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Chocolate Swiss roll cake cut into slices

A nod to the classic childhood favorite, this chocolate cake roll combines light chocolate sponge cake with sweet vanilla whipped cream and chocolate ganache. Rich and totally irresistible, this dessert is for chocolate lovers everywhere. Follow this carefully explained step-by-step recipe and video tutorial for success.

It’s no secret that childhood classics are some of the best foods. Who else enjoyed gushers, push-up pops, fruit-by-the-foot, dunkaroos, those cracker “sticks” and spreadable cheese (lol those were so good), juice boxes, bagel bites, and dinosaur chicken fingers?

Just to name a few…!

I’m constantly inspired to recreate these favorites. We’re talking brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts, animal cracker cookies, and, of course, oatmeal creme pies! Today we’re adding another nostalgic favorite: chocolate cake roll aka ho hos, swiss roll cakes, and yodels.

slice of chocolate Swiss cake roll on white plate

This cake roll required more testing than usual because I was SO torn between using butter vs oil, cocoa powder vs melted chocolate, as well as the perfect amount of flour. I’m not kidding… I must have made at least 8 or 9 different chocolate cake rolls. (I lost count after #3!) Despite all the mediocre cakes filling up my brain (and freezer), the recipe testing process was incredibly enlightening. I learned that it’s a VERY thin line between rubbery chocolate sponge cake and good chocolate sponge cake. A line so thin that tightrope walkers would be nervous. Luckily I made all the mistakes so you don’t have to.

This *successful* chocolate cake roll is:

  • Light with a rich chocolate flavor
  • Moist & sweet
  • Filled with slightly modified version of my vanilla whipped cream
  • Topped with dark chocolate ganache

Ok, let’s see it some together in a video tutorial.

Video Tutorial: Chocolate Cake Roll

You can also make mini chocolate cake rolls which are closer in size to the Hostess or Little Debbie snacks we love. Regardless of the brand, a homemade mini or giant version is just as tasty as you remember. But as a bonus, it’s completely fresh from your own kitchen.

2 images of mini chocolate Swiss roll cakes and a mini chocolate Swiss roll cake on a white plate

Chocolate Cake Roll Recipe Ingredients

A little of this, a little of that. These basic ingredients wear very important hats in this Swiss roll cake recipe. Unless where noted, avoid making substitutions.

  1. Separated Eggs: Eggs are the workhorse of this recipe, mostly providing structure and moisture. You need 4 separated eggs. Both the yolks and whites are used.
  2. White SugarUse granulated sugar to sweeten the cake roll. Note that the video below shows brown sugar as well, but we updated the recipe to use all white sugar as we find the cake isn’t as prone to cracking this way.
  3. Salt & Vanilla Extract: Add flavor.
  4. Baking Powder: For lift.
  5. Butter: As I tested this recipe, one of my main avoidances was a dry sponge cake. Creamed butter wasn’t ideal because when mixed with cocoa powder, the cake tasted awfully dry and bland. Melted butter was much better. I toyed with the amount, but was ultimately pleased with 4 Tablespoons. (3 Tablespoons of oil works too, see recipe note.)
  6. Strong Coffee or Espresso Powder: A bit of strong coffee deepens chocolate flavor; coffee is actually a common ingredient in many chocolate desserts! This cake roll does not taste like coffee at all– trust me, my husband who detests coffee would have noticed. And there’s so little that I wouldn’t be concerned serving to kids.
  7. All-Purpose Flour: I played around with many different amounts of flour, as well as testing out cake flour. Cake flour was too light, 2/3 cup of all-purpose flour was too much, 1/3 cup was too little, so 1/2 cup it is!
  8. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder: Since it’s not acting as an acid in this recipe, you can use dutch-process cocoa powder or natural cocoa powder. This cake has rich chocolate flavor, much more intense than our similar yule log cake. (By the way, you can use this recipe and decorate as a yule log.)
Chocolate Swiss roll cake ingredients

How to Make Chocolate Cake Roll

You can watch each step in the video tutorial above. You need a few bowls, a sifter/sieve, and a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.

  1. Whip egg whites & white sugar into stiff peaks: Whipping the egg whites and sugar into stiff peaks takes at least 5 minutes, so don’t get discouraged if you think it’s taking too long. Keep beating!
  2. Beat egg yolks, sugar, & vanilla together: Beat these wet ingredients together until pale and creamy, which is usually around 2 full minutes.
  3. Sift dry ingredients: One of the most important steps in this recipe is to sift the dry ingredients together. Pick up a large sieve. If you bake often, it will come in handy!
  4. Add wet ingredients: Pour the egg yolk mixture over the sifted dry ingredients, then add the melted butter and coffee. Beat it all together.
  5. Fold in egg whites: Using a rubber spatula, fold in the egg whites. Do this slowly and gently as you don’t want to deflate the batter.
  6. Bake: Spread the batter into the baking pan, then shimmy the pan on the counter to smooth out the batter. Bake for only around 10 minutes. This is a very thin cake!
  7. Invert the warm cake: No time for cooling! Immediately invert the warm cake onto parchment paper or a clean thin kitchen towel dusted with cocoa powder.
  8. Cool in rolled up shape: Gently roll the cake up with the parchment/towel. Let it cool in the rolled up shape so when it’s time to roll it up with the whipped cream filling, it’s already “familiar” with the rolled up shape. (And won’t resist or crack!)
  9. Assemble: Add whipped cream, roll back up, then top with ganache.

Best pan to use: 12×17 inch half sheet pan. A larger pan yields a much thinner cake, while a smaller pan creates a cake that’s too thick. Either sizes would be difficult and almost impossible to roll out, so make sure you use the correct size. (Note that my pumpkin roll calls for a smaller pan and is thicker.)

2 images of chocolate Swiss roll cake batter in bowls
Chocolate Swiss roll cake batter in baking pan

How to Assemble Swiss Roll Cake

The cake cools in the rolled up shape. It can cool at room temperature or in the refrigerator. I usually cool cake rolls in the refrigerator for about 2-3 hours. Once completely cool, unroll the chocolate cake and fill with homemade whipped cream. You only need 3 ingredients: heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. Since the chocolate ganache is pretty dark, I use a bit more sugar and vanilla extract compared to my usual whipped cream recipe. You can use confectioners’ sugar or granulated sugar in the whipped cream– see my recipe note. You can even add some store-bought marshmallow creme (“fluff”) for marshmallow flavor.

The whipped cream is billowy and soft with deliciously sweet vanilla flavor– a lovely and light contrast to the deep chocolate cake.

Roll the cake back up (without parchment this time), then set it aside as you prepare the chocolate ganache.

spreading whipped cream filling onto chocolate Swiss roll cake
Chocolate cake roll with whipped cream filling

And for the mini size: If you’re making the mini size, cut the cake into 4 equal pieces. Roll each up, then slice in half to yield 8 mini cake rolls.

Cutting mini chocolate Swiss roll cakes
Pouring chocolate ganache on mini chocolate Swiss roll cakes

Chocolate Ganache Topping

The only thing easer than homemade whipped cream is homemade chocolate ganache. Simply combine warm cream with finely chopped chocolate, then mix the two together until completely smooth. I like to add a teaspoon of corn syrup for an extra glossy finish, but that’s totally optional.

I have two chocolate ganache success tips for you:

  • Use real chocolate such as Baker’s or Ghirardelli baking bars found in the baking aisle. Avoid chocolate chips.
  • Chop up the chocolate into super fine pieces. The smaller the pieces, the quicker the ganache comes together and smoother it tastes.

Drape it all over the chocolate cake roll. Chill the cake roll so the chocolate ganache sets, which makes slicing a bit neater. (Though there’s still plenty of lick-your-finger moments!)

Chocolate Swiss roll cake with whipped cream filling
slice of chocolate Swiss cake roll on white plate

More Chocolate Cake Recipes

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sliced chocolate cake roll

Chocolate Swiss Roll Cake (Regular & Mini)

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 40 minutes
  • Yield: 1012 slices 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


Rich and totally irresistible, this chocolate cake roll is for chocolate lovers everywhere. Follow this carefully explained step-by-step recipe and the video tutorial above for success.


  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2/3 cup (135g) granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon (15ml) strong brewed coffee *or* 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, melted (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (63g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 3 Tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder, plus 2 Tablespoons (10g) for rolling*
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Vanilla Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup (240ml) cold heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
  • 3 Tablespoons (38g) granulated sugar or confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • optional: 2 Tablespoons marshmallow creme (“Fluff”)

Chocolate Topping

  • 1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
  • one 4 ounce bar (113g) semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • optional for glossy shine: 1 teaspoon light corn syrup


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a 12×17 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. Spray or grease the parchment paper too. We want an extremely nonstick surface for this cake roll.
  2. Make the cake: Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar together in a medium bowl on high speed for 5 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Set aside. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks, remaining sugar, and vanilla extract together until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Sift the flour, 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt together into a large bowl bowl. Pour the melted butter, coffee, and egg yolk mixture over the dry ingredients. Beat everything together on medium speed until completely combined. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, gently fold in the egg whites until completely combined. Avoid over-mixing and deflating those whites. Batter will be very light.
  4. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. It will be a very thin layer. Shimmy the pan on the counter to smooth out the top. Bake for 10 minutes or until the top of the cake gently springs back when touched with your finger. Do NOT over-bake.
  5. Prepare to roll: As the cake bakes, place a piece of parchment paper (larger than the cake) or a thin kitchen/tea towel flat on the counter. (Note: I find a kitchen towel is better to help prevent cracking.) Using a fine mesh sieve, dust parchment/towel with 2 Tablespoons of cocoa powder. Once the cake comes out of the oven, quickly run a knife around the edges to loosen it. Immediately invert it onto the parchment/towel. Peel off the parchment paper that was on the bottom of the cake as it baked. Starting with the narrow end, begin tightly rolling the hot cake up with the parchment/towel. Do this slowly and gently. The cake will be warm. Allow the cake to cool completely rolled up in the parchment/towel. Feel free to place it in the refrigerator to speed it up, about 3 hours and up to 1 day. (Note that you must bring it back to room temperature before unrolling, so make sure you set aside enough time.)
  6. Bring cake to room temperature if it was in the refrigerator. The cake is prone to cracking if unrolled while cold.
  7. Make the whipped cream: Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract on medium-high speed until medium to stiff peaks form, about 2-3 minutes. Then beat in the marshmallow creme, if using.
  8. Slowly and gently unroll the cake. Spread whipped cream evenly on top, leaving about a 1/2 inch border around the cake. Gently roll the cake back up, without the parchment/towel this time. Place on a wire rack set on a baking sheet (to catch the extra ganache). Set aside on the counter or in the refrigerator as you prepare the ganache.
  9. Make the ganache topping: Place chopped chocolate and corn syrup, if using, in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it begins to gently simmer. (Do not let it come to a rapid boil– that’s too hot.) Pour over chocolate, then let it sit for 2-3 minutes to gently soften the chocolate. Slowly stir until completely combined and chocolate has melted.
  10. Pour ganache all over cake roll. Feel free to spoon up any dripped ganache and spoon over the cake again. Refrigerate for at least 30-60 minutes before slicing and serving.
  11. Cover leftover cake and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can prepare the cake through step 5 and chill the rolled up cake in the refrigerator for up to 1 day before continuing with step 6. Prepared cake roll, with filling, freezes well for up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before topping with ganache and serving. For best taste and texture, I don’t recommend freezing with the ganache topping.
  2. Mini Chocolate Cake Rolls: Follow the recipe exactly as written. After spreading the whipped cream on top of the cake in step 8, cut the cake into 4 (approx 6 inch X 8.5 inch) rectangles as shown in the photo above. Starting with the narrow end, roll each mini roll up. Slice in half to make 8 mini cake rolls. Continue with the recipe. Top with sprinkles if desired.
  3. Brewed Coffee or Espresso Powder: A bit of coffee deepens chocolate flavor in desserts. This cake roll does not taste like coffee at all. You can use either liquid brewed coffee or espresso powder. I tested with both and was pleased with both.
  4. Butter or Oil: I usually use melted butter, but have found that 3 Tablespoons (45ml) of vegetable oil produces a lovely moist cake that isn’t as prone to cracking.
  5. Sugar in Whipped Cream: Some bakers swear by granulated sugar in whipped cream; others swear by confectioners’ sugar. If you’re only working with a couple Tablespoons of sugar, it doesn’t really make a difference. Use either.
  6. Optional Marshmallow Creme: For a little marshmallow flavor, beat marshmallow creme into the whipped cream. This is totally optional. Taste testers didn’t really notice a difference!

Keywords: roll cake, whipped cream, ganache

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. My experience: do not refrigerate this. 90 minutes or even 60 on a counter top will bring it to room temperature. Refrigerate and it breaks up when unrolling. The batter could use more chocolate; I would increase cocoa to 1/3 cup. The whipped cream is perfect as-is. At any rate this is (I feel) a complex recipe that cannot be rushed. It takes time and much patience. Other than the break-up on unrolling, everything came out perfectly because I followed the instructions to the letter and did not rush things. This is not a quickie recipe but neither is it Little Debbie Swiss rolls. This is a true culinary creation! It’s probably a matter of making it multiple times and tweaking it to just the way you personally like it.

    1. Mine broke up on unrolling as well. I put it in the refrigerator and ended up leaving it overnight after getting distracted. Is having it be room temperature effective to preventing the breakage? Otherwise it’s a great recipe! Thank you for sharing!

  2. I decided that in 2020 I would focus on making desserts I’ve never made before and this was my first one. I‘ll be honest, i was scared of rolling up the cake but honestly, it wasn’t bad at all! Your tips and video were so helpful, though I definitely learned from making a few mistakes. This recipe is fantastic and I love the way it came out!

  3. Hi sally I made this recipe once and I had a hard time flipping the cake onto the parchment paper. What is the best way to do this?

    1. Quickly! Make sure you have a large enough work space and line up the pan evenly with the parchment.

  4. Hi sally I am very disappointed with this recipe. It’s my third time making it and every time I made it something wrong happened. This last time that I made it the whole cake cracked while I was unrolling it to put the cream in. I am very aggravated since I worked on it all day today and now it’s in the garbage. It’s a great recipe if it comes out right but it’s too difficult and messes up very easily. Maybe you should fix it that it works properly every time you make it. Thank you.

    1. A) make sure to put cocoa powder or powdered sugar down on a tea towel before flipping the cake out onto a towel. I found that it is EXTREMELY helpful to have everything ready to go beforehand, like set put the towel with the nonstick agent when you prepare the baking sheet. I forgot to pit anything on a towel this when I made this today and while it did crack several times when I unrolled it, I was very careful to pull the cake gently away from the towel as I unrolled it; this was extremely helpful and prevented the cake from crumbling entirely. Also, when rolling after the cream is on, it is helpful to use the towel to push the cake into the roll and gradually separate the cake from the towel. Swiss rolls are very, very tricky, but really quite delicious and very rewarding once you get it right; don’t give up! You’ll get it eventually! I found it takes a quick pace and having everything ready to go ahead of time because everything goes very quickly.

  5. Sallyyyyy! I don’t know what happened! I checked and re-checked and I made the cake according to your directions, using 1 tablespoon of “strong brewed” coffee, and my cake has the coffee flavor of coffee ice cream! Can’t taste the chocolate I’m not a coffee drinker so is it possible it was too strong! Everything else I made came out amazing! Please help!

    1. Hi Allison, Did you only use one TBS of liquid coffee? That should not be enough to taste like coffee! If you try it again perhaps don’t brew your coffee as strong.

      1. Yes it was 1 TBS of liquid coffee, so I definitely made it too strong then. Seeing as how I’m not a coffee drinker though, how many scoops of coffee grounds to how much water would you recommend for this recipe? I will definitely be trying again!
        (Although my kids really did appreciate the coffee. )

  6. I love this recipe. I think it should have a little more cocoa in the batter. Like someone else said, tweak to your preference. The only problem I had is that the cake broke along every crease when I unrolled it. I’m not sure if I just didn’t wait long enough after I took it out of the fridge, or if I overmixed it. Would overmixing cause this? I will be making this again and again.

  7. Hi Sally! I was curious if you thought this cake recipe would work for a Charlotte Royale? I have a good vanilla recipe I’ve used to make one, but I wanted to surprise my boyfriend with a chocolate one for his birthday! Thank you! 🙂

    1. Is this where you slice a cake roll and then use it as a “crust” for ice cream? If so, I have never tried it but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work – you can skip the ganache topping if you try it.

  8. This cake was absolutely the BEST – my husband says it’s the best chocolate cake he ever tasted – it did crack all the way down – was it baked too long? would brushing it with warm sugar water have helped with flexibility?

    1. I’m thrilled that you both enjoyed it so much, Janet! Did you cool the cake in the refrigerator? If so you can let it come back to room temperature by letting it sit on the counter while you prepare the filling. That should help with the cracks.

  9. Very nice result first time out. Will add a bit more cocoa powder next time. Made it into a Black Forest roll with the addition of a cherry filling and Marsala wine brushed into cake just prior to filling with whipped cream. Stabilized the whipped cream to extend tabletop time .

  10. Yummy! I agree with the others; the coffee flavor is pretty strong. But I do like coffee, so that wasn’t a problem. One issue, though, was that the cake was sticky even though I greased the pan and parchment. Maybe it was underbaked (but I highly doubt it. It tasted very done.) Thanks for the recipe though. 🙂

  11. With this codistancing going on, I decided that I would try baking a bunch of things I have never made before, and this is currently cooling in my kitchen now. So far, so good…Can’t wait to finish it up and eat it!

  12. My swiss roll looks like it was done by a Pro. I made minner mistakes but happy with the result regardless.

  13. This was one of my favorite bakes ever! Thank you, Sally! I love each of your recipes! They always turn out perfectly! =)

  14. It’s the perfect match for our coffee. My husband and I are crazy about it Thank you for this amazing recipe. Will surely make it again with the kids next time so much love and huge thank you, Sally ❤️

  15. Yum. This sponge was delightful and a recipe I will keep. Thanks for doing the perfection tweaks….

  16. Hi Sally,

    We tried this recipe twice, checking to see if we did anything wrong and we can’t seem to figure it out! After mixing together the yolk mixture, coffee, and flour the batter was extremely thick. It would hardly blend with our eggwhite mixture at all. We folded it as best we could, but it did not look like yours either time. We decided to go with what we had and poured it in the pan and it wasn’t enough to fill the pan. We tried spreading it out and shaking it. We checking and double checked all of our measurements and they matched yours. Any tips?

    1. Hi Kalle, thank you so much for trying this recipe and I’m sorry it didn’t work out as planned. Deflating the egg whites as much as possible is certainly important, but it’s also key to mix everything together as best you can. If you ever decide to try my recipe again, reduce the cocoa powder by 1 Tablespoon which will help thin out the batter.

  17. First time i use this recipe and the result was amazingthanks for this great recipe❤️

  18. Hi Sally – So I did cool the cake at room temperature this time, and it continued to crack when unrolled. Do you think I should sprinkle the cocoa powder on the side of the cake that is being rolled (inside of the cake)? My husband eats it out of the bowl – he loves it! but would like to serve to guests – can you help? Also – I use the tsp of espesso powder instead of the liquid coffee – my cake batter seems thicker than yours on video – could that be a problem? I’m not giving up!

    1. Hi Janet! Try using liquid coffee next time. You can even add an extra 1-2 teaspoons (in addition to the 1 Tbsp). Adding cocoa powder to the side of the cake that’s being rolled up could help as well.

  19. Hi Sally!

    We loved this cake, it was soo yummy and made me look like a very accomplished baker. Ha ha. What sponge recipe would you recommend for a vanilla/yellow sponge roll with cream inside and topped with berries? I have some blueberry sauce and whip left over from making your crepes a couple of days ago and imagine they would taste really good on a sponge roll. Thanks!

  20. The cake has come out amazing… thank u Sally. I’m so excited to finish up the cake. But my question is,can I use cream cheese filling instead of whipped cream??

      1. The cake was daughtry,hubby and me licked every last bit.i didnt have whipped cream or cream cheese,so did chocolate biscuit crumbs filling. But my problem like most others was that the cake cracked while I unrolled it. Sally,it will be great if u could find a remedy for this as most of us face the same problem

  21. This was so good! I made this today but did do a few changes (used ⅓ cup white sugar, ¼ cup monk fruit sweetener, used oil instead of butter, used 2 tbsp of coffee instead of 1). Even with my changes the cake came out so moist, fluffy, and soft! I’m super pleased with it. I used whipped coconut cream in the center as well since I didn’t have whipping cream on hand and it worked wonderfully. I would definitely make this recipe again.

  22. I just tried this recipe today and it was an absolute charm to make!
    I was scared at first because before I added the egg whites and sugar, my batter was really thick and it wouldn’t mix properly with the egg whites so I had to mix more vigorously but nonetheless, the batter didn’t lose its lightness!
    I replaced the whipped cream with your vanilla icing and it was absolutely beautiful! I added chocolate sprinkles on top.
    I did leave it out to dry on the counter though and it didn’t crackle at all! The oven time is the secret in this recipe I think and I timed exactly 10 minutes!

    Definitely would do again!!!

  23. I am pretty sad to report that this did not work for me. I am a pretty experienced baker and have even made roll cakes successfully in the past. Unfortunately, this cake completely fell apart both times I attempted it. Like other reviewers mentioned, it cracked significantly upon removing from the fridge. I have made a lot of Sally’s recipes, and I mean a LOT – just this one didn’t work. I would recommend trying another one of her cake recipes.

    Both times I served the pieces with whipped cream and strawberries, and it tastes great though! Just wish it would have stayed together 🙁

  24. Literally just finished slicing and tasting this recipe. Came out great.
    I under baked my cake 9 minutes instead of 10. So it was super moist and that may have caused the slight sticking to the parchment, as well as small cracks. But I was able to roll it nicely still and cover my mistakes with the ganache.
    I will definitely try this recipe again, So I can perfect it.
    It’s definitely rich in flavor. It’s a heavy dessert.
    **The husband just had a slice as I’m writing this and gives me the thumbs up and approving mumbles, from the office.

  25. Worked perfectly. No cracks & rolled easily! Delicious.

  26. Got a new stand mixer for Mother’s Day so we wanted to test it out. My cake didn’t turn out the same rich brown that yours did, but it tastes good and it didn’t break when rolled! Phew! We did not chill it in the fridge after rolling, just left it out on the counter.

  27. Brilliant, I sprinkled a bit of sugar on the Teas towel before rolling as I didn’t use the gnash but a Nutella butter cream instead, will use this recipe again, thanks Sally

  28. Finished product is stunning, the actual Swiss roll is light, flavoursome and moist

  29. This cake was excellent, and very fun to make. Being an amateur baker, this felt like a very fancy, yet delicious cake. It is extremely light and flavorful, and I enjoyed making this cake.