Addictive Recipes from a Self-Taught Baker

Honey Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

Soft, hearty, and sweet honey whole wheat dinner rolls! Recipe for homemade whole wheat rolls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Baking a batch of whole wheat rolls that’s both SOFT and FLAVORFUL feels like winning the lottery. Or, at the very least, winning dinner time.

What normally results in hockey pucks can finally grace our dinner tables proudly. These honey whole wheat dinner rolls easily compete with (and beat) the tastiest white flour rolls because they’re nutty, a little sweet, and have a little more oomph in the texture department. And unlike “whole wheat rolls” with refined flour hiding in them, this recipe is 100% whole wheat.

Soft, hearty, and sweet honey whole wheat dinner rolls! Recipe for homemade whole wheat rolls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Let’s get right into it because we have a lot of carbs to cover today!!

Whole wheat flour is picky. It’s heavy and doesn’t contain the same level of gluten as white flours. This missing gluten poses a problem when it comes to bread making. Many whole wheat bread recipes call for the addition of vital wheat gluten to make up for it, but I don’t really keep that in my kitchen and assume you don’t either. Another option would be to sub some whole wheat flour out for all-purpose or bread flour. But then the whole wheat rolls won’t be 100% whole wheat. I worked around this as best I could and after a few failed whole wheat dinner roll attempts, I landed on both a recipe and method I loved. And I’m confident you’ll be satisfied too!

Admittedly, these whole wheat rolls aren’t as fluffy and tall as their white counterpart, but I like that they have a heartier texture. (And I appreciate that they are 100% whole wheat and call for readily available ingredients!)

HOW THIS RECIPE WORKS

I adapted this whole wheat roll recipe from my regular version. You’ll need the same exact ingredients, except you’ll swap the bread flour for whole wheat. A few other differences make up for the heavy and dense whole wheat flour:

  • Use softened butter instead of melted. Softened butter produces lighter and fluffier cakes, so I figured it’d work here too. And my gut instinct was right! I ended up increasing the softened butter in test batch #2 and even more in test batch #3. 1/2 cup (1 stick or 8 Tablespoons) produced the best tasting whole wheat rolls.
  • Use 2 whole eggs instead of 1 egg + 1 egg yolk. The extra liquid from the egg white keeps the dough a little more hydrated.
  • I added an extra Tablespoon of honey for flavor.

And the glue holding everything together is our superior baking yeast. The one and only Red Star Platinum Superior Baking Yeast. This is an instant yeast and my preferred yeast for any and all bread baking. I’m a fangirl for RSY and use it exclusively in my kitchen because it’s always a guarantee.

Red star yeast platinum for honey whole wheat rolls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Dough for honey whole wheat rolls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

The dough comes together easily. I recommend using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment (most stand mixers are sold with it), but if you don’t have a stand mixer, mix the dough together with a wooden spoon and knead by hand.

Whole wheat dough requires a slightly longer rise time since it’s weighed down with wheat germ and bran. There are 2 rises. The first for about 2 hours after the dough is made, the second for about 1 hour after the dough is cut into rolls. No shortcuts around either rise time.

(*While you can’t rush it, you can certainly make things easier on yourself by following my make ahead instructions below!*)

Dough for honey whole wheat rolls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Now here’s where things take a different turn. Normally I divide the bread dough and roll into individual balls. (Just like with my honey butter rolls.) It works, but the dough never rolls up perfectly. Maybe it’s because I’m impatient, but some of the rolls end up looking a little scraggly and misshaped. It’s frustrating, especially when I want uniform shaped buns. (LOL!)

And that brings us to the following approach.

THE BEST SHAPING TRICK

Instead, let’s take our risen dough and shape it into a long 9×13 rectangle, the size of our baking pan. Almost as if we were making cinnamon rolls, but we’re not stretching the dough out quite that far. It’s pliable, so just use your hands to shape the dough as best you can.

Then take your pizza cutter and cut into 15 rolls.

SO EASY!!! No individual rolling!!!

How to make honey whole wheat rolls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

How to make honey whole wheat rolls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

How to make honey whole wheat rolls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Then it’s business as usual. Loosely cover and allow the rolls to rest and rise one more time. They’ll get nice and puffy in about 1 hour.

How to make honey whole wheat rolls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Bake the whole wheat rolls until they’re golden on top then finish them with 2 goodies: a brush of honey butter and a sprinkle of sea salt. You know I’m a big fan of finishing touches and trust me when I say: the brush of honey butter and sea salt are the best. Both boost the rolls from “good” to “wow I can’t believe these are whole wheat rolls because they taste dynamite.” (I trust you’ll say those exact words.)

The honey butter will soak down into all the cracks and crevices and the sea salt makes that honey flavor pop. They’re crucial.

Soft, hearty, and sweet honey whole wheat dinner rolls! Recipe for homemade whole wheat rolls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Soft, hearty, and sweet honey whole wheat dinner rolls! Recipe for homemade whole wheat rolls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

These honey whole wheat dinner rolls are soft, but they aren’t particularly fluffy. But that’s one of their best qualities! Unlike rolls made with refined flour, these whole wheat rolls are hearty; they have structure, body, texture, and staying power. Great for soup dunking, maple almond butter spreading, mopping up all this delish sauce, and pretty much anywhere carbs belong.

Told ya… WINNING.

Soft, hearty, and sweet honey whole wheat dinner rolls! Recipe for homemade whole wheat rolls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

You should also try my 100% whole wheat pizza dough!

Honey Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (240ml) whole milk, warmed to about 110°F (43°C)
  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons Red Star® Platinum yeast
  • 1/2 cup (115g; 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (cut into 4 pieces)
  • 1/3 cup (105g) honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 and 1/2 cups (420g) whole wheat flour, plus more for kneading/shaping

Topping

  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • sea salt for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Make the dough: Pour the warm milk over yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Or, if you don't have a stand mixer, a regular large mixing bowl. Whisk together, cover bowl with a towel, and allow to sit for 5 minutes. The mixture will be frothy and foamy after 5 minutes.
  2. On low speed, beat in the softened butter until it is slightly broken up. Then beat in the honey, eggs, and salt. The butter won't really be mixing into the mixture, so don't be alarmed if it stays in pieces. On low speed, gradually add the flour. Once it is all added, beat on medium speed until a soft dough forms. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 6-7 more minutes. The dough should pull away from the edges of the mixing bowl. Poke it with your finger; it should gently bounce back. If the dough is too sticky, add more whole wheat flour 1 Tablespoon at a time until it pulls away from the bowl and you have the right texture. *If you do not have a stand-mixer with a hook attachment, knead the dough by hand in this step.*
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it with your hands for 1 minute. Form the dough into a ball, coat your mixing bowl with nonstick spray or olive oil, and place the dough back in and turn it over so all sides of the dough are coated with the oil/spray. Cover the dough/bowl loosely with plastic wrap, a paper towel, or aluminum foil and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1.5 - 2 hours. Here's what I do: turn the oven on to 200°F (93°C). Once heated to that temperature, turn the oven off. Stick the covered dough inside the oven and allow it to rise in this warm environment.
  4. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Set aside.
  5. Shape the rolls: Punch the dough down to release any air bubbles and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using floured hands, stretch the dough into a 9x13 rectangle (doesn't need to be exact, it can be a little smaller). Use a pizza cutter and cut into 15 rolls. See photo above for a visual. Round out the edges of the rolls since they stretched a bit as you cut them. Arrange in prepared pan. Loosely cover the rolls and allow to rise in a warm environment again until puffy and double in size, about 1 hour.
  6. Bake the rolls: Preheat the oven to 375°F (191°C). Bake rolls for about 25 minutes or until they are golden brown. About halfway through the bake time, I like to cover the rolls loosely with aluminum foil so the tops don't brown too much. Remove pan from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
  7. Top the rolls: Meanwhile, mix the melted butter and honey together. Brush over warm rolls. Sprinkle with sea salt. Serve warm.
  8. Cover any leftover rolls and store at room temperature for a few days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. You can also freeze for up to 3 months, then thaw on the counter or overnight in the refrigerator.

Make ahead tip: After dough has risen two hours in step 3, punch down the dough inside the mixing bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days, then remove from the refrigerator and continue with step 4. Or freeze for up to 2 months, then allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and continue with step 4.

Recipe Notes:

*Lower fat milk can be substituted, but the rolls won't taste as soft. I strongly suggest whole milk.

Don't leave off that honey butter/sea salt topping. The rolls will be lacking a little flavor without it. I prefer spreading the honey butter on the rolls after they bake as opposed to before they bake. Brushing butter on top of the delicate, airy unbaked roll weighs them down and encourages them to deflate. Best to spread on the honey butter right after baking.

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

SHOP THE RECIPE

Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Pastry Brush | Pizza Cutter | 9×13 Baking Pan | 3-qt Oblong Baking Dish

In partnership with Red Star Yeast. Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Soft, hearty, and sweet honey whole wheat dinner rolls! Recipe for homemade whole wheat rolls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

49 comments

  1. These rolls look so fluffy and delicious! Can’t wait to try this recipe!

  2. Hi Sally!
    I was so excited about these WW rolls last week and when I saw the recipe was already on the Red Star Yeast website I went ahead and made them over the weekend. However something didn’t quite work for me:(
    The only things I did different were halve the recipe coz I didn’t want 15 rolls and knead by hand. Everything seemed fine until they went into the oven. Instead of soft rolls I got flat underbaked biscuits after 35 mins of baking.
    What do you think went wrong??
    PS the dough was a bit sticky but I was afraid of adding too much flour so kept it that way.

    • Hi Verona! I’m so glad you already tried the whole wheat rolls, though I’m sorry you had difficulty with them. I don’t suggest halving the dough recipe. This dough is finicky and you’ll get the best results when you stick to the specified amounts and volume. Let me know if you try the recipe again!

  3. Perfect timing! Ive been looking up healthier(-ish, haha) dinner rolls for Easter! Thank you!

  4. Just wanna sink my teeth into these scrumptious rolls Sally! Life can’t be done without carbs, I fess up! It’s true. Been not eating them for month now but I’m back. Never made a roll before!

  5. Looks amazing! Can’t wait to try them!

  6. These look fool proof enough that I think I could handle it!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

  7. I love making bread and rolls and these look delicious! And I was wondering what I was going to do with all the whole wheat flour I bought, I made your peanut butter carrot dog biscuit recipe for my dog Sprinkles’ third birthday last week! She loved them (of course) Thanks Sally!

  8. These look fabulous, Sally! YUM!

  9. Have you ever made the dough in the bread machine? I was just curious if it would be the same recipe? They sound delish!

  10. Have nit made any bread in years. This sounds healthy enough to try but would have to knead by hand the way I did years ago. May try this.

  11. These looks soooo yummy!! My question is…could I par-bake the rolls and freeze them? Then bake them frozen (not thawing first) at a later time?
    Thanks!

  12. Hi Sally!

    I want to try these this weekend, but I have a different yeast! Will it change the recipe at all? Once I run out of my current yeast I plan on getting the Red Star stuff!!!

    Thanks!

    • I love Red Star yeast! Get the platinum when you purchase it. In the meantime, you can use any instant yeast instead.

  13. I do have gluten in my cabinets! Do you think it’d be worth adding?

  14. These look delicious and on top of that, they r healthy too.
    I’ve been following your blog for a while now, and I have recently launched my own. It would be great if you could check it out!!

  15. Hi Sally, I am hoping to make these this afternoon while my little one naps. I love your recipes, have one of your books and can’t wait to try these rolls. But i have 2 things to say first: 1. You just have wholewheat flour in this recipe. I’m in the UK and wondering if strong wholemeal flour would be preferable to just (plain?) wholemeal flour (hope that makes sense to you!). 2. Have you tried the Grant Loaf recipe? It’s a 100% wholemeal (strong wholemeal bread flour) loaf that involves no kneading and you can make it from start to finish in about an hour! It’s what i call miracle bread, and with 2 little kids on the go is a brilliant easy-peasy go-to loaf when you haven’t got time for kneading and rolling out etc. If you haven’t already, please give it a go as it is super healthy yet genuinely delicious. It really is tasty. Please let me know if you try it, and if you need the recipe i’ll post it on here. I think you’d love it! 🙂

    • Hi Gemma! I wish I had experience with wholemeal flour, but I don’t– I’m so sorry! I’m unsure if that will do in this recipe. I haven’t tried Grant Loaf, but it sounds great!

      • Thank you for your quick response! 🙂 Really appreciate it. I think wholewheat and wholemeal are interchangeable terms. But I was actually asking about the protein content. e.g. for the Grant Loaf it MUST be strong wholewheat flour for the higher gluten content (and it must be stoneground/stone-milled; not bleached to ensure that it rises properly). I know you generally use all-purpose white flour as opposed to strong bread flour when you make white yeasted doughs and so I was wondering if it mattered in this recipe whether it was strong or not (i.e. higher gluten or not). Hope that makes more sense…! 🙂
        Here is a link to the Grant Loaf recipe I use: https://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/type-of-dish/bread-recipes/wholemeal-loaf Hope this gives you and other readers the inspiration to try it as it is so basic in ingredients and method and yet despite that it tastes so good – I just can’t recommend it enough! xxx

      • An update: so I went ahead and made these rolls with the British wholemeal plain flour (not bread flour). They turned out wonderful! So fluffy and springy and more-ish. I preferred them without the honey butter and just slathered in good quality lightly salted butter. YUM! Will definitely be making again! 🙂 Thank you for the awesome recipe!!! xxx

      • Great to know! Thank you so much for taking the time to report back 🙂

  16. They look yummy ,going to try em out !

  17. I cannot wait to try these! Do you think a variation with coconut oil would work?

  18. Hey Sally, I just tried these today and they are literally the greatest thing in the world. I have always preferred whole wheat bread to white, and not just because of the extra nutrition; I’ll happily sacrifice a few inches of fluffiness in favour of FLAVOUR. And that is precisely what this recipe delivered in abundance!! The honey was the ingredient that really stood out. I also found the texture really lovely: I’ve actually never used eggs in a yeast dough before, nor such a high percentage of butter, and the combination was BRILLIANT! Almost more like a brioche … I could tell from the way the dough felt in my hands before it baked that it was going to finish beautifully, and oh, I was right. I actually only divided it into ten rolls instead of fifteen, and I can’t say I’m upset that mine are extra large 😀 
    If I hadn’t made your amazing minestrone soup recipe to go with them, (totally fangirling here, I know!!) I probably wouldn’t have wanted to eat anything else. 
    Next I’ll have to see if I’m brave enough to have a go at pavlova …

  19. I made this recipe this week and they are AMAZING. I can’t get enough. Normally I make bread in my bread maker but this has changed me. Can’t wait to try other bread recipes of yours (I have only tried your delicious desserts in he past). 

  20. These rolls look heavenly!!

  21. Hi Sally!

    Would it be alright to omit the butter when kneading the dough? Or would it ruin the batter? If I should replace it, can I use olive oil or coconut oil? Thank you!!

  22. Thanks for this recipe! I made them just as your recipe noted. Mine didn’t quite rise in the oven as much as yours show in the pictures, and I had to let mine rise a little more the second time, as they just weren’t getting the height that I wanted/needed.The topping made them super good – I’ll definitely use the honey/butter/salt mix on other rolls too.

  23. Tried these last night with wholemeal flour. They didn’t look quite as pretty as yours did but tasted great nonetheless! Gonna try your easy cinnamon rolls next 🙂 have never gone wrong with one of your recipes!

  24. Hi! It’s my first time using whole wheat flour so when I went to shop for it I found two kinds. “Fine Whole Wheat” and “Coarse Whole Wheat”. Are you familiar with the difference? And which one I should use for this recipe?

    By the way, I’m excited to try this out. Thank you so much for this recipe!

    • Hi Terry! I’m not familiar with the difference, but after a quick internet search– I recommend using fine whole wheat.

  25. Hi Sally! Thank you for this recipe.

    I have the SAF Gold instant yeast. I did step one, but the mixture did not foam at all. I read only after that this specific type of yeast is supposed to be mixed in with the flour/dry ingredients. How do you suggest I should modify the recipe? or should I still follow your original one even without the foaming?

    Hoping for your reply. Thanks!

    • Hi Therese! I wouldn’t modify this recipe, just continue on since your yeast won’t likely foam. Let me know how the whole wheat rolls turn out!

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