The ultimate appetizer for any occasion, these Spinach and Artichoke Puff Pastry Swirls (or Pinwheels) are perfect. They encompass the beloved flavors of spinach and artichoke dip in a refined, delicate bite.
(This recipe was originally published in March 2009, but was updated with new photos and content in 2020).
Once upon a time I was a poor college student. In a tiny, ill-equipped kitchen at Boston University, I created this masterpiece to take to a friend’s Oscar party. Before I headed off to the party, one of my housemates sampled one.
She immediately begged me to make her a whole batch if she paid for all the ingredients. I, of course, accepted and happily turned out another batch the following day. The rest, my friends, is history. Thus was born the greatest appetizer of our time: Spinach and Artichoke Puff Pastry Swirls. And years later this recipe has stood the test of time.
Imagine your favorite qualities of spinach and artichoke dip wrapped with flaky, buttery puff pastry. Not only is it delicious, but it’s perfect for parties, and really impressive considering how easy it is to make. It requires very little prep work since nearly all of the ingredients are commercially available as required in the recipe.
Which brand of puff pastry should I use?
I’ve turned out many batches of these addictive spinach and artichoke puff pastry swirls over the years. I find Pepperidge Farm brand puff pastry to be a bit easier to work with because it’s thicker (it comes in the 17.3-ounce package) and less sticky. Because it’s folded instead of rolled, the seams create an easy guide for cutting the pastry into slices.
With that said, Pepperidge Farm brand uses vegetable oils instead of butter to create its layers. If the French have taught us anything, it’s that real butter is always better.
Trader Joe’s has their own brand of puff pastry (an 18.3-ounce package), which is rolled instead of folded. It’s considerably thinner and sticky in comparison, but it’s made with REAL BUTTER and more natural ingredients than the Pepperidge Farm counterpart. If your dough is on the softer side, you may want to refrigerate or freeze your assembled rolls briefly before cutting them, to ensure less messy slices.
I absolutely prefer the Trader Joe’s puff pastry for these spinach and artichoke pinwheels. The one downside is that they only sell is seasonally, usually between September/October and the end of December. I tend to stock up on it when it’s available, and it will last for a long time in the freezer.
Trader Joe's puff pastry can be a little wet and sticky right out of the box. Make sure you dust it liberally with flour on both sides before working with it to keep it from sticking.
Because Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry is thicker but smaller dimensions, the yield is lower, but you will have larger spirals with thicker puff pastry throughout. Trader Joe's has slightly larger dimensions. It yields more dainty, super crispy morsels. You’ll get about 10 to 15 more pinwheels from this brand (about 40 to 43 vs 30 to 33).
If you live outside of the United States, or in an area where you don’t have access to either of these brands, I would encourage you to seek out a brand of all-butter puff pastry in approximately the same or similar size (about 17 to 18 ounces in weight).
- Puff Pastry: You'll find a thorough review of my puff pastry tips in the section above. Be sure to thaw frozen puff pastry in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for 2 hours before using it for your spinach and artichoke swirls.
- Spinach: I recommend getting frozen chopped spinach for maximum convenience. You'll usually find it in either a 10-ounce block or a 16-ounce bag. If you get a 16-ounce bag, just weigh out 10 ounces before thawing (I usually use the microwave) and squeezing out the excess water.
- Artichoke Hearts: Canned artichoke hearts work great here (plain, not marinated)! A 14-ounce can is the perfect amount, and depending on the brand can include anywhere from about 5 large to 10 small artichoke hearts. Drain the artichoke hearts and gently squeeze out any extra liquid before roughly chopping them for this spinach and artichoke pinwheels recipe.
- Cheese #1: Although you could use pre-shredded Swiss cheese for its convenience, I encourage you to splurge for the pricier Gruyère and grate it yourself. You can also use Emmentaler cheese, the famous Swiss cheese with the large holes. You'll always get better results grating the cheese yourself since pre-shredded cheese includes anti-caking agents which don't allow the cheese to melt as smoothly.
- Cheese #2: In addition to one of the Alpine-style cheeses mentioned above, you will also need some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino Romano cheese.
- Cheese Notes: Note that these cheeses are typically made with animal rennet which means they aren't vegetarian. If you're vegetarian, make sure to use vegetarian versions of these cheeses.
How to make them
Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion, minced garlic, and chili flakes, cooking until the mixture is softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl and cool (PHOTO 1).
Add thawed and squeezed frozen chopped spinach, and roughly chopped canned, drained artichoke hearts (PHOTO 2). Next, add the cheeses and seasonings (PHOTO 3). Mix to combine (PHOTO 4). The filling is ready!
Unroll or unfold 1 sheet of thawed, frozen puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface. If the puff pastry is sticky, lightly dust it with a bit of flour on the top as well. The long side of the pastry should be at the top and bottom of your work surface, with the shorter sides on the left and right.
Cover it with half the filling, leaving a ½-inch border (PHOTO 5). Brush the furthest edge with egg wash, and then roll the puff pastry away from you, like a jelly roll. You want to roll it tight enough that the fillings don’t fall out, but not too tight. You still want the puff pastry inside the coil to have room to expand. The egg wash edge will seal the roll closed (PHOTOS 6-7).
Now you can carefully slice the roll into portions, and set onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (PHOTO 8). If the roll is very soft, you can chill it briefly to firm up the dough before slicing.
Repeat with the remaining dough and filling before brushing the whole batch with egg wash.
Bake the spinach and artichoke puff pastry swirls for about 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans partway through. The puff pastry pinwheels should be golden brown. The cheese gets bubbly and crisps up beautifully within the spirals.
Depending on the resistance of your parchment paper brand these will either slide right off or stick a little in the middle where the cheese melts, but gently pry them free with a spatula with minimal effort. Serve them warm or at room temperature.
These spinach and artichoke pinwheels will be super crispy the day they are baked and soften significantly by day 2. They are still tasty but the texture won’t be the same, so bake them the day you plan to serve them.
Please scroll to the bottom of the post for the full recipe (in a printable recipe card) including ingredient amounts and detailed instructions.
I recommend you blot or dab the egg wash with a pastry brush around the sides and over the top of each pinwheel to ensure you don't get big drips of egg wash on your sheet pan, nor dislodge any of the filling from inside the pinwheels.
These spinach and artichoke pinwheels will be super crispy the day they are baked and soften significantly by day 2. They are still tasty but the texture won’t be the same.
You can assemble and roll the logs up to 1 day in advance. Place them side by side on a parchment paper covered sheet pan or large cafeteria tray, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Then when you are ready to bake, slice, arrange on baking sheets, brush with egg wash and bake as directed.
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Spinach and Artichoke Puff Pastry Swirls (Pinwheels)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¾ cup finely chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- Pinch crushed chili flakes
- 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach thawed and squeezed of extra water
- 1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts drained, squeezed of extra liquid, and roughly chopped (about 1 ½ cups / 10 small or 5 large artichoke hearts)
- 5 ounces (about 1 ½ cups) grated Gruyère, Comte, or Emmentaler cheese
- ¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino Romano cheese
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (17.3 to 18.3-ounce) package frozen puff pastry thawed (the size will depend on the brand)
- 1 large egg
- Heat oven to 400ºF. Line 2 to 3 baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside. The number of baking sheets will depend on the brand of puff pastry (it's size) and your resulting yield.
- Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and chili flakes. Cook until softened and translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from pan, transfer to a mixing bowl and set aside to cool.
- Add the spinach and artichokes to the mixing bowl. Stir in Gruyère and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Unfold or unroll one of the two puff pastry sheets on lightly floured surface. Lightly flour both sides of the pastry if it seems wet or sticky at all. If the pastry is folded, make sure the seams are running vertically and the “ugly” side is facing you. The long side of the pastry should be at the top and bottom of your work surface, with the shorter sides on the left and right. Top with half the vegetable-cheese mixture, leaving a ½-inch border.
- In small bowl beat egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush the furthest edge with a little egg wash. Starting at the end closest to you, roll up pastry, jelly-roll-style, sealing the roll with the egg wash edge. Roll neither tightly nor too loosely. You want enough looseness for the puff pastry inside the coil to have room to expand, but tight enough that the fillings don’t completely fall out when you transfer to baking sheets. Repeat with the other puff pastry sheet and the remaining filling. If the rolls seems soft, freeze them for about 10 to 15 minutes to firm up and allow for easier slicing.
- Cut each roll into ½-to-¾-inch-thick slices, using the puff pastry’s seams to guide you, if they exist. Lay slices flat 2-inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Lightly brush with egg wash on the sides and top of each roll. You may want to you more of a dabbing motion so you don't dislodge any of the filling or get big drips of egg on your pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back partway through.
- Depending on the resistance of your parchment paper brand these will either slide right off or stick a little in the middle where the cheese melts, but gently pry them free with a spatula with minimal effort. Serve warm or at room temperature. These are best the day they are made.
- If you’re in the United States these are several brand options for puff pastry. In general, all butter puff pastry is the way to go regardless of the brand or wherever in the world you are procuring puff pastry. I recommend Trader Joe's puff pastry, but it's only available seasonally (typically from November through December)
- Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry (17.3 ounce package) is thicker but smaller dimensions so the yield is lower, but you will have larger spirals with thicker puff pastry throughout. Trader Joe's (18.3 ounce package) is a thinner puff pastry with slightly larger dimensions. It yields more dainty, super crispy morsels. You’ll get about 10 to 15 more pinwheels from this brand (about 40 to 43 versus 30 to 33).
- To brush these swirls with egg wash I tend to blot/dab the egg wash with a pastry brush around the sides and over the top to ensure I don't get big drips of egg wash on my sheet pan or dislodge any of the filling.
- These will be super crispy the day they are baked and soften significantly by day 2. They are still tasty but the texture won’t be the same.
- You can assemble and roll the logs up to 1 day in advance. Place them side by side on a parchment paper covered sheet pan or large cafeteria tray, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Then when you are ready to bake, slice, arrange on baking sheets, brush with egg wash and bake as directed.
- Note that these cheeses are typically made with animal rennet which means they aren't vegetarian. If you're vegetarian, make sure to use vegetarian versions of these cheeses.
*All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.*