How to Make Pumpkin Roll

Pumpkin roll— a beautiful classic fall dessert that everyone loves! This homemade pumpkin roll recipe yields a moist and soft spiced pumpkin cake with a thick layer of cream cheese frosting that’s tightly packed inside. We’re demystifying the cake roll making process with helpful instructions, a video tutorial, and all of my tips for success.

slice of pumpkin roll on silver plates

Let’s Make Pumpkin Roll

While pumpkin roll is certainly not a difficult recipe, making jelly roll cakes may intimidate you. I admit it, cake rolls look complicated. A cake rolled up? What? Today we’re walking through step-by-step photos, a how-to video, careful explanations, and a no-fail pumpkin roll recipe. It’s time to be confident and fearless when it comes to making pumpkin roll. And after you master this, you can move right on to Christmas with our yule log cake.

slice of pumpkin roll on a silver plate

Pumpkin Roll Video Tutorial

pumpkin cake batter in a glass bowl

Pumpkin Roll Ingredients

  • Flour: We use sturdy all-purpose flour instead of cake flour in this recipe because it is a thick and wet batter.
  • Baking Powder + Baking Soda: These ingredients help the cake rise.
  • Cinnamon + Pumpkin Pie Spice: These are pumpkin’s favorite spices. 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 of pumpkin pie spice. I like a lot of spice flavor!
  • Vanilla Extract + Salt: Both add flavor. Try using homemade vanilla extract instead.
  • Eggs: Eggs provide structure and moisture.
  • Pumpkin: We can’t have pumpkin roll without pumpkin! Use any leftover pumpkin in these pumpkin recipes.
  • Sugar: I sweeten this pumpkin roll with both brown sugar and granulated sugar.

You’ll notice this pumpkin batter is made without butter or oil. Why? We’re keeping this cake light and sponge-y so it can easily roll up.

spreading pumpkin cake batter into pan

How to Make a Pumpkin Roll

  1. Make the pumpkin cake batter. Spread it into a lined 10×15 inch jelly roll pan, which is the ONLY size pan that works for this recipe. I can usually help with pan substitutions, but you need a 10×15 inch pan here. Good news: the quality pans are pretty inexpensive and you’ll use it again if you bake pumpkin bars. (A must try!)
  2. Bake. This cake is very thin, so it only takes 15-18 minutes to bake through. You know it’s done when the cake springs back when you poke it with a finger.
  3. Prepare the kitchen towel. This is the most important step! While the cake is baking, lay a thin kitchen towel or parchment paper flat on the counter. Sprinkle it with confectioners’ sugar. Once the cake comes out of the oven, immediately invert it onto the towel/parchment. Peel the parchment paper off the warm cake, then starting with the narrow end, gently roll the cake up with the towel/parchment on the bottom. The cake will be warm since it just came out of the oven.
  4. Let the cake cool. Allow the cake to cool completely rolled up in the towel/parchment. I stick mine in the refrigerator for about 2 hours to speed it up.
  5. Make the cream cheese frosting. As the rolled-up cake cools, prepare the cream cheese frosting. Cool, creamy, silky, sweet, and smooth, this frosting is the perfect complement to spiced pumpkin cake.
  6. Unroll the cake. Take your time with this step. Gently unroll and flatten the cake out, then spread a thick layer of frosting evenly on top, leaving about a 1/2 inch border around the cake. Carefully and tightly roll the cake back up, without the towel/parchment this time. Some frosting may spill out the sides, that’s ok!
  7. Refrigerate. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes before slicing and serving. Refrigerating the cake for this short amount of time ensures a neater slice and tastier bite!
  8. Slice + Serve! Dust with more confectioners’ sugar, if desired.

Roll the Cake When It’s Warm

Roll the warm cake in a thin towel or parchment paper dusted with confectioner’s sugar. Why do we do this? (1) We roll the cake in a towel or piece of parchment to prevent it from sticking to itself– and to make rolling the warm cake 100x easier. (2) Rolling the cake 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.

shaping pumpkin roll using a tea towel and rolling it up

After the cake has cooled, unroll it and spread the frosting on top. A thick layer of frosting, obviously.

2 images of cream cheese frosting in a bowl and spreading it onto pumpkin roll

Just like this:

Cream cheese frosting on pumpkin roll cake

Roll it back up and chill it for about 20 minutes before slicing. This cake is sooooo very yum when it’s chilled. Will you check out this thick layer of frosting?! Pumpkin roll, you delicious beauty you!

pumpkin roll

Now that you’re armed with the knowledge, recipe, and a how-to video, you can master the pumpkin roll this fall season. 🙂 It’s a show-stopper dessert with an epic presentation. How can you not WOW WOW WOW and literally salivate when this swirly twirly beauty is presented before you?

slice of pumpkin roll on a silver plate

More Pumpkin Baking Recipes

If you love pumpkin + cream cheese in any variety you’ll love these recipes, too:

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pumpkin roll

Pumpkin Roll

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 18 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes
  • Yield: 10-12 slices
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


How to make the BEST pumpkin roll! It’s moist, pumpkin spiced, easy, and filled with cream cheese frosting.


  • 3/4 cup (94g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 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


  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. 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.


  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: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Glass Mixing Bowls | Rainbow Whisk | Jelly Roll Pan | Towel | Custom Stamped Forks
  3. Spices: 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!
  4. Adapted from Libby’s.

Keywords: pumpkin roll, pumpkin cake roll


  1. Oh my goodness, this pumpkin cake roll is delicious! So moist and not too sweet with all the spices hitting the right spots! I’m going to make this yearly as a nice fall dessert because it’s so good! Thanks always for sharing.

  2. Hi Sally! I made this recipe for Friendsgiving and everyone thought it was delicious! My sponge did crack though despite following directions- any more tips to help prevent that? Thanks!

    1. Do you have an oven thermometer? I now adjust for my (very hot) oven and – no more cracking!

  3. Would this hold up as a base for a buche de noel? Going to prepare for a Christmas party and the host loves pumpkin. Going to cover in chocolate frosting and decorations, but doing researsh to see if it’s sturdy enough. Thanks!

    1. YES! A few readers have used this roll for buche de noel. Let me know how you like yours!

      1. This worked beautifully as a buche de noel! I did cover it in a chocolate frosting, but it totally worked! Thank you so much and sorry my reply is so late, lol.

    2. In an effort to use summer zucchini, I made this recipe and substituted pumpkin puree for grated zucchini that I had squeezed the liquid out of. It worked beautifully. Thanks for the courage to try a cake roll! It was my first.

  4. I like my recipe a little better. Nice and fluffy but still holds a perfectly round shape inside is very creamy and not over the top sweet.

  5. Made this the other day and it was AWESOME. Is it weird that I get insane satisfaction when I sneak vegetables into my kids? was also thinking of making it again with carrot puree, have you ever tried something like that? do you think it will work?

    1. Hi Yael! Not weird at all. 🙂 I haven’t tried carrot puree, but it should work just the same as pumpkin. Let me know if you try it!

      1. I tried it! I made the carrot puree myself so it wasn’t quite as smooth as store bought pumpkin puree. Also, the cake tore a tiny bit but the presentation was still pretty. Tasted great, and honestly very similar to the pumpkin version. Thinking of experimenting with butternut squash or sweet potato next!

  6. I’ve never eaten or made a pumpkin roll before so this was a fun challenge. Made it for the June 2019 baking challenge as we don’t like Angel cake. This was so delicious and my cake didn’t crack thanks for your tips!! I might add more cream cheese to the filling next time but it was really good! Thank you Sally!

  7. Nikki Lindqvist says:

    If I don’t have access to “block cream cheese” here in Sweden – only regular Philadelphia in tubs – what can I do? Thanks.

  8. Hi Sally can I use a 13×18 pan instead of a 10×15.

    1. Never liked pumpkin roll but loved this….a little spicer than the norm …which I loved ….THANK YOU

      1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  9. Michelle Cole says:

    Sally how do you recommend freezing? Do you wrap in plastic wrap and foil?

    1. Yes! I usually use Press and Seal and then foil and then place it in a container in the freezer. You can see exactly how I do it in this post (works for a roll cake too!):

  10. Love pumpkin roll, make it every fall, usually I do Libby’s and wanted to try yours this year. I follow everything to the T for the recipe and every year the cake breaks when I unroll it slowly from towel and it’s loaded with powdered sugar, this year both rolls busted on the side seams, filling falling out. So delicious though still, but would love to be able to have that perfect roll!

  11. I stopped doing the step of flipping it onto a kitchen towel and just rolled it in the parchment paper after it came out of the oven. A lot easier and worked great!

  12. Hi, Sally! Thank you for taking such care to provide your readers with trusty recipes! I’ve baked several of your recipes—my friends and family have high expectations now. ha!

    I had so much fun baking this pumpkin roll. I’d never made a cake roll before, but it was simpler than expected! I have a question. During refrigeration, the powdered sugar coating became clumpy/chunky. Is this normal? I did my best to brush it off the outside. Do you usually dust with more powdered sugar right before serving to hide the imperfections?

    Thanks so much for your help!

    1. Hi Emily! Thank you so much for this kind comment. I don’t usually add more powdered sugar on top of the roll, but you certainly can. Are you sifting it on top? That will help avoid any large clumps.

      1. Oh, of course! Next time, I’ll be sure to sift the powdered sugar evenly across the towel or parchment paper (before flipping the warm cake onto it), rather than spreading the powdered sugar by hand. I’m sure that will solve the problem! Thank you for the hint!

  13. I am ridiculously excited at how well this turned out. The directions were spot on. The cake and filling are not too sweet and pair lovely with a cup of coffee.

  14. This is such a great recipe! I’ve made it a few times. I’m not a pumpkin flavor fan at all (except pie) but this is wonderful. I brought it a few occasions to holiday dinners – both Thanksgiving and Christmas and always well received. Don’t be intimidated by the thought of rolling the cake – it’s a good recipe!

  15. What is the finished size of the roll? Height, width, length. Thanks.

  16. Hi Sally, I’m thinking about making this cake and was wondering if I could add chocolate chips to it? If so, how would you recommend I do that? Could I add some to the batter or while I’m spreading the frosting? Thank you so much for all your amazing recipes!! They seriously are always a hit and make me feel like a real baker

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Darla, Either way would work. You can add chocolate chips to the batter or you can sprinkle some mini chocolate chips on the filling before rolling it up. Enjoy!

  17. Skip the tea towel and line your pan with parchment paper before baking, leaving long ends on the short side of the pan. After baking, grab the long ends and gently lift out of the pan, and roll immediately.

  18. Hi Sally! Thanks for all your amazing and detailed recipes. Is the OXO pan that you linked in the post the same one that you’ve used for this recipe? Some of the reviews on that pan indicate that the inner part of the pan actually measures closer to 8.5 x 13.5 inches, so I just want to make sure that it’s ok to use for this recipe. Thank you!!!

    1. Hi Anna, I’m just seeing your question now! My apologies. It looks like the link has switched products because that’s not the pan I have and use. We really like this Wilton pan:

      Make sure the interior dimensions are 10×15 inches.

  19. I hope it’s ok to ask a question if so I was hoping someone might have an idea of what size HxLxW holiday gift box is needed for a pumpkin roll baked in a 10×15 jelly roll pan?

  20. So I also got caught with the wrong link and bought the Oxo pan. I didn’t realize until it was too late. It didn’t roll properly because it was too thick. Ah well. It tasted really good though and was super easy. I’d make it again, this time with the correct pan. Thanks Sally for all of your delicious recipes!

  21. Jeanette Horton says:

    I’m going to try recipe today. Is pumpkin puree the same as 100% pumpkin

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Yes it is, Jeanette. Enjoy!

  22. Samantha Chiquette says:

    This was my first time ever making this, it was amazing. You have the best recipes and the thoroughness makes a not so good baker like me, look talented 🙂 thank you for all of your great recipes!

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I’m Sally, a cookbook author, photographer, and blogger. My goal is to give you the confidence and knowledge to cook and bake from scratch while providing quality recipes and plenty of pictures. Grab a cookie, take a seat, and have fun exploring! more about Sally