Gluten-free pumpkin cinnamon rolls with pecans and an easy coconut milk glaze – these refined sugar-free, gluten-free sticky rolls are perfect for holiday breakfasts – recipe includes an option for dairy-free cinnamon rolls!
This post is sponsored by Red Star Yeast.
Whenever the holidays roll around, and those chilly mornings call for something sweet and inviting, I always find myself craving cinnamon rolls. The warm, inviting scent wafting through the house makes you feel perfectly comfortable and cozy at home. As a kid, my mom would prepare perfect batches of cinnamon rolls for my brothers, sister, and I – they were never too sweet, always large and fluffy, and rich with cinnamon goodness. After making a few batches, myself, I decided to step up my roll game, and convert to the wonderful world of – you guessed it – cinnamon rolls.
Or, pumpkin pecan sticky rolls if you will.
These pumpkin cinnamon rolls are so packed with fall, they send my frontal lobe into overdrive.
At the baseline, the recipe for these pumpkin cinnamon rolls is a simple adaptation from traditional pumpkin cinnamon rolls, minus the gluten, refined sugar, and dairy. In place of regular all-purpose flour, I made the simple switch to gluten-free all-purpose flour. I replaced brown sugar with coconut sugar, butter with coconut oil, and milk with coconut milk. These changes will make your sticky rolls allergy friendly for those who can do grains.
All in all, these cinnamon rolls are:
- refined sugar-free (naturally sweetened with coconut sugar)
- dairy light (or dairy-free if using coconut oil)
- packed with fall flavor
- nutty, sweet, cinnamony, satisfying
When it comes down to preparing these rolls, they are a bit of a process. These rolls require some time to put together, so save this recipe for a lazy weekend morning or evening when you have plenty of time to devote to the recipe. Delicious carb treats always taste better when you don’t rush it and enjoy the process, in my opinion. I also recommend reading the recipe a couple of times all the way through before starting it, especially if, like me, you’re a cinnamon rolls novice. A stand mixer will help immensely in cutting down the prep time and cleanup, but if you don’t have one you can just as easily use a couple of mixing bowls.
I used Red Star Yeast Active Dry Yeast to make these cinnamon rolls. Having a stash of Red Star Yeast on hand is always my recommendation, particuarly during the holidays when you’re hosting guests, and/or attending holiday get togethers. Having the yeast at arms-length is birlliant when you realize you need to bake a batch of cinnamon rolls, sweet or savory bread, or even for those times you have a hankering to put together a batch of yeasted pancakes or waffles for breakfast or brunch.
Recipe Notes & Tips!:
- Before setting out to make these sticky rolls, I highly recommend reading the full recipe (including instructions) through a few times. It’s best to understand the order of operations prior to preparing the dough so that you know what to expect in terms of length of time for preparation, and how everything comes together.
- Rather than activating the yeast in warm water, I activated it in warm coconut milk with a smidge of honey to drive the yeasties wild and get them working. I like adding honey a small amount of honey anytime I’m activating yeast to ensure they wake up, are well fed, and ready to do their duty.
- You can make these cinnamon rolls fully dairy-free by using coconut oil in the filling, rather than butter.
- Gluten-free all-purpose flour won’t yield quite as fluffy results as its gluten-filled counterpart. The gluten-free rolls turn out denser than rolls that are made with regular all-purpose flour. If you and your guests don’t have digestive issues with gluten, you can definitely use regular AP flour.
- I find gluten-free dough tends to take a little longer to rise than regular dough, so for good measure, I recommend allowing the dough to sit at least 45 minutes, and an hour is better.
- After you form the rolls and place them in a casserole dish, you can either stick them in the oven right away, allow them to rise even longer, or cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. For those of you who want to prepare these rolls for breakfast or brunch, make the recipe the night before and bake the rolls off in the morning in order to lighten the prep load.
- You can easily replace the pecans with walnuts, or omit the nuts altogether.
- If you prefer using cane sugar in your baking rather than coconut sugar, swap out all mentions of coconut sugar for light brown sugar.
- Don’t over-knead the dough, meow.
Let’s talk cinnamon roll stuffing…the good stuff…the gooey caramelized sweetness that makes your tongue buds go berserk. At a minimum, butter (or coconut oil), coconut sugar, and pumpkin pie spices (ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves) make for the warmly-spiced sweet essence of these rolls, but why not add pecans for a little nutty crunch fest? You can also add walnuts if they’re your jam.
As for the “frosting,” I’ve always been a huge fan of cream cheese frostings, and have developed a sort of coconut milk-based counterpart, essentially making coconut whipped cream with a splash of lemon juice for that tang. The rolls are flavor-infused on their own, but topping them with the creamy coconut milk frosting adds to the whole mouth-watering experience.
The way I envision it, these pumpkin cinnamon rolls are the perfect wake-up treat for the whole family on Thanksgiving or Christmas morning…or every weekend…or every day…twice a day…I’ll stop.
..Roll early, roll often!
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Coconut Milk Glaze (Gluten-Free)
For the Cinnamon Rolls:
- ¾ cup full-fat coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon Red Star Yeast Active Dry Yeast
- 2/3 cup canned pumpkin
- ¼ cup coconut oil melted and cooled
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3-2/3 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour + more for dusting
- 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom optional
- cloves Pinch ground
For the Filling:
Prepare the Cinnamon Roll Dough:
Heat the coconut milk in a saucepan on the stove top until it reaches 110 to 115 degrees F. Pour warmed coconut milk into the bowl of your stand mixer (or regular mixing bowl if you don't have a stand mixer), and add the yeast, along with a teaspoon of honey. Stir well to combine and allow mixture to sit 5 to 8 minutes, or until very fragrant and foamy.
While the yeast is activating, stir together the gluten-free all-purpose flour, coconut sugar, sea salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and ground cloves in a mixing bowl until well-combined.
Heat the pumpkin puree up just past room temperature in the same saucepan you used for the coconut milk (so long as it feels warm, not hot, to the touch, you're good to go).
Add the warm pumpkin puree, melted coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla extract to the mixing bowl the the yeast mixture and turn your mixer on medium-high speed. Beat just until combined.
Leaving the mixer on, slowly add the flour mixture until it has all been incorporated and a firm dough begins to pull away from the mixing bowl (Note: if the dough is still sticky after adding all the flour, add a little bit more until the dough forms).
Form the dough into a ball using your hands and place it back into the mixing bowl. Cover mixing bowl with a towel and allow dough to sit for 60 to 90 minutes in a warm part of your house to rise.
Roll the dough out onto a floured surface until it is about 1/4-inch thick and about 16"x22".
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F (Note: if preparing these rolls ahead of time, don't preheat the oven. Instead, prepare the rolls according to the remaining instruction, cover the casserole dish with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. The next day, let the rolls sit at room temperature for 1 hour before preheating the oven).
Brush the melted butter over the whole surface of the cinnamon roll dough liberally (note: you will likely have some butter left - save it for brushing over the cinnamon rolls before they go into the oven).
Stir together the rest of the filling mixture (coconut sugar, chopped pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice) in a small bowl, and evenly sprinkle this mixture over the buttered dough.
Roll the dough, creating a log (note: with gluten-free flour, this process will be a little difficult, as it will want to break apart. When this happens, gently push the edges of the dough back together).
Cut 1-inch rolls out of the dough log and place in a greased casserole dish or baking pan. Don't be afraid to leave no space between the rolls - they turn out the best when they're close together.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until rolls are golden-brown and firm to the touch. Drizzle with coconut glaze (instructions below) and serve warm, fresh out of the oven!
Prepare the Coconut Glaze:
While the cinnamon rolls are baking in the oven, stir together all of the ingredients for the coconut glaze in a small bowl. Taste for sweetness and add more pure maple syrup or honey to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use.