Addictive Recipes from a Self-Taught Baker

How to Make Pumpkin Roll

How to make the BEST pumpkin roll! Moist, pumpkin spice, easy, and filled with cream cheese frosting! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Welcome back to the Monthly Baking Challenge!

When I began planning out my fall editorial calendar a few months ago, I knew pumpkin HAD to be part of October’s Baking Challenge recipe. But the question was: what should we make?! Pumpkin cupcakes? Pumpkin cake? Pumpkin bars? (Those are all coming this month btw!) After going back and forth a few times, I stood firm on pumpkin roll. The classic fall beauty.

Why pumpkin roll? I wanted the CHALLENGE to be something, well, challenging. And while pumpkin roll is certainly not a difficult recipe (I swear it’s so easy), making jelly roll cakes may intimidate you. Admit it, they look complicated. A cake rolled up? What? Who? HOW? Heck, I was nervous when I first started.

But that will all change this month. It’s time to be confident and fearless when it comes to making pumpkin roll!

How to make the BEST pumpkin roll! Moist, pumpkin spice, easy, and filled with cream cheese frosting! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

In the past year, I shared two jelly roll cake recipes: red velvet cake roll and strawberry cake roll. (The latter was May’s baking challenge! Did you participate?) And if you’ve tried either, you know how simple jelly roll cakes are. And if you haven’t attempted a jelly roll cake before, you’ll be a pro by the time Halloween rolls around. Today we’re going to walk through step-by-step photos, a how-to video, careful explanations, and a no-fail pumpkin roll recipe.

This pumpkin roll is moist and soft with soul-warming pumpkin flavor, lots of cinnamon spice, and a thick layer of homemade cream cheese frosting tightly packed inside. I feel like I don’t really need to sell you on pumpkin roll. I mean, it’s a show-stopper dessert with epic presentation skills. How can you not WOW WOW WOW and literally salivate when this swirly twirly beauty is presented before you?

Let’s watch it come together:

Now let’s review 2 things before you get started. 

  1. The ingredients
  2. The method

Arming yourself with this knowledge sets you up for pumpkin roll success. 🙂

How to make easy pumpkin roll on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Ingredients

11 ingredients. Don’t run for the hills just yet. Those ingredients are likely all in your kitchen as we speak (read?). Baking powder + soda, eggs, flour, sugars, vanilla, spices, pumpkin. That’s basically it. There is no added butter or oil to this pumpkin batter. Why? We’re keeping this cake light and sponge-y.

Mix it all up and spread it into a lined 10×15 inch jelly roll pan— the ONLY size that works for this recipe. I can usually help with pan substitutions, but not today. You need a 10×15 inch pan. Good news: the really good ones are pretty inexpensive.

This cake is incredibly thin, so it only takes 15-18 minutes to bake through.

How to make easy pumpkin roll on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Method

Now here is where you need to pay attention. Immediately after baking the pumpkin roll cake, invert onto a thin kitchen towel sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar. Roll it up inside the towel and allow it to cool completely.

What? That’s so weird! Yes, it is. But we’re rolling up the cake in a towel to prevent it from sticking to itself. And to make rolling the warm cake 100x easier!

But why are we rolling the cake when it’s warm? That’s weird too. Rolling the cake up when it’s warm allows it to cool in the rolled up shape. That means no cracks, rips, or tears when you go to roll it up again with the filling inside.

Does that make sense?

How to make easy pumpkin roll on sallysbakingaddiction.com

As the rolled-up cake cools, prepare the cream cheese frosting.

Cool, creamy, silky, sweet, and smooth– the perfect complement to this light ‘n’ spicy pumpkin cake. After the cake has cooled, unroll it and spread the frosting on top. A thick layer of frosting, obviously.

Cream cheese frosting for pumpkin roll on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Just like this:

Cream cheese frosting for pumpkin roll on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Roll it back up and chill it for about 20 minutes before slicing. Chilling ensures a neater slice and a tastier bite! This cake is sooooo very yum when it’s chilled. ♥

Will ya check out this thick layer of frosting?! Pumpkin roll you devilish beauty you!

How to make the BEST pumpkin roll! Moist, pumpkin spice, easy, and filled with cream cheese frosting! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

How to make the BEST pumpkin roll! Moist, pumpkin spice, easy, and filled with cream cheese frosting! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Now that you’re armed with the knowledge, recipe, and a how-to video… you can master the pumpkin roll this fall season. 🙂

If you’re not into today’s recipe, here is the alternate October Baking Challenge:

After you made the baking challenge recipe or alternative, share your photos throughout this month using #sallysbakingchallenge on Instagram or email me, tweet me, or upload a photo of your recipe to my Facebook page or Facebook group.

Pumpkin Roll

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup (95g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice*
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (150g) canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • for rolling: 3/4 cup (90g) confectioners' sugar

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 6 ounces (170g) block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick; 60g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (210g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Read the instructions through before beginning. Make sure you are prepared for step 7 immediately when that cake comes out!
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a 10x15 inch baking pan with nonstick spray or grease with butter, so the parchment paper sticks. Then line it with parchment paper so the cake seamlessly releases in step 5. Spray or grease the parchment paper too. We want an extremely nonstick surface for this cake roll.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, pumpkin, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla together until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until combined.
  5. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Give the pan a shake to make sure the batter is level and reaches the corners. Bake for 17-18 minutes or until the cake springs back when you poke it with a finger.
  6. Meanwhile, lay a thin kitchen towel flat on the counter. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup of confectioners' sugar. Once the cake comes out of the oven, immediately invert it onto the towel. Peel off the parchment paper then, starting with the narrow end, begin rolling the cake up with the towel. Do this slowly and gently. The cake will be warm as it just came out of the oven.
  7. Allow the cake to cool completely rolled up in the towel. I stick mine in the refrigerator for about 2 hours to speed it up.
  8. Remove the cake roll from the refrigerator and allow to sit on the counter for a few minutes to warm up as you prepare the frosting.
  9. Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a hand-held or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese for 1 minute on high speed until completely smooth and creamy. Beat in the butter until combined. Add the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until combined and creamy.
  10. Gently and slowly unroll the cake. Flatten it out and spread frosting evenly on top, leaving about a 1/2 inch border around the cake. Gently and slowly roll the cake back up, without the towel this time. Make sure you're rolling it tightly. Some frosting may spill out the sides, that's ok!
  11. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes before slicing and serving. Dust with more confectioners' sugar, if desired.

Make ahead tip: You can prepare the cake through step 7 and chill the rolled up cake/towel in the refrigerator for up to 1 day before continuing with step 8. Prepared cake roll, with frosting, freezes well for up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before slicing and serving.

Recipe Notes:

*Instead of prepared pumpkin pie spice, you can use 1/4 teaspoon each of ground nutmeg, ground ginger, ground cloves, and ground allspice. Sometimes I use closer to 1 and 1/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice. I like a lot of spice flavor!

Adapted from Libby's

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How to make the BEST pumpkin roll! Moist, pumpkin spice, easy, and filled with cream cheese frosting! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

 

SHOP THE RECIPE

Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Glass Mixing Bowls | Rainbow Whisk | Jelly Roll Pan | Towel | Custom Stamped Forks

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.
The BEST pumpkin roll recipe. You'll be surprised how easy this Thanksgiving dessert is! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com
The BEST pumpkin roll recipe. You'll be surprised how easy this Thanksgiving dessert is! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

110 comments

  1. I love pumpkin rolls but the pretty (and delicious) confectioners sugar seems to get soaked up by the cake ???? Any tricks ?

    • That’s bound to happen since the cake is so moist. Try sifting/dusting a little more on top of the cake once it’s all rolled out and before you serve it.

  2. Sally, I made this today and it turned out great!! It’s delicious and beautiful when you cut each slice. One question though: the pumpkin sponge/cake was not as spongy or light as I was hoping it to be. It was kinda dense. What could I have possibly done wrong? I baked it for 16 mins – do you think I over baked it? Or whisked it too much? Or maybe it’s supposed to be a little dense.. what do you think?

    Love to little baby!

  3. Hi Sally, I just made your pumpkin cake roll recipe and it was SO DELICIOUS! This was my first cake roll and it was a lot easier than I expected. 🙂 I used parchment paper instead of a thin towel, which still worked very well. I also have to eat dairy-free so I substituted a coconut oil frosting. So excited for this recipe, and I will definitely make it again!

  4. Um, yes! Definitely adding this to my “must bake” this Fall! So lovely! Thanks for helping demystify the roll! xoxo

  5. I love using this recipe every year for thanksgiving and Christmas. Was wondering can I use this recipe for cupcakes ? 

  6. I really want to give this a go but it is so difficult to find pumpkin puree in the UK. Can I use an actual pumpkin and puree it myself, or another substitute? What would you recommend?

    Thanks, Hx

  7. Hi Sally! I just love you!  Quick question…in your new cookie book the brown sugar measure for 1/2 cup of brown sugar is 115g. In this recipe 1/2 is 100g.  Does it make a difference?  Thank you, Dianne

  8. Hi Sally!

    I bought by mistake pumpkin pie filling instead of purée.  Do you think I can still use it?  And if so, should I use less sugar and spices since it’s already in the pie filling?  Thank you!  And congratulations on the birth of your baby girl 🙂

    Anne

    • Hi Anne! You’ll need pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling. The textures are completely different, not to mention the addition of sugars and spices to the pumpkin pie filling. Don’t use the pumpkin pie filling.

  9. This is an excellent recipe. My colleagues at work thoroughly enjoyed it.

  10. My house is a chocolate house any season of the year! I decided to make your red velvet roll. I was surprised at how easy it was to roll up after baking. However, once I tried to unroll it, it cracked a bit. Since it’s just my fam, we aren’t complaining too much because it’s delicious but how can I prevent this in the future? Maybe let the chill come off it a bit more? 

    • Hey Stephanie! I’m so glad you tried the red velvet cake roll. I would perhaps let it sit at room temperature for a little bit– that will help avoid some of the cracking.

  11. Has anyone ever added some mini chocolate chips to the filling? My inclination is to make brown butter cinnamon cream cheese filling and sprinkle in some mini chocolate chips. I love cinnamon/pumpkin/chocolate together. Is it overkill ???

  12. I made this today and it turned out great!  I wouldn’t change a single thing. Your website is my new favorite! 

  13. I just made one last weekend. Unfortunately it was prior to seeing the challenge. This is my favorite fall dessert!

  14. If I want to make a spider web design in black to be baked on, should I use the same sponge batter and add food coloring? Is there a different batter I should use for the design portion? I need to freeze the design prior to adding the rest of the sponge batter, correct? Thanks for you help!

    • Hi Puneet! I’m sorry, Im unsure how to go about this. It sounds like a beautiful dessert; I’ve just never attempted anything like it.

  15. Hi Sally
    I want to make this pumpkin roll. It looks so delicious! Do you use light or dark brown sugar when you make this?

  16. Made your pumpkin roll last night. So good. Making another today to freeze for Thanksgiving.

  17. Sally, I made your pumpkin roll yesterday to take to a dinner with friends. And they so enjoyed it. It was so easy to make because of your wonderful instructions.
    The taste was phenomenal, better than the Libby’s version!
    Thanks Sally

  18. Hi Sally — the pumpkin roll was absolutely delicious and much simpler to make than expected. I always appreciate how clear your explanations are 🙂

    I see instructions for freezing the pumpkin roll, but I was wondering how long it’d last in the fridge if I store it in an airtight container. Thanks!

    • I’m SO glad you made the pumpkin roll and that you were pleasantly surprised by its ease! A few days stored in the fridge is just fine.

  19. Hi Sally, where I’m from, it’s not possible to buy canned pumpkin puree. Is it ok if I just pureed some fresh pumpkin and use this instead? TIA

    • I would blot it a little before using. It’s a little thinner than canned pumpkin, so blotting a little moisture out should help.

  20. Honestly Sally, you a-r-e turning me into a baking goddess. I made this last weekend and it was easier than I anticipated, I don’t know why I was worried. I intend to try the red velvet cake roll soon but before then I want to attempt baking a pie!…scarrryyyy.
    I hope you’re healing nicely and moving around a lot better.

  21. The Pumpkin Roll is at the top of my list. I made it over the weekend for a party and it was gone in about 5 minutes and heard nothing but positive comments, wished I had made a few rolls. I was worried how the roll would come out never having attempted such a recipe, but it was perfect. Thank you so much Sally!

  22. First time making a pumpkin roll. It turned out great, thanks to your instructions. We loved how it turned out.

  23. Hi Sally, I am going to try the pumpkin roll. Can any cake be turned into a roll cake?

  24. I am so happy I found your website! My family is too because they love everything I’ve made so far. I wanted to ask you a question. I made your pumpkin roll recipe and it turned out perfect. I want to make several for Thanksgiving. Can I freeze these? I have always been afraid to freeze baked goods so I never have. Any advice would be appreciated! THanks again for your wonderful website and cookbooks. 

  25. Hi ! 
    First time finding ur page. Would love to make this for thanksgiving. Am I able to do a test without making whole thing while it’s baking ? So for instance if I put a little to side how long would I bake it to just try the texture. I like to make sure I make it correctly before I serve at someone’s house lol. I k ow it won’t be the roll but at least I can taste ! Thanks ! 

    • I’m unsure exactly what you’re asking, I’m sorry! I recommend just trying the recipe. It’s wonderful. Lots of readers have written to me with rave reviews!

  26. Hi Sally,
    You asked me for the recipe when I stated that I wanted to make this into a layer cake. Well, I made a pumpkin layer cake with pears and caramelized walnuts in the end. You will find the recipe here: http://jennyisbaking.com/2017/11/23/pumpkin-layer-cake-with-pear-buttercream-and-caramelized-walnuts/ 
    Happy Thanksgiving!

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