Gratitude Rolls

November 1, 2020

Kids cooking craft meets delicious roll recipe – all ready in time for the big Thanksgiving holiday!

Come on in…Kids!

With Thanksgiving coming up, it’s a great time to start planning out your menu and ways in which you can incorporate your littles into the big feast. Making an effort to include your kids in your Thanksgiving celebrations will help to create traditions and lasting memories for your family. So whether you step into the kitchen with your kids or enlist their help for crafts or table decorations, think of something that they can look forward to when it comes to contributing to the big day.

My kids are on a cooking kick these days and love to be in the kitchen “helping me” cook (which most often results in an epic mess!). I love that we all enjoy being in the kitchen together and wanted to include them in a little bit of meal prep this year. We’re making my Sweet Potato Pumpkin Rolls that also throw in a gratitude element making these rolls extra special. This recipe doesn’t require a lot of ingredients, has a fairly simple process, and is nearly foolproof. Even if you’ve never made bread before, you can handle this recipe.

Step – by – step

The first step is to bloom or activate the yeast with a little bit of sugar and warm water. Make sure to be patient and give the mixture 5 minutes to kick into gear- it should look a little bubbly. Then you’ll simply add the rest of your wet ingredients including the rest of the sugar, eggs, melted butter, salt, and sweet potato puree. The sweet potatoes in these rolls make them so tender. The easiest way to get this secret ingredient into your rolls is to use a sweet potato baby food puree – I do this all the time! If you’re more of a purist, you can absolutely cook, drain, and blend fresh sweet potatoes to get 1/2 cup puree. Oliver got a kick out of emptying the jars into the dough and you’d never guess that baby food of all things was included in this recipe! Finally, mix in the flour until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of your mixing bowl. Trust your gut here and add a little more flour (slowly) if your dough seems too wet. I usually end up adding between 4 and 4 1/2 cups.

Turn your dough out onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes until the dough is smooth and bounces back when you indent your finger into the surface. Transfer the dough to a greased mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel. Allow your dough to rise until doubled in size – I usually give it about 45 minutes to an hour. Just enough time to clean up the mess I’ve already made in the kitchen and pull everything else together to finish the rolls.

I’m thankful for…

Punch the dough down and let it rest for about 2 minutes before portioning it into 16-20 balls. Make sure to keep the dough covered with a kitchen towel at all times to prevent it from drying out. I love using a bench scraper for portioning – it’s one of my favorite tools in the kitchen for a variety of reasons! Roll each piece of dough into an even ball and transfer to a greased baking sheet.e the recipe with ease.

Using a paring knife, cut 4-6 slits around the dough ball to resemble a pumpkin. Using your pinky or another slender circular object (I used my digital thermometer casing), pierce a small hole in the center of the dough balls. Cover with the kitchen towel again and preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. While the oven preheats your rolls will rise again. A double rise will ensure a tender roll that isn’t dense. I usually give the second rise about 20 minutes or so.

An extra step that we took is to write what we’re thankful for this year on strips of parchment paper with these markers  Then we rolled them up and stuck them in the center of the pumpkin rolls before baking. At the dinner table it’s a blast to tear open your roll and try and guess who’s gratitude scroll you got! It’s so fun to see your kids get excited about what they’re grateful for. It’s not a necessary step to the recipe, but it really makes these rolls special for Thanksgiving!

Once your rolls are shaped (and stuffed if you’re doing the gratitude scrolls), brush them with an egg wash before placing them in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Once out of the oven, allow the rolls to cool slightly then finishing by sticking a small pecan slice into the top of each roll to resemble a stem.

We love these rolls so much we’re planning to make them a tradition at our Thanksgiving table for years to come. Do you have any recipes that you make with your kids each Thanksgiving? I’d love to hear them!

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Gratitude Rolls

  • Author: Kelsey Nixon
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 1 1/2 dozen rools


A fun cooking craft meets delicious recipe! This simple idea can be incorporated into nearly any roll recipe. 


  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast

  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

  • 1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F)

  • 2 large eggs, beaten

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • 1/2 cup sweet potato puree*

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt

  • 4-5 cups all purpose flour

  • Chopped pecans, for stems


  1. Add the remaining sugar, eggs, butter, sweet potato puree, and salt. Mix to combine. Mix in flour slowly, adding just enough for the dough to begin to pull away from the sides of the bowl and no longer stick.

  2. Transfer to countertop dusted with flour and knew for a 3-4 minutes just until smooth and the dough bounces back after indenting your finger into the dough. Place in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes to an hour (or longer).

  3. Punch dough down and let dough rest for 2 minutes before portioning into 16-20 dough piece. Roll into balls and transfer to greased baking sheet. Using a paring knife, cut 4-6 slits on the edges of each ball, keeping the center in tact. Using your pinky or a small slender circular object, pierce a hole in the center of each dough ball to resemble shape of a pumpkin. (Place gratitude scrolls in hole, if using)

  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cover shaped rolls and allow to rise again for at least 20 minutes. Bake in oven for 12-15 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Finish by placing pecan pieces in each hole to resemble stem.


I like to use organic sweet potato puree baby food. This is my favorite brand.

  • Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes

Keywords: rolls, kids, Thanksgiving

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