Soft Dinner Rolls Recipe

You only need 7 ingredients to make these dinner rolls. Flaky, soft, and buttery, these fresh dinner rolls outshine any main dish. If you’re a bread beginner, read this blog post to learn more about the yeast rolls recipe, including how to prep the rolls ahead of time. You can also reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs. 

Dinner rolls in baking pan

This recipe is brought to you in partnership with Red Star Yeast. 🙂

  • Do you long to bake homemade bread but are too intimidated to start?
  • Does yeast dough send you running for the hills?
  • Do bread recipes seem overly complicated and confusing?

I’m teaching you how to make homemade dinner rolls. These are the best homemade dinner rolls I’ve ever had and it all starts with a straightforward 7 ingredient dough. I make these rolls whenever I get the chance and even brought a pan to our friends who just welcomed a baby. They’re pillow soft with the most delicious flaky and buttery texture. Everyone will demand you bake them on repeat. Even my toddler’s eyes light up when I pull them out of the oven!! Noelle, you’re a smart girl.

And with this recipe, I guarantee you will finally feel confident baking bread. 🙂

Baking with Yeast Guide

Reference this Baking with Yeast Guide whenever you work with baker’s yeast. I include practical answers to all of your common yeast questions.

Butter rolls in baking pan


Video Tutorial: Dinner Rolls

Let’s start with a video tutorial.


How to Make Homemade Dinner Rolls

  1. Make the dough. Continue below to learn more about this dough recipe.
  2. Knead the dough for 2 minutes.
  3. Cover the dough and let it rise. The dough rises in about 1-2 hours in a relatively warm environment.
  4. Punch down the dough to release the air and shape into rolls.
  5. Let the rolls rise for about 1 hour.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. If desired, brush the warm rolls with a little honey and melted butter for extra flavor.

As shown in the video tutorial, the dough comes together with a mixer. You can use a paddle attachment or a dough hook. You can also make the dough by hand, but it requires a bit of arm muscle. After the dough comes together in the mixing bowl, it’s time to knead. You can simply continue beating the dough with the mixer for this step or you can knead the dough by hand. I chose to knead the dough by hand so you can see me doing it.

If you’re interested, I provide further detail about kneading in my Baking with Yeast Guide. (Which, by the way, is a wonderful resource for all bread beginners!)

Dinner roll yeast dough in mixer

Soft Dinner Rolls Require a Rich Dough

The crustier and chewier the bread, the less fat in the dough. This is known as a lean dough. The softer and richer the bread, the more fat in the dough. This is known as a rich dough. Unlike chewy bagels, focaccia, and crusty bread, soft dinner rolls require a rich dough. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that the dough is swimming in cash. Rather, “rich” correlates with the amount of fat. For example, this dough has milk, butter, and egg.

You need 7 ingredients total. They’re the same ingredients in my easy cinnamon rolls, which is also a rich dough. (Though I use more sugar for sweeter cinnamon rolls, of course.)

  1. Milk: Liquid activates the yeast. For the softest dinner rolls, use whole milk. Nondairy or low fat milks work too, but whole milk produces phenomenal flavor and texture.
  2. Yeast: You can use active dry yeast or instant yeast. If using active dry yeast, the rise times will be a little longer. I recommend Red Star Platinum Superior Baking Yeast, which is an instant yeast blended with natural dough improvers.
  3. Sugar: Sugar feeds the yeast, increases its activity, and tenderizes the dough.
  4. Egg: 1 egg provides structure and flavor.
  5. Butter: Butter promises a flavorful and soft dinner roll. Make sure it’s room temperature.
  6. Salt: You can’t make flavorful bread without salt!
  7. Flour: You can use all-purpose flour or bread flour in this recipe. All-purpose flour is convenient for most, but bread flour produces chewier dinner rolls. There are no other changes to the recipe if you use bread flour.

Once you make the dough, let it rise:

Dinner rolls yeast dough

After that, punch down the risen dough. Shape into balls and arrange in a baking pan. Don’t worry if they’re not all uniform in size. No one is perfect!

Let the shaped rolls rise before baking. Look how puffy they get after 1 hour of rising:

Shaped dinner roll dough in baking pan

How to Shape Dinner Rolls

You can shape this dough many different ways including twisted rolls, knotted rolls, cloverleaf rolls, or even hot dog buns. Let’s stick with the basic round shape. Divide the dough into 14-16 pieces. Take a piece and stretch the top of the dough while pinching and sealing the bottom. I do this entirely in my hands and you can watch in the video tutorial above. Some video tutorials show rolling the dough into a ball on the counter. Whichever way you choose, make sure the rolls are smooth on top and sealed on the bottom. I shape hot cross buns the same exact way.

How to Make Yeast Rolls Ahead of Time

The rolls require around 3 hours of rising. Not everyone has 3 hours to spare, so let’s discuss another option! Prepare the dough, let it rise, and shape the rolls. Cover the shaped rolls tightly and refrigerate for up to about 16 hours. At least 3 hours before you need them the next day, remove the rolls from the refrigerator and allow to rise on the counter for about 1-2 hours before baking.

And here’s how to freeze dinner rolls: Follow the make-ahead instructions and instead of refrigerating overnight, freeze the rolls in a baking pan. Once frozen, they won’t stick together anymore and you can place them in a freezer bag. Let them thaw and rise for about 4-5 hours, then bake. You can also freeze the baked dinner rolls. Therefore, if you want a smaller batch, you can make the entire recipe and bake only a few fresh rolls at a time.

These make-ahead options are especially helpful if you want fresh-baked rolls for Easter brunch, Thanksgiving dinner, or on Christmas.

Dinner rolls

Dinner Roll Flavors

How about some pizazz? Mix in these ingredients when you add the flour.

  1. Rosemary Dinner Rolls – 2 Tablespoons fresh or dried chopped rosemary.
  2. Cheddar Dinner Rolls – 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese. Other cheese varieties work, but avoid super soft cheeses.
  3. Garlic & Herb Dinner Rolls – 2 teaspoons each: dried rosemary, dried basil, & dried parsley, along with 1 teaspoon garlic powder.
  4. Whole Wheat Rolls – Here is my Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls recipe.

This dough is not ideal for a big loaf of bread. Instead, I recommend using a leaner dough, such as my sandwich bread recipe.

Dinner rolls in 9x13 inch baking pan

3 Success Tips

  1. Reference my Baking with Yeast Guide, which answers many common yeast FAQs.
  2. Make sure your yeast isn’t expired. Expiration date is on the package.
  3. Directly from the pros at Red Star Yeast: Measuring flour correctly is key to avoiding a dense dough, which leads to heavy (not soft!) rolls. Spoon and level your flour, do not scoop it out of the package.

My final piece of advice? Don’t limit these rolls to suppertime. They’re welcome anywhere, with any meal, any time of day. Use for sliders, breakfast sandwiches, soaking up your favorite tomato sauce, alongside salad, or dunking into a bowl of creamy chicken noodle soup. Above all, don’t doubt yourself because you, too, can become a bread baking pro.

Dinner rolls

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Dinner rolls in baking pan

Soft Dinner Rolls Recipe

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 3 hours, 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 22 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes
  • Yield: 14-16 rolls
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

You only need 7 ingredients to make these dinner rolls. Flaky, soft, and buttery, these fresh dinner rolls outshine any main dish. See recipe notes for freezing and overnight instructions. You can also reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs. 


Ingredients

  • 1 cup (240ml) whole milk, warmed to about 110°F
  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons Red Star Platinum yeast (1 standard packet)
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature and cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour or bread flour (spoon & leveled)*
  • optional topping: 2 Tablespoons melted unsalted butter mixed with 1 Tablespoon honey

Instructions

  1. Prepare the dough: Whisk the warm milk, yeast, and 1 Tablespoon of sugar together in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or paddle attachment. Cover and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the remaining sugar, egg, butter, salt, and 1 cup flour. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then add the remaining flour. Beat on medium speed until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 2 minutes. *If you do not own a mixer, you can mix this dough with a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula. It will take a bit of arm muscle!*
  3. Knead the dough: Keep the dough in the mixer and beat for an additional 2 minutes or knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 2 minutes. (See video tutorial above if you need a visual of kneading dough by hand.)
  4. 1st Rise: Lightly grease a large bowl with oil or nonstick spray. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to coat all sides in the oil. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise in a relatively warm environment for 1-2 hours or until double in size. (I always let it rise on the counter. Takes about 2 hours. For a tiny reduction in rise time, see my answer to Where Should Dough Rise? in my Baking with Yeast Guide.)
  5. Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan or two 9-inch square or round baking pans. You can also bake the rolls in a cast iron skillet or on a lined baking sheet.*
  6. Shape the rolls: When the dough is ready, punch it down to release the air. Divide the dough into 14-16 equal pieces. (Just eyeball it– doesn’t need to be perfect!) Shape each piece into a smooth ball. I do this entirely in my hands and you can watch in the video tutorial above. Arrange in prepared baking pan.
  7. 2nd Rise: Cover shaped rolls with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel. Allow to rise until puffy, about 1 hour.
  8. Adjust oven rack to a lower position and preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). (It’s best to bake the rolls towards the bottom of the oven so the tops don’t burn.)
  9. Bake the rolls: Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on top, rotating the pan halfway through. If you notice the tops browning too quickly, loosely tent the pan with aluminum foil. Remove from the oven, brush with optional honey butter topping, and allow rolls to cool for a few minutes before serving.
  10. Cover leftover rolls tightly and store at room temperature for 2-3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Freezing Instructions: Prepare recipe through step 6. Place shaped rolls in a greased baking pan, cover tightly, and freeze for up to 3 months. Once frozen, the dough balls won’t stick together anymore and you can place them in a freezer bag if needed. On the day you serve them, arrange the dough balls in a greased baking pan, cover tightly, then let them thaw and rise for about 4-5 hours. Bake as directed. You can also freeze the baked dinner rolls. Allow them to cool completely, then freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature, then reheat as desired.
  2. Overnight Instructions: Prepare the recipe through step 6. Cover the shaped rolls tightly and refrigerate for up to about 15 hours. At least 3 hours before you need them the next day, remove the rolls from the refrigerator, keep covered, and allow to rise on the counter for about 1-2 hours before baking. Alternatively, you can let the dough have its 1st rise in the refrigerator overnight. Cover the dough tightly and place in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and allow the dough to fully rise for 2 more hours. Continue with step 5.
  3. Baking Pan: I prefer baking the rolls in a glass 9×13 inch baking pan because I find they brown a little too quickly in metal. As long as you bake the rolls on a lower oven rack and keep your eye on them, any pan is great.
  4. Yeast: Red Star Platinum yeast is an instant yeast. You can use Red Star Yeast active dry yeast instead. Rise times will be slightly longer using active dry yeast. Reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.
  5. Flour: You can use all-purpose flour or bread flour. All-purpose flour is convenient for most, but bread flour produces chewier dinner rolls. The rolls are still soft and fluffy no matter which you use. Either flour is fine and there are no other changes to the recipe if you use one or the other.

Adapted from Homemade Bread Bowls and Honey Butter Rolls

Keywords: bread, rolls, yeast rolls

 

This post is sponsored by Red Star Yeast. Thank you so much for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction and the brands I genuinely love.

327 Comments

  1. Great recipe! My daughter is severely lactose-intolerant so I substituted with coconut milk and vegan butter. The rolls came out perfectly – light, fluffy, flavorful, with the right amount of sweetness. I have tried three different recipes and yours was by far the best! Thank you!

  2. I made these for dinner tonight, and they’re delish! Super light and fluffy! My family loved them. Another great recipe, Sally!

  3. Wonderful recipe! I was worried I rushed the first proof, and it’s cold here so proofing in the baking dish took a little longer than an hour, but they are scrumptious!

  4. Thank you for this recipe! I need more than 16 rolls for Thanksgiving, but not 32…can I increase the recipe by half as it is written?

  5. Hey Sally!
    Gathering my recipes for thanksgiving and I’d really like to make these rolls. But I’d ideally like to make them Tuesday night to reduce my work load Wednesday, keep them in the fridge, and bake them Thursday fresh. Can I leave them in the fridge that long? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Sarah! Unfortunately, that’s too long for the roll dough. The best bet would be to bake them on Wednesday, then just cover and store them at room temperature overnight until Thursday.

  6. Second time making bread and everyone was impressed. I have always thought bread was intimidating until reading your blog. I live in the mountains so baking can be tricky, I added an extra egg and they came out great! Thanks again : )

  7. Great recipe! For the first time today I used Platinum Superior yeast by Redstar and found the rise to be MUCH better than any yeast I have used in the past. It cost more…I think I had to order from Amazon. But WOW! Very impressive!

  8. By the way, I use an Instant Pot for my rises. For the first rise, I place the metal mixing bowl on the trivit (water level up to the trivit) , place a glass lid on the mixing bowl (or even the IP lid) and set the IP to yogurt. Then, for the second rise, I place a wire cooling rack on top of the IP , set whatever pan I’m going to use, keeping the IP set to yogurt. Saves space. Gives constant warmth.

  9. I tried this recipe for the first time and the texture of the roll had lots of air pockets, not like the inside of the rolls as you picture. Any idea what I’ve done wrong? My oven has a proofing feature and I put a thick towel in the warming drawer with the lowest temp setting. I used Red Star active yeast since that was all I had. Thanks in advance for your help. ML

    1. Hi Mary, it’s likely that the dough was over-proofed or was in an environment that was simply too warm. If too warm, the dough will rise too fast and actually begin cooking before the yeast has finished acting. I recommend a lower temperature and rising for a shorter period of time.

      1. Thank you for reply which makes sense. I noticed the dough had risen nicely, but it was quite warm when I took it out of the bowl. I’ll try your recipe again using a different proofing method and let you know how it turns out. Thanks again for your helpful response. ML

  10. These rolls are great…made them today as a test run for the holiday! I usually make a cloverleaf roll shape for Thanksgiving, but these reminded me of the shape my grandmother made (way back in the day) so I thought I’d try it. I’ve not used glass pans for rolls before, but that worked well. Thank you so much for the easy to follow recipe!

  11. I have been trying dinner roll recipes for 40 years and never found one that made me completely happy. This is, at last, the one! The rolls came together easily, rose beautifully in the time listed in the recipe (unusual!), and were soft, yeasty, and scrumptious! I just printed the recipe to double for Thanksgiving. Thanks so much!

  12. Hi, I don’t feel like there is 2 and a 1/4 teaspoons of yeast in one packet. They come in strips of 3 packets. Are you saying to use all 3 or just one of the 3? Thank you!

    1. Hi Karen! One standard packet should amount to 2 and 1/4 teaspoons- if you want, feel free to measure the yeast prior to adding it to the recipe!

  13. Hi Sally, these rolls were a huge hit last thanksgiving. I’ve made them 3x. Every time I follow the recipe exactly, but when I do the initial combining in the mixer my dough doesn’t pull away—it sort of turns into a puddle of goo. I end up adding more flour (at least 1/2cup) and they turn out fine, but I wonder what is happening? This last time I even weighed my flour to make sure that I didn’t have an issue there. Any ideas? Thx! I love your site.

    1. Hi Danielle! Are you at high altitude by chance? Adding a little more flour is completely normal and some days I add a little extra if the dough is still sticking to the sides of the bowl. I’m glad you love these!

  14. Hi Sally,
    I love all of your recipes and really wanna make these rolls, but I don’t have a stand mixer…….. is it still possible to do without one?

  15. Can I remove the egg? We have an egg allergy in the family and I’d prefer to keep this same recipe intact as we made them for our friendsgiving just last weekend. Thanks!

    1. Hi Jeff, you can remove the egg and replace with extra milk but the texture of the rolls will change– they won’t be as soft.

  16. Sally, I love your site, and I have read almost everything there on it about baking bread, so thank you! I used this dinner roll recipe, and they turned out really dense. The yeast wasn’t expired, and became frothy. Could it be because I am now living in a high altitude? The only thing that I varied from the recipe was letting it rise longer than you say in the recipe. Why do you think they were dense? Thank you!!

    1. Hi Jami! I wish I could help with high altitude suggestions, but I have no experience baking at higher altitudes. I know that bread baking can be fairly difficult if necessary adjustments aren’t made. A lot of readers find this chart very helpful! https://www.kingarthurflour.com/learn/resources/high-altitude-baking

      Make sure the dough is soft. A little stickiness is OK!

  17. I am at a higher elevation.. they came out crunchy on the top and bottom but super soft in the middle.. I wonder what I did wrong, this is my first time dealing w bread.

  18. I did “test rolls” from the batch last night, left the rest of the shaped rolls in the fridge. Oh boy! This wasn’t hard, and we had to talk ourselves out of having more (“Oh, we can make more tomorrow, right?)! The others are out of the fridge and I’m hoping they’ll be rising when I check on them. No reason to think they won’t, I trust you, Sally! THANK YOU for making me a star with my husband this Thanksgiving!

  19. We’ve been hosting Thanksgiving at my house for 10 years. Every year, I’ve tried my hand at home made rolls, and every year my family has suffered with dense, awful bread. This year, with this recipe, my family enthusiastically enjoyed my success!!! Thank you, Sally for helping me finally defeat my nemesis: homemade rolls.

  20. I made these the other day and I knew I should have added more flour. After kneading in mixer the dough seemed way to sticky but figured I would follow recipe. They didn’t turn out.

    Not one to give up I tried again today. They came together but, again, after kneading in the stand mixer they turned to a gluey mess. So I threw the dough out on the counter and kneaded in some more flour until the dough seemed like the right consistency.
    They just came out of the oven the kitchen smells wonderful, and the rolls came out as you wold expect them to.
    Will keep the recipe but omit kneading in stand mixer and figure in a little more flour.

  21. These turned out fantastic! Perfect Thanksgiving rolls! I am planning on making them again with country ham for a party appetizer, any tips for making them smaller/party-size?

  22. Hi Sally
    Mine turned out well in terms of taste and softness. Somehow it didnt turn that brown on the top. Couldn’t figure out why. Any Suggestions? I kept mine in the middle rack of the oven.

    1. Hi Harsha! When bread doughs don’t brown in the oven, it’s likely that the dough was proofed too long. That’s an easy fix for next time. Glad you enjoyed their taste! If it helps, for the last few minutes, you can raise the oven rack so the rolls are closer to the heating element and brown a little easier, too.

  23. I made these for the first time for Thanksgiving; they turned out perfect! The directions were easy to follow and everyone loved them.

  24. Is there a multi purpose dough? I’d be looking to make pepperoni rolls and just adding a little pepperoni in the center – would that work with this recipe?

  25. These look delicious! I’m going to have to step into the bread making… I have made bread in a bread machine twice. Good results; but hard to keep fresh!
    I have a question- Would it be OK to brush the melted butter on BEFORE baking? Or will that make it burn too quickly?
    Also, this is the second page I’ve come to this morning that alludes to a video of how you do your magic; but the video is not showing on the site on my computer. A fix I figured out, is going to the recipe on my (i)phone. The video player is there.
    How odd!

    1. I hope you enjoy these when you try them and yes, you can brush the melted butter on the rolls before baking– however sometimes that deflates the rolls. So be extra careful with that step!

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