This easy Pinwheels recipe is the perfect snack, appetizer, or lunch idea! Easy-to-make pinwheel sandwiches made with tortillas, meat, cheese, and veggies that are easy to customize to any dietary preference and for any occasion!
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Here at The Busy Baker we love a good snack and appetizer recipe, especially one that’s as easy to make as this delicious Pinwheels recipe!
Whether you’re putting together a holiday spread, hosting a baby shower or wedding shower, going on a picnic, or just looking for something new to add to your kids’ school lunches, these Pinwheel sandwiches are the perfect choice! They’re so easy to customize for any event or dietary preference, they’re easy to make ahead of time so they make a great recipe for meal prep, and they can be made ultra casual with a simple meat, cheese, and veggies combination or more fancy by using more upscale ingredients – they’re perfect for any occasion!
Pinwheels, or Pinwheel Sandwiches as they’re sometimes called, are a hand-held spiral appetizer or small-bite food made from tortillas rolled with a variety of fillings like meat, cheese, vegetables, greens, and more. They’re compact appetizers that are so visually appealing on a snack tray or appetizer platter because of their colourful ingredients. They’re also packed with flavour, made with fresh ingredients, and easy to make ahead of time!
Here are all our best tips and tricks for making the most of this Pinwheels recipe!
The choice of fillings is important. To avoid the dreaded soggy pinwheel, opt for ingredients with lower moisture content like greens and bell peppers instead of high-moisture veggies like tomatoes. Choose full fat cream cheese instead of lower fat varieties that contain a higher level of moisture.
If using vegetables like tomatoes or cucumbers, consider deseeding them to remove excess water. Meats should be well-drained of any marinades or sauces and even patted dry with paper towel before using, and any spreads should be thick enough to not weep into the tortilla.
Let the cream cheese soften to room temperature before using it in your pinwheels. This will help it spread more easily and help keep the pinwheels together.
Keep in mind that the fillings need to be thin in order for the pinwheels to keep their shape, so use shredded, finely sliced, or finely diced ingredients.
The cream cheese mixture acts like a binder to keep the pinwheels together, so spread it across the tortilla in an even layer, leaving a margin at the edge to prevent overflow when rolling.
Add your fillings on top of the cream cheese mixture, keeping in mind that less is sometimes more. Overstuffing can make your pinwheels difficult to roll and seal. A balanced distribution of fillings not only ensures each pinwheel is flavorful but also prevents the roll from becoming too bulky, which can cause it to fall apart.
Roll the tortilla tightly, starting from one end to the other, ensuring the fillings are snug within the tortilla and there aren’t any big gaps anywhere.
Don’t cut the roll just yet! Instead, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate so it has a chance to firm up before slicing.
After the roll has set, remove it from the refrigerator, unwrap, and using a sharp serrated knife, slice the roll into even pinwheels. The serrated edge allows for a clean cut without squishing the roll.
Pinwheels are ready to be sliced when they are firm to the touch and the tortilla doesn’t unravel when you begin to cut. This indicates that the cream cheese has sufficiently firmed up in the refrigerator.
Pinwheels can be made ahead of time, which is perfect for easy entertaining. After rolling and wrapping them in plastic, they can be refrigerated overnight or for up to 36 hours.
When you’re ready to serve, simply slice the chilled rolls into pinwheels. This can save time and reduce stress when preparing for an event. We don’t recommend slicing the pinwheels until right before serving – this keeps them extra fresh!
For storage, pinwheels are best consumed within 24 hours after they’re sliced for optimum presentation, but they can be kept for up to 3 days in the fridge, provided they are stored correctly in an airtight container or tightly wrapped.
This can happen when ingredients with high moisture content are used.
- Solution: Choose ingredients with less moisture and use dry fillings like lettuce or spinach as a barrier between wet ingredients and the tortilla.
- Prevention: Avoid using very wet ingredients or thin sauces that can be absorbed by the tortilla.
If pinwheels aren’t rolled tightly or the filling is too bulky, they may not hold their shape.
- Solution: Use toothpicks to secure the tortilla after rolling.
- Prevention: Do not overfill the tortillas, and ensure there is enough cream cheese to hold the ingredients together.
If the pinwheels are not chilled sufficiently, they can flatten and lose their shape when sliced.
- Solution: Use a sharp serrated knife and a sawing motion to cut the pinwheels without squishing them.
- Prevention: Chill the pinwheel rolls in the refrigerator for at least an hour or up to 36 hours before cutting.
Pinwheels made too far in advance can become dry or the flavours may not be as vibrant.
- Solution: If made ahead of time, store the rolls wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator and slice just before serving to keep them fresh on the inside.
- Prevention: Make pinwheels no more than 36 hours in advance to maintain freshness.
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To make this easy pinwheels recipe you’ll need this basic kitchen equipment (paid links):
Here’s what you’ll need to make these easy Pinwheels (paid links):
- 4 flour tortilla wraps
- 16 slices turkey deli meat
- 16 large slices pepperoni
- 1 cup shredded cheddar
- 7 ounces cream cheese
- 2-3 teaspoons ranch seasoning (or 1 tsp each garlic, onion and Italian seasoning)
- 1 red bell pepper finely chopped
- a couple handfuls baby spinach leaves
If you’re looking for some new flavour ideas for your pinwheels, here are a few of our favourite variations:
- Taco: Infuse the cream cheese mixture with the vibrant essence of Tex-Mex flavour by adding some taco seasoning, and add some shredded sharp cheddar and fresh cilantro.
- Bacon Cheddar Ranch: Create a delightful combination of crumbled bacon, shredded cheddar, and ranch seasoning.
- Chicken Avocado: Finely chop leftover chicken and pair it with some rich and creamy mashed avocado.
- Ham and Cheese: Elevating the classic sandwich to a new form, these pinwheels bring a satisfying crunch followed by gooey cheese.
- Spinach and Artichoke Pinwheels: Add chopped spinach and canned artichokes with some shredded asiago cheese for a creamy and cheesy flavour, just like the dip!
- Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels: Add some spicy hot sauce and shredded chicken, along with finely chopped celery and cream cheese.
- Cranberry Brie: add some creamy brie cheese and chopped dried cranberries for holiday-themed flavour!
- Pesto Turkey Pinwheels: Add some aromatic pesto and smoked provolone, along with shredded leftover turkey.
- Tomato Basil Pinwheels: Add sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and basil, along with herb and garlic cream cheese!
Time needed: 2 hours and 15 minutes
Follow these steps to make this Pinwheels recipe!
- Prepare your ingredients.
Soften the cream cheese and make the cream cheese mixture. Prepare and chop the other fillings.
- Spread the cream cheese mixture.
Spread the cream cheese out to the edges of the tortilla in an even layer.
- Layer the fillings.
Add the meat and spinach.
- Roll tightly.
Roll the tortilla tightly and firmly and secure with plastic wrap.
Store the rolls in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours for the cream cheese to firm up.
- Slice and serve.
Slice the rolls into 3/4-inch slices and serve on a platter at your next party.
Can you make pinwheels the night before?
Yes, making pinwheels the night before and storing them in the fridge is the best way to help them set and slice cleanly.
How do you make pinwheels not soggy?
Choose fillings that are low-moisture to prevent the pinwheels from becoming soggy.
How long are pinwheels good for?
We recommend serving them within 24-36 hours for best results, but they can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
What are pinwheel sandwiches made of?
Pinwheels sandwiches are made of flour tortillas, a cream cheese mixture and a variety of meat, cheese and veggie fillings.
Are pinwheels good the next day?
Yes! We recommend making them a day ahead and slicing them right before serving.
How do I prevent pinwheels sandwiches from unravelling when slicing?
Chill the rolled pinwheels for at least 1-2 hours before slicing with a sharp serrated knife using a gentle sawing motion.
Can I make gluten-free pinwheels?
Yes, feel free to make this pinwheels recipe with gluten-free tortillas.
Can you freeze pinwheel sandwiches?
We don’t recommend freezing them because when thawing the pinwheels can become soggy.
How do you store pinwheels?
Store pinwheels in an air-tight container or cover them with foil or plastic wrap in the fridge for up to 3 days.
We hope you love this pinwheels recipe as much as we do! Let us know in the comments below, what’s your favourite easy party food? We’d love to know!
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- In a bowl, mix the cream cheese, ranch seasoning, shredded cheddar and the finely chopped bell pepper.
- Divide the cream cheese mixture in 4 and spread on the 4 tortillas, all the way to the edges.
- Add the slices of deli meat and pepperoni to the tortillas, on top of the cream cheese mixture.
- On top of the meat, add the spinach leaves on a single layer leaving the last 1 inch to one of the edges uncovered.
- Roll the tortillas tight and pop them in the fridge for 60 minutes to 2 hours. Make sure the last bit of your tortilla is covered in cream cheese mixture so it sticks to the roll and chill them "seam" side down.
- To serve, cut the tortillas in 3/4 inch thick slices.
Storage instructionsThese pinwheels keep well in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3.
Freezer InstructionsWe do not recommend freezing them as the spinach will have an unpleasant texture as it thaws.
Notice: Nutrition is auto-calculated, using Spoonacular, for your convenience. Where relevant, we recommend using your own nutrition calculations.