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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. I think I underbaked my cake as it cracked but was able to cover up cracks very well with ganache! Delicious cake! Next time I’ll let it bake for 1 – 2 minutes more! Otherwise, just delicious!

  2. Made this over this past weekend for Father’s Day. After reading through several comments on this recipe about the cake cracking or not, I made it on Saturday, rolled it up slowly and carefully right out of the oven and let it cool on the counter most of the day, made up the cream that evening, very slowly and carefully unrolled it. I did get 2 very small cracks, put in the cream and slowly rolled it back up which made the cracks a little bigger. Refrigerated overnight, topped with ganache Sunday morning. The ganache covered up one of the cracks that was visible. So delicious and didn’t last long, I’ve been asked to make it again and will do so, easy and yummy!

  3. Do you think this sponge would be good for chocolate petit fours?

    1. Hi Carolyn, Pound cake has an ideal texture for petit fours because it won’t squish when you layer or cut the tiny cakes. You can certainly try it, just keep in mind this is a pretty moist cake. This is our recipe for Lemon Berry Petit Fours, we don’t currently have a chocolate version.

  4. I tried this one out a couple different times. Couldn’t get the cake batter to come out right at the outset, before adding the egg whites. It’s almost like there’s a portion of liquid missing or something. Gonna try looking elsewhere for a different recipe.

  5. This didn’t work for me either. The chocolate mixture was far too thick so when i added the egg whites it didn’t fold in properly and therefore lost all the bubbles. Very disappointed as was for my daughters birthday.

  6. So good! The cake roll cracked but we just fixed it up with some ganache glaze. We replaced the filling with ice cream and it turned out amazing! Would definitely recommend!

  7. Hi Sally!

    I have a question: I am using a 11×17 baking pan, and if I were to just not use that much of the mixture so it wouldn’t be too thick, would it work?Thank you and also I love all your baked goods-they always come out right!

    1. Hi Savannah, Yes, if using a smaller pan you would need to use less batter. Your bake time would also be slightly less for a smaller cake.

      1. Hi Sally, would I use the same recipe if I wanted a plain one without all the chocolate?

  8. love love this cake soooo much. my children and I enjoyed making this. we got 2 failures with the vanilla whipped cream but it was because it wasn’t too cold to be whipped. tried the 3rd time and it worked perfectly. yahoooo… wish i could post the photo. we are just sooo proud to be able to to this nicely. aaaahhwwww thank you sally, all your recipes are perfect and easy to follow, my kids love that they come out perfectly all the time. we already did 7 of your recipes and more to follow. mmmuuuaahhh. — love from Philippines…

  9. I tried to whip the egg whites and sugar together twice and it never would mix together. I finally tried a third time just egg whites no sugar and ended up adding the sugar to the batter before baking.

  10. I am making this for my 4 year old and wondering if I should still put coffee/espresso in it. If not, should I substitute it with anything else?

    1. Hi Sandra, A small amount of coffee deepens chocolate flavor in desserts, it does not taste like coffee at all. You can certainly leave it out – it completely depends on what your comfort level is for your child 🙂

  11. This was beautiful to look at but a little blah. I followed every step of the recipe exactly, although only had a slightly smaller pan (in dimension) so baked one minute longer. Even though it was a bit thicker, it still rolled perfectly with no cracks. I just didn’t get as many swirls. So pretty. And if it tasted just as good as it looked this would be my go-to impress company cake.
    The ganache and cream were divine. The cake itself was a bit tough and flavorless, even though I did add the espresso powder, and did not over beat. Added in the stiff egg whites gently. I don’t know what happened. It was good, we ate it, but I was hoping for something better.

  12. I love Sally’s blog for the very reason that her recipes are clear and easy to follow. This recipe was so easy to make. I never imagined myself making Swiss rolls. They came out so yummy and moist.

    1. Hi Diana, We haven’t tested it, but I have seen other recipes that use one 1 TBS of sugar and then use 1 TBS of cocoa powder with the 1 cup of cream. Let us know if you try it!

  13. This was the first time we’ve ever made a swiss roll and we were a little apprehensive, WOW! Loved the video directions and thorough instructions within the recipe.
    It turned out spectacular! Ganache was smooth, rich and had a beautiful shine. Whipped cream was light, fluffy, and had the perfect amount of sweet, cake was delicious, amazing and awesome! The cake cracked very little but was easily covered by the ganache.
    This will be a regular when we want to impress people or have a super tasty treat!
    Goes great with morning coffee 🙂
    my 3 daughters and i LOVE your site and books, theyve never let us down!

  14. I made this for my husbands birthday and he said it was the best roll I have made yet! When it was baked it looked a little strange, (bubbles and indentations on top). My other recipe didn’t do that but the taste was really good, only cracked a little and when Sally says don’t overbake it, don’t. Mine was on the verge because I used a smaller pan and let it go a little longer. I don’t see how you get that amount of batter in a 12×17 pan. I added the marshmallow creme to the whipped cream and it was delicious! Overall, a very good cake. Thank you Sally for all your wonderful recipes! You are my go to for all my baking!

  15. Hi Sally!
    Been in your page for quite some time and I love the lemon cupcakes! My family loved it and I’m looking for another recipe to bake. Can I know if I can substitute the Heavy whipping cream for greek yougart here?

    1. Hi Lara, No you need heavy cream or heavy whipping cream to make a whipped cream filling.

  16. This worked SUPER well! I’ve tried other recipes before and it always cracked when I tried to roll it but this one was super flexible and light. Great recipe!
    Thank you!

  17. Omg!!! It did not look as pretty as yours but the taste was amazing. It tasted like it came from a high end bakery! No one cared what it looked like it was just so good. Going to try to make it again this weekend, hopefully it will look a little nicer!

  18. Sally, I love all your recipes some are so easy to follow even someone me who is very lazy baking can do it perfectly ( not all the time ) I made this chocolate swiss roll for the first time and omg it was so beautiful and taste was delightful and all gone in half an hour. Shame I can’t send the picture on this site. Thank you for the recipes.

  19. Hey. This was my first roll cake and it was a great recipe to follow, and tasted delicious. I did find the cake more coffee forward than chocolate. I had used 1 TSP coffee powder. Could I substitute 1 TBSP coco powder for 1 TBSP flour to increase chocolate flavour. Thanks for your insight! We love your recipes.

  20. I am making this for our annual Thanksgiving Dessert bake-off. I always find that people enjoy when I make minis of all of my desserts so they don’t feel so full when trying everyone’s . Can I make this in mini size then freeze ? Or make them into the 4 squares and roll those then freeze, and after they defrost cut them into the minis?

    1. Hi Brittany, There are directions in the post above and in the recipe notes for how to make this into mini rolls. Enjoy!

  21. Hi Sally, I have tried this recipe twice and each time when I unrolled it, the cake cracked. Big cracks. I was able to salvage it. But still would like to get it perfect. Another thing I noticed was that once I mix the egg whites, the chocolate had lumps. Not sure what I am doing wrong. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    1. Hi Sheetal, 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.

  22. The roll cake looks so delicious! I was wondering if I could use two 10×10 pans instead of a 12×17 pan. If so, what would the baking time be? Thanks

    1. Hi Shelly, you can try dividing the batter between 2 10-inch square pans, but it will be difficult to roll when its dimensions are that small. I recommend sticking with the recipe if you can. I’m unsure of the best bake time for that size pan.

  23. I want to try this recipe but my oven is too small for a 12×17 pan. I can use a 10×15. Can you tell me how thick the cake batter should be in the pan or how much batter to leave out? I know the cooking time will be less. I want to use your recipe because they are always so good!

    1. I think this is around the same size as my pan. I left out a quarter of each ingredient I checked it a few times but it took the same ten minutes- I assume because the depth is the same.
      I hope that helps.

  24. First attempt at a Swiss roll since school- about 25 years ago!
    Recipe was easy to follow and rolled well with no cracking.
    I didn’t have a big enough tin, so just made one three quarters of the size in order to keep the depth the same. I kept an eye on it but in the end it took the same amount of time to cook anyway. I will be recommending it!

  25. Any substitute for butter? Trying to make the cake dairy free.

    1. You could use oil in the cake. See the recipe notes for detials!

  26. Hi this came good (first time ever making a roll cake) but it cracked a lot. I was still able to salvage but I want it better. I had to add extra time because it was not bouncing back when I touched it. It ended up slightly over cooked which added to reasons for cracking (plus i didn’t let it get room temp) should I have not added extra time?

  27. Hey sally I’m in agony. The first batter I made was lumpy so I redid it and my second attempt was better but still has chunks of the cocoa powder mixture in it. I was a bit worried but it baked right so I let it cool in the refrigerator for 2 hours and then I let it sit on the countertop well I made the whipped cream. Well when I unrolled it the cake cracked l in pieces. I was extremely disappointed and confused on what I did wrong I looked over everything you said but nowhere could I find what happened. I really want to be able to bake a roll cake. Sally do you have any suggestions for me?

    1. I noticed that her conversions are wayyy off, mine is in the oven now and I am afraid I put too much cocoa powder in. 1 tbls of cocoa powder is 17.1 grams, but she has it at only 10g for 2 tbls. maybe that’s where it goes wonky?

      1. Hi Kimberly, unsweetened natural or dutched cocoa powder is uniquely light. 1 Tablespoon weighs close to 5g. (I typically use Hershey’s brand.)

  28. They all crack! I and my mom have followed every direction exactly and everyone of them crack!! It’s exhausting.
    I have made them pumpkin rolls ( in a the smaller pan) and never had this issue!!