Classic Pumpkin Roll Recipe With Cream Cheese Filling

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This classic pumpkin roll recipe is on my baking list every fall! It’s the perfect, make-ahead dessert for family gatherings, potlucks, Thanksgiving, or Christmas.

slices of pumpkin roll on plate

I remember the first time I attempted this pumpkin roll recipe. It was at least 30 years ago, and I was very excited that it was a success, and turned out to be so beautiful. Since then I have made more pumpkin rolls than I can count, and each time that feeling of accomplishment is the same. This recipe has quite a few steps, but they are all very easy. I also experimented with a different rolling method, and it’s definitely the way to go!

pumpkin roll recipe ingredients

Recipe Ingredients

  • Eggs: the binding that holds the pumpkin cake together.
  • Sugar: the perfect amount of sweetness.
  • Pure vanilla extract: delicious flavoring used in both the cake + the frosting.
  • Fresh lemon juice: brightens the taste of the pumpkin.
  • Canned pure pumpkin puree: make sure to use pure pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling.
  • All purpose flour: the base to any baked item.
  • Baking powder: use one teaspoon so your pumpkin cake will rise. It’s also fine to use half baking powder and half baking soda, as long as the leavening equals one teaspoon.
  • Cinnamon: a must-have for any pumpkin recipe.
  • Nutmeg: adds a bit more spicey flavor. (I love that Walmart has organic spices.)
  • Salt: balances the sweetness.
  • Butter: helps the frosting spread evenly.
  • Cream Cheese: the quintessential frosting ingredient.
  • Powdered Sugar: holds the butter and cream cheese together.
ingredients for pumpkin roll recipe

Recipe Variations + Tips

  • Finely chopped pecans or walnuts can be sprinkled on the cake batter before baking.
  • For a fluffier cream cheese frosting, fold in some whipped cream or ready-made whipped topping right before you are ready to apply it to the cake.
  • An equal amount of pumpkin pie spice can be substituted for the cinnamon/nutmeg.
  • Ground ginger, ground cloves, or allspice can also be added in addition to the cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • Fresh pumpkin puree can be substituted for the canned variety.
  • Make sure to set out your butter and cream cheese for the frosting. It needs to be room temperature to mix properly.
pumpkin roll batter in bowl

How To Make

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Line a 10 inch x 15 inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper. The paper should hang over the long sides about 2 inches. Lightly apply cooking spray to the paper. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the eggs on high for 2 minutes.
  • Stir in sugar, pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon juice.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
  • Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture. Mix well.
  • Pour cake batter onto parchment lined jelly roll pan and spread to the sides.
  • Bake for 15 minutes.
  • When cake is done, remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes.
  • Place a cooling rack right beside your jelly roll pan. Carefully lift the cake out of the pan by holding the sides of the parchment paper. Transfer it to the cooling rack.
  • Starting with the narrow end, begin rolling the cake. Roll the parchment paper right along with the cake. Loosely twist the ends of the parchment paper (like a Tootsie Roll) as you go. (Your roll will be 10 inches long.)
  • Cool rolled cake completely on wire rack.
  • While cake is cooling, prepare the frosting.
  • Beat together the powdered sugar, butter, cream cheese and vanilla. Set aside.
  • When cool, unroll the cake. Spread the cake with the cream cheese filling. Roll the cake back up, peeling back the parchment paper as you roll. DO NOT INCLUDE THE PARCHMENT PAPER ON THE SECOND ROLL.
  • Liberally dust the pumpkin roll with powdered sugar. This is optional but very pretty.
  • Wrap the pumpkin roll in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator at least an hour. Overnight is better.
  • Slice and serve. Additional powdered sugar can be sprinkled before serving.
pumpkin roll batter in jelly roll pan

Secrets For Rolling

  • Roll very slowly.
  • Roll while the cake is still hot. Set the timer for the five minute cooling period. Do not wait longer to remove the cake from the pan. The cake is pliable when it’s hot, and that makes rolling so much easier.
  • The last secret is when you are rolling up the cake the final time (after the frosting is on) roll it as tight as you can. The tighter the roll, the more perfect the slices.
frosting on pumkin roll cake

How do you keep a pumpkin roll from cracking?

A prepared pan is the key to removing the cake without cracking. I have used two methods to make this recipe. The first is to dump the cake out on a thin towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. You then roll up the cake inside the towel.

pumpkin roll in parchment paper

The second method is to line the pan with parchment paper, using the ends of the paper to lift the cake out of the pan. Having tried both methods, the parchment paper is the clear winner. See my detailed instructions in the recipe card at the end of the post.

pumpkin roll sliced on plate with wood tray

How to Store a Pumpkin Roll

This pumpkin roll recipe is a great make-ahead dessert. After rolling the second time, wrap the frosting filled cake in plastic wrap or wax paper and place it in the refrigerator. Slice it with a very sharp knife when you are ready to serve.

How To Freeze

The unsliced pumpkin roll can also be placed in the freezer for up to 3 months. Make sure to defrost it in the refrigerator, and not at room temperature.

slices of pumpkin roll on rectangular plate

Shop + Source

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pumpkin roll recipe slices

More Pumpkin Dessert Ideas

slices of pumpkin roll with cream cheese frosting
slices of pumpkin roll on rectangular plate

Pumpkin Roll Recipe

This classic pumpkin roll recipe is on my baking list every fall! It’s the perfect, make-ahead dessert for family gatherings, potlucks, Thanksgiving, or Christmas.
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5 from 7 votes
Servings: 12 slices
Author: Ann Drake
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Cooling time 5 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
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Equipment

  • 10 inch x 15 inch jelly roll pan
  • Stand mixer or hand mixer
  • parchment paper

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Frosting

  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter (softened)
  • 8 oz. package cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Line a 10 inch x 15 inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper. The paper should hang over the long sides about 2 inches. Lightly apply cooking spray to the paper. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the eggs on high for 2 minutes.
  • Stir in sugar, pumpkin, vanilla, and lemon juice.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
  • Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture. Mix well.
  • Pour cake batter onto parchment lined jelly roll pan and spread to the sides.
  • Bake for 15 minutes.
  • When cake is done, remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes.
  • Place a cooling rack right beside your jelly roll pan. Carefully lift the cake out of the pan by holding the sides of the parchment paper. Transfer it to the cooling rack.
  • Starting with the narrow end, begin rolling the cake. Roll the parchment paper right along with the cake. Loosely twist the ends of the parchment paper (like a Tootsie Roll) as you go. (Your roll will be 10 inches long.)
  • Cool rolled cake completely on wire rack.
  • While cake is cooling, prepare the frosting.
  • Beat together the powdered sugar, butter, cream cheese and vanilla. Set aside.
  • When cool, unroll the cake. Spread the cake with the cream cheese filling. Roll the cake back up, peeling back the parchment paper as you roll. DO NOT INCLUDE THE PARCHMENT PAPER ON THE SECOND ROLL.
  • Liberally dust the pumpkin roll with powdered sugar. This is optional but very pretty.
  • Wrap the pumpkin roll in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator at least an hour. Overnight is better.
  • Slice and serve. Additional powdered sugar can be sprinkled before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 201kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 57mg | Sodium: 186mg | Potassium: 61mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 2304IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 1mg
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If you make this recipe, and love it, please come back to leave a comment and a 5-star review. I would really appreciate it, and it would help me so much. Thank you!

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5 from 7 votes (1 rating without comment)

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15 Comments

  1. Mine didn’t turn out. I followed the filling to the letter and it was “soupy”. I tried adding more icing sugar but nothing worked.
    Any ideas as to what went wrong. Would like to try again.

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Sandra…I’m so sorry. It’s frustrating when that happens! The only thing I can think of is that your butter and cream cheese may have been more melted than soft? Either way, adding more powdered sugar should have stiffened the frosting. Please try again and let me know. I’ve made this for 40 years and that has never happened to me. Thank you!

  2. I make several pumpkin rolls each Christmas as gifts and will try your recipe this year. Also using the parchment paper is something I will try this year as well. A question for you: How do you keep the powdered sugar from soaking into the pumpkin roll? I always dust it and then when you store it till the gift giving day, it does not look as nice as it did when I wrapped it for storage. Thanks and will try this recipe soon!!!

    1. Ann Drake says:

      Hi Martha…I know exactly what you mean. In my experience, there isn’t much you can do about that. I have never wrapped one to give away, but I have taken them to dinners and potlucks. I just wrap the roll up and hope for the best!

  3. Looks as if we have the same recipes except for the lemon where I could see would add a bit more flavor, so that I will have to try. I’ve been making these for well over 30 years and each year the amounts grew. I made 52 one holiday season and kind of got burned out..lol. My niece even asks every year for one for her birthday! I’ve given up making them as age and health has affected me but I do occasionally make one or two for the family now. I’ve always used parchment paper but I’ve never put spray on it. I could see where that would help, if nothing else but on the corners of the cake. I seriously should have gone into business with these all those years ago..lol. I will have to make one or two this year now that you’ve got me craving them! Yours look very nice especially without the cracks!

  4. Susan Whittaker says:

    Thank you for sharing the story about kindness-we need to read more of that in our lives and less about fear and hate. Made my day. Oh, and I love anything pumpkin and want to try this recipe very soon!
    God Bless You, Ann

    Susan

  5. Janey Wright says:

    Thank you for the helpful hint on the parchment paper because I have used the dish towel trick for years and doesn’t do as well . I have been making this for years at Thanksgiving to. My family loves it.

  6. MARY-ANN (FROM CANADA!) says:

    Thanks for this wonderful recipe! I will be making this next weekend for company. Your recipes are always great, Ann!

  7. 5 stars
    There is so much goodness in this world of ours. Thank you for that wonderful story. I just wish the news reported stories like this for all of us to hear.

  8. Your pumpkin roll looks so yummy! I also make a pumpkin roll every Thanksgiving and I am going to try the parchment paper trick! That sounds so much easier than what I’ve been doing with the towel.
    What a sweet delivery man to help you out like that. I’ve used Walmart grocery pickup, which I love, but not delivery yet.

  9. 5 stars
    It’s been a few years since I’ve made a pumpkin roll! Thanks for the idea of the parchment paper…..this makes me want to do one soon!

  10. 5 stars
    I will have to try the parchment paper method as I have always used a towel. Looks way easier!

  11. 5 stars
    Always love a good pumpkin roll! My friend made 25 & put them in her freezer for Christmas gifts close to 15 yrs ago & I have loved and made them too ever since! My mom, 97 now has always made Buche de Noel and so I had experience with rolls! My Birthday(Dec) cake was alway a Buche!!! Thx for sharing!

  12. Nikoletta says:

    5 stars
    I make them every year around Thanksgiving, it is a family tradition of sorts. I look forward trying the parchment paper method and your recipe this year.

  13. 5 stars
    I’ve never made one before …however your clear instructions are a winner… as soon as heat… 113′ goes away
    Looks delish