Pumpkin Roll Cake

I vowed to only make one pumpkin spice dessert this year and here you go- a spice cake made with pumpkin puree and rolled like a Swiss cake roll: Pumpkin Roll Cake!

cross sectional view of a cake roll


It’s that time of year where pumpkin recipes are abundant and everyone is searching for that perfect dessert to serve for the holidays. What better way to celebrate pumpkin season than with an easy pumpkin roll recipe!

With a delicious pumpkin cake and sweet cream cheese mixture in the middle, this easy pumpkin cake roll is a great recipe for any occasion or holiday.

Pumpkin Roll Cake

To be 100% honest, this was first time I made a roll cake. I’ve always been a little timid seeing that I am not the most delicate baker. Savory dishes that allow for more error tend to be more my jam.

But I did want to try it. They look so pretty!

And you just can’t beat the cake to frosting ratio. As a person that might enjoy frosting- especially cream cheese frosting– more than cake, this was right up my alley.

It wasn’t as hard as I thought either! So here is the skinny…

pumpkin cake roll slices on a plate

Tips for Making Roll Cakes

  • Don’t skimp on the parchment paper (not wax paper.) You really do need it. Buy the precut sizes or measure well and cut well. Cake batter can leak under the parchment and that is no good.
  • Don’t over bake the pumpkin roll cake. Bake until the top of cake springs back when touched and be a little spongy.
  • Loosen the edges. Use a butter knife to loosen the edges around the baking sheet before inverting it.
  • Invert and roll with a tea towel while the cake is still hot- like literally right out of the oven. It is the most malleable and will have less chance of tearing or breaking while hot.
  • Dust your tea towel with powdered sugar instead of the flour mixture to prevent sticking.
  • Make sure you frosting is a spreadable consistency. This is a thin, delicate cake, so you don’t want to have to do a lot of working it around.
  • Allow the cake to fully cool before unrolling and frosting.
  • Store your pumpkin roll cake in the refrigerator. Since the frosting is made with cream cheese, dairy, it needs to be kept chilled.
frosting a cake roll

Jelly Roll vs. Cake Roll

The two are the same, but jelly roll seems like the old school term while cake roll is the newer label.

Jelly roll cakes presumably got their name because they were baked in a jelly roll pan (rimmed baking sheet) and maybe also because many were stuffed with a jelly or jam instead of frosting or ice cream.

Cake rolls are similar to Swiss rolls and such, the name kind of stuck. They are pretty interchangeable and equally delicious!

end view of a pumpkin cake roll

Pumpkin Roll Cake Ingredients

Ingredients for a classic pumpkin roll can vary. I was honestly aiming for more of a spice cake, but ended up adding pumpkin knowing it would help to keep it super moist.

Pumpkin alone is actually pretty flavorless. It needs the spice blend to amp it up. The rest of the ingredients are pretty standard as far as cakes go.

  • Pumpkin puree – not pumpkin pie filling (which is already spiced and sweetened), I’m talking about pure pumpkin. Consider making your own for best results.
  • Pumpkin pie spice – make your own, thank me later. Apple pie spice can be substituted in a pinch.
  • Flour– to provide structure and bind. All purpose flour works best for sponge cakes like this.
  • Baking powder & baking soda – to leaven and rise.
  • Coarse Kosher salt – use a coarse salt or cut the amount in half if using fine salt.
  • Eggs – to bind and provide structure.
  • Sugar – to sweeten… this is a cake recipe!
  • Vanilla extract – learn how to make my never ending vanilla
  • Pumpkin cream cheese frosting – this is where the magic happens and what really sets this pumpkin roll recipe apart from others. Room temperature frosting helps it to spread better.
  • Spiced powdered sugar – or use just plain powdered sugar or make little dollops of frosting or whipped cream for decorating.
ingredients for pumpkin cake roll

How to Make a Pumpkin Roll Cake

  1. Start by making the cake batter. Simply combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients in a large bowl and then set the bowl aside.
  2. Line a jelly roll pan (rimmed baking sheet) with parchment paper. You can use cooking spray as well, but parchment paper is crucial. I used a 9×13 pan for this one. I like that it is a little thicker. You can use a 11×15 pan as well for a little thinner, which makes it easier to roll. This one is still thinner than others… leaving more room for frosting!
  3. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake. Don’t over bake, removing when the cake springs back to the touch and is a little spongy.
  4. Immediately (and carefully) invert it onto a clean tea towel. Peel off the parchment paper and gently roll warm cake in the tea towel.
  5. Set aside and let cake cool fully on a wire rack.
  6. When cool, unroll and frost to edges, smoothing with a knife. Re-roll, plate seam side down and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  7. Before serving, dust with spiced powdered sugar or top with whipped cream. Use a serrated knife to slice.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Filling

I used a custom frosting here. First I made a savory pumpkin cream cheese and then made that into a sweet frosting. The beauty is that it isn’t that sweet. The frosting isn’t super thick or super sweet.

Perfectly balanced, it is ideal for having with a cup of coffee or tea. You can even enjoy it as a breakfast cake.

angle view of pumpkin cake roll


Keep your pumpkin roll cake covered in the refrigerator. I like to wrap mine in plastic wrap or put it in an airtight container. Cake is best on the first day, but will last up to 5.

This cake doesn’t freeze well. It thaws fairly dry, so I don’t recommend freezing either whole or by the slice.

collage of pumpkin cake roll for pinterest

More pumpkin recipes:

Copycat Starbucks Pumpkin Bread is a moist and flavorful pumpkin pound cake perfect for pairing with a pumpkin spice coffee! #pumpkinbread #pumpkinpoundcake www.savoryexperiments.com

Starbucks Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Copycat Starbucks Pumpkin Bread is a moist and flavorful pumpkin pound cake perfect for pairing with a pumpkin spice coffee!
See The Recipe!
Pumpkin Apple Pie is the best of both worlds! Pumpkin pie and apple pie merged together in a pecan crust with streusel topping.

Pumpkin Apple Pie with Pecan Crust

Pumpkin Apple Pie is the best of both worlds! Pumpkin pie and apple pie merged together in a pecan crust with streusel topping. The perfect holiday dessert!
See The Recipe!
stack of pumpkin cookies

Soft Pumpkin Sugar Cookie Recipe

Soft pumpkin sugar cookies are the perfect pumpkin cookie finished with a crunchy sugar and spice topping.
See The Recipe!
close up straight on shot of pumpkin cake roll with text overlay for pinterest
end view of a pumpkin cake roll

Pumpkin Cake Roll

5 from 22 votes
Filled with a delightful pumpkin cream cheese frosting and rolled into a beautiful swirl, this Pumpkin Roll Cake is the BEST fall dessert!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Cooling: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 8





  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 11×15 or 9×13 rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, coarse Kosher salt and pumpkin pie spice, whisking or sifting to combine. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat together pumpkin puree, sugar, eggs and vanilla extract. Slowly add dry ingredients until combined.
  • Pour into prepared jelly roll pan, smoothing with a spatula.
  • Bake for 12-13 minutes or until it springs back to the touch and looks spongy.
  • Remove and gently run a butter knife around the edges to loosen.
  • Immediately invert onto a clean tea towel.
  • Peel back parchment paper. Roll hot cake in tea towel.
  • Set aside to cool fully.
  • After cake has cooled, unroll, removing tea towel. Spread pumpkin cream cheese frosting all the way to the edges of your cake.
  • Gently, but tightly roll back up (without the towel).
  • Set it seam down on a serving platter and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • When ready to serve, mix together pumpkin spice spice and powdered sugar. Sprinkle on top of the cake. If you do this before serving, it will just absorb into the cake since it is super moist.
  • Slice into 1-2 inches pieces and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
  • If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings.


Calories: 443 kcal, Carbohydrates: 80 g, Protein: 4 g, Fat: 13 g, Saturated Fat: 4 g, Cholesterol: 61 mg, Sodium: 507 mg, Potassium: 130 mg, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 67 g, Vitamin A: 3267 IU, Vitamin C: 1 mg, Calcium: 34 mg, Iron: 1 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 443
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pumpkin cake roll, pumpkin jelly roll, pumpkin swiss roll
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
close up of pumpkin swiss cake roll with cream cheese frosting
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Chef Jessica Anne Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal, Mashed and more!

Read More About Jessica

5 from 22 votes (18 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating

Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    I love the texture of that cake. And it makes the best combination with the pumpkin cream cheese. Gotta give this a shot !!

  2. 5 stars
    You had me at pumpkin! Wow, this looks good. I’ve never made a rolled cake before and I need to give it a try next weekend. I think it will be a great addition to our Thanksgiving meal too!