Vegan Pumpkin cinnamon rolls

It’s August and still very much a hot and humid summer, but I can’t pretend that I don’t notice everyone starting to pre-game for the fall. For me this means starting to make lists of my favorite fall recipes and trying to convince myself the yellow leaves on the tulip poplar are from the upcoming change in season, instead of the later summer stress the tree displays every year.

This recipe was originally published via The Kitchn, years and years ago. I only swapped out the butter for Earth Balance, and changed the cinnamon to Vietnamese cinnamon, it’s just my personal preference. I also use more cinnamon and more brown sugar, because life is short and I make these only two or three times a year. This is my tweaked vegan version. I’ve only added chopped walnuts or pecans once or twice over the years, and generally perfer this recipe with more sugar and no nuts. You can also check out the original here.

I bake my cinnamon rolls in 9×13 inch USA pans, which are my absolute favorite bakeware. I generally fill the pan and use a USA Pan loaf pan for extra rolls.


For the dough:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon yeast (1 package)
  • 1 cup plant based milk (unsweetened soy works very well)
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter (I’ve had good luck with Earth Balance in this recipe)
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar
  • 1 (15-ounce) can plain pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling!)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 5 1/2 cups all-pupose flour

For the filling:

  • 1/2 cup butter (Earth Balance)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablepoon teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups pecans or walnuts – toasted, chopped, and divided in half (optional)

For the glaze:

  • 1/4 cup vegan butter
  • 1/2 cup favorite plant based milk
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar


  1. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let it sit a few minutes until the yeast is dissolved.
  2. Meanwhile, warm the milk and butter in a small saucepan on the stove top until the butter is melted. Combine this with the sugar in a large heat-proof mixing bowl and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Let the milk mixture cool until it is just warm to the touch – NOT HOT. Then stir in the yeast and the pumpkin. Add the salt and five cups of the flour all at once, stirring until all the flour has been absorbed. Squish it between your hands if you’re having trouble incorporating the last of the flour. The dough will be sticky, but should come together in a shaggy ball. If it’s still more the consistency of cookie batter, work in an additional 1/2 cup of flour.
  4. Cover the dough and let it rise for 1-3 hours. During this time, it should double in bulk.
  5. You can punch the dough down and refrigerate it overnight or continue shaping the rolls.
  6. To shape the rolls (either immediately or with the refrigerated dough), sprinkle your work surface with a little flour and dump the dough on top. Pat it down into a rough rectangle and then use a floured rolling pin to roll it into a rectangular shape about a half an inch thick, longer than it is wide. If the dough gets sticky, sprinkle a little more flour on the dough’s surface and on your hands.
  7. Melt the butter in the microwave and drizzle over the rectangle of dough and the spread it evenly across the dough using the back of a metal spoon.
  8. Sprinkle the brown sugar and spices over the butter. Leave an inch of bare dough at the top. Sprinkle one cup of the toasted pecans over the dough, if using. Starting at the edge closest to you, roll the dough into a cylinder and pinch it closed at the top.
  9. Rub a tablespoon of soft butter into the bottom of two 9×13 baking dishes, two 9-inch cake pans, or a combination. Using a bench cutter or a sharp knife, cut the cylinder into individual rolls 1 – 1 1/2 inches thick. Place them into your baking dishes so they have a little wiggle room on all sides to rise. Cover them with a clean kitchen towel and let them rise until they fill the pan and look puffy, 30 minutes for already-warm dough and 1 hour for dough that’s been refrigerated.
  10. About 20 minutes before baking, begin heating the oven to 375°. When the rolls are ready, bake them for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are golden and starting to look toasted around the edges. Rotate the pans halfway through cooking.
  11. While they are baking, prepare the glaze. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk and butter. When the butter has melted, add the brown sugar and salt. Stir until the brown sugar has melted. Remove from heat and strain into a mixing bowl to remove any sugar clumps. Stir in the powdered sugar. This should form a thick but pourable glaze.
  12. Let the baked rolls cool for about five minutes and then pour the glaze on top. Sprinkle the remaining cup of pecans over the top, if more nuttiness is desired. Eat them immediately. Leftovers will keep for several days and are best reheated for a minute in the microwave.

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