Thanksgiving Pumpkin Cake Roll

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Cake Roll

Just like you remember, the classic gluten free pumpkin cake roll that every holiday table can’t be without. Making a professional-looking cake roll is so easy. It’s all in the technique!

Pumpkin cake roll on brown surface

Listen, Thanksgiving is right around the corner, so let’s get right down to brass tacks. No time to mess around. We’ve got business to attend to. There’s nothing magical about this here recipe. I bet many of you have one very similar to it floating around in your family’s lore. I’m just here to tell you one thing: You can make a classic gluten free Pumpkin Cake Roll for Thanksgiving.

A close up of a surface

Grease a jelly roll pan (this one’s about 10 x 15 inches – that works), then line it with wax paper (I don’t know why it doesn’t burn the house down on this one rare occasion — it just doesn’t) or parchment, grease it again, then sprinkle it with gee eff flour and tap the flour around.

A close up of cake

Blend the cake ingredients, and then pour them into the prepared pan — spreading it around and shaking it from side to side. Then smack it **smack** on the counter to pop any air bubbles. Just do it!

Pumpkin cake in dish

Bake until it’s browned. I baked it a bit too much, so you’ll see that the bottom is a little toasty. But I’d rather overbake than underbake. If you underbake, it’s going to be a sticky mess.

Person holding towel

Then liberally dust a tea towel (it’s a kitchen towel, but flat and not fluffy, so it has no lint) with powdered sugar. ‘Cause it’s delicious. And ’cause it will keep the cake from sticking.

Turn the cake — hot out of the oven — over onto the towel and peel off the paper. Then fold an edge of the towel over the cake on a short end.

Come on. Watch.

A close up of a person holding towel over cake

And start to roll. Don’t roll too tightly at first, or that edge will crack worse than it’s going to crack anyhow. Just go with it.

person rolling towel

Keep rolling until it’s all rolled up. Then let it cool completely on a wire rack. I didn’t show you a photo of that. ‘Cause I know you’re nobody’s fool, and you can imagine that one in your mind’s eye, no problem.

Pumpkin. cake with powdered sugar

Once it’s completely cool to the touch (just palm the whole towel-covered thing, see if it gives off any heat), unroll it completely. It’ll be kinda bendy. The cake now knows what to do. Better than we do. It knows, like an elder statesman. It’s been there, and it’s done that, and it knows where to go back once it has its filling.

So spread the filling evenly over the whole cake surface, leaving a 1 1/2 inch border clean. Then carefully reroll.

A close up of the side of pumpkin cake roll

The very inside edge? The one that we said would crack? It kinda did, but not all the way through. And it’s a cake, not a yoga mat, so it’s going to crack a bit. Don’t sweat it.

Just wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and chill for at least an hour or up to a few days. Dust with powdered sugar, slice thickly and serve.

A close up of slices of pumpkin cake roll

For the love of all things family, print out this recipe and go make a pumpkin roll. Then chill it and leave it in the refrig until Thanksgiving.

Tomorrow – a list ditch attempt at a Thanksgiving classic: pumpkin cheesecake with chocolate swirls. And a graham cracker (page 214 of my My Cookbook) or Nilla Wafer crust. Get your crunchy cookies and a whole mess of cream cheese ready.

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 1 cake roll


3/4 cup (105 g)  all purpose gluten-free flour blend (I used Better Batter)

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar

3 eggs (150 g, weighed out of shell) lightly beaten, at room temperature

2/3 cup (163 g) pure packed pumpkin, at room temperature

1/4 cup (29 g) confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup (115 g) confectioners’ sugar

6 tablespoons (84 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • Preheat your oven to 375°F. Grease a 15 x 10 inch jelly roll pan. Line it with wax or parchment paper, then grease again. Sprinkle some extra flour on the greased paper, and tap it around to evenly distribute it. Set the pan aside.

  • In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, salt and sugar, and whisk to combine. Add the eggs and pumpkin, and beat until well-blended. The batter will be relatively thin. Pour it into the prepared pan, and spread it evenly around. Smack on the counter to break any trapped bubbles.

  • Place the pan in the center of the preheated oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until top of cake springs back when touched. While the cake is baking, sprinkle the separate 1/4 cup powdered sugar on the towel. Once the cake is done, turn it immediately onto the prepared towel. Carefully peel off the paper, then place a short edge of the towel over the edge of the cake. Then roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Transfer the rolled cake and towel onto a wire rack to cool completely. While the cake is cooling, beat the cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter, vanilla extract and cinnamon in small bowl until smooth.

  • Once the cake is cool, carefully unroll it. Remove towel, and spread the filling over cake leaving a 1 1/2 inch clean border all around. Carefully reroll the cake. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least one hour, or up to a few days. Dust lightly with some more powdered sugar before serving.


Comments are closed.

  • Karen Langley
    November 23, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    Can’t wait to try this! Have to get my baking shirt on :) Now to find a pecan pie recipe.

    • Nicole
      November 23, 2011 at 11:28 AM

      You have a baking shirt, Karen? I hope it’s not like a hair shirt. ;)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Rochelle
    November 23, 2011 at 9:14 AM

    Thank you so much for this recipe!! My kids were bummed out that I wasn’t making a pumpkin roll this year since I couldn’t eat it…it’s my fav! But this recipe is almost identical to mine, so I’m going to surprise them!

    • Nicole
      November 23, 2011 at 10:33 AM

      The art of the possible, Rochelle. :) Enjoy…
      xoxo Nicole

  • November 23, 2011 at 2:02 AM

    truly gorgeous! i want to lie on it like a pillow.

    • Nicole
      November 23, 2011 at 8:01 AM

      That’s a good one, Lynn. I could use a nap. Bet you could, too. ;)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Terria Lee Burton on Facebook
    November 22, 2011 at 5:40 PM

    I can’t wait to make this!

  • November 22, 2011 at 3:58 PM

    i send this to my husband to make, he was going to make a pumpkin loaf but this is way awesomer

  • Tracey Gonneau on Facebook
    November 22, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    Love the step by step photos, then I know exactly where I stand with the recipe. I’m adding this to my Xmas dinner menu, (Thanksgiving has come and gone in Canada), may do ‘dry run’ this weekend.

  • Peggy
    November 22, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    Drooling! The great thing is that I have so many choices for all of this year’s holidays. I’ll also be planning & prepping for Christmas & New Years using a lot of these wonderful pumpkin recipes!!! Thanks much, Nicole. Do you feel the love? I feel the love! It’s time for a cup of coffee & a taste of one of the delightful treats!

    • Nicole
      November 22, 2011 at 2:19 PM

      Of course I feel the love, Peggy! It is all about choices, isn’t it. Everyone else has choices – why shouldn’t we?
      xoxo Nicole

  • Jennica
    November 22, 2011 at 10:43 AM

    My daughter will thank you for this! My Mom also sprinkled nuts on hers, and it is amazing! we always used walnuts because someone we knew had an orchard, and as kids it was our job to crack the dumb things. Never in my life have I bled as much as I did then!

    • chris
      November 22, 2011 at 11:32 AM

      My mom brought me a bunch of pecans from Georgia so I think I will use those!

    • Nicole
      November 22, 2011 at 1:13 PM

      Oh my goodness, Jennica! Talk about taking one for the team… That sounds really, really painful. But probably kind of worth it. Freshly cracked nuts can’t be beat!
      xoxo Nicole

  • chris
    November 22, 2011 at 10:15 AM

    My mother-in-law (famous for her pumpkin roll) always sprinkles chopped nuts on the top of her cake before she bakes it. I looked over my recipe and the only difference is that you use 4t pie spice and mine calls for only 1t…will have to remedy that! Oh, and you add cinnamon to the filling which I will be trying! I hope everybody tries this, it is truly wonderful and a lot less intimidating with Nicole’s wonderful how-to pictures. Happy Thanksgiving to all :)

    • Nicole
      November 22, 2011 at 1:12 PM

      Hi, Chris,
      My kids are so annoying with nuts. They’re all over nut butters, but chopped nuts get their panties all in a bunch. It’s ridiculous. Sounds like your roll is going to be the bee’s knees.
      xoxo Nicole

      • chris
        November 22, 2011 at 6:28 PM

        Mine don’t do nuts either, but this is my husband’s absolute fav thing to have at the holidays…he gets grumpy if nobody makes one. I was contemplating making two so maybe I’ll do one with nuts and one without. What do you think about doubling the recipe? Or should I just play it safe and mix twice?

        • Nicole
          November 22, 2011 at 6:46 PM

          I think you can safely double this recipe, Chris, without a problem at all.
          Good move, making one with nuts and one without. Maybe stagger them in the oven, so you’re not tasked with rolling two cakes right out of the oven at exactly the same time, though. Unless your husband is willing to be another pair of hands. :)
          xoxo Nicole

  • Pamela G
    November 22, 2011 at 9:54 AM

    mmmmmmmmmmmmmm…pumpkin….love you!!!

  • Kadren
    November 22, 2011 at 9:13 AM

    Yes, I will be making this just as soon as I get cream cheese!!!!!!! Words can’t express how thankful I am for this recipe!!!!

    • Nicole
      November 22, 2011 at 1:11 PM

      You bet, Kadren. Pleasure. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Lisa
    November 22, 2011 at 9:04 AM

    Just when I had the menu all planned and the shopping all finished….. this looks amazing!

    • Nicole
      November 22, 2011 at 1:10 PM

      I know, right? Monkey wrench. Sorry about that, Lisa. ;)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Amanda Renee Stahl on Facebook
    November 22, 2011 at 8:52 AM

    Omg anything gluten free pumpkin breadish sounds amazing.

  • Michelle Dunton Olejar on Facebook
    November 22, 2011 at 8:37 AM

    I SOOOO want to make this :)

  • Amanda Hockham on Facebook
    November 22, 2011 at 8:35 AM

    Peter Piper, who picked up a pumpkin and the local produce store, and his papa are going to make this here pumpkin roll. It’ll be perfect for our party. Probably. Possibly I shall put it on a plate for Peter Piper’s Papa’s Mama, Petunia. :-)

    But truthfully, I’m making this with or without the help of Peter Piper, Papa or Petunia and it WILL be perfect.

    Thanks for posting the recipe, Nicole!

  • November 22, 2011 at 8:35 AM

    Em (my eldest daughter) and I are going to try it! We’ll let you know. The last time I made a “roll” of anything I was mocked, but I like it so who cares what anyone else thinks, right? I have no doubt this time there will be shock and awe. BTW, we made your Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cake from your cookbook – outstanding. Em wrote me a note on my microwave that said “make more pumpkin cake please.” Just thought you’d like to know! :-)

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