This gorgeous Swiss roll style cake is easy to make starting with chocolate cake mix. Filled with marshmallow frosting and topped with chocolate buttercream icing made to look like bark. Decorate as a festive yule log with sugared cranberries and fresh rosemary for a stunning holiday dessert!
There’s something so cozy, festive and inviting about a holiday yule log! Especially one made of cake.
★ Why You’ll Love this Recipe ★
Made with cake mix, this recipe is super easy!
This recipe starts with boxed cake mix, saving time and ingredients. This Swiss roll recipe also uses marshmallow frosting for the filling. You can buy this special, yummy frosting ready-made which is another big time-saver!
The process is easy to follow.
I'll give you step-by-step directions. I also have a 1-minute how-to video that shows the process, including rolling the cake as well as decorating it to look just like a beautiful log.
You can absolutely nail this on the first try! Even if baking isn't your thing. Just follow the steps.
★ Ingredients You'll Need ★
What ingredients are in this yule log cake?
This particular recipe is super simple. You start with cake mix then all you need is a handful of other ingredients to make this beautiful holiday log cake come to life.
Here's everything you need:
- Devil's Food chocolate cake mix. The devil's food cake flavor is rich which works well with the marshmallow filling. You can use choco;ate cake mix too if you prefer something less rich.
- Water. Or you can use milk. Milk will add a rich and creamy flavor.
- Oil. Vegetable oil or any high-heat cooking oil works.
- Eggs. I prefer corn-fed hen-laid eggs. They have excellent flavor.
- Powdered sugar. This helps the cake not stick to itself when you roll it.
- Marshmallow frosting. This is the inside filling of the roll cake. This is a store-bought frosting that is specifically "marshmallow" flavor. It's not the same as marshmallow fluff.
- Chocolate frosting. This for the outside of the cake which we'll texture to look like bark! You can use store-bought, or I have a great, very simple homemade sea salt chocolate frosting recipe I like to use.
You can decorate this yule log cake however you'd like. However, an easy way to add a really beautiful touch is by garnishing with a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and a few fresh cranberries.
Sugar these garnishes but simply dipping the rosemary and cranberries in water. Shake off any excess water, then roll each in table sugar for a crystalized "snow covered" look.
★ How to Make this Yule Log Cake ★
This recipe is easy enough for novice bakers but it might be helpful to see how to prep and roll the cake before you try it.
Here's a snapshot of the steps involved.
- Beat eggs then mix in cake mix, water (or milk) and oil.
- Spread batter onto lined baking sheet.
- Let cool slightly.
- Roll cake up using a powdered-sugared dish towel.
- Let set to take shape.
- Unroll and layer with marshmallow frosting.
- Roll up cake with filling.
- Frost the outside.
- Create a bark texture using a fork.
- Add sugared rosemary and cranberries.
You can also watch the how-to video underneath the recipe, below.
★ Tips & FAQs ★
What does a yule log cake taste like?
If you’ve never seen or enjoyed a yule log cake, I'd say it's similar to a giant Ho Ho or chocolate Swiss roll cake. Except instead of a chocolate coating, it's covered with chocolate frosting.
The frosting is often made to look like the bark of a log. With this recipe, I'm going to show you how to do this to your yule log! (Don't worry, it's really easy, no professional bakery skills required.)
Actually in general, a yule log cake is incredibly easy to make if you start with a cake mix.
What’s the history and origin of the yule log?
You might be curious about origin of the yule log dessert. Or you might not be. So I'll keep it short and sweet and you can do your own Googling if you need more info.
The yule log is a Nordic tradition that began with an actual log which was part of an entire tree burned a little bit each day during the 12 days of Christmas. (Read the full story here). Somewhere along the way, the idea of the yule log was transformed into a dessert. Brilliant.
Why is this the best yule log cake recipe?
Well, I think it's this one. Why? Because it's easy and delicious. I’m a big fan of boxed cake mixes because they're cheap, easy and now you can buy them organic.
There's also a special marshmallow frosting you can buy ready-made that's absolutely delicious as the filling, and obviously it's super easy since all you have to do is spread it.
I do recommend making your own chocolate frosting if you have time.
Homemade chocolate buttercream frosting (click for my recipe) is pretty easy to whip up and it's so amazingly good.
If you want to save time though, store-bought whipped chocolate frosting works great too.
Can you make your own Marshmallow frosting?
Yes, you can! If you forgot to pick up marshmallow fluff or frosting at the store, don't worry. You can make your own. Here are two recipes for homemade marshmallow filling:
Homemade Marshmallow Frosting (This is more like frosting but with marshmallow flavor)
You can also try this store-bought marshmallow flavored frosting to save time:
This fluffy frost is not the same as marshmallow fluff. The texture is a bit different, more light and fluffy and is easier to spread and less sticky. It's more like frosting but still has that marshmallow flavor.
If you're having trouble finding this frosting in stores, you can buy it on Amazon.
Or, just simply use vanilla frosting. All of these options are delicious so choose your favorite or just use whatever is handy. Remember, this is an easy and low stress cake! 😉
Homemade Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
If you are up for making your own chocolate buttercream frosting. It's very simple, easier to make than the marshmallow filling, and homemade frosting is just so much better than the store bought stuff, it's worth the extra 5 minutes it takes to whip up. Trust.
Here's my go-to recipe for chocolate buttercream frosting. It's also linked within the recipe below for when you're ready to make this.
Tips for Success on the First Try
- Bake time may vary depending on how thick you spread the batter out and also your type of oven. Just be sure not to overcook the cake or you may have trouble rolling it. Recommended baking sheet size is 12" x 18" for best results.
- Keep an eye on the batter. As soon as all the shiny parts disappear, check the center with a toothpick. You don't want to over cook or it will be harder to roll.
- When rolling the cake, be sure to use plenty of powdered sugar to prevent it from sticking to the towel.
- Don't let the cake cool for more than 5 minutes or it will be difficult to roll and may crack.
- If the cake cracks, just smooth over the cracks with frosting
- Roll the cake tightly and while it's still warm. You'll need to compress the cake a bit to get a good roll.
- You may choose to slice off the ends of the cake and leave it unfrosted. Some of the tradition recipes for yule logs I've seen do this. I've seen the slices stacked together and attached to the side of the log with frosting to look like a branch. Up to you if you want to try this! There's no right or wrong way to do this in my opinion. This is a fun dessert recipe that can be decorated and served according to your own style. So have fun with it!
- To save time or simply for a different look, try using woodland-themed cake toppers to decorate vs. cranberries and rosemary.
★ Helpful Tools ★
What do you need to make a yule log using cake mix?
Here are a few tools that will make things easier, less stressful and also just more fun!
- Kitchen-Aid Hand Mixer
- 12" x 18" baking pan, silicone liner and cooling rack set
- Baking spray (with flour)
- Linen dishtowel
- Silicone spatula
- Woodland cake topper set
- Wooden cake platter
★ More Recipes You'll Love ★
Feeling the holiday spirit?
Typically this is a Christmas dessert so if you're reading this and Christmas is still pretty far away, pin this recipe for later!
Easy Yule Log Recipe Using Cake Mix
- 6 eggs
- 1 box chocolate cake mix
- ⅓ cup water
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- 12 oz fluffy marshmallow frosting
- 12 oz whipped chocolate frosting canned or homemade
- Fresh cranberries and rosemary for garnish
- In a large bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer for 5 minutes until frothy and pale yellow in color.
- Add cake mix, water and oil and beat on low for 2 minutes.
- Line a baking pan then coat liner with baking spray. Make sure to grease sides of the baking sheet as well.
- Pour batter onto prepared 12x18 baking sheet and spread evenly.
- Bake at 350˚ for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- When done, remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
- While the cake is still warm, grab a linen dish towel. Sprinkle both sides of the towel with powdered sugar to prevent cake from sticking to it then lay it on top of the cake. Holding the towel and pan together, gently flip upside down so the cake drops onto the towel. Lay on a clean surface.
- Peel off liner. Then tightly but gently roll the cake, keeping the towel in place to separate the layers. Place the rolled cake on a cooling rack and let cool for at least 15 minutes.
- When cooled, gently unroll the cake and spread with marshmallow frosting. Gently but tightly roll cake to form a log. Place onto a serving dish, seam side down. Frost outside and ends with chocolate frosting.
- Using a fork, create a bark-like pattern in the frosting. Garnish with fresh cranberries and rosemary or decorate your log in a wintery scene using whatever decorative items you can find! I think for next year, I'm going to order this cute woodland decorative kit!