The South Island Cheese Roll

No, I am not a South Islander but yes I do love their cheese rolls. In the last few months I’ve read a number of things about the famous southland cheese roll so I decided to jump on the bandwagon! If you know the cheese roll from your childhood – welcome back!

A cheese roll is fairly basic. So basic, it is hardly worthy of its own blog post but I figure because I love a good cheese roll and this blog is all about sharing my favourite recipes with you…why not!

For the people that are not quite so familiar with this tasty treat – a cheese roll is created by covering a slice of bread in a filling consisting of grated cheese, and then rolling it into a tube shape before toasting in an oven. Easy. However it is more about what you add to the cheese that counts here and can sure enough make or break.

Though ingredients typically include onion, Worcestershire sauce and onion soup mix, other fillings such as crushed pineapple or sweet corn can be just as delicious! This filling mixture is prepared separately before being added to the bread, rather than the filling simply being a slice of cheese covered with any other ingredients – like the beloved mouse trap!

Cheese rolls are a very popular food in Otago and Southland and are found at cafes and other foodie outlets. Sadly, toasted cheese rolls are virtually unknown in the North Island! Booooo! I decided this recipe is about sharing the cheese roll love across the North Island of New Zealand. Get your cheese roll fix. Enjoy!

The Southland Cheese Roll

  • 1 loaf of wholegrain sandwich bread
  • 1 can of reduced cream
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 Maggi onion soup mix
  • 300 grams of cheese

This recipe has to be the easiest recipe in my entire recipe book! Mix together the can of reduced cream (a few recipes I’ve discovered recently have used evaporated milk but I prefer the thickness of the reduced cream), diced onion, cheese, and the onion soup mix until really well combined.

Spread margarine on one side of each slice of bread, turnover. Spoon a small dollop of cheese mixture onto each slice of bread. Roll into a tube and place on the baking tray. You should end up with about 25 tubes all lined up on your baking tray.

Bake the rolls at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes. This may take a little longer depending on your oven. Gently turn rolls over and bake on the other side for about 20 minutes more.

I like my toasted rolls to be bite-sized so I generally wait until they have cooled down sufficiently until I go ahead and slice each roll in half. These are pretty damn good straight out of a hot oven but are delicious cold as well. They go down perfectly with a mug of hot soup for dinner or at a work morning tea  – so versatile!

Note: If you like a bit of bite, you can add a teaspoon of dry mustard to the cheese mixture. This adds a small amount of zzzzing!


17 thoughts on “The South Island Cheese Roll

  1. Haha this is so funny. I do remember these as a kid. I’m sure they made appearances at children’s parties – even in the North Island. I don’t recall them being called cheeserolls but hey, that’s exactly what they are! I imagine marmite would be pretty good..

  2. Heather Clark

    Having just been back to NZ for a holiday, was really surprised to see them in a restuarant in Alexandra. Of course had to have one, now I have the recipe, guess what I will be making??

  3. They sound great will upmarket by removing crusts and when cooked cut into bite size to have as nibbles, will also experiment with different fillings, maybe with herbs added, parmesan cheese n bacon

  4. Pingback: Cheese Roll | New Zealand

  5. Haven’t had one for a few years but they are the best in long,cold day comfort food. Thank you for taking the time to write your blog – clearly we all think they are worth it!!

  6. Robert

    As a born and bread Southlander the Southern Cheese Roll needs no explanation to ANY Southlander.
    Now that I live away from Southland I can say there has been no other outlet outside the South Island that can even come close to replicating this truely iconic Southland tasty treat. Good on you to put this in your blog for the national and international interest of all those poor souls that have yet to experience this amazing simple comfort snack.


    1. Hi Robert! Thanks so much for your message. It means so much to know kiwis abroad are reading my little wee blog. Sometimes it seems so mundane and somewhat too obvious to publish such iconic and everyday kiwi favourites, but every time I do, I get a message of thanks from a kiwi living overseas. Thank you!

  7. Jacque Carlyle

    There are many different recipes so I look forward to trying this one. Yours is a healthier option though as the true South Island Cheese Roll is only ever made with white bread brushed on the top with butter.

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