Turkey Pinwheels

$9.91 RECIPE / $2.48 SERVING
by Marion - Budget Bytes
5 from 3 votes
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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!

A close up shot of Turkey Pinwheels arranged in three rows on a wooden cutting board with a white background and a bowl of spinach blurred in the background

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.

Pinwheel 101

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!
An extreme close up of one turkey pinwheel. In the background, there are many turkey pinwheels arranged in three rows on a wooden cutting board.

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.

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Turkey Pinwheels

5 from 3 votes
Turkey Pinwheels are a fun and easy spin on simple sandwiches, and the perfect recipe to make ahead for lunch meal prep or take to a party or potluck.
A close up of three rows of turkey pinwheels on a wooden cutting board.
Servings 4 8 pinwheels
Prep 15 minutes
Total 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened ($1.10)
  • 2 Tbsp 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)

Instructions 

  • 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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Nutrition

Serving: 8pinwheelssCalories: 241kcalCarbohydrates: 18gProtein: 6gFat: 16gSodium: 652mgFiber: 2g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
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An overhead shot of 18 turkey pinwheels lined up into three rows on top of a wooden cutting board next to a wooden bowl of fresh spinach on a white marble background.

How to Make TuRKEY PINWHEELS – Step by Step Photos

A small white bowl filled with unmixed ingredients of a cream cheese spread, including a block of cream cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped pimento-stuffed olives and olive brine on a white marble background.

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.

A small white bowl filled with a savory cream cheese spread inspired by pimento cheese dip on a white marble background.

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.

An extra large burrito shell smeared from edge to edge with a savory cream cheese spread, sitting on a wooden cutting board with a white marble background.

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.

A large tortilla covered with savory cream cheese spread, and in the middle of the tortilla there are four turkey slices line up and overlapping slightly. The tortilla is sitting on a wooden cutting board against a background of white marble.

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!)

A large tortilla on a wooden cutting board covered with savory cream cheese, a row of turkey slices and covered in a single layer of baby spinach leaves.

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.

Hands rolling up a large tortilla on a wooden cutting board. The tortilla is covered with a savory cream cheese spread, a row of turkey slices and covered in a single layer of baby spinach leaves.

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!

Two hands clicing a log of turkey pinwheels into one-inch pieces on a wooden cutting board.

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!)

Eleven turkey pinwheels arranged on a wooden cutting board.

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.

Three rows of pinwheels, each leaning on the one next two it halfway, in three rows placed on a wooden cutting board.
Making and eating these Turkey Pinwheels will totally have you feelin’ like a kid again!
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    1. We haven’t tried it, but I’m thinking that wouldn’t work very well, unfortunately!

  1. As always, your recipes are a hit with the family. Everyone loves this for lunch using spinach wraps from Aldi and chopped sweet/hot pickles in addition to the green olives. We simply slice the wrap in half for easy handling. Thanks so much for this great tasting idea for to-go lunches!

  2. This sounds yummy. The only thing I would change it’s I would put craisins instead of the olives, but otherwise, I will definitely make this

  3. This was fabulous – we all loved these and they are so pretty! I used pickled peppers instead of olives, because my daughter despises olives. Loved how simple and delicious this recipe is! I’m definitely going to be making these again!

  4. Thanks for your very clear, easy-to-follow, friendly instructions that also deftly answer users’ likely “why/why not” questions. Ditto for your entry on Swedish meatballs, a big hit at our house.

  5. I made this recipe for lunch and DH and I loved it. This is less like the cheddar pimento cheese so beloved by southerners and almost exactly like the olive pimento cheese still sold in little 5 oz glasses by Kraft and popular in the midwest. I adored it as a child, and used to sneak a Wheat Thin into the container to scoop out a snack. Variations of these delicious roll-ups were around even before flour tortillas showed up on party platters, with early versions simply deli ham and cream cheese wrapped around a piece of dill pickle. This version is particularly colorful with a pleasing variety of tastes. Not a turkey fan, my fave combination is cream cheese mixed with salsa verde spread on the tortilla, then deli ham, thin slices of muenster, and slivers of dried tomatoes layered for the roll–green, pink, white, red. The varieties are only limited by one’s imagination.

    1. These sound delicious. I think they might work well at a graduation party. Thanks for the recipe, and I appreciate your different flavor suggestions.

  6. Made this with only cream cheese, deli meat, and spinach, still fantastic! An easy and healthy brunch option that also totally works as a burrito. Thanks for the recipe!