These savory Pumpkin Spice Dinner Rolls are the perfect addition to a Fall dinner menu! They have all the pumpkin spice flavors you love but are soft, tender and chewy. An easy, yeasted dinner roll to spice up any occasion.
Why should pumpkin spice desserts have all the fun? These pumpkin spice dinner rolls take my pumpkin pie spice mix in a savory direction. There is just enough spice to make these rolls a warm, comforting side dish. They would be an excellent roll for Thanksgiving but too good to limit to one day a year! Stir up a little homemade maple butter to slather on each pumpkiny bite.
I also am in favor of pumpkin spice at every meal (I even made it easy for you with the 25 Best Pumpkin Recipes). This way you can have pumpkin spice oatmeal for breakfast, pumpkin spice bread with your afternoon coffee, rolls at dinner, and pumpkin pie for dessert! Or should that be a pumpkin maple trifle? Your call.
Table of Contents
Why use a sponge in Pumpkin Spice Dinner Rolls?
A sponge is a bread making technique where one combines a portion of the flour with the yeast and all of the liquids. In these pumpkin spice dinner rolls that is whole milk. The sponge not only activates and gives the yeast time to start fermenting, but also allows the gluten network to begin forming. This decreases the total amount of time you have to mix or knead the bread and will make the whole process faster!
Ingredients for Pumpkin Spice Dinner Rolls
- Dry Active Yeast: These little guys require the added step of hydration, but Dry Active Yeast is fast yet controllable. See substitutions for more options.
- Whole Milk: I generally use whole milk in yeasted breads for the added flavor and fat. It has a lower water content and the extra fat helps keep the rolls tender and moist.
- Sugar: Sugar is here for flavor. It also caramelizes the crust and gives the yeast an easy, readily accessible food supply.
- Bread Flour: I use bread flour in this recipe because there are so many additions to the dough that inhibit gluten development like pumpkin puree, egg and butter. The extra protein in bread flour will help form a strong enough gluten network in spite of these additions to create soft, tender, well-risen rolls.
- Dark Brown Sugar: Using dark brown sugar adds sweetness along with a little moisture. This will keep the rolls softer while adding a nice, rich molasses flavor.
- Kosher Salt: Kosher salt is lass salty than table salt and a teaspoon weighs less than other finer ground varieties. It adds flavor but also contributes to the dough structure. I also factor the salt into the hydration needed for the dough.
- Butter: Unsalted butter allows you to control the flavor of the dough while still adding all the buttery goodness!
- Whole Egg: The eggs are here to add fat, moisture and flavor. The fat from the yolk adds richness and helps keep the rolls moist.
- Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix: My Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix recipe is fine-tuned to work in pumpkin pie as well as it does in biscotti, rolls, oatmeal, or cookies!
- Pumpkin Puree: I use Libby's pumpkin puree because it is consistent and that is what I use to develop all my recipes. Use whichever brand you prefer.
- Pumpkin Puree: There are no substitutions here but it is worth reiterating that this is just plain puree and not pumpkin pie mix. You can make your own puree but the water content varies greatly and you might end up with a dry or gummy cake. The manufacturer adjusts the water content of canned puree, thus taking some of the guess work out.
- Whole Milk: I prefer baking with whole milk for the flavor and fat, but you could use skim milk, alternative milks or even make this recipe using all water.
- Dark Brown Sugar: If you don’t have dark brown sugar on hand, you can absolutely substitute light brown sugar in equal amounts. You could also add coconut sugar instead.
- Yeast: If you don’t have dry active yeast, you can substitute double the weight of fresh yeast or half the weight in instant yeast. If using either fresh or instant yeast, you can add them straight to the batter, but mixing them into the sponge will still kickstart the fermentation and gluten development!
What can you do with leftover pumpkin spice rolls?
- Sandwiches: These pumpkin spice dinner rolls make fantastic sandwich rolls for lunch the next day!
- Make Dessert: You can also cube them and make pumpkin spice bread pudding or slice them and make mini French toasts.
- Croutons: Tear or cut into cubes and make croutons for a salad.
- Bread Crumbs: Tear and toast in the oven until dried. Pulse in the food processor to make homemade bread crumbs!
Frequently Asked Questions
Store wrapped in an airtight container or zip-top bag, or wrapped in plastic wrap. Store at room temperature or frozen. They can be stored in the refrigerator but it will dry out faster.
For optimal freshness, consume or freeze within two days. Once frozen they will keep for 1 month.
These rolls can be well wrapped and frozen. Thaw at room temperature and reheat in a 325°F oven until warmed through.
The rolls can be prepared the night before but use half the amount of yeast and final proof in the refrigerator. Bake them when they are fully proofed. If they are fully proofed in the refrigerator, bake them cold, but if they need to rise more, allow them to rise at room temperature.
I have tested this bread recipe in a professional commercial bakery setting. You are only limited by the capacity of your particular mixer. I would strongly suggest measuring by weight when multiplying bread recipes. They are particularly sensitive to minute adjustments of flour and hydration. I scale all my bread recipes but it is particularly important when making a larger batch.
Absolutely! This will make two standard sized loaves. Follow the dividing, shaping, final proofing and baking instructions for my brioche bread loaves instead.
Chef Lindsey's Recipe Tips
The Windowpane Test! After you’ve incorporated your ingredients in your dough, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed until a rough window pane can be pulled. This means the dough will not look perfectly smooth but will have pulled together and made one cohesive dough around the hook. Pinch off a piece and gently pull the sides apart, rotate and pull again, making a square shape. The dough should not tear; you should be able to see through some of the dough like a window pane but then there will be pieces of dough that look rough. This is what you want.
Pumpkin Spice Dinner Rolls
Make the Sponge:
- Heat the milk to around 95-100°F in a pot or the microwave.
- In a medium bowl combine all the ingredients for the sponge and mix with your hands. You can mix with a spoon but it is so wet that it will be more difficult.
- Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot until visibly bubbly. It should take about 20 minutes.
Mix the Dough:
- I usually scale the remaining ingredients while the sponge is sitting.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer add the remaining flour, dark brown sugar, salt, butter, pumpkin puree, spice mix, egg and sponge.
- Mix on low speed with the paddle attachment until combined. You can also mix it with the dough hook but I find the paddle to incorporate more efficiently.
- Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed until a rough window pane can be pulled. This means the dough will not look perfectly smooth but will have pulled together and made one cohesive dough around the hook. Pinch off a piece and gently pull the sides apart, rotate and pull again, making a square shape. The dough should not tear; you should be able to see through some of the dough like a window pane but then there will be pieces of dough that look rough. This is what you want.
- Scrape the dough into a well-oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to proof for 30 minutes in a warm place. Fold the dough by grabbing one side, pull it upwards out of the bowl and then fold it over ⅓ of the dough. Rotate the bowl 180 degrees and repeat with the opposite side. Rotate a quarter turn and repeat the same folding technique. Rotate the bowl 180 degrees and make the final fold. You should have a nice tight square packet of dough.
- Marvel at your skills. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to double. Mine took about an additional 30 minutes.
- While the is finishing its bulk proof, grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray or butter.
- When the dough has doubled and feels light and airy when touched, turn it out onto an un-floured surface. It is soft, supple and not sticky!
- Divide into 12 equal portions. You can eyeball this or weigh them. They should be about 99g each. Place each about equidistant apart in the prepared dish.
- Cover with plastic wrap and place back in the warm spot to double. This took about 30 minutes for mine.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- When the buns are ready to bake (doubled and light and airy), brush with beaten egg.
- Bake in preheated oven for 20-22 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 185°F when inserted into the center of one of the middle buns. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can insert a cake tester or toothpick into the center and it should come out with clinging crumbs but no streaks of dough!
- Brush the hot buns with melted butter to emulate my shiny, enticing tops!
- Technically they should cool, but who has the patience? I say dig right on in.
Before You Go!
Check out our other delicious, chef-developed recipes for Breads!