I started making Turkey Pinwheels for my daughter (a picky eater) to make her meals a little more fun. It’s also a great way to sneak some extra wholesome ingredients into her lunch undetected. (Mom hack!) Since you can make the cream cheese spread in advance, this Turkey Pinwheel recipe is also perfect for meal prep! Pinwheels are also super versatile and make an affordable appetizer that’s easy to throw together for brunches, party buffets, and potlucks. It’s as simple as making a sandwich…but with a twist!
What are pinwheel sandwiches?
Turkey Pinwheels are made by evenly spreading cream cheese on one side of a flour tortilla (which acts as the glue), layering on classic sandwich ingredients, and then tightly rolling it all up into a log that’s sliced into 1” pieces. When each pinwheel is turned on its side, it will reveal a lovely spiral of the ingredients inside.
Our simple recipe for Turkey Pinwheels uses deli meat, spinach, and a savory cream cheese spread inspired by pimento cheese. However, this is a super versatile recipe that can be made with many different combinations of ingredients. Here is what you need to make pinwheels:
- Extra-Large Flour Tortillas: Burrito-size flour tortillas are best for pinwheels. They’re easier to roll, make a distinct spiral, and yield more per tortilla. You can use any flavor (plain, wheat, spinach, sun-dried tomato, etc.). Since corn tortillas are less pliable and tear easily, they are not an ideal choice.
- A sticky spread: Typically, pinwheels are held together with cream cheese, but anything similar (like hummus or nut butter) can be used.
- Deli Meat: Pinwheels usually include some kind of deli meat (turkey, chicken, ham, salami, etc.), but that can also be replaced with thinly-sliced veggies.
- Cheese: Sliced cheeses are great for creating an added layer of filling. Shredded cheeses can be mixed in with cream cheese (like in our recipe) so they don’t fall out.
- Salad greens and other sandwich toppings: These will help to create color contrast in the pinwheel’s spiral, and round out the other rich ingredients with freshness and flavor!
MORE PINWHEEL flavor COMBINATIONS TO TRY:
- Ham + swiss cheese + dill pickles + yellow mustard
- Salami + provolone cheese + iceberg lettuce + pepperoncinis
- Chicken + hummus + cucumber slices + tabbouleh
- Smoked salmon + red onion + capers + everything bagel seasoning
- Nut butter + honey + banana slices
- Nutella + toasted coconut + strawberry slices
CAN TURKEY PINWHEELS be made in advance?
Turkey Pinwheels are a great recipe to make ahead for a party or help fill the gaps in your weekly meal prep. The cream cheese spread can be kept in an air-tight container and refrigerated for about a week. Pre-made pinwheels will also keep in the fridge for 2-3 days before they start to get soggy.
- 4 oz. cream cheese, softened $1.10
- 1/8 cup sharp cheddar cheese, finely shredded $0.87
- 1/3 cup pimento-stuffed olives, finely chopped $0.99
- 1 Tbsp olive brine
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder $0.05
- 1/4 tsp black pepper $0.01
- 4 extra-large or burrito-style flour tortillas $1.15
- 1 9oz. package sliced turkey $4.99
- 1 cup spinach $0.80
- Stir together the softened cream cheese, finely-shredded cheddar cheese, finely-chopped pimento-stuffed olives, olive brine, garlic powder, and black pepper until very well combined.
- Lay the tortillas out flat. Spread 2-3 tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture on one side of each tortilla, coating the entire face evenly from edge to edge.
- Arrange 3-4 slices of turkey along the center of the tortilla, overlapping them as little as possible to make an even layer, and leaving about ¼” of the cream cheese spread exposed on the top and bottom edges of the tortilla to help it stick together. Then add a single layer of spinach leaves on top of the turkey.
- Starting with the edge closest to you, fold over the tortilla so it sticks, and then roll it up as tightly as possible, tucking in the fillings as you go.
- With the seam side facing down, slice the roll into 1″ wide pieces.
- Flip each pinwheel on its face, exposing the spiral, and transfer it to a serving platter or air-tight meal prep container. The pinwheels should hold together on their own, but if desired, you can insert a decorative toothpick into each.
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How to Make X – Step by Step Photos
In a small bowl or air-tight container, make the cream cheese spread by stirring together 4 oz. of room-temperature cream cheese (cold cream cheese will be extremely difficult to mix and will likely create unpleasant lumps in the mixture), 1/8 cup of finely-shredded cheddar cheese, 1/3 cup of finely-chopped pimento-stuffed olives, 1 tablespoon of olive brine (which helps thin the cream cheese and eliminates the need for added salt), 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper until very well mixed.
This savory cream cheese spread, which is inspired by pimento cheese dip, can be made ahead and kept refrigerated for at least a week. If coming from the fridge, you will want to re-soften this mixture at room temperature (for about 30 minutes) before trying to spread it on the tortillas in the following step.
Lay each tortilla out flat on a clean work surface, and spread each tortilla with 2-3 tablespoons (about 1/4 of the mixture) of the savory cream cheese spread, covering it evenly from edge to edge. You can always add a bit more “glue” as you roll (or after slicing) if needed, but it’s much easier to do at this step.
Arrange 3-4 slices of turkey across the center of the tortilla, overlapping them slightly to make an even layer depending on the size and thickness of each slice. (Since ours were super thin, we overlapped the slices more so each bite was still as satisfying!)
Add a single layer of spinach leaves on top of the turkey, leaving about ¼” of the cream cheese spread exposed along the top and bottom edges of the tortilla so it will stick properly. I usually like to take the extra step of removing the longer stems.
Starting with the end closest to you, fold in the edge of the tortilla so it sticks, and then roll it all the way up, as tightly as possible, tucking and rearranging the fillings as you go — just to make sure you get a little bit of everything in every bite!
Adjust the log so that the exposed seam is secured against the cutting board before slicing it. Then, using a very sharp knife, slice the log into 8 even portions (about 1” wide). Be as gentle as possible, so the pinwheels maintain their shape as much as possible and the filling doesn’t squish out. To help, you can rotate the log as you slice, or just use a good knife and adjust them all here and there after slicing (as I have done!)
Flip each pinwheel on its face, exposing the spiral, and transfer to a serving platter or air-tight container. The pinwheels should hold together on their own, but if desired, you can insert a decorative toothpick into each pinwheel, starting with the outermost edge, to ensure they won’t unravel.
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