This delicious crab pinwheels recipe is stuffed with a creamy filling of cream cheese, crab meat, cheddar cheese, and a spicy creole seasoning mixture.

The best part is that they are easy to make and freeze for later. If you need a party snack, just bake and serve! These make ahead cream cheese pinwheels will surely please everyone for a party snack or an upscale appetizer.

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Crab pinwheel made with flour tortilla wraps and spicy crab mixture with red peppers sprinkled on top.

This is one of my favorite easy appetizers to make ahead! Keep a batch in the freezer for unexpected guests or any time you need an easy appetizer.

These pinwheels are perfect for making ahead during the holiday season. They go straight from the freezer to the oven with very little effort.

For parties, serve them up with stuffed mushrooms, cauliflower hummus, and maple glazed popcorn.

Like cooking with crab and other seafood? I think you’re going to love these corn lobster fritters and shrimp pico de gallo.

Why this recipe works

  • Only SEVEN simple ingredients.
  • A cheesy, creamy appetizer everyone will love.
  • Make ahead freezer appetizer for special occasions.
  • Great for groups since you can finish the hard part ahead of time!

🛒 Ingredient notes

All you need are seven simple ingredients to make these easy cream cheese and crab pinwheels! Let’s take a look at the main ones:

Crab pinwheels ingredients, red pepper, onion, shredded cheese, cream cheese, tortilla and canned crab meat on the counter.
  • Cream cheese: Adds flavor but also makes up the spreadable crab filling for the tortillas.
  • Crab: Using canned crabmeat saves time and is an inexpensive option for real crab meat that’s perfect for groups and a special occasion.
  • Red pepper and green onions: Adds flavor, crunch, and color these easy crab pinwheels. 
  • Shredded cheese: Use sharp cheddar cheese for the BEST flavor!
  • Creole seasoning: I recommend using Tony Chacheres seasoning blend. Adjust to your tastes and if you like it real spicy, add two teaspoons.
  • Flour tortillas: Use 10-inch sized tortillas. These larger tortillas work great for this make ahead appetizer.

See the recipe card for a complete ingredient list and quantities of each.

Video: How to

🔪 How to Make Crab Pinwheels

Making these little crabmeat bites is an easy process. Here’s an overview of the main steps. Be sure to check the recipe card for detailed instructions.

Step 1: Make the Crab and Cream Cheese Mixture

  1. Beat the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth and creamy. 
  2. Stir in the red pepper, green onions, and shredded cheese.
cream cheese and crab in a mixing bowl. then peppers, and onions in the bowl pouring cheddar cheese in
  1. Followed by Tony’s seasoning and the canned crab meat.
  2. Stir the crab mixture together until everything is combined.
cheddar cheese being place into mixing bowl, stand mixer whipping all ingredients together

Step 2: Assemble the Pinwheels

  1. Layout the tortillas and divide up the mixture evenly among them.
  2. Use the back of a spoon to spread the mixture evenly over the tortillas, leaving an inch from the edges clear of the mixture.
  3. Using both hands, roll the tortillas tightly up like a cigar. Place on the baking sheet seam side down.
spreading crab cream cheese spread onto a flour tortilla, then rolling it up with two hands
  1. Freeze the crab tortilla rollups for 24 hours on the pan. Once frozen, transfer the rolls to a freezer bag that is labeled and dated.

⭐️ Note: The pinwheels do not have to be frozen. If you prefer, you can bake the pinwheels right away. Cut off the ends of each tortilla roll just enough to make the ends even. Then cut evenly into seven pieces. Bake in a 350-degree preheated oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

Step 3: Bake Frozen Pinwheels

When you’re ready to serve them, prepare a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

  1. Place the frozen rolls on a cutting board. Cut off the ends of each tortilla roll just enough to make the ends even. Then cut evenly into seven pieces.
cutting a roll of crab pinwheels into bite size pieces
  1. Place the frozen cut pinwheel slices onto the cookie sheet with enough space between them so they do not touch.
  2. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until they just start to brown and bubble a bit.

Substitutions

Missing one of the ingredients or want to make a quick swap? Here are a few that I know will work!

  • Cheddar cheese: The cheddar cheese works great, but these cheesy pinwheels also work with Monterey Jack, Pepper jack cheese, or a blend of cheeses. Just make sure it’s a good melting cheese with a sharp flavor.
  • Canned crab: I find canned crab a convenient and budget-friendly option for making this recipe, but you can also use frozen crab meat or even imitation crab if you want. No matter which you use, be sure to drain well before mixing it into the cheese.
  • Flavored tortillas: You can use colored tortillas, flavored with different ingredients, for variety and a different look. Use red and green when making these for Christmas appetizers you can make-ahead.

🌶️ Variations

Here are a few ways you can change up cream cheese pinwheels to create a variety of flavors and textures!

  • Mexican: Swap the creole seasoning for this Mexican seasoning blend and the red bell pepper for green chilies.
  • Vegetarian: Swap the crab for an equal amount of chopped artichokes or hearts of palm. Both have a texture that makes them a great plant-based alternative to crab.
  • Gluten-free: Choose a gluten-free tortilla wrap to make your hot crab pinwheels.
  • Shrimp:  Swap the crab meat for chopped cooked shrimp.
  • Salmon pinwheels: Swap the canned crab meat with canned salmon.

💭 Tips for making the recipe

  • Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the center of the tortilla but leave about a 1-inch border closest to the edge.
  • Use up frozen crab pinwheels within three months after freezing for the best flavor.
  • Make sure all your ingredients are well drained.
Crab pinwheels, flour tortilla with spicy crab mixture with red peppers sprinkled over the top.

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Crab pinwheels with hot cheese and crab meat wrapped in flour tortilla.
5 from 1 rating

Crab Pinwheels Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Chilling time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 28
This delicious crab pinwheels recipe is stuffed with a creamy filling of cream cheese, crab meat, cheddar cheese, and a spicy creole seasoning mixture.

Note: Be sure to read through the recipe’s post for tips and details about this recipe.

Ingredients
 

Instructions
 

Mixing Instructions

  • Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper
  • In a standing mixer or hand mixer, beat cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth and creamy.
    1 8 oz cream cheese
  • Stir in crab, red pepper, cheese, green onions, and Tony's seasoning. Stir to blend until all ingredients are blended together.
    3/4 cup red pepper, 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, 2 green onions, 1 teaspoon Tony Chacheres Creole Seasoning, 1 6 oz crab
  • Spoon mixture evenly between the tortillas.
  • With the back of a spoon, spread the mixture evenly around the tortillas, leaving an inch away from the edges. Using both hands, roll the tortillas tightly up like a cigar.
    4 tortillas

Baking Crab Pinwheels

  • Place the roll on a cutting board and cut the very tip of each end of the roll off. Just enough to make the ends even. Then cut into even 7 even pieces.
  • Place the cut pinwheel rolls onto the baking sheet with enough space between them, so they do not touch.
  • Bake in a 350-degree F preheated oven for 10 minutes or until slightly brown and bubbly.

Freezing Instructions

  • Using both hands, roll the tortillas tightly up like a cigar. Place on the parchment paper lined baking pan.
  • Freeze the crab pinwheel rolls for 24 hours. Then, place the rolls into a freezer bag that is labeled and dated.

Baking Frozen Pinwheels

  • To serve, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the frozen rolls on a cutting board and cut the very tip of each end of the roll off. Just enough to make the ends even. Then cut into even 7 even pieces. Do not thaw.
  • Bake in a 350-degree F preheated oven for 12 – 15 minutes or until slightly brown and bubbly.

Notes

TIPS
  • Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the center of the tortilla but leave about a 1-inch border closest to the edge.
  • Bake frozen crab pinwheels within three months after freezing for the best flavor.
  • Be sure the cream cheese is at room temperature
  • Make sure all your ingredients are well drained.
Serving: 1g, Calories: 12kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 0.4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 2mg, Sodium: 16mg, Potassium: 15mg, Fiber: 0.2g, Sugar: 0.2g, Vitamin A: 191IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 16mg, Iron: 0.05mg
Cuisine: American
Course: Appitizer
Author: Gina Dickson

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