This classic pumpkin roll recipe is made with a delicious pumpkin cake and heavenly cream cheese filling…and it’s surprisingly easy to make. See the video below for a visual on how to assemble your pumpkin roll!
Happy fall, everyone! In honor of the calendar officially flipping over to the new season this week, I thought I would bump my favorite fall dessert recipe to the top of the blog again.
Yep, I’m talkin’ about a good, old-fashioned, deliciously-indulgent, classic pumpkin roll. ♡
I have had a tradition of making pumpkin rolls every fall for at least a decade now, and always look forward to the cozy, comforting, delicious fall vibes that they bring. But I have to say that this year, during our first September living abroad, this small tradition has been especially nostalgic and comforting.
Even though it now requires making a special trek across town to the one store in Barcelona that sells canned pumpkin puree, plus an extra trip to a different store to purchase a brick of “Philadelphia” (the name for cream cheese here in Spain, so cute), and some major tinkering with my tiny Spanish oven — the rhythms and feels and smells and flavors of this ritual feel just as familiar as ever. And the second I slice off a beautiful round of that perfectly-paired pumpkin cake swirled with cream cheese filling, it tastes just delicious as ever. And the world feels wonderfully, magically, comfortingly small for a moment. Feels like fall.
Anyway, if you also happen to have a nostalgic craving hit this season for a classic pumpkin roll, this recipe has been my go-to for years. It calls for all of the classic ingredients (thanks, Libby’s!), but it’s updated with my method for rolling up the cake in parchment paper, which I have found to be simpler and more reliable than the classic towel method. If this is your first time making a pumpkin roll, don’t fear — it’s much easier than it may seem. Plus, I’ve included a handy step-by-step video below to take any of the guesswork out the equation. And if your friends and family are anything like mine, they are going to love it.
Let’s make a pumpkin roll!
Classic Pumpkin Roll Recipe | 1-Minute Video
Pumpkin Roll Ingredients:
To make this classic pumpkin roll recipe, you will need the following ingredients:
Flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, eggs, vanilla, granulated sugar: For the base of the pumpkin cake.
Pumpkin pie spice: For seasoning the cake. (You can either use store-bought pumpkin pie spice, or I’ve included measurements for ingredient amounts for ground cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.)
Pumpkin puree: I have always used store-bought canned pumpkin puree, which is super simple. But you are welcome to make pumpkin puree from scratch, if you prefer.
Cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla: For the cream cheese filling. I told you it was indulgent. ;)
Parchment paper: I like to buy these pre-cut sheets, but you can also definitely cut your own.
How To Make A Pumpkin Roll:
Alright, let’s begin with the pumpkin cake. Simply:
Make your pumpkin cake batter. You can either do this in a stand mixer, or by hand in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together the dry ingredients until combined, and set aside. Then in a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until thick. Stir in the vanilla and pumpkin puree until combined. Then fold in the dry ingredients until they are just combined, being careful not to overmix the batter.
Transfer batter to the baking sheet. Cover your jelly roll pan completely with parchment paper, leaving some extra room on the long (15-inch) sides so that you can easily lift the cake out after baking. (If the parchment paper is sliding around, just sprinkle a few drops of water underneath it, which will help it to stick to the pan.) Then spread the batter evenly on top of the parchment.
Bake. This part goes quickly since the cake is so thin.
Remove cake from pan. This part needs to move quickly, so be ready. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, run a knife around the edges of the pan (if needed) to loosen the cake. Then carefully grab the edges of the parchment paper to lift the cake out of the pan and slide it over to a flat, heat-proof surface. (I recommend using oven mitts since the cake will still be very hot.)
Roll the cake. Then holding onto the parchment, carefully roll up the cake — from short end to short end — until it forms a complete roll. (See video above for an example.) Transfer the rolled cake to a wire cooling rack and let it cool completely to room temperature, seam-side-down so that they cake does not unroll.
While the cake is cooling, make your cream cheese filling. To do so, simply:
Stir together your ingredients until smooth. It’s ok if there are a few tiny lumps of cream cheese. But in general, you want the filling to be pretty smooth. Also, it’s crucial that your ingredients are all room temperature so that the cream cheese filling can be nice and sturdy. Otherwise, the filling will be too thin and will ooze out of the pumpkin roll. (If it seems too thin, just add more powdered sugar.)
Refrigerate until ready to use. To keep it nice and fresh.
Once the cake has cooled, it’s time for the fun part. To assemble your pumpkin roll:
Gently unroll the cake. Place the cake back on a flat surface and gently unroll it until the cake is mostly flat again, going slowly so that the cake doesn’t break. (If it does a bit, don’t worry, it will still taste delicious.)
Spread on the cream cheese filling. Using a spatula, spread the cream cheese filling out evenly on top of the cake, leaving a 3/4-inch border around all sides of the cake so that the filling doesn’t spill out while the cake is being re-rolled.
Re-roll the cake. Then go ahead and roll the cake back up again, carefully peeling off the parchment paper as you roll until it until it is completely released.
Wrap the cake. Wrap the finished pumpkin roll tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least an hour until chilled.
Dust with powdered sugar. When you’re ready to serve the cake, remove and unwrap it. Then lightly dust the entire roll with powdered sugar. Then…
Slice and serve! I like to take a small slice off of the ends just before serving, to reveal those beautiful swirls and make it a bit prettier. Then voila! Your homemade pumpkin roll will be ready to enjoy!
How To Store + Freeze A Pumpkin Roll:
Great news! Pumpkin rolls keep well in the refrigerator and freezer, so they’re the perfect dessert to make ahead of time if you’d like. To store your pumpkin roll, wrap it up tightly in plastic wrap. Then you can either refrigerate it for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months. If you choose to freeze the pumpkin roll, be sure to let it thaw in the refrigerator for 1 day before serving. (If you try to warm it up in the microwave or oven, it can dry out.)
Love this pumpkin roll recipe? Be sure to try these other dessert rolls too:
This classic pumpkin roll recipe is made with a delicious pumpkin cake and heavenly cream cheese filling…and it’s surprisingly easy to make. See the video above for a step-by-step visual tutorial for how to assemble your roll.
optional: powdered sugar (to sprinkle on at the end!)
Cream Cheese Filling Ingredients:
1 (8 ounce) brick cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To Make The Pumpkin Roll:
Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a 15 x 10-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper, leaving an extra 1-inch of parchment sticking up on both 15-inch sides of the pan so that you can easily lift the cake out after baking. (If you’d like the parchment to stick to the bottom of the pan more easily, sprinkle a little bit of water on the pan and then press the parchment paper on top of it. You can also lightly mist the top of the parchment paper with cooking spray for easier cake release afterwards, although it’s not required.)
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt in a large mixing bowl until combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and granulated sugar for 1 minute until thick. Add in the vanilla and pumpkin, and whisk until just combined. Fold in the flour mixture with a rubber spatula, and stir together until just combined.
Spread the batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until top of cake springs back when touched. Carefully lift the parchment paper and cake out onto a flat (and heat-safe) surface. Then slowly, use your hands to roll the cake — rolling from the short end to the short end — until it is completely rolled up. Transfer the cake roll to a wire rack, and cool until it reaches room temperature.
While the cake is cooling, make the cream cheese filling (see below).
Once the cake has reached room temperature, transfer the cake roll to a flat surface, and carefully it until it is flat again (or mostly flat, it’s ok if the ends curl up a bit). Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over cake, leaving a 3/4-inch border on all sides. Then carefully re-roll the cake, gently peeling away the parchment paper as you roll until you can completely remove and discard it. Tightly wrap the pumpkin roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.
Remove and unwrap the pumpkin roll and transfer it to your serving dish. Lightly dust the pumpkin roll on all sides with powdered sugar, if you would like. Then slice* and serve.
If you have leftovers, just re-wrap the pumpkin roll in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Or freeze for up to 3 months.
To Make The Cream Cheese Filling:
Whisk together cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl until smooth. If the filling is too thin, add more powdered sugar. If it is too thick, add a half teaspoon or two of water. (You want a medium consistency so that the filling is easy to spread, but not too warm or thin that it will ooze out of the cake when you’re rolling it up.)
Definitely trying this! Super tasty and fun to make!
I have never made a pumpkin roll out of fear of messing it up. I have faced some of my cooking fears this year, so maybe the pumpkin roll will be next :)
Not gonna lie, cake rolls of any kind totally scare me! I just cannot see myself getting it right, but you do make it sound so easy! You did any awesome job, Ali! It looks so pretty and perfect!
I’ve never made a cake roll of any kind. I am so intimidated! Your Pumpkin Roll looks wonderful and you make it sound easy. I may have to give it a try! I hope mine is as beautiful as yours!
Looks great, Ali! I really need to make this!
All I want is a warm coat! :) And maybe a pumpkin roll. Looks delicious!
This looks lovely!! I can’t believe you hadn’t made one yet, but what a good one to check off of your list : )
LOVE this pumpkin roll!!! I’m going to try this recipe! and love Parenthood and New Girl- two of my FAVE shows!
This looks just perfect! I need to make one, too!
I’ve never had this but my youngest daughter raves about one she had somewhere. I, too, thought it would be slightly difficult to make. Hopefully, I’ll be making this at Thanksgiving. Thank you for sharing:)
Such a fall classic! I think this is the year for me to finally try a pumpkin roll. Love your easy recipe, Ali!
This is just fabulous!
We just started watching New Girl on Netflix! It’s funny, but you know what the best show ever is:) Your pumpkin roll is perfect!
This was really good! Like others here, I was scared of doing a roll but, inspired by the Great British Baking Show, I googled and found this recipe and went for it! :) so glad I did. It was tricky because I don’t have a jelly roll pan and I used a cookie sheet which is larger so my sponge was thin and cracked a bit but my family didn’t care, they scarfed the whole thing down in one sitting!!! Next time I will double the recipe for the same pan and make a monster roll. Also, I will add some candies ginger and pecans and a bit more spice bc I personally found the flavors good but a bit bland. Thanks so much for this recipe and the step by step instructions. I’ve been getting lots of “when are you going to make that again?”s from the kids :)
This is so fantastic!! I love this pumpkin roll recipe :)
This settles it, Ali – I need to come to your house for photography lessons. I’m always in awe of your gorgeous shots, and this post is no exception :) Love a good pumpkin roll!
Beautiful roll, such a classic!
This looks moist and delicious! I’d love to eat this with a chai tea latte. :)
Hi Ali! This looks delicious! Did you add the ginger and nutmeg when you added the cinnamon and cloves?
I’ve seen cake rolls before and I never knew how they were done but after reading your recipe may have to try this for Thanksgiving.
Wow your pumpkin roll looks amazing, I wanna eat my computer screen :)
How gorgeous is this?! It’s absolutely perfect! And thanks for the dental floss tip!
Pumpkin roll is impossible to resist! Love the idea of using dental floss to cut the pieces perfectly!
First off, the pumpkin roll is beautiful! Just perfect and pristine, and your super clean photography adds this almost Japanese element to the image that I LOVE! Second, I never would have thought to chop using dental floss! And I thought I was pretty crafty.. tsk tsk. Awesome tip.
This looks perfect Ali! For some reason I have been too afraid to try a roll cake, but I am dying to get over my fear!
Congrats on mastering the pumpkin roll! I’m like you – I thought it would be a lengthy difficult process. Maybe I’ll try one this year too…maybe.
Looks beautiful – but the ‘Method’ for making the Pumpkin Roll does not include three ingredients listed above: nutmeg, ginger & vanilla.
I make these every year. I have a tip- make it easy on yourself. Put a lot of powdered sugar on the baked pumpkin roll itself, then, put your towel over that, place another cookie sheet on top of that, and turn over. You can then proceed to roll up pumpkin roll with the towel. Very easy. Keeps powdered sugar from flying everywhere.
This looks great! Do you know if it can be made ahead of time and frozen?
Looks great. Do you roll it the long way or the short way? ( is the resulting roll 15 or 10 inches long?)
I make pumpkin roll bread and muffins every year for Thanksgiving. It is such a wonderful dessert for the season. One thing is that I do not like pumpkin at all so I use butternut squash instead and it comes out incredible.
I RECENTLY LOST MY BELOVED PUMPKIN ROLL RECIPE AND FOUND YOURS…ITS IDENTICAL EXCEPT FOR A COUPLE OF TWISTS..I SPINKLE CHOPPED NUTS ON RAW BATTER BEFORE BAKING, LOVELY CRUNCH…AND I USE PUMPKIN PIE SPICE MIX INSTEAD OF INDIVIDUAL SPICES,,,MMMMMGOOD. THANKS
I’ve made these for years; made 18 this past weekend with help of a good friend. They’re in the freezer ready for holiday gift giving. We deliver some before Thanksgiving & some Thanksgiving morning. I didn’t see here, but I sprinkle 3/4 cup chopped pecans on my cake prior to baking. You’re right, looks much harder then it is.
I just made this yesterday, and my boyfriend pretty much ate the whole thing! (Maybe I shouldn’t be saying that haha…) but seriously! This was so good! I made another one tonight because I’m having friends over. Thank you so much for the post! Found this from google recipe search.
Unfortunately my first pumpkin roll was an epic failure. I think the error occurred because of mixing the eggs and sugar until thick…I think I over did it. Once I mixed in the flour mixture the batter was quite thick resulting in a tough cake. I swear I wasn’t aiming for a decorative paper weight! I seriously thought the issues would be rolling the cake but in my case it wasn’t. Well “fortunately” I refuse to throw in the towel and will be giving this another shot. I will master this!! Wish me luck!!!
I have never made a pumpkin roll, but it is one of my favorite desserts!
Made the punkin roll and served it at a party, since then I have made 6 more for friends. I will be making some as gifts for Xmas.
Ladies those of you who are afraid of this recipe don’t be sounds hard but not.Try it. It is well worth the time.
I just made this! It is simple and delicious.
I am just getting ready to put the filling on, happy thanksgiving
& GOD bless all of us
This is cooking right now. So far so good but I’m so nervous!!!
Made this for our family Christmas get-together. Big hit! I didn’t get to bring any home. :-) I used to make them all the time, but couldn’t find my recipe. So glad I found yours!
Love this recipe and easy to do.
Thanks Lillie, we’re happy to hear that! :)
I made this today. I was nervous since i have never made one before. Turns out i was nervous for nothing. It was so easy and very yummy!!!! Making another one tomorrow for a neighbor!! Thanks so much!
Yay, we’re glad it turned out so well!
Could I use pumpkin pie spice in place of the spices…I am out of ginger! If so, how much? Thanks.
Hi Anne, we think that should work fine! We’d suggest 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of the pumpkin pie spice. We would maybe start at 1 1/2, taste the batter, and you can always add more if you need it. We hope this helps!
This looks delicious, and I will hopefully be making it this weekend for a party. I just have one question, how much would it change the flavor to cut out the cinnamon all together? My niece is allergic.
Thanks Jessie, we hope everyone enjoys it! And hmmm, for the cinnamon, we think if you just up the ginger, nutmeg and cloves (to compensate), then it should be great! :)
This pumpkin roll sounds so good. I can’t wait to try this recipe. I am going to make it for Thanksgiving
Thanks Linda, we hope you enjoy the recipe! :)
I would like to know two things:
1. Have anyone tried to make this with cardamon?
2. Does anyone have a pumpkin cream-cheese filling recipe?
Hi Marge! We haven’t tried this with cardamom, but we think that would be a beautiful addition! :)
How do you get them from cracking? I made 2, one cracked and the other was perfect! Also, how much could someone sell these for? I’m thinking of making some and selling them! Thanks!
When I turn the pumpkin cake onto the prepared towel, I try to do so quickly and keep the pan as close to the tea towel as possible so that it doesn’t crack when it’s released. That’s my best tip! And I have no idea how much you should sell these for — but they’re delicious, so I bet people would buy them! :)
I made this. I haven’t tasted it yet. ‘m wait for hubby. I was wondering if it can be frozen. Do you know?
Unfortunately I don’t think this one will freeze well with the cream cheese. Gotta just enjoy it quickly! :)
just wondering if this will still be tasty if prepared the night before serving? I’ve got a lot to make for thanksgiving dinner this year and trying to figure out what will be ok to bake the night before?
It definitely should be! We hope you and your family enjoy it come turkey day! :)
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this recipe!! I always get compliments on it when I make it. I’ve even had people ask me to make it for them. It’s soo tasty. Best recipe by far.
Thanks for your sweet words Devona, we’re so happy you like this! :)