This easy Pumpkin Roll Cake has all those Autumn vibes we can’t wait to smell and feel! You’ll love this moist and tender pumpkin-spice cake wrapped around a homemade cream cheese filling.
A Fun and Easy Fall Dessert
Fall is here! Well, for some of us, at least! And, in honor of this gorgeous time of year, I’m making all the pumpkin things, including this wonderful pumpkin roll with a fluffy cream cheese filling.
Similar to a classic jelly roll, this recipe delivers a light and tender sponge cake that easily rolls up around the filling, which is similar to a buttercream, but with added tanginess and flavor from the cream cheese.
It’s a perfect dessert to celebrate the arrival of cool days and crisp leaves!
Make sure to use pumpkin purée here, and not pumpkin pie filling. Pie filling includes a lot of extra ingredients and will affect the texture of the cake.
For the Pumpkin Roll
- Eggs: You’ll need three whole eggs.
- Sugar: This recipe uses one cup of regular granulated sugar.
- Pumpkin: To get that perfect pumpkin flavor, you’ll need about ⅔ cup of canned 100% pumpkin puree.
- Lemon Juice: A teaspoon of lemon juice helps to balance the richness of the batter.
- Flour: You’ll need ¾ cup of all-purpose flour.
- Cinnamon: Everyone’s favorite spice! Use about 1 ½ teaspoons of ground cinnamon to give this pumpkin roll tons of flavor.
- Baking Powder: A teaspoon of baking powder lightens the batter and helps it rise.
- Salt: About half a teaspoon. I use sea salt.
- Nutmeg: This rich and warming spice tastes like the holidays, and adds to that classic “pumpkin spice” taste. Just half a teaspoon is plenty— it’s quite strong!
- Walnuts: Chop up half a cup of walnuts, for a little crunch.
For the Filling
- Cream Cheese: The base for our filling is tangy cream cheese. You’ll need 6 ounces, so a bit less than the standard block or tub.
- Confectioner’s Sugar: Have ready one cup of confectioner’s sugar for the filling, plus extra for rolling up the cake and dusting the finished roll.
- Butter: ¼ cup softened butter adds a slight buttercream flavor and texture to the filling.
- Vanilla: For best results, look for pure vanilla extract.
How to Make Pumpkin Roll Cake
If you’ve never made a jelly roll cake before, it’s really fun and pretty. It’s important to roll up the cake the first time while it’s warm, to help get it in shape for rolling again with the filling.
Make the Pumpkin Cake
- Mix the Wet Ingredients for the Pumpkin Roll. First, preheat your oven to 375°F. Then, in a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs for about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in the granulated sugar until the mixture becomes thick and lemon-colored. Gently stir in the pumpkin and the lemon juice.
- Combine the Dry Ingredients for the Pumpkin Roll. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and ground nutmeg, stirring or whisking briefly to combine.
- Mix Together the Dry and Wet Ingredients. Gently mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, until just combined. Stir in the chopped walnuts. Do not overmix.
- Bake. Grease a 15×10 inch jelly roll pan, and line it with parchment paper. Grease and flour the parchment paper as well. Spread your batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the pumpkin roll springs back when you press it gently (be careful not to burn yourself on the hot cake!). Don’t overbake or the pumpkin roll will be dry.
- Pre-Roll the Pumpkin Roll Cake. When the cake is done, remove it from the oven, and immediately turn it out onto a linen tea towel generously dusted with powdered sugar. Peel the parchment paper away from the bottom of the pumpkin roll. Starting at one of the short ends, gently roll the cake up in the towel. Allow to cool, rolled up, on a rack or plate.
Make the Filling and Finish the Pumpkin Roll
- Make the Filling. While the rolled-up pumpkin roll is cooling, make the filling. Beat the cream cheese, a cup of confectioner’s sugar, the softened butter, and the vanilla together in a medium mixing bowl. The mixture will become light and fluffy.
- Fill and Re-Roll the Pumpkin Roll Cake. Carefully unroll the cake in the tea towel. Spread the filling gently over the surface, leaving a 1-inch margin on each edge. Carefully re-roll. Cover the finished pumpkin roll, and chill until ready to serve.
- Enjoy! Before serving the pumpkin roll, dust with additional powdered sugar for a pretty presentation.
Tips for Success
Making a rolled cake might seem a little intimidating, but it’s actually pretty simple! And, these easy tips can help smooth the way.
- Tea Towel Tip: Make sure to use a flat tea towel or flour sack towel, not one with raised fibers like a bar mop or microfiber towel.
- How to Flip: To turn out the pumpkin roll from the pan, lay your tea towel over the top of the cake. Lay a rack or clean baking sheet over that. Using oven mitts, carefully pick up the pumpkin roll pan, tea towel, and rack/baking sheet together. Flip over carefully and set down on the work surface. Then lift the pan slowly away from the pumpkin roll, and peel away the parchment. Done!
- Filling Swap: You can fill this roll with lots of different filling ideas, from fresh whipped cream to marshmallow fluff frosting. Do what you love!
How to Store Leftover Pumpkin Roll Cake
- To store pumpkin roll for a few hours, place on a cake plate with a lid and refrigerate.
- To store for up to four days, wrap the roll carefully in plastic wrap, and refrigerate.
Can I Freeze Roll Cake?
- Yes, pumpkin roll cake can be frozen! Wrap the finished cake in two layers of plastic wrap, making sure the ends are sealed well.
- Store in the freezer for up to one month.
- Thaw in the refrigerator before cutting and serving.
Pumpkin Roll Cake
For the Pumpkin Cake:
For the Cream Cheese Filling:
- 6 ounces cream cheese
- 1 cup confectioners sugar, plus extra for rolling up the cake and dusting the finished roll
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs for about 5 minutes. Gradually mix in the granulated sugar until the mixture becomes thick. Using a spatula, gradually stir in the pumpkin and the lemon juice.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and ground nutmeg; whisk until incorporated. With the spatula, mix the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture, until just combined. Add the chopped walnuts, and stir gently to combine. Do not overmix.
- Grease a 15X10 inch jelly roll pan and line with parchment. Grease and flour the parchment paper. Carefully spread the pumpkin batter into the prepared pan.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until the cake springs back when touched. Be careful not to overbake.
- Remove from the oven, and immediately turn the cake out onto a linen towel dusted with confectioners sugar. Peel off the parchment paper, and gently roll the cake up in the towel. Allow to cool.
- While the rolled-up cake is cooling, prepare the filling. In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, 1 cup of confectioners sugar, butter, and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy.
- Carefully unroll the cake. Spread the filling gently over the cake, leaving a 1-inch margin on each edge. Carefully re-roll the cake.
- Cover and chill until ready to serve. Before serving, dust with additional powdered/confectioners sugar for garnish.