My Mom’s Pumpkin Rolls

It seems to me that everyone I know is looking more and more towards comfort food , whether in the form of soups, casseroles, pot pies and even desserts. Maybe it’s because of the uncertainty we all live through in today’s world. So many of us live further and further away from family and friends for economic or academic reasons, or we just watch/read the news only to find something else that has rocked our world and our sense of security.

Over the years, what I’ve learned is that every person, irrespective of culture and ethnicity, has comfort foods tucked away in their back pocket, ready to be requested as soon as they’re on the next flight home to mom and dad.  Maybe it’s because it reminds them of someone special or a special time in their life when life felt sweet and safe and good. It’s comforting.

For me, oddly enough, it’s the classic pumpkin roll. I say ‘oddly enough’ because it isn’t actually my most favorite dessert in the world ever; it’s just the one that my mom made over and over, every year, every Fall, every Thanksgiving and throughout the winter and she made it better than any others I tasted (and I’ve tasted a lot). She would make three or four at a time and bring them to family and friends because the first time she made one, it got rave reviews.  Ever since then she has not veered from the recipe, because it works.

That’s one of the ways I’m different from my mom. I try things once and move on, in the name of adventure and curiosity. I don’t actually like to make the same recipes twice much like I don’t like to see the same movie twice or go to the same place on vacation twice. But, as I get older or as I miss home and family more and more, I long for the things that remind me of what does work in life- or at least what you know you can expect from family traditions- the serenity of knowing your surroundings and feeling safe in them, of places you know and can tell others exactly what they’re like, and the same goes for food and desserts- you know what to expect and you can expect it to be good, and with the first bite you’ll be transported back to that place where life is good and there’s a little bit more certainty in your day, just because you went with what you know works.

I spent the day with my mom and let her make it so I could bring you all these process photos and a few videos, too. I wanted to illustrate that it’s not intimidating (especially the rolling part) and if you are a visual learner, this should help make you feel more at ease about going at it yourself.

Here’s what you’ll need to make the roll (frosting ingredients and process later):

Flour, sugar, salt, eggs, baking soda, pumpkin puree (canned or fresh, which you can learn to make here), and cinnamon.

ingredients horizontal

If you’re going to use the canned version of pumpkin puree, be sure to use organic. I got this one at The Fresh Market, but you may be able to find it at Whole Foods, too. If there’s one thing I’ve got my mom to change was to use this kind of puree as opposed to the one ‘very popular brand’ found commercially which is not known to be organic.

canned pumpkin

Gather all your utensils, too, because things always go fast when you need to mix them in the stand mixer.

more tools

You’ll also need clean cloth towels. Don’t skimp on the type of towels- it really does matter. It’s best to use non-ridge, all cotton towels without any pattern.

cotton towels

You can use French tea towels or these pictured below, which are from Ikea for about .79 each.

more cotton towels

You’ll also need waxed paper, a baking sheet and a spray oil.  And aluminum foil (not shown).


Here’s why: You’ll need to spray the baking sheet generously with oil (I use the Misto spray pump because then you can use your own oil).

spray baking sheet with oil

Then cut the wax paper to size and put it on the oiled baking sheet.

spread parchment paper on top

Smooth it out

spread parchment paper on top 2

Set this aside. You’ll need to use this as soon as you’re done making the batter for the roll. Off we go to the mixing bowl- add the eggs, salt, baking soda, pumpkin, sugar.

put in mixer

And the cinnamon.


Add the flour and mix well.

mixing batter

Once it’s done, free of lumps, pour the entire batter onto the baking sheet.

pour batter onto tray

So if you’re making more than one roll, each batter (hence each recipe) gets it’s own sheet.

keep pouring batter

Spread it out and smooth it out completely.

smooth out the batter

Then it’s ready for the oven.

completely smoothe it out

Bake it for 15 minutes ONLY (that’s how the original typed directions yell at you to make sure you don’t go over the specified baking time).

vintage recipe

This is why:

cooked roll up close

Let it cool for several minutes, but not until it’s cold.

ready to pull off the wax paper

Have the towel ready on a flat surface so you’re ready to use it (you’ll flip it over on top of the towel) when the flat roll is actually ready to be a real roll.

lay out towels

Then flip it over. Onto the very specific type of tea towels I told you about.

start to flip it

This is the moment you’ll be glad you greased the wax paper.

flip it over

Hit the back gently or just shake it off onto the towel. You must do this on the towel,  by the way, because this is where the frosting will be spread, too, then the whole thing rolled up.

it comes out quite easily

Doesn’t it just look like it’ll all peel right off?

prepare to remove wax paper

Well, it won’t be perfect, but in my mom’s words, don’t worry about ripping the wax paper. It’s not going to hurt anything.

but it will still come off nicely

We all want it to come off on one piece or in nice clean strips, but this is typical–and it’s true, don’t worry about it.

it may not come off easily

This is the side you’ll be filling with cream cheese, anyway.

its okay

Back to the mixer to make the cream cheese. Unless you have two, you’ll have to give yourself time to clean this out before moving on.

get out the mixer

Here are the ingredients: butter, cream cheese, sugar, alcohol-free vanilla extract.

cream ingredients

Because I know many of you might ask, I use the cream cheese from Trader Joe’s and try to get the butter from an Amish farm or Kerrygold, which is a deep and golden yellow and probably my favorite butter out there.

butter and cream cheese

Although you only need powdered sugar if you’re not making it from scratch like I’m about to show you. Yes, it’s possible to make powdered sugar from scratch and after seeing how I do it, you’ll never really have to buy it again unless you’re in a baking emergency and without the necessary coffee grinding device that makes it so possible and utterly simple.  This is the powerful dyanamic duo (below):

sugar and coffee grinder

You can use any type of coffee or spice grinder for this.

coffee grinder for sugar

First, make the powdered sugar unless you have some already.

Next, add all of these ingredients to the stand mixer.

add cream cheese ingredients to mixer

and mix away until you reach a smooth consistency.

here we go

Now it’s time to plop it down onto the baked batter.

plopping on the cream cheese

then spread it out nicely and evenly, up until about 1/4 inch of the edge.

cream cheese spread on

Now begin the slow roll process shown here- don’t you just love my mom’s blue nail polish?

rolling the cooked dough

Continue to roll gently and slowly, about 2 inches at a time.

roll it tightly

This is where things can crack so just take your time and see it to the end. If you do see any cracks, don’t worry, there’s always a way to cover them or cut the roll in a way that makes them less apparent. Just see it through to the end and close it properly by pressing down firmly.

roll it tightly

Alternatively, you can use the towel as your guide and roll it up with the actual roll.

rolling the roll

It looks like a cute bundle this way and I would do this also if you’re not going to save the roll, but serve it all immediately. You could stick it in the fridge this way and cut just before serving.

rolled in towel

But most people will want to share it or divide it up, even freeze it, so you need to use aluminum foil or freezer paper if you feel more comfortable with that. Plop the whole roll onto the aluminum and roll it in the same way as the towel.

completely rolled out

Wrap it up completely and tightly.

like a gift

Crimp the edges to prevent them from drying out.

fold over the edges

If I make two, I put them both back on a baking sheet and refrigerate. Once they’re firm, I place them in the freezer if I’m not going to be serving them for a while, which makes these great make-ahead desserts for holidays and celebrations.

and they will fit perfectly in the fridge

When it’s time to take them out, remove gently from the foil.

remove foil

See how gorgeous the bottom is- firmly sealed by pressing down when closing it up + then refrigeration.

roll out of aluminum foil

But of course they need to be flipped over for cutting- again, very gently.

lay it closure side down

When it’s time to slice, cut any burnt or unsightly edges off first- don’t worry- it happens.

cut off any burnt edges

And so does this- sometimes you might have not gone far enough to the edge of the roll when spreading out the cream cheese so you think your entire roll is going to look like this and not the stuff you find in magazines and Pinterest.

first cut may not reveal too much

But just keep cutting, you’ll get there. insha’allah.

pretty inside

I may be stating the obvious, but be sure to use a straight-edge knife here so you can get a clean cut- I should have cleaned off the knife to get an even cleaner cut, but I was a bit impatient- I wanted to hurry up and try it, it’s been years since I’ve had my mom’s pumpkin roll, can you blame me?

aeirial view

And then my mom said I cut the pieces too thick, but I clearly remember that her portions were always generous, as opposed to others I’d seen who always cut them so thin and small. Give people something good and in generous portions, I think that’s the best way to be about it. She remembered and agreed…

side view of just one roll
And of course serve them on something pretty. This tray has been in our family for probably over 25 years. It’s the fancy dessert tray, I suppose. Not real silver but pretty, indeed.
on silver tray
To me, the rolls are pretty, too, but they reflect more than just a great dessert on a pretty tray. It’s who they’re enjoyed with- and since they can be cut into so many pieces (I would say up to 12), imagine how many people can enjoy them and be part of the company you enjoy, too.
beautiful featured image pumpkin rolls
Did you like this recipe and seeing the process of how to make it? Please share your thoughts and tell me if you’d like to see more of things like this on the site.

Pumpkin Rolls

By Yvonne Published: December 10, 2013

  • Yield: one roll (12-15 Servings)
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Ready In: 40 mins

Pumpkin rolls are not just for holidays or for the month of November- they're great as soon as the pumpkins are ready to be harvested and you're in the mood for something sweet and comfortable to cozy up to during the cold winter months.



  1. FOR ROLL: Beat eggs and 1 cup of sugar; blend in pumpkin, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and flour.
  2. Grease jelly roll pan (baking sheet) and line with waxed paper. Grease waxed paper, also.
  3. Pour batter into pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle with nuts if desired.
  4. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes ONLY.
  5. Lay a linen dish towel on counter and sprinkle with powdered sugar (optional) and turn cake on to it.
  6. Remove waxed paper; roll cake and towel together into a log/roll. Let cool.
  7. FOR FROSTING Blend filling ingredients and whip briskly and thoroughly.
  8. Spread filling gently on cake, reroll and chill. Sprinkle with more powdered sugar, if desired.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something I may earn a commission. MyHalalKitchen.com is a participant in the Amazon Services, LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Please see my affiliates disclosure page for more detailed information about the companies with who I am affiliated. 

Related Articles


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Thanks for all of the AMAZING visuals, Yvonne! I get my organic canned pumpkin @ Trader Joe’s. I am going to substitute coconut palm sugar (for the cane sugar) & pumpkin pie spice (for the cinnamon) in the batter, then add orange rind to the icing.

    This reminds me of a chocolate marshmallow roll that my grandmother used to make for my father when he was a little boy. I then re-created that memory for him after she passed.

  2. I live in the UK, I always see recipes posted up on American websites of Pumpkin this and Pumpkin that! I tried Pumpkin Pie, absolutely delicious! Definitely want to try this!

  3. Very nice I am going to try try this .please let your mom know there is Halal nail polish INGLOT 02M she could get it at Macy’s

  4. so wonderful!! jst reading thru made me feel like one enjoyin this lovely desert with U! hp mine will be as beautiful as these ones!
    thanks for this recipe! am gonna try this In Shaa Allah

  5. You make me feel I can make this. Two questions: can I use parchment paper instead of waxed paper? And did you roll from the wide side?

Get the latest updates & lots of FREE goodies!

Subscribe To My Quick Bites Newsletter

By signing up, you’ll be notified when new recipes and other tasty treats are cooked up in my kitchen!