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.)
Can I make this in advance?
Yes, definitely! It also freezes great. We hope you enjoy!
Thanks so much for the tip of using parchment instead of a towel to roll the pumpkin. This was the first time I made pumpkin roll and I wasn’t sure how this was going to turn out. It worked perfectly and so much easier than using a towel!
You’re very welcome, Christine! We’re so glad you enjoyed it! :)
I just made this and it was a disaster! The filling is way off. Even after adding an additional cup of icing sugar it was still too runny but I gave it a go and icing oozed everywhere. Such a mess.
Oh no, I’m sorry to hear that Michelle. Not sure what went wrong… :(
This will only work if you do not put nuts on! You can cook it on parchment, but the roll will still need to be “dumped” onto cloth OR another piece of parchment. I remove the original parchment that it was baked on, after I dump it onto the new one and roll it with the NEW one I dump it onto.
Am making 24 of these beauties to sell. What do you recommend to wrap them in to freeze for 3 weeks?
I recommend Saran plastic wrap. :)
Made it today, my family liked it so much! Thanks for your recipe!
We’re so glad you and your family enjoyed it, Valentina! :)
Wondering if I should use unsalted butter or salted butter for this recipe….. Looks delicious – cannot wait to make this tomorrow!
I used salted, but if you used unsalted, just add in a little extra pinch of salt. :)
In another comment you said it freezes very well, do you mean the final product?? That Would be great because then I don’t have to wolf down the whole roll in one sitting. which I would of course if I had to.. ;)
It sounds so delicious and I can’t wait to try it!
Yep, the final product freezes well! :) Enjoy!
Can I use pumpkin pie spice instead of the clove, ginger, and nutmeg? If so, how much do I use?
Yes, definitely! We would suggest using 1/2 tsp – 1 full teaspoon (depending on the amount of spices you want). We hope this helps!
I made this pumpkin roll for thanksgiving. Itwas easy to make and it was so delicious my husband and company loved it. I would definitely recommend making this.
Thanks for sharing, Erika — we’re so glad it was a hit! :)
Made it today, my batter turned out way to soft, probably because my cup-to-gram-conversion-skills are non existent. It looks a mess but tastes divine, lucky for me because now I couldn’t possibly share ;)
I will definitely be making it again, I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it eventually. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe!
We’re sorry you had some difficulty with this, Rike, but we’re happy you still enjoyed it!
I made 2 using same recipe They look great but one turned much darker then other, any idea why?
We’re not sure, Maelene — maybe the batter in one batch got incorporated a little more than the other, or baked a little longer? We hope you still enjoyed them!
made this for thanksgiving it was a big hit, thanks for the recipie.
We’re so glad to hear that, Gail!
I took a short cut and used pumpkin pie spice instead of all the individual spices – worked great! Such an easy cake with great presentation; I added some raspberrys in the side?
We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Mickey!
Made this roll last evening, 10/18/16, without any changes to the recipe and it turned out DELISH! The parchment paper made it super easy for me to roll the cake, unroll the cake to apply frosting, then roll again. Excellent tip for making a flawless roll.
Thanks for sharing, Sharyn — we’re so glad you enjoyed the parchment paper method and the recipe! :)
I prefer to transfer my pumpkin roll onto a towel covered in sifted confectionary sugar and let it cool. ?
Glad you came over to the parchment side!! I’ve been making pumpkin rolls for about 25 years now, and I originally followed the tea towel rolling method like the gospel. After about 5 years of that, I tried parchment paper one Thanksgiving week and I’ve never looked back! Beats a tea towel hands down. I’ve spread this tip to many friends and family over the years, hope more will read your tip here and try this long-time favorite tradition for the holidays. Pumpkin rolls are my most requested recipe for get togethers and family holidays, ever!!
Yes, we totally agree! :)
Just made this and it’s currently in the fridge. Smells delicious and the filling that I taste tested was wonderful! When I was unrolling the cake from the parchment it felt extremely sticky. I was still able to get the filling all rolled up inside without trouble and have no doubt that it’ll taste fantastic, but wondered if it was normal to be so sticky?
Hi Christian! Yes, the fact that it was sticky is just due to it being a moist cake. We hope you enjoyed it! :)
I have made this roll 10 times. 8/10 it has cracked. It tastes delicious every time but any reason why it would crack? I’m rolling within 30 seconds of taking out the oven and going slowly.
Any help would be appreciated. Delicious none the less though!
Hi Shelby! We’re so sorry about the cracking. Sometimes these boogers just crack. :( But we have found that rolling them very slowly RIGHT after they comes out of the oven helps. Also just unrolling and re-rolling it nice and slowly. We hope this helps!
I made this and the cake was great but I had a hard time with the icing. There were chunks in it…….do you think things weren’t room temperature enough or because I didn’t sift the sugar? I’ll brake down and get a sifter someday ;)
Hi Amber! Could you tell if the lumps were butter or cream cheese? If so, it sounds like the butter and/or cream cheese were probably too cold, or that they needed to blend longer. Sifting the powdered sugar definitely helps prevent lumps as well!
I made this cake a couple years ago when I first found it and we loved it!! My husband, however, was very weirded out(as you say) by the towel roll method. Yesterday, I roasted some pumpkin and looked up this recipe to make today and am so excited to try the parchment version! Also, I made it gluten free and it was moist and ridiculously delicious. In sweet baking, I usually use equal parts rice flour, sweet rice flour and tapioca starch for the flour plus a teaspoon of xanthan or guar gum to make it spongy. Worked very well. Can’t wait for dessert tonight!
Thanks for sharing with us, Jayelle — we’re so glad you enjoyed the recipe and that’s so cool that you were able to make it gluten-free!
Baking the roll right now…smells heavenly. Hope it turns out good! Goint to make a mascarpone filling instead though because I don’t have cream cheese.
Coming back for the recipe again because, this turned out wonderful! So quick and easy too, thank you very much! Definitely making this again!
First time making any roll cake and it came out excellent! Only negative was I put to much filling but it still was able to roll. Do you have a carrot roll recipe??
We’re glad to hear that, Emma! We don’t currently have a carrot roll recipe, but that sounds amazing so we might have to come up with one! :)
Has anyone made this Gluten Free yet? I was thinking of using the Bob’s RedMill 1 to 1 GF flour mix. Any suggestions on other tweaks or experience attempting this GF?
Love this recipe made three, two for the church and one for us…yummy
We’re so glad you enjoy it, Susan! :)
Decided to make this for Thanksgiving dessert! Looks easy and delicious!
Awesome! We hope you enjoyed it! :)
So the recipe looks very simple, even for someone that never ever bakes! I was trucking along, my pumpkin roll turned out beautifully and then came the filling. I had everything at room temperature, had all the right ingredients,used both a whisk and a mixer and the filling was a flop!! I added all but an entire package of powdered sugar and still couldn’t get the right consistency for the filling!! I attempted to use the filling anyway, and needless to say I had to mop my floors alllll over again!! What did I do wrong!?
Oh no, we’re so sorry you had issues with the frosting, Amanda! :( Were your butter and cream cheese at room temp? It sounds like maybe they weren’t warm enough.
Can I substitute cup 4 cup gluten free flour?
Hi Joan! Unfortunately we haven’t experimented with making this particular recipe gluten-free, but you’re welcome to give it a try! We think a blend like Cup 4 Cup would probably be your best bet. If you try it, definitely let us know how it works out for you!
I would love to make this for thanksgiving, but I have to use gluten free flour. Do you have any advice for me regarding the flour? My go to flour is Cup 4Cup. Thank you.
Hi Joan! Unfortunately we haven’t experimented with making this particular recipe gluten-free, but you’re welcome to give it a try! We think a blend (like what you normally use) would probably be your best bet. If you try it, definitely let us know how it works out for you!
I just made this for Thanksgiving and my cake also cracked as I was peeling it off the parchment. Are you supposed to roll it IN the parchment right after coming out of oven? This was not clear to me, so I tried to peel it away from the parchment and roll it and it started cracking. It’s kind of sad looking, actually, but I will still serve it. Also the filling did not seem to be nearly enough. Overall, I think I flopped this recipe but sounds like I am in the minority. I might be a one-and-doner for pumpkin rolls !
Oh no, we’re so sorry Susan! As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, you’re supposed to run a knife around the short (10-inch) sides of the pan to loosen the cake. Then grab the sides of the parchment to lift the cake out of the pan (careful not to burn yourself), and place it on a flat heat-proof surface. (You may need to use oven mitts since the cake will still be very hot!) We’re sorry you did this and it still cracked for you. We have found that rolling them very slowly RIGHT after they comes out of the oven helps. Also just unrolling and re-rolling it nice and slowly. But sometimes these boogers just crack anyway. :(
I had made this in the past but the old recipe I had told you to flip this out of the pan onto a towel dusted with powdered sugar. No parchment paper was suggested and this was very hard to do, many times it was a dust storm of powdered sugar when I would flip the cake onto that. For that very reason I stopped making it, I just wanted you to know the parchment paper idea is genius! I am inspired to make this again, as it is delicious and is very festive for the holidays. Thank you for posting it!
You’re so welcome, Cindy — we hope you can give this method a try sometime soon! :)
After seeing a picture of the pumpkin roll and watching your tutorial, I decided to give it a try for Thanksgiving dessert. Now, I consider myself to be a pretty good cook but never ventured to making a roll cake of any sort, it intimidated me! But I just finished making it, it’s in the fridge now, and even though I haven’t taste tested the cake itself, I can just tell it’s going to be a complete hit with my family. The filling (which I did taste test, of course!) is delicious and the cake itself was nice and moist. It was so easy following your instructions you’d think I made this many times before! So, if there’s anyone reading this comment who might be scared of trying it, just do it! Thank you, Ali!
Thanks for sharing with us, Lee, and for giving this a try! We hope you enjoyed it! :)
Just made this today for Thanksgiving tomorrow. Followed the recipe exactly, and it turned out amazing!! (I might’ve already had a test slice).
Thank you, you made this recipe very easy and approachable, this was my first time making a “roll” style cake. The video was also a big help! Will definitely be making this for years to come :)
Awesome!!! So glad to hear it!
Do we need to oil and/or flour the parchment paper prior to pouring the batter onto the paper? Excited to try this recipe!
No need to oil the parchment. :-) Enjoy!!
Thank you so much for posting this delicious recipe! It was so good and as my first attempt at a traditional pumpkin roll, I was so proud of it! The parchment paper (which I use for just about everything!) made an easy and flawless roll! I added crushed walnuts and cinnamon to the top of the cake before baking and a bit more butter and powdered sugar to make the filling more like icing – but your recipe is what did it! :D It was a total hit at our Thanksgiving yesterday, and I will definitely make this again! Happy Thanksgiving!!
You’re very welcome, Brooke! We’re so happy you enjoyed this and that it was a hit on Thanksgiving! :D
Making this now doing for Our Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow when all could be together
We hope everyone enjoys it, Mary!
I saw this and wanted to make it right away. Had friends over and I made a double batch. Cut down on sugar for the dough and the filling. Also, didn’t use butter for the cream cheese filling. Turned out really light and GREAT! Thank you. I think I will make this one of my regulars…
We’re so glad to hear that — thanks for giving the recipe a try! :)
I tried leaving a comment/question when I made my pumpkin roll, but I’m not seeing the post, so here goes again. When I made mine, I took it straight from the oven and rolled it, still in the parchment. I then let it cool to room temperature, about an hour. When I went to unroll it so I could add the filling, it began cracking, and the further I got to the middle, the warmer the insides were (obviously) and the more it cracked. Should I have let it cool longer? The cake was quite moist, so I doubt that’s why it cracked. We still thought it was delicious, but it certainly wasn’t pretty! It was more folded than rolled. :/
Hi Lisa! We appreciate you giving the recipe a try, and for sharing your experience. We’re sorry this cracked! :( It sounds like you did everything right and the cake had more than enough time to cool. Unfortunately sometimes these little boogers just crack anyway. We’re glad you enjoyed the taste and we’re sorry it didn’t quite behave for you!
Parchment Paper has changed my Pumpkin Roll World ! It was so much better Rolled easier and no powder sugar tee towels wash up
Yes! We’re so glad to hear that! :)
I have made this three times in the last two weeks– each time it has been perfect and family approved! Thank you for making that possible! I was wondering how easy or difficult it would be to adapt the recipe for a chocolate cake roll?
We’re so glad to hear that, Jessica! :D And ooooh you totally have our mouths watering at the idea of a chocolate cake roll. Because we haven’t tinkered with this to make on ourselves, we would advise you to find a recipe that looks good, and just follow this same method. There are tons out there on the Internet. We think this one looks pretty great! :)
I made this cake for Thanksgiving using Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1:1 flour and it was AMAZING!!! My cake didn’t crack and it rolled perfectly. My gluten eating family also loved the flavors. I appreciated that it wasn’t overly spicy. Will definitely be making this again. Thank you for such a great recipe!
Thanks for sharing with us, Suzann — we’re so glad it was a hit and that you were able to make it gluten-free! :D
I have pumpkin pie puree not just the pure pumpkin puree, can that be used?
Hi there! Unfortunately you want the pure pumpkin puree for this recipe.
Just wanted to let you know that I made your pumpkin roll today and it was delicious! I’ve been wanting to make one for some time but have been a bit intimidated by the rolling up of the cake. After seeing your video I decided to go for it, and I’m so happy I did…it was a total success! I wanted to post a picture for you to see how it turned out but I can’t seem to find a place to do that! Anyway, thank you for the great recipe and the video to go along with it!
THIS IS SO GOOD! I’AM GOING TO TRY BLUEBERRY CREAM CHEESE WITH IT NEXT TIME.
Thank you, Margaret — we’re so glad you enjoy it!
I am very interested in making the pumpkin roll as I have several cans of PUMPKIN….NOT.puree….what is the difference? It is just plain 100% canned pumpkin….is that ok?
Hi Amy! That’s fine, you just don’t want to use pumpkin pie filling. We hope you enjoy the recipe!
I make this all the time, great recipe, the family loves it.
We’re so glad to hear that, Gail! :)
Thanks so much for the tip about using the parchment paper. I also had a big problem using a towel even though I bought a new one, and used it only for making pumpkins rolls. I washed it by itself, but still didn’t like using it. I can’t wait to try this recipe and the paper. My rolls never looked pretty like yours. My family loves pumpkin rolls, so now I don’t think I will mind making them anymore. Thanks again.
You’re very welcome, we hope you and your family enjoy the recipe! :)
I use cotton dish towels only to roll .
No lint or strings that want to stick to the pumpkin roll.
They do discolor the towel. I have cotton towels that I only use for pumpkin rolls.
You get 5 rolls out of one large canids pumpkin.
I Made 50 rolls last year.
This is the recipe I use!
We’re so glad you enjoy the recipe, Kathleen!
Can’t ait to make this. I always brought it from anyone that was making them because I thought it was hard to make. Thank you