Pumpkin Swiss Roll

Pumpkin Swiss Roll is a classic and elegant Thanksgiving dessert that is moist, creamy, and surprisingly easy to make.  

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Top view of pumpkin swiss roll with cream cheese filling. 4 slices of the roll are cut and arranged.

A pumpkin swiss roll is one of my Thanksgiving traditions and is a great alternative to pumpkin pie.  My family loves it and I hope your’s will also.  While it looks intimidating, with a few simple tricks, it’s easier than you think.

Pumpkin Swiss Roll

Who wouldn’t love a moist, pumpkin cake, full of the quintessential Fall flavors of pumpkin, cinnamon, and of course, pumpkin spice!

Now pair that spongy cake with a sweet and tangy cream cheese filling and present it in a gorgeous roll that is dusted with powdered sugar.  Heavenly tasting and so pretty on your holiday table.

Ingredients Needed:

  • Eggs – use room temperature eggs
  • Light brown sugar and granulated sugar – using just a little bit of brown sugar helps to keep the cake moist so it rolls easily.  It also adds even more flavor.
  • Pumpkin puree – don’t use pumpkin pie filling.  
  • Flour, baking soda, and salt
  • Pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon
  • Cream cheese – room temperature
  • Butter – room temperature
  • Vanilla
  • Powdered sugar

Side view of pumpkin swiss roll with cream cheese filling. 4 slices of the roll are cut and arranged.

How To Make The Recipe

  1. Make the cake by beating the eggs until they are lemon yellow.  Add the sugars and beat until creamy.  Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Pour into the jelly-roll pan and bake.
  2. While the cake is very hot, roll it up in a tea towel that has been dusted with powdered sugar.  Allow the cake to cool completely.
  3. Whip together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar to make the filling.
  4. When the cake is cool, unroll it and spread the filling evenly on top of the cake.
  5. Gently reroll the cake and place it seam side down on a serving platter.  Cover with plastic wrap until firm.  Slice and serve.

Tips For Making A Perfect Pumpkin Swiss Roll

  • Use a jelly roll pan that is non-stick.  The size of the pan allows for a cake that’s thick enough to roll and hold its shape.  I’ve found that using a larger baking pan made the cake too thin, making it more difficult to roll.
  • Parchment paper helps the cake come out of the pan easily.  Be sure to spray the parchment paper and the sides of the pan with cooking spray.  You could also use wax paper.
  • Don’t over mix the cake.  Too much mixing will develop too much gluten from the flour, making the cake tough and difficult to roll up.
  • Spread the batter evenly in the pan.  Using an offset spatula helps.  Also, gently tap the pan on the counter to help the batter spread and level out in the pan.
  • Be sure not to overbake the cake.  I can’t tell you enough how important this is.  If you bake the cake too much, it will crack when you roll it up.
  • Use a tea towel and not a kitchen towel to roll up the cake.  Tea towels might also be called ‘flour sack towels’.  They are made from a thin cotton fabric that’s smooth with no nap. You don’t want lint in your cake.  Also, wash your tea towels in a fragrance-free laundry detergent so your cake doesn’t taste soapy or flowery.
  • Dust the towel with powdered sugar.  This ensures that the towel doesn’t stick to the cake!
  • Be sure to chill the roll, or even freeze it, before slicing it.  You may want to take a very thin slice from each end to make a prettier presentation.
  • Slice the roll while cold or even slightly frozen.
  • Wipe your knife with a damp towel after making each slice to keep the slices pretty and the cake and filling defined.

Closeup view of pumpkin swiss roll with cream cheese filling. 4 slices of the roll are cut and arranged.


  • Sprinkle finely chopped pecans or walnuts over the cake batter just before baking.
  • Swirl apple butter, pumpkin butter, apricot preserves, or peach preserves in the filling before rolling up the swiss roll for a decorative and flavorful fruit note.
  • Pat the edges with mini chocolate chips or finely chopped nuts.
  • Pour a chocolate ganache over the cold pumpkin roll and allow the ganache to harden before serving.
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Closeup view of pumpkin swiss roll with cream cheese filling. 4 slices of the roll are cut and arranged.

Pumpkin Swiss Roll


Pumpkin Swiss Roll is a classic and elegant Thanksgiving dessert that is moist, creamy, and surprisingly easy to make.



For the cake:

  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅔ cup pumpkin puree
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt

For the filling:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, more for dusting the top of the roll


Make the cake.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Line a 15x10x1-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper.  Spray the paper and the sides of the pan with cooking spray and set the pan aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the egg yolks and beat them on high speed until they become frothy – about 5 minutes.

Add both sugars and mix until creamy.  Beat in the pumpkin puree.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and salt until well combined.

Gently fold the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture.

Use an offset spatula to spread the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched.  Don’t over bake!  If you over bake the cake, it will crack when you roll it.

Lie a clean tea towel on the counter and lightly dust it with powdered sugar.

Run a spatula around the edges to loosen the sides of the cake.  Turn the hot cake onto the towel and gently peel off the parchment paper.

Roll the cake in the towel jelly-roll style, starting with the short end.  The towel will be rolled up with, and inside, the cake.

Cool completely, wrapped in the towel, on a wire rack.  I allow it to cool for about 2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the filling.

In a medium bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter,  and vanilla together until smooth.

Add the powdered sugar and beat until the mixture is smooth.  Set aside.

To assemble the Swiss roll:

Unroll the cake.

Use an offset spatula to spread the filling evenly over the cake, leaving a ¼-inch around all of the edges so that the filling doesn’t leak out when rolling it back up.

Roll the cake up again, without the towel.

Cover the roll with plastic wrap and chill, seam side down until firm.

To serve, allow the Swiss roll to thaw for 15 minutes.  Dust the top with powdered sugar.

Slice and serve.


Notes:  The swiss roll will keep frozen for up to 3 months.  It will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, tightly wrapped and placed in an airtight container.

  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cooling Time: 4 hours
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Category: Desserty
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: pumpkin Swiss roll, pumpkin spice, Thanksgiving desserts, pumpkin roll, classic desserts

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