Vegan Pumpkin Roll is an eye catching dessert that is sure to be the star at your holiday table. Fluffy and moist pumpkin cake is covered in a cream cheese-like frosting, then rolled up, chilled and sliced. It’s easier than you might think!

looking down on a pumpkin roll, partially sliced

Have you ever made a roll cake before? It may seem intimidating at first, but it’s actually quite simple. Basically, you make a sheet cake in a 10×15 inch jelly roll pan, roll it up, cool, unroll, frost, then roll it back up and let it chill.

I’ll share all my best tips for making the process as easy as possible. Vegan Pumpkin Roll cakes are great gifts, so bake a few and make your friends and family happy this fall.

Ingredients needed (with substitutions)

  • Pumpkin pureé – Not pumpkin pie mix, make sure to use pumpkin pureé from a can, nothing else added. I haven’t tried using fresh pumpkin here, but it can vary in terms of how watery or thick it is and throw off the recipe. Stick with canned for best results.
  • Applesauce – I haven’t tried using anything else, but non-dairy yogurt might work. Oil makes the cake too heavy for rolling, which is why I’m using applesauce here.
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla
  • Flour – I used all purpose. I’m sure a gluten free mix would work, I like King Arthur Flour for gluten free.
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Pumpkin pie spice – Don’t have it? Substitute 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and a pinch of cloves.
  • Salt
  • Vegan butter + vegetable shortening – For the frosting. May use all vegan butter if desired, or all shortening if you don’t have vegan butter.
  • Powdered sugar – For the frosting and to dust the cake with once done.
  • Lemon juice – This adds a little tartness to the frosting that is wonderful without being overpowering.
  • More vanilla
  • Plant milk – To thin the frosting if needed. I used soy milk.

How to make vegan pumpkin roll

This is simply an overview with photos, scroll down to find the complete, printable recipe.

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a 10×15 inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper, with some overhang for easy removal. In a large bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together, then add the dry and stir until just mixed. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 14-15 minutes.
  2. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, lay a large dish towel on the countertop and sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar. With one swift motion, flip the cake onto the towel. Have confidence and do this quickly, or the cake will split. Roll the cake up using the towel. Do not wait for the cake to cool off, but roll it up while still hot. If this is too scary for you, you can simply roll it up in the parchment paper.
  3. Let the cake cool completely for about 3 hours. Prepare the frosting, then gently unroll the cake. Do this slowly to prevent cracking.
  4. Spread the prepared frosting all over the cake, leaving 1/4 inch unfrosted. Roll it back up, without the towel this time, and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

collage of how to make vegan pumpkin roll step by step

Helpful tips

  • Add a liberal amount of powdered sugar to the dish towel. This will help prevent the cake from sticking to the towel.
  • Don’t hesitate when inverting the cake. One swift motion is what’s needed here. If you flip it slowly it will completely break. If this is too intimidating for you, simply remove the cake from the pan using the parchment paper, and roll it up using that instead of a towel. It still works, but it may crack a little easier.
  • If you have some cracks: If the cracks are pretty small, they can be fixed with frosting and a dusting of powdered sugar. A couple small cracks are not a big deal. If things go wrong and it cracks more than that, well it will still taste amazing! But it shouldn’t crack if you follow the instructions.

Frosting options

I’ve included a recipe for a delicious cream cheese-like frosting here, but you could always use another frosting instead, such as my Vegan Vanilla Frosting or Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting.

Did you know that Duncan Hines has several frostings that happen to be vegan, such as their cream cheese frosting, buttercream and more? Feel free to use a store bought option to make this even easier!

slices of pumpkin roll cake with powdered sugar all around

More vegan pumpkin recipes you’ll love

square image of rolled cake with white frosting
4.67 stars (6 ratings)

Vegan Pumpkin Roll

Vegan Pumpkin Roll is an eye catching dessert that is sure to be the star at your holiday table. Fluffy and moist pumpkin cake is covered in a cream cheese-like frosting, then rolled up, chilled and sliced.
Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Chilling time: 3 hrs
Total: 3 hrs 45 mins
Servings: 10 slices

Ingredients 
 

Pumpkin Cake

Frosting

  • 4 tablespoons vegan butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable shortening*
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons non-dairy milk, as needed
  • more powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions 

Prepare the cake

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a 10 x 15 inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper, with about a 1 inch overhang for easy removal after baking.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, applesauce, sugar and vanilla until well combined.
  • To the bowl with the pumpkin mixture, add ingredients in this order: flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt, then stir with a spoon or spatula until just combined. Be careful not to over mix.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 14-15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven. On a large surface, lay out a large clean dish towel, one with no texture if possible. Sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar. With one swift motion, flip the cake from the pan to the towel. Be confident and you will be fine! Alternatively, you can simply roll it up in the parchment paper, but mine cracked a bit when I tried it that way.
  • Peel off the parchment paper that is still stuck to the cake. Roll the cake up from one short end to the other end, carefully and using the towel. (SEE PHOTOS ABOVE FOR REFERENCE)
  • Let the cake cool completely for about 3 hours on a wire rack. Or stick it in the refrigerator to cool a bit faster.

Prepare the frosting

  • In a medium bowl with an hand or stand mixer, beat the vegan butter, shortening, powdered sugar, lemon juice and vanilla until smooth. Add a tablespoon or two of non-dairy milk (I used soy) if the frosting is too thick. If too thin, add more powdered sugar.

Assemble the roll

  • Once the cake is cooled completely, slowly unroll it, very gently to prevent cracking, then spread the filling over the cake, leaving about 1/4 inch border unfrosted. If there are a few cracks, don't worry, the roll won't be ruined. You can fix a lot with frosting and a dusting of powdered sugar!
  • Re-roll the cake up, without the towel this time, carefully peeling it away as your roll. Tightly wrap the roll in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for about an hour.
  • When ready to serve, unwrap the pumpkin roll and transfer to a serving dish. Dust with powdered sugar, slice and serve.
  • Leftovers: You can make the roll ahead of time and store in the refrigerator for about 5 days wrapped in plastic wrap. Or freeze for a month or two. They make great gifts!

Notes

  1. Gluten free: Substitute a gluten free all purpose flour. I like King Arthur Flour.
  2. You can use additional vegan butter instead of shortening if desired for the frosting, but I like it best using half and half. It tastes similar to cream cheese frosting.
  3. No pumpkin pie spice? Use 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and a tiny pinch of cloves instead.

Nutrition

Serving: 1of 10 servings | Calories: 299kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 154mg | Potassium: 101mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 45g | Vitamin A: 3074IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

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Comments

  1. My mom has always made non vegan pumpkin roll and we attempted this recipe with no luck. The cake tasted great and the filling was fine but the cake was super thin and moist and stuck to the towel. It was full of cracks. We are thinking maybe it’s the brand of unsweetened applesauce maybe? We used Trader Joe’s brand. What brand have you had success with?

    1. I’m sorry to hear you had trouble with the pumpkin roll. The cake part is thin but not super thin (it should look like the photos). Did you make any substitutions, like using gluten free flour or anything else? Use powdered sugar liberally to prevent it from sticking to the towel. To prevent cracking, unwrap very slowly and carefully. It can be a bit tricky. I’ve used a variety of applesauce brands, I don’t stick to one particular brand.

  2. made this today as a practise for yule log at the holidays was totally devoured by my mom and DH looking forward to making this again Thank you goddess Nora

    1. LOL! You are welcome! Sounds like the roll was a hit! It will be fun for the holidays! Thank you for your fun and fabulous feedback! Happy holiday cooking!

  3. I just made this and quite a bit of the cake stuck to the parchment paper. I did not grease the pan as the recipe did not mention this. Was this implied?

    1. I don’t find it necessary to grease parchment paper, generally nothing sticks to it and I haven’t had this problem.

  4. I made this a couple weeks ago, and it was super delicious! I rolled it in the parchment paper and dusted it with powdered sugar. It had a couple little cracks when I unrolled it, but they were easy to hide with frosting and powdered sugar – and it was devoured so fast that nobody even noticed. I made one again today, and I’m sure it will be just as tasty as the first one. I have yet to try one of your recipes that has not been amazing! I’m so grateful I found your recipes; many of them have already become staples in my household. Thank you, Nora! ? 

  5. This recipe was an absolute disaster for me.. 🙁 I made it twice both times the roll itself seemed so moist & in turn the cracks were atrocious making it almost impossible to roll the first time. Not sure what I did wrong. Both batches are in the freezer currently I hope they harden up some. Lol 

    1. Hi Juanita. I always use unsweetened applesauce for baking. I have never used cream cheese in this filling, so I’m not sure how it would turn out.

      1. Thanks Nora.  I am using your recipe for the cake and I found another recipe that uses the vegan cream cheese filling so I will let you know how it comes out. ?

  6. Loved this recipe! I just found your site, and I’ve found your recipes almost meet my dietary needs with just a few tweaks. I baked this roll on a silicone liner which made rolling it fairly easy. My only problem was self created when I put far too much frosting in it!

  7. This was an epic fail for me. I don’t know what I did wrong. I was able to flip it pretty well and rolled up in the towel, I waited until it cooled and tried to unroll. It cracked quite a bit, but I smooshed it together and put on the icing. Trying to roll with the icing was a disaster. It was too soft and it just ended up a lump. 🙁

    The cake came out with a clean toothpick. I did use GF flour, which I saw someone else also used with success, so I have no idea what to do differently.

    I ended up making pumpkin cookies as Plan B. Oh well.

    1. Aw, I’m sorry to hear that Faith! It takes a bit of practice and I haven’t tried it with gluten free flour myself, so that could have made the cake too delicate to work with. Different brands of flour will yield different results as well when it comes to gluten free baking. Maybe try a different brand of flour? Hope you enjoy the cookies though!

  8. Hi Nora ! I love love your baking recipes !! Can you tell me what will be the difference with the texture of the cake with this roll (without oil) compare to your pumpkin cupcakes (with oil) ? Thank you in advance 🙂

    1. Thanks Karine! It’s really just a different recipe entirely. The pumpkin roll cake needs to be tender and roll-able, and not having oil here just helps.

  9. Hi! It seems like most recipes that use applesauce use unsweetened. Did you use sweetened or unsweetened in this?

    Thanks!
    Angela

  10. Hey! I love this recipe and your work has truly been a boon in my household!!

    I have a question about the flip and first roll up  after baking. Are we supposed to be rolling the dish towel inside the cake too or are we using the towel to get the roll started? 

    I couldn’t exactly see if the towel was in the cake roll in the pictures.

    Thanks again for all your work!!

    1. Thanks so much, that’s great to hear! Yes, you are going to roll the cake with the towel. Sorry that wasn’t more clear! Hope that helps and you enjoy the roll.

  11. First time making pumpkin roll! Super easy and quick recipe. I hesitated on the flip and the cake cracked a little.  I used gf flour and it turned out perfect.  Hoping the filling firms up in the fridge and holds the roll together better. 

    1. I’m so glad to hear it turned out with gluten free flour, thanks for sharing! The flip can be intimidating, but the next time you do it, you will probably get it just right. The filling should firm up more in the refrigerator. Thank you!

  12. Hi Nora! I am a novice baker, and reading your recipes always makes me feel like *I can do this too!*

    which I really appreciate. I was wondering, since we are flipping the cake out of the pan, do you think it would work to skip the parchment paper and just grease the pan itself? I’m not sure that I have parchment paper at home, and in general I am loathe to use disposables if I can find a workaround. So I am also wondering if the plastic wrap at the end is a necessity, or could I loosely wrap it in another kitchen towel or something? And lastly, do you have any tips on softening butter to room temp? My kitchen gets pretty cold when the temp drops. Thank you!

    1. Yes, you can probably skip the parchment paper if you make sure to grease the pan really well. Hopefully it won’t break when you flip it! I have only tried it using parchment paper. As far as wrapping the final roll, you can just use a dish towel, no problem! I find that vegan butter is much softer than regular butter anyhow, so it should be okay. I sometimes use the microwave to soften it, for only 10 seconds. Hope you enjoy it!

  13. I was so excited when I saw this recipe on your blog this morning, and I would love to make this, but I don’t have a jelly roll pan. Is there anything that I could use instead? As usual, the pictures are just beautiful!!!!

    1. Thank you very much! I appreciate it. Unfortunately, you really need a jelly roll pan that is 10×15. Nothing else will work the same. You might be able to try a 9×13, but I don’t know if it would work well.

    1. Thank you so much! I don’t have a mushroom burger, but I’ll have to add it to my list. Are you thinking like a portabella mushroom burger?

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