Cilantro chicken pinwheels

Cilantro chicken pinwheels: closeup showing finely chopped, green-tinted chicken, studded with tiny squares of red pepper, all within a spiral of flour tortilla

Sometimes the planets align and drop a recipe in your lap (or on your blog, as the case may be), as they did for me this weekend. You’re seeing this recipe for two main reasons:

First, a couple of my husband’s colleagues had their annual bonfire party. Traditionally I’ve brought a tasty snack to this party, but this Saturday was very hectic (and we had a housewarming to go to en route to the bonfire), so I was a little at a loss on what to bring. But then I looked around and saw the last bit of a chicken salad I’d thrown together during the week languishing in the fridge, and I saw some flour tortillas sitting on the counter. With visions of the ham-and-cheese pinwheels of my childhood dancing in my head, I sped to the grocery store and bought a rotisserie chicken. Within 30 minutes, I had rolls of chicken salad-filled tortillas nestled in an ice chest, happy to rest during the housewarming and to be sliced at the bonfire party.

Bowls and measuring cups of chicken, sauce, onion, and red pepper on a butcher block: everything but the tortillas

Second, while everyone was exclaiming over the pinwheels at the bonfire, my phone started blowing up with notifications from the WordPress app, because suddenly ALL THE PEOPLE were looking at my recipe for Creamy cilantro sauce, the same one I’d used to cobble together the pinwheels. (OK, by ‘all the people’ I mean about 250. But let’s be clear, here: I am not a fancy big-time blogger. The last time 250 people I don’t know looked at one of my recipes on the same day was, uh… never.) But somebody had linked the recipe on Reddit, and people all over the world were looking at it. The coincidence was too unreal. I made another batch on Sunday, shot photos, and here we are.

Chicken, onion, red pepper, and cilantro sauce, just barely begun to be mixed in a large white bowl

So, redditors, if you’re still hovering around: hey! you can use that sauce to make things! (And u/CyclingTrivialities, if you happen to see this: thanks for the unexpected ego boost!)

And all y’all who’ve been reading before I got very, very, hilariously minorly internet famous: go and make these pinwheels, take them to a party, and get your own ego boost hearing people say, with their mouths full, “ohmygoshthesearesogood.” It’s my thank-you gift for being here and encouraging me to keep posting recipes.

Cilantro chicken pinwheels laid out in overlapping rows on a brown plate, sitting on weathered with a scattering of autumn leaves

Cilantro chicken pinwheels

  • Servings: 30-36 pieces
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These pinwheels are a new twist on a classic party snack, and they’re show-stoppers. With very little time in the kitchen, you end up with a beautiful tray of nibbles that tastes absolutely delicious. These are a visual treat, too: the bite-size spirals of bright, green-flecked chicken stand out in a buffet line. They’ll disappear in a matter of moments, though; better prepare two trays.


Meat of 1 rotisserie chicken, finely chopped (4 heaping cups)
2 roasted red peppers, finely chopped (rinse first if jarred in brine)
3/4 c finely chopped white onion (1 small onion or 1/4 large onion)
1 batch Creamy cilantro sauce
4-5 flour tortillas (burrito size/10-inch)


Mix chicken, red pepper, onion, and cilantro sauce together until well-combined.

Spread a tortilla with a thin layer of the chicken mixture, leaving the edges bare. Roll the tortilla tightly, and wrap with plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining tortillas and chicken, then let the rolled tortillas rest in the refrigerator for an hour.

Usually this spreads across four tortillas for me, but if your chicken was rather large — or if you spread the mixture very thinly indeed — this might stretch to five rolls. But don’t try to overstretch it!

After an hour, remove rolls and slice into roughly 1-inch rounds. You’ll end up discarding (read: eating as you go) the ends of each roll, which will not be totally filled. Lay out on a platter and watch them disappear.


Vegetarian option: I’ve made this with my recipe for basic seitan. It works well, though it’s a little wetter than I’d like. If you’d like to try this, be sure to drain the chopped seitan very thoroughly; if I were doing it again, I’d actually gather the seitan in a tea towel and wring it out. You may not need the full batch.

Unbelievably, even faster and easier: Don’t bother with the tortillas. Tada, chicken salad!


3 responses to “Cilantro chicken pinwheels

  1. Hi there,
    I’ve never really cared for those ham and cheese pinwheels, they always seem to me like a big waste of tortillas. But, your chicken version looks amazing and I can’t wait to try the creamy cilantro sauce.
    As far as I’m concerned, cilantro is its own food group 🙂

    Keep up the great work,


    p.s. I found you through your comment on Homesick Texan

    • Cilantro: totally it’s own food group. I do have to admit, though, that I have a weird nostalgic love for the ham and cheese pinwheels — don’t judge me! Glad to see another Homesick Texan fan around these parts.

  2. Pingback: Cilantro chicken pinwheels | Foodfhonebook·

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