How to Make a Red Velvet Cake Roll

Learn how to make a deliciously soft red velvet cake roll using this step-by-step photo tutorial and recipe!

Today, let’s learn how to make a red velvet cake roll!!

If you’ve never made a cake roll before and are scared to death to try OR have attempted to make a cake roll before and have failed, don’t you fret. I got your back! Together, we’re going to make the most irresistible red velvet cake roll Christmas has ever seen.

And it all starts with a deep breath. Take one! Because making a red velvet cake roll is not as tricky as it looks. It just takes a little patience.

Learn how to make a deliciously soft red velvet cake roll using this step-by-step photo tutorial and recipe!

Let’s jump right in because there are a million step pictures to get through. Like most jelly roll type cakes, this is a sponge cake. But with a delicious red velvet flavor! There’s cocoa and vanilla, a little brown sugar, with a slight tang from buttermilk. It’s a light and airy cake, leavened mostly by the air whipped into the eggs in step 4. We’re talking lots of air– 5 full minutes of beating 4 eggs together. This is the bulk of the cake batter.

Here are the eggs after 5 minutes. They’re super fluffy and practically quadrupled in volume:

How to make a red velvet cake roll on

This cake recipe is particular. Meaning there’s 1 cup MINUS 1 Tablespoon of flour*, only 2 Tablespoons of this, and 3 Tablespoons of that. It’s best to follow the ingredients precisely as any little change could sabotage your efforts. I had trouble getting the proper sponge texture and taste. At first, I put all my effort into making the red velvet cake roll with creamed butter (for butter flavor) but the cake constantly ended up too dry and cracked. Once I switched to oil, I had zero issue. And I am confident in the final recipe below! You’ll love it.

*About the flour: all you’ll do is measure 1 cup of flour and take out 1 Tablespoon. It’s easy.

Unlike the other ingredients, you can play around with the amount of red food coloring. If you’re not comfortable using food coloring in your cake roll, simply leave it out. If you want the ruby red color of this cake roll, use about 1 Tablespoon of liquid food coloring or about 1 teaspoon of gel coloring.

Another must: the correct size baking pan. This isn’t a lot of cake batter, nor is it a thick cake. We want a thin sheet cake, as that’s the real trick to successfully rolling it up. The best size pan for this is a 10×15 inch pan.

How to make a red velvet cake roll on

The cake bakes for only about 16-17 minutes until it springs back when you poke it with your finger. Now once it comes out of the oven, don’t waste any time. Flip that thing right out of the lined pan and onto a thin kitchen towel to begin rolling. Why immediately? If you roll it up while it’s still warm, it will help prevent any cracks in the cake roll.

3 tips for this step:

  1. Prepare the kitchen towel as the cake bakes. Lay it out on your counter and sprinkle it with 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar. Be generous with the sugar. It will prevent the sticky cake from adhering to the towel. The towel will help you roll it up. Remember, make sure it’s a thin towel.
  2. Make sure you had that cake pan lined with parchment paper so it absolutely does not stick to the pan!
  3. Immediately flip the warm cake onto the prepared towel once it comes out of the oven.

Peel the parchment paper off of the warm cake. What you see here is the bottom of the cake and the surface that will be frosted with cream cheese frosting once it cools.

How to make a red velvet cake roll on

Gently and slowly roll it up with the towel. The towel prevents any sticking.

How to make a red velvet cake roll on

Then let the cake completely cool, while rolled up in the towel. It’s so odd, but it really does work this way! Place the whole roll on a large plate because some confectioners’ sugar can spill out the sides. I place the roll into the refrigerator for a couple hours to speed up the cooling process.

Once cool, let’s remove it from the refrigerator and let it sit out for a few minutes as we make the frosting. If we tried to unroll the cake while it’s super cold, it could begin to crack. So let it warm up for a few minutes on the counter.

And for the frosting? Cream cheese frosting, of course! Red velvet’s tangy creamy luscious bestie. I slightly reduced down my favorite cream cheese frosting recipe to yield the perfect amount. Make sure the frosting is a nice even layer so there aren’t any uneven sections inside the cake roll.

How to make a red velvet cake roll on

Once again, roll the cake up. Only this time without the towel. The cake will automatically want to curl up again because it cooled in the rolled up position. Does this make sense?

Once the cake is all rolled up, refrigerate it for about 20 minutes before slicing and serving so the cake sets its shape and is easier to cut.

How to make a red velvet cake roll on

It’s beautiful! Doesn’t it remind you of a swirly peppermint candy? So much love for this festive cake.

Here’s what you’ll taste: a light and spongey cake texture with lots of cocoa and vanilla flavor. There’s a little brown sugar for moisture and flavor, too. The cream cheese frosting might just be the star here though. You know how good that stuff is with red velvet! ♥ ♥

Learn how to make a deliciously soft red velvet cake roll using this step-by-step photo tutorial and recipe!

Learn how to make a deliciously soft red velvet cake roll using this step-by-step photo tutorial and recipe!

You can do this! And here’s a video to walk you through.


Red Velvet Cake Roll

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 17 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes
  • Yield: 10-12 slices
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Dessert


This homemade red velvet cake roll filled with tangy cream cheese frosting is perfectly moist, soft, and delicious!


  • 1 cup minus 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled), see note*
  • 3 Tablespoons (15g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50g) packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar (helps the red color stand out)
  • 1 Tablespoon liquid red food coloring*
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • for rolling: 1 cup (120g) 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


  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 10×15 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. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt together. (Make sure they’re sifted well!) Set aside.
  4. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat the eggs for 5 minutes on high speed. They will be light and very fluffy. On medium speed, beat in the granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, buttermilk, vinegar, food coloring, and vanilla until combined. Stop the mixer, pour in the sifted dry ingredients, then beat on low until the batter is completely combined. It will be a ruby red color.
  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 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 1 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 at least 20 minutes (and up to 1 day, covered) before slicing and serving. Dust with more confectioners’ sugar, if desired.


  1. Make Ahead Instructions: 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.
  2. Special Tools (affiliate links): KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Jelly Roll Pan | Sifter
  3. Flour: All you have to do is measure 1 cup of flour, then remove 1 Tablespoon. This is 15 Tablespoons (118g) of flour aka 1 cup minus 1 Tablespoon.
  4. Buttermilk: I strongly recommend buttermilk for flavor, but you can use whole milk in a pinch. For best taste and texture, I don’t recommend lower fat or nondairy milk.
  5. Food Coloring: You can certainly leave the food coloring out if you do not wish to use it. You can use less for a less red cake. Or you can use 1 teaspoon of gel red food coloring instead.

Keywords: red velvet cake roll, cake roll

Learn how to make a deliciously soft red velvet cake roll using this step-by-step photo tutorial and recipe!


  1. Laura | Tutti Dolci says:

    Just gorgeous, Sally! This is the prettiest cake roll ever!

  2. This is so pretty! I would love to make this for Christmas but I have some non-cream-cheese people in my family. (the nerve!) Do you think I can substitute a buttercream frosting? Or do you have another recommendation?

    1. Sally’s white chocolate buttercream goes beautifully with red velvet cake!

  3. I made this, but it cracked when I was rolling it up the final time. However,  it didn’t come completely apart and I was able to hide the crack inside the role. Looks so beautiful! Can’t wait to eat it tomorrow when my family comes over for Christmas Eve!

  4. Hi Sally! Do you think this would work in a 13 x 15 inch baking pan? I can’t find a 10 x 15 anywhere for some reason.

  5. I tried making this roll twice last weekend. The cake was way too dense both times and my sister said that it was rather dry and was only saved by the filling for moisture although the cake itself tasted fine in small doses. I was surprised since I’ve made so many of your recipes and they all came out perfect. If I try again, should I beat the eggs longer? Also, I’ve made a fluffy matcha roll cake (using a 10×15) before and it only called for 4 ingredients of 40g cake flour, 80g sugar, 1T matcha powder, and 4 eggs and the cake was made into a sponge with separating the eggs and whipping the whites into a meringue. Do you think it would be possible to sub the 1T matcha for that recipe with 1T cocoa or would the cocoa require extra sugar for balance? I’d really like to try making a red velvet roll cake with a more airy texture.

    1. Hi Lily, whipping more air into the eggs could help. I’m unsure about adding matcha, but you can certainly give it a try!

  6. I’ve done this with different methods, but I think the towel works best.

  7. I’ve wanted to try a roll cake forever, I love the light and airy texture in them. I KNOW you said the right pan size is important, but I just have to ask! I have a Nordic jelly roll pan that’s 15.75″L x 11.25″W in size. I actually have two of them, so I don’t want to add yet another one that’s so close in size. Could I use that in this recipe?

    1. I think that size is close enough. The cake will be thinner. Let me know how it goes!

  8. Where did you get that cute little dessert spoon?! I’m in love.

    1. From etsy!

  9. Mine also cracked when I unrolled it, so it looks pretty sad… hoping it will taste ok! Any suggestion should for next time? I used a jelly roll pan. I didn’t measure but it might be more than 10×15, so maybe it was too thin?

  10. Erin in Queens says:

    Hi! Sally!
    Thanks for another great recipe! I just finished making this and it turned out perfectly! First time I’ve ever made a cake roll. Great instructions!

    I’d like to make a chocolate Swiss cake roll. Should I add more cocoa? And use buttercream frosting? Your advice would be really appreciated. Thanks again!

  11. Hi Sally! I am from the phils! Im been ‘silently’ reading your blog I cant help myself to ask you this time.. My oven is just small and a 10×11 pan would only fit.. do you think it would work well too?

    1. I’ve been*

    2. Hi JuDea! That size pan *could* work, but the cake will need longer in the oven because it’s thicker in a smaller pan. AND it may be more difficult to roll because of the increased thickness.


    Hi Sally,

    Can I use this recipe for making cake? If yes, I have an 8inch pan. Will it work? What will be the baking time?
    Thank you

    1. I don’t recommend it as this is best for a thin-layered cake (like the cake roll). How about this red velvet cake instead.

  13. Caroline Bailey says:

    Hi Sally! I’m going to attempt to make this for Valentine’s Day next week! I love your recipes and use them OFTEN! Quick question: if I choose not to use the food colouring, would I still use the vinegar, since you mentioned that it helps bring out the red colouring? Thanks for any help you provide!

    And seriously, thanks for sharing your gift of yummy recipes to the world!! I love them!

  14. Andrea Shoemaker says:

    Sally, I am a very experienced baker and followed the recipe exactly.  The cake turned out dry and cracked majorly.  I am so disappointed because I wanted to bring this to a Date Night Event at our church. 

  15. I’m an experienced Baker. I bake cakes everyday and I tried this recipe, followed it to the ‘T’ and I had to throw it away! The cake was too dry and stiff

  16. So, I noticed in the video you use 3 eggs, but the recipe calls for 4 eggs. I made it with 4 eggs and the batter is incredibly thin and runny. Is it 3 or 4 eggs?

    1. It’s 4 eggs 🙂

  17. Hi Sally, 
    I made the red Velvet roll today and it all worked well, except the cake is a bit tough rather than light and fluffy. Do you have any tips? 


    1. Hi Janina! Overmixing– that would be the culprit. Do you think you overtaxed the batter? Or over-baked the cake?

  18. Hi Sally.
    Another great success. Adapted to Gluten Free with my flour blend and no other alternations.
    Its the best ‘ Chocolate Roll ‘ recipe Ive ever used. No serious cracking and lovely and soft.
    No longer in fear of the Gluten Free Chocolate roll. I didnt leave the colouring out so a lovely red hue remains.
    Many Thanks your recipes seem to transfer to GF really easily.

  19. Hi Sally – how long can this stay in the fridge once it’s rolled up with the frosting? I’d need to prepare it more than 20 minutes before eating. Would a few hours in the fridge be ok? Thanks!

    1. A few hours or even overnight (if you cover it up!). It’s wonderful to make ahead. Enjoy!

  20. I had the same problem as others – I followed the recipe exactly and was left with a dry, cracking cake. Sadly, I ended up throwing half of it away because even the frosting couldn’t save it. Not sure what went wrong, but this is definitely not one I’m going to make again.

  21. Hi Sally, I bake quite a bit but his is the first I will be attempting a jelly roll of any kind. Can I use cake flour instead of ap flour?

    1. You can try cake flour, but I recommend AP flour for this recipe.

  22. Hi this looks gorgeous and I’m going to try making it. But how long can the cake last if I keep it in the freezer?

    1. Hi Eloise, please see the make ahead tips at the end of the recipe for freezing instructions!

  23. Emily @ Love, Pasta and a Tool Belt says:

    Mmm this looks so good! Now I really want to try it out. It would be perfect at Christmas time too!

  24. Hi. I thought 1 Tbs was 15g. So if we need 3 tbs of cocoa is 15g enough please?

    1. Hi Julia! The same volume of different ingredients weigh different amounts. 1 Tablespoon of sugar is heavier than 1 Tablespoon of cocoa powder. Does that make sense? Use 3 Tbsp of cocoa.

  25. I do not the towel method……I use parchment paper, I do not spray the pan or paper. When it’s done baking, I roll the cake up using the paper it was baked on. The top is now the part that is iced and the bottom is the baked part and makes a nice dryer roll. So much simpler. Happy rolling!

  26. Hi …can i use whipped cream with cream cheese frosting for filling????

    1. Yes you can!

  27. Hi, Sally! How would you recommend I change this recipe from a red velvet cake roll to a chocolate cake roll? Obviously omit the vinegar and food coloring…… but should I add more cocoa powder?



    1. Hi Maddie! I’m actually unsure without testing myself. You can try replacing some of the flour with cocoa powder. Let me know how it turns out!

  28. Turned out beautiful ! I added frosting to outside and it looks amazing ! Serving it on Xmas eve with and eggnog filled mini cream puff .

  29. I have made this roll twice now and while it is delicious it’s cracked both times on me while unrolling it to frost. I’ve let it cool in fridge for 2plus hours and let it sit on my counter for about 30 mins before unrolling. Any tips?

  30. I made this for my husband’s birthday because he loves red velvet. I thought I’d give this fancier roll a shot, and it turned out just perfect! I followed your recipe precisely, and it looked and tasted amazing. We are on day 3 of the cake, and it’s still just a good if not better with time. Thank you for all your amazing recipes!

    1. Hi Ragan, I’m so happy that you both enjoyed this and I hope he had a fantastic birthday!

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