Easy to make and popular with most everyone, pickle roll ups (pinwheels)  are a fail-proof appetizer. Pickle roll ups with ham are perfect for lunchboxes, too.

Recipe Overview

Why you’ll love it: Pinwheels are a simple appetizer or snack, they can be made ahead, and are easy to customize.

How long it takes: 15 minutes to prep, a couple of hours to chill
Equipment you’ll need: plastic wrap, sharp knife
Servings: Makes 40 pinwheels (depending on how large you slice them)

Pickle and ham roll ups in slices on a black background.
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I’m always happy when I see a platter of pickle roll-ups or tortilla pinwheels at parties. Pinwheels are the perfect bite-sized appetizer: you can make them ahead, they are easy to transport, look kind of cool, and taste great. Plus I love that you can personalize them in so many ways. Tortilla pinwheels pretty much appeal to anyone.

I recently brought a platter of pickle roll ups to a birthday party for my father-in-law. A seven-year-old cousin came back to the buffet table multiple times, exclaiming the roll ups were the best food he ever had!  I’m not sure why that surprised me–everyone seems to like these bite-sized goodies.

Roll ups/pinwheels  are perfect for lunch boxes, too. They keep well in the fridge and are the perfect size for little hands. With tortilla, cream cheese, and a veggie of some sort,  a roll up is pretty nutritious, not that different from a veggie wrap or turkey wrap.

Check out some of my other roll up recipes. I particularly like  southwestern roll ups with black beans, and pepperoni pizza pinwheels are a hit with the kids. For those with vegetarian tastes, these vegetable cream cheese roll ups are filled with fresh veggies and herbs for a wonderful appetizer or snack.

Slices of pickle roll ups on a black background.

About This Recipe

If you’ve had a roll up/pinwheel appetizer, chances are it was this one with pickles, cream cheese, and ham. It’s a classic, basic recipe that’s been around for a long time. 

It’s easy to customize and substitute different ingredients. You can get pretty creative with these. This basic recipe has just four ingredients: tortillas, cream cheese, ham, and pickles.

What You’ll Need

  • Flour Tortillas: Look for tortillas that are approximately ten inches in diameter. Different sizes are fine but you may have to cut the pickle spears to fit or use more than one pickle for each if you use really large tortillas. Whole wheat tortillas are fine, as are spinach wraps, and so on.
  • Cream Cheese: You’ll need an 8 ounce block of cream cheese, either full fat or reduced fat. Make sure it’s at room temperature so it’s easier to spread. Cream cheese can safely be left out of the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
  • Ham: Thin sliced deli ham works best. Thicker slices of ham may make it more difficult to slice the roll ups. If you prefer, any type of deli meat can be substituted.
  • Dill Pickle Spears: Choose your favorite brand. Look for cut spears, not whole pickles or sandwich stackers.

How To Make Roll-ups

Pickle roll ups are so easy to make. Let’s get started!

Arrange all ten tortillas in a single layer on the counter for an assembly line approach for adding the layers. 

First comes a thin layer of softened cream cheese. Try to spread it on the tortillas evenly, about one tablespoon for each tortilla, going nearly to the edge.

Next, layer on the ham. It’s okay if it overlaps a bit.

Place a dill pickle spear on one edge of the tortilla. Go ahead and get all 10 pickles in position. 

You’re ready to roll! Starting on the pickle edge, roll up the tortillas as firmly as you can.

Tightly wrap each tortilla roll up in plastic wrap. You’ll have ten individually wrapped roll ups. Refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight. It’s essential for them to chill a little while because the tortillas soften and everything holds together better.

When you’re ready to serve, unwrap each roll up and, using a good sharp knife, slice into one inch pinwheels.

Actually, you can make them whatever size you want! I don’t mean to be bossy. If you’re making them for lunchboxes, maybe you won’t want to cut them at all. They are already wrapped; just drop them into your lunchbox and you’re good to go!

Pickle, ham, and cream cheese rolled in a tortilla.

FAQs

What are pickle wraps called?

You may know them as pickle and ham pinwheels, tortilla roll ups, pickle rolls ups, or prairie or Lutheran sushi. Apparently, they are sort of a Midwest thing in the United States, especially popular in Iowa. I know that they are popular in Michigan!

Can you freeze ham and cream cheese roll ups?

To be honest, I’ve never tried it. After doing a little digging around online, it seems that you can. If they are already sliced, freeze them in a single layer on a tray or baking sheet for a couple of hours, then place them in a freezer safe container or bag. They’ll keep for a couple of months, if frozen.

Make It Your Own

You can do pretty much whatever you like with pinwheels. Be creative and make your own signature pinwheels! I’ve listed a few ideas above and I have a few more suggestions: 

  • Gluten-free? Skip the tortilla and make ham pinwheels. Simply spread the cream cheese on ham slices (make sure you buy fairly thick slices so you can roll it), add the pickle and roll it up. Chill and slice. Or you could use a gluten-free wrap.
  • Use flavored cream cheese. Or flavor it yourself with a teaspoon of horseradish or hot sauce to make it spicy. Add chopped herbs such as parsley or dill to the cream cheese. Go southwestern by adding taco seasoning to the cream cheese, mixing in black beans, and sprinkling Monterey Jack cheese on the cream cheese.
  • Mix chopped olives or sliced green onion with the cream cheese before spreading it. Or sprinkle them on after spreading the cream cheese.
  • Instead of making the pinwheels with dill pickles, try sweet pickles, a fresh cucumber spear, or a green onion (scallion). This pickled asparagus is really good, too! I love pinwheels with roasted red peppers.
  • Use whole wheat tortillas, spinach or tomato flavored wraps instead of flour tortillas. Speaking of spinach, add a thin layer of baby spinach leaves to the cream cheese before rolling up the pinwheels.
  • Serve them with a dip. Try this fry sauce, Thousand Island dressing, or homemade ranch dressing.
Ham and pickle rolled in a tortilla.

Storage Tips

Pickle roll ups are best eaten within 24 hours and can be refrigerated for up to three days in an airtight container. The tortillas will continue to soften the longer they are refrigerated.

Pickle roll ups are a perfect make ahead appetizer because they really need to chill for a couple of hours at least or overnight. 

Make-Ahead appetizer ideas

Pinwheels are so easy and fun! Take a look at more appetizer/lunchbox recipes that you can prepare ahead of time:

Recipe

Pickle Roll Ups with Ham (Pinwheels)

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 20 servings
Easy to make and popular with most everyone, pickle roll ups (pinwheels)  are a failproof appetizer. Pickle roll ups with ham are perfect for lunchboxes, too.
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Ingredients 

  • 10 (6-inch) flour tortillas
  • 8 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 9 ounces thinly sliced deli ham
  • 10 dill pickle spears

Instructions 

  • Spread approximately 1 tablespoon softened cream cheese on each tortilla, going nearly to the edges. Arrange ham on each tortilla. Place pickle spear on one edge. Beginning at the pickle side, roll tortilla up tightly. 
  • Tightly wrap each roll individually in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
  • Slice into 1 -inch pinwheels to serve.

Notes

  • Skip the tortilla and make ham pinwheels. Simply spread the cream cheese on ham slices (make sure you buy fairly thick slices so you can roll it), add the pickle and roll it up. Chill and slice.
  • Use flavored cream cheese. Or flavor it yourself with a teaspoon of horseradish or hot sauce to make it spicy. Add chopped herbs such as parsley or dill to the cream cheese. Go southwestern by adding taco seasoning to the cream cheese, mixing in black beans, and sprinkling Monterey Jack cheese on the cream cheese.
  • Mix chopped olives or sliced green onion with the cream cheese before spreading it. Or sprinkle them on after spreading the cream cheese.
  • Instead of making the pinwheels with dill pickles, try sweet pickles, roasted red pepper strips, pickled asparagus spears, a fresh cucumber spear, baby spinach, or a green onion (scallion).
  • Use whole wheat tortillas, spinach or tomato flavored wraps instead of flour tortillas.

Nutrition

Serving: 2roll ups, Calories: 103kcal, Carbohydrates: 9g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 14mg, Sodium: 592mg, Potassium: 117mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 122IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 47mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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2 Comments

  1. denise says:

    yummy

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Thanks!