Italian Cream Cheese Pinwheels

Made with just a handful of ingredients, these Italian Cream Cheese Pinwheels are bursting with flavor. They make an easy appetizer for any occasion and require just a few minutes to prepare.


Cream cheese pinwheels are a classic party appetizer, with some type of cream cheese mixture rolled up in a tortilla. These Italian Pinwheels take the basic recipe to a whole new level, by turning up the flavor. 

Garlic and onion powder season the cream cheese, while roasted red pepper, black olives, and basil provide pops of flavor in every bite. Instead of a boring plain tortilla, spinach wraps are used to really set these savory pinwheels apart.

While these are great year-round, the green spinach wraps make them perfect for the holidays. I’ve even included a few suggestions below on how to make them even more festive!

Ingredients & Substitutions

  • Cream cheese – Full-fat cream cheese will give you the best texture but low-fat works too.
  • Garlic powder & onion powder – Mixed in with the cream cheese to give it extra flavor in every bite.
  • Roasted red peppers – Be sure to drain them well before chopping them. Draining is key to not ending up with soggy pinwheels.
  • Black olives – Green olives would work too, if they’re your preference.
  • Basil leaves – Sliced into thin strips.
  • Parmesan cheese – Freshly grated parmesan, not the pre-grated kind in the container, is best.
  • Spinach wraps – I like the spinach wraps for their added flavor but you can use any wrap-size tortillas. There are some herb and roasted tomato ones that would taste great too. 

How to Make Italian Cream Cheese Pinwheels

Cream cheese pinwheels are one of the easiest party appetizers to make and come together in just a few minutes.

Begin by combining the softened cream cheese with the garlic and onion powder and parmesan cheese in a medium-sized bowl. Add in the chopped (and drained!) roasted red peppers. Mix until well combined.

Spread the cream cheese mixture over the spinach tortillas. Be sure to spread it right to the edge so that the tortilla is evenly covered.

Sprinkle the mixture evenly with the olives and basil.

Roll the tortilla tightly and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours, to give the cream cheese time to harden a bit and the flavors time to meld. In a pinch, you can serve these immediately but I highly recommend at least 2 hours of chill time.

Just before serving, remove the plastic wrap and slice the tortilla roll into ½” slices to form the pinwheels. 

Turn These Into A Holiday Pinwheel Appetizer

Want to turn these Italian pinwheels into a fun Christmas party appetizer? There are two easy ways to do so.

  • Make them into little Christmas trees. Press the sides of the pinwheel inwards gently to form a triangle. Then chop an extra ¼ cup of black olives into ¼ pieces. Secure an olive on the flat side of the pinwheel triangle with a toothpick to form a tree trunk. Be sure to either let your guests know there is a toothpick inside and/or leave a little sticking out so that it’s visible.
  • Make a big Christmas tree. Another option is to stack the round pinwheels on top of each other to form a tree. Place the final pinwheel standing up in a triangle shape, then add a piece of yellow pepper or orange cheese in a star shape and secure it with a toothpick. 

Why Are My Pinwheels Soggy?

There are two reasons your party pinwheels may become soggy. The first is if you didn’t drain the red peppers well enough. Any extra juice will soak into the tortilla and cause it to become soggy.

The second is if you left them in the fridge too long and the cream cheese has begun to weep. For that reason, these are best enjoyed within a day or two. 

Do Italian Pinwheels Have To Be Refrigerated?

Yes, cream cheese pinwheels should be refrigerated if you’re not serving them immediately. However, they’ll be fine for a few hours if they’re sitting out at room temperature as a party appetizer. I just keep them in the fridge until guests start to arrive, and then they’re fine on the table for the party.

You will want to avoid hot days in the sun, though. I wouldn’t recommend taking these to a summer picnic if there’s no way to keep them chilled. 

How to Store 

If you’ve prepped your Italian pinwheels ahead of time or have leftovers, you can store them in the fridge for up to 3 days. I recommend wrapping them tightly in plastic, though an airtight container will work fine too. 

Note that these are best eaten within a day, as eventually, the cream cheese will cause the tortillas to become a bit soggy.

Can You Freeze Cream Cheese Pinwheels?

Yes, you can freeze these. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and foil to prevent freezer burn, then freeze them for up to a month. Thaw in the fridge and enjoy immediately. 

More Easy Appetizer Recipes:

Party pinwheels on a platter.

Italian Cream Cheese Pinwheels

Made with just a handful of ingredients, these Italian Cream Cheese Pinwheels are bursting with flavour. They make an easy appetizer for any occasion and require just a few minutes to prepare.
4.27 from 15 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer, Luch, Snack
Cuisine: North American
Keyword: Cream Cheese Pinwheels, Easy appetizers, Holiday Appetizer, Holiday Recipes, Pinwheels
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 36 pinwheels
Calories: 51kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 brick cream cheese; softened
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 cup roasted red pepper; drained and chopped
  • 1/4 cup black olives
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil; sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
  • 4 large spinach tortilla wraps

Instructions

  • In a medium-sized bowl cream the softened cream cheese together with the garlic and onion powder and parmesan cheese.
  • Add the chopped roasted red peppers and mix until combined.
  • Spread the cream cheese mixture out evenly over the spinach tortillas right to the edge. Sprinkle with the olives and basil evenly.
  • Roll the tortillas up tightly and then tightly wrap them in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 -4 hours. When ready to serve, remove the plastic wrap and cut the tortillas widthwise into 1/2" slices.

Notes

Storing and Freezing:
If you’ve prepped your Italian pinwheels ahead of time or have leftovers, you can store them in the fridge for up to 3 days. I recommend wrapping them tightly in plastic, though an airtight container will work fine too. 
Note that these are best eaten within a day, as eventually, the cream cheese will cause the tortillas to become a bit soggy.
To freeze, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for up to a month. Thaw in the fridge before slicing.
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1pinwheel | Calories: 51kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 121mg | Potassium: 3mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 1g
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Please Note:The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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