How to Make a Perfect Pumpkin Cake Roll

Roll up one impressive dessert.

Perfectly spiced pumpkin cake loaded with cream cheese filling is classic for a reason, because it's just plain good. However, making those perfectly swirled rolls can seem a daunting task. Don't let those swirls scare you! A perfectly rolled pumpkin cake is not as scary as you may think. Just prepare your pan and roll slowly.

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1 Prepare Pan

Preparing the pan is quite possibly the most important step in making a perfect pumpkin cake roll, as it ensures the cake comes out as a single beautiful sheet of cake. Start by lightly spraying a 15x10x1" jellyroll pan with non-stick cooking spray. Line the entire inside of the pan with wax paper or parchment, trimming to fit right to the edges of the pan. Spray the wax paper or parchment with non-stick cooking spray. Set pan aside.


2 Prepare Pumpkin Batter

Place 3 eggs in a mixing bowl and beat at medium-high speed with an electric mixer for five minutes. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add 1 cup of granulated sugar. Once the sugar is added, increase to medium-high speed and beat for about one minute. Stir in 2/3 cup of 100% pure pumpkin puree and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. In a separate bowl, combine 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Gently fold into pumpkin mixture until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and use a spatula to spread batter evenly.

Use 100% pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling. Be sure to read the cans carefully when selecting at the grocery store because it's easy to confuse the two.

3 Sprinkle Walnuts

Sprinkle batter evenly with 1 cup of finely chopped walnuts.

Walnuts bring great flavor and texture to the finished cake. However, they may be omitted if desired.

4 Bake & Turn Out Cake

Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. While the cake bakes, lay a thin kitchen towel out flat on the counter. Generously sprinkle the entire surface of the towel with confectioners' sugar. Once baked, take the cake out of the oven and immediately flip the pan over onto the sugared towel. Lift up and remove the pan, shaking very gently if needed, to release the cake and leave it laying on the towel.

Most likely, the cake will have shrunken away from the sides of the pan while baking. If it hasn't in places, gently run a knife between the cake and the sides of the pan to loosen the cake before inverting the pan onto the sugared towel.

5 Remove Waxed Paper

Peel the waxed paper or parchment from the cake. Removing the wax paper may require a little coaxing. If the paper sticks, first gently loosen the corners. Then gently loosen the edges, working all the way around the cake before peeling up the wax paper.

6 Roll & Cool

Starting with one of the shorter edges, carefully roll the cake up into a log, towel and all. Set  aside at room temperature to cool completely.

For the best result and to prevent cracking, roll very gently, slowly, and as tightly as possible.

7 Make Cream Cheese Filling

Once the cake has cooled, make the cream cheese filling. With an electric mixer at low speed, beat together 8 ounces of softened cream cheese, 4 tablespoons of softened butter, 1 cup of confectioners' sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract until combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes.


8 Unroll & Fill

Unroll the cake, working slowly to prevent cracks. Spread the cream cheese filling in an even layer over the entire cake, right up to the edges.

If the cake cracks when unrolled, repair cracks before spreading the cream cheese filling. Gently press cracks together with your fingertips and spread a small amount of cream cheese filling over the area to "glue" the crack together.

9 Re-Roll

Starting with one of the shorter edges, carefully roll the cake back up into a log, leaving out the towel. Roll gently, slowly, and as tightly as possible. 

10 Chill

Transfer the cake roll to a serving platter. Cover with foil and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.


11 Slice & Enjoy

At serving time, cut the cake into individual slices. Slice it with a serrated knife, using a sawing motion for nice clean slices and wiping the knife with a paper towel after each cut. Enjoy!

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About Kitchen Is My Playground

Tracey is the creator of the popular blog The Kitchen Is My Playground, which she founded in 2011. Her goal is to share recipes with other home cooks looking to create flavorful (and somewhat adventurous) food for their families and friends. Connect with her on PinterestFacebookTwitter or Google+.