Savory Pumpkin Honey Dinner Rolls

I knew these rolls were going to be a hit, but I didn’t anticipate the mania that ensued as I took them from the oven, let them cool for a few minutes, pulled them apart, and piled them on a platter to serve.

I mean, should you stop someone from eating six rolls, back-to-back, without coming up for air? Or just pass them more butter?

So be forewarned! Even though these are the PERFECT rolls to serve for your Thanksgiving dinner, the turkey and trimmings may be upstaged.

You might also serve these tender, slightly sweet rolls with Maple Pumpkin Spice Butter as a lovely accompaniment to afternoon tea.

Savory Pumpkin Honey Dinner Rolls

Based loosely on my Grandmother Mary’s much loved dinner rolls, this variation features fresh pumpkin and wildflower honey. I wanted to throw in pumpkin pie spices– cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves–but MauiJim got wind of the idea and hid all the spices. However, after I found his hiding spot (under the towels in a kitchen drawer), I compensated by creating a wonderful Maple Pumpkin Spice Butter to accompany the rolls. And guess who ate more than his fair share of that?

1 packet (2½ teaspoons) active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup milk, scalded and cooled
1 cup baked, peeled, mashed pumpkin or sweetpotato (or canned 100% pure pumpkin puree)
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup wildflower honey
2 teaspoons fine sea salt

3-4 cups bread flour

olive oil, for greasing bowl

2 tablespoons melted butter
¼ cup lightly toasted, chopped pumpkin seeds

Maple Pumpkin Spice Butter (recipe below)

  1. Lightly oil a 10- by 10-inch metal baking pan. Reserve.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the yeast, water, and sugar. Proof for 5-10 minutes, until the mixture is foamy.
  3. Add the eggs, milk, pumpkin puree, butter, honey, and salt together in a bowl.
  4. Add just enough flour to form a very soft dough; keep the dough on the wet side for now.
  5. Dust a countertop with flour and turn the wet dough out on top. Continue adding flour as needed and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. The dough should still be on the wet side. You will have to handle it gingerly to keep it from sticking to your hands.
  6. Oil a large, clean mixing bowl, put the dough inside, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  7. Weigh the dough and then divide into 25 equal weight pieces. With your hands, form each piece into a ball, stretching the top of the dough ball while simultaneously pinching the bottom closed. This shaping method helps the dough to retain its round shape.
  8. Arrange rolls in five rows of five in the baking pan. Let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in size.
  9. Brush the top of the rolls with melted butter and sprinkle with chopped pumpkin seeds.
  10. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes, until cooked through and nicely browned.
  11. Remove from the oven, let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Serve at room temperature or warmed, accompanied with Maple Pumpkin Spice Butter.

Makes 25 pull-apart rolls.

Maple Pumpkin Spice Butter

I threw this butter together as an afterthought, but it was such a hit that I make it regularly now. So simple and so good.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

  1. In a processor fitted with the steel blade, process the butter until light and smooth.
  2. Add the maple syrup, spices, and salt, and pulse to incorporate.
  3. Scoop into a serving bowl and keep at cool room temperature until ready to serve.
  4. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers and bring to cool temperature before serving.

Makes 1 cup.

Additional Inspiration

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  1. says

    We eat this pumpkin honey dinner rolls often and it is the one my friends look forward to when they pop round for a cup of tea and a pumpkin honey roll. Especially nice on a warm summers day sitting in the garden chatting, putting the world to rights and just generally chilling out for a while as we all live busy lives and sometimes forget we need a bit of (us) time to do just that.
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    • Susan S. Bradley says

      Dana, I must make these rolls, along with the Maple Butter. Guests forget about all the other beautiful dishes on the table and pounce on the rolls. :-)

  2. Stephanie says

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
    I made these yesterday with roasted pumpkin and hubbard squash. Used whole spelt flour and when it was still crazily sticky added some garbanzo flour (enough spelt to make a dough non-sticky makes it into sawdust, but garbanzo holds moisture really well). Had some odd math trouble–tared my scale with an identical bowl, then weighed the dough in its bowl, and divided by 25. Somehow, it only used half the dough. So I went over with another portion atop each of my little piles. Though my rolls are probably not as distinct from one to the next as yours, it worked.
    They were incredibly, dangerously good.

    I did find them a little sweet (counter to their name). If I reduced the honey, would I need to add something else?

    • Susan S. Bradley says

      Stephanie, thank you, and so glad these turned out for you, even with the ingredient substitutions. :-) You’re right, they are a little sweet, but still a dinner roll, rather than a super sweet breakfast roll. You can definitely cut back on the honey with no ill effect.

  3. Kate says

    These look lovely! I’m experimenting with making rolls for the first time this year. Just wondering what the total weight was for your dough before dividing into 25 parts (or how much did each roll weigh before doubling?).


    • Susan S. Bradley says

      Thanks Kate! You know, I of course weighted the dough and was even going to give that weight in the recipe, but then decided that since the weight might vary just a bit from cook to cook, that it was better to simply say to weigh YOUR dough and divide by 25 to get the weight of the individual rolls. I don’t recall any longer what the total weight was but will add it to the recipe the next time I make these rolls (Thanksgiving).

  4. says

    Susan, two hugs to you. One for sharing this wonderful recipe. A second, for when I actually enjoy it…because I KNOW I will. I love pumpkin and like the idea of adding it in bread.



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