These ham and cheese pinwheels are an irresistible Thanksgiving appetizer not just because they’re super simple to make but because they’re stuffed with melted cheese, sauce and ham that just gets better with every crispy gooey bite!
Ham and cheese pinwheels are some of my favorite appetizers for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. In fact, I love them all year round! They’re made with homemade dough that comes out buttery and tender and they’re stuffed with sauce, ham, and melted cheese for the perfect bite.
For added convenience, you can absolutely use a store-bought pastry dough, but during the holidays, if I can, I like to put in a little extra effort! It’s so worth it.
You might wonder if these ham and cheese pizza pinwheels are the same as the rolled-up pinwheels that you’ll see made from tortilla shells, or something like my salami cream cheese roll ups. I’d say they’re actually closer to these cheese stuffed pizza rolls! They’re filled with saucy cheesy goodness rather than the cream cheese filling. It’s a good thing this recipe yields over two dozen because they’ll be the first things to go!
Anything handheld that can be eaten while still mingling is a party planning bonus in my books! These little appetizers can be served warm or at room temperature and make a great addition to any appetizer platter. When you can serve your guests in a way that allows them to sample a bit of everything, that’s what I call easy entertaining!
This pinwheel recipe is a great starter for any kind of party and although this is the ham and cheese version you can absolutely customize it to your liking. Load them up with your favorite fillings and have a variety on a platter. A little something for everyone!
Flour – The foundation of the dough. All-purpose is a great choice as it will hold its structure and still remain light and fluffy.
Sugar – Needed to feed the yeast and help activate it. The sugar also balances out the salt.
Salt – Brings out the flavors of the dough and enhances the taste.
Dry active yeast – This is used to give rise to the dough and give it that nice tender texture.
Butter softened – A fat needed when making dough. Will give it a delicious buttery note.
Egg – Used for binding all of the ingredients and helping it become a cohesive pastry dough.
Warm water or milk – The liquid that brings everything together adding a ton of needed moisture.
For the Ham and Cheese Pinwheels
Pizza sauce – Store-bought or homemade, whatever you have on hand.
Ham – Cut into 1 or 2-inch squares, just enough to fill the center of the dough.
Cheese – I love using a sharp cheddar or mozzarella, but you use whatever your favorite cheese is.
Egg wash – Made from egg yolks. Brush over top before baking to give it a nice golden brown finish.
Garnish – Sesame or poppy seeds and the option of chopped fresh chives.
How to Make Ham and Cheese Pinwheel Appetizers
Step 1: Combine the dough ingredients and give it a good mix. If using a bread machine, use the “dough” setting and allow it to rise until doubled in bulk. This should be about 1-2 hours.
Step 2: Once proofed, divide the dough into 4 equal portions and roll each one into a rectangle shape.
Step 3: Cut each one of those rectangles into 8-9 equally sized 3-inch squares. Use a pizza cutter to make 1” slits diagonally from each corner towards the center.
Step 4: Place a small amount of pizza sauce in the center of the square, followed by ham and cheese.
Step 5: To form the pinwheel, take the right corner of each slit and place it in the center of the square. Repeat with just the 4 corners.
Step 6: Secure the assembled pinwheel with a toothpick into the center and once all the pinwheels are made, transfer them to a parchment-lined bread machine Cover with plastic wrap and allow them to rise until doubled in size.
Step 7: Towards the end of the rise time, preheat the oven to 375F and brush with the egg wash. Sprinkle sesame seeds over top.
Step 8: Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden and when removed from the oven, remove the toothpicks from each ham and cheese pizza pinwheel. Garnish with fresh chives if desired and enjoy!
- Don’t over stuff the pinwheels or the fillings will run out and become messy!
- If you don’t have a pizza cutter, use a sharp paring knife for clean lines.
- The toothpick is there to hold the folds into the center to create the pinwheel shape. It also keeps the filling in!
- Everyone’s temperature in their kitchen is different, so the rise time is an estimation. In some warmer kitchens, you may only need an hour and in others, it could be two.
- Serve warm, room temperature, or cold.
- Great for Thanksgiving gatherings, Christmas time, game day parties, birthday parties, you name it.
How long to cook pinwheels in the oven?
You want to be sure not to overcook or under cook your dough but also want to make sure the cheese has melted and the top is a nice golden brown.
I find that anywhere from 10-12 minutes in a 375-degree oven is just perfect!
Can I make this ahead of time?
You bet! If you want to slow down the rise time, you can place your dough in the refrigerator once it has been kneaded. Cover the bowl and keep in the fridge overnight.
This way, when you’re ready to bake them the next day, you just bring it back to room temperature and continue with the recipe as listed.
It might be nice to have a variety of different fillings! Below is some inspiration for other delicious filling ideas.
- Use leftover holiday ham or roasted turkey instead of sliced ham.
- Try chopped rotisserie chicken or pepperoni for a change.
- If you like a little heat, use a spicy tomato sauce or fill with buffalo chicken dip instead.
- Use whatever cheese you like. Goat cheese, Swiss, or brie are nice. Especially if you decide to go with apple or pear for a sweet and savory combo instead of the pizza sauce.
- Swap the savory for sweet and fill the dough with your favorite jam or spread for a dessert or breakfast version.
Ham and Cheese Pinwheels
For Ham and Cheese Pinwheels
- pizza sauce
- 8 slices ham thick slices, cut into about 2 inch squares
- 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese or any cheese of your choice, cut into squares, about 2 inch
- 1-2 egg yolks whisked
- seasame seeds for garnish
- chives chopped for garnish, optional
To Make Dough
- Using a bread machine or a bowl combine all dough ingredients and give it a nice mix or set on "dough” settings if using bread machine. Let it rise until double in size 1-2 hours. If you would like, cover the bowl and refrigerate over night and make pinwheels next day.
How to Make Ham and Cheese Pinwheel
- To make pinwheels divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Roll the dough into a rectangle shape. Cut the dough into 8 equal 3 inch squares. Using a pizza cutter cut 1 inch diagonal cut towards the center from each corner.
- Place a little amount of pizza sauce into the center of the square, follow by ham and cheese.
- After, secure the form by poking a toothpick in the center. Repeat with the rest of the dough squares.
- Next, place each pinwheel on a baking sheet lined and parchment paper and cover them with plastic food wrap and let rise in warm place until dough double in size.
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Whisk egg yolk and brush it over the pastry pinwheels and sprinkle sesame or poppy seeds over the top.
- Bake pinwheels for 10-12 minutes or until golden color.Remove from the oven and remove the toothpicks from the center of each pinwheel. Sprinkle finely chopped chives for garnish, serve while warm or cold. Perfect for thanksgiving gathering or using leftover ham.
Do YOU like this Ham and Cheese Pinwheels Recipe?
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This post was updated on April 14, 2022. Recipe is still the same.