Mexican Spiral Bread: A new twist on swirled breads

Come on, people, raise a hand and show your age.

How many of your are like me, and were born in PST? No, not Pacific Standard Time. I’m talking Pre-Salsa Time.

That’s right, there was a time, especially for those of us on the cold, dark East Coast, when salsa was unheard of. PST was also PBT, and PNT as well…

Yes, you guessed it. Pre-Burrito Time and Pre-Nacho Time. I believe I was 18 before I had a burrito that didn’t originate in the frozen foods section (2/$1.00!).

My first genuine Mexican food came from a great little restaurant that was bring your own bottle. We college kids would pool our money and take up several tables on a Friday night, including one just for the beer. I clearly remember spicy refried beans and rice, a killer chimichanga, huge platters of nachos, and ordering burritos by the bunch.

I remember a little less clearly dancing with a great group of friends on those nights, too. Who needed 5-star restaurants when you had 5-star friends and $5 in your pocket?

These days, most of the Mexican food we eat is made at home. My husband, David, makes a mean dish of rice and beans; and tangy-savory guacamole in his molcajete. I often make eggs and refried beans for breakfast, and salsa is a constant companion to so many dishes.

Our fridge has so many different bottles of hot sauce we regularly run out of room, though Cholula and green Tabasco are favorites of mine. David favors Sriracha.  I think a good meal of Mexican favorites would be pretty high on my desert island list of forever foods.

This recipe for Mexican Spiral Bread was inspired by my love for refried bean and cheese burritos, and a desire to have some other kinds of swirled bread beside good ol’ cinnamon. You start with a batch of bread dough, cook up a spicy filling, layer on some cheese and peppers, then bake until it all melds together into the ultimate burrito loaf.

While you can’t pick up and bite the whole loaf, big chunky pieces of this bread and a bowl of salsa will make an unforgettable lunch or snack.

Let’s make Mexican Spiral Bread.

In a small bowl, combine your spices. Feel free to adjust different ratios to your tastes. The cheese-y, garlicky goodness of Pizza Dough Flavor makes this filling extra tempting.

For the other spices, I used 1 teaspoon basil, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, and 1 tablespoon chili powder. I used a medium heat powder, but feel free to kick it up (or down) to your tastes.

In a large skillet, heat about a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Add 1 can of black beans, drained, and 1/2 cup chopped onion. Simmer for 5 minutes, then dump in your bowl o’ spice.

Stir and cook for another 5 minutes, until the beans are quite tender and “smush” easily into a paste. Mash the bean/onion mixture and set aside to cool slightly.

Take your batch of risen bread dough and divide it in half. This recipe for Our Favorite Bread is just the right size batch for making two buxom filled loaves.

Roll half the dough into a 9″ x 12″ rectangle. Spread with half the cooled spicy bean mixture. Leave about 1/2″ of dough all around as a border.

If desired, top with 1 cup shredded cheese ( I like the bite of sharp cheddar) and some pickled jalapeño peppers. I’ll let you decide how much of those to add.

To roll, start with one of the short ends and roll up firmly. By leaving the border all around the edge of the dough, your ingredients shouldn’t pop out the sides; but if they do, just tuck them back in with a finger.

When you reach the end, seal the seams together and pinch firmly with your fingers.

Place the log of dough into a greased 9″ x 5″ loaf pan, seam-side down. Placing the seam at the bottom will prevent it from bursting open during baking.

Rise on the counter for about 20 to 30 minutes, until full and round. Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 25 to 35 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the internal temperature of the bread reaches 190° to 200°F.

To keep the top crust tender and avoid ripping when you slice, brush the top of the warm bread with a little butter. Not a lot, just a thin layer.

There you have it. A thick slice of warm bread, melty cheese, and fragrant, spicy bean filling.

If eating the bread warm, I like to cut it into hefty chunks for grabbing and devouring. A few chunks of bread and a nice cold beer would make a perfect snowy day snack. Or a perfect sunny day snack, for that matter!

To be perfectly honest, this bread above all others gave me trouble with “crust gap”. I made several loaves for testing, and at least three of them had crust gapping issues under the top crust. I believe the cheese is the culprit here, so be careful that your dough is well covered with beans to act as glue. Also, be careful not to over-rise the loaves.

I don’t mind the gap (tee-hee, a little British subway humor there), it just makes it a little harder to make grilled cheese from the slices with gaps.

OH MY CHEESE-Y GOODNESS! Buttery, crisp crust; hot, spicy refried beans, and CHEESE! That’s right, there’s cheese in the spiral, then you sandwich more cheese between the slices and let it all brown up. Jerry Springer confession time; I ate three of these sandwiches in two days – they’re that good.

Having made so many loaves, I ended up with one whole loaf left over. The little gray cells started to work, and I realized this would make one heck of a cheese-y, beany, savory bread casserole. To make a savory casserole/bread pudding, combine:

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • ½ cup cream or half & half
  • 5 large eggs
  • 6 cups cubed bread

Bake in a buttered 2-quart casserole dish at 350°F for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until all of the milk is absorbed and the pudding is well browned on top. It makes an excellent side dish for grilled chicken or steak, and I think it would be perfect on a brunch buffet line.

Please share your favorite ideas for non-cinnamon swirl breads. Remember, it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing swirl!

Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for Mexican Spiral Bread.

Print just the recipe

See other unique swirled bread recipes: All-American Ham and Cheese Roll, Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread, Chocolate Babka.

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. Monique van der Windt

    I made 2 loaves today. Accidentally i put the garlic and onionpowder and dry cheese into the dough instead of the filling.
    The loaves were well risen and i also got the gaps..but the taste was fine.
    A picture of my loaf can be seen at

    Thanks so much for sharing your blog, Monique – I’m going to put it through the Google Translate tool so I can enjoy the text that goes along with that lovely picture! PJH

  2. mamsis

    Do you think the addition of a little cornmeal in the bread dough – not as much as in your Yeasted Corn Bread recipe – maybe 1/2 to 34/ cup, would be appropriate here? I’d probably need to reduce the AP flour a bit, and give the corn meal a little time to soften. This sounds so yummy, and versatile, too (adding ground beef, with or without a favorite cheese, etc.). I really love the all-in-one aspect of stuffed bread, and this was a filling I hadn’t thought of before; THANKS!

    Sounds like a great flavor addition. Give it a try. Frank @ KAF.

  3. sunnyside

    Another variation of “Spiral Bread” is in The New York Times Cookbook. The filling is 2 cups of chopped parsley, 2 cups of chopped scallions and some garlic sauteed in some butter and then mixed with most of two beaten eggs to hold it to the dough. I’m thinking about making the Mexican version to take as a snack to a dance – do you think I could make tiny bread-dough turnovers so they would be self-contained? (Good flaky pie dough crust would be too messy.)
    I think you could make a stuffed bun version in muffin tins. Totally portable, easy too. ~ MaryJane

  4. biobaker

    I’ve been having fun with non-traditional roll breads since I found a few recipes for them (caramelized onion, for example) in an old Prudhomme cookbook. I’ve done his caramelized onion, black bean (not a big fan of cheesy things, so I tend to eliminate that part), and created my own sundried tomato, chili-herb, pesto, garlic bread with the garlic part wrapped up as a swirl…
    I use the same method for my stand-by special-day breakfast bread with whatever sweet filling sounds good; raisin-walnut is the old traditional version, but I like cranberry-almond and apricot-candied ginger and such, too.
    Thanks for the mexican bread idea. I’ll leave out the cheese, but it otherwise sounds like a delicious twist…ooops, I mean roll!
    As Fozzie Bear would say, “wokka wokka”. Great pun. The first version I did of the swirl bread had no cheese, so it works out just fine that way too. Enjoy! ~ MaryJane

  5. milkwithknives

    Oh, this is GENIUS. I’m awestruck. It never would have occurred to me to make bean spiral bread! I keep a giant bag of dried pintos in the pantry and was all set to make a batch of refried beans this weekend, and now I know what kind of bread to make, too! I’ll be eating this lovely creation by myself (husb hates Mexican food, there’s something wrong with him), so would you suggest keeping it in the fridge until I can get through the loaf? I know that’s a cardinal sin with bread, but it seems like the filling would need refrigeration.

    I’m obsessed with green Tabasco, too, and my sweet husband surprised me with a big bottle for Valentine’s Day. I’ll get on this tomorrow and am really looking forward to a big piece of bread for dinner with Tabasco dotted on top. Thanks!
    Refrigeration seems to be a good idea to me considering there are beans and cheese in the bread. I would vote yes to that. ~Amy

    Now that is a thoughtful Hubby, and his way of saying you keep his life spicy! 🙂 ~ MaryJane

  6. ebenezer94

    I was born and raised in California, so there was no such thing as pre-salsa time, but in college I spent a year living in Scotland and suffered terrible Mexican food withdrawal. So much so that my mother took pity on me and mailed me a heavy box of canned Mexican foods. Not quite as good as the fresh tortillas and good quality jarred salsa at home, but a good fix none the less. My Scottish/English friends and I enjoyed a dorm-based Mexican food pig out!
    That sounds like so much fun! Did they treat you to a haggish and eggs bash in return? I’m wondering how they reacted to refried beans for the first time. ~ MaryJane

  7. fer

    Oh my goodness, this looks good! If I wasn’t babysitting, I think I’d make some today.

    Speaking of babies, my first grandson had a onesie that said, “Mind the gap.”
    Too cute! ~ MaryJane

  8. amazonium

    Oh yummy! I know what I will be baking this weekend…how would it work if some ground beef was added to the mix?
    I think it would be great as long as the beef was cooked and the fat drained first. ~Amy

    I hadn’t thought of adding the beef and making it really a full meal in a bread. Let me know how it goes, I just bought more beans yesterday. 🙂 ~ MaryJane

  9. Brenda

    Well, this is most definitely going on the “gotta make” list; YUM! Thank you, MJ. Which do I want worse, this (suspect it’s every bit as good as it sounds or even better) or the chili that was posted fairly recently (know that’s even better than it sounds), or both…? What the heck, let’s go for overkill if there’s time and motivation after today’s appointment. Maybe I’ll go put some Rancho Gordo beans on for a quick soak…
    Just think, if you make both, you can make a sandwich with the leftovers, grilled chili and cheese on spiral bread. OH MY… ~ MaryJane


Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *