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These Pumpkin Bread Rolls are as delicious as they are adorable, and perfect for any fall gathering.
The rolls are incredibly soft with a hint of pumpkin flavor. Plus, the butter is utterly delicious.
And the best part is that both the rolls and the butter are surprisingly easy to make!
The idea for the shape of these Pumpkin Bread Rolls came from Beyond Kimchee blog. I wanted to make pumpkin bread rolls, and I was inspired to shape them this way thanks to Beyond Kimchee’s adorable pumpkin shaping technique.
I think that extra step makes these rolls so adorable, memorable, and beautiful for any holiday table.
I hope you give these cute pumpkin bread rolls a try this Thanksgiving!
How to Make Pumpkin Bread Rolls with Cinnamon Butter
Which Yeast Is Best to Use For Pumpkin Bread Rolls?
Instant yeast, also called rapid rise or quick rise yeast, helps these pumpkin rolls rise faster. You can buy my favorite yeast on Amazon. This type of yeast is specifically formulated to allow you to skip yeast proofing (the step where you combine the yeast with warm liquid and allow it to sit for a few minutes until it becomes bubbly). Instant yeast can be directly added in with all of the other ingredients.
Can I Use Active Dry Yeast Instead of Instant Yeast?
Yes, you can swap instant yeast for active dry yeast at a 1:1 ratio. Active dry yeast will take about 20% longer to rise. Here’s how to slightly speed up that process:
- Combine the active dry yeast with the warm water and warm milk called for in the recipe and allow it to proof for 5 minutes, until frothy.
- Then add to the bowl with the other ingredients and proceed with the recipe as written.
What Type of Pumpkin Should I Use in Bread Rolls?
- I used store-bought canned pumpkin puree for this Pumpkin Scones recipe.
- I don’t recommend using homemade pumpkin puree for this recipe, as homemade puree tends to contain more liquid, which can be detrimental to a yeasted bread recipe.
- Note: Be sure NOT to use canned pumpkin pie filling for this recipe – it is not the same thing as pumpkin puree.
- Check out my Fresh vs. Canned Pumpkin article for the differences between using fresh pumpkin puree, regular canned pumpkin, and organic canned pumpkin.
How to Knead Pumpkin Bread Rolls
This Pumpkin Roll dough comes together quite easily in your stand mixer. If kneading by hand, be sure to knead the dough properly so your pumpkin rolls hold their shape and bake up nice and fluffy. To learn more about this, see my instructions for how to knead by hand here.
How To Tell If You Have Over-Proofed Your Pumpkin Bread Rolls
This can happen easily if your kitchen is very hot, or if you’re super busy and forget to check on the rolls. If your rolls have over-proofed, they will likely deflate while egg washing, or look deflated once baked. Over-proofed rolls will look a little sad, but they should still taste fine.
How to Store Pumpkin Bread Rolls
Store baked, cooled Pumpkin Bread Rolls in an airtight container for up to two days at room temperature.
How to Freeze Pumpkin Bread Rolls
Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to two months. Let defrost at room temperature before serving.
How to Make Pumpkin Bread Rolls Ahead of Time
Make 1 Day Ahead:
- After kneading the dough, remove the dough to a container wrapped in plastic wrap. Leave room for the dough to rise (it will still happen even in the colder environment, but more slowly). This will be the dough’s first rise.
- Once you’re ready to proceed with shaping the dough into little pumpkins, remove it from the fridge, punch it down, and allow it to rest and come to room temperature (about 30 minutes) before shaping as the recipe instructs.
- The final rise may be longer than directed in the recipe because the dough will still be cool.
Make Further Ahead:
- After its first rise, shape the dough into pumpkins as directed.
- Cover well with plastic wrap and immediately place in the freezer for up to 2 months.
- When you’re ready to bake, loosen the plastic wrap and defrost to room temperature.
- Let rise until an indentation made with your finger into the dough remains.
- Proceed with the recipe as written.
- Prepare the dough, shape the pumpkin rolls, and begin baking as instructed in the recipe.
- Bake for half the baking time, or until the bread begins to hold its own shape.
- Remove from the oven, cool completely, then wrap well in plastic wrap and tin foil.
- Label the remaining bake time and temperature on the bread before storing.
- Refrigerate overnight or store in the freezer for up to 1 month.
- When ready to bake, bring to room temperature and bake for the remaining time from the recipe in the oven.
- Feel free to wrap and freeze bread rolls individually to bake off as many as needed.
More Fall Recipes You’ll Love:
For the bread:
packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
scalded and cooled to lukewarm
(50 grams) granulated sugar
(43 grams) unsalted butter,
(113 grams) pumpkin puree
(476 grams) all-purpose flour
Sliced pecan pieces,
for the “stems”
For the butter:
stick (113 grams) unsalted butter,
at room temperature
(31 grams) powdered sugar
(84 grams) honey
For the bread rolls:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, stir the yeast, milk, sugar, butter, pumpkin, one egg, and salt until well combined. Gradually add the flour and knead on medium-low speed until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn off the mixer and let the dough rest for 3 to 5 minutes. Continue to knead the dough on medium-low speed for another 5 minutes, or until the dough is soft and smooth. If it seems too sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Transfer the dough to a large greased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 15 equal pieces and shape into balls. Use the palm of your hand to flatten each ball slightly. With a pairing knife, cut 8 slices around each ball to make the pumpkin shape, being careful not to slice all the way into the center. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. Use the wooden end of a small utensil or your finger to poke an indentation in the center of each roll to create a space for the “stem.” In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg with 2 teaspoons of water and brush all over the rolls. Bake the rolls for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Place a sliced pecan piece into the indentation of each roll.
For the cinnamon butter:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for 30 seconds, or until pale in color. Add the powdered sugar, honey, and cinnamon and beat until well combined, light, and fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately or store, covered, in the fridge for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Serve the rolls warm with the cinnamon butter.
This post was originally published in 2014 and has been updated with additional recipe tips, a step-by-step video, and baking science information.