Honey Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

These soft and hearty whole wheat dinner rolls are made with 100% whole wheat flour and sweetened with honey. They have structure, body, texture, and staying power– and hold their own against any white flour rolls.

Soft, hearty, and sweet honey whole wheat dinner rolls! Recipe for homemade whole wheat rolls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Baking a batch of whole wheat rolls that are both SOFT and FLAVORFUL feels like winning the lottery. Or, at the very least, winning dinner time.

What normally results in hockey pucks can finally grace our dinner tables proudly. These honey whole wheat dinner rolls easily compete with (and beat) the tastiest white flour rolls because they taste nutty, a little sweet, and have a bit more oomph in the texture department. And unlike “whole wheat rolls” with refined flour hiding in them, this recipe is 100% whole wheat (so is my whole wheat pizza dough).

Today I’m going to walk you through how to make whole wheat dinner rolls. We have lots of carbs to cover today!

Soft, hearty, and sweet honey whole wheat dinner rolls! Recipe for homemade whole wheat rolls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Whole Wheat Flour is Picky

Whole wheat flour is picky and can be difficult to work with. Why? It’s heavy and doesn’t contain the same level of gluten as white flours. This missing gluten poses a problem when it comes to bread making. Many whole wheat bread recipes call for the addition of vital wheat gluten to make up for it, but I don’t keep that in my kitchen and assume you don’t either. Other recipes suggest subbing some whole wheat flour for all-purpose or bread flour– but then the whole wheat rolls won’t be 100% whole wheat. Keeping this in mind (and after a few failed whole wheat dinner roll attempts), I landed on a recipe and method I loved. And I’m confident you’ll be satisfied too!

Admittedly, these whole wheat rolls aren’t as fluffy and tall as their white flour counterpart, but I like their heartier texture. (And I appreciate that they are 100% whole wheat and call for readily available ingredients!)


Behind the Recipe

I adapted this whole wheat roll recipe from my dinner rolls recipe. We use the same exact ingredients, except we’ll swap the flour for whole wheat flour. A few other differences make up for the heavy and dense whole wheat flour:

  • Increase the amount of butter. I tested with more butter in batch #2 and even more in test batch #3. 1/2 cup (8 Tablespoons) produced the best tasting whole wheat rolls.
  • Use 2 whole eggs instead of 1 egg. The extra liquid keeps the dough a little more hydrated.
  • Add honey for flavor.

For best results, use a superior baking yeast: Red Star Platinum Superior Baking Yeast. This is an instant yeast and my preferred brand. I’m a Red Star Yeast fangirl and use it exclusively in my kitchen because it’s always a guarantee.

Red star yeast platinum for honey whole wheat rolls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

Ingredients in Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

Like my regular dinner rolls and even my sandwich bread recipe, this dough comes together easily with 7 basic ingredients. Each has an important job to do, so I don’t recommend substitutions.

  1. Milk: Liquid activates the yeast. For the softest rolls, use whole milk. Nondairy or low fat milks work too, but whole milk produces phenomenal flavor and texture.
  2. Yeast: I recommend Red Star Platinum Superior Baking Yeast, which is an instant yeast blended with natural dough improvers.
  3. Honey: This sweetener feeds the yeast, increases its activity, tenderizes the dough, and adds a welcome sweetness.
  4. Eggs: 2 eggs provide structure and richness.
  5. Butter: Butter promises a soft, flavorful roll. Make sure it’s softened to room temperature.
  6. Salt: Salt adds flavor and offsets the sweetness.
  7. Whole Wheat Flour: We can’t have whole wheat rolls without whole wheat flour!

I recommend using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment (most stand mixers are sold with it), but if you don’t have a stand mixer, mix the dough together with a wooden spoon and knead by hand. Whole wheat dough requires a slightly longer rise time since it’s weighed down with wheat germ and bran.

Dough for honey whole wheat rolls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

The Best Shaping Trick

When making dinner rolls, I typically divide the bread dough and roll each piece into individual balls. (Just like with my dinner rolls and honey butter rolls.) It works, but this dough never rolls up perfectly. Maybe it’s because I’m impatient, but some of the rolls end up looking a little scraggly and misshaped. It’s frustrating, especially when I want uniform shaped buns. Ha!

And that brings us to the best shaping trick: Take the risen dough and shape it into a long 9×13 rectangle, the size of our baking pan. Almost as if we were making cinnamon rolls, but we’re not stretching the dough out quite that far. It’s pliable, so just use your hands to shape the dough as best you can.

Then, using your pizza cutter, cut into 15 evenly shaped rolls. No individual rolling:

How to make honey whole wheat rolls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

How to make honey whole wheat rolls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

How to make honey whole wheat rolls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Then it’s business as usual. Loosely cover and allow the rolls to rest and rise one more time. They’ll get nice and puffy in about 1 hour.

How to make honey whole wheat rolls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Two Delicious Extras

We’ll bake the whole wheat rolls until they’re golden on top and finish them with 2 goodies:

  1. Brush of honey butter
  2. Sprinkle of sea salt

You know I’m a big fan of finishing touches and trust me when I say: the brush of honey butter and sea salt are the best. The honey butter soaks into all the cracks and crevices and the sea salt makes that honey flavor pop.

Soft, hearty, and sweet honey whole wheat dinner rolls! Recipe for homemade whole wheat rolls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Soft, hearty, and sweet honey whole wheat dinner rolls! Recipe for homemade whole wheat rolls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

These whole wheat dinner rolls are soft, but they aren’t particularly fluffy. But that’s one of their best qualities! Unlike rolls made with refined flour, these whole wheat rolls are hearty and a little textured.

What to Serve with Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

Print

Honey Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: 15 rolls
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Soft, hearty, and sweet homemade honey whole wheat dinner rolls.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup (240ml) whole milk, warmed to about 110°F (43°C)
  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons Red Star® Platinum yeast
  • 1/2 cup (115g; 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (cut into 4 pieces)
  • 1/3 cup (105g) honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 and 1/2 cups (420g) whole wheat flour (spoon & leveled), plus more for kneading/shaping

Topping

  • 2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • sea salt for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Make the dough: Pour the warm milk over yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Or, if you don’t have a stand mixer, a regular large mixing bowl. Whisk together, cover bowl with a towel, and allow to sit for 5 minutes. The mixture will be frothy and foamy after 5 minutes.
  2. On low speed, beat in the softened butter until it is slightly broken up. Then beat in the honey, eggs, and salt. The butter won’t really be mixing into the mixture, so don’t be alarmed if it stays in pieces. On low speed, gradually add the flour. Once it is all added, beat on medium speed until a soft dough forms. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 6-7 more minutes. The dough should pull away from the edges of the mixing bowl. Poke it with your finger; it should gently bounce back. If the dough is too sticky, add more whole wheat flour 1 Tablespoon at a time until it pulls away from the bowl and you have the right texture. *If you do not have a stand-mixer with a hook attachment, knead the dough by hand in this step.*
  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it with your hands for 1 minute. Form the dough into a ball, coat your mixing bowl with nonstick spray or olive oil, and place the dough back in and turn it over so all sides of the dough are coated with the oil/spray. Cover the dough/bowl loosely with plastic wrap, a paper towel, or aluminum foil and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1.5 – 2 hours. Here’s what I do: turn the oven on to 150°F (66°C). Once heated to that temperature, turn the oven off. Stick the covered dough inside the oven and allow it to rise in this warm environment.
  4. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Set aside.
  5. Shape the rolls: Punch the dough down to release any air bubbles and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using floured hands, stretch the dough into a 9×13 rectangle (doesn’t need to be exact, it can be a little smaller). Use a pizza cutter and cut into 15 rolls. See photo above for a visual. Round out the edges of the rolls since they stretched a bit as you cut them. Arrange in prepared pan. Loosely cover the rolls and allow to rise in a warm environment again until puffy and double in size, about 1 hour.
  6. Bake the rolls: Preheat the oven to 375°F (191°C). Bake rolls for about 25 minutes or until they are golden brown. About halfway through the bake time, I like to cover the rolls loosely with aluminum foil so the tops don’t brown too much. Remove pan from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
  7. Top the rolls: Meanwhile, mix the melted butter and honey together. Brush over warm rolls. Sprinkle with sea salt. Serve warm.
  8. Cover any leftover rolls and store at room temperature for a few days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. You can also freeze for up to 3 months, then thaw on the counter or overnight in the refrigerator.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: After dough has risen two hours in step 3, punch down the dough inside the mixing bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight or for up to 2 days, then remove from the refrigerator and continue with step 4. Or freeze for up to 2 months, then allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and continue with step 4.
  2. Special Tools (affiliate links): KitchenAid Stand Mixer, Pastry Brush, Pizza Cutter, 9×13 Baking Pan or 3-qt Glass Baking Dish
  3. Milk: Lower fat milk can be substituted, but the rolls won’t taste as soft. I strongly suggest whole milk.
  4. Honey Butter: Don’t leave off that honey butter/sea salt topping. The rolls will be lacking a little flavor without it. I prefer spreading the honey butter on the rolls after they bake as opposed to before they bake. Brushing butter on top of the delicate, airy unbaked roll weighs them down and encourages them to deflate. Best to spread on the honey butter right after baking.
  5. Reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.

Keywords: whole wheat dinner rolls

Soft, hearty, and sweet honey whole wheat dinner rolls! Recipe for homemade whole wheat rolls on sallysbakingaddiction.com

74 Comments

  1. Hi Sally, am a big follower of ur recipes. And they all turn out perfect. Thank you
    Since we r in lockdown, unsalted butter and whole milk is a bit difficult. Can I use salted butter and toned milk? Or anyother substitute like curd

    1. You can use salted butter with no changes to the recipe. (Honestly it won’t make a difference in taste or texture in these baked rolls!)

  2. Hi Sally, I am a newbie and have been following your blog. I have tried a lot of your recipes and love all of them.
    Have a question, can I use this recipe to make hotdog buns? Or do you have any of hotdog/burger bun recipes? Thanks much.

    1. Thank you so much for trusting my recipes! You can certainly try using this dough for different shapes like hot dog and hamburger buns. I haven’t.

  3. Used this dough to make sandwich bread (same single loaf approach as your white sandwich bread) and it was great!

  4. I made this for our Easter dinner tonight and they were perfect! I’ve never been able to find a good whole wheat roll recipe that didn’t turn out like hockey pucks, but these were so fluffy! And that honey butter and salt topping? I will never look at another roll the same way again. These are amazing! Thank you!

  5. Karen Rinze says:

    I had NEVER ventured out into the bread-making world, always terrified of the yeast. But, I have to say…as my first attempt at making bread…these turned out amazing!!! I have always been a fan of your recipes, and they always give me amazing results, so I knew I could trust your recipe to give me the best chance of succeeding with my first breadmaking attempt! Now…I want to try my hand at all the breads! Thanks for always having reliable, yummy, easy to follow, and just great recipes!

    1. Way to go, Karen! I’m so happy you were able to try something new 🙂 Thrilled you had great success with this recipe!

  6. Hi Sally, can I mix this dough with a paddle attachment on the mixer? I don’t have a dough hook. Thanks.

    1. Yes, absolutely.

  7. Karen Tolbert says:

    Once again as a newbie in the bread world – I so appreciate your recipes. This was very easy to follow although I did have some operator error issues. Despite me – they turned out well. I didn’t read correctly and put the honey butter on prior to cooking. Looking forward to trying them again!

  8. Hi Sally! This recipe was tried by my friend and it tasted so good! Since it has eggs, and no one consumes egg in my house other than me, can you suggest what can be used instead of eggs. Thanks .

    1. Hi Malathy, I haven’t tested any egg-free variations of these whole wheat rolls. Let me know if you do! If you’re interested, here is my egg free baking section.

    2. Prabha Sharma says:

      I tried this recipe with flex egg. 1 egg = 1 tbsp ground flex seed + 3 tbsp hot water. Keep the mixer soaked for a bit.

      Sally the buns came out great. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  9. The best buns!
    I shaped these a bit larger for burger buns and they came out beautifully in texture and flavor! I had to use almond milk and skipped the honey on top to make them a bit more savory but they were perfect. Thank you so much, I’ll definitely be making these again soon!

  10. This looks delicious! Will it work well in a bread machine?

    1. Hi Linda, I actually don’t own a bread machine so I haven’t tested it.

  11. Hey Sally,

    I don’t have any honey was wondering what I could substitute it with for the recipe?

    1. Hi Afi, you can replace the honey with regular granulated sugar in the dough. You may want to add the flour slowly as you might not need all 3 and 1/2 cups since you are removing honey (wet ingredient). You can brush the tops of the rolls with plain melted butter instead of the honey butter mixture.

  12. I have made this twice. I am new to this so is it usual to add 8-9 TBSP of extra wheat flour at the end 1 tbsp at a time to get it to pull away from the sides of the bowl?

    1. I also wanted to add that it did not seem to rise as much as I expected. I am in the process if baking these again this morning. I am in the 2 hour rise stage in my oven.

    2. Totally normal, Tamara! Bread dough varies from day to day depending on how exact you measured each ingredient and can even change due to the humidity level in your kitchen – that’s why I try to give visual clues in addition to strict measurements 🙂

  13. My yeast isn’t foaming when I add warm milk. I used active dry yeast. Any tips?

    1. Hi Jennifer, the yeast may be expired or dead. I would start over with new yeast.

  14. I have these rising in the oven right now. I only have instant yeast – do I need to cut down the rising time?

    1. Hi Belle, the yeast I use is an instant yeast. Follow these exact instructions.

  15. Hi. I normally reduce the honey by half since I also prefer to to be a little more savoury than sweet. And it works perfectly fine!

  16. Great rolls – super easy and the whole family loved them.

  17. Can I subsitute/omit eggs?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Adele, We haven’t tested this recipe with an egg substitute but let us know if you try anything!

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