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.

522 Comments

  1. Vishwadhara Nanduru says:

    My first time baking with yeast and these came out perfect! Thanks so much Sally for an amazing recipe.

  2. Hi Sally! I tried making these both with fresh milled all purpose and bread flour but neither would rise in the oven. For the all purpose I followed your instructions and for the bread flour I switched the milk with water. The bread flour taste was amazing! Do you have any suggestions? I’ve never worked with fresh milled flour before so any suggestions are welcome! Thanks!!

    1. Hi Toya! I don’t recommend fresh milled flour for this dough– best to find dough recipes specifically suited for the texture variation. I don’t have a lot of experience in this area, so I’m sorry I can’t help at the moment!

  3. We have an egg allergy in the family. Will using some plain high %MF yogurt work as a replacement? Or any other substitution recommendations?

    1. Hi Stacey, I haven’t tested the dough that way but you certainly can. You can also try replacing the egg with a little extra milk. The rolls won’t taste as rich.

  4. Dear Sally, is there a particular wisdom to brushing with butter after baking vs before baking? I made these last week for Easter (they were delicious, despite having to make a few substitutions due to quarantine-related shortages), made them Saturday night and brushed them with the honey butter while they were fresh out of the oven. When I went to eat them Sunday around noon the tops were still kind of damp and sticky. My family didn’t mind, but I was wondering if brushing them before baking would help, and if it would help the tops brown better?

    Thanks for all the delicious recipes you post!

    1. Hi Jordan! Brushing the butter on the shaped and risen rolls can deflate them, so that’s why I recommend adding it after. If you decide to brush it on before baking, be extra gentle.

  5. Agnes Caballes says:

    First time to bake with yeast and the result is perfect. Just need to practice in shaping the dough. One question, Can I add another tablespoon of sugar to taste it more sweeter?

  6. Your recipes are always on point! I’ve tried different sites but yours always stand out. Thank you Sally! 🙂

  7. Rebecca Franklin says:

    I’m not a pro, but your recipes make me feel like one… this is a no fail recipe… thanks to u….

  8. These turned out really well I used becel margarine instead of butter and they still came out perfect thank you for the recipie!

  9. Jessica Evett says:

    We had these on honeymoon in California last year and I’ve been meaning to make them at home ever since! Made them today as we’re in lockdown in the UK and they reminded us of our amazing holiday!

  10. I tried this recipe yesterday and the buns came out perfect. Thank you so much for such thorough instruction – step by step plus the video. I will now have the confidence in baking to venture in making cinnamon buns as they are my daughter’s favorite.

  11. I made these for Easter and they were AMAZING! I want to makensone for my mom to keep in her freezer. Can i freeze them after the 2nd rise so she can just “take and bake”?

    1. Yes you can! They freeze wonderfully after step 6. See the recipe notes for the full freezing instructions.

  12. Best roll recipe ever!

  13. These are the absolute best buns! Love how soft the dough is, making for a tender texture once baked. Thanks Sally! This is my second bread recipe from your site. Looking forward to trying more.

  14. Hi,

    Can I use butter-flavored shortening in place of butter?

    Thanks!

    1. I haven’t tested it, but I can’t see why not.

  15. Connie in California says:

    Sally, I make these all the time it is my go to dinner roll recipe! They are always perfect! Is there a way I can use buttermilk instead of whole milk? I checked the recipe notes and didn’t find any recommendation. Thanks for all you do! Baking is a wonderful stress release during our stay-at-home order

    1. Some readers have used buttermilk (same amount, 1 cup) with wonderful results!

  16. I always like Sally’s baking recipe. It is easy and delicious. However, I baked twice the soft dinner roll but the result turned out not good as the bread very hard and dry. I don’t know what went wrong. Could you please share some tips? Is it need to bake with water bath method?

  17. I made these into Vegemite and cheese scrolls (craving for them). Instead of shaping into rolls I rolled out flat then added a layer of Vegemite and grated cheese then rolled and cut into the size I wanted for rolls. I resumed following steps, rising, etc. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!! Thank you so much Sally this is the 3rd recipe I have used of yours recently and so freaking good. Eaten way too many.

  18. I really love this recipe but i used gluten free flour,almond milk and olive butter for my gluten and casein free diet son and it Worked!Thanks sally!

  19. trudy barlow says:

    Wish I could put the picture on as they have turned out perfect
    Thank you

  20. Can these rolls be stuffed? Thinking of shredded chicken or cheese

    1. I can’t see why not!

  21. What an excellent, clearly explained recipe! They turned out super light & fluffy – something I have never been able to achieve with baking bread before. Thank you so much for the recipe!

  22. Could I turn these into burger rolls by making 6 larger ones? Of so, should anything be adjusted? Thank you!

    1. Definitely. The bake time will be longer since the rolls are larger.

  23. Hi! This looks so good! Can I make this with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment? Or does it only work with the paddle attachment. Thanks!

    1. Hi Issa, a whisk attachment isn’t ideal for dough. It’s not strong enough and you’ll have a heck of a time getting the dough stuck inside– out! If you don’t have a dough hook or flat beater attachment, mix this by hand with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.

  24. It’s my 2nd time to do this recipe and they were both perfect! Bread here in Morocco is quite different and I’m glad I was able to come up with a taste more familiar to me. I added garlic powder and thyme and my buns smell so good! Thanks, Sally.

  25. Andolyn Adelene Choong says:

    and Hi Sally, I just did batch adhering strictly to your recipe and method and I am so happy to share with you; the result is really good. I wish I could post the photograph here for you to see how great your recipe is. Thank you so much.

  26. Hi Sally. I tried your recipe 2x. I used bread flour and kitchen aid to mix the dough But took me about 15 mins for the dough to come together but still sticky, and used my hand to knead for about a minute just before the 1st rise. The 1st one came out very good. It was fluffy and soft inside. I was really encouraged. So I tried the following week. This time, it didn’t come out the same as the 1st time. The dough was very sticky and cannot be handled by hand. It took me longer in the kitchen aid mixer too (about 25mins) since the dough didn’t come together. After baking, the roll came out heavier. I really loved it in my 1st try. In both tries, I didn’t achieve the consistency of the dough in your video after 2 mins of mixing in the kitchen aid or by hand. By the way, I used speed no 4 in the kitchen aid. Hope you can suggest what can I do better the next time to achieve your dinner roll. I would love to try this recipe again. Thank you.

    1. Hi Heidi, 15 minutes and 25 minutes of mixing is too long for this dough. The rolls tasted heavy because the dough was overworked. I’m happy to help though! Try adding another 3-4 Tablespoons of flour and only mixing for 2 minutes. Then, using floured hands, knead on a floured work surface for 2 minutes. This dough is supposed to be on the softer side.

      1. Heidi Mateo says:

        Hi Sally, thank you for your reply. Really appreciate it. Will definitely try your suggestion and will let you know what will happen. Thanks again.

  27. OMG this is my first time making dinner rolls and this recipe came out PERFECT! I did mistakenly add 2 1/2 tsp yeast instead of 2 1/4 but fortunately this didn’t have a negative impact. We devoured half of them within minutes – can’t wait to do them again!

  28. These rolls were amazing. So easy. Light fluffy. Golden. A keeper recipe!!

  29. Shanna Webster says:

    I made your hot cross buns and they turned out great. However, my soft dinner rolls need work! I noticed that the first rise collapsed. Did I leave it too long? The second rise didn’t rise enough. The buns came together to touch each other in the pan but didn’t rise up enough. From reading the above comments perhaps I machine mixed and kneaded the dough too much. What speed on your Kitchen Aid mixer do you use? They recommend # 2 for kneading. I am new to yeast baking and a mixer and appreciate the information that you share on your websites. Looking forward to trying these again with your advice.

    1. Hi Shanna! I’m sorry you experienced some trouble, but I’m happy to help. If the dough rises for too long, the yeast will tire and the dough can collapse. This can happen during/after the first rise, second rise, or even in the oven. Kneading too much (or working the dough too much in general) can produce heavy rolls/bread. I usually mix dough on the lower side, around speed 2. I think you’ll find a post I wrote very helpful– it’s called Baking with Yeast and I wrote it with Red Star Yeast, some pros in the bread-baking world!

      1. Thank you for your reply and advice. I just re read your posts and think that I know where I went wrong. I will definitely give the rolls another try.

  30. When the rolls go in the oven should they be covered with aluminum foil, sorry for the dumb question

    1. No need to cover them when baking!

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