November Bake-Along: Classic Pumpkin Roll with Cream Cheese Filling

Say hello to this full-of-tradition, it-wouldn’t-be-Thanksgiving-without-it pumpkin roll. Raise your hand if your family requires at least one (usually more) pumpkin roll on the Thanksgiving dessert table. They are way too easy NOT to make, they satisfy all of those anti-pumpkin pie relatives (I’m one), and who can resist all of that cream cheese filling? (Not me.) Let’s do this!

An overhead shot of sliced pumpkin roll with pieces laying cut-side down.

Welcome to the November BEB Bake-Along! I loved seeing you tackle sticky buns throughout October, and can’t wait for you to dive in on this month’s recipe, which, incidentally, would be a fantastic addition to your Thanksgiving dessert menu.

I love, love, love pumpkin rolls, but I most certainly do not love the heart-pounding anxiety that flipping a hot cake onto a tea towel dusted with powdered sugar incites in me. Then, if the cake flips out and doesn’t break (praise the Lord!), then it gets rolled up and I’m left crossing my fingers for however long it takes to cool that when I go to unroll it there aren’t eleventy bajillion cracks in it. Who’s with me?

I am thrilled to announce that I’ve found a new, BETTER way to tackle these beautiful roll cakes that cuts wayyyyyy down on the anxiety (as in, there was none!) and guarantees an absolutely gorgeous, crack-free pumpkin roll every single time.

Let’s discuss!

A mixing bowl with batter for a pumpkin roll.

I originally shared a pumpkin roll recipe seven (!!) years ago, but have tweaked it a bit into a new and improved recipe here. The ingredients are mostly the same, but I’ve upped the warm spices significantly (if you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, be sure to check the notes for a link on how to make your own!), and added a bit of vanilla because nearly everything is better with vanilla.

The most significant change, however, is the technique used to roll the cake.

Pumpkin roll cake being rolled up in parchment paper.

Rolling Up a Pumpkin Roll

Traditional roll cakes are made by turning the hot cake onto a powdered sugar-covered tea towel or parchment paper and then rolled up immediately. Rolling up a hot cake will theoretically keep it from cracking and ensures that it’s pliable and can be unrolled, slathered with filling, then rolled back up.

The problem? Flipping out a hot cake is a tiny bit anxiety-producing (understatement there!) and I’ve always found that rolling it up in a tea towel, no matter how well sugared, causes the cake to stick a little bit and gives it a funky texture on top once it’s unrolled.

The solution? Line your jelly roll pan with parchment paper, then once the cake comes out of the oven, simply use the parchment paper to lift the cake out of the pan, and roll it right up in the parchment paper. Simpler, less mess, I find it creates a superior texture to the cake (a tighter, smoother crumb), and the exterior of the cake is smoother and more aesthetically pleasing.

A pumpkin roll slathered with cream cheese frosting before being rolled back up.

More Pumpkin Roll Tips

Let’s make these the best pumpkin rolls your Thanksgiving has ever seen!

  • If you do not have pumpkin pie spice on hand, you can make homemade pumpkin pie spice using cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice.
  • This recipe only calls for ⅔ cup pumpkin puree; one 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree will yield three pumpkin rolls, so you may as well bake them up and freeze a couple for holiday festivities.
  • If you do not have a jelly roll pan and don’t want to buy one, you can use a half sheet pan; just trace a 10×15-inch rectangle on parchment paper and spread the cake batter in that area only.
  • For a super pretty presentation, slice off the ends of the pumpkin roll before serving to showcase the swirl!
  • A large serrated knife makes for a nice, clean cut and keeps the pumpkin roll from getting smooshed when sliced.
  • Make-Ahead: Once the pumpkin roll is assembled, wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated, it can be stored for up to 2 days before serving.
  • To Freeze: Wrap the pumpkin roll tightly in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil and place in a freezer-safe zip-top resealable bag. Freeze for up to 3 months; thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Pumpkin roll spread with cream cheese frosting and being rolled back up.

More Pumpkin Desserts You’ll Love

JOIN THE BEB BAKE-ALONG!

To tackle the pumpkin roll and bake along with me this month, simply do the following:

  • Make the pumpkin roll!
  • Snap a picture and either share it on social media (#BEBbakealong on Instagram or Twitter), upload it to the BEB Facebook group, or email it to me.
  • Check in on Instagram and Facebook throughout the month to see everyone’s pumpkin rolls!

A pumpkin roll with three slices cut off on parchment paper.

Watch the Pumpkin Roll Recipe Video:

Pumpkin Roll

Servings 8 servings
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Chilling time 1 hour
Total 1 hour 30 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Michelle

A classic pumpkin roll recipe with cream cheese filling - turns out perfectly every time and NO flipping a cake onto a tea towel!

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

  • ¾
    cup
    all-purpose flour
  • 1
    tablespoon
    pumpkin pie spice
  • ½
    teaspoon
    baking powder
  • ½
    teaspoon
    baking soda
  • ¼
    teaspoon
    salt
  • 1
    cup
    granulated sugar
  • 3
    eggs
    (at room temperature)
  • 1
    teaspoon
    vanilla extract
  • 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
    (sifted)
  • 1
    teaspoon
    vanilla extract

For Garnishing

  • Powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 10x15-inch jelly roll pan with butter or non-stick cooking spray. Line with parchment paper, allowing a 1-inch overhang on the long sides of the pan. Spray the parchment paper with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

  3. In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, eggs, and vanilla vigorously until thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Gently whisk in the pumpkin puree to combine.

  4. Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until no streaks of flour remain. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread into an even layer.

  5. Bake until the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed, 13 to 15 minutes.

  6. Very carefully lift the edges of the parchment paper to lift the cake out of the pan and place on a flat, heatproof surface. Starting on a short end, roll the cake up with the parchment paper until completely rolled, then place on a wire rack to cool completely.

  7. Make the Cream Cheese Filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat on medium-low speed until combined, then scrape down the bowl, increase the speed to medium, and beat for 1 more minute.

  8. Assemble Pumpkin Roll: Once the cake is completely cool, very slowly unroll it. Spread the cream cheese filling in an even layer, leaving a ½-inch border around all of the edges.

  9. Gently roll the cake back up without the parchment paper (it can now be discarded), then wrap the pumpkin roll tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

  10. When ready to serve, remove the plastic wrap, place the pumpkin roll on a serving platter and dust with powdered sugar. Slice and serve. Leftover pumpkin roll can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 5 days.

Recipe Notes:

  • If you do not have pumpkin pie spice on hand, you can make homemade pumpkin pie spice using cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice.
  • This recipe only calls for ⅔ cup pumpkin puree; one 15-ounce can of pumpkin puree will yield three pumpkin rolls, so you may as well bake them up and freeze a couple for holiday festivities.
  • If you do not have a jelly roll pan and don’t want to buy one, you can use a half sheet pan; just trace a 10x15-inch rectangle on parchment paper and spread the cake batter in that area only.
  • For a super pretty presentation, slice off the ends of the pumpkin roll before serving to showcase the swirl!
  • A large serrated knife makes for a nice, clean cut and keeps the pumpkin roll from getting smooshed when sliced.
  • Make-Ahead: Once the pumpkin roll is assembled, wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated, it can be stored for up to 2 days before serving.
  • To Freeze: Wrap the pumpkin roll tightly in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil and place in a freezer-safe zip-top resealable bag. Freeze for up to 3 months; thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Recipe slightly adapted from Libby's.
Nutritional values are based on one serving

Nutrition:

Calories: 406kcal
Fat: 20g
Saturated fat: 11g
Cholesterol: 115mg
Sodium: 259mg
Potassium: 147mg
Carbohydrates: 53g
Fiber: 1g
Sugar: 41g
Protein: 5g
Vitamin A: 3910%
Vitamin C: 1%
Calcium: 63%
Iron: 1%

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!

Update Notes: This recipe was originally published in November 2012. Updated in November 2019 with an improved recipe, new photos, and a video.

[photos by Ari of Well Seasoned]