Table of Contents
  1. How you make sure a cake doesn't crack?
  2. Can a cake roll be made ahead of time?
  3. Watch how to make this pumpkin roll recipe
  4. Pumpkin Roll Recipe

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Many home cooks make pumpkin roll and the recipe is often the same. So that bets a simple question: why fix something that works? What I love about this recipe is the way my Grandma Alice makes it.

Pumpkin roll is a modified sponge cake using both the yolks and whites of an egg. The eggs are beaten with sugar, which makes them thick and voluminous. This process gives the final cake a light and airy texture.

The finished cake looks like it would be tedious and too much work, but it’s actually super easy, especially with Grandma’s tips.

Hand holding white plate filled with slice of pumpkin roll with cream cheese center with other slices sitting around along with rest of the roll

How you make sure a cake doesn’t crack?

The one downside of a cake roll is that it can form a crack. And there are multiple things to can be done to prevent a crack from forming:

  • Make sure not to overbake the cake. The longer a cake is baked, the drier it becomes. Drier cakes are hard to roll and that’s when cracks often happen. My grandma checks the cake by pressing down lightly on the center with a finger. If it springs back, it’s done. You can also check with a wooden skewer: poke it in and it should come out mostly clean.
  • Dust a lightweight kitchen towel with powdered sugar and gently roll the cake up as soon as it comes out of the oven. Rolling the cake while it’s warm allows the cake to form a “memory” while it cools. This helps to preserve the shape without cracking. And the powdered sugar keeps the cake from sticking to the towel.
Top down view of wood board with white plates filled with slices of pumpkin roll with cream cheese center

Can a cake roll be made ahead of time?

Yes! This cake is a perfect dessert to make one or two weeks before the big occasion. Once the cake is filled and rolled up, simply wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, place it in an airtight container, and set it in the freezer. One hour prior to serving, set the cake to thaw and it will taste just like the day it was made. Grandma often made this ahead of time and had it ready to go in the freezer. Smart lady, right?

Side profile view of rolled pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting sitting on piece of slate

More Thanksgiving desserts

Watch how to make this pumpkin roll recipe

Side view of pumpkin roll with rings of cream cheese and pumpkin cake sitting on piece of slate on countertop

Pumpkin Roll

4.70 from 13 votes
This pumpkin roll cake with a homemade pumpkin seed brittle on top is a real crowd pleaser! And while it's a recipe that's been around for years, there's nothing better than a classic for Thanksgiving!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Coolinng Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 45 minutes
Servings 12 servings


  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • cup pumpkin
  • ¾ cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cloves

For the filling

  • 8 oz cream cheese room temperature
  • 6 tbsp butter room temperature
  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the pumpkin seed brittle

  • ½ cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup corn syrup
  • 1 ½ tbsp butter
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon


For the cake

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a jelly roll 15.5" x 10.5" pan. Line it with parchment, grease the parchment, and set it aside.
  • In a small bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and cloves. Whisk to combine and set aside.
    ¾ cup flour, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp baking soda, 1 ½ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp cloves, ½ tsp baking powder
  • In a large bowl, combine the eggs with the sugar. Beat until thickened and the mixture creates ribbons on itself, 3-5 minutes. Add the pumpkin and gently whisk to incorporate.
    3 large eggs, 1 cup sugar, ⅔ cup pumpkin
  • Fold in the dry ingredients until no dry streaks remain. Pour into prepared baking pan and bake until the center springs back or a wooden skewer inserted comes out mostly clean, 13-15 minutes.
  • Dust a thin kitchen towel with ¼ cup of powdered sugar. When the cake is ready, remove it from the oven and invert onto the prepared towel with the top of the cake down on the powdered sugar. Starting with a short end, roll up while the cake is hot with the towel rolled into the cake. Set on a cooling rack and allow to fully cool to room temperature before filling, 1-2 hours.
  • While the cake is cooling prepare the filling. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth, 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until the powdered sugar is incorporated and smooth, 2 minutes.
    8 oz cream cheese, 6 tbsp butter, 1 cup sifted powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • When the cake is cooled to room temperature, slowly unroll it from the towel. Add the filling and spread to an even layer. Gently roll the cake back up without the towel and wrap it in plastic wrap. Chill the filled cake for 1 hour before serving or store in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

For the brittle

  • Butter a 9×13 baking sheet and set it aside.
  • In a 4-quart saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and corn syrup. Stir to dissolve and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil until the mixture reaches 250°F, 8-10 minutes.
    ½ cup water, 1 cup sugar, ½ cup corn syrup
  • Once at 250°F, add the butter and pumpkin seeds. The mixture will cool down. Bring back to a boil and cook until the mixture reaches 310°F, 5-8 minutes.
    1 ½ tbsp butter, 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • Remove from the heat and add the baking soda, vanilla, and cinnamon. Stir to combine. The mixture will look airy and white.
    ¾ tsp baking soda, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • Immediately pour onto the prepared sheet pan without touching it once it's on the pan. Allow it to cool to room temperature before breaking into pieces, 2-3 hours.


  • Caloric information does not include the pumpkin seed brittle.


Serving: 1servingCalories: 274kcalCarbohydrates: 35.4gProtein: 3.8gFat: 13.6gSaturated Fat: 7.8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.8gMonounsaturated Fat: 3.8gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 80.9mgSodium: 326mgPotassium: 125.8mgFiber: 0.8gSugar: 27.7gVitamin A: 232.8IUVitamin C: 0.6mgCalcium: 54mgIron: 0.9mg
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Difficulty Intermediate
Method Baking

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I’m Kaleb! I'm not a chef, professional baker, landscaper, or designer, but I like to play each on Knollgate Farm. Come join me on my journey and let's learn together!

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4.70 from 13 votes (9 ratings without comment)

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  1. Kaleb, loved the video of you and your grandma making the pumpkin roll.
    I’ve never made a pumpkin roll. What is the pumpkin you like to use in your recipe. Excited to make it. Thank you, Carmen

  2. 5 stars
    I love watching you. Love your gardening, decorations, seeing your beautiful home and loving your recipes.

  3. 5 stars
    I loved the video of you snd your grandmother making the pumpkin roll
    I tried it and it was great !!
    Thank you from
    Savannah Ga

  4. This is my favorite video, partly for the cake roll technique, but mostly Grandma! Your Grandparents are adorable! If mine were still living I would love to make pumpkin roll with them too and enjoy a cup of coffee, in central Iowa! Cheers!