Pinwheels are a fun and tasty way to roll up tortillas with your favorite fillings. They make a great appetizer, snack or meal accompaniment. Pinwheels are easy to make, you just need tortillas and some creative fillings.
What are pinwheels?
Pinwheels are made by spreading a filling onto a tortilla, rolling it up tight, and slicing it into rounds. The ‘pinwheel’ name comes from the spiral shape that is revealed when you slice the rolled tortilla.
What tortillas work best?
You can use flour or corn tortillas to make pinwheels. Flour tortillas are more pliable so they roll up easier without cracking. Look for large 10-inch flour tortillas, which will give you more surface area to work with.
Corn tortillas have great flavor but are more brittle. If using corn, make sure to warm them first so they are soft and pliable. This will prevent them from cracking when rolled. Warm them directly on a hot skillet for about 30 seconds per side or wrap in a damp paper towel and microwave for 10-15 seconds.
You can also use a mix of flour and corn tortillas for more flavor and texture variety.
What makes a good pinwheel filling?
The filling is where you can really get creative with flavors. Good pinwheel fillings are easy to spread, not too moist, and hold their shape when rolled up. Here are some delicious options:
– Cream cheese, herbs and smoked salmon
– Refried beans, salsa, shredded cheese and avocado
– Egg salad with chopped veggies
– Shredded BBQ chicken and coleslaw
– Hummus, feta and roasted red peppers
– Tuna salad with celery and onion
– Turkey, pesto and roasted tomatoes
– Peanut butter and banana with honey
Always spread the filling evenly and not too thick so it’s easy to roll. Leave about a 1/2 inch border around the edges.
Follow these simple steps for rolling perfect pinwheels every time:
Step 1: Warm the Tortillas
If using corn tortillas, warm them first. Heat each briefly on both sides directly on a hot skillet or wrap in damp paper towels and microwave for 10-15 seconds. This prevents cracking when rolling.
Step 2: Spread the Filling
Lay the tortilla flat and spread your filling evenly, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Don’t overfill or the tortilla will be too hard to roll up.
Step 3: Roll It Tight
Start by folding one end of the tortilla up and over the filling, making a tight roll. Continue rolling evenly and tightly until you have a complete pinwheel spiral.
Step 4: Wrap in Plastic
For the best shape, wrap the rolled tortilla in plastic wrap. This ensures it dries into a tight spiral and holds its shape when slicing. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Step 5: Slice into Rounds
Unwrap the tortilla spiral and slice it crosswise into 1/2-3/4 inch rounds using a sharp knife. Make straight cuts for prettier pinwheels.
Step 6: Arrange and Serve
Stand the pinwheel slices upright on a serving platter. They also look great arranged in a circle shape. Serve immediately or within a few hours for best texture.
Tips for Perfect Pinwheels
Use these handy tips for making picture-perfect pinwheels every time:
– Place a damp paper towel under the tortilla when spreading the filling. This prevents tearing.
– Spread the filling all the way to the edges but stop just before the border. Don’t overfill.
-Brush the edges of the tortilla lightly with water before rolling. This helps seal the spiral shut.
– Roll slowly and tightly for the best spiral shape. Apply even, firm pressure as you roll.
– Chill the rolled tortillas in the fridge to help them hold their shape when slicing.
– Use a long serrated knife or electric knife for the cleanest slices. Cut slowly with a gentle sawing motion.
– Store sliced pinwheels between layers of parchment paper in an airtight container.
– Transport pinwheels on a platter lined with parchment to prevent sticking.
– Make an assortment with different colored tortillas and fillings for a pretty presentation.
Filling Ideas and Combinations
With so many options for delicious fillings, here are some creative combinations to inspire your pinwheels:
– Scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese
– Peanut butter, banana, honey
– Yogurt, berries, granola
– Sausage, potato, bell pepper, onion
– Spinach, feta, tomato, mushroom
Lunch and Dinner Pinwheels
– Chicken salad with celery and nuts
– Roast beef, cheese, lettuce, mustard
– Turkey, pesto, roasted red peppers
– Tuna salad, pickles, onion
– Ham, cream cheese, pickle
– Steak, caramelized onions, tomato
– Refried beans, salsa, guacamole
Vegetarian and Vegan Pinwheels
– Hummus, cucumber, tomato
– Eggplant, roasted red pepper, spinach
– Avocado, sprouts, tomato
– Black bean dip, mango, red onion
– Roasted cauliflower, tahini, herbs
– Artichoke hearts, olives, sun-dried tomato
– Sweet potato, black bean, salsa
For sweet pinwheels, use tortillas or replace with lavash bread or crepes.
– Nutella, banana
– Cream cheese frosting, berries
– Peanut butter, chocolate chips
– Caramel, chopped nuts
– Cinnamon sugar, raisins
– Lemon curd, blueberries
– Mascarpone, honey, pistachio
Pinwheels are versatile for almost any occasion. Here are some serving ideas:
– Appetizers for a party – offer a variety of pinwheels
– Healthy snacks for kids’ lunchboxes
– Potluck dishes – prepare a platter of pinwheels
– Lunch meeting finger foods
– After school snacks
– Game day finger foods
– Elegant shower or wedding bite
– Portable road trip treats
– Backyard barbecue side dishes
– Holiday celebration hor d’oeuvres
Cut pinwheels into bite-sized pieces and serve them on a platter. You can also stand them upright for a fun presentation. Arrange different fillings in rows or circles. Garnish with olives, pickles, cherry tomatoes or fresh herbs. Serve alongside dips like hummus, salsa or tzatziki sauce.
Pinwheels should be served immediately after preparing for best flavor and texture. For potlucks or parties, transport on a platter lined with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Place a damp paper towel over top to keep them fresh.
Storing and Freezing Pinwheels
You can prepare pinwheels in advance and store them properly for later:
Store freshly assembled pinwheels in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days max. Place parchment or wax paper between each layer. Keeping them cold prevents the tortillas from getting soggy.
Pinwheels freeze well for up to 3 months. First wrap each pinwheel individually in plastic wrap. Then place them in a freezer bag or airtight container with parchment between the layers. Thaw in the refrigerator before serving.
Some fillings freeze better than others. In general, fillings with a high moisture content don’t hold up as well. Some of the best fillings to freeze include:
– Cheese, deli meat, lettuce
– Egg or tuna salad
– Chicken or turkey salad
– Peanut butter and jam
– Refried or black beans and cheese
Avoid freezing pinwheels with tomatoes, cucumbers, guacamole, or fresh herbs as they will get soggy. Prepare those fresh just before serving.
Substitutions and Variations
Don’t be afraid to get creative with your pinwheels! Here are some substitutes and variations to try:
– Lavash or plain naan bread
– Wraps or sandwich thins
– Crepes or spring roll wrappers
– Rice paper sheets
– Bagels – slice thinly after rolling
– Use any combination of deli meats, cheeses, salad greens, spreads, herbs and condiments.
– Try different ethnic flavor profiles like Greek, Mexican, Italian, Indian, etc.
– Make breakfast pinwheels with eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes.
– For dessert, spread pinwheels with Nutella, frosting, mascarpone, fruit preserves.
– Use cookie dough or cake batter as the filling and bake the pinwheels.
– For hors d’oeuvres, slice pinwheels into bite-sized pieces.
– Roll up like crescent rolls instead of a spiral.
– Make “log rolls” by tightly rolling the whole tortilla into a log shape.
– Fold tortillas in quarters like triangles before filling and rolling.
– Roll mini pinwheels with snack-sized tortillas.
The possibilities are endless with pinwheel roll ups! Feel free to get creative with unique flavor combinations and fillings.
Get answers to some common questions about making and serving tortilla pinwheels:
Should I warm the tortillas before use?
Yes, this helps make corn tortillas more pliable so they don’t crack when rolling. Warm them directly on a hot skillet for 30 seconds per side or wrap in a damp paper towel and microwave for 10-15 seconds. You don’t need to warm flour tortillas.
What’s the best way to prevent tearing?
Make sure to warm corn tortillas first. You can also place a damp paper towel underneath the tortilla when spreading on fillings to prevent ripping. Spread fillings all the way to the edges but leave a slight border.
My pinwheels won’t stay rolled up tightly. What should I do?
Be sure to spread the filling evenly and not overstuff them. Brush the edges of the tortilla lightly with water before rolling which helps seal them shut. Roll them up as tight as possible. After rolling, wrap the tortillas tightly in plastic wrap before chilling to help them hold their shape.
Why do my pinwheels get soggy after a day?
Some fillings with a high moisture content can make pinwheels soggy over time. For the best results, assemble pinwheels right before serving. Only refrigerate 1-2 days max. Freeze them immediately if making further in advance.
Can I make pinwheels ahead of time?
Yes, you can prepare pinwheels 1-2 days in advance. Any longer than that, wrap them tightly and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge before serving. Some fillings freeze better than others.
How should I transport pinwheels to a party?
Transport your assembled pinwheels on a sturdy platter lined with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Top with a damp paper towel and keep chilled until ready to serve. Alternatively, wrap mini pinwheels individually for grab-and-go ease.
Making restaurant-quality pinwheels at home is easy with the right techniques. Be sure to warm your tortillas before rolling and spread on fillings evenly. Roll them up tightly, wrap in plastic, and chill before slicing into rounds. Then arrange the spiral pinwheels beautifully on a platter and enjoy! With so many savory, sweet and creative fillings to work with, you can customize pinwheels for any occasion.