Pumpkin Pecan Cinnamon Rolls with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting / by Chelsea Zwieg

I love relaxing baking. The kind of baking where you're listening to christmas music, sipping tea and rolling out dough in your nice toasty warm kitchen while it's cold and windy outside. Now, as I was editing these photos, I was watching Cutthroat Kitchen on Food Network. It's that show where chefs are competing to make a dish but they can pay to throw these horrible challenges at their competitors. The challenge was to make waffles but only one person got a waffle iron. Someone else got a meat tenderizer, someone else got an ice cube tray. It stresses me out just watching it. I mean, giant high five to the guy who can make a waffle in an ice cube tray, but please, give me my relaxing breakfast baking any day. 

Especially on Thanksgiving day. I made pumpkin cinnamon rolls for Thanksgiving breakfast last year and I have to say, they are the perfect thing. You can make the dough and assemble the rolls the night before and leave them in the refrigerator overnight. Then all you have to do in the morning is put them in the oven, watch the parade, sip some coffee and they're ready to go. Plus, nothing gets you ready for a pumpkin dessert like pumpkin for breakfast. 

These rolls are soft, doughy and full of pumpkin. Plus, the frosting is out of this world. It's sweet and creamy with a little brown sugar and a kick from the cinnamon and nutmeg. Like I said, they can sit tight in the fridge overnight and if you're really wanting to get a jump on things, you can make them a few days in advance, stick them in the freezer and then thaw and bake them when you're ready. They're very easy going.

I hope your Thanksgiving prep is coming along lovely. And if it's not, just be glad you're not in Cutthroat Kitchen being forced to make waffles with a meat tenderizer. Because there is nothing relaxing about that. 

Pumpkin Pecan Cinnamon Rolls with Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting 

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen 

Makes 8-10 large buns

| Ingredients |


  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup milk, warmed (about 110 degrees) 
  • 2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (1.25 oz. packet) 
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1 tsp. salt 
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger 
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin puree 
  • 1 egg
  • oil for coating the rising bowl 


  • 3/4 cup brown sugar 
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar 
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped 


  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar

| Instructions |

  • Combine warm milk and yeast in a small bowl. Set aside. After 5-10 minutes it should be a little foamy. If nothing happens, you probably got some bad yeast. Yell at it a little and then try again with a new packet. 
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer combine flour, sugars, salt and spices. Add 1/4 cup of melted butter (leave the rest aside for now) and mix to combine. Add the (now foamy) yeast and milk, pumpkin and egg. Mix well. Switch the mixer to a dough hook and knead the dough for 5 minutes on a low speed. 
  • Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled, bowl, cover with a towel and set aside to rise for 1 hour. The dough should almost double in size. 
  • While the dough is rising, assemble the filling. Mix sugars, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl. Chop the pecans and set aside. 
  • After the dough has risen, scoop it onto a well-floured surface. Roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 16x11 inches. Brush the remaining melted butter evenly over the dough. Sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly across the dough. Finally sprinkle the nuts over this in an even layer. 
  • Roll the dough into a tight spiral. If you want more rolls, start from the longer end. If you want fewer, larger rolls, start from the shorter end. Cut into 1 inch segments in a serrated knife and arrange in a baking pan (the size depends on how many rolls you end up with and how much you want them to spread out. I used a 11 x 7 rectangle pan) 
  • At this point, you can put the rolls in the fridge overnight or bake them immediately. If you are baking them right away, cover the pan with plastic wrap and allow the rolls to rise for 45 minutes longer. If you leave them overnight, allow them to sit out for 1 hour prior to baking. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. 
  • While they are baking, make the frosting. Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and beat until combined. 
  • Frost cinnamon rolls right before serving.