Use your leftover taco meat for these easy pinwheels! Filled with a mixture of taco meat, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, diced red and green bell peppers! They only take about 15 minutes to put together. Place them in your lunch box with chips, guacamole, and fresh fruit for an easy school or work lunch.
Taco Leftover Wednesday
There is one main reason I love Tuesdays, and it is not because NCIS is on. (Although Mark Harmon as Gibbs is 😍😍). In my house Tuesdays are Taco Tuesdays, and my family looks forward to it every week. I also decided that Wednesdays are Taco Leftover Wednesday (I know, not as catchy)! Sadly, even with my catchy nickname, I normally threw out the leftover taco meat because my family was not willing to eat more tacos on Wednesday. So I came up with the recipe for taco pinwheels to not waste the leftover taco meat!
Why You'll Love This
I love, love, love taco pinwheels because they only take minutes to make! Even if you decide to change out the mix-ins and create a different taco pinwheel every Wednesday! Set a timer and see.
Throw these taco pinwheels in a lunch box along with some extra salsa, chips, and maybe a side of fruit or some more guacamole. They are perfect for your child’s lunch, or even your lunch! Get rid of that extra taco meat quickly and deliciously!
When Taco Tuesday rolls around in your house, don’t skim on the taco meat. You’ll want leftover taco meat to start your own Taco Leftover Wednesday and try these amazing taco pinwheels. Plus, you never know when Mark Harmon may show up for dinner and you’ll want to make sure you have enough. He may even want a taco pinwheel to go!
Large flour tortillas - use low carb tortillas if you're watching carb intake
Cream cheese (softened) - set the cream cheese on the countertop to soften which makes it easier to spread
Leftover cooked & seasoned taco meat - about a cup is what you need for this recipe (if you don't have any "leftover" taco meat, you can make a fresh batch and freeze the remaining taco meat for later use, or make a double batch of pinwheels).
Shredded cheese - cheddar or Mexican blend is the best!
Diced red and green bell peppers - adds a nice fresh crunch and color. Leave them out if you don't like them!
Guacamole, salsa, and sour cream for serving (if desired) - if you can find the individual cups of these, they're so much easier to pack in a lunch box.
- Change the measurements to best fit the amount of each ingredient you would like to include.
- Switch out the leftover taco meat for leftover fajita chicken (these are delicious, too!).
- Use corn tortillas, any type of sandwich wrap or gluten-free wraps instead of flour tortillas. You want to make sure to use the soft wraps (no hard taco shells) because you’ll need to roll them.
- Change up the taco mix-ins. A couple of my family's favorite mix-ins are lettuce, black olives, tomatoes, and my husband even loves to add some mango to his!
How to Make Them
Mix cream cheese, leftover taco meat, shredded cheese, red and green bell pepper together until combined.
Evenly spread ⅓ to ½ cup of the cream cheese mixture onto the flour tortilla.
Roll tortillas up tightly and wrap each tortilla in plastic wrap to chill in the refrigerator overnight.
The next morning, before school or work, slice each tortilla into 1-½ inch pinwheels and place them in the lunch box.
Add guacamole, salsa, or other condiments into these amazing condiment cups.
These taco pinwheels are my family’s favorite because they can design and mix their own creations.
Some ideas my family love are switching the cream cheese for sour cream, using spinach wraps instead of flour tortillas, and changing out the diced peppers for other taco mix-in favorites.
The different pinwheel variations you can create with taco pinwheels is one of the main reasons I love them! (Maybe, not as much as I love Mark Harmon though. 😉)
Taco pinwheels require little equipment to make. You’ll most likely already have it in your kitchen. Another reason I recommend these taco pinwheels!
- Mixing Bowl
- Measuring Cups
- Mixing Spoon
- Plastic wrap or Aluminum Foil
- Sharp knife
You’ll want to store your taco pinwheels overnight in the fridge to keep them cold and in the fridge or with an ice pack until you are ready to devour them at lunchtime! I recommend storing taco pinwheels in an airtight container as well until you are ready to eat them. This will help keep moisture out so they do not become a soggy mess.
You’ll also want to keep the condiments like the guacamole and salsa separate as well. These Condiment cups work well for keeping these extras apart from the taco pinwheels.
Great Pinwheel Sides
Taco pinwheels make a perfect main course for your lunch. But everyone loves a side. Whenever I am packing my lunch or my kids' lunch, I always include some tortilla chips and salsa. You can add in some leftover Mexican rice. Another dish I often make way too much of on Taco Tuesday.
Mexican Cornbread is a staple on our Taco Tuesdays and I’ve added some of that into the lunch boxes before and that has been an enormous hit! Another great side for these taco pinwheels is fruit, a clementine or blueberries and strawberries are great options!
Vegan, Nut Free, and Dairy Free Variations
You can make taco pinwheels vegan by using tofu instead of meat. Almost all taco meat seasonings are vegan which makes it super easy to create a vegan taco pinwheel.
These taco pinwheels are nut free, and can be dairy free if you leave out the cheese, cream cheese, sour cream. There are many dairy free options for cheese, cream cheese and sour cream if you can’t live without it!
Frequently Asked Questions
Don’t overstuff or your tortilla or wrap may rip.
Can I make these in advance?
Of course, but don’t make them more than 24 hours in advance.
Do the taco pinwheels get soggy from the sour cream or cream cheese?
Yes, the taco pinwheels will get soggy if you do not eat them within 24 hours. The cream cheese and leftover taco meat will cause moisture in the wrap.
Do you have to soften the cream cheese?
Yes, you will want to soften the cream cheese. It will make it easier to spread on the wrap.
What are some other taco mix-ins?
Pretty much anything you love in a normal taco will work in a taco pinwheel! Olives, tomatoes, lettuce, and rice are just a few suggestions. If you have tried other favorites. Leave them in the comments below!
You can keep the leftover taco meat safely in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. I wouldn’t make the taco pinwheels until you are ready to eat them within 24 hours though!
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Taco Pinwheels - A Helpful Way to Use Leftover Taco Meat
- 4-6 large flour tortillas
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- 1 cup leftover cooked & seasoned taco meat
- 1 cup shredded cheese
- ½ cup diced red bell pepper
- ½ cup diced green bell pepper
- guacamole, salsa, and sour cream for serving, if desired
- Mix cream cheese, taco meat, shredded cheese, red and green bell pepper together until combined.
- Evenly spread ⅓ to ½ cup of the cream cheese mixture onto the flour tortilla.
- Roll tortillas up tightly and wrap each tortilla in plastic wrap to chill in the refrigerator overnight.
- In the morning, before work or school, slice each tortilla into 1-½ inch pinwheels and place in the lunch box.