Cheese Pinwheel Rolls


pull apart cheese rolls

Sooner or later, all my conversations inevitably turn to food.

Don’t believe me? Call me up sometime and try to, say, sell me some insurance. I guarantee that before we get off the phone, I’ll be giving you my recipe for blackberry jam. I can’t help it. It’s just how I work.

Perfect example: I was in a meeting a few weeks ago at the office. We finished up our conference call, started chatting as we wrapped up—and somehow wound up talking about stuffed breads. (Really. I have a recipe loosely jotted on the cover of a folder.)

What was the best way to make them? What kind of dough should you use? How can you keep them from bursting, etc.

soft inside of roll

Ah, the Frankenroll

This recipe borrows heavily from two fairly unrelated things. The stromboli, that rolled and stuffed bread extraordinaire—and the cinnamon bun.

To make these rolls, spread pizza dough liberally with melted butter, sprinkle it with cheese and spices, roll it up like a stromboli—then slice and bake like a pan of cinnamon buns.

unbaked cheese rolls up close

The result? The rolls are soft, savory, and totally buttery and delicious. They’re topped with a layer of crispy, brown cheese, and shot through with molten cheese.

Fill them however you like

The best part about these rolls? You can stuff them with anything you like. Different cheeses (use any that melt well). Chopped pepperonil, olives, and spinach. Fresh herbs. Bits of leftover bacon or ham.

This is what I always refer to as a Sliding-Scale Recipe. Basically, that means it’s a recipe that works whether you put in a lot of effort—or hardly any at all.

You can toss it together with a ball of pre-made dough and a bag of shredded cheese from the grocery store—or you can go all out and make the dough from scratch and grate your favorite cheeses by hand. It’ll be delicious either way.

freshly baked rolls with cheese

I like to throw these rolls together on a weeknight. All you need is a ball of pizza dough (grab one at the grocery store or from a local pizza joint) and a bag of shredded cheese.

It’s a great way to get fresher-than-storebought bread on the table when you have kids running around—or, say, a brand new puppy—or have just had a long day and are in the mood for some carb-laden goodness with dinner.

So, this one’s for you, Scott. It’s not *exactly* a stromboli, but it’s definitely a delicious first cousin.

Cheese Pinwheel Rolls

1 ball pizza dough
2 Tbls. butter
1 – 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese
Parmesan cheese, grated
kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper
garlic powder

Makes about a dozen rolls

Lightly grease an 8-inch x 8-inch glass baking pan. Set it aside.

Roll out the pizza dough

Grab your dough (homemade or store bought).

ball of pizza dough

Plop it on a lightly floured board.

pizza dough on floured board

Smoosh it flat and roughly in the shape of a rectangle.

flatten the pizza dough

Roll it out in a rough rectangle.

roll the pizza dough out

(Be sure to make your junior kitchen staff feel included.)

penelope and the rolling pin

Spread the dough with butter & cheese

Melt the butter. (I do this in the microwave. About 20 seconds on high usually does the trick.)

melted butter in a measuring cup

Pour it in the center of your rolled dough.

melted butter and pizza dough

melted butter on dough

With your hand or a spatula, spread the butter to cover the dough.

spreading butter on dough

dough coated in butter

Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

dough sprinkled with parmesan

Sprinkle the dough with an even layer of finely shredded cheese. I used a mix of mozzarella and cheddar.

sprinkling cheese on pizza dough

You want to lay it on thick (cover the Parmesan so you don’t really see it), but not too thick.

dough covered in cheese

Sprinkle with a little kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and garlic powder. If you want to add other ingredients (herbs, olives, etc.) add them in a thin layer now.

seasoned cheese

Roll up the dough

Roll the dough up like this, so you wind up with a long tube. Tuck the cheese in as you roll, like you would when rolling a burrito or a spring roll.

roll the pizza dough

rolling the dough into a log

tuck and roll the dough

making cheese rolls

roll of cheese stuffed dough

Next, whack it into about 12 pieces.

cut the cheese rolls

I make them about an inch or so wide.

thickness of dough

The end pieces will be kind of scrawny. That’s just fine. You’re going to stick them together in a corner of the pan to form one roll.

dough cut into 12 pieces

Take one roll carefully, so that it doesn’t unroll. Set it in the corner of your prepared pan.

single cheese roll

Repeat with the rest of the rolls, until you’ve nestled them all in.

cheese stuffed roll

Stick the ends into a corner together. They’ll sort of bake together into one roll.

pan of cheese rolls

cheese rolls waiting to rise

top view cheese rolls

Let rise for 3o minutes

Cover with a lightly greased piece of plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise for about 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

dough covered with plastic wrap

They won’t poof up much after 30 minutes.

risen rolls

Bake the rolls

Pop into your preheated oven and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

cheese rolls in the oven

They’re done when the dough is lightly browned, and the cheese has bubbled up and formed a nice, golden brown crust.

fresh baked cheese rolls

cheesey bread

browned cheese on bread

(Here are those ends you stuck together.)

three small cheese rolls

The bottoms should have a similar, golden brown cheese thing going on, as well.

bottom of cheese rolls

Cool them in the pan for about 10 minutes.

cheesey rolls hot out of the oven

Then airlift them out with a spatula or two. Serve warm, or let cool to room temperature.

fresh bread

Pull apart. Serve and enjoy!

single cheese roll

gooey cheese filling

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.


  1. That looks wonderful! I found your site during the sour cream contest and I really like it a lot. Thanks for all the great recipes!

  2. Wow…these look very delicious…simple to make too. I have to try this. Would be great for parties too. Thanks very much for sharing every step.

  3. Your recipes are as scrumptious as always. I wonder what kind of pizza dough would you suggest, should it be made from scratch. Perhaps finely chopped garlic included?

  4. Thanks so much! I’m glad our talk during the hold music of that conference call inspired such yummy goodness. And you solved the problem of the “stuffed bread explosion” very creatively by breaking the stuffed bread apart BEFORE baking. Can’t wait to try this. Cheers.

  5. Okay these aren’t technically a loaf style cheesebread recipe, but OMG I will take it! I think this recipe would be awesome with some of the ingredients of my gouda/jalapeno dip mixed in. A little bit of smoked gouda, bits of jalapeno and bacon would be awesome! Thanks for the neat idea.

  6. i make a version of these often – i love these variations:
    1) spread with ranch, sprinkle with chopped jalapenos, sprinkle mozza/cheddar OR
    2) spread with mayo, sprinkle crumbled bacon, carmelized onions and cheddar OR
    3) knead chunks of cheddar/mozza into the dough then roll out, spread with pizza sauce and sprinkle with parmesan.

    • I made my own twist on them…
      -taco cheese mix, crispy bacon and sausage and generous pepper
      -(kind of instable to cut) Spinach in white sauce, enough cheese to dry a bit the sauce and make it easier to roll

      Both in oven… looking fantastic!

  7. amongts students at Radford University THE cheesy/greesy/late night snack is an order of Highlander Rolls from Highlander Pizza. they are devine! and so good we swear they put crack in them or something. noone knows what makes them so good but this recipie may be a starting point for discovering their secret. you can bet I will be making these as soon as possible!

    • Heh. No, I didn’t.

      At The Mouse House, we firmly believe that a little bit of almost anything in moderation won’t hurt you.

      But to each his own: Enjoy your apple! (You’re missing some really good rolls.)

  8. I stumbledupon this page and cannot wait to try these! My mouth is watering and they look so easy! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Hmm, ended up on your site through Stumbleupon, and tried this recepy today, with some minor changes. I used ready to use pizzadough (round pre-flattened version – only thing i could find so fast) and added tomato slices (fresh ones), kept the cheese combo’s and garlic as you suggested.

    Turned out great, parents loved it, i love’m, even the dog likes them (he came back for seconds).

    Time to try some other of your suggestions i think, thanks for sharing 🙂

  10. These were great! My girlfriends and I stumbled upon the recipe a few days ago and they really came in handy for our girls night in. 🙂

  11. I was reading bits and pieces of this post to my husband and got to “You can stuff them with anything you like…. Bits of leftover bacon or ham,” to which he replied, “Leftover bacon? May as well stuff them with leprechauns!”
    Even though we’ll have to fry up some very intentional bacon, this recipe looks heavenly. Can’t wait to try it out!

  12. I just finished supper, and yet reading this, I’m having a mental food orgasm and thinking, “I know what I’m making for Friday night’s special food!!!”

  13. yeah just tried it with tasty and parmesan cheese, some chopped olives and olive pate. I also crushed some garlic into the butter before I melted it and wow.
    This is such a fantastic recipe yummmmm!!!!

    • I just made these and they are baking in the oven! They looks delicious!! It was so easy, even for an amateur like me! Great recipe!

  14. These look wonderful! Just Stumbled on your site. I like the dog in the kitchen AND the occasional splurge in calories. Thanks!

  15. After some more experimenting, i can say that these things can be filled with just about anything. Recommended are : sliced mushrooms, finely cut bacon, pizza herbs, and sliced tomatoes and tomato paste.

    Really, almost anything that belongs in italian/spanish kitchen can be put into these rolls, and it’ll come out great.

    Pay a bit of attention to the juiciness of your vegetables though, let them drip out for a while, or your ovenplate will be filled with juice.

  16. These look delicious! I just mastered cinnamon rolls but never thought to make a savory style. (PS – unflavored dental floss is an excellent way to cut the rolls into 1″ sections while preserving their shape)

  17. I’m making these right now. I couldn’t find frozen or fresh dough balls, so I had to settle for the Pillsbury pizza dough. I can only hope that it comes out good. If not, I’ll try again with homemade dough. Wish me luck!!

  18. Trying these as I type, dough made from scratch, we don’t get pre-made stuff here in the UK. I’ve spread the butter, sprinkled the cheddar and a little freshly ground pepper with a pinch of rosemary for fragrance. At the mo they are rising, its 12.15 in the afternoon, I wonder how many I will leave for the family to eat later on!

    Thank you for sharing the recipe it inspired me to try them.

  19. Ohmmm, Ohmmmm, Ohmmm.
    Thank you so much Jessie for such a simple sinful recipe. They look just wonderful!!
    I’m sorry that some of the crowd are hard to please, but I’m sure the majority are all “Two Thumbs Up”
    Thank you again , most respected Mouse.

  20. How did I not find you until now?! And so glad I did. The pizza rolls are something I have ever thought of. They’re irreverent. Brilliant! I Can’t wait to try this recipe using pomodoro pizza sauce and homemade fresh ricotta with basil.

  21. I made these, used frozen bread dough, worked great.

    The only thing I changed, I do all the time.
    When I make rolls of any sort, instead of cutting hem with a large knife, I take a length of thread or (non flavored0 dental floss, I wiggle it under the rolls and pull until the thread cuts through the dough. This works well, because if you use a knife, you can smush the roll and make it look wonkey.

    Happy baking!

  22. there’s so many possibilities with this that you can open a restaurant based around the recipe.
    and most local pizza places will sell you pre made dough for next to nothing.
    (we used papa johns $2 for a ball of dough)

  23. Just thought i would let you know that i mentioned you in my blog(with a link ofcourse), tried out this recipe yesterday and just had to post the results 🙂

  24. Ugh…not a fan…they were too bready and bland…I even added Italian seasoning and all I can say is it looks better than it tastes.

    • Ah, any great baking/cooking site’s success depends not only on great recipes, but great photography. Although I love baking, my first love is photography; this site is a great for insights in studio lighting and composition.

      That said, you can copy the page, paste it into a Word document, and delete the photos. You can save the directions as a Word document.

      Be sure to cite the site in case you want to pass it on- both out of courtesy to the authors and a link for recipients who may want to see the photos.

  25. How would you recommend reheating these?
    I’ve strong doubts I’ll be able/want to finish them off today, and would love some tomorrow, but microwaving bread never works for me (I get a stiff, dehydrated rind) and I’d hate to heat an oven for a few minutes. I only want the bread warm, cheese doesn’t have to melt. Suggestions?

  26. Just stumbled in… oh, my! Can’t wait to try this, thanks so much! My mind is going in a hundred different ingredient directions, lol. Nummy!

  27. These look divine. Everything in moderation. My heart is still weeping for the apple eater. Can’t wait to try these! Thanks!

  28. Found these a few months ago and have made them several times.. Realized I was out of butter once and used ‘I can’t believe it’s not butter’ Spray.. and it still worked and tasted great =) It really is a versatile recipe.. I add mini pepperoni’s.. italian seasoning.. bacon pieces.. any kinds of cheese I want/have.. I’m considering using the ingredients you would use for a bbq hawaiian pizza (draining/sautee’ing the pineapple first).. Cross your fingers!

  29. Are you kidding me? I could just stick my face right in the middle of these and not come up for air until they are all gone!!

  30. this recipe is the best just made it for the 2nd time just put peperoni basil and oregano on it i like this better then pizza

  31. These were good! Just finished making my batch, and will be making these again for sure! What a great idea for pizza dough.

    Oh and to those who think it is too unhealthy should stop being a buzz kill for the rest of us!

  32. Just made these last night! Loved them!! Added jalapenos to the cheddar. Thank you for all the wonderful posts and the pictures are priceless! I am learning that I took a lot of instructions in cooking and baking too literally. Now I am learning to listen to the ingredients in front of me more than what the recipe says. My food is improving everyday!

  33. Ahhh I found them!!! I made these last thanksgiving and brought them to my aunts house everyone LOVED them apparently. She asked me to bring the “cheese bread” I made last time and I was like what ?? I couldn’t remember what cheese bread or where I had found the recipe but then I came across your site again and there it is!! YAY! These are IT!! A real hit…I feel sorry for the people who think they’re “too many calories” enjoy your carrot stick on thanksgiving! I’ll run the Turkey Trot before eating and enjoy my life and the amazing cheesy bread- thank you Hungry Mouse!! 🙂

  34. Hi, so I’m about to make these for a third Thanksgiving in a row and I was wondering if you had some advice about baking them before I get to the place where I’m spending Thanksgiving, should I
    A) Bake them for the entire time beforehand and then just put them in the oven for a couple minutes to heat up?
    B) Don’t bake them at all, and just have them prepared so I can put them in the oven (even though they would have risen quite a bit as we’re running a turkey trot beforehand and the place where we’re going in an hr away)
    C) Bake them beforehand with 5 or so minutes remaining and bake them the rest of the way when I get there?
    D) Something I haven’t thought of?

    Thank You!!!