How to make a beautiful, perfect Swiss Roll from scratch! This homemade chocolate roulade is a show-stopping dessert that looks complicated, but I’ll walk you through all the steps so you can have flawless results at home! It can also be used to make a holiday Yule log! Recipe includes lots of photos and a step-by-step video!
Have you ever wanted to make a beautiful Swiss roll (AKA chocolate roulade) but been intimidated by the process? I get it, this cake appears complicated, intricate, and maybe even a little bit unapproachable, doesn’t it?
Despite the stunning-ness of the Swiss roll, it’s actually not as complex as it seems. The most important part is having a solid cake recipe, and this recipe is solid (I rejected dozens of versions and tested this one at least another dozen times to make sure!). I’m confident that you can master this gorgeous, guaranteed-to-impress dessert at home.
Follow my steps and you’ll have a light and fluffy, perfectly chocolatey, flavorful cake. Besides, if you’ve been baking along with me you’ve tackled way more complex and time-consuming recipes like petit fours, cream puffs, and creme brulee. You can handle a roulade, trust me. So let’s get to it!
What You Need
Let’s go over a few notes on some of the key ingredients:
- Sugar. I use two types of sugar: granulated and light brown sugar. The brown sugar adds a bit of extra richness to the cake.
- Flour. Use all-purpose flour, I have not tested this recipe with any substitutions and certainly do not recommend self-rising flour.
- Cocoa powder. All of our chocolate flavor comes from this. I recommend using a natural (not Dutch processed) unsweetened cocoa powder. I like Ghirardelli and Hershey’s brand.
- Eggs. You will need 4 large, divide the eggs and yolks carefully. For best results use room temperature eggs.
This is just an overview of the ingredients. For the full printable recipe and video tutorial please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
Tip: When separating your eggs, make sure you don’t get any yolk in your whites and make sure the bowl that you place them in is completely clean, dry, and grease free. Otherwise your whites may not whip to stiff peaks.
How to Make a Swiss Roll
First prepare your batter. There are several steps and several bowls required.
- Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in one bowl.
- Separately beat together egg yolks, melted butter, vanilla extract, brown sugar and some of your granulated sugar until lightened in color. Stir this into your cocoa mixture.
- In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat egg whites to stiff peaks while gradually adding sugar. This step is critical, your egg whites must be thick, glossy and completely stiff, meaning that when a beater is pulled out of the mixture, the peak that forms completely holds its shape and does not fold over or fall back in on itself. This will take several minutes.
- Carefully and gently use a spatula to fold together the egg whites and your chocolate mixture until the batter is smooth. The chocolate mixture will be a bit stiff in contrast to the fluffiness of the egg whites, but be gentle and continue to fold until everything is combined (see photo above).
- Spread the batter evenly into a parchment paper lined jelly roll pan and bake.
Note: I like to use parchment to line the pan because it guarantees that the cake will not stick to (and a bit of nonstick spray beneath it keeps the parchment from sliding around). Some people like to use the parchment to roll up the cake; you are welcome to try this but I personally had mixed results and my cake was more prone to cracking this way, so I recommend making as written.
The next step is where most people get nervous, and I get it. But. you’ve. got. this. Here’s how to do it.
How to Roll and Fill a Swiss Roll
- First, make sure your cake is actually baked properly. Most ovens run a little hot or cold so it’s always best to test rather than to just go based off of the time indicated in a recipe. When you lightly touch it, it should spring back to the touch and not deflate or dimple beneath your finger. Then cool for 2 minutes.
- Carefully and swiftly flip onto a cocoa powder-dusted towel and immediately begin to roll the cake from one of the shorter ends. Take care to support the side of the cake that is lifting from the table as you roll it to keep it from cracking. Carefully transfer to a wire rack and let it cool.
- Slowly unroll the cake and cover evenly with your favorite filling.
- Carefully re-roll the cake. Again, support the part of the cake that is being lifted of the cake as you roll it to keep cracks from forming.
Tip: If you do notice any cracks as you unroll your Swiss roll, try not to sweat it! Most of them will come back together when you re-roll the cake and can be covered with the chocolate topping!
Finally you need your chocolate glaze. Chill your roulade in the fridge while you prepare it.
Some Swiss rolls use chocolate ganache as the coating. While you could, I felt ganache was too rich and overwhelmed the roll. Instead I prefer this simpler coating that’s almost like a chocolate shell.
Frequently Asked Questions
I highly recommend you make a batch of my ermine frosting and use that. Other good options are homemade whipped cream (or add some cocoa powder to make a chocolate whipped cream) or cream cheese frosting. Some people also like to use a Marshmallow fluff filling, and while that’s too sweet for me, it’s certainly an option.
Read the post and the whole recipe and watch the video (in the recipe card) before beginning. Make sure to follow all of my steps and tips. Most importantly, make sure that you whip your egg whites all the way to fully stiff peaks and be careful when folding them into the batter that you don’t over-work and deflate them.
Take care when rolling and unrolling your cake.
When testing that your cake is done, make sure it is fully baked and lightly springs back when touched (and doesn’t just dimple/deflate).
Don’t panic! If the cracks are small, just proceed with rolling up your roll and pop it in the fridge. When you add your chocolate the cracks will be hidden!
For larger cracks I still recommend proceeding and filling the cake, then you can wrap the entire roll tightly in plastic wrap, pulling the wrap tightly to reshape it if the cracks are so bad that it’s no longer round. Place the re-shaped roll in the fridge until completely chilled then remove from the wrap and cover with chocolate.
Yes! Chocolate roulade (Swiss roll) freezes well when wrapped tightly or stored in an airtight container. It will keep for several months.
Absolutely! Next year I plan to share a tutorial showing exactly how to make a Yule log, I just haven’t gotten to it quite yet.
This is either a result of the egg whites not fully achieving stiff peaks or the cake was not baked long enough in the oven and deflated when it was flipped. You can usually tell that this is the case if it sticks terribly to the towel and falls apart when you try to roll it.
More Recipes For the Chocolate Lover
Let’s bake together! Make sure to check out the how-to VIDEO in the recipe card!
How to Make a Chocolate Swiss Roll (with Video!)
- ⅓ cup (40 g) all purpose flour
- ¼ cup (25 g) natural cocoa powder plus additional for dusting towel
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs whites and yolks separated, room temperature preferred
- ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar divided
- 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 batch Ermine icing or preferred filling, see note. Click link for the recipe.
- 5 oz (142 g) semisweet chocolate chips
- 3 Tablespoons shortening or coconut oil I use Crisco
- Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and lightly spray a jelly roll pan (10×15") with baking spray, then line with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt. Set aside.⅓ cup (40 g) all purpose flour, ¼ cup (25 g) natural cocoa powder, ¼ teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt
- In a separate bowl, combine egg yolks, ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar, brown sugar, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Whisk vigorously until mixture is lightened in color (about 30-60 seconds). Add flour mixture to the bowl and stir together until well-combined (mixture will be thick).4 large eggs, ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar, 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar, 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- In yet another large, completely clean, dry, and grease-free bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks (see note). Gradually (about 1 Tablespoon at a time) add remaining ¼ cup/(50g) granulated sugar until you have stiff peaks.4 large eggs
- Briefly stir chocolate mixture in case it has thickened, then gently fold in egg whites until completely combined (be gentle, deflate your egg whites as little as possible, but the mixture should look smooth).
- Spread batter evenly into prepared pan and bake on the center rack of your oven for 15-18 minutes or until the cake springs back when very lightly touched.
- While cake is baking, generously and thoroughly dust a tea towel or clean (cloth) kitchen towel evenly with about 2 Tablespoons of cocoa powder (this will keep the cake from sticking to it when you unroll and will prevent cracks!).
- When the cake has finished baking, allow it to rest for 2 minutes then quickly and carefully invert onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off parchment paper (if any of the parchment ended up beneath the cake, very gently tug it out before removing.
- Now very gently, starting with one of the shorter ends of the cake, roll it into the towel to form a log (see image or video if needed). Very carefully transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. While cooling, prepare your filling. I like to use Ermine icing (linked in the instructions above), but whipped cream or even cream cheese frosting (reduce the sugar to only two cups) are other good options.1 batch Ermine icing
- Once the swiss roll has cooled, very carefully unroll it in the towel. Don’t sweat any small cracks, you can patch them together with your icing.
- Evenly spread filling over the roll (I usually have a little ermine icing leftover) then very carefully re-roll the log.
- Transfer to a wax-paper lined serving platter and place in the fridge while you prepare the chocolate glaze.
- Combine chocolate chips and shortening in a heatproof bowl or large heatproof measuring cup. Microwave in 20-second intervals, stirring well in between, until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is smooth.5 oz (142 g) semisweet chocolate chips, 3 Tablespoons shortening or coconut oil
- Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes, then remove roll from fridge and evenly pour chocolate overtop. Use an offset spatula to evenly distribute the glaze, then return to the refrigerator and allow chocolate to harden before cutting and serving.
Frosting/FillingErmine frosting is my preferred icing, it’s silky smooth and tastes like traditional Swiss roll filling. It does take some time to make so I recommend making this first. Other filling options include homemade whipped cream or cream cheese frosting.
Soft and stiff peaks:Soft peaks have formed when you pull your beaters straight out of the mixture and the peaks that form hold their shape for only a moment before dissolving back into the bowl. Stiff peaks have formed when the mixture is thick, glossy, and the peaks that form hold their shape without folding over at the top at all and do not fall back into the bowl. You must achieve fully stiff peaks or your Swiss roll will not turn out properly.
Storing:Store in an airtight container (or wrapped in plastic wrap) in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. May also be frozen for several months.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.
I made this 4 times now and the videos and instructions are so great. I printed out the info and have it listed on which bowls I need to pull out for what since there are many steps. But it’s worth it!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it so much, Paige! 🙂
There was no link to the video in the recipe card. Where do I find it?
Hi Susan! It should be showing up about the ingredients. Make sure you don’t have an ad blocker enabled or it will block the video too. If it’s still not showing up I do have it on YouTube as well. 🙂
My favorite part of cake is the frosting. So this recipe has a great cake to frosting ratio. This was also the first time I made ermine frosting and I was scared about the cooking process, but the frosting turned out perfect and is so delicious. This may be my favorite cake recipe.
I am so happy to hear you enjoyed, Robin! Thank you so much for commenting and for trying my recipes, I appreciate it! 🙂
Best chocolate roll cake I’ve tried! It has to be the melted butter! Oh and I died laughing at the sad music and focusing on your stand mixer in the background. That was hilarious. Thank you for another amazing recipe!
I am so glad you enjoyed it so much, Bree! 🙂
I love your recipes and videos and have made quite a few of your cakes and your peppermint bark fudge. Yesterday (Christmas day) I was making your Swiss roll, but ran out of stovetop, time and energy and couldn’t do your Ermine icing and I didn’t have any cream cheese to make your cream cheese frosting. I came upon your white chocolate buttercream recipe and it saved the day and was a major hit. The Swiss roll was described as a Hostess Yodel on steroids. Thought you might appreciate my little story. Happy holidays and a wonderful New Years to you and your family.
I definitely do appreciate your story! I’m glad you found a solution! 🙂
I need help the paper is sticking to the cake what am I doing wrong
Hi Sandy! Is the cake baked all the way through? If not it could be sticking but otherwise it should not be. Make sure you peel carefully starting at one corner. I hope that helps, sorry it is giving you trouble!
Hello! I was wondering how you could turn this into a Yule Log?
Yes you can. 🙂
Hi! My jelly roll pan has an exterior dimension of 16×11 but an interior dimension of 15×10. Will that work? I’m hoping to decorate it like a yule log 🙂
Hi Sandy! That is the correct size pan. Enjoy! 🙂
Hi! My jelly roll pan has an exterior dimension of 16×11 but an interior dimension of 15×10. Will that work? I’m hoping to decorate it like a yule log 🙂
Hi Sara! That is the correct size pan. Enjoy! 🙂
I am brand new to baking. I just tried your chocolate cheesecake and oreo cheesecake with success!!
I am wondering if there is a way to make this swiss roll red velvet with a white chocolate glaze??
Hi Keith! That sounds delicious and definitely something for me to tackle in the future. If I had to guess you could probably cut back the cocoa powder, increase the flour and add red food dye, but I’m not sure exactly how it would turn out. If you try it I would love to know how it goes. 🙂
Hi Sam! I love all your recipes.
What could I use if I don’t have shortening for the glaze?
Also, could you post a recipe for Red Velvet cookies?
Thanks so much!
If you don’t have shortening for the glaze you could use coconut oil. Butter might work as well. I actually plan to put out a red velvet cookie, hopefully really really soon so stay tuned. 🙂
I made this last night and it was great! I absolutely love the ermine frosting, it’s worth the work!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it so much, Jeanette! 🙂
I cannot believe I actually made this !! I am so excited. It came out better than I expected and tasted great!!!! Thank you for the video which really helped!!! The instructions were very specific and made things so much easier. Will definitely be making this again!!!
I am so glad you enjoyed it so much, Kimberly! 🙂
Can you do Japanese cheesecake please
I can certainly add it to my list. 🙂
Hi Sam! I always wanted to make cake roll but I don’t own a 15×10 inch jelly roll pan because my oven cannot accommodate a pan bigger than 9×13. Do you think I can use that instead of 15×10 inch? Thanks in advance for replying and warm regards from your avid fan in the Philippines!
Hi Ellen! You could use the 9 x 13 but don’t fill it all the way up. You will want to only put about an inch of batter in the pan. You will have some leftover. If you make it too thick you won’t be able to roll it. The bake time will probably change and you will just be left with a smaller swiss roll. 🙂
Hi Sam. Can this be filled with peppermint ice cream for Christmas??? Doesn’t that sound yummy? Love all your recipes, you’re a doll.
Thank you, Sue
Hi Sue! I honestly haven’t tried filling it with ice cream but I think it could work. 🙂