Pumpkin Conchas


A seasonal twist on this famous Mexican sweet bread that is perfect for breakfast or brunch during pumpkin season.

Prep Time:
30 mins
Rise Time:
2 hrs 45 mins
Bake Time:
20 mins
Cool Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 55 mins
6 conchas

Pumpkin Conchas – I Want My Sweet Bread and Cookie Too

Have you ever been eating a sweet bun or roll and thought to yourself, this is great, but I wish it had a thin, crispy sugar cookie covering the top? Well then, you're going to love conchas. This Mexican sweet bread gets its name from the seashell design traditionally used to decorate the top, but as I attempted to show in this video, we can do all sorts of variations, including pumpkins…or basketballs….go Dubs!

I made this a little more challenging for myself by adding actual pumpkin puree to the classic recipe, since we could've just gone for a pumpkin-spiced concha dough, but I'm happy to report the addition worked out quite nicely, and these were still very light and tender. That's kind of a big deal, since what makes conchas such a unique treat is the contrast between the light, airy, barely sweet bun, and the crisp, crunchy, much sweeter topping. Hot coffee sold separately.

If little pumpkins (or basketballs) aren't your thing, I invite you to do an image search for conchas, and you will see hundreds of different ways to design the tops. Many can be done by hand with a knife, but there are also stamps that are pressed into the top to make the decorative cuts. But, no matter what yours end up looking like, I really do hope you give conchas a try soon. Enjoy!



  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

  • ½ cup pumpkin puree

  • ¼ cup warm milk

  • 1 large egg yolk

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

  • 2 tablespoons white sugar

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • teaspoon vanilla extract


  • ½ cup powdered sugar

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 pinch kosher salt

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • teaspoon ground allspice

  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg

  • teaspoon vanilla extract

  • ¼ cup butter, at room temperature

  • orange food coloring (Optional)


  1. Combine flour, pumpkin puree, warm milk, egg yolk, melted butter, sugar, active dry yeast, salt, and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. Mix until a smooth, slightly elastic ball forms or knead by hand for about 5 minutes.

  2. Place the dough in a lightly greased mixing bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

  3. While dough is rising, combine powdered sugar, flour, butter, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla extract in a bowl for the topping. Mix with your hands or a spatula until a moldable dough forms. Mix in orange food coloring if you like.

  4. Divide topping dough into 6 equal portions and shape them into balls; set onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover each ball with a sheet of plastic and press down with something flat and heavy (like the bottom of a glass or measuring cup) into a flat circle. Take the tip of a knife and score a pumpkin design into the topping. Place in the refrigerator to allow butter to firm up.

  5. After the dough rises, transfer it onto a work surface and press down to remove the air. Cut into 6 equal portions and roll each portion into a smooth ball. Transfer balls onto a Silpat-lined baking sheet and press down to flatten lightly. Place the topping on top of the dough balls. Allow to proof until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

  6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

  7. Bake in the center of a preheated oven until puffed up and golden, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

    Pumpkin Conchas on wire racj
    Chef John

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

393 Calories
13g Fat
61g Carbs
8g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 6
Calories 393
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 13g 17%
Saturated Fat 8g 40%
Cholesterol 66mg 22%
Sodium 445mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 61g 22%
Dietary Fiber 3g 9%
Protein 8g
Potassium 150mg 3%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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