Beautiful sausage pinwheels are a delicious appetizer flavored with apple, sage, and Gruyère and attractively packaged in flaky puff pastry. They’re irresistible!
Why you’ll love it: Crisp, flaky, and full of flavor!
How long it takes: prep time is 10 minutes or so, they need to bake 45 minutes, and require an additional hour chilling time
Equipment you’ll need: large skillet, rolling pin, two baking sheets, pastry brush
Servings: makes 24 appetizers
Say hello to the prettiest new little appetizer on the block! She’s classy, fun, and the star of every party.
I have to be honest with you guys though…this recipe was born from some leftover Gruyère.
Because if I know anything in life, I know we do not waste Gruyère cheese. Or bacon (that’s a Gurk family motto). But we’re talking about cheese at this moment.
We had some Gruyère left over from another recipe we had tested the previous week (you have to try this one too: Asparagus Gruyère Tart with Balsamic Glaze) and I started dreaming up this pretty Thanksgiving appetizer. Or Christmas appetizer. Or random Saturday night appetizer. It fits all categories.
It’s cheesy, flaky, and pretty wonderful. (I may or may not occasionally eat these for breakfast.)
About these Sausage Pinwheels
This appetizer boasts the savory flavors of sage, apple, and cheese, all tied together with flaky puff pastry and flavorful sausage, either pork or turkey.
These pinwheels are a great party appetizer because they taste wonderful directly out of the oven but they’re also yummy as they cool to room temperature. I can assure you, you won’t have to worry about keeping these warm. As soon as you take them out of the oven, they’ll begin to disappear!
I’ll give you a quick overview of the recipe with lots of extra tips. Keep reading for the printable recipe card with full instructions and nutrition information.
What You’ll Need
- Frozen Puff Pastry: You’ll need a box of frozen puff pastry. Thaw it out according to the package directions. It usually takes about an hour on the counter or overnight in the fridge.
- Pork or Turkey Sausage: I use pork but turkey is fine too. We’re talking about bulk breakfast sausage here, not links or Italian sausage.
- Onion: Any type of onion is fine. Dice it very finely for best results.
- Apple: A tart firm apple that holds its shape when cooked is best. I recommend Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, or Gala apples. It also needs to be diced very finely or shredded.
- Sage Leaves: Fresh sage leaves are the prettiest and tastiest but dried sage leaves will work (use about half as much). Don’t substitute ground sage.
- Gruyère Cheese: A type of Swiss cheese, it’s made with cows’ milk and aged 6 months or more. It has a sharp, nutty flavor. If you prefer, use a different type of cheese. A sharp cheddar or aged provolone is good, too.
- Egg and Milk or Cream: A wash made with an egg blended with a little milk provides a beautiful brown sheen to the pinwheels.
How to make sausage pinwheels
Since it takes about an hour to thaw the puff pastry, get that started first. While it’s thawing, you’ll have a chance to prep the sausage filling.
Thawing Puff Pastry
Follow package directions. For best results, thaw it in the refrigerator. It takes longer (up to 8 hours) but it’s easier to work with.
If you do it on the counter, once your puff pastry starts to thaw enough to move it without cracking it, carefully unfold it so it thaws evenly and more quickly.
Once the puff pastry is pliable and easy to work with, roll it out just a little thinner. To keep it from sticking, roll it out on parchment paper.
To make the filling, begin by browning the sausage and onion. This makes your kitchen smell amazing! Once it is cooked, add the apple and continue to cook until it is softened slightly. Stir in sage and all those wonderful aromas will fill your kitchen!
Let the filling cool until the puff pastry is ready for action. When it’s ready, spread the sausage filling evenly over the two sheets of puff pastry, leaving a small border at one end. Sprinkle with all that amazing shredded Gruyère cheese!
Next, carefully roll it up like a cinnamon roll and seal the open edge. This is easier than it sounds, just take your time! Tuck the filling in as you go so you get a nice compact roll.
Once it’s rolled up, pop it into the freezer for 1 or 2 hours, but not longer. Freezing the roll makes it firmer and allows you to make clean slices without smushing the roll. Don’t skip this step or you’ll end up with smooshed sausage ovals instead of cute little pinwheels. Not exactly the end of the world, but still.
A little brush of egg wash will make these shiny and golden brown once they’re baked. Into the oven they go! They’ll be ready in about a half hour.
Just a note: Don’t be alarmed if the bottoms of the pinwheels brown a little bit. It’s because of the sausage and cheese but there is SO much flavor in that color. Don’t let it scare you.
To get a head start on this recipe, thaw the puff pastry overnight in the fridge, or during the day. It’s actually the best and easiest way to thaw it.
You can also make the sausage filling a day ahead of time and refrigerate it in a covered bowl.
I just know someone is going to try freezing the entire rolls once they are filled. We really wanted that to work so we tested it a couple of ways. Unfortunately, we found that the rolls tend to fall apart when they are frozen more than two hours.
Storage & Reheating Tips
Leftover pinwheels can be wrapped and stored in the refrigerator for up to four days.
Reheat in a toaster oven or regular oven until warm. Be careful because they burn quickly!
More holiday appetizers
Here’s a few of my favorites but if you’d like to see a list of all my appetizer recipes, click here.
- Bacon Wrapped Dates
- Baked Brie with Cranberries and Bourbon Candied Pecans
- Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts
- Butternut Squash Crostini with Ricotta
- Tomato Bruschetta Recipe – How to Make Bruschetta
- 7 Layer Dip (the BEST 7 layer dip!)
- Spinach Balls
- Whipped Feta with Lemon and Dill
- 1 pkg. (17.5 oz) puff pastry (2 sheets) thawed according to package directions
- 1 pound ground pork sausage (turkey sausage is okay, too)
- 1 cup finely diced onion (one small onion)
- 1 cup finely diced apple, peeled (dice very small, about ¼ inch, or shred)
- 4 fresh sage leaves, minced (about ½ tablespoon)
- 4 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon milk or cream
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add sausage and onion. Cook, breaking up the sausage into small pieces, until sausage is cooked through and onions are translucent.
- Add apple and continue to cook until apple is softened. Sprinkle in sage and stir to combine.
- Roll out each puff pastry sheet with a rolling pin to make 10 inch squares. Spread sausage mixture evenly over each piece, leaving a 1/2 border on one end. Sprinkle cheese evenly over sausage mixture. Wet fingers and run them along the edge that you left open.
- Roll from opposite end (not the wet end) tightly and seal along moistened end. Wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap. Place roll in freezer for at least 1 hour but not more than 2 hours (see note).
- Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, lightly whisk egg and milk or cream.
- Remove roll from freezer and cut into 1/2-inch slices; place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Brush pinwheels with egg mixture.
- Bake 30 minutes or until until golden brown.
- Do not freeze more than 2 hours before baking. We tested them this way and they do not hold together as well.
- Reheat leftover pinwheels in oven or toaster oven until warm. Watch closely, they burn quickly.
- If you prefer, sharp cheddar, aged provolone, or another cheese can be substituted for the Gruyère.
- If you don’t have fresh sage leaves, substitute dried sage leaves (use 3/4 teaspoon) or another fresh herb of your choice. Do not substitute ground sage.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.