If you want to wow your friends and family at Thanksgiving this year, you’ve got to try this recipe for homemade dinner rolls. They are the softest and fluffiest rolls I’ve ever made in my life and they’re absolutely divine with butter slathered over top. Not to mention, the cost of homemade yeast rolls comes in at roughly half of what you’d pay for frozen store-bought or bakery rolls, making them totally worth the effort. …You know what? Forget Thanksgiving and just make this dinner roll recipe tonight. You won’t regret it!
If you’re a fan of Hawaiian bread or brioche, I think you’re going to love this dinner roll recipe. While these rolls aren’t quite as sweet and delicate as brioche or Hawaiian rolls, the dough is made with milk, butter, and egg, which yields an incredibly soft, fluffy, and slightly sweet roll that pairs perfectly with savory foods.
Ingredients for Dinner Rolls
The reason homemade bread is so affordable is because you only need a few very basic and inexpensive ingredients to make them. Here’s what you’ll need to make your own homemade dinner rolls:
- Yeast: This is a yeasted bread, which means yeast is used to help the roll rise instead of baking soda or baking powder. You can use rapid rise, fast acting, or bread machine yeast for this recipe. If you plan to do a lot of bread making, look for the small 4oz. jars of yeast at the grocery store, which are much more economical than the single-use packets, and can be stored for many months in the refrigerator.
- Sugar: Sugar helps wake up the yeast and gives these rolls a slightly sweeter flavor.
- Milk: Adding milk to the liquid in the bread dough helps create a softer, more tender roll. The milk also adds a touch of natural sweetness.
- Butter: Butter helps soften the roll by slightly inhibiting the formation of the gluten matrix.
- Egg: Egg helps to both soften and leaven the dough, making the roll extra light and fluffy.
- Flour: You don’t need any fancy flour to make an extraordinary dinner roll. We used regular all-purpose flour. You can substitute up to half of the flour for whole wheat flour, although this will produce a slightly less fluffy and more dense roll.
- Salt: Without a little bit of salt, bread tastes very bland, so don’t skip this ingredient!
Make Ahead Rolls
If your schedule doesn’t allow for the full prep of these dinner rolls before dinnertime, you can prep them ahead. Prepare the rolls all the way through the shaping stage, then stash them in the refrigerator (in the baking dish) for a few hours or until the next day. Then simply allow them to come to room temperature before baking.
You can also freeze the rolls after they are shaped. The frozen rolls can be stored in the freezer, wrapped air-tight, for a couple of months. Allow the rolls to thaw at room temperature, then bake once completely thawed and they have risen slightly.
Tips for Making Soft Fluffy Rolls
Here are some tips and tricks for making sure your dinner rolls are as soft and fluffy as can be:
- Make sure your yeast is still active. If the yeast doesn’t get frothy after a few minutes of being combined with the sugar and warm water, it’s no longer good.
- Don’t add too much flour. While kneading the bread dough, don’t add too much flour. Adding too much flour will make the dough dense, tough, and unable to expand well while in the oven. The dough should be soft and pliable, but not sticky.
- Don’t over-knead the dough. Soft bread dough like this doesn’t need a ton of kneading. You’ll only need to knead this dough for 2-3 minutes, as opposed to tougher bread, like a baguette, which you’d want to knead for about 10 minutes.
How to Store Leftover Rolls
To store the baked dinner rolls, make sure to allow them to cool completely to room temperature, then place them in an air-tight food container. You can keep them at room temperature for about a day, or refrigerated for 2-3 days.
- 1/2 cup hot water ($0.00)
- 2 Tbsp sugar ($0.04)
- 2 tsp dry yeast* ($0.20)
- 1/3 cup whole milk ($0.16)
- 2 large eggs, divided ($0.18)
- 2 Tbsp salted butter, melted ($0.25)
- 2.5 cups all-purpose flour (more or less as needed) ($0.48)
- 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
- Add the sugar and yeast to the hot water (about 100-110ºF) and stir to dissolve. Let the mixture sit for about five minutes, or until it becomes very frothy on top.
- Once frothy, whisk in the milk, 1 egg, and the melted butter.
- In a separate bowl, stir together 1 cup of flour and the salt. Pour the yeast mixture into the bowl of flour and stir until smooth.
- Continue adding more flour, about ½ cup at a time, until a ball of dough forms that begins to pull from the side of the bowl (about 1 cup flour).
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough for 2-3 minutes, adding only as much flour as needed to keep it from sticking to your hands (about ½ cup more flour).
- After kneading the dough, shape it into a ball, place it back into the mixing bowl and cover loosely with plastic or a damp towel. Let the dough rise for one hour or until doubled in size.
- Punch the dough down, then remove it from the bowl. Divide it into 12 pieces, then shape each piece into a small ball. Place the dough balls into a greased baking dish.
- Let the rolls rise for 15 more minutes. While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- To achieve a glossy golden brown color on the rolls, lightly whisk 1 egg and gently brush the whisked egg over the surface of the rolls.
- Bake the rolls for 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Let the rolls cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.
See how we calculate recipe costs here.
How to Make Dinner Rolls
Combine ½ cup hot water (about 100-110ºF), 2 Tbsp sugar, and 2 tsp yeast (active dry, rapid rise, or bread machine yeast). Stir to dissolve the sugar and yeast, then let it sit for about 5 minutes, or until it’s very frothy on top. I usually just use hot water from my tap without measuring the temp, but if you have your water heater set very high, you may want to use a thermometer.
Once the yeast has woken up (as indicated by the thick layer of froth), whisk in ⅓ cup milk, one large egg, and 2 Tbsp melted butter.
In a separate large bowl, stir together 1 cup flour and ½ tsp salt. Pour the yeast-water mixture into the flour and stir until smooth.
Continue adding flour, about ½ cup at a time, until a ball of dough forms and it begins to pull away from the bowl (about one more cup of flour).
Transfer the dough from the bowl to a clean surface lightly dusted with flour. Begin to knead the dough, adding only enough flour to keep it sticking to your hands. Knead the dough for 2-3 minutes, adding only as much flour as needed to keep it from sticking. The dough should be very soft and pliable. I usually add about ½ cup more flour while kneading, bringing the total to about 2.5 cups of flour.
Place the kneaded ball of dough back into the bowl and cover loosely with plastic or a damp towel. Let the dough rise for one hour, or until it’s double in size (the time needed will depend on the room’s temperature). Once risen, punch the dough down to deflate.
Divide the dough into 12 pieces (I usually divide it into quarters first, then each quarter into three). Shape the dough pieces into balls, then place them in a greased baking dish. You can use a round or square baking dish. I used a standard 9-inch glass pie plate.
Let the rolls rise for another 15 minutes. They’ll probably not touch when they first go into the baking dish, but after rising for a short 15 minutes, they’ll probably be touching. They will puff up much more while they’re in the oven. While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 350ºF.
If you want your rolls to have a beautiful golden brown glossy finish, lightly beat an egg and gently brush the egg over the tops of the rolls.
Bake the rolls for 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Let the rolls cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.