Pumpkin Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls With Vanilla Maple Glaze

First, I promise not every post for the rest of the year will include pumpkin.  I go a little bit crazy when fall is near, as it’s my absolute favorite time of the year.  So pumpkin fans, I’ve got you covered.  Non-pumpkin fans, I promise lots of chocolate and caramel and pretzels soon.   For today though, it’s cinnamon rolls.  Pumpkin Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls.

These are so. flipping. good.   As often as possible I try to substitute white whole wheat flour for all purpose flour in recipes, and this was my first try with cinnamon rolls.  Why not pack in some whole grains if possible???  There have only been a few times where I haven’t been happy with the results.  Most of the time I’m so happy with how things turn out that I switch my recipes to always use white whole wheat flour.   This is one of those times.  The white whole wheat flour works wonderfully.

These were a big hit with everyone in the family, with my cinnamon roll loving daughter declaring them the best cinnamon rolls ever.  I loved them, but could have gone for a bit more pumpkin flavor in them next time by adding some pumpkin pie spice to the recipe.   The pumpkin flavor as I made them was pretty mellow, which actually can be a plus if not everyone you bake for loves pumpkin.  However if you are big pumpkin fans like we are, definitely add in the pumpkin pie spice I include in the recipe below.

These are pretty simple to make, very straight forward, and they do not take all day (though they probably take a bit more time then you want to spend if you are making them for breakfast – so that might be a prepare the night before thing).

You’ll melt your butter and milk in a saucepan on low and add the sugar in when melted.  While that’s happening, you want to get your yeast and water all friendly with each other.  I have long had a fear of baking with yeast, but the more I work with it, the easier it gets.   My biggest advice is do not make your water too hot, you don’t want to cook the yeast at this point (or kill it).   I don’t use a thermometer, but I make the water about as warm as I would make a bath for my toddler.  Not hot, but comfortably warm to the touch.    Let the yeast and water hang out a bit.

After you have melted your butter and milk you want to let them cool, as you will be mixing them with the yeast and water, which again, you don’t want to kill.   Once your butter/milk combo has cool, combine it with the yeast and water as well as the pumpkin.   Add in your flour.

My mixture was pretty dry, and it took working it together by hand to get all the flour incorporated and well combined.

At this point it’s time to let it rise.  I like to turn my oven on to 350, leave it on for about one minute of preheating (so it’s NOT at 350, it’s starting to warm up) then turn it off, cover my bowl with a towel and sit it in the oven that is ever so slightly warm.    After sitting for at least an hour (I usually do 1.5-2 hours) it should be doubled in size and ready to go.

I kneaded my dough six or seven times.  Nothing major, just a little bit of kneading.  It’s not too needy, I’m not a fan of needy.  Or kneady.  After that roll it out into a big rectangle.

Time to add the butter, cinnamon and sugar.   For this size batch (which made two 13×9 pans, 24 cinnamon rolls) I usually use about 2/3-3/4 of a stick of butter, one to two cups of brown sugar and as much cinnamon as strikes my fancy.   You can use white sugar for this as well, but I like the more caramely taste of brown sugar.   Also, some people go a lot heavier with the sugar coating than I do.   Do whatever YOU like.

Brush on your butter (I prefer mine softened.  Melted butter is just a big mess in my opinion).  Then add your cinnamon and sugar.

Then roll it up…

And cut into individual rolls.  I butter my baking dishes prior to sitting the cinnamon rolls in them.

From here I let them sit out and rise a bit more while my oven preheats.  Then into the oven they go, and within a few minutes the house smells amazing.

While I love a nice thick cream cheese frosting on top, I have grown to be quite fond of The Pioneer Woman’s method of pouring your icing/frosting/glaze on them right after they come out of the oven.  They soak up the flavor wonderfully this way.   But if that’s not your thing, don’t do it – it’s baking, have fun and do what works for you.

These were delish warm and right out of the oven, but I think my favorite way to enjoy cinnamon rolls is the next morning.  After they’ve soaked up all the glaze.  Oh. So. Good.

Want a bite?

Yum yum.

And you can feel a little less guilty as they are made with whole wheat and pumpkin.  Yup, some veggies in your cinnamon rolls.   Enjoy!

Pumpkin Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls With Vanilla Maple Glaze

Pumpkin Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls With Vanilla Maple Glaze


    Cinnamon Roll Dough
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 15 oz can OR 1 3/4 cups pureed pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup warm (not hot) water
  • 1 packet of yeast (1 tablespoon)
  • 5 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1-2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (optional but will enhance pumpkin flavor)
  • Filling
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter - softened
  • 1 -2 cups brown sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (optional)
  • Glaze
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp maple extract
  • pinch of salt (optional)


Combine butter and milk in a sauce pan and heat on low until butter has melted. Once butter has melted, add sugar and stir well to combine, cooking on low heat.

Add yeast to 1/4 cup of warm water (make sure it's not too hot, just warm to the touch). Let the yeast dissolve into the water.

While yeast is dissolving, pull butter, milk and sugar mixture off stove and let cool.

Once butter, milk and sugar has cooled down to warm (not hot), combine it with the yeast and water mixture in a large mixing bowl. Add in pumpkin puree, flour, pumpkin pie spice (optional) and salt. Stir to combine, you may need to work the ingredients together with your hands to fully incorporate flour.

Once combined, set bowl, covered, in a warm draft free spot for 1-2 hours to rise.

After dough has risen (it should double in size), punch it down and prepare to roll it out. Cover your work surface in flour and set dough on surface. Knead dough six to seven times. Roll out with a rolling pin into a large rectangle. If dough is sticky, add a bit of flour to it, as well as your rolling pin.

Once dough is rolled out, brush softened butter over dough. Sprinkle on cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice followed by brown (or white) sugar.

Tightly roll dough up, starting from edge furthest from you. Continue to roll until you've reached the end. Slice cinnamon rolls (you should get 24 of them, about one inch thick depending on how thin you've rolled out your dough). Set cinnamon rolls in buttered pan (two 9x13 pans works well, each holding 12).

At this point you can bake your rolls, or cover and place in the fridge for up to twenty four hours.

Preheat your oven to 375. While oven preheats, let cinnamon rolls sit at room temperature (approx 20 minutes). If cinnamon rolls have been in the fridge and are cold, it's best to give them 30-40 minutes at room temperature prior to baking.

Bake the cinnamon rolls for 18-25 minutes, until tops are golden brown and centers look firm. Remove from oven and let cool for approx five minutes.

While cinnamon rolls are cooling, mix up glaze, combining milk, powdered sugar, melted butter, vanilla extract, maple extract and pinch of salt in a large bowl and mixing well. The glaze should be pourable. If it's too thick, add additional milk, one tablespoon at a time.

Pour glaze over cinnamon rolls. Serve immediately or allow to sit. Store covered. Enjoy!


If your are a cinnamon roll fan, make sure to check out these delicious recipes as well…

Birthday Cake Cake Mix Cinnamon Rolls…

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls


  1. says

    OMG Christi these sound amazing! And look amazing! I could like my computer screen lol. Mind if I include them in my pumpkin recipe roundup on my blog later this week?

  2. Katie W says

    These look amazing and are def. on my baking to-do list. Question though, a standard packet of yeast is 2 1/4 teaspoon. Your recipe above has 1 Tablespoon making that an extra 3/4 teaspoon. Just want to make sure that’s correct esp for us folks who use loose yeast and not the packets. Thanks! Again they look amazing. I was drooling in bed as I read the recipe!

    • says

      Katie, nice catch! The large package of yeast I have has down a one tablespoon equivalent, but in looking it up, you are right (maybe I have bargain yeast that requires more, lol?). However I have been using a one tablespoon amount in place of a packet (I only use the packet in the photo, it’s less messy than my container of yeast) and I haven’t had any issues with recipes that I have made from a single packet or a tablespoon.

  3. Julia says

    I am making these right now but I wanted to let you know that the printable recipe doesn’t mention the pumpkin puree addition. Can’t wait to try these!

  4. Tiffany says

    I am so excited to try these; however, I have a quick question…in the list of ingredients I don’t see any salt mentioned for the dough but I see that you add salt in the instructions- did I miss something?

  5. says

    Yum!! I didn’t have any pumpkin puree so I used homemade spiced applesauce instead. The glaze is amazing! Thanks for the recipe – I plan to use pumpkin next time around :)

  6. Becky says

    I am wondering if we need to add salt to the recipe too… Any ideas? It’s mentioned in the recipe, but doesn’t give an amount…

  7. Kelli says

    Your pumpkin cinnamon rolls look delicious. I am a huge pumpkin fan as well. Right now in my possession, I have pumpkin bagels, waffles, and pumpkin spread! On the other hand, my family does not share the same kind of enthusiasm when it comes to my love of pumpkin. But, I might be able to trick them with these rolls!

  8. helpmeoutplease? says


    can someone help mention how much salt we add to dough? recipe mentions salt but no amount, i wanted to make these but only have 2 days and do not want to attempt this without knowing the salt amount! Can someone save the day?!?!? 

    • says

      Just a pinch of salt will do – or none if that’s what your taste prefers, it’s really one of those what’s your personal taste versus a crucial part of making the recipe work. :)

  9. Laura says

    Has anyone ever froze these? It makes a large batch for just the two of us. Should I freeze them before baking? Or after? Or not at all?

    • says

      Laura, I haven’t. With other cinnamon roll recipes I have frozen them after cutting and putting into the pan, and then just made sure to give them plenty of thaw/rise time prior to baking. I’ve found if that step is rushed, at least for me, they do not rise at all like they should. I’m sure you could freeze them after baking – then all you’d have to do is warm up and add some frosting!

  10. Jo says

    I appreciate the photo with all of the ingredients laid out. Being a visual learner, it is a great way to begin something new!!! They look yummy. I was going to make some pumpkin bread pudding (it is so delicious!) for a FarmGirl gathering tomorrow; however, I may end up making these. Yum.

    • says

      Jo, thanks, so glad it was helpful! I actually would like to do that with every recipe, but unfortunately I’m often mutli tasking with the toddler and end up getting ahead of myself and miss that photo! It’s certainly something I will try and do a better job at getting, because I am a very visual learner as well, so I totally get it!

  11. JanetN says

    This looks like an awesome recipe! I make yeast breads quite often, and just to simplify this and save a step or two, I put the milk in a Pyrex measuring cup, add the butter to that , Microwave that for about 60 seconds (It should be about 110-120 degrees F). Meanwhile put about 1/2 of the flour in the mixing bowl with the rest of the dry ingredients, including the yeast, give it a stir, Pour in the warm milk/butter, and mix. Add the pumpkin and the rest of the flour a cup at a time. Knead, It works great and saves a few steps.
    If you want to make them for the next morning, after shaping them, put them in the fridge overnight, Pull them out and put them in a warm place for about 30 minutes or so to let them warm and rise, then bake.
    If you want to freeze the dough, after you shape the rolls, put them in a Pyrex baking pan with a lid. Freeze. The day before baking them, I put them in the fridge to thaw, then the next morning, put them in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes or so. Then bake. You could freeze them in individual custard cups if you wanted.


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