Cranberry-Pumpkin Rolls: we're golden

No, this isn’t trick photography.

It’s not Photoshop, or Instagram, or even iPhoto “warmed” to the ultimate.

These Cranberry-Pumpkin Rolls are really, really ORANGE.

And they’re going to look absolutely stunning in your Thanksgiving bread basket.

Think about it. How many foods in your diet are truly orange?

Well, there are oranges, of course. Carrots. Sweet potatoes and acorn squash.

Persimmons, and pumpkins, and papayas – once you open them up, that is.

Orange Jell-O. Cheetos.

And, in the bread aisle at your supermarket right now – Hostess Halloween Sno Balls (a.k.a. “Glo Balls”).

But orange-hued baked goods? Beyond orange frosting on the Thanksgiving cupcakes, it’s just not happening.

Unless (make that until) you bake these Cranberry-Pumpkin Rolls.

Which are (did I mention?) really, really orange.

And truly, truly tasty.

Did you know that by clicking anywhere on this block of pictures, you can enlarge them to full size? Go ahead, give it a try; it’ll work for any of our photos.

Place the following ingredients in a mixing bowl:

4 3/4 cups (20 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, optional
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar, light or dark
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast
3/4 cup canned pumpkin or squash
2 large eggs
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

Mix and knead until you’ve made a soft, fairly smooth dough. Pumpkin varies in water content, so add extra water  or flour if needed.

When the dough is almost fully kneaded, add 3/4 cup dried cranberries or golden raisins, and 1/4 cup diced crystallized ginger. Knead until evenly distributed throughout the dough.

If you don’t have crystallized ginger (or don’t like it), simply leave it out – or substitute additional cranberries/raisins.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl (or 8-cup measure, as I’ve done here). Cover, and allow the dough to rise for 1 1/2 hours, until it’s almost doubled in bulk.

If you bake a lot of bread, you might consider using a large measuring cup for raising your dough; it really does make it easy to track how far it’s risen.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface, and gently deflate it.

For fairly large rolls, divide the dough into 16 pieces. A scale makes easy work of this task; the pieces will be roughly 2 3/4 ounces each.

Roll each piece into a ball. Place the rolls in the lightly greased cups of a couple of standard muffin pans (which will help them maintain their round shape); or onto a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.

Or, my favorite method –

Divide the dough into 24 pieces, and place them in a 9″ x 13″ pan. I love these rolls’ slightly smaller size, and the fact that they nestle close together in the pan and become pull-apart, soft-sided rolls.

Whatever size rolls and pan you choose, cover the pan lightly, and set the rolls aside to rise for 1 hour, or until they look puffy.

As you can see, they’ve snuggled together nicely in the 9″ x 13″ pan.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the rolls for 25 to 30 minutes, until they’re lightly browned and the center of one reads 190⁰F on an instant-read thermometer.

Remove the pan(s) from the oven and turn the rolls out onto a rack to cool. Brush them with melted butter, for a soft, satiny crust with extra-good flavor.

Good as gold!

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Cranberry-Pumpkin Rolls.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. "Cindy Leigh"

    Beautiful PJ! I can’t wait to try these and I’ve got all the ingredients! I agree with you on the smaller, pull-apart size. I love the soft sides and the smaller size is perfect for a large dinner when there’s so much to choose from. And pumpkin/squash and cranberry? Super-foods!

    Super-foods, and super-GOOD. Have a great Thanksgiving, Cindy – PJH

  2. jstettler

    I would love to make these for Thanksgiving morning. However, with all the other stuff going on that morning I was wondering if these could be made ahead and be frozen before baking. Perhaps after the rise in the pan?? Would I then thaw and bake? Or, bake them frozen??
    I think allowing them to have a second rise overnight in the refrigerator is the best option. You can pull them out about 45 minutes before baking and allow them to finish rising before baking. ~Amy

    Hi – Sure, you can do this. Make them up to the point they’re in the pan. Let them rise about 3/4 of the way to fully risen, then freeze, well wrapped. Thaw overnight in the fridge Wednesday night, then let come to room temperature Thursday morning; let rise a bit more, if necessary; and bake. Enjoy a stress-free Thanksgiving! PJH

  3. cmustopa

    I’d love to bring these to my brother’s house for Thanksgiving, but it’s a 3-hour car ride away. Would it be possible to make them “brown-and-serve”? Or must they be baked completely and just reheated?
    With the long car ride, I would just bake them fully and then warm them before serving. ~Amy

  4. TrishaT

    I thought they were golden from the use of white whole wheat flour, which makes me want to sub some in. Like the previous commenters I am going to see if I can work out how to make these before traveling 3 or 5 hours the day before Thanksgiving.

    PS I was at Dartmouth for a meeting recently and did a huge happy dance when I realize how close I was to you all. Your place is gorgeous! I was sad I couldn’t stop in to see my favorite bloggers, but I suppose all of the fan visits would slow your work down …

    Trisha, next time shoot us an email – or ask the ladies at the store to give us a call. We often come down to the store to meet our lovely readers… 🙂 PJH

  5. maccourt

    Could I get a bit of a clarification of Amy’s response to jstettler? I have the same issue, only I have a 5 hour drive involved too. Would this scenario work: the weekend before Thanksgiving mix/shape/rise for one hour in 13X9 pan, then put in freezer. Pull pan from freezer for 5 hour car ride, keep in the cooler in the car. Upon arrival at destination, put rolls in fridge (or garage if cool enough). Thanksgiving morning pull from fridge and let warm up about 45 minutes, then bake. Do I have it right?

    Let the rolls rise until they’re about 3/4 of the way to fully risen, then wrap and freeze. Keep as frozen as possible until late afternoon Wednesday. Put in fridge, let thaw overnight, and early next morning let warm to room temperature, finish rising, and bake. Sound good? PJH

  6. Jamie

    These look delicious! Do you think it would work with fresh cranberries? Or do you recommend sticking with dried fruit?

    Jamie, if you don’t mind the extra tartness of fresh cranberries, I think fresh berries (chopped in halves) would work just fine. Go for it! PJH

  7. bakeraunt

    I just bought the special “gold” yeast to use in recipes with a higher sugar/fat content. Would it work well in this recipe?

    No, stick with the regular SAF Red yeast – there’s not enough sugar in this recipe to work well with the Gold. Good luck – PJH

  8. Sue

    I’m pretty sure I know the answer,but just in case… My family would freak out if I put a raisin,cranberry or anything in my rolls. Can I just leave them out?

    Sure thing, Sue – I understand traditionalists! These make a lovely “plain” pumpkin roll, so go right ahead. PJH

  9. rismith4

    Do you think this dough would work for cinnamon rolls? I’ve seen a few recipes for pumpkin cinnamon rolls floating around the Internet, but I like the addition of cranberry and crystallized ginger in this recipe!

    Absolutely – what a great idea! I’d LOVE to taste these made into cinnamon rolls… I hope you report back here how they come out – good luck. PJH

  10. jowolfe

    Your answer about not having enough sugar in this recipe to work well with SAF Gold yeast was interesting. Is there a certain proportion of sugar to flour that is necessary to have Gold yeast work well? I have always used Gold whenever I had a dough with fat and sugar in it, thinking it would rise better, and found that it sometimes did not. Plain ol’ Red Star often worked far better and gave me a better product. What about fat proportion, is there a necessary level for fat to flour ratio also?

    Jo, check out this Sally Lunn blog, which includes a great explanation of how best to use SAF Gold yeast. Fat has nothing to do with how the Gold will work; it’s strictly sugar level. PJH

  11. AnneInWA


    I made these yesterday with craisins, and my kids looked at me and the rolls like I was nuts. I made them take a bite…of course I spread cinnamon butter on them, but I make my kids try them. They were a bit afraid of the color…they kept telling me that rolls are not supposed to be orange! Well, let me tell you, they loved them! They ate every last one, all 5 kids loved these (plus the husband). This is a wonderful recipe and I love that it has the added health benefits of the pumpkin and cranberry. These will be not only a staple in my home, but will be served at my Thanksgiving table this year.

    Thank you PJ!

    Glad you persevered, Anne, and FORCED them to at least try them. Sometimes a little “marketing” is in order, eh? 🙂 PJH

  12. skeptic7

    I’ve made pumpkin cinnamon rolls with a similar recipe, and had it flavored with candied ginger. It was made with whole wheat flour and came out very nicely.

  13. mariannewardle

    I’ve had problems in the past with a recipe for hot cross buns that didn’t rise very well–I read that both cinnamon and dried fruit like golden raisins or apricots that have been treated can impede the rise. That didn’t seem to be a problem here?

    Marianne, cinnamon (and garlic) both slow down yeast; as does the sugar in dried fruit (rather than the additives). If you’re having trouble, leave the cinnamon out of the dough; and try kneading the fruit in after the first rise, which gives the yeast a chance to get going before the fruit potentially slows it down. Good luck – PJH

  14. gaa

    I made these last weekend … served them with a blonde lasagna (roasted chicken from the market, sauted mushrooms and gruyere cheese) and they were WONDERFUL!! I was a little concerned as the dough was rising because it did seem to take a long time — I used SAF Gold instant yeast – my new favorite. I should not have wasted energy worrying. These rolls are light, perfectly spiced, just wonderful. Thanks for another keeper recipe!

    Your lasagna sounds absolutely fabulous – combined with the rolls, it must have been an awesome fall dinner. Thanks for sharing – PJH

  15. djoatwood

    Just made these and loved them. I think I’ll save up some in the freezer to use in the Thanksgiving dressing.

    Great idea – I’ve saved a loaf of “stuffing bread” (bread with sage, thyme, and other “Thanksgiving-type” herbs) for the same purpose. And today, I made a wonderful “Black Friday” (day after Thanksgiving) loaf using leftover stuffing and mashed potatoes – moist and delicious. Watch for the recipe soon! PJH

  16. cakestand

    I made a pan of these rolls for a family reunion this weekend. I mixed and formed on Fri. evening and baked just before lunch on Sat. Folks loved it and some asked for the recipe. Thanks.
    Thanks for trying this recipe and I am pleased it was a crowd pleaser. Elisabeth

  17. KathyS.

    These look amazing and I can’t wait to try them. I have cooked, pureed pumpkin in my freezer. Can I substitute that for the canned pumpkin? It is pretty watery; if I strain it thru a coffee filter will that be thick enough to use in this recipe? Thanks.

    I would perhaps use some cheesecloth if you can find it, it will make straining the puree a lot easier. Please let us know how it works for you!-Jon

    1. mariastephens0012804

      try baking the pumpkin that you plan on freezing and you just got my creative noodle going i have frozen organic carrots i bet a carrot cake inspiration for this buns with a lite glaze on top would be wonderful too.


  18. chefjhansen

    I just pulled a batch out of the oven – I used homeground hard white wheat for the all-purpose flour, and I am happy to report that it is delicious, even with the 100% wheat! The dough (I was careful not to add too much flour) was moist and fairly airy. This is a fantastic recipe – I can’t wait to see it become a family favorite!

  19. lckanno

    I’ve tried this twice. Loved the look, idea, and flavors this promised. I just did not get the same results. The first time my dough rose for the first rising, but not the second. The second time, the dough did not rise at all. I’ve never had much luck with yeast and don’t understand it, but I thought I followed the directions. Can anyone point me in the right direction to learn more?

    Sorry about your experience; we can definitely help. Please call our bakers’ hotline, 802-649-3717. A back-and-forth dialogue will set you on the road to success! 🙂 PJH

  20. Carole

    You need to be careful when you make these. I baked them last night before Thanksgiving, they looked and smelled so delicious that we had to eat some with dinner. Now I have to make another batch to take to dinner tonight…

    They’re tempting indeed, aren’t they, Carole? And so pretty, too… Glad you enjoyed them – twice! 🙂 PJH

  21. mariastephens0012804

    could this work using 1/2 spelt and half gluten free mix? i can hardly wait to make them and i love the idea of making cinnamon rolls out of it and think of this, good bread that is good for ya!
    thank you for being so creative please keepem coming i love your ideas


  22. Plumsfan

    I made these lat year for Thanksgiving and Christmas. My sister told me they are the best things I have ever made and everyone loved them. I am going to see how they taste as cinnamon rolls with maple sugar as part of the filling.

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Sounds like a nice “tweak” – think I’ll have to try that one myself! Thanks – 🙂 PJH

  23. Kelli

    I made these for a crowd for Christmas. I did just what you said and didn’t eliminate anything. They were delicious! I will definitely do this recipe again!! Thank you

  24. Kate Johnson

    I just found this, I’m going to use sweet potato instead of pumpkin, also I make a wonderful homemade crandberry jam. I’m going to do a cinnamon roll style. But I like the idea of prepping the day before and bake in the morning. Love this thank you.


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