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.
Let’s Make Pumpkin Roll
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? 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.
If you’ve tried my other cake roll recipes, you understand how surprisingly simple they are to make. And if you haven’t attempted a jelly roll cake before, you’ll be a pro in no time.
Let’s get started!
Pumpkin Roll Video Tutorial
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.
How to Make a Pumpkin Roll
- 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!)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
After the cake has cooled, unroll it and spread the frosting on top. A thick layer of frosting, obviously.
Just like this:
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!
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?
More Pumpkin Baking Recipes
If you love pumpkin + cream cheese in any variety you’ll love these recipes, too:
- Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins
- Best Pumpkin Bars (they’re truly the best I’ve ever had!)
- Pumpkin Cupcakes
- Mini Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Muffins
- Pumpkin Pie
How to make the BEST pumpkin roll! It’s moist, pumpkin spiced, easy, and filled with cream cheese frosting.
- 3/4 cup (95g) 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
- Read the instructions through before beginning. Make sure you are prepared for step 7 immediately when that cake comes out!
- 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.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- Loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes before slicing and serving. Dust with more confectioners’ sugar, if desired.
- 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.
- Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Glass Mixing Bowls | Rainbow Whisk | Jelly Roll Pan | Towel | Custom Stamped Forks
- 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!
- Adapted from Libby’s.