Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Maple-Chai Buttermilk Glaze

Are there too many words in this post title? Maybe. But if you had to pick one to leave out, which would it be? You can’t choose, right? Me neither.

Now, as the name suggests, these things are freaking delicious. But if I had to describe this particular batch as something besides that, the first phrase that comes to mind would be “hot mess.” See, I have this problem where I tend to disregard things like directions and pan sizes if they don’t jive with what I currently have at my fingertips, especially when I really want to make something. “Oh, this recipe calls for a 9 x 9 pan, but I have an 8 x 8. Ehh, it’ll be fine!” As you might be able to tell from the picture above, there were a few…casualties. Poor little rolls. Otherwise destined for sticky greatness. Stuffed between their slightly larger brothers, who then eclipsed them in the oven. Poor, sunken, gooey things.

So, why was I so hell-bent on making these, aside from the obvious? Well, I have a couple belated things to celebrate, and I’d had my heart set on making these for over a week. First, the blog turned 2 in September — I completely missed that! It wasn’t until I was writing my credit rant last week and reflecting back on how long I’d been at this that I realized my oversight. (Also, I would like to say thank you so much to all of you who chimed in on that post with advice, stories of your own, and reassurance that I’m not crazy.) And the second reason for celebration: My birthday was this past Sunday! And I turned a nice, round number — one that involves a three, and a zero. Eep! So yeah, I needed some cinnamon rolls. 9 x 9 pan be damned!

Also, I’d just like to take a moment to say that I had an awesome birthday. My image use frustrations earlier in the week were dwarfed by an unexpected request from Sam Dean at Bon Appétit to feature my Homemade Sriracha post in his online Kookery column. (I was so excited, I took a screen shot of my name on their homepage. I am a dork.) Saturday night was good drinks with great friends. Sunday was dinner at my favorite restaurant. But best of all, one of J’s presents to me was a day of prop shopping (better know in some respects as “antiquing”). Apparently there are a lot of great shops in the area. (An abundance of antique shops in Vermont, whoddathunk?) If found so many amazing things, and had a really hard time picking and choosing what I wanted most. But here’s a little sample. I can’t wait to start incorporating them into my photographs!

And now, enough about me. Let’s talk about cinnamon rolls! Normally, I prefer my cinnamon rolls with icing. So when I started making the glaze for these, I was skeptical. And even more so when I accidentally added a little bit too much vanilla extract, and the whole thing smelled like a horrible candle. But I let it cool, took a taste, and it was DELICIOUS. And now that I’ve tasted them, I don’t think they’d be at all better with icing. The glaze lets the tangy, caramel-y chai flavor permeate every last little bit of the rolls, making them more like a sticky bun. They are awesome. A wonderful mess to eat.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Maple-Chai Buttermilk Glaze

(cinnamon roll recipe adapted from My Baking Addiction; glaze adapted from Epicurious)

yield: 16 rolls


  • 1 cup of pumpkin purée
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup of warm water
  • 1/4 cup of butter, softened
  • 4 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour (plus more, as needed)
  • 1/4 cup of nonfat dry milk
  • 1 tbsp of pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp yeast


  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice


  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of buttermilk
  • 1/8 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 chai tea bags

Combine dough ingredients and knead until a soft, smooth dough forms. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

When is nearly ready, mix together brown sugar and spices for the filling. Turn dough out on a lightly greased surface and roll out into a 14 x 22″ rectangle. Brush with melted butter, then evenly spread sugar/spice filling over surface, leaving an inch on one long edge free of filling.

Starting with edge that is covered with filling, roll dough up into a log. Trim off ends, then cut into 16 even slices. Place slices in a greased 9 x 9 pan. Cover and let rise for at least 1 hour at room temp, until doubled in size. (Alternatively, you can leave rolls in the fridge overnight, then let them rise on the counter the following morning.)

Preheat over to 375°. Bake rolls for 25–30 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. Remove from oven and let pan cool on a rack.

Warm buttermilk and butter in a deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan, until butter is melted. Steep chai tea bags in mixture for 5–10 minutes. Remove tea bags, squeezing out all excess liquid into the pan. Add all of the remaining glaze ingredients EXCEPT for vanilla extract to the pan, then bring to a boil. (As mixture begins to boil it will double in size, so you want a fairly deep saucepan.) Boil for about 5 minutes, stirring often, until mixture begins to reduce slightly and is a dark amber in color. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla extract, then set aside and let cool slightly.

Remove rolls from the pan. Liberally drizzle glaze over them, then give it a moment to seep into every nook and cranny. Enjoy, and be prepared to get sticky!


  1. says

    And I just found your blog through this recipe that Averie had pinned! Pumpkin and chai tea are two of my VERY favorite things. (In fact, I just picked up some pumpkin chai yesterday!) I’m pinning this one and plan on making it for a special breakfast sometime this fall. Thanks for sharing, and beautiful photography!

    I can’t even imagine how delicious your house must smell after making these.

    • says

      Hi Traci! Thank you so much. :) I kind of have this secret mission to show the world that pumpkin + chai is the best flavor combination there will ever be. I’m addicted to it, so everyone else might as well be too!

  2. says

    These look amazing! — probably because of both the beautiful pictures AND the mouthwatering recipe! Btw, you weren’t wrong to rant – it’s called stealing and it’s not ok to take someone’s pictures and their recipe and not give credit. I always thought blogs were ‘creative’ outlets, what’s the point if you’re not going to be creative?

    Anyway, congrats on your 2 years!

    • says

      Thank you, Sarah! I completely agree–if you aren’t going to create original content, and you aren’t going to draw attention to the things that you enjoy, then what’s the point?

  3. Maryam says

    This looks absolutely amazing! Question though, can the milk powder be replaced with regular milk? Does it have to be powder?

    Thank you!!

  4. hannah says

    Happy belated birthday, Carey! These look wonderful!!! I was planning to make some pumpkin monkey bread this weekend and I think I’ll try this icing :)

  5. says

    Congratulations. These sound amazing. I made cinnamon rolls from Baked Elements and they were delicious. This glaze sounds even more amazing.

  6. says

    Love your photos and posts- not at all surprised about the request from Bon Appetit, congrats! These look and sound exquisite- I’m instantly drawn to anything with the word “chai” in the title, and I think these rolls might have to make an appearance in my kitchen this weekend. Happy belated birthday!

  7. says

    Yup, you had me at the title. I’ve never thought about it before, but cinnamon rolls make the perfect celebratory dessert. Way better than cake, in my humble opinion! Glad you indulged. :) (And those props are TOO awesome. Can’t wait to see them incorporated into shots!)

    • says

      Thank you, Linda! It’s true. While I’ll certainly eat cake if it’s put in front of me, I get far more excited to make and eat doughier treats that pack a lot more flavor. (And in this case, are a lot more messy!) :)

  8. Jenny says

    Okay, your blog is absolutely dang gorgeous and perfect, best photography i have seen. How have I not found your blog until now?! Everything is pictured so beautifully and your writing is wonderful too. So so so so talented! And your chocolate ice cream post? Gah. There are no words. Keep it up carey! Looking forward to goggling over more of your posts.

  9. says

    Hi Carey

    This recipe looks just fab! I’m in the UK and we don’t have pumpkin pie spice over here. Do you know what spices go into it so I can try and cobble it together?

    • says

      Ooo, great question! There are many different recipes for pumpkin pie spice out there, with varying ingredients and proportions — but it’s usually some combination of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves, with cinnamon being the prevalent ingredient. I actually make my own using 1 part ginger, 1 part nutmeg, 1 part cloves, and 4 parts cinnamon. (This mixture is a little bit clove-heavy because I love the flavor, but you might want to dial it back if you don’t feel the same way.)

  10. Laura says

    Just wanted to check in and let you know that I made these on Saturday, and they were AMAZING. The first part of rising didn’t really happen for whatever reason, but I pressed on, and the rolls themselves rose perfectly. I kind of wanted to bathe in the glaze….

    Will totally be making these again!! Thanks so much! Happy early Thanksgiving!! :D

  11. says

    Hot mess indeed–these look divine, and that glaze, oh brother.

    Also, I just read your credit post and I really couldn’t agree with you more. The same thing happens to me, too. Sometimes people go as far as lifting an entire post (recipes, text, and every last photo) without one mention of my blog, and like you, no visible link. I feel weird about leaving “please desist” notes in the comment section, but when there is no email available, I’m not sure what else to do. It requires a huge amount of time, creativity, and energy to produce a single post, and so it does feel tantamount to stealing to me, for someone to just lift work like that, especially when they don’t even have the respect to ask.

    • says

      Thanks, Cristina. :) It’s so frustrating that people will lift writing and photos like that, without no respect to the work that goes into creating it! I’m kind of afraid of what I’d find if I actually looked for things that weren’t properly credited to me…

  12. Tiffany says

    Hey, your recipe looks mouthwatering, but I just have a question about the glaze – It says 1/8 cup butter, or 1/2 stick of butter, but isn’t 1/2 stick equal to 1/4 cup of butter?


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