Learn how to make pumpkin roll, an easy Thanksgiving dessert, completely from scratch!  The pumpkin cake is moist with a smooth cream cheese filling.  Family and friends will be impressed with this elegant, classic dessert this fall.

Prep Time: 45 minutes
slices of pumpkin roll on a platter
Cakes

Easy Pumpkin Roll Recipe

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Have you ever tried making a pumpkin roll?  It’s actually a really fun and easy dessert that will impress everyone at Thanksgiving.  You’ll enjoy every bite of this moist cake with its beautiful cream cheese filling.

three slices of pumpkin roll on plates with forks

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What is pumpkin roll?

Pumpkin roll is a moist pumpkin cake that’s rolled up, filled with cream cheese icing, and dusted with icing sugar.  It’s a popular cake in the United States during fall and at Thanksgiving.

What size of jelly roll pan do you use for pumpkin roll?

Most people use a 10×15-inch jelly roll pan for making pumpkin roll.  However, I used a 9×13-inch pan for this recipe with great results.  I baked a little bit of the extra batter in a separate pan to avoid over-filling the jelly roll pan.

pumpkin roll on a platter

How to Roll a Pumpkin Roll

Are you scared to roll a pumpkin roll?  Don’t be!  It’s not as hard as it sounds if you follow the tips below.

  • Dust a sheet of parchment paper with icing sugar.
  • Flip the just baked, hot cake onto the sugared parchment.
  • Peel off the parchment from the bottom of the cake.
  • Roll up the cake from one of the short ends.  Go slowly and gently.
  • Cool the cake completely on a wire rack in its rolled-up state before unrolling and filling with the cream cheese icing.

person holding a slice of pumpkin roll on a plate

Why is my pumpkin roll sticky?

Pumpkin roll tends to get sticky on the outside, probably from the condensation as the cake cools.  It also gets sticky when it’s in the fridge.  Just before serving the cake, dust it with more icing sugar, and you won’t notice the stickiness.

Why did my pumpkin roll crack?

There are two main reasons why pumpkin rolls crack.  Make sure to follow the tips below to make a beautiful pumpkin roll.

  • The cake was too cold.  It’s important to roll the cake while it’s still hot from the oven and to let it cool in the rolled-up state.  Otherwise, the cake won’t be flexible, and will crack when rolled.
  • The cake was overbaked.  A dried-out cake will be brittle, and crack much more easily.  Make sure to bake the cake just long enough for a toothpick inserted into the middle to come out clean (about 12-15 minutes at 350 F).

slice of pumpkin roll on a plate with a fork

Can I make pumpkin roll ahead of time?

Yes, you can make pumpkin roll ahead of time.  Make it up to 3-5 days in advance, and store the cake tightly covered in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.  You can also freeze the cake for up to 2-3 months.

How long does pumpkin roll last in the fridge?

Pumpkin roll should keep very well in the fridge for 3-5 days.  Make sure it’s tightly covered with plastic wrap to keep out other food odors.

slices of pumpkin roll on a platter

Can pumpkin roll be left at room temperature?

No, pumpkin roll can’t be left out of the fridge.  The cream cheese filling can spoil if the cake is not refrigerated.  Keep the pumpkin roll at room temperature for no more than 2 hours at a time.

Can pumpkin roll be frozen?

Yes, you can freeze pumpkin roll! Here’s how to do it.

  • Bake and roll up the cake with the icing.
  • Freeze the cake in a zip-top freezer bag for 2-3 months.  (Feel free to pre-slice the cake, but keep in mind that it won’t stay fresh for as long.)
  • Defrost overnight in the refrigerator.

How to Make Pumpkin Roll

Gather the ingredients for the pumpkin roll.

ingredients for pumpkin roll

Butter a 9×13-inch jelly roll pan and line it with parchment paper.  Preheat the oven to 350 F.

parchment lined jelly roll pan

Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices until blended.

whisking flour and spices in a bowl

Whisk together the sugar, eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla until smooth.

whisking pumpkin mixture in a bowl

Dump the dry ingredients into the wet and stir until well blended.

pumpkin roll batter in a bowl with a spatula

Spread the batter in the prepared pan.

pumpkin roll batter in a jelly roll pan

Bake the cake at 350 F for 12-15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

baked pumpkin roll cake

Immediately flip the hot cake onto a piece of parchment paper dusted with icing sugar.  Peel the paper off of the bottom of the cake and roll it up tightly in the sugared parchment.  Let the cake cool completely in its rolled-up state, roughly 2 hours.

rolled up pumpkin roll with parchment paper

While the cake is cooling, make the cream cheese filling.  You’ll need cream cheese, butter, and icing sugar.

cream cheese icing ingredients

Beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth.

beaten cream cheese and butter with a mixer

Sift the icing sugar into the bowl.

sifting icing sugar into a bowl

Beat the icing until it’s smooth and fluffy.

cream cheese icing in a bowl with a mixer

Once the cake is fully cooled, gently unroll it.

unrolled pumpkin roll cake

Spread the cream cheese icing on the cake.

spreading the icing on pumpkin roll cake

Tightly and gently roll up the cake from the short side.

pumpkin roll on a cutting board

Place the pumpkin roll on a cookie sheet and chill in the fridge for 2 hours to firm up the filling.

pumpkin roll on a cookie sheet

Trim off the end pieces with a serrated knife to neaten the presentation then eat them as a snack.

trimming the ends off of a pumpkin roll

Dust the cake with icing sugar.

pumpkin roll dusted with icing sugar

Your cake is ready to be sliced and enjoyed!

pumpkin roll on a cookie sheet

Pro Tips for Making Pumpkin Roll

  • Be careful not to overbake the cake.  The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Use parchment paper to roll up the roll instead of a kitchen towel.  There’s less risk of sticking, and it’s easier to clean up.
  • Roll up the cake when it’s hot to prevent it from cracking.  Let it cool when it’s rolled up.
  • Let the cake cool before unrolling and spreading the cream cheese filling inside.
  • Chill the pumpkin roll before slicing.  It’s much easier to slice when the icing has firmed up in the fridge.

slice of pumpkin roll with the cake

Our Go-To Kitchen Tools for Pumpkin Roll

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slices of pumpkin roll on a platter

Easy Pumpkin Roll Recipe


  • Author: Emma
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 57 minutes
  • Yield: 10 slices 1x

Description

Learn how to make pumpkin roll, an easy Thanksgiving dessert, completely from scratch!  The pumpkin cake is moist with a smooth cream cheese filling.  Family and friends will be impressed with this elegant, classic dessert this fall.


Scale

Ingredients

For the Pumpkin Cake

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (90g)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin puree (164g)
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Cream Cheese Icing

  • 8 ounces brick-style cream cheese, softened (226g)
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter, softened (28g)
  • 1 1/4 cups icing sugar, sifted (150g)

Instructions

Making the Pumpkin Cake (30 min + 12 min baking + 2 hrs cooling)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Butter a 9×13-inch cookie sheet or jelly roll pan and line it with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl until blended.
  3. Whisk together the sugar, pumpkin puree, room-temperature eggs, and vanilla extract in a large bowl until smooth.
  4. Dump the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir until all the ingredients are well combined.  No lumps of flour should remain.
  5. Spread the batter in the prepared pan, making sure to get the batter into the corners of the pan.  Try to get the surface level.
  6. Bake the cake at 350 F for 12-15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Be careful not to overbake the cake, or it will crack when it’s rolled up.
  7. While the cake is baking, cut a piece of parchment paper that’s just a bit larger than the cake.  Dust it well with icing sugar.
  8. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, flip it out onto the sugared parchment paper and peel off the paper from its bottom.  Carefully roll up the cake, using the sugared parchment paper to help.
  9. Place the rolled-up cake on a wire cooling rack and let it cool completely, about 2 hours.  Do not unroll the cake until it’s completely cooled.

Making the Cream Cheese Icing (5 min)

  1. Beat the softened cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until smooth.
  2. Sift the icing sugar into the cream cheese mixture and beat on low speed until combined.  Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula and beat on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy.
  3. If the icing is too soft, add additional icing sugar.  If it’s too firm, add a little milk to thin it.  Make sure that the icing is fairly stiff, but still spreadable.

Rolling up the Pumpkin Roll (10 min + 1 hr chilling)

  1. Gently unroll the pumpkin cake.  Spread the cream cheese icing on top of the cooled cake, leaving a 1/2 inch border of cake around the edges to give the icing room to spread as the cake is rolled.  You may have a little extra icing.
  2. Start at the curled-up end, slowly and tightly rolling the cake.  Use the parchment paper to smooth the log.  Be careful not to squeeze the cake too hard, or the icing will ooze out of the ends.
  3. Place the cake on a cookie sheet or serving plate and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.  This allows the icing to firm up, making the cake much easier to slice.
  4. Trim off the ends to neaten up the cake.  (Feel free to eat these!)  Serve in 1-inch slices.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

Notes

  • Make this recipe perfectly the first time.  Just scroll up to see our step-by-step photo instructions and read our pro tips for this recipe.
  • The pleasure of a 5-star review for this pumpkin roll recipe would be greatly appreciated.
  • 👩🏻‍🍳 Want to see our latest recipes?  Subscribe to our email newsletter to get our latest recipes, fun food facts, food puns, and behind the scenes news about our blog.
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: how to roll a pumpkin roll, easy pumpkin roll, pumpkin roll no towel

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4 thoughts on “Easy Pumpkin Roll Recipe

  1. When I took my first forkful, boy, I could smell the pumpkin! The cake is soft and spongy, and the icing is creamy. I really like the nutmeg and the pumpkin spice flavors.

  2. This cake is very nicely rolled, and the icing sugar gives it an elegant look. It definitely smells like pumpkin! The cake is moist, spongy, and has a delightful color. The icing is smooth and silky, too.

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