Pepperoni pinwheels with pizza dough are a classic New York pizzeria must-have. Homemade pizza dough is layered with marinara sauce, pepperoni, ham, and mozzarella, then rolled into a log and sliced to create the pinwheels which are baked until golden. Served with a side of marinara for dipping, pinwheels are perfect for any time you're craving a taste of New York!
Walk into any New York area pizzeria and you're sure to find a variety of goodies tucked behind a glass counter: chicken rolls, garlic knots, and pizzas piled with all sorts of toppings. And one of my favorites is the pepperoni pinwheel.
The pinwheel is not only beautiful to look at with its cinnamon bun-like roll, but it is also full of flavor and texture thanks to the ham, pepperoni, cheese, and pizza dough.
For me, the pepperoni pinwheel is almost always an impulse buy.
I'll go to pick up a pie and I see those pinwheels just begging to be eaten.
"Throw in a couple of pinwheels and some garlic knots" is usually how that transaction ends and within minutes I'm happily devouring a pinwheel on the car ride home.
Pepperoni pinwheels are super simple to make at home, and since you're in charge you can customize them however you'd like.
You can use homemade pizza dough, supermarket store-bought, or dough from your favorite pizzeria. You can use salami instead of pepperoni, or add provolone to the mix.
Make it your own and have fun experimenting with the fillings!
How to make pepperoni pinwheels with pizza dough
Note: No matter what pizza dough you decide to use, it needs to be taken out of the fridge anywhere from 3-5 hours prior to stretching and/or rolling the dough. In the winter the dough might need 5 hours while in the summer 3 should be okay.
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- In a saucepot, saute 5 cloves of sliced garlic in a ¼ cup of olive oil over medium-low heat until golden (about 2-3 minutes).
- Once the garlic turns golden, add a ¼ teaspoon of hot red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds more.
- Add a 28-ounce can of crushed plum tomatoes and bring sauce to a simmer.
- Simmer for 5-7 minutes then season with 1 teaspoon of dried oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Set the sauce aside to cool. To work faster take ¾-cup of the sauce, place into a bowl, and freeze for 10-15 minutes to cool it down more quickly. The sauce shouldn't be hot when moving on to assembling the pinwheel in step 5 below. Note: I'm using Sicilian oregano. That will give you the exact NY pizza sauce taste you're looking for.
- Make sure to start with warmed-up pizza dough (at least 3 hours out of the fridge) for easy stretching. Preheat your oven to 425f and set the rack to the middle level. On a floured work surface stretch or roll the pizza dough into a rectangle shape (approximately 14 by 18 inches). Spread a thin layer of that cooled-off sauce to the ends of the dough but leave the top and bottom inch of the longer edges uncovered.
- Follow the same pattern with about 15 slices of deli ham. You'll need about a ½ pound but it could be less if the ham was sliced very thin.
- Next, cover the ham with about 15 slices of mozzarella cheese and about 40 slices of pepperoni. Again, the weight isn't as important as making sure you cover the area completely with both mozzarella and pepperoni. After the cold cuts are laid down, begin rolling the dough into a tight cylinder and seal the edge with a bit of water.
- Place the rolled dough onto a cutting board and cut into 1 to 1 ¼-inch pinwheels. Make sure your knife is very sharp! The thinner the knife the better. If you have a lot of trouble, you could freeze the log for 20 minutes, making it set up a bit more and consequently easier to cut.
- Depending on how thick they were sliced, you should be left with about 10-12 pepperoni pinwheels. Place those pinwheels on a semolina or regular flour dusted parchment paper lined baking sheet. Distribute a ¼ cup of Pecorino amongst the pinwheels (about 1-2 teaspoons each) and bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
- The pepperoni pinwheels with pizza dough are perfect. Serve with the remaining marinara. Enjoy!
Top tips and ideas for perfect pepperoni pinwheels
- Plan ahead. When you're making pinwheels with pizza dough, it's imperative that the dough be warm and easy to stretch. Don't attempt to make this with dough right from the refrigerator. It's good to take the dough out a few hours ahead of time so it will be easier to work with.
- The marinara. The sauce we use for these pinwheels is simple and can be made in about 10 minutes. I highly recommend making your own sauce - your pinwheels will be so much better! It is important to note that the sauce shouldn't be hot when assembling the pinwheels though, so yet another good reason to plan ahead. The sauce served on the side for dunking should be warm.
- Use what you like. I chose to use Boar's Head deluxe deli ham, mozzarella, and pepperoni for these pinwheels, but you can use whichever cold cuts you like. Salami, soppressata, capicola, provolone, and prosciutto would all be good choices.
- Pecorino = NY flavor. If you know me at all, you know I'm a huge fan of Pecorino Romano. It's the cheese that's used in the traditional Roman pastas, like cacio e pepe and carbonara, but it's also the cheese that New York pizzerias will use to add that unmistakable salty flavor. If you want these to taste like they came from a legit NY pizzeria, don't skip the Pecorino.
More classic New York pizzeria food
- Homemade New York pizza - The classic round pie you'd find in New York area pizzerias with that unmistakable flavor.
- Spicy pepperoni pizza - With cupping pepperoni, Calabrian chili paste, mozzarella, and plum tomatoes.
- Garlic knots - Classic pizzeria style knots with garlic oil and butter, Pecorino Romano, hot pepper, and parsley.
- New York Sicilian pizza - Thick airy crust with mozzarella, Pecorino, and Sicilian oregano.
- Grandma pizza - The Long Island classic with chunky tomatoes, oregano, and garlicky olive oil.
- White pizza - Mozzarella, ricotta, garlic, and just a touch of Pecorino Romano.
- Stromboli - Ham, pepperoni, and provolone rolled up with marinara and baked inside pizza dough until golden.
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- ¼ cup olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic sliced
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 28 ounce can crushed plum tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon Sicilian oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
For the pepperoni pinwheel
For the sauce
- In a saucepot, saute the garlic in olive oil over medium-low heat until golden (about 2-3 minutes).
- Add the hot red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the plum tomatoes and bring sauce to a simmer. Simmer for 5-7 minutes then season with oregano and salt and pepper to taste.
- Set the sauce aside to cool. To work faster take ¾ cup of the sauce, place into a bowl and freeze for 10-15 minutes to cool it down more quickly. The sauce shouldn't be hot when moving on to assembling the pinwheel below.
For the pepperoni pinwheels
- Make sure to start with warmed-up pizza dough (at least 3 hours out of the fridge) for easy stretching. Preheat oven to 425f and set the rack to the middle level.
- On a floured work surface stretch or roll the pizza dough into a rectangle shape (approximately 14 by 18 inches).
- Spread the sauce all over the dough while leaving 1-inch on the top and bottom with no sauce. Spread the pepperoni, mozzarella, and ham again leaving the top and bottom uncovered by 1-inch.
- Roll the pinwheel into a log, sealing the edge with a bit of water.
- With a very sharp knife cut the log into 1 to 1 ¼-inch wide pinwheels. Place parchment paper on a large baking sheet and spread a thin layer of the semolina all over.
- Place the pinwheels onto the sheet, leaving at least 1 inch between each one. If necessary, use 2 sheets to avoid crowding.
- Sprinkle the Pecorino onto each pinwheel and bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with remaining marinara. Enjoy!
- Any pizza dough can be used. For this recipe, we used 24 ounces of our standard pizza dough.
- Use your own already made marinara or store-bought to skip the sauce preparation step.
- Provolone is a great substitute or addition to the mozzarella. The same goes for salami, soppressata, or other cold cuts for the pepperoni.
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days and should be reheated in the oven at 350f until hot.