Pumpkin Crescent Rolls

I enjoy dining out occasionally, and if there's a complimentary bread basket involved then I'm the person who descends upon it with much zeal. I've often said that I could live on bread and sweet tea (the latter is a southern habit) and that sentiment rings truer than ever after I made these pumpkin crescents. Gosh, are they ever soft and buttery!

I used my KitchenAid mixer with the hook attachment to mix the dough, but you could also do it the old fashioned way and knead it by hand.

Like most bread recipes, the flour amount is given as a range. This one states '5-6 cups flour' and after only 5 cups my dough came together perfectly, slapping the sides of the mixer bowl as the dough hook revolved.

Since the yield of 24 rolls is a bit large for our household of two I used granular lecithin as an ingredient to extend the shelf life. It's not something that most people have on hand, but it is very helpful if you'd like your yeast breads to keep for longer than just a couple of days. It also adds cotton softness to the end result. You can find it here.

The dough felt really heavy at first, but it puffed up like a big pillow! 

After turning the dough out, fold it over onto itself and shape into a large loaf.

Divide the dough into three equal pieces. 

(I love using my bench scraper for this. Even though it looks simple, it's such a good tool to use for bread-making. It's good for cutting and transferring, and it has a little ruler at one end. I have two!)

Roll each dough piece into a 12-inch circle. I was too lazy to drag out my pastry mat, so I just drew a 12-inch circle in the flour as a guide.

Smear the dough rounds with lots of soft butter, and I will specify SALTED BUTTER, because it really brings forward the buttery flavor.

Cut the circle into 8 pieces using a knife or a pizza cutter. 

Each crescent is a generous serving. If you'd like smaller crescents you can cut the circles into 12 wedges instead of just 8.

Roll the dough wedges up and place them on a baking sheet with the pointed ends tucked under. Bend the ends forward, slightly.

Bake them up at 400°F until golden and fragrant!

These rolls have all the good virtues of classic crescents. They are puffy and buttery, and they unfurl when pulled apart. They taste much like classic crescent rolls, but with a mild pumpkin flavor. Their yellow-orange color is so vibrant, I can imagine them looking pretty all stacked up in a big basket for Thanksgiving dinner and other fall feasts.

Pumpkin Crescent Rolls
Yields 24 rolls

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 package)
1 cup (240ml) water, 105 to 115°F
1/3 cup (70g) granulated sugar
1 egg at room temperature
1 cup (270g) canned pumpkin
1/2 cup (92g) vegetable shortening, at room temperature (such as Crisco)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
5-6 cups (600-720g) all-purpose flour
*3 tablespoons granular lecithin, optional
8 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
Egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Combine the yeast and warm water in a large bowl. Let stand for 3 minutes or until foamy. Add the sugar, egg, pumpkin, shortening, salt and three cups of flour. If using the optional granular lecithin, add it now. Stir together until combined. You can use a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients together or the paddle attachment on an electric mixer. Stir in additional flour until the dough is easy to handle (I used only 5 cups flour total).

If using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook. Set a timer and knead on medium speed for 5 minutes. If using your hands, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, or until elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl and turn it over to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour (mine took 1.5 hours to double).

Gently deflate the dough with a fist and turn it out onto a floured surface. Shape the dough into an even loaf (or baton) shape and cut it into three equal portions. Roll each portion into a 12-inch circle. Spread each circle with roughly 2 1/2 tablespoons salted butter; cut each circle into 8 wedges. Roll up tightly beginning at the rounded edges. Place the rolls on a parchment-lined baking sheet with the points tucked underneath. Lightly cover the rolls with plastic wrap and let the rise in a warm place for 45 minutes, or until doubled. Brush rolls with egg wash.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Bake the rolls for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant. Serve warm with more butter!

Heather’s notes:
For smaller rolls, cut the dough circles into 12 wedges instead of 8. The yield size will increase to 3 dozen.
Granular lecithin will increase the softness and shelf life of these rolls. I recommend using it if all of the rolls won’t be eaten the same day they are made.
Substitute 1 cup mashed sweet potato for the pumpkin for sweet potato crescent rolls.

link Pumpkin Crescent Rolls By Published: Pumpkin Crescent Rolls Recipe


  1. I'm a professional pastry chef/pastry chef/baker so I'm qualified to say, you are a genius! I've been at it a long time and I'm certainly no slouch, but I still find new things to learn from you, and to the delight of my friends and family, have made many of your recipes. I had no idea about the lecithin granules. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and beautiful creations.

    1. Aw! Thank you. I needed to hear your sweet comment today. :)

  2. I made a similar recipe last year and shaped the rolls into pumpkin shapes by adding a few slits with a pecan piece for the stem. Major cute and oh so tasty.

  3. These look fantastic. Gee, when you stray away from the big beautiful decorative cakes you do it in a big way. I'm hoping to try these in just a couple of days. The only thing I need to get is the lecithin which I hope is at the supermarket. I'm guessing health food stores don't carry this. It's not something I've purchased before so I don't know. I imagine if nothing else King Arthur Flour will have it but that will delay my taste testing. If these are as nice as I think they're going to be then I'll work on converting them to a gluten free recipe for ME. I do all this baking for everyone else first and then I see if I can convert it so I can enjoy them. I was surprised at something though and that was your excitement at using the bench scraper with the process. This is exactly what this tool is suppose to be for. What I like about using it is that it allows a person to keep one hand clean (sort of, at least when it comes to me) and makes moving the dough around on the board or surface so much easier. If the family likes these when I take them to my tasters these might become the bread for our Thanksgiving meal. AND....as easy as they look, if they all work out well, I MAY volunteer to make these for the Community Thanksgiving Dinner our church provides each year on Thanksgiving day for anyone who desires to come and enjoy the meal there or who would like to have a meal delivered if they're a shut-in. This is becoming a fairly big deal as the years are beginning to fly by. All sorts of people attend, small families who find it much easier than making the big meal for only 2 or 3 of them. People who are alone, older couples, young families who don't know how to cook the traditional turkey dinner. I think this would make an outstanding addition and it appears (at least before I make them) much easier than other types of rolls. If you know of the gluten free instructions without me having to experiment I'd greatly appreciate it. THANKS

    1. Hi Basketpam! You may be able to find lecithin granules at your local health food store. Most carry it because it's reportedly good for brain and nerve function.

  4. Cannot wait to make these for Thanksgiving. They totally beat regular crescent rolls!

  5. Heather, your recipes are beautiful and inspiring. Thank you for sharing! These look so tasty :) Do you think they would freeze well?

    1. Hi Sylvie! Yes, I these will freeze well. In fact, I wish I'd done that with this batch. After rolling the dough into crescents, place them on a baking sheet and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Freeze. When the crescents are frozen then you can put them in a zip top freezer bag for easy storage. Let the crescents thaw and proof before you bake them. I'm not sure how long that will take, perhaps 1 hour. You'll know they are ready when they double in size. Bake as directed. Hope this helps!

  6. Could you use coconut oil, as cisco is very bad for you?

    1. Hi Sue! I've never used coconut oil in yeast breads but I can speculate. I think it would work if you used the coconut oil in its solid form at room temperature. There's a relatively new product on the market called "red palm and coconut shortening". It's supposed to be better for you than regular shortening while mimicking its properties in baked goods. I think the brand is called 'Nutiva'. You could also replace the shortening with softened butter or suet, depending on your dietary preferences. Thanks for asking!

  7. your golden crescents are lovely and inviting. If I am using fresh pumpkin, should I boil it first and then puree it before using in this recipe? thanks

    1. Hi Roshini! Thank you. You can boil the pumpkin if that's your usual method. I normally roast the sliced pumpkin in the oven at 400F(200C) for about 45-55 minutes. Then I puree the flesh in a food processor. Fresh pumpkin would be delicious in this recipe!

  8. Thank you Heather for your blog, I always read and enjoy the recipes as if they are novels.
    I didn't have much time nor canned puree, so I microwaved diced pumpkin for ten minutes and then pureed it. I skipped the butter and made a bread loaf out of the dough. It was just delicious.

    1. Hi Margarita!
      You're super smart to microwave the pumpkin - such a great short cut! I'll have to try this recipe as a bread loaf. Thank you for sharing!



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