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Classic Pumpkin Roll


We love our traditional dishes at Thanksgiving, don't we?  But for people who love to cook, sometimes Thanksgiving can be a pretty boring meal.  Have you ever tried to eliminate that horrid green bean casserole, only to hear groans of disappointment when it's not served?  Don't try to jazz up the stuffing too much or there is sure to be someone disappointed on that one, too. But maybe you can sneak in this pumpkin roll, though, for a little twist on Thanksgiving dessert!

If you've never made any kind of cake roll before, don't be afraid of it.  It's so easy and you'll have fun doing it. You bake the cake quickly in a sheet pan that is lined with parchment.  The cake is very thin and you tip it out easily onto a thin tea towel, sprinkled with powdered sugar.  The cake and towel are rolled up together and left to cool in that shape.   Making the filling is a snap and then you just spread it on the cake and roll it right up again.  

What are the Thanksgiving dishes you just can't live without?


Pumpkin Roll

for a printable recipe, click here 

slightly adapted from Libby's


For the cake:

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin filling

For the filling:

  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar (optional for decoration)


Preheat the oven to 375° F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan; line with parchment or wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar. Be sure to put enough powdered sugar on the towel when rolling up the cake so it will not stick. 


sprinkle a thin tea towel with powdered sugar so the cake doesn't stick

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. 

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. (If using a dark-colored pan, begin checking for doneness at 11 minutes.) Immediately loosen cake on sides of pan and turn cake onto prepared towel. Because of the parchment paper, the cake should just fall right out. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack. 

roll up the cake and tea towel together


Beat cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired.

Serve this pumpkin roll with whipped cream and chopped nuts, if you like.

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Reader Comments (25)

Your pumpkin roll looks perfect! I just roasted 1.5 kilos of kabak here so I lots of pumpkin puree to use up now. As far as Thanksgiving dishes, I LOVE green bean casserole! But I make a cheesy bechamel sauce from scratch and top with homemade fried onions. Everyone loves it! I also have to make homemade dinner rolls, mashed potatoes and gravy and a stuffing of some kind.

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoy (My Turkish Joys)

this looks delicious - I am absolutely buying a pumpkin for this weeks shopping :)

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersarah

This looks fantastic. What a wonderful alternative to pumpkin pie!

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Café Sucré Farine

You make it look so easy. I love to have brussel sprouts with pancetta on my Thanksgiving table...mmmm.

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCeleste

This is actually one of our long standing thanksgiving dessert traditions . My moms recipe is almost identical but she adds a thin coat of icing on the top and covered in chopped walnuts. We love the added crunch !

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

Oh your comments about changes to the "traditional" Thanksgiving Menu are sooooo true. I just chuckled when I read them! The pumpkin roll looks delicious, but I am sure it needs to be in addition to the apple and pumpkin pies!

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie M

Everybody loves my stuffing. I put it all in there... onions, celery, sausage, apple, cranberries and nuts.

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJane

Is pumpkin filling just pumpkin puree or is it the puree with the spices and sugar?

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLucia

From The Italian Dish:

Lucia: You just use the canned pumpkin filling, which is just the pure pumpkin puree, with no spices. That's why they are added in the recipe. Hope this helps.

November 13, 2012 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Sounds delicious, can't wait to try this. I'll bet it would be good with whipped cream filling,too.

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJill

Never having made a cake roll, I don't know how tightly to roll the cake. Do you have a suggestion?

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMary Ann

I make pumpkin rolls every year. My recipe differs somewhat from yours, but any recipe that calls for a cream cheese filling just has to be delicious! Last year I make 14 rolls. I kept two for my family. The rest of the rolls were all passed along to friends and neighbors to let them know how thankful I am that they are part of my family's life. These rolls keep well in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. In fact, the longer they rest in the fridge, the better they taste. The roll just needs to be re-wrapped tightly in plastic wrap each time it is brought out and cut into. They also freeze really well.

I live in the South. Oyster dressing is a must have at all of our Thanksgiving celebrations. I make a pan of regular cornbread dressing and a pan of oyster dressing every year.

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

I love your recipes.I have made many pumpkin rolls and I find it easier to put powder sugar on the cake roll then put your dish towel on top then the same size cookie sheet on top of that and flip it over.It keeps powder sugar from going all over.

November 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSilvana

I agree - there are so many things that are just EXPECTED every Thanksgiving - I like to switch it up sometimes, too. But then again, there are some things I like left alone - like the stuffing :) I'd rather have this pumpkin roll than pies, personally!

November 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterashley @ wishes and dishes

From The Italian Dish:

Mary Ann: You don't roll it up too tightly, just gently. Nice and firm, but not too tight. Once you do it, you'll get a feel for it.

Linda: Fourteen rolls? SO impressive! Wow. You have lucky friends and neighbors.

Silvana: That is a great tip - I'm going to try that next time. Thanks!

November 14, 2012 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

What's the first thing you think about when you think about Italy? For me, it's food! And this blog is a treasure trove of amazing recipes to create delicious meals! Of course, if you ever wanted to reach an Italian audience, you may want to consider translation. Make sure always to use professionals for your Italian translation in order to obtain high quality results! A mistranslated recipe could end in disaster... Mamma Mia!

November 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGiancarlo

This is just perfectly made - and perfect for Thanksgiving.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterciaochowlinda

I just wanted to say thank you!! I just made this for my Thanksgiving dessert. I was totally afraid I would not be able to roll the cake properly without it coming apart. Your step by step instructions made it super simple and it turned out looking just like yours :). My roll is in the fridge so have not tried a piece yet, but the cake and the filling are both tasty. I am sure with them both together they will be awesome. Moving up from the poke hole cake Happy Thanksgiving!!

November 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

From The Italian Dish:

Jessica: Thank you! That made my day.

November 21, 2012 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I love pumpkin rolls and your adaptations make this all the more delicious! Happy Thanksgiving!

November 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterroz

Being the Southern boy that I am, I made it with sweet potato rather than pumpkin. A challenge to get it from the pan to the towel. After completing, wrapping in plastic wrap and a day or two in the fridge, it improved with age. Verdict from my tasters? A good time was had by all.

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLouis

I just love this and made it two days in a row. I made it gluten free. I also made it eggless with flax meal and water to add for binder (each egg is equal to one tablespoon fine flax meal and three tablespoons water which I mix 15 minutes ahead and refrigerate). It worked very well and I got the thumbs up at an early Thanksgiving dinner party. Just so good.

November 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnnie Cowing

This is the recipe straight off of Libby's canned pumpkin.

November 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCopycat Recipe

From The Italian Dish:

Copycat Recipe: Indeed! That's why I gave Libby's recipe credit in the post and linked to their site.

November 14, 2013 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Made these for my guests on Christmas eve. They were absolutely delicious and everybody loved them. Thanks for sharing this great recipe.

December 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJRC

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