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Pumpkin Roll – With my EASY pumpkin roll recipe and clear specific directions, you’re going to be a pumpkin roll pro! No dish towel required to roll up my classic pumpkin roll cake that’s full of rich pumpkin spice flavor and tangy cream cheese frosting! A fall favorite that all pumpkin fans will just ADORE! Freezes well and makes a great hostess gift!
Pumpkin Roll Recipe
If you’ve ever wondered how to make a pumpkin roll, I am here to show you how. It’s not as intimidating or as scary as you may be thinking!
Pumpkin rolls are such a timeless classic dessert. Between the warmly spiced cake that soft, tender, and moist to the tangy cream cheese frosting, it’s a dessert that pumpkin fans of all ages will appreciate.
You don’t need any special equipment to make a pumpkin roll, just a couple mixing bowls and a jelly roll pan.
Nor do you need to roll it up in using a kitchen towel, which is common in many roll-up style desserts, but can be messy and tricky at times. This pumpkin roll recipe is as easy as simply just rolling it up!
Another nice bonus is that not only do pumpkin rolls make a lovely dessert for your Thanksgiving festivities or holiday celebrations – everything from Halloween to Christmas – but they also freeze very well making them a great hostess gift or gift for a special friend or family member, teacher, coach, or anyone you want to remember.
Ingredients in a Classic Pumpkin Roll
You’ll be surprised at how few ingredients you need to make a pumpkin roll and the frosting that goes inside that everyone will ooh-and-ahh over!
Get out the following ingredients:
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder – elps the cake rise
- Pumpkin pie spice – for classic pumpkin roll flavor
- Granulated sugar
- Pumpkin puree – not pumpkin pie filling
- Lemon juice – fresh is best
Cream Cheese Frosting
- Cream cheese – regular, classic, brick-style and not low fat
- Confectioners’ sugar – sift it there are no lumps in your frosting; plus more for dusting, optional
- Butter – real, not margarine
- Vanilla extract – for enhanced flavor
How To Make a Pumpkin Roll Cake
Begin by preheating your oven to 375F and spray a 15x10x1-inch jelly roll pan with nonstick spray. Line the pan with parchment paper and then spray the parchment. Don’t be shy with the cooking spray. The name of the game is non-sticking.
In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients, and in a large bowl whisk together the eggs and sugar before adding the pumpkin and lemon juice.
About the lemon juice, you can’t taste it, and it does two things.
First, it reacts with the baking powder to give a lighter, fluffier, springier cake so don’t omit it. And secondly, although you can’t taste lemon per se, it somehow accentuates the pumpkin flavor so just trust me on this one and go with it.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until just combined.
Pour the batter into your prepared jelly roll pan, smooth it, and bake for 15 minutes.
Pumpkin rolls bake fast since you’re dealing with such a thin cake.
While the cake is still hot, starting at a short side, roll the cake up into a roll, cool at room temp for 20 minutes, and then place in the fridge to cool for another 30 minutes.
How To Make Cream Cheese Frosting to Fill A Pumpkin Roll
While your pumpkin roll is chilling out, make the easy frosting by combining room temperature cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in a mixing bowl and using a hand mixer, or add it to the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat until well combined.
Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat to combine.
Make sure to sift your confectioners’ sugar beforehand so that your frosting isn’t lumpy.
Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar to the cream cheese mixture, and beat until combined.
If you’re not a fan of cream cheese frosting and prefer a classic buttercream, I recommend a double batch of this Buttercream Frosting.
How Much Frosting Is In a Pumpkin Roll?
If you like icing or frosting, and want extra plump layers of icing, making a double batch for filling your pumpkin roll.
As shown in the photos, it is only a single batch as the recipe is written.
However, I am a give me a little cake with my frosting type of person, and have made pumpkin rolls with a double batch. The finished roll is fatter and thicker, and you’ll also have some frosting to dollop on the outside. Not complete coverage, but some extra on top you can swirl on.
So you can feel free to make a double batch if you’re a frosting person. You could do a 1.5x batch rather than a true double batch of frosting.
If you’re that person who scrapes off frosting from cake because there’s “too much” then you definitely don’t need to make extra and can proceed with the recipe as written.
How To Roll Up and Assemble a Pumpkin Roll
Although you rolled up the pumpkin roll already with before chilling it, this time you’re going to remove the cooled cake and carefully unroll it.
Spread the frosting evenly over the cake, spreading it out to the edges. Don’t be afraid to spread it all the way out to the edges.
Roll the cake back up and cover it with plastic wrap.
Place in the refrigerator for an additional 30 minutes or until you’re ready to serve it. It’s really just that easy!
Take your time, and it’s okay if there are slight tears or tiny rips. Most of them are going to be covered and hidden as you continue rolling.
Optionally dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.
What Kind Of Pumpkin Is Best for Making a Pumpkin Roll?
I use canned pumpkin puree because it’s the easiest and I get the most consistent results.
Make sure to use pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling which has a lot of added sugar, spices, and is a different ingredient altogether.
If you are feeling adventurous and want to use freshly cooked actual pumpkin, make sure to squeeze out some of the moisture.
Fresh pumpkin puree is much runnier than canned pumpkin puree.
However, it’s a bit tricky to say exactly how much water to squeeze out, which leads me back to repeating that canned pumpkin puree is the easiest and most consistent way to go.
Spices in a Classic Pumpkin Roll
The recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice which is a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.
If you like more boldly spiced pumpkin desserts like I do, I recommend adding 2 to 3 teaspoons pumpkin pie seasoning.
Plus I also add 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon each ground ginger and cardamon, and 1/4 each teaspoon ground nutmeg and cloves.
Of course, you can mix and match these spices to your personal taste preferences, but I always add more than just the 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice because I love boldly flavored pumpkin desserts.
If you’re not in the group, then just stick with the 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice and call it a day – or add some of what I called for additionally but perhaps not the full quantities.
Is a Jelly Roll Pan Essential?
For this traditional pumpkin roll recipe, yes you will need a 15x10x1-inch jelly roll pan. I have great luck with that pan!
If you’re wondering what else you could possibly make with that pan because you don’t like buying something for just one recipe – I am the same!
Make sure to make a batch of my Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting in the jelly roll pan. They are to-die-for!
Storing and Gifting Pumpkin Rolls
You can store a well-wrapped pumpkin roll in plastic roll in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Pumpkin rolls also freeze well. Wrap it in plastic wrap, then place it a jumbo ziplock bag with the air pushed out, place in the freezer, and freeze for up to 3 months.
If you’re wondering what to give a hostess who has everything or are wanting to do something nice for teachers, coaches, or friends and family, pumpkin rolls make great gifts. Make ahead and freeze as many as you will need.
The recipients will remember being gifted with your stunning pumpkin roll forever.
Tips For The Best Pumpkin Roll
Although many, or usually most, roll-style desserts call for turning the cake out into a kitchen towel, with this pumpkin roll recipe there is no need to roll the cake up in a towel.
Keep the cake on the parchment paper and while the cake is still warm, roll the cake up, starting at the short end.
After unrolling it, but before adding the frosting to the pumpkin cake, make sure to let the cake cool completely. You can cool it for 20 minutes on the counter and then place in the refrigerator for an additional 30 minutes.
If you don’t do this, the frosting is going to melt and you’re going to have a mess.
Make sure to heed my advice to use well-softened, room temp cream cheese and butter, and sifted confectioners’ sugar. It will make your job far easier and will produce a much better final result. A win-win.
As it pertains to rolling up your pumpkin roll, don’t forget that frosting will seep into any tears, crevices, nooks and crannies and is sort of a cure-all.
So don’t obsess if it’s not rolling up quite as easily as you wished. It gets easier with practice, but really, you shouldn’t have too much trouble with this traditional pumpkin roll recipe!
Pumpkin Roll Cake
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ⅔ cup canned pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces brick-style cream cheese, well-softened to room temp (not lite or fat free)**
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, well-softened to room temp**
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup confectioners sugar, sifted; plus more for dusting, optional
- confectioners' sugar, for dusting
- Cake - Preheat your oven to 375F and spray a 15x10x1-inch jelly roll pan with nonstick spray. Line the pan with parchment paper and then spray the parchment paper. Don't be shy with spraying it because you don't want your cake to stick!
- To a small bowl, add the flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, any additional spices (see Notes below), and whisk to combine; set aside.
- To a large bowl, add the eggs, sugar, and whisk to combine.
- Add the pumpkin puree, lemon juice, and whisk to combine.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir until just combined.
- Turn the batter out into the prepared jelly roll pan, and bake for 15 minutes. Because this is such a thin cake, it bakes very fast. Start checking at 10 minutes and when it is set in the middle, springy to the touch, and a toothpick comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, it's done.
- While the cake is still hot, starting at a short side, roll the cake up into a roll. Note - you are NOT rolling it up with the parchment paper, just the cake; let the parchment stay on the jelly roll pan. Also, no need to turn it out into a kitchen dish towel like many classic recipes instruct.*** (See Notes)
- Cool the cake for 20 minutes at room temp (you can let it sit on the parchment paper) and then place it loosely covered with plastic wrap and resting on the parchment paper in the fridge for 30 minutes. While the cake is cooling make the frosting.
- Frosting - To a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer, or the bowl of a stand mixer, add the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and beat on high speed until well combined.
- Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and slowly add the confectioners' sugar, beating on low speed at first and increasing to high after the sugar is incorporated. Beat until smooth and fluffy.
- Remove the cooled cake and carefully unroll it.
- Spread the frosting evenly over the cake, spreading it out to the edges.
- Roll the cake back up and cover it with plastic wrap.
- Place in back in the refrigerator for an additional 30 minutes, or until ready to serve.
- Optionally dust with additional confectioners' sugar.
- Slice into 1 inch slices and serve. Pumpkin roll will keep airtight for up to 5 days in the fridge or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
*If you like more boldly spiced pumpkin desserts like I do, I recommend adding 2 to 3 teaspoons pumpkin pie seasoning, plus 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon each ground ginger and cardamon, and 1/4 each teaspoon ground nutmeg and cloves. Of course, you can mix and match these spices to your personal taste preferences, but I always add more than just the 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice because I love boldly flavored pumpkin desserts.
**Make sure to heed my advice to use well-softened, room temp cream cheese and butter, and sifted confectioners’ sugar. It will make your job far easier and will produce a much better final result.
***Although many, or usually most, roll-style desserts call for turning the cake out into a kitchen towel, with this pumpkin roll recipe there is no need to roll the cake up in a towel.
For the first rolling (without frosting) keep the cake on the parchment paper and while the cake is still warm, roll the cake up, starting at the short end. Then in steps 11 and 12, you unroll it, and roll it up with the frosting applied.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 309Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 81mgSodium: 120mgCarbohydrates: 44gFiber: 1gSugar: 37gProtein: 4g
Favorite Pumpkin Recipes:
My FAVORITE PUMPKIN RECIPES on my blog!
My cookbook, Cooking With Pumpkin: Recipes That Go Beyond the Pie is my second cookbook and there are over 50 pumpkin recipes including sweets, savory, drinks, and a photo for nearly every recipe. I’d be super grateful if you headed over to Amazon to check it out!
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The Best Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread – Super soft, moist, rich pumpkin flavor, and loaded with chocolate chips! Easy, no mixer recipe that’s the BEST!
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