Pumpkin Roll

Pumpkin rolls are one of the most iconic Thanksgiving desserts, next to pumpkin pie, of course! Although we haven’t had one in recent years, I remember a stretch of years during which my aunt would bring at least one (sometimes two) pumpkin rolls to add to the Thanksgiving dessert table. It’s virtually impossible to resist that spongy, moist pumpkin cake rolled up with a thick cream cheese filling. While I’ll always take a little sliver of pumpkin pie for dessert on Thanksgiving, truth be told, it’s never been high on my list of dessert favorites. All the whipped cream in the world couldn’t change my mind, so I always loved having an alternate pumpkin dessert to devour. I finally made my first rolled cake earlier this year (Strawberries and Cream Angel Food Cake Roll), and decided once the holidays rolled around I needed to conquer the classic pumpkin roll. Here we are!

While a rolled cake may look intimidating at first, the truth is, they are one of the simplest cakes you’ll ever make! Mixing the batter is quick and easy, and the cake only bakes for 15 minutes. Unlike a layer cake, there is no slicing cake layers, filling, frosting or decorating. Just a simple cream cheese filling that is slathered onto the cake.

If a pumpkin roll is still on your baking bucket list, definitely give it a go this year – it’s easier than you think and your family will love it!

One year ago: Sausage, Fig & Cranberry Stuffing
Two years ago: Fresh Green Bean Casserole
Three years ago: Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Crisp Squares

Pumpkin Roll

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

A classic pumpkin roll recipe with a cream cheese filling.

Ingredients:

For the Cake:
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
⅔ cup canned pure pumpkin

For the Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Powdered sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:

1. Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 15x10-inch jelly roll pan. Line the pan with parchment paper, then grease and flour the parchment. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt; set aside.

3. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the sugar and eggs together until combined and thick, about 2 minutes. Add the pumpkin and mix to combine. Add the dry ingredients and use a rubber spatula to fold and mix until no flour is remaining. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer.

4. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed. While the cake is in the oven, place a piece of parchment paper on the counter and sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar.

5. When the cake comes out of the oven, immediately run a knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake. Turn the cake out onto the prepared piece of parchment paper. Carefully peel off the parchment paper from the top of the cake and discard. Starting with a short end, carefully roll up the cake with the parchment paper. Place the rolled cake on a wire rack seam-side down and allow to cool to room temperature.

6. Make the Filling: Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar and beat until completely smooth and light. Add the vanilla extract and mix briefly to combine.

7. Carefully unroll the cake. Spread the cream cheese filling evenly over the surface of the cake. Re-roll the cake, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. When ready to serve, place the pumpkin roll on a serving platter and dust with powdered sugar. Leftovers should be wrapped in plastic wrap or placed in an airtight container and refrigerated.

(Recipe adapted from Very Best Baking)

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62 Responses to “Pumpkin Roll”

  1. the 3volution of j3nn on November 14, 2012 at 12:16 am

    That looks INCREDIBLE! To my misfortune, I have never had the pleasure of eating a pumpkin roll — ever! I’d love to try it, especially this one. YUM!

    Reply

  2. Averie @ Averie Cooks on November 14, 2012 at 12:27 am

    Funny you said bucket list in this post – a pumpkin roll actually has been on my to-make list for ages. I need to make it a reality. Yours looks perfect! That filling – I want it!

    Reply

  3. Lynn Ambrose on November 14, 2012 at 5:07 am

    Can the pumpkin roll be at all frozen a few days before Thanksgiving?

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 15th, 2012 at 5:40 pm

      Hi Lynn, You could probably freeze this (I haven’t tried it), but you could make this a couple of days ahead of time and wrap it well in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

      Reply

  4. Blog is the New Black on November 14, 2012 at 6:12 am

    This recipe is nostalgic for me- my mom made one every year!

    Reply

  5. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar on November 14, 2012 at 6:37 am

    I’ve always wanted to make this! It looks and sounds so fabulous.

    Reply

  6. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers on November 14, 2012 at 6:47 am

    A pumpkin roll is on mu bucket list of foods to make. Your looks incredible. I think I’m going to a Turkey Day party, I think I should make your roll and bring that!

    Reply

  7. Sandra on November 14, 2012 at 7:09 am

    I’ve resisted this dessert for years and honestly don’t know why. My hubby would love this so I guess this year will be my maiden voyage.

    Reply

  8. Jessica @ Portuguese Girl Cooks on November 14, 2012 at 8:22 am

    My grandpa always used to make roll cakes at his bakery, and they were one of my absolute favourites, and a pumpkin one must be amazing!

    Reply

  9. Terri on November 14, 2012 at 8:26 am

    I don’t care for anything pumpkin, except roasted pumpkin seeds, but bake at least a dozen (if not more) pumpkin rolls every November and December for family and friends. Use the same basic recipe at you but add chopped pecans to the cake. Everyone loves them!

    Reply

  10. Yvonne on November 14, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Like Terri in the above comment, I sprinkle chopped pecans on the cake batter before baking. This is one of the easiest showstoppers to make and so very yummy.Happy Thanksgiving all!

    Reply

  11. Jessica@AKitchenAddiction on November 14, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Mmm, I love pumpkin rolls! We use to have these all of the time for Thanksgiving!

    Reply

  12. Jodi Pavlik on November 14, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Your pumpkin roll looks amazing! I have made these, but it has been quite some time ago!! I think I might re-visit them this year.

    Reply

  13. Rachel (Two Healthy Plates) on November 14, 2012 at 9:48 am

    I cannot go through the holiday season without eating at least one piece of pumpkin roll – yum! I’m always the dessert baker in my family but making rolls like this always intimidate me! I know you can always cover up the ugly with powdered sugar though =)

    Reply

  14. Paula on November 14, 2012 at 10:02 am

    This is gorgeous!

    Reply

  15. amanda @ fake ginger on November 14, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Gorgeous! I haven’t made a pumpkin roll in years but I’m thinking I might make one next week.

    Reply

  16. Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet on November 14, 2012 at 11:56 am

    This cake is a must on our Thanksgiving table. All the bakers in our family make it!

    Reply

  17. Erin on November 14, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    This looks delish, I think I will make it this year. Is it 2/3 of a 15oz canof pumpkin or the large cans?

    Reply

    • Erin on November 14th, 2012 at 1:21 pm

      Oh my. I thought it said 2/3 of the can. I obviously missed the cup! haha

      Reply

  18. Dixya @ Food, Pleasure and Health on November 14, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    i was intimidated by the roulades and its also on my bucket list. I absolutely love them but its so delicate and needs so much attention- I would love to try this out soon now. looks so moist and delicious.

    Reply

  19. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on November 14, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    I have always wanted to try to make a pumpkin roll. I actually prefer them to pies!

    Reply

  20. Marie | FeelingFoodish on November 14, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    I’ve had this on my bucket list too for so long! maybe this is the year. It looks so good and I just love anything with cream cheese.

    Reply

  21. Tamara on November 14, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    I am not a huge pumpkin fan, but this looks incredible. I have a feeling there will be one at my house on Thanksgiving Day! Thanks for the post! Always love your food blog.

    Reply

  22. buttercream bakehouse on November 14, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    Can’t wait to make mine.

    Reply

  23. Laura @ GotChocolate on November 14, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    Oh wow, I’m definitely going to try this for one of the desserts for Turkey Day next week. This seriously looks very delicious and PRETTY!

    Thanks so much for sharing! :D

    Reply

    • Laura @ GotChocolate on November 22nd, 2012 at 9:30 pm

      I made this for Thanksgiving tonight and it was FABULOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!! SO MOIST!!!
      DE-LICIOUS!!!

      Reply

  24. Laura Dembowski on November 14, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    As big of a pumpkin and dessert fan as I am, I’ve.never had a pumpkin roll before. Can’t wait to give it a try!

    Reply

  25. Juli on November 15, 2012 at 2:34 am

    Hello! I am a HUGE fan of your blog and have a recipe binder to prove it! The major problem I now face is that my 6 yo daughter has been diagnosed with an allergy to wheat! I am a big baker so this has really thrown me for a loop! Especially when it comes to basic bread recipes (like for sandwiches). I am reaching out to you in the sincere hope you may have some good advice and/or recipes for me. I figured if you don’t have any recipes this would be a great challenge for you to take on for all of us moms who are totally stuck in their tracks without the use of regular (wheat) flour!! Thanks so much!!!

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 15th, 2012 at 6:16 pm

      Hi Juli, Unfortunately at the moment, I don’t have any gluten-free recipes. You might want to check out Gluten Free Girl, I have heard fantastic things about her recipes (she also has a cookbook) and I know she does a lot of testing with different wheat substitutes: http://glutenfreegirl.com. Good luck to you and your daughter! :)

      Reply

  26. Andrea Bukowski on November 15, 2012 at 9:14 am

    This is a great recipe! I folded a 3/4 cup of homemade whipped cream to the cream cheese frosting, wow, it was great! Thank for the recipe!

    Reply

  27. Sally - only gluten free baking on November 15, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    A roll cake has been on my, want to make list for a while, I haven’t considered pumpkin but this one looks great.

    Reply

  28. Katie @ Blonde Ambition on November 15, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    We’ve never had a pumpkin roll at my Thanksgiving dinner- it’s usually apple, pumpkin, and/or pecan pies all the way for us! This would definitely impress my family :)

    Reply

  29. tracy {pale yellow} on November 15, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    I adore that top picture! I want to be in that pumpkin roll it looks so good! I’ve never made a roll before, this seems like a great beginning.

    Reply

  30. SnoWhite @ Finding Joy in My Kitchen on November 16, 2012 at 8:23 am

    I’ve been waiting to try a pumpkin roll …. I’m so worried the cake will crack! But, yours looks awesome and a slice of it would be fabulous for Thanksgiving.

    Reply

  31. Tyronebcookin on November 16, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    I have made hundreds of these and I can add a few suggestions.
    Make the filling ahead of time. You want to be prepared.

    I would suggest not letting it cool quite to room temperature to prevent cracking/tearing of cake when handling BUT you need to find a middle ground so your icing does not start to melt when applied.

    That being said, if your cream cheese filling is to cold (I would keep it room temp) it will tear cake when spreading because of the stiffness.

    Reply

  32. Capturing Joy with Kristen Duke on November 18, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    YUM, I love this and haven’t made it yet this year!

    Reply

  33. Alissa on November 19, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    This looks wonderful and I’m thiking about making it as a surprise for my husband.

    That being said, my jelly roll pan is a tad larger (probably 12X17, it is a sheet pan). Is there any way to convert this recipe to that size? I would think that if I were to use my size pan it would end up being too thin. Any advice?

    Reply

    • Tina on January 23rd, 2013 at 12:35 pm

      i have the same problem! did you ever make the roll with your pan?

      Reply

  34. Karin on November 20, 2012 at 10:20 am

    So…I made this this weekend, and it (surprisingly to me) came out looking EXACTLY like the picture! AND delicious, too. I’m definitely making this again! Thanks!!

    Reply

  35. Maria on November 21, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Any tips for turning out the pumpkin cake when it comes out of the oven? I am making this for Thanksgiving and I had the powdered sugar lined parchment paper on my counter-top. I just flipped the whole hot pan with the pumpkin cake onto the parchment paper on the counter as fast as I could resulting in a dynamite like cloud of powdered sugar all over haha. The cake smells so good I’m sure I will be making this again so maybe next time I can avoid getting powdered sugar all over everything! Thanks for the recipe and Happy Thanksgiving!

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 22nd, 2012 at 8:36 am

      Hi Maria, I try to get the pan as close to the counter as possible before I turn, but I do find pumpkin rolls to be one of the messiest things I’ve made ;-) Happy Thanksgiving to you as well!

      Reply

  36. Jenn on November 23, 2012 at 9:00 am

    I made two of these for thanksgiving. I made them the day before which worked out well. The first one came out perfect. The second one, I undercooked the cake just a touch and the cake cracked (I assume that’s why it cracked because the first one didn’t at all). I was able to fix it and the powdered sugar was a nice camouflage :) Thanks so much for this recipe and the confidence – this is my first rolled cake!

    Reply

  37. Ashley on November 24, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    Thank-you so much for this recipe! I made this pumpkin roll, as well as your macaroni and cheese casserole; they were both delicious and easy to make!

    Reply

  38. Julie on January 8, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    I made my first pumpkin roll today with your recipe, and with a baby in the other arm. It was super easy, thank you! I can’t eat it because of nursing restrictions, but my husband is already salivating and waiting for that hour of refrigeration time to be up :)

    Reply

  39. Tina on January 21, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Hi! I’ve never made roll cakes before so this will be my first attempt! I don’t normally have parchment or wax paper on hand, could I possibly substitute it with something like aluminum foil? Thanks!

    Reply

    • Michelle on January 21st, 2013 at 7:01 pm

      Hi Tina, Unfortunately for this application, aluminum foil will not work. You’ll need to use wax or parchment paper.

      Reply

  40. Tina on January 23, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    hi! sorry for another question! but i just realized (similar to someone who posted above) that my pan is a tad larger (16 x 12) .. would it come out too thin ? or do you have an adapted recipe? thanks so much!

    Reply

    • Michelle on January 24th, 2013 at 3:16 pm

      Hi Tina, It may be on the thin size. If you can’t find a standard size jelly roll pan (10×15) I would suggest spreading the batter only over about 3/4 of the pan, which might help.

      Reply

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    Reply

  42. Teresa - SassySuburbanite on September 16, 2013 at 11:57 am

    This has definitely been on both my eating and baking bucket lists. You made it sound easy so I’ll try to make one. Thanks! It looks delicious.
    Teresa

    Reply

  43. Navar on September 30, 2013 at 8:53 am

    My Episcopal Church Women’s Group is making these this year as a fundraiser. Our recipe is a little different from this one but not by much! We freeze them and they freeze just fine. We have trouble with the roll cracking to some degree- but once they have set for a bit and you cover them with powdered sugar you would never know they had cracked. They are very good.

    Reply

  44. Shelby on September 30, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Michelle,would this become a spice cake roll if I subbed sour cream for the pumpkin? What else could I try? My family does not care for pumpkin, but the flavors in the spices and the filling sound wonderful for this time of year. Thanks for your help.

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 3rd, 2013 at 2:41 pm

      Hi Shelby, I have not tried to do that, so I’m not sure how the sour cream for pumpkin sub would work out, but if you try it, please let me know how it turns out!

      Reply

  45. Joanne on November 1, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Sounds great…but I’m addicted to chocolate – so will be adding mini chocolate chips to the cream cheese mixture…can’t wait to try it!

    Reply

  46. Mary on November 6, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    Hi Michelle! I made this last year and ADORE this recipe! For this year, I’m trying to sneak in some more pumpkin…how do you think this would do with a cup or more of pumpkin? Thanks! :)

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 6th, 2013 at 10:47 pm

      Hi Mary, An entire extra cup of pumpkin will definitely affect the texture of the cake; it will likely be much too moist if you just add an extra cup of pumpkin. You would need to play around with the other ingredients to balance everything out.

      Reply

  47. jennifer on November 7, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    this is the libby’s pumpkin roll recipe…i just made one using that recipe. identical.

    Reply

  48. Lori on November 26, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Think I can make it today (Tuesday) to serve on thanksgiving?

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 26th, 2013 at 9:30 pm

      Yes, definitely! Just be sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

      Reply

      • Lori on November 30th, 2013 at 7:47 am

        Made this and it was wonderful! Best dessert on the table, thanks for the recipe!

        Reply

  49. Tom on November 29, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    FANTASTIC RECIPE!! I made 1 on Wednesday for Thanksgiving but the family dug into it as soon as it was cold. I have made 3 more since Wednesday and they are all almost gone.

    Reply

  50. Paula on December 17, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    I love your recipes, but they would be so much easier to convert to larger pans if you gave metric measurements.

    Reply

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