Pinwheel sandwiches are an excellent lunchbox item and hors d’oeuvres that people are familiar with from attending parties and potlucks. They are excellent finger food with endless versatility while being exceptionally easy to make. Plus, pinwheels look like their name which adds an element of fun – perfect for creative plating, kids’ meals, and cooking for a themed event.
In his post, I share tips for making good pinwheel sandwiches and some inspiring recipes and creative pinwheel ideas.
Pinwheel sandwiches or pinwheels are like sandwich roll-ups, and super easy to make! Here’s the fun part: grab a tortilla or bread, toss in your favourite sandwich fixings, roll it up (a little creamy sauce helps it stay together), and then cut it into thin slices.
When you look at the cross-section, it’s like a colourful, tasty pinwheel with all the ingredients evenly distributed. Cream cheese is a popular glue for these delights, and they often borrow delicious inspiration from classic club sandwiches.
How To Make Pinwheel Sandwiches
Pinwheel sandwiches are such a great choice for lunches or party prep because they’re easy to make ahead of time. You could even commission help from the little ones or squeeze making these into the busiest of days.
First, begin with your preferred base. If you’re using bread, you’re going to want to cut the crusts and roll it out flat. If you’re using tortillas, make sure you use flour tortillas. Corn simply won’t roll well, and it won’t taste nearly as good. I suggest cutting the rounded edges slightly to make the tortillas more rectangular/square-shaped.
Now, let’s choose your sauce. You want to be a bit cautious not to make those pinwheels too soggy, so go easy with a nice thin, even layer. Opt for something less drippy. Why not have some fun with it? You can go wild with various cream cheese flavours, or you can play around with mayo, mustard, and ranch. Mix it up and try a few different ones!
Now, we’re on to the fun part. Meats, veggies, and the real flavour comes next. Layers of lunch meat, bacon bits, eggs, lettuce slices, and of course – cheese – are all good choices. If you’d put it between two slices of bread, you can theoretically roll it between two slices of bread too. The trick is to keep the layers thin and avoid excess moisture.
Lastly, roll up your tortilla or bread tight. Use a few toothpicks if you need each slice to stick, or wrap the whole log in a tight layer of plastic wrap, twisting it up tight at each end.
When you’re ready to serve, cut the roll into bite-size slices, refrigerate, and serve. Easy, huh?
For cooked pinwheel recipes, use crescent roll, puff pastry, or pizza dough as the base.
Instead of cream cheese, use hummus or peanut butter for something sweet. A sticky layer will help you make the perfect slices, especially when served cold.
Use flatbread instead of tortilla if you have it handy or you prefer it.
Mix sauces, dressings, and seasonings into your creamy base. This will help evenly disperse the flavour and decrease moisture.
What Type of Bread/Wraps Can You Use?
When it comes to pinwheel sandwiches, choosing something that is thin and flexible while offering some durability is important. For a beginner pinwheel roller, the best bet is probably a flour tortilla. Choose larger tortillas ideally. White flour or whole wheat flour are both good choices.
You can use any typical sliced sandwich bread. Some other fun choices include pita or naan, Hawaiian sweet rolls or other soft dinner rolls, fluffy brioche, or anything you have handy that you can easily roll flat before getting started.
Avoid crusty or porous breads like Italian bread or sourdough loaves. Save those for the real sandwiches!
For baked pinwheels, you can use puff pastry, filo pastry, crescent roll, or thinly rolled-out pizza dough.
Storage Tips For Pre-Made Pinwheels
Pinwheel sandwiches are excellent to pack in lunch boxes or tote over to a friend’s place for game day, but you probably want to get a head start on the prep. To avoid super soggy slices, here are a few storage tips.
Wrap ‘em up in plastic. Prepping the pinwheels will often include this step anyway, so keep them wrapped up until you’re ready to slice and serve. If you’re making lunches, re-wrap the portion that you’re not immediately eating to keep things fresh.
Pop your pinwheels in the fridge. Perhaps this goes without saying, but letting the sandwiches sit around at room temperature for too long will cause any firm ingredients to get sad and soggy. You can store them in plastic wrap or already cut in an airtight container.
Serve them cold. When entertaining, try to be mindful of the pinwheels end up sitting out for more than two to three hours. They may start to deteriorate a bit.
Store for up to four days. Use your best judgment when it comes to tossing food gone bad, but four days is probably about the lifespan for these bite-size sammies.
Here is our list of BEST pinwheel sandwich recipes for inspiration!
Not only does a sandwich recipe often translate well to the pinwheel method, but so do cream cheese-based dips. Buffalo chicken is arguably the most-loved appetizer, so these slices are sure to win hearts. From Craving Home CookedCalories (per roll): 496Protein: 27.5 gramsCarbs: 29 gramsDiet: Omnivore, high-protein
These small slices pack a huge punch with all the essential ingredients of the classic Italian sub including Pepperoncini and Italian dressing to give it that familiar kick. From Kroll’s Korner Calories (per pinwheel): 111Protein: 5 gramsCarbs: 3 gramsDiet: Omnivore, lower-carb
Nothing pairs with roast beef quite like spicy horseradish sauce. These pinwheels take the classic sandwich for a twist with convenience with just a few key ingredients. From Three Olives BranchCalories (per slice): 49Carbs: 3 gramsProtein: 3 gramsDiet: Omnivore, lower-carb
These herby and creamy pinwheels blend pesto into the standard cream cheese base for a fresh and zesty slice, tied together with smoky provolone and tender turkey breast. From Lemons and ZestCalories (per serving suggestion): 288Carbs: 12 gramsProtein: 9 gramsDiet: Omnivore, higher in protein
These pinwheels are a personal favourite, reminiscent of family holiday celebrations and summer barbecues alike. Pickle, ham, and cream cheese are an excellent trio with a super satisfying crunch. From Lemon Tree Dwelling.Calories (per pinwheel): 74Carbs: 4 gramsProtein: 3 gramsDiet: Omnivore
A great way to make a pinwheel keto-friendly or lighter on the carbs and calories in general is to use a low-carb tortilla option – easily found at many grocery stores these days. These roll-ups are loaded with tasty Italian flavour featuring both pepperoni and salami. From Stylish Cravings.Calories (per serving suggestion): 65Protein: 15 gramsCarbs: 5 gramsDiet: Low-Carb
Another great way to cut carbs is to skip the bread altogether. Smoked salmon is flexible and sturdy enough to roll up with cream cheese for all the excitement of a classic lox bagel in every slice. From The Country Cook.Calories (per serving suggestion): 117Protein: 7 grams Carbs: 2 gramsDiet: Low-carb
Vegan cream cheese is always an option for plant-based pinwheels. Beans, corn, and a few other taco ingredients make this recipe tempting – even to the omnivores. From This Savory Vegan.Calories (per serving suggestion): 83Protein: 3 gramsCarbs: 9 gramsDiet: Vegan
Indulge in the flavours of three kinds of cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, and spinach in this delightful meatless pinwheel appetiser. It's a true flavour sensation that doesn't compromise on taste, even without meat. From The Domestic Superhero. Calories (per serving suggestion): 67Protein: 1.5 grams Carbs: 7 gramsDiet: Vegetarian
Chickpeas make a great creamy salad base so they’re perfect for these pinwheels. Swap the dairy for dairy-free alternatives to make this recipe vegan. From Show Me the Yummy.Calories (per recipe): 254Protein: 9 grams Carbs: 26 gramsDiet: Vegetarian
A delightful blend of tangy Brie, tart cranberries, herbs, and a touch of maple syrup make these pinwheels festive, meatless, and versatile. Brie and cream cheese can be paired with other dried or fresh fruits and berries. From Will Cook For Smiles.Calories (per serving suggestion): 155Protein: 3 gramsCarbs: 10 gramsDiet: Vegetarian
Swap cream cheese for hummus to get the perfect roll with a plant-based edge. Add any crunchy veggies you enjoy. This recipe features tomatoes and cucumber, but carrot sticks and spinach would make delicious additions. Recipe by from My Bowl.Calories (per roll in recipe for two): 455Protein: 16 gramsCarbs: 73 gramsDiet: Vegan
This indulgent Cuban-inspired recipe takes sausage, bacon, and cheese for a spin in a cooked pinwheel recipe that is suitable for longer-term storage in the freezer. By Sweet & Savory Meals.Calories (per slice): 155Protein: 4.5 gramsCarbs: 3.5 gramsDiet: Omnivore
Puff pastry is another way to make pinwheels simple. Instead of fixing up a dip for dipping, roll it up and bake it in this decadent recipe perfectly dressed up to party. From Mission Food.Calories (per serving suggestion): 73Protein: 2 gramsCarbs: 5 gramsDiet: Vegetarian
Jalapeño poppers deliver a tantalizing combination of spiciness, crunch, and creamy goodness, making them a top-notch choice for an appetiser that's sure to delight any crowd. Incorporating puff pastry into the equation elevates this classic snack to a whole new level of deliciousness. By I Am Homesteader. Calories (per serving suggestion): 137Protein: 2 gramsCarbs: 3.5 gramsDiet: Vegetarian
The classic pairing of ham and cheese is an evergreen favourite. When enveloped in flaky puff pastry and baked until irresistibly crispy, these delectable, cheesy, and smoky morsels are sure to delight both children and adults alike. From Dinner At The Zoo. Calories (per serving suggestion): 304Protein: 14 gramsCarbs: 19 gramsDiet: Omnivore
Bring some pizza to the party with these pepperoni and Parmesan baked pinwheels, perfect for dipping in marinara (and sprinkling with a little extra cheese, of course). From Spoon Fork Bacon.Calories (per serving suggestion): 219Protein: 8 gramsCarbs: 32 gramsDiet: Omnivore
For breakfast or dessert, the pinwheel varieties are endless. This strawberry French toast roll-up is the perfect way to serve this brunch classic in a delightfully bite-sized way. From Carlsbad Cravings.Calories (per serving suggestion): 219Protein: 8 gramsCarbs: 32 gramsDiet: Omnivore