Soft Dinner Rolls Recipe

You only need 7 ingredients to make these dinner rolls. Flaky, soft, and buttery, these fresh dinner rolls outshine any main dish. If you’re a bread beginner, read this blog post to learn more about the yeast rolls recipe, including how to prep the rolls ahead of time. You can also reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs. 

Dinner rolls in glass baking pan

This recipe is brought to you in partnership with Red Star Yeast.

  • Do you long to bake homemade bread but are too intimidated to start?
  • Does yeast dough send you running for the hills?
  • Do bread recipes seem overly complicated and confusing?

I’m teaching you how to make homemade dinner rolls. These are the best homemade dinner rolls I’ve ever had and it all starts with a straightforward 7 ingredient dough. I make these rolls whenever I get the chance and even brought a pan to our friends who just welcomed a baby. They’re pillow soft with the most delicious flaky and buttery texture. Everyone will demand you bake them on repeat.

And with this recipe, I guarantee you will finally feel confident baking bread. 🙂

Baking with Yeast Guide

Reference this Baking with Yeast Guide whenever you work with baker’s yeast. I include practical answers to all of your common yeast questions.

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


Video Tutorial: Dinner Rolls

Let’s start with a video tutorial.


Overview: How to Make Homemade Dinner Rolls

  1. Make the dough. Continue below to learn more about this dough recipe.
  2. Knead the dough.
  3. Cover the dough and let it rise. The dough rises in about 1-2 hours in a relatively warm environment.
  4. Punch down the dough to release the air and shape into rolls.
  5. Let the rolls rise for about 1 hour.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. If desired, brush the warm rolls with a little honey and melted butter for extra flavor.

As shown in the video tutorial, the dough comes together with a mixer. You can use a paddle attachment or a dough hook. You can also make the dough by hand, but it requires a bit of arm muscle. After the dough comes together in the mixing bowl, it’s time to knead. You can simply continue beating the dough with the mixer for this step or you can knead the dough by hand. I chose to knead the dough by hand so you can see me doing it.

If you’re interested, I provide further detail about kneading in my Baking with Yeast Guide. (Which, by the way, is a wonderful resource for all bread beginners!)

Dinner roll yeast dough in mixer

Soft Dinner Rolls Require a Rich Dough

The crustier and chewier the bread, the less fat in the dough. This is known as a lean dough. The softer and richer the bread, the more fat in the dough. This is known as a rich dough. Unlike chewy bagels, focaccia, and my artisan bread, soft dinner rolls require a rich dough. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that the dough is swimming in cash. Rather, “rich” correlates with the amount of fat. For example, this dough has milk, butter, and egg.

You need 7 ingredients total. They’re the same ingredients in my easy cinnamon rolls, which is also a rich dough. (Though I use more sugar for sweeter cinnamon rolls, of course.)

  1. Milk: Liquid activates the yeast. For the softest dinner rolls, use whole milk. Nondairy or low fat milks work too, but whole milk produces phenomenal flavor and texture.
  2. Yeast: You can use active dry yeast or instant yeast. If using active dry yeast, the rise times will be a little longer. I recommend Red Star Platinum Superior Baking Yeast, which is an instant yeast blended with natural dough improvers.
  3. Sugar: Sugar feeds the yeast, increases its activity, and tenderizes the dough.
  4. Egg: 1 egg provides structure and flavor.
  5. Butter: Butter promises a flavorful and soft dinner roll. Make sure it’s room temperature.
  6. Salt: You can’t make flavorful bread without salt!
  7. Flour: You can use all-purpose flour or bread flour in this recipe. All-purpose flour is convenient for most, but bread flour produces chewier dinner rolls. There are no other changes to the recipe if you use bread flour.

Once you make the dough, let it rise:

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

After that, punch down the risen dough. Shape into balls and arrange in a baking pan. Don’t worry if they’re not all uniform in size.

Let the shaped rolls rise before baking. Look how puffy they get after 1 hour of rising:

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

How to Shape Dinner Rolls

You can shape this dough many different ways including twisted rolls, knotted rolls (how I shape garlic knots), cloverleaf rolls, or even hot dog buns. Let’s stick with the basic round shape. Divide the dough into 14-16 pieces. Take a piece and stretch the top of the dough while pinching and sealing the bottom. I do this entirely in my hands and you can watch in the video tutorial above. Some video tutorials show rolling the dough into a ball on the counter. Whichever way you choose, make sure the rolls are smooth on top and sealed on the bottom. I shape hot cross buns the same exact way.


How to Make Yeast Rolls Ahead of Time

The rolls require around 3 hours of rising. Not everyone has 3 hours to spare, so let’s discuss another option! Prepare the dough, let it rise, and shape the rolls. Cover the shaped rolls tightly and refrigerate for up to about 16 hours. At least 3 hours before you need them the next day, remove the rolls from the refrigerator and allow to rise on the counter for about 1-2 hours before baking.

And here’s how to freeze dinner rolls: Follow the make-ahead instructions and instead of refrigerating overnight, freeze the rolls in a baking pan. Once frozen, they won’t stick together anymore and you can place them in a freezer bag. Let them thaw and rise for about 4-5 hours, then bake. You can also freeze the baked dinner rolls. Therefore, if you want a smaller batch, you can make the entire recipe and bake only a few fresh rolls at a time.

These make-ahead options are especially helpful if you want fresh-baked rolls for Easter brunch, Thanksgiving dinner, or on Christmas.

Dinner rolls

Dinner rolls in 9x13 inch glass baking pan

Dinner Roll Flavors

How about some pizazz? Mix in these ingredients when you add the flour.

  1. Rosemary Dinner Rolls – 2 Tablespoons fresh or dried chopped rosemary.
  2. Cheddar Dinner Rolls – 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese. Other cheese varieties work, but avoid super soft cheeses.
  3. Garlic & Herb Dinner Rolls – 2 teaspoons each: dried rosemary, dried basil, & dried parsley, along with 1 teaspoon garlic powder.
  4. Whole Wheat Rolls – Here is my Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls recipe.
  5. Multigrain Rolls – Here is my Multigrain Bread recipe that you can turn into rolls.

This dough is not ideal for a big loaf of bread. Instead, I recommend using a leaner dough, such as my sandwich bread recipe.


3 Success Tips

  1. Reference my Baking with Yeast Guide, which answers many common yeast FAQs.
  2. Make sure your yeast isn’t expired. Expiration date is on the package.
  3. Directly from the pros at Red Star Yeast: Measuring flour correctly is key to avoiding a dense dough, which leads to heavy (not soft!) rolls. Spoon and level your flour, do not scoop it out of the package.

My final piece of advice? Don’t limit these rolls to suppertime. They’re welcome anywhere, with any meal, any time of day. Use for sliders, breakfast sandwiches, soaking up your favorite tomato sauce, alongside salad, or dunking into a bowl of creamy chicken noodle soup. Above all, don’t doubt yourself because you, too, can become a bread baking pro.

close up of dinner rolls in a basket

Print
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Dinner rolls in glass baking pan

Soft Dinner Rolls Recipe

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 3 hours, 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 22 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes
  • Yield: 14-16 rolls
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

You only need 7 ingredients to make these dinner rolls. Flaky, soft, and buttery, these fresh dinner rolls outshine any main dish. See recipe notes for freezing and overnight instructions. You can also reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs. 


Ingredients

  • 1 cup (240ml) whole milk, warmed to about 110°F
  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons Red Star Platinum yeast (1 standard packet)
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature and cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups (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. Cover and allow to sit for 5 minutes. *If you do not own a stand mixer, you can do this in a large mixing bowl and in the next step, mix the dough together with a large wooden spoon/rubber spatula. It will take a bit of arm muscle. A hand mixer works, but the sticky dough repeatedly gets stuck in the beaters. Mixing by hand with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula is a better choice.*
  2. Add the remaining sugar, egg, butter, salt, and 1 cup flour. With a dough hook or paddle attachment, mix/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 the dough seems too wet to a point where kneading (next step) would be impossible, beat in more flour 1 Tablespoon at a time until you have a workable dough, similar to the photos and video above. Dough should be soft and a little sticky, but still manageable to knead with lightly floured hands.
  3. Knead the dough: Keep the dough in the mixer and beat for an additional 3 full minutes or knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 3 full minutes. (See video tutorial above if you need a visual of kneading dough by hand.)
  4. 1st Rise: Lightly grease a large bowl with oil or nonstick spray. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to coat all sides in the oil. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise in a relatively warm environment for 1-2 hours or until double in size. (I always let it rise on the counter. Takes about 2 hours. For a tiny reduction in rise time, see my answer to Where Should Dough Rise? in my Baking with Yeast Guide.)
  5. Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan or two 9-inch square or round baking pans. You can also bake the rolls in a cast iron skillet or on a lined baking sheet.*
  6. Shape the rolls: When the dough is ready, punch it down to release the air. Divide the dough into 14-16 equal pieces. (Just eyeball it– doesn’t need to be perfect!) Shape each piece into a smooth ball. I do this entirely in my hands and you can watch in the video tutorial above. Arrange in prepared baking pan.
  7. 2nd Rise: Cover shaped rolls with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel. Allow to rise until puffy, about 1 hour.
  8. Adjust oven rack to a lower position and preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). (It’s best to bake the rolls towards the bottom of the oven so the tops don’t burn.)
  9. Bake the rolls: Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on top, rotating the pan halfway through. If you notice the tops browning too quickly, loosely tent the pan with aluminum foil. Remove from the oven, brush with optional honey butter topping, and allow rolls to cool for a few minutes before serving.
  10. Cover leftover rolls tightly and store at room temperature for 2-3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Freezing Instructions: Prepare recipe through step 6. Place shaped rolls in a greased baking pan, cover tightly, and freeze for up to 3 months. Once frozen, the dough balls won’t stick together anymore and you can place them in a freezer bag if needed. On the day you serve them, arrange the dough balls in a greased baking pan, cover tightly, then let them thaw and rise for about 4-5 hours. Bake as directed. You can also freeze the baked dinner rolls. Allow them to cool completely, then freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature, then reheat as desired. If reheating the whole pan, lightly cover and reheat in a 300°F (149°C) oven for about 10 minutes or until warm.
  2. Overnight Instructions: Prepare the recipe through step 6. Cover the shaped rolls tightly and refrigerate for up to about 15 hours. At least 3 hours before you need them the next day, remove the rolls from the refrigerator, keep covered, and allow to rise on the counter for about 1-2 hours before baking. Alternatively, you can let the dough have its 1st rise in the refrigerator overnight. Cover the dough tightly and place in the refrigerator for up to about 15 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.

911 Comments

  1. I made these and the chemistry was perfect, great crust and crumb, perfect look and texture and baked perfectly. Unfortunately, I found them to really lack flavor. I used 2 tsp of salt as recommended, i think next batch i will try adding more and possibly try some of the other suggestions (rosemary, cheese, something).

  2. Connie McTavish says:

    These turned out perfectly!!!!!! Might as well go out and get larger clothes now lol….

  3. Hi Sally, the dinner rolls were so yummy – the whole family loves them!
    If I wanted to make them even softer, what changes to the recipe would you recommend?

  4. Hi, can I use can milk? Your rolls look delicious and I want to try some now, but don’t have any whole milk on hand at the moment.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Myra! Are you referring to canned evaporated milk? That will likely be too heavy for this dough. Best to stick with whole milk if possible!

  5. I have been an avid baker for 30+years and these are the best and easiest dinner rolls ever!! I made 86 rolls for a large gathering Everybody was raving about these delicious rolls! Not one left Followed this recipe exactly and couldn’t have been happier with the results

    1. Erma, any tips for making as many as you did? I have times when I’d like to do that but not sure how to best tackle it.

  6. Can I bake 1/2 recipe and refrigerate remaining dough for later?

    1. Michelle @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Mary, You can! Check out the overnight instructions in the notes on the recipe!

  7. Can you use an almond milk instead of whole milk?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jen! Yes, you can use almond milk, though the rolls may be *slightly* less soft and fluffy.

  8. I tried this with freshly milled wheat. Crossed my fingers and hoped for the best as I often encounter problems using this flour with normal recipes (and I usually struggle to bake bread). It was AMAZING! My family will have fresh rolls at least once a week! Thank you for sharing this great recipe.

  9. I have made these a few times now, and always forgot to review, but this recipe is literally the best for soft bread rolls!

    The recipe is easy to follow, not too messy or time-consuming and ingredients are the ones I always already have at home. It’s very versatile, and I’ve made different amounts, stuffed them with filling, or added other flavours to the dough (not all at once )

    If you’re looking for a bread roll recipe, look no further, this is the only one you need, and eat them warm, thats when they’re the nicest….

    1. Michelle @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Hannah, We are so glad that you love this recipe!

  10. These look fantastic! I feel silly asking but why is the butter cut into 4 pieces? I don’t see where it’s used at separate times like the sugar is. I’m new to yeast baking so I try to do each step carefully but this one puzzled me…Thanks!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Sandie, great question. Cutting it into four pieces simply helps it incorporate into this particular dough more easily and evenly. Hope you enjoy these rolls!

  11. Best rolls we have ever made,I’m not a great cook but these are so simple to make and the kids love them.

  12. Can I cut this recipe in half?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Owen, we haven’t tested it, but don’t see why you couldn’t halve the recipe and bake the rolls in an 8×8 pan. Let us know if you give it a try!

  13. Thanks for sharing: perfect recipe! Turned out just like the photo and half is gone in 30 min .
    Highly recommended.

  14. Thanks for the recipe, the bread rolls came out perfect

  15. This is seriously top notch! I bake every other week and tried several dinner roll recipes and this was the easiest and tastiest. I live in Asia where it’s hot and humid, so I didn’t have the proof my dough for more than an hour each time. I started baking at 905am and ate the first roll (after it cooled down) at 1120am. Took me less than 2.5hours. I only baked the rolls for 15mins because my oven is really hot. My tips to other bakers is to listen to your dough and observe how it behaves, instructions are your guide but you have to consider your climate, oven type etc. Love this recipe!

  16. Super easy to make. I don’t have a mixer and made it all by hand. I’ve tried soy milk and dairy milk. Dairy milk turned out much better.
    It’s cold here so I raised the dough in my oven on 30 C . I skipped the honey and butter at the end.

    1. If i cut out the salt, could i use salted butter instead of unsalted? Last time i made these and they were fantastic! I forgot to grab unsalted butter this time though, oops!

      1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Dorian, if using salted butter, you can reduce the added salt to 3/4 teaspoon. Enjoy!

  17. This may sound rather silly, but the recipe calls for 3 cups of flour and the method says to add only 1 cup. So where is the other flour going to?

    1. Hi there! I’m not Sally, but will try to help regardless! Step 2 says to initially add 1 cup of flour, beat for 30 seconds, scrape the sides of the bowl, and then add the remaining 2 cups 🙂

      Hope this helps!

  18. Can I make cloverleaf rolls from this recipe?Debbie

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Debbie, we haven’t tested it, but other bakers have reported success using this recipe for cloverleaf rolls. Let us know if you give it a try!

  19. I love the simplicity of this recipe. Turned out perfectly. Delicious.

  20. Great texture but no flavor at all. (?)

  21. Came out absolutely perfect !! Big hit at the dinner table. Happy Canadian Thanksgiving Sally!!

  22. The BEST dinner rolls I have ever made!! I used salted butter and honey when they came out of the oven, took these rolls to another level. Such an easy recipe and absolutely pillowy, buttery, and delicious!

  23. Elizabeth MacKenzie says:

    We tried this recipe because you’ve always steered us right. We followed the recipe carefully. The buns looked and smelled wonderful but the texture was ‘cakey’ – crumbly and relatively dry. We’re in France so ingredients might be different – both the yeast and flour are very fresh here. How would you suggest we adjust the recipe? Many thanks. We love your recipes and your site.

    1. Hi Elizabeth, thank you for the thoughtful feedback. The difference in ingredients could be the culprit here, so what might work is simply kneading the dough for longer. Usually, dry and crumbly bread/rolls is the result of under-kneading. I recommend kneading the dough for at least another 2 minutes. If you have bread flour, definitely use that instead of all-purpose flour. The higher protein content will help.

      1. Elizabeth MacKenzie says:

        Merci beaucoup!!

  24. First time baking with yeast and thought this was pretty easy to follow so I gave it a shot. It was very easy to make but it came out dense and heavy. What did I do wrong? Any suggestions? I also wanted it a little sweeter. Can I add more sugar?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Maria! Perhaps your dough didn’t rise enough before baking? You may find our Baking with Yeast Guide very helpful! You can certainly add more sugar to fit your tastes with no other changes to the recipe.

      1. Success! I changed the sugar to 1/3 cup and let the dough rise to 2 hrs on the first rise and a full hour on the second rise and it came out wonderful! I’m experimenting with rolls to make for Thanksgiving.

  25. I baked these today, and while they looked good, with a nice light crumb, they were totally lacking in flavor. Discarded. One teaspoon of salt is definitely not enough. I am not health conscious when it comes to bread I want it to taste good.

  26. I made these yesterday as I suddenly had to have rolls for dinner time. I’d usually do a sponge overnight etc…. and have to say they turned out pretty pro. I used 1/3 of the flour my home milled grain and it still turned out excellent. This will be a go to for when time is short.

  27. Made these today with all purpose flour. Really impressed. Family loved them. Will try again next batch with bakers flour.
    Used my bread maker to do the dough mixing and first rise. Makes the whole process so simple and easy to clean up.

  28. Super easy recipe if you have the time! Everyone loved them, especially my teenager who was inhaling them as fast as he could. I made him tiny bun sandwiches for lunch today with what was leftover from the family demolishing them last night. I’m thinking of making another batch, but slightly lager, and flattening the dough a bit. I’d use these for lunch sandwiches. Or try some sort of filled thing for lunch. Pizza rolls!

  29. Used this for dinner rolls then made cinnamon rolls with the leftover dough, both went down an absolute treat!!

  30. Have made these a few times, the last two times they didn’t brown on top but did on the bottom. My oven seems to be working right with everything else. Any ideas?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Melinda, Are you using a glass baking dish? We find they brown a little too quickly in metal. While we usually baked these on a lower rack, if your bottoms are getting baked before the tops, feel free to adjust your oven rack up closer to the middle.

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