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

Welcome to the April Baking Challenge, 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?

This month 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. 🙂

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 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 homemade bread bowls recipe. See those recipe notes for shaping.

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

Join Sally's Baking Challenge

Make my dinner rolls recipe. You can make them plain or enjoy a different flavor listed in the blog post. (Including my whole wheat dinner rolls!)

If you’re not into this recipe, here is the alternate April Baking Challenge:

After you make the dinner rolls or alternate recipe, share your photos throughout the month using #sallysbakingchallenge on your public Instagram or Twitter account. (Instagram messages are hard to track, so email instead!) Or upload a photo to my Facebook page or Facebook group. Or email it to me. By sharing your photo, you’re automatically entered in the $250 giveaway. For a bonus entry, leave a review on the recipe below!

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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.
  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

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178 Comments

    1. Yep, that’s correct! At the request of many readers, we’re working on yeast recipes this year. Remember that the challenges are optional and you can make a previous challenge recipe instead. (There’s almost 30 to choose from now!)

  1. Can you use a regular baking tin? Would there any adjustments?
    I am excited to try this recipe as we eat a lot of rolls and your recipes always turn out perfect!

    1. Hi Janet! I bake rolls in a variety of baking pans. I usually use my glass 9×13 inch baking pan or 2 round 9 inch glass pie dishes (about 7-8 rolls each) 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.

      1. Ok thanks! I don’t generally use glasswear for cooking or baking, but have lots of ceramic dishes that might work better than metal – do you think?

  2. I am going to try these this weekend. They look delicious. Also, the pizza dough recipe is the best I’ve ever tried and we make homemade pizza every few weeks. Thanks!

  3. Thanks for another great recipe! Can the butter be substituted with vegetable oil of any kind? I’m sure that the butter adds a wonderful flavor but for someone who is lactose intolerant.
    Thanks!

    1. Hi James! You can certainly try. If using oil, add a little more flour to compensate for the liquid. I know that solid coconut oil works in its place.

    2. Hi, not sure where you live, but all the grocery stores near me carry lactose free butter . (I’m in Ontario, Canada) My husband is lactose intolerant and I use it all the time. It works perfectly and has no taste difference from regular butter. Hope you’re able to find it!

  4. I love that you’re showing the pictures/visuals of before and after the dough has risen.
    I shy away from using yeast recipes because I have SO insecure in what I’m doing….but I think your tutorial is going to give me the extra help I need.
    I never can determine when it’s time to “punch” the dough down, let it rise again, the right time to form the dough–or–has it risen enough that it’s time to go into the oven.
    So please keep offering more visuals. I’m going to do a “trial run” before Easter and my husband can be the guinea pig for taste and texture. 😉

    1. oops, and forgot to ask you……what is YOUR preference for flour in this recipe…..A.P. or Bread Flour?
      Also, as I move forward with yeast baking and make your “no knead bread” that rises in a large stock pot…do you recommend a 6 qt. or a 7 qt. because I need to purchase one……want to make sure I buy one the size which is most versatile and not wishing I purchased a larger pot.

      1. I like them both! The bread flour yields a slightly chewier roll, but nothing that anyone would notice unless I told them.
        A 6 quart pot is plenty big for the no knead bread and it’s a nice size for most cooking.

  5. Oh my goodness these are amazing, I made them today and I am so pleased thank you Sally for an amazing recipe ☺️

    1. Hi Tina! If you temporarily pause your ad blocker, the videos show right up! So sorry about the trouble. We are uploading it to YouTube today as well.

  6. Do you think I could use this recipe in my 2 lb bread machine? It’s just easier for me to shape,raise and bake.

  7. I have read in past bread recipes, an adjustment in the amount used is required when using all purpose flour vs bread flour.
    Do you recommend the adjustment ? (I think it was a 2 tablespoon difference)
    Thanks
    Meg
    (And yes, my husband likes the chewier rolls— Gotta be nice once in awhile!!

    1. Hi Meg! I usually use the same amount of flour whether I’m using bread flour or all-purpose flour. If you find the dough is too wet and unmanageably soft, you can add an extra 2 Tablespoons of bread flour. Though I usually don’t and the texture, rise, and flavor of the rolls is excellent!

  8. I’ve never started a dough with the dough hook. Is that sufficient to get the first part of the ingredients mixed? I use the paddle to start when the dough is still manageable and change to a dough hook after the last addition of the flour when the dough gets ‘heavy’.

    I can beat the dough for 4 minutes with the dough hook instead of kneading by hand? Just so I have that correct.

    You said I can use AP flour, and if I use bread flour, the rolls will be ‘chewy’. Does that mean the AP flour is preferred for a lighter more fluffy roll?

    Sorry for all the questions. I haven’t done bread or roll baking since the 70’s when my kids were growing up (and I had to use a hand mixer).

    1. Hi Sapat! These are great questions and I’m happy to help.

      This is a softer dough. Mixing the dough with a dough hook or paddle attachment are acceptable. Kneading with either (or on the counter with your hands) are OK as well. Mix until the dough pulls away from the sides, which is about 2 minutes. Then knead for another 2 minutes. That would be 4 minutes in the mixer with either attachment.

      Bread flour will still produce a fluffy roll, though they are a little chewier– a texture many people love. I recommend it if you have bread flour. If not, the rolls are plenty soft and fluffy with all-purpose flour.

  9. I’m making these for Easter dinner!! This is my first year hosting at my house and I think these would be the perfect addition to the dinner table. I may try one practice round ahead of time…I will update once I do. Thank you for a wonderful recipe to try for the holiday!

  10. I love your recipe for the Honey Butter Rolls- i’m nervous that these won’t live up to them! My family has fallen in love with them!

    1. These are SO similar, but the softened butter creates an even fluffier roll. I swear! Let me know if you end up trying these.

    1. Hi Carol! If you temporarily pause your ad blocker, the videos show right up! So sorry about the trouble. We are uploading it to YouTube today as well.

  11. Hi Sally,
    Liked this recipe..in India we call this pav buns…Can I skip the egg in this recipe? Or do u have any suggestion to replace the egg?
    Thanks
    Lakshmi

    1. Hi Lakshmi! I’m so sorry, but I don’t have any solid recommendations for replacing the egg in this yeast dough. I recommend using a lean dough, which is formulated without egg and most fat. You’ll have much more success with these bread bowls. You can shape into smaller rolls. You skip the egg wash. You can also try my pizza crust dough for making rolls.

  12. Hi Sally! I was wondering if you would recommend halving or doubling this recipe? I’m not sure if it would effect how they come out or not. Thanks!

    1. Hi Caitlin! I don’t recommend halving or doubling this recipe. For best results, make the recipe as written and freeze any extras– or freeze half of the dough. (Freezing instructions in the notes.) For double the amount of rolls, make 2 separate batches.

      1. Hi Catlin, I made sallys honey butter rolls and halved the recipe and had no issues they were absolutely gorgeous!

  13. Hi . I would like to make these rolls, but the only yeast I have in my cupboard is fleischmann’s rapidrise instant yeast fast acting. Would this yeast work in this recipe? If so how would I go about it? Thank you.

    1. Hi Kandice! I prefer Red Star Platinum Yeast, but you can use any instant/fast acting or active dry yeast for the rolls. The recipe instructions remain the same. If you use an active dry yeast, the rise time is *slightly* longer than written.

  14. Hi Sally! Do you know if there is a different outcome in a yeast recipe from using a glass bowl to mix and proof compared to a metal bowl? I only have a metal bowl for my mixer and I tend to find yeast baking very sticky. But I am excited to try these dinner rolls this month.
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Danica! Not in my experience. I use glass and metal bowls interchangeably for my doughs. Do you live in a humid area? The softer the dough (like this one!) the stickier it will be. A slightly sticky dough is good!

      1. Thanks Sally. I live in Southern California so not too humid. I’ll let you know how the rolls turn out

  15. Oh my goodness, Sally! This one is a homerun! I will never buy rolls for special meals again. So easy and crazy delicious. My 8 year old requested these for her birthday- haha! This was my first completed challenge and it was so fun, I will definitely keep participating.

    1. I’m so happy your family enjoyed these rolls! Thank you for participating this month! Happy birthday to your daughter 🙂

  16. My mixer is an old Kitchen Aid C-4. It does not have a dough hook or paddle. Only the whisk. Anything special I should do for mixing the dough?

  17. Hi Sally! I love your recipes! My rolls didn’t come together in the mixer and I had to add more flour causing my rolls to be a little dense. This isn’t the first time I’ve had this problem with bread making attempts. Its very humid most of the time here in Florida. Could that be why? I’m stumped! The whole family loved the rolls, but I know they could have been better had I not added more flour than your recipe called for.

    1. Hi Laura! It sounds like moisture in the air created a wetter dough. This is nothing to worry about and an easy fix for next time. In your kitchen, on particularly humid days, you may need to reduce the milk to 3/4 cup or 14 Tablespoons (1 cup minus 2 Tablespoons). Same goes for other bread recipes you bake. I’m so glad you all enjoyed the rolls though!

  18. I <3 your recipes! This one & the whole wheat one are wonderful! But I'd like to use my white whole wheat flour, and I thought this particular recipe is the one I'd use. Do you have any thoughts or experience using this substitution? Thanks bunches, & keep up the good work!

    1. Hi! I use white whole wheat flour all the time in place of all purpose or bread. I’ve never had a problem! Just my .02 cents, for what it’s worth

  19. HI Sally! Love your récipe and would love to try these out. In Spain they are not as popular as they look to be in the US, but they look yummy, so lovely pics too;) I was wondering if you ever tried to make them with buckweat or something other tan all purpose flower. I’ve been told to cut down on wheat so i’m desperately looking for yummy récipes with buckweat or similar haha. Probably not, but it’s worth a shot asking! Keep up the good work

  20. I used a soft wheat flour from Italy because it is supposed to not affect those of us who are sensitive to wheat. They rose quickly both times, but then deflated somewhat while baking. I baked them in a glass pan and they browned nicely but were not soft and fluffy at all, more coarse and not yeasty and sweet. I used Fleischmann’s Active Dry yeast. I did not hand knead it, just used the dough hook and the dough was moister than what I have made when kneading by hand. Any suggestons?

    1. Hi Beth! Was it a whole wheat flour? Tried to look up more information about the flour you used. Was it 00 flour? Because that may be too fine for this particular dough recipe– that would be the reason the rolls deflated.

  21. As a basic roll recipe this worked out great, and also converted well to become gluten free hot cross buns with just a few additions. Very happy with the results and these are a great place to start for people who want to branch out and do more things with yeast.

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