This classic Pumpkin Roll is a fall favorite! It's made with a moist pumpkin cake rolled up with a tangy cream cheese frosting. With simple ingredients and quick prep, this is a seasonal dessert you'll be making again and again!
Easy Pumpkin Roll Cake
Pumpkin season is here, and we're kicking it off strong with this classic pumpkin roll recipe.
If this is your first time making a pumpkin roll, then get ready to discover your new favorite fall dessert! I got this recipe from my grandma and I love making it every fall to celebrate the season...and the family loves it too!
This dessert is a light, fluffy, moist cake layered with a smooth and oh-so-tasty cream cheese frosting. Fall treats don't get better than this!
How to Make a Pumpkin Roll
This easy pumpkin roll recipe is so much simpler than it looks! It's a moist pumpkin cake layered with a simple and sweet cream cheese filling—both components come together so quickly!
Here's a breakdown of the recipe. Scroll to the recipe card below for the full instructions and ingredient amounts.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, pumpkin, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, and baking soda to make the pumpkin cake batter.
- Pour the prepared pumpkin and flour mixture into a lined and greased jelly roll pan, smooth into an even layer in the prepared pan, then bake for 14-16 minutes.
- Remove the cooked cake from the oven, then place upside down onto a clean kitchen towel or tea towel sprinkled with confectioners sugar. Carefully, starting with the short end of the hot cake, roll the towel and the cake together, then let the cake cool.
- In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla using the paddle attachment of your electric mixer. Fold in the pecans, if using.
- Gently unroll the cooled cake, remove the dish towel, then use a spatula to spread the cream cheese mixture over the inside of the entire cake. Leave about 1-inch of space along the short side.
- Roll the cake back up, wrap it tightly, then chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours to set.
Tips and Notes
- Use room temperature cream cheese. The softened cream cheese incorporates much more easily with the other frosting ingredients. If your cream cheese is too cold, you may end up with lumps in your frosting.
- Check the pumpkin. Check your can of pumpkin to make sure you're using pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling. Puree is just pumpkin while filling is made using sweeteners and other ingredients.
- Line and grease the pan. To be really sure that your cake doesn't stick, I recommend greasing the pan with non-stick spray, lining it with parchment paper, then greasing that with another layer of spray.
- Don't over-mix. Over-mixing cake batter can cause it to be tough, dry, and dense.
- Don't over-bake. Even slightly over-baked cake will be too dry to roll. I recommend checking it early, then adding small amounts of time as needed. It should be soft and springy to the touch and a toothpick should come out of the center clean.
- Roll while warm, but not hot. If you let the cake cool before you roll it, then it will just break. If you roll while it's too hot, the powdered sugar will melt and it will be sticky.
- Use another nut. I love the flavor of pecans with pumpkin, but feel free to use chopped walnuts, cashews, or peanuts instead. If you'd rather not use nuts at all, feel free to just leave them out.
- Spice it up. Want to add another layer of flavor to your delicious pumpkin cake? Try mixing in a dash of cinnamon or apple pie spice for additional warm fall flavors.
- Try another flavor. No pumpkin? You can make this cake using pureed butternut squash or pureed sweet potato too!
Because of the cream cheese filling, this pumpkin roll must be stored in the fridge! It will last for 3-4 days. Be sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or store it in an airtight container to prevent it from drying out.
For longer storage, you can also keep it in the freezer! To do so, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and foil, then place it in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag. It will keep for 3-4 months.
When you're ready to enjoy it again, let it thaw in the fridge first!
What is Pumpkin Roll Filling Made Of?
Our delicious pumpkin roll is layered with a heavenly cream cheese frosting that consists of the following ingredients:
- Cream Cheese.
- Powdered Sugar.
- Unsalted Butter.
- Vanilla Extract.
- Pecans (optional).
What is the Secret to Rolling a Pumpkin Roll?
There are a couple of secrets to easily rolling up a pumpkin roll:
- Roll while it's still warm. The warmer it is, the more malleable it will be.
- Use a towel. Rolling the cake up with the towel inside it prevents it from sticking to itself as it cools.
Why Does My Pumpkin Roll Break When I Roll It?
There could be a couple of reasons that your pumpkin cake isn't holding together as you roll it:
- It's too dry. Dry cake equals crumbly cake. To ensure you have all that delicious moisture in your cake, measure the dry ingredients carefully and be sure not to over-bake.
- It's not warm enough. While you definitely want to let it cool a little bit so as not to burn your hands, it's important to roll the cake while it's still warm so it's malleable.
Why is My Pumpkin Roll Wet or Sticky?
As the pumpkin roll cools, it has a tendency to form a little bit of condensation on the outside. This can cause it to feel a little wet or sticky.
That's where the powdered sugar comes in! Not only does it add a little bit of extra sweetness, but it helps absorb some of that excess moisture.
Keep in mind that once it's stored, the powdered sugar will dissolve and the exterior will get sticky again.
When you're serving leftovers, I recommend bringing the cake roll to room temperature for 20-30 minutes, then sprinkling it with additional powdered sugar.
Recipe Card with Ingredient Amounts and Instructions
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup canned pumpkin purée
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2-3 tablespoons powdered sugar, for sprinkling towel
- 8 ounces block-style cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup pecans, chopped (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Grease the bottom and sides of a 10x15-inch jelly roll pan or baking sheet, and line the pan with parchment paper. Then, grease the paper. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the sugar, pumpkin puree, flour, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, and baking soda.1 cup granulated sugar¾ cup canned pumpkin purée¾ cup all-purpose flour3 large eggs1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice1 teaspoon baking soda
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan, smooth into an even layer, and bake for 14 to 16 minutes.
- Remove the cooked cake from the oven and place the cake upside down onto a clean kitchen towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. Carefully remove the parchment paper.2-3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- Roll the towel and the cake together, and allow the cake to cool. (The towel will be rolled up inside the cake.)
- In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla. Fold in the pecans if using.8 ounces block-style cream cheese1 cup powdered sugar2 tablespoons unsalted butter1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract½ cup pecans
- Gently, unroll the cooled cake, and use a spatula to spread the filling over the inside of the cake leaving about 1-inch of space along one of the shorter sides. Don't try to make the cake lay flat. It will try to roll at the ends.
- After filling the cake, roll the cake back up and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Store it in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours to set.
- Sprinkle it with extra powdered sugar before serving.
- See post for tips and storage recommendations.