At this special, too often stressful, time of year, I’d like to remind us all to focus on the things that bring us together: like puff pastry. No matter his or her worldview, every single guest at my party agrees that appetizers with puff pastry are THE BEST. These easy Pesto Pinwheels with cheese and prosciutto are my latest puff pastry fave. They’re festive, can be made well in advance (months if you like!), and are guaranteed to unite any gathering.
If you are hosting a party or like to plan ahead for the holidays, puff pastry is going to be your BFF.
Recipes made with it freeze and reheat like a dream. It’s why every year, I add a new puff pastry appetizer recipe to my repertoire, like these Ham and Cheese Pinwheels, these Spinach Puffs, and these Cranberry Brie Bites. I even ventured into puff pastry breakfast recipes with these Puff Pastry Cinnamon Rolls.
For this season’s puff pastry edition, I wanted the recipe to feel especially festive. These pesto pinwheels nailed it! They’re filled with naturally green and red pesto and prosciutto, plus gooey mozzarella cheese.
Not only is this classic combination of Italian ingredients outrageously delicious; they happen to be red, green, and white, and thus look gorgeous and holiday chic on the plate.
This pesto pinwheel recipe is also simple. We’re talking five ingredients, including the puff pastry itself. This is easily one of the most terrific simple appetizers I’ve made to date.
How to Make Easy Pesto Pinwheels
This recipe is a triumph of the simple. Flaky dough, lively filling, crispy prosciutto, and cheese. This is the good stuff of life.
- Puff Pastry. Layers of lighter-than-air dough that bake into crispy, flaky, golden layers that melt in your mouth. You can find puff pastry in the freezer section of your grocery store. There’s no need to feel guilty about not making it from scratch. It’s outrageously complicated (unlike premade, frozen pie crust) and the store-bought kind is goooood. Grab a few boxes next time you are at the store, then stash them in your freezer for the season ahead.
- Pesto. LISTEN UP. Do not skimp on the pesto. This recipe has so few ingredients that every one of them really matters. The pesto is what is going to give these pinwheels flavor.
- Prosciutto. As the pinwheels bake, the prosciutto becomes delightfully crisp and tastes like a more elegant bacon.
- Mozzarella. For the ooey-gooey factor. For an extra gourmet twist, try fontina or Gouda.
- Parmesan. Just the nutty edge to round out these easy appetizers.
- Unfold the first sheet of puff pastry and roll it into a rectangle.
- Spread the pesto over the puff pastry.
- Lay the pieces of prosciutto over the pesto. It’s OK to overlap them a bit.
- Sprinkle the cheeses over the top of the prosciutto.
- Roll the puff pastry into a log, trim the ends so that they are even, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry.
- Remove the logs and cut into slices. Lay slices on a lined baking sheet spiral-side up. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 18 minutes or until flaky and golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature and DIG IN!
How to Make Puff Pastry Pinwheels Ahead
- Bake Before Freezing. Fully bake the pesto pinwheels, and let cool completely. Arrange them in a flat layer on the baking sheet, then place in the freezer until firm. Place them in an airtight freezer-safe storage container and store for up to 1 month.
- To Reheat. Reheat directly from frozen on a parchment lined baking sheet at 375 degrees F until warmed through.
- Freeze Before Baking. You can also freeze the entire unbaked log. Prepare your log and wrap it very tightly with plastic wrap, then store in the freezer for up to 2 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then slice and bake as directed.
- You could also try freezing the sliced pesto pinwheels unbaked, but the grated cheese may come loose, so I’d recommend using one of the above methods instead.
You can use the puff pastry pinwheel concept with all kinds of fillings. The trick is not to overload the puff pastry, or the filling may leak out. While I love this recipe most with puff pastry, you can apply this same concept to other kinds of dough too.
- Vegetarian Puff Pastry Pinwheels. Use thin slices of mozzarella cheese, instead of shredded. Lay the slices of cheese on the puff pastry first (to keep the pesto from soaking through the dough); omit the prosciutto.
- Pesto Pinwheels with Feta. Swap in feta for the mozzarella cheese.
- Pesto Pinwheels with Crescent Roll Dough. Use two 8-ounce cans of crescent roll dough instead of puff pastry. Unroll the dough. Pick up two of the triangles and arrange them so that you create a rectangle with the long, angled sides of the crescents running diagonal down the middle. Pinch the two together. Repeat with the remaining crescents (you will have 4 rectangles per can of dough). Add the filling ingredients as directed to each rectangle, and roll. Cut each roll into 6 slices. Place the slices on the baking sheet as directed. Bake at 350 degrees F for 13-17 minutes or until dough is golden brown.
- Pesto Pinwheels with Pizza Dough. Swap in prepared pizza dough for the puff pastry (try this Whole Wheat Pizza Dough). Stretch out your pizza dough into a rough rectangle, then add the filling ingredients. Gently roll your pizza dough into a log, and place it on the baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes or until the pizza crust is puffed up and golden brown. Remove and let cool, then cut the log into slices.
- Gluten Free Pesto Pinwheels. Use gluten free puff pastry. While I haven’t tried or seen it in stores, a few readers have commented that it can be found online. If you have a favorite brand, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to add it in the comments below. As an alternative option, you could use a gluten free pizza dough, then follow the pizza directions above.
More Favorite Easy Appetizer Recipes
- Brie Bites
- Crab Artichoke Toasts
- Honey Ricotta Dip with Pistachio and Apricot
- Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Bites
The week I made these easy pinwheels, I had the best intentions to freeze *all* of them for holiday parties…but then Ben got home from work and I thought it would be fun if we snacked on a few before dinner.
Fast forward two rounds in the oven and an open bottle of wine, and before we knew it, half the batch had mysteriously vanished.
Pesto pinwheels are just so airy and flavorful, can you blame us for causing them to disappear? Don’t be surprised when the same thing happens in your household too!
- 2 sheets frozen puff pastry thawed overnight in the refrigerator
- 1/2 cup Basil Pesto or flavored pesto of your choice or 1/4 cup each, divided
- 10 slices prosciutto divided (1, 5-ounce packet)
- 1 1/2 cups freshly shredded Mozzarella cheese divided
- 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese divided
- Chopped fresh basil optional for serving
- Unfold the first sheet of puff pastry on a work surface (if the pastry is sticky, lightly dust the work surface first). Roll it into a 10×12-inch rectangle. Spread with 1/4 cup of pesto leaving a 1/2-inch border on all sides. Lay 5 prosciutto slices on top, overlapping as needed. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup Mozzarella and 2 tablespoons Parmesan.
- Starting at the long (12-inch) edge, roll the puff pastry into a log. Press it lightly as you go so that the filling rolls inside the pastry. Trim the ends so that they are even, then tightly wrap the log with the plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes or up to 1 day. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry, and remaining pesto (if using 2 types of pesto, use the second variety here), prosciutto, and cheeses. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Once the logs have chilled, using a sharp, serrated knife, carefully cut each log into 1/2-inch-wide slices. (If each log is 12 inches, you will get 24 rolls from each roll—if you are worried about the recipe yield, be sure to measure). Arrange the rolls on the baking sheet spiral-side up, spacing each 1 inch apart. Bake until the puff pastry is flaky and golden brown and the cheese is hot and bubbly, about 18 minutes. Immediately sprinkle with chopped basil as desired. Let cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- TO MAKE AHEAD AND FREEZE: Fully bake the pinwheels, then let cool. Arrange in a flat layer on the baking sheet and freeze completely. Transfer to an airtight container and store for up to 1 month.
- You can also freeze the entire unbaked log. Prepare your log and wrap it very tightly with plastic wrap, then store in the freezer for up to 2 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator, and slice and bake as directed.
- You could also try freezing the pinwheels unbaked, but be careful of the grated cheese coming loose. Baking the pinwheels first, then freezing, is the easiest route.
- TO REHEAT: Reheat directly from frozen on a parchment lined baking sheet at 375 degrees F until warmed through (this takes just a few minutes).
- Adapted from my Ham and Cheese Pinwheels.
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