them with you!


  1. Hey Law Students Wife! Fall is my favorite, and one of the biggest reasons is PUMPKIN! I’ll let you know how my pumpkin bread tonight turns out :)

    • Love that you stayed up till midnight to make pumpkin bread! A girl after my own heart. Glad you liked the recipe I sent, and thanks for emailing me to let me know how it turned out, complete with a picture! I might just have to make a loaf myself….

  2. thanks for linking these up and for saying hi!

    they look….incredible! OMG!!! And from Cooking Light originally of all places..I just got a new cookbook of theirs and I am always impressed!

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