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. I was so skeptical to try this recipe, but thank God I did! This has to be the softest bread in history!! Literally melting your mouth!!! Thank you so much for sharing this

  2. Cooped up Canuck says:

    These are the best dinner rolls I have ever made! Simple and clear directions with ingredients I have on hand. I have been making these once a week since pandemic hit and they turn out perfect everytime. I have even made them with one cup whole wheat bread flour and two cups all purpose white flour, absolutely perfect! Thank you, thank you!!!

  3. Hi Sally,

    Can I use this recipe for hamburger or hot dog buns or will they be too soft?

    1. Hi Dina, I haven’t personally tried it but other readers have with success.

  4. Best bun recipe ever!! Spread the tops with honey butter mixture and they melted in my mouth.

    1. Hi Sally,

      Greetings from Singapore! Thank you for sharing your recipe, it worked really nice for me! Although, just a question. Are the tops of the rolls supposed to be soft or a little firm upon cooling?

  5. Hi Sally,
    Will the recipe still be okay if i use oil instead of butter? I am lactose intolerant. Appreciate if you could advice. Thank you 🙂

    1. Hi Jay, you need softened butter here. The best alternative would be solid (but room temperature) coconut oil. However, I haven’t tested the recipe with it.

  6. OMG! Tried your dinner roll recipe today and it came out perfect! 🙂 the honey butter was the perfect touch too

  7. I tried this recipe last night… And what an amazing result! Pity I can’t post a Pic on this site.. They came out soft and fluffy on the inside… And golden brown on the outside…
    Thank you for an amazing recipe…

  8. These are the best rolls I’ve ever tried! Golden on the top, super soft, light and fluffy! Thank you for the great recipe!

  9. Carol McCulloch says:

    I would love to try this recipe but never have whole milk in the house. Is that necessary?? Can I substitute?

  10. I live in Florida, and although I don’t think my house is humid per say, I have made a few of your recipes I’ve noticed my dough is very wet using your prescribed amounts. Should I reduce the liquid, or increase the flour to reach a specific texture? I tried your cinnamon rolls and added extra flour and they came out a little bit heavy. Right now I’m trying your yeast rolls and added about a half cup extra but stopped because I was worried about getting the same results. The dough is sticky, it would have been way too sticky to knead by hand.

    1. Hi Shannon, I’m glad to help. 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. While this should be a sticky dough, it sounds like yours is a little too sticky. Don’t be afraid to add a little more flour at a time until it’s soft, but still manageable to knead.

  11. Omg, so soft and fluffy! Perfect recipe. I reduced proofing time to half for both rises because of our warm weather here.

  12. Mariah Hamilton says:

    Can I replace the milk with water?

  13. I made these today – was perfect! Thank you Sally .. and I have never really been one to bake before the lockdown …

  14. Peter Kagan says:

    We have always shined away from baking bread due to what seamed random outcomes and tirelessly time wasting when removing the loaf out the oven to find we made a brick that would probably hold its own next to some of the mortar that holds the house walls up. All that has now changed due to this recipe. Dinner rolls, sub rolls and a loaf of bread… All that has been created using this recipe and all have turned out to perfection. Thank you Sally for the amazing recipe and for re-energising my love for baking!

  15. Made these for Easter dinner this year. I never made dinner rolls from scratch before. They were delicious. I need more practice on shaping them.

  16. I had to come back and find this recipe to give it a good rating!! Hands down THE BEST rolls I’ve ever made! I will be saving/sharing this recipe for sure! The rolls turned out so soft and fluffy on the inside, with a slight flaky crust on the top and bottom. Delicious! Thanks for the recipe! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for your positive feedback, Sarah. Thrilled you enjoyed these rolls!

  17. I decided to divide the ingredients in half to make a dairy free version for my son and an original for my husband. Both seem to have been received well. They both look very light and fluffy on the inside. Thanks for the recipe! 🙂

  18. I made this recipe for the dinner roll today and it came out perfect . Thank you.

  19. Comes out perfect every time and looks exactly like the picture in the recipe! My roommates are obsessed and call it “grab and go bread” haha. I make it probably one to two times a week now! The batch I currently have on their second rise I mixed some cheese in and I’m very excited to see what happens! Thank you!

  20. Shelly Semrad says:

    These are great- I have a (nother) batch rising right now next to the oven for dinner tonight. Soft and right now, my family’s favorite roll. Thanks for a great recipe. Made as written.

  21. This was my first time making bread (and baking with yeast in general) and it was such a success!! I followed the recipe to the T and oh my, these rolls are to die for. Highly highly recommend! I used bread flour instead of all purpose flour and I’m so happy with the finished product. Thank you so much Sally for breaking it down to such simple steps (and also for the video. SO helpful). My only question is in terms of storing it – it says to cover it tightly and store at room temperature for 2-3 days. What kind of container is best for storing? Is a normal bowl with aluminum foil ok? Tupperware?

    1. I’m thrilled you gave this a try and enjoyed it so much, Anne! You can store them in tupperware with a tight fitting lid or even in a zip-top plastic bag.

  22. Had house guests for weekend and at 4 pm I decided to make these rolls for dinner. I live in Jamaica so put them in the sun to rise – acting like a warm oven. 30 min later I realised I forgot the salt so punched dough down, While kneading I gradually added salt. Let them rise a second time, 35 min later they were ready to shape, rise and bake. They turned out perfectly, with GREAT reviews from my guests.
    This recipe gets 5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    1. It was first attempt at baking dinner rolls and I was amazed at the result . They were so fluffy and everyone loved them so much that they asked me for the recipe .
      I just want to bake them over and over again. My favorite. Yummy

  23. I just realized I forgot the egg! I’m doing my first proof right now. Is it a lost cause??

    1. Hi Naidz, The egg provides both structure and flavor. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it will turn out properly without it.

  24. excuse my ignorance. I am a newbie (but ambitious) as I plan to do this for my first attempt in baking. -_-
    when you said grease the bowl, did you use olive oil? and can I use butter instead of oil? thank you!

    1. Hi Sophie, you can use a little oil but I usually use nonstick spray.

  25. I just made these with my 2.5 year old son and they are amazing! So soft and moreish! Really easy to follow the recipe as well. Thank you for sharing

  26. This was my first time using yeast, my husband loved these rolls and much preferred them to the rolls I usually buy in the supermarket. Thank you for the recipe and step by step guide

  27. Hi Sally:

    These are amazing ! I’ve already made them twice in one week and we use them for breakfast with cream cheese, jam, etc.

    I really like this texture of these and was wondering if instead of dividing it into 15 pieces I divided this same recipe into 6 big rolls – would they still turn out as good? I’m not good at making bread and this recipe has proven so promising to me that I wanted to use it to make bigger rolls. Thanks !!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoy these dinner rolls. I haven’t tried using this recipe for larger rolls, however I once tested it as one large loaf and it was a disaster. It’s such a soft dough and the loaf didn’t hold it’s shape. It also dried out very quickly, though I may have over-baked it. Regardless, I think 6 large rolls would be *fine* but I’m unsure of the bake time. You may want to score them on top with a sharp knife before baking to help ensure the centers cook properly.

  28. Due to some bad weather, I was not able to make it to the grocery store today but this recipe turned my quickly thrown together pantry meal of chicken, veggies and rice into something special! The rolls were so impressive! My husband ate two and is already asking me to make them again. Thank you for elevating our humble meal with this delicious recipe.

  29. I was very excited to try these rolls and let the entire internet know… these are the best damn rolls I have ever had in my entire life, no exaggeration. As soon as they came out of the oven, I ate three of them.

  30. Hey! I’m planning to make these today but I’m out of milk. Can I substitute it with water? Does it make a difference?

    1. Hi Afrah, you can use water instead of milk (same amount) but the rolls won’t be as soft.

      1. I ran out of whole milk, could I use nondairy milk?

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