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 glass 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.

brushing honey butter topping onto dinner rolls in a glass baking pan


Video Tutorial: Dinner Rolls

Let’s start with a video tutorial.


Overview: 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 my artisan 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:

2 images of dinner rolls yeast dough in a glass bowl and formed into a ball

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:

2 images of shaped dinner roll dough in baking pan before and after rising

How to Shape Dinner Rolls

You can shape this dough many different ways including twisted rolls, knotted rolls (how I shape garlic knots), 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 rolls in 9x13 inch glass baking pan

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.


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.

close up of dinner rolls in a basket

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Dinner rolls in glass 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 (390g) 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. If reheating the whole pan, lightly cover and reheat in a 300°F (149°C) oven for about 10 minutes or until warm.
  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.

767 Comments

  1. Agree w/others – this is a keeper recipe! I meant to use whole milk but grabbed fat-free – they still came out great. I used my KitchenAid Prof Series mixer whisk attachment for blending the sugar/yeast/milk, scraped it down to ensure a proper mix and then used the dough hook for adding the flour (regular ol’ all purpose!). For those who said the dough was sticky, I’d suggest a few more seconds w/the hook. You’ll definitely know it when the dough comes together as it will pull off the sides of the bowl and cling to the hook. I didn’t need to add flour but I’m in a dry climate (Arizona – 71 deg on T-day!). I keep my flour in a ziplock w/air squeezed out, too. I used a buttered cast-iron pan, middle rack, and wow did they look great! Definitely brush w/butter after baking. If you are doing dairy-free, try Country Crock brand dairy-free. You’d never know it isn’t butter, but that it’s a little saltier, so perfect for brushing on these rolls! These rolls are DELICIOUS!

  2. I am new to baking. I made these yesterday for Thanksgiving. They were awesome. I didnt think they were going to turn out. I pre measured out my flouring but when I went to measure it to add to the bowl I had so much flour left. The dough mixture was real wet so I added more flour almost a cup and it was still wet not thick like the picture showed. I figured I had messed up the flour some how. I ran with it any ways.
    They turned out fantastic to my surprise.
    Does spooning and leveing the flour twice make it more fluffy as this also happened to me when I made banana bread not to long ago.

  3. This is a good basic recipe. The rolls shaped up beautifully. Our family found that they needed the sweetness of honey butter brushed on top. Without it the rolls were a bit plain but with good texture. I used bread flour. I’d like to try the same recipe and add seasonings next time like rosemary or cheddar cheese.

  4. I did not have enough AP flour so I substituted 1 cup of buckwheat. It just started to rise…what should I expect?
    Should I just restart?

  5. Hi! I tried making these for Thanksgiving, but they turned out a bit flatter than yours and instead of being flaky, they had kind of a bubbly texture. I think I should knead the dough by hand instead of using the dough hook on my mixer. Any thoughts on that? I am going to try again today! New to baking and really appreciate your recipes!

    1. Hi Kelly, I prefer kneading the dough by hand so you can really get a feel for it. What type of yeast did you use? I recommend Red Star Yeast – their platinum yeast if you can get your hands on it. It’s by far the best in terms of quality. If it’s helpful, see my Baking with Yeast guide for extra tips and help.

  6. I made these last night for the first time! For some reason they turned out quite flat and dense (rather than tall and soft/puffy) and didn’t get golden at all on the tops. They were quite puffy when I put them in so I’m thinking the second rise was a bit too long (my kitchen was quite hot as it was Thanksgiving and I had my oven on all day). I’ll have to try them again! They were still delicious despite the texture issues.

  7. These were a hit at Thanksgiving, especially with the kids, who said it was their favorite part of Thanksgiving! I appreciate the simple recipe and look forward to trying these as slider buns. Maybe hot dog buns too? So fluffy and delicious.

    1. Forgot to mention, I mixed and kneaded these by hand and it wasn’t too difficult.

  8. Nancy Stanton says:

    Outstanding recipe. The finished product was soft, mildly sweet and oh, so, fabulous.

  9. DOUBLE THE BUTTER AND SUGAR!! The first time I made these according to recipe they were ok, just ok. Second time I doubled the butter and sugar measurements and ended up with the most tender, moist, yummy rolls maybe I’ve ever had. They even reheat to just as perfect as fresh. Do it!! 🙂

  10. I do not have a kitchen aid .. can I mix with a spatula n hand.

  11. Recipe was clear and easy to follow, but dough came out like a brick. Rolls did not rise after leaving in fridge after the first proof. Turned out like boulders- trying a new recipe next time.

    1. It sounds as if your yeast was too old/dead. Another possible cause could have been that you overworked the dough.

  12. Is it possible to use evaporated milk instead of whole milk?

    1. That should be fine in a pinch.

  13. First-timer for rolls and was a bit nervous. Awesome not having to knead them by hand. Made these for thanksgiving as well and they were wonderful. No need for extra flour. I plan to add some flavors to my next batch. So glad I found this recipe. I’m fact, I use this website for a few other things too. Well done.

  14. I made these rolls for Thanksgiving. I doubled the recipe, but followed the measurements exactly, and added the honey butter on top after baking. These are the best dinner rolls I have ever made and they received so many compliments. I will definitely be making them for Christmas, but will be adding fresh rosemary.

  15. I made a butter flake roll for Thanksgiving this year and while they were quite successful, they were too sweet, very much like those Hawaiian rolls you can get at the grocery store. I don’t care for the sweetness. I’m looking for a roll that isn’t sweet. I know that sugar will help the yeast to do it’s job. I’m wondering how much sugar will support the yeast without leaving the rolls sweet tasting. Can you help?

    1. Hi Lesley, feel free to use just 2 teaspoons of sugar in step 1 and omit the rest. (So reduce down to 2 teaspoons total.)

  16. Sally! I tried this recipe today! It turned out brilliantly! Thank you!

  17. I decided to throw these together last-minute for Thanksgiving and I’m so glad I did. They stole the show…so soft and buttery and almost croissant-like in texture. Definitely will make again.

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