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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. 

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

Dinner rolls in glass baking pan
  • 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 homemade 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 Platinum Yeast from Red Star, 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. 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 StarYeast: 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

See Your Dinner Rolls!

Many readers tried this recipe as part of a baking challenge! Feel free to email or share your recipe photos with us on social media. 🙂

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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: 1416 rolls 1x
  • 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

Scale
  • 1 cup (240ml) whole milk, warmed to about 110°F
  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons Platinum Yeast from Red Star instant 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 (390g) 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: Platinum Yeast from Red Star 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

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. I made 2 batches of these for Thanksgiving 2021 and they were ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! All guests loved them and thought they were King’s Hawaiian rolls. It was so easy to make too.

    I used nonfat milk and bread flour and brushed the tops with butter and honey as soon as they came out of the oven.

    1. I have just mixed these up, and I’m waiting on the first rise. My boys love King’s Hawaiian Rolls, so I hope they turnout well. I only needed one heaping tablespoon of flour in addition to the three cups. Beautiful dough!

  2. Lexi, thanks for the heads up on the kneading time. My Thanksgiving dinner rolls came out above and beyond my expectations. I did two batches. They were a hit at the dinner table. So soft and fluffy! Everyone had more than one and the compliments were gratifying. Thanks for your recipe

  3. I made these rolls for Thanksgiving and they were a huge hit with my family! They are absolutely yummy and easy to make. In fact, I just ate one for breakfast with apricot jam.

  4. Just in case you were wondering, if you put the butter in the microwave to soften because you forgot to leave it out, and then forget it’s in there and leave it out altogether, it still turns out well, just a bit crustier and chewier (but not as much as, say, regular bread). Panic is not necessary. 🙂

    1. This literally is happening to me as we speak! Just noticed butter in the microwave. Rolls are in the oven, smelling great and can’t wait to eat them!!

    2. Umm, this was so stressful I wanted to cry. Adding one tbs at a time until the dough wasn’t torturously sticky was like another cup of flour?! Just say four cups of flour.

      1. The bread probably doesn’t actually need more flour, just more kneading. It comes together with patience. I make my bread by hand and sometimes it takes like 10-13 minutes of kneading, then a 1 minute rest, then a very very light sprinkle of flour with a touch more folding at the end.

        It’s insanely sticky for like the first 8 minutes because it’s an enriched dough but a good scraper to clean the board and hands makes it less miserable. The recipe will work with 3-3.5 cups of flour max.

      2. Gabby, you are correct. It takes at least 4 cups of flour. I think it took me 4.5 Despite what other say, kneading wasn’t the issue. Mine was kneaded for over 30 minutes and was still just goop. Hope you had better luck, mine tasted like eating pure flour. Not sure how so many people are rating this well.

      3. Hi AJ, Thank you for trying this recipe. I’m happy to help troubleshoot. Using 4.5 cups of flour would explain why they tasted like flour. Did you use substitute anything else or change the quantity of whole milk? Also, make sure your butter isn’t too warm. This is what room temperature butter means.

  5. These were a hit for Thanksgiving! These go fast so be sure to make extra. Next time, I may consider hiding a few before dinner to ensure I will have rolls come time for leftovers.

  6. Just left a raving review, don’t think it went through. After many attempts to make soft dinner rolls, I was thrilled to find the perfect recipe, thanks to your tutorial. Thank you so much!
    Sherie

  7. Great recipe. I tripled it for a Thanksgiving party. Super easy and so tasty. For half the batch I had the honey butter topping and for the other half, I had a parmesean cheese and butter topping. Tasted great. Teens loved it so much that they took a dozen home!

  8. Made these for Thanksgiving and they disappeared. I’m still receiving compliments

  9. These were not soft. They turned out very tough. I also wish I hadn’t moved my oven rack down, as the tops barely browned and the bottoms were very brown and hard. I’m not sure what went wrong as far as the texture of the rolls, but I’m disappointed in how these turned out.

    1. Hi Chelsea, Thank you for trying this recipe. Over-kneading is usually what produce a tougher roll, so always be careful not to over-work it. If you decide to try it again this is an easy fix – and feel free to keep your oven rack closer to the middle if yours gets too hot on the bottom.

      1. These turned out very delicious. But mine were not flaky. What did I do wrong?

  10. Absolutely love this recipe, I made them just as the recipe states but I added a little crushed rosemary, garlic powder, and better than bullion chicken bullion ( about a tsp each, then when it came time to shape my rolls I added cheese to the center, and when they came out of the oven I brushed butter mixed with Italian seasoning, garlic and Parmesan cheese- super good!

  11. seems like the difference between these and the sandwich bread (i’ve made and LOVE both) is that these rolls are a little richer? may try making this roll recipe into a loaf pan and see what happens….? has anyone esle done this?

    1. Hi Revekah, For a loaf, we recommend leaving out the egg. (That’s what we’ve been doing lately when making a loaf from this recipe.) This will also help the loaf be a little sturdier and crispier on top.

  12. My dough is not rising on its first rise. The yeast was within its use by date. I did mix in stand mixer for slightly longer than 3 minutes, could this affect the rise? My dough is definitely not as risen as yours in the video. Help!

    1. Hi Lindsey! How quickly dough rises greatly depends on the humidity and temperature of your home or where you are baking. Your dough likely just needed more time! This baking with yeast guide may be a helpful resource for you in the future – happy baking!

  13. The easiest and best recipe to understand and follow. These rolls were awesome. Thank you for sharing!!!

  14. My family loved this recipe! My picky nephew ate 3 of these rolls. I love baking, but am just now getting into bread. I really appreciated how straightforward this was written. I’ll definitely be making these rolls again!

  15. Also made these for thanksgiving 2021, and they were perfect. Made some a week later at school in a dorm kitchen, and am gonna put the dough into a loaf pan today. How does this affect the oven temperature/time duration?

    1. Hi Maddie! Sorry if I’m misunderstanding, are you baking a few of the rolls in a loaf pan? The bake time will be shorter so keep an eye on the rolls in the oven. Enjoy!

    1. Hi Yasmin, that will work in a pinch, but the rolls may not be as soft and rich.

  16. These were wonderful, and the dough was very easy to work with for a novice bread baker. I just have one question: the butter gets added after the milk has cooled for 5 minutes. If you’re not using a stand mixer, it doesn’t incorporate well into the liquid and 1 cup of flour. Was it supposed to melt into the warm milk and mine just cooled off too much?

    1. Hi Alexis, the butter doesn’t fully melt into the warm milk, but it’s possible either the milk was not warm enough or the butter was a bit too cold. Easy fixes for next time!

  17. Your rolls in the photo look much more glossy, do you brush with egg or butter before baking?

    1. Hi Debbie, We don’t typically brush these with an egg wash. They tend to deflate when you brush them with anything prior to baking. We trust with honey butter after baking (see step 5). Enjoy!

      1. These look wonderful—do these stay soft and chewy the next day or do they start to taste stale or dry? Im searching for a roll recipe that stays soft and chewy for a couple days and not just day one

  18. I made these today to test for Christmas and everyone really liked them. The texture was perfect! I thought they could use a little more seasoning so I’ll try the garlic herb version next time. I also only had 2% milk so I’ll try whole next time. I did make the dough in my bread maker – so easy! Put ingredients in this order: wet then dry then yeast. Hit the dough cycle and walk away!

  19. I just made these rolls and they are so soft and pillowy! I swapped out one cup of plain flour for a cup of whole wheat flour and since we don’t do milk I used almond milk. I also put a tablespoon of gluten in my plain white flour. I believe that really helped. I will be making these rolls again and again! Thank you so much for the recipe! No more hunting for a good roll recipe!

  20. Without a doubt the best dinner roll recipe I have found. I have searched far and wide to find a recipe and a way to make soft and lite dinner rolls. In that process I’ve learned to make sure to not use too much flour (for these I used bread flour) nor too much kneading, nor too much time in the oven. The net result today was excellent. I just hope there are a few left at dinner time!

  21. These sound awesome! Can I double the recipe?
    Keep up the good work!
    Have a blessed Christmas

    1. Hi Sharon, For the best results we don’t recommend doubling this recipe. For double the amount of rolls, make 2 separate batches.

  22. Could I sub one cup all purpose for one cup whole what flour? I don’t want 100% whole wheat buns, but I like a little whole wheat texture and flavour.

    1. Hi Angela! The whole wheat flour may weigh down the dough and change the texture a bit but should work, I do that often. Let us know if you give it a try.

    1. Hi Lise-Anne, for the best results we recommend making it twice instead of doubling it. Enjoy!

  23. Made these for our family gift exchange a week ago and they were perfect, they looked and tasted bakery perfect. I am making them for the Christmas dinner I am making for homeless folks and I’m so excited to be able to give them such amazing (easy) homemade buns!

  24. I made these for thanksgiving and am making them for xmas eve dinner, can you double the recipe or is it better to make two separate batches? Trying to save on time.

    1. Hi Amy, For the best results we don’t recommend doubling this recipe. Instead, make 2 separate batches.

  25. I am a fairly experienced baker, but I have been thinking about finding a simpler recipe than the fiddly crecent roll recipe that I have been making for 30+ years. This worked well, but I had a problem with the baking time/temperature while baking in a heavy nonstick metal pan. They eventually baked up well, but I had to bump the temperature up to 375 for the metal pans. All were eaten or snagged for leftover meals.

  26. I made these for Christmas dinner today and the family loved them. Previous attempts at yeast dinner rolls turned out like biscuits, but these were so light and fluffy. I will definitely be making these again.

  27. These turned out great, from someone with little baking experience. Got multiple compliments. Honey/butter glaze worth doing!

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