Twist up your dinner plans: Cheese and Onion Swirls


Did you ever notice that there are some things you can serve to your family that just send a regular weeknight dinner over the top into the realm of “Is it Sunday already?”

Like when we serve homemade chicken noodle soup, another of my husband’s fantastic recipes, everyone settles back and sighs as the weekday woes melt away. If I get to bake that night…

I serve hot Bakewell Cream biscuits at the same time, and even Mr. Beasley’s math homework loses its power to paralyze your brain and all is well.

When we serve fresh white dinner rolls with pot roast and gravy it’s enough to help me forget the dent my 15-year-old put in my new car. My BRAND NEW CAR! Ahem, pass the dinner rolls again, I’ll be fine.

Serving these Cheese & Onion Swirls with our favorite pasta dishes, there isn’t much that can dent their cheesy, onion-y armor around my spirit. The scent and taste of warm baked goods has a calming effect that can’t be beat and if you could bottle it, I’m betting love and peace wouldn’t be far behind.

As I start to get mushy with thoughts of love and peace, I’m reminded that April was National Poetry month and I’m going to take the opportunity to be inspired by Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s famous poem as I tell you more about these Cheese & Onion Swirls.

How do I love thee, Cheese & Onion Swirls?

How do I love thee, let me count the ways.
I love thee as thy onions perfume
my kitchen in the sunlight.
I love thee for thy dough,
rich with butter and egg as it rises.
I love thee for thy Pizza Seasoning
invoking the pizza parlor with thy scent.
I love thy Vermont Cheddar cheesiness purely,
and with a cheesy passion and a cheesy poem.
I love to unroll thee and pull thee through the sauce
of my plate of pasta, smiles and dribbles.
And if the world pleases, I’ll love thee more
when thou art gone and then shall make thee again. And again.

Yes, gentle reader, I do believe I’ve finally gone around the bend. Then again, if these rolls are so good they make a regular gal like me burst into poetry, that tells you just how delicious they really are!

Let’s get going on these poetically good Cheese and Onion Swirls.


Working with the dried onion is very convenient. It’s light, easy to find, totally portable for camping or hiking and it’s real onion, minus the tears.

(If you wish to use real onion, use 1/2 cup of very finely minced onion, squeezed somewhat dry in a paper towel. This will keep the filling from being too wet. )


Add the onion to the water. At first it won’t do much, it may look a bit like Lipton Dip at this point, but give it a few minutes and…


Ta-da! The onion hydrates and begins to look moist and fresh, and smells heavenly. Leave it on the counter to finish doing its thing while we head off to make the dough.


I chose to go the bread machine route on this dough. Just add the ingredients to the machine, set for the dough cycle and let ‘er rip. Well, maybe not rip so much as chug away.

One piece of advice that we give out on a daily basis from our Baker’s Hotline is to check your dough as you’re working with it. Even if you’re using a bread machine it’s a good idea to lift the lid and check the consistency during the kneading process. This dough is looking just a tad dry to me so I added 1 tablespoon of water.


That’s better. It’s better to err on the side of a slightly wetter dough than a slightly drier dough. This is looking good now, so let the dough cycle complete (or the first rise if you’re doing the dough by hand.)

While we wait, let me show you my new toy. I mean, my serious kitchen tool.


This garlic cutter has everything that I love in a kitchen tool. It’s well designed, sharp, compact, easy to use, and easy to clean. It cuts very even, tiny little 2mm cubes with just one swoop. And bonus – it’s red!


Check out the plunger. It has individual little fingers to push into each individual hole. No mushing the garlic up against a plate with just a few holes, this presses every bit of garlic through usable space.


Whaaaa hooo! Look at that!


And no mushy mess to re-press or try to dig out. All garlic, all the time.


Did I mention it’s dishwasher safe and comes apart easily for cleaning? Just pop the silver bail like a mason jar, and the grid slides right out.  How cool is that?


Now that our dough is ready and I’ve minced up some garlic (I know, the recipe doesn’t call for garlic, but I’m sneaking 2 minced cloves in. Mmmm, garlic)…

…add the Pizza Seasonings, Vermont cheddar cheese powder, and the butter to the hydrated onions. Sneak in your garlic here, if you’re using it.


Mix to a spreadable consistency. I can’t say smooth, this baby will never be smooth with all those lovely pieces of onion.


Roll out the dough to a 10” x 18” rectangle. Don’t worry about super-even edges, you’re going to be rolling it all up soon.


Spread the filling evenly over the dough, leaving a small border on all edges and a 1” border on the far long side.

Beginning with the long 18” side nearest you, roll the dough up jelly roll style. Pinch the dough sealed along the long seam.


My favorite method for slicing through logs of dough is good ol’ dental floss. I’ve heard quilting thread works just as well too, but I had floss here today.

To cut with the floss just pass it under the log, like a very skinny sling. Cross the ends over each other like you were tying your shoes, but don’t go through. Continue to pull criss-crossed as the floss slices down through the log. Very neat cutting that doesn’t result in squashed buns.


If you do go the knife route for slicing, use a sharp, serrated knife. Pull the knife towards you only, don’t saw through the log. Don’t use much downward pressure either, let the knife do the work.


There, neat and tidy buns. Place on a greased baking sheet and let rise for 30-40 minutes until puffy. Bake at 350°F for 22 to 26 minutes. You can also bake in a 10” round pan. The buns should be barely touching before rising.


These were delicious with pasta and marinara for dinner, and would be delightful with pork. I’m thinking of splitting any leftovers and buttering them, then grilling for a snack. What do you think?

Please bake, rate and review our recipe for Cheese & Onion Swirls.

MaryJane Robbins

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...


  1. Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday

    Oooh, a savoury cinnamon bun. What a cool idea!
    Sue Gray in our test kitchen developed the recipe earlier this year. I was lucky enough to pull the blog assignment, and my husband was thrilled to get one test batch. Rave Reviews from the Robbins’! ~ MaryJane

  2. YDavis

    Oooo…I think I can smell the onions. Let me smell my computer screen again. :)
    I think I NEED to make these this weekend.
    Ummm, you didn’t just lick the screen, did you? That’s OK, I’ve been there too. :) ~ MaryJane

  3. Dana

    OMG, these sound sooo good. I’ve got to order some of that cheese powder – you guys have been putting it in everything lately!
    There is a good reason why we put it on everything. IT ROCKS!!! ~ MaryJane

  4. Lyna

    Cheesy bread (and poetry) are the best! Thanks for both.
    Tee hee, my 15 year old daughter Shannon just shook her head in shame when I said I’d put a poem in my blog. Complete with eye rolling. BUT, peer pressure be dam*ed, I’ll live to rhyme again! ~ MaryJane

  5. Maggie

    Is the second rise missing, or do I need new(er) glasses?
    I love the Vermont Cheddar Cheese powder, and onion and a sneak of garlic..this is next on the baking list.
    Thank you so much for a great site!!
    No, you don’t need new glasses, I need a new brain! The directions have been corrected, sorry for the confusion! ~ MaryJane

  6. Matthew

    Really love this blog, but it seems more and more to overtly feature products from the catalog. Seriously… what’s the advantage of using dried onion and cheese powder over real onions and fresh grated cheese?
    The advantage? One would be the pure convenience of not having to cut that onion or grate that cheese. I am with you, nothing beats fresh ingredients! With that being said, even I am the occasional cheese powder and pizza flavor user especially when I make Garlic-Herb Mac and Cheese. My daughter who only eats boxed mac and cheese will eat this! I was shocked. Elisabeth @ KAF

  7. Liliana Szachury

    I love these buns, I will bake them this weekend!!! the weather will be nice too, but, my question is: these buns do not have a second rise? do you bake them right after you shape them?
    Looks like I was too anxious to get to the eating part, eh? Yes, I’ve corrected the directions to include the second rise. Thanks for keeping me on my toes! ~ MaryJane

  8. tia

    oh, that garlic cutter looks so useful! I think I’d better head on over to the KAF store now!
    That garlic cutter is da bomb! I’m planning to use it for shallots too, maybe even onion for small dishes.
    Bring it on! ~ MaryJane

  9. Kris

    Hmm, I have no pizza seasoning or cheese powder and these would be perfect for supper tomorrow. I may have to punt and improvise. Sounds yummy!
    That’s the spirit Kris! I’m sure your version will be super tasty too! ~ MaryJane

  10. vel

    It seems obvious what the benefit is in using dried onions and cheese, and that is “control” which is always needed in baking.

    I agree, the smell of baked goods freshly made does take edge off of life. I need a lot of that now since have a new boss. Sigh. Kitchen, here I come!

  11. Penny

    These sound fabulous…I am going to make them this weekend and by the way I LOVE THE POEM!!!
    Thanks Penny! I’d say I’ll just stick to my day job, but this is it, so more poems may surface someday. Hope I don’t drive anyone away. ;) ~ MaryJane

  12. cindy leigh

    Made these (or a version of them) last night. I used a roasted garlic spread and diced roasted garlic. My daughter called me THE MASTER!!
    Roasted garlic, oh MY! I bow to you too Master! ~ MaryJane

  13. Patti

    Can’t wait to try these! After making the “now or later” cinnamon rolls several times (most recently for my son’s football coaches retreat…they were a HUGE hit), I was *just thinking* that I’d love to have some sort of savory version of this recipe; VOILA, here it is! Fortunately, I have the Vermont Chedder Cheese Powder as well as the Pizza seasoning on hand (after having made the Mac ‘n Cheese as well as the cheesy dinner rolls)…can’t wait to try these this weekend! LOVE LOVE LOVE the blog; however, when I see one of these recipes, I know that when the bread machine gets plugged in, I’m off to the gym during the kneading/rising stage.

    Patti, I like your style – going to the gym while the dough is kneading. Sounds like the perfect solution to “a moment on the lips, forever on the hips.” :) PJH

  14. Carolyn

    Hmm. Sounds a bit like something my mother used to make. Kind of a version of Chicken and Dumplings. Flaked canned salmon in a white sauce in a casserole dish. Biscuit dough patted out and shredded cheese spread over. Rolled up and then sliced and placed cut side down (and up) on top of salmon mixture and baked. I don’t remember any particular seasonings/additions like onions, green pepper added to the white sauce other than salt and pepper.

  15. josey124

    I tried them on the weekend. Loved them! I used fresh onions and lots of hungarian paprika. They were soft and moist. Very nice. I will definitely make them again. Maybe with garlic and herbs. The brie/bell pepper idea in one of the comments sounds good too. Thanks!
    The paprika sounds like a great addition. Thanks for sharing! ~ MaryJane

  16. YDavis

    I made these last Sunday. So so good! I used fresh onions and I didn’t have any cheddar cheese powder so I used cheddar cheese(I chopped it really fine in the food processor). I did add in garlic as well, like you did.
    I served these with breakfast sausages and bacon. I will definitely make it again. Hubby loves them!
    I haven’t had breakfast yet, and now my tummy is rumblin’ . That sounds like heaven! ~ MaryJane

  17. Ricardo Neves Gonzalez - Petrópolis, R.J. - BRAZIL

    I´d made these buns and it looks good. Here in Brazil i love to inovate, looking for some local ingredients. We need to construct a bakery of our local ´terroir`with local baker goods. Recently i´d baked some swirls with peanut butter plus honey roasted peanuts as a filling and fondant mixed with peanut butter…wow…nice!! And today i´d baked another original swirl with wheat flour, shreded coconut and Brazil Nuts…hummm, it turns absolutely nice, delicious and really new bread!!!!
    Nice post, as ever!
    Wow! Both of those variations sound wonderful. I especially like the peanut and honey idea. I have some honey from our bees from last year, I’ll have to keep that in mind. Thanks Ricardo! ~ MaryJane

  18. Richard Schmidt

    Can this recipe be used to make into a loaf of bread instead of rolls?
    You can make this into a loaf. Follow the recipe through step 6. Then pat the dough out to a size that will accomodate your pan. Put the filling on your dough and roll it up. Put this into your pan for the final rise and bake at 350. Bake till it reachs an internal temperature of 190-200 degrees. JMD@KAF

  19. ArianaS

    Wow, just made these for breakfast. Amazing! I shaped them last night and let them rise overnight in the fridge – they neede only 5 minutes more in the oven compared to the regular method. I also used fresh ingredients – first, I brushed the dough with some melted butter, then sprinkled over sweet carmelized onion, grated emmental and lots and lots of thyme. They tasted like french onion soup in a bun! I’m thinking of using the leftovers as burger buns.

    Hang onto that thought, Ariana – sounds like a winner. Gourmet burger buns, here we come! PJH


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