If you’re looking for a perfect dinner roll, this may be it. These savory pumpkin dinner rolls are soft, squishy, and buttery. And awesome. The flavors in these buttery rolls perfectly complement all your Thanksgiving favorites.
You may also want to check out my garlic Parmesan rolls or my soft garlic chive dinner rolls. They’re soft and perfect for sopping up gravy, too!
You can find more of my Thanksgiving breads all in one place here.
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I love a good, crusty bread. One you practically have to snap your head back away from in order to tear off a bite. I love to dip that kind of bread in oil.
But when it comes to gravy–brown, turkey, chicken or beef gravy and not the Italian version of gravy–I want a soft roll. I want a squishy roll, and while we’re at it, I want it to be rich, too.
I want it to soak up gravy or let me make tiny sandwiches of parts of my meal. A bit of turkey. A bit of stuffing. A bit of cranberry, all on my soft, buttery roll. Yes, I know what I want in a roll.
Pumpkin Roll Recipe Inspiration
This Thanksgiving, I also knew I wanted to make pumpkin dinner rolls. I looked up Pumpkin Rolls in Donna Currie’s Make Ahead Bread, and while they sounded fantastic, I knew that, as written, they wouldn’t be as squishy as I wanted.
So I adapted Donna’s recipe into a rich, brioche-esque, buttery dough. I added a fine dusting of freshly Microplaned Parmesan Reggiano for an even more savory, nutty kick, and these little guys were just about perfect.
For Thanksgiving, I made 24 rolls and took 23 to Julie’s house. I’m not sure what happened to that 24th guy.
I was a bit concerned that some of the teenagers might be sad about orange rolls for Thanksgiving, so we brought some King’s Hawaiian Savory Butter Rolls as back-ups.
I am very pleased to announce that, not only did most of the teenagers devour more than one, we didn’t have to break out the King’s. Yay us, because we’re going to make our favorite Ham and Cheese sliders with them. Huzzah!
So, if an endorsement by a passel of teenagers is a good indicator, these savory pumpkin dinner rolls are likely to go over really well at your house, whether or not you have teenagers.
Savory Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
But pumpkin is a vegetable–okay, a gourd, but still–and as such, it also shines in savory recipes. The mellow richness of pumpkin plays beautifully with fall herbs and spices like marjoram and sage.
For Thanksgiving, the same herbs found in poultry seasoning are also play up the savory goodness of pumpkin.
I’ve seen many pumpkin dinner roll recipes that call for pumpkin spice, but especially if you’re serving a pumpkin dessert, I think it’s nice to keep the rolls savory as opposed to bringing dessert flavors onto your dinner plate.
If you’ve never had sorghum before, it’s worth trying. It is thick like honey but tastes like a non-bitter molasses.
If you have issues with molasses because it can be bitter, give sorghum syrup a try. It is most excellent on rolls or biscuits or used as a molasses or honey substitute.
Soft Pumpkin Dinner Rolls Q&A
Since not everyone is comfortable baking with yeast, here is some information I hope you’ll find helpful.
If I don’t answer your question here in this FAQ, please feel free to email me, and I will be happy to help.
Yes. You can increase the yeast to 2 1/2 teaspoons, decrease the butter by half, allow the dough to rise in a covered bowl on the counter and then shape and let rise again.
Cutting down the amount of butter while upping the yeast by a little bit will allow you to make these rolls in one day with no overnight rise.
Absolutely. Most bread freezes and thaws extremely well. Cool the baked rolls completely and then freeze them in freezer bags. Be sure to press out as much air as you can before sealing the bags. Pull them out of the bag as you need them, or let the entire bag defrost on the counter. You can then warm them in a low oven wrapped in foil or you can warm them up for a few seconds in the microwave.
Yes. If you know you want to freeze the rolls before you bake them, increase the yeast to 1 Tablespoon. Make the dough through the first rise (whether you’re making them in one day or you’re speeding up the process by adding yeast and reducing the butter), then shape the rolls, pan them up, and freeze the whole tray. Once frozen, wrap the whole tray really well. Defrost them at least overnight in the fridge before bringing them out to allow them to rise on the counter. Once they have almost doubled in size, they’re ready to bake.
Yes, you can. This recipe makes about 36 ounces of dough, or 2 pounds, 4 ounces. From this recipe, you can make one 1 1/2 pound loaf and 4 rolls (or a 12 ounce round loaf baked directly on a baking stone), or you can make 2 1-pound loaves plus 4 rolls/12 ounce round.
And there you have it: buttery pumpkin dinner rolls worthy of any holiday table.
They sop up gravy with the best soft rolls out there, plus they’re a pretty color. You can certainly leave off the Parmesan cheese, but it goes beautifully with the pumpkin and plays nicely with the poultry seasoning in the dough.
I hope you enjoy them as much as we have. Twice.
For the Dough
- 9.5 oz (1 cup) canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
- 3 oz (1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons) water (cold or room temp)
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 Tablespoons sorghum syrup or honey
- 8 oz (2 scant cups) bread flour (I use King Arthur)
- 8 oz (2 scant cups) all purpose flour (I use King Arthur)
- 1.25 oz (1/4 cup) malted milk powder**
- 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 1 1/4-1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 5 oz (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but not greasy
To Finish and Bake
- 2-3 Tablespoons of milk
- Parmesan cheese, (block, not the green can)
- Combine the pumpkin, water, yeast, sorghum syrup or honey, flour, malted milk powder, poultry seasoning, and salt (in that order) in the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix with the dough hook until all the flour is incorporated. The dough will be pretty stiff at this point.
- With the mixer on medium low speed, begin adding the softened butter, about a tablespoon at a time, until it's all incorporated. Make sure one addition of butter is completely incorporated before adding the next. Once the butter is all in, you'll have a very soft dough/stiff batter. Knead on medium/medium-low speed for about 10 minutes.
- Pour/scrape the finished dough into a greased bowl. Spray the top with pan spray or brush with oil, cover and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, remove the dough from the fridge and portion into 12 buns. Each will weigh right around 3 ounces. If you have a scale (and you really should) weigh the entire amount of dough and then divide by 12 and scale the dough accordingly.
- With oiled hands, shape each piece of dough into a smooth ball. Tighten it up a bit by rolling it between your hands on the counter. This doesn't work so well with this dough, so just do the best you can. Don't bother to flour or oil the counter. Just use your bench knife to occasionally scrape up any bits of dough that stick to it.
- Place the rolls about 1/2" apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. You could also place them in 3 rows of 4 in a parchment-lined 9"x13" pan. Spray the tops of the rolls, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit at room temperature until doubled in size. This could take several hours, especially if your kitchen is cold. The dough will spread more than it rises, but that's okay. All the dough balls should be touching and sort of stuck together by at least 1 1/2" on all sides (or the sides that are touching, anyway). To speed the process along, you can let them rise in a warm place, and if you run out of time, you can always refrigerate them and finish later.
- When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F.
- Brush the tops of the rolls with the milk and then Microplane some Parmesan evenly over them.
- Bake until golden brown. Some of the cheese will have browned too, but not all of it. This should take about 30 minutes. I baked mine for 15 minutes then rotated the pan and baked another 10 minutes. It depends on your oven. The internal temperature of the rolls should be 200F.
- Remove from the oven and cool on a rack until just warm. Serve them immediately or reheat once they're room temperature. Store cooled buns in freezer bags. I thaw mine for a few seconds in the microwave and then heat them for a couple of minutes in the toaster oven.
**You can also use dried milk powder in your rolls. I like the flavor the malted milk powder lends.
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Nutrition InformationYield 12 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 269Total Fat 11.1gSaturated Fat 6.9gCholesterol 29mgSodium 421mgCarbohydrates 35.6gFiber 1.8gSugar 5.2gProtein 7.1g
Thanks so much for spending some time with me today. Take care, and have a lovely day.