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!
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Let the cake cool completely for about 3 hours. Prepare the frosting, then gently unroll the cake. Do this slowly to prevent cracking.
- 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.
- 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.
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!
More vegan pumpkin recipes you’ll love
- Vegan Pumpkin Bars
- Vegan Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Pecan Frosting
- Vegan Pumpkin Bread
- The Best Vegan Pumpkin Cookies
- Vegan Pumpkin Pie
- Vegan Pumpkin Scones
Vegan Pumpkin Roll
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!
- Gluten free: Substitute a gluten free all purpose flour. I like King Arthur Flour.
- 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.
- No pumpkin pie spice? Use 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and a tiny pinch of cloves instead.