Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A regional delicacy from the deep south

Cheese rolls are a "delicacy" from the south of the South Island and you'll rarely find them north of the Waitaki River. Apparently they're a popular fundraiser - a sports-mad colleague from Invercargill likes to tell us about how his sports teams would get together and make loads, bag them up, freeze them (untoasted), and sell them by the dozen. I can't see them being a big money spinner these days with cheese being the main ingredient but it sounds like the humble cheese roll has funded a fair few sports trips over the years.

The recipe seems to vary a little depending on whose mum or nana you receive it from. I first tried cheese rolls when Becs returned to Rotorua from her first semester at Otago Uni. She'd stayed with her friend Rachel's family in Gore and had tried Rachel's mum's cheese rolls. It uses more milk than some other recipes and uses a little cornflour to thicken the cheese mixture.

Most recipes call for evaporated milk and that's what I used. Next time I'll go back to Rachel's mum's recipe as it's less salty and I am feeling very thirsty as I write this... Before reading any further I suggest putting aside any prejudices you have towards Maggi onion soup powder and processed foods in general. These cheese rolls offer little nutritional benefit but they sure are tasty!

To make cheese rolls using the easiest possible method...
Heat a 400ml can of evaporated milk, 375g grated cheese, 1 packet of Maggi onion soup mix and 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard until smooth.

Leave overnight in the fridge to firm up.

The next day when you want to eat them, spread white sandwich slice bread with the mixture and roll up (sort of fold into thirds). There's enough cheese mixture for about 1.5 loaves of bread so I suggest you keep on spreading until there's none left. You can freeze the untoasted rolls for another day - take them to work for lunch if you have a sandwich press or oven and give your workmates lunch envy.

Preheat the oven the 200 degrees Celsius. Line up your cheese rolls on an oven tray - cook more than you think you need! Brush with a little melted butter and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown on the outside and the filling is starting to ooze out the ends.

Try them with soup... or just on their own. Trust me, they're delicious!


  1. I've often heard of these mysterious rolls but never seen one in the flesh... I cannot bring myself to eat Maggi onion soup (even the thought makes me feel queasy) so will happily forego these for those who love them (I always knew South Islanders were weird!)

  2. These are the best thing, I had never heard of them until. I watched Kiwi Kitchen, how could the Mainland hide them, cruelty to Jafas.....! Although I did make them for a family do and get a bit greedy, that filling is nuclear straight out of the oven....ouch:(

  3. OH YUM! These bring back memories. My gran used to make these for us as an after school treat and we all loved them. I never knew they were a South Island thing, but it all makes sense now.. my gran grew up on the mainland and only moved north in her late 20s/early 30s.

  4. OMG - I had completely forgotten about the ubiquitous cheese roll - a real tradition from the deep south :-)
    Sue xo

  5. Oh cheese roll porn.......


    I've also made them with lite evaporated milk for when the thought of the total fat content has gotten to me.

    I'm making two bag loads tomorrow for my daughter's first birthday! And some wholegrain ones for the adults! I've seen in cafes sometimes large ones (where the bread has been sliced horizontally instead of vertically).

  6. I learned about cheese rolls from the internet and I made them for my Invercargill-born husband. I never thought to make them and take them to work. We have a sandwich press too so it would be a good thing to bring on a cold day. I chop up gherkins and add them to the mix too. Is that sacrilegious?

  7. Gotta love cheese rolls. I grew up in Dunedin and my mum must have made thousands of these things over the years fundraising for sports and clubs we were in. So good with soup or for weekend lunch... mmm daydreaming of cheese rolls now... may have to make them when I get home from work.

  8. I made these for friends on Friday who loved them and both guests wanted the recipe. The only comment I would make is that the recipe (Rachel's mum's) makes enough to fill 3 loaves of sandwich bread.

    Could it be halved but still use the whole packet of soup?


  9. Hi Alison, it would be fine to add the whole packet of soup but it would make a saltier mixture. Though in saying that, Rachel's mums recipe (as per the full recipe) is much less salty than most of the cheese roll recipes I've come across so a half recipe could probably handle the whole packet of soup.


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