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 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:

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 (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 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.

545 Comments

  1. Oluchi Alakwe says:

    This recipe was great. The rolls came of nice, soft and fluffy. Next time I make it I’d probably add just a little bit mote sugar though but besides that it was great.

  2. Janet Mwawali says:

    This recipe was awesome. The rolls came out nice, soft and sweet. I will definitely try it again.

  3. I’ve never made dinner rolls before so I thought these came out pretty good. I love the inside but I found the outer crust to be too thick and hard. I’m not sure what caused that to happen. I followed the recipe exactly. I also found that moving the oven rack down caused the rolls to not brown so I had to brush them with butter and turn the heat up for a few minutes. Other than that, I think my husband will like them.

    1. Merilyn Dcruz says:

      My rolls didnt come out soft either. The rolls were dense and quite crusty. Also the middle rack didnt brown my bread enough I had to move them up and leave for an extra 5 mins in the oven. Other than that the taste was great!

  4. Can 2% milk be used instead of whole milk?

  5. Susan Colclasure says:

    I didn’t have whole milk so I used 2% and they came out perfectly. I have never made dinner rolls and only made bread twice. I love Sally’s Artisan Bread recipe too. These take several hours to make but the wait is well worth it. Thank you for having a simple recipe with easy instructions and fantastic flavor.

  6. Sally, you mentioned using whole milk based on the fact content. How about Half and Half?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Dal, Half-and-half is too heavy for this dough. We recommend milk.

  7. I made these bread rolls to have with our pumpkin soup
    they were so easy to make and everybody loved them will be making them again
    Robert Wilson

  8. Thanks for the recipe! These easy-to-make bread rolls were delicious and soft. Everyone loved them, from the baby to the grandma. Besides the original flavour, I included add-ons to some rolls (shredded cheese, apricots/cranberries, sunflower seeds/raisins).

  9. Thank you so much, Sally, for this recipe! I tried it out, and it went AMAZING! It was soft and chewy and easy to make. My entire family enjoyed them, and I definitely will be making them again.

  10. First time dealing with yeast and it turned out perfect! Definitely a keeper!

  11. Literally the Best Rolls Ever! says:

    Used this recipe for my first attempt at baking yeast rolls and they turned out AMAZING!! I used bread flour and since I didn’t have whole milk I used 2% and it was still tasty! My first rise time was an hour and 45 minutes and then second rise time was right at an hour and they were so soft and chewy! I didn’t use the honey butter, just regular unsalted butter and they were still amazing but I will definitely try the honey butter on the next batch, which I will make again very soon! This recipe was easy to follow and very easy if using a standing mixer. I would highly recommend this recipe to anybody! I have not stopped talking about these rolls since I made them!!

  12. Hi Sally. This is my first time attempting at making dinner rolls. So far so good. Thank you!

  13. Just curious what the difference is between these rolls and your Tried and True Honey Butter rolls? I’ve only made the latter and can’t imagine changing anything.

    1. Hi JF, not a huge difference in texture. The honey butter rolls have a more buttery flavor and have the honey flavor as well.

  14. Tamers LaShon says:

    These turned out great! I used almond milk because I rarely keep dairy milk in my house. I also used a different brand of yeast. But they look and taste great. I’d definitely add a couple more tbsp of sugar, personally.

  15. So i’m pretty sure I followed the recipe correctly. But I ran into quite a few problems. When I was making the dough, 3 cups of all purpose flour was not enough. The mixture was still too liquidy and wouldn’t form into a dough. I had to use about 4 cups just to make it into a dough. Also, when I baked the rolls, the top didn’t brown like your pictures. It was more of a yellowish white. Plus the rolls wasn’t a soft texture.
    Did I do something wrong in the steps? Or was 3 cups of flour really the key to this recipe? Because no matter how much I tried, 3 cups of flour just wouldn’t turn the mixture into a dough.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Wayne, Thank you for trying this recipe! A dough’s consistency relies on many variables including how you measure the flour, brand of flour, even the weather and humidity in the air. This should be a sticky dough, but you can add a little more flour at a time until it’s soft, but still manageable to knead. If you added up to a full cup more flour the dense texture could certainly be from too much flour weighing the dough down, or too much kneading which will lead to a dense tasting bread or roll because the gluten has been over-worked. I hope this helps if you try the recipe again!

    2. I had a similar issue with the dough being liquidy and sticky. Weighed, 1 cup of AP flour is 5 ounces. I used 15 ounces as the recipe calls for. I thought it would be fun to mix this entirely by hand rather than use my mixer. On a heavily floured countertop, I turned out the sloppy dough and kneaded by hand adding a couple more tablespoons of flour. It took a solid 15 minutes of kneading, plus another 5 minutes rest while I washed out my bowl, and another minute or two to shape it. Be prepared for a work-out if you don’t use a mixer! It will come together and doesn’t stick to your hands so much after 13-15 minutes. Definitely a soft brioche-like consistency to the dough. The total amount of AP flour I used was close to 17 ounces. I would be happy to make this again but probably use bread flour next time.

  16. Hi Sally,

    Can I use coconut milk?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lovette, You can use nondairy milk but the rolls may not be as soft.

  17. DC ROSDHEL MAGNO says:

    This recipe is incredible. My girls loooove the bread so much. It was so tasty and soft. I replaced whole milk with soy milk then margarine instead of butter for allergy reasons but still came out great!

  18. I messed up and used a whole stick of butter so i had to add extra flour. They will be fine with soup but i was so mad at myself lol!

    I’ll make again tomorrow and see

  19. This recipe was so easy to follow. It was my first time using yeast and I was a bit intimidated. But the video helped a ton. Got great reviews on the dinner rolls from the fam and am now expected to make these for the holidays instead of buying from the store.

    Thank you so much!

  20. Hi Sally,

    Have tried loads of your cookie recipes and they have always come out fabulous. Tried these Dinner Rolls the first time and they are just amazing. Pillowy soft and fragrant. This is going to be my go-to recipe for Dinner Rolls. Thanks!

  21. So good! The recipe is easy to follow and the end result is delicious!

  22. You won’t believe what I did to your recipe. I made rolls really late at night. I was so tired and sleepy I could hardly stand it, but made them anyway. After putting all the ingredients together, the dough was dry as a desert. Too tired to care, I added 2/3 cup of 7UP. I stirred it up good, then realized I actually did not add all the ingredients. I forgot to add the yeast and milk mixture, so poured it in. I stirred it up good but the dough was too wet and sticky. I took it out and laid it on my mat with about 1 1/2 cups of flour. I worked enough of it into it that it made a light and fluffy dough. It rose unbelievably. So I let the rolls rise, let them cook for 25 minutes and goodness gracious were they good. I will add a little extra salt and sugar next time what with the extra flour, but thanks so much for this recipe. It restored my confidence in baking, even though I was too tired to know what I was doing.

  23. Hello! The dough is proofing as I speak! But I’m wondering could I make cinnamon buns with this dough? I don’t see what not? Thanks!

    1. Absolutely! Here’s my cinnamon rolls recipe if you want to use that filling.

  24. Does this recipes make a 1 pound loaf? I ask because the emile henry crown roll pan fits rolls for 1 pound loaf. Thanks.

  25. Hi Sally,

    Could I use Oat milk instead of whole milk?
    Thanks! Love your recipes!

    1. You can, yes, but the rolls may not taste quite as tender and soft.

  26. How much cake yeast would I use instead of the Instant yeast? Looks delish!

    1. Hi Tim, here’s a helpful chart when substituting yeasts: https://redstaryeast.com/yeast-baking-lessons/yeast-conversion-table/

      1. Thank you for the link! The rolls turned out very tasty but my dough was dryer than yours after kneading it and they ended up a little denser than I’d like. Any suggestions?

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