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Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
4 from 3 votes
Servings: 15 rolls
Author: Lisa Lin

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

These fluffy pumpkin dinner rolls are lightly sweet and filled with fragrant pumpkin spice. The salted honey butter topping makes these rolls absolutely irresistible.
I use a scale to measure most of my ingredients, and I’d recommend doing the same if you have a scale. If you want to use a pumpkin spice blend instead of individual spices for the recipe, use 1 1/2 tablespoons of pumpkin spice. In the recipe, I provide directions on how to make 15 rolls, but you can easily make 20 smaller rolls too.
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time25 minutes
Resting Time3 hours



  • 2 tablespoons (20g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (75g/78mL) water


  • 1/2 cup (115g) whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon (13g) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp (7g) active dry yeast
  • 4 1/4 cups (510g) all-purpose flour, (see note 1)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, or 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt, or 1/2 teaspoon table or sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons (75g) dark brown sugar, (see note 2)
  • 3/4 cup (195g) pumpkin puree
  • 4 tablespoons (55g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 large egg

Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk or water

Honey Butter Topping

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, (see note 3 about using salted butter)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt, or 1/8 teaspoon table or sea salt



Make Tangzhong

  • In a saucepan, whisk together the tangzhong ingredients until the flour dissolves. Place the saucepan over medium-low heat and stir the mixture frequently. In about 30 seconds to 1 minute, the flour will start to thicken. Stir constantly until the watery liquid absorbs into a thicker paste. Turn off the heat and transfer the tangzhong to a bowl to cool.

Finish Making Dough

  • Heat the milk in the microwave for 30 seconds, until it reaches 110ºF to 120ºF. Mix in the granulated sugar with the yeast and let it sit for 5 minutes. The yeast should foam up at the top, an indication that the yeast is still active. (See note 4 about using instant yeast)
    Milk Yeast
  • Grease a mixing bowl with oil (any oil) and set it aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the flour (for the dough), cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and brown sugar. Then, add the tangzhong, milk and yeast mixture, pumpkin puree, melted butter, and egg.
    Ingredients in Bowl
  • Fit the mixer with the dough hook. Mix the dough on low until you don’t see any loose flour on the sides of the bowl. This should take 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Then, increase the speed to medium-low and work the dough for 7 minutes. The dough will feel slightly tacky.
    Dough after 7 mins
  • Lightly flour your hands and work surface. Then, transfer the dough to your work surface and knead a few times. If the dough is still feeling sticky, work in a few teaspoons of flour. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer the dough into the greased mixing bowl. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for an hour in a warm place.

Shape Rolls

  • Grease a 9x13-inch pan with oil and line with parchment paper along the long side of the pan.
  • Punch down the excess air in the dough and divide into 15 pieces of about 72 to 76 grams each. Shape each piece of dough into a ball. Use your fingers to knead a piece of dough a few times to press out any air pockets. Then, cup the dough in the palm of one hand and use the other hand to pull the seams together. Place the roll, seam side down onto the lined baking pan. Repeat this process for the remaining pieces of dough.
    Shaping Rolls
  • Cover the pan with a cloth (lightly damp or dry) and let the rolls rise in a warm place for 90 minutes to 2 hours, until the rolls rise to about double their size. (See note 5)
    Rolls Before Rise

Bake Rolls

  • When there’s about 15 minutes left in the proofing process, preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC). Position an oven rack to the middle position.
  • Whisk the egg wash ingredients together. Then, brush a thin layer of egg wash over the rolls. Bake the rolls for 23 to 25 minutes, until deeply golden brown at the top.
    Egg Wash Over Loaves
  • A few minutes before the rolls are done baking, prepare the honey butter topping. Add all the ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 15 to 20 seconds and stir until all the butter is melted and the honey is incorporated. You can also do this in a saucepan at low heat. Don’t overheat the mixture in the saucepan because the honey can stiffen.
  • Remove the pan from the oven. While the rolls are still hot, brush the honey butter topping over the rolls. You’ll likely have excess honey butter.
  • Let the rolls cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Lift the parchment paper to transfer the rolls to a cooling rack. Let the rolls cool for 10 minutes before serving.
  • Serve the bread rolls warm with salted butter or any remaining honey butter. Store the rolls in an airtight container overnight or in the refrigerator if you don’t plan on finishing them for a few days. Reheat the rolls in the oven at 325ºF (160ºC) for 10 minutes.


  1. I measured the flour using the spoon-and-sweep method. Use a fork to loosen the flour in your flour bag. Then, use a spoon to scoop flour into a measuring cup. Fill the measuring cup until it’s heaping with flour. Then level off the measuring cup with a knife.
  2. These pumpkin dinner rolls are lightly sweet, but they shouldn’t taste like a dessert roll. If you prefer rolls mildly sweet, use 4 tablespoons (50 grams) of brown sugar.
  3. If you have salted butter, simply melt 2 tablespoons of salted butter and 2 tablespoons of honey together. You shouldn’t need additional salt, unless you crave it.
  4. Because this dough is enriched with fat, dairy, sugar, and egg, it takes longer to rise. I tested this recipe in the middle of fall, when the weather is very cool. So the second rise took close to 2 hours for me. If you are pressed for time, you can bake these rolls after 1 hour 15 minutes of proofing. However, the rolls will have a lot of tearing along the sides and the bread will be tighter because the rolls were underproofed.
  5. Instant Yeast: If you are using instant yeast, you do not need to warm the milk and activate the yeast. Just add the milk, sugar, and yeast straight into the bowl.
  6. Making Dough Overnight: You can either refrigerate the dough right after you knead it (before the first rise) or after you’ve shaped the rolls (before the second rise). If you’re refrigerating the dough before the first rise, transfer the dough to a greased bowl, cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap, and refrigerate. When you are ready to shape the rolls, just take the dough out of the refrigerator and start working with it right away. If you plan to refrigerate the rolls before the second rise, cover the baking pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. When you are ready to bake the rolls, preheat the oven, take off the plastic wrap, and inspect the rolls. Deflate any large air bubbles that may have formed before brushing egg wash over the rolls. Then, bake the rolls (they do not need to reach room temperature first). The rolls may need an extra minute or two in the oven.
  7. Freezing Dough: After shaping the dough into small rolls, freeze the rolls on a plate for 1 to 2 hours, until they harden. Then, transfer the rolls to a freezer bag. When you are ready to bake the rolls, place them in a lined baking pan. Let the rolls thaw and rise until they double in size. It can take about 4 hours before they’re ready to bake. Finally, bake the rolls like you would in the recipe. One important note: the rolls seemed tighter and less soft when I baked them from frozen dough.


Serving: 1roll | Calories: 202kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 4.8g | Fat: 4.5g | Saturated Fat: 2.5g | Cholesterol: 23mg | Sodium: 97mg | Fiber: 1.7g | Sugar: 7.9g
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