Homemade Yeast Dinner Rolls

Barbara Curry
by Barbara Curry
12 servings
3 hr 20 min

Pillowy soft homemade dinner rolls are the BEST yeast rolls around. Great for Sunday dinners and a must for Holiday meals. A special technique will help you make perfectly light yeast rolls every time.

Dinner rolls on a linen napkin

This could be my last yeast roll post because these homemade dinner rolls are the PERFECT yeast roll recipe. I saw this technique on America’s Test Kitchen and it will give you the softest yeast roll imaginable.

I am a yeast roll lover and am always searching for a way to improve my dinner rolls whether by adding mashed potatoes or dill. With this method I was just amazed at how much softer they are, they just in your mouth! 🥰

You’ll love Homemade Yeast Rolls

  • I’ll show you a technique that will help you perfect your homemade dinner rolls forever.
  • These are so soft and light that you won’t be able to eat just one.
  • These can be made and frozen so you can pull some out later.
  • You can make the dough the night before and bake just before serving.
Dinner rolls being pulled apart

I could have easily eaten the entire dozen. I did show some restraint and froze what we didn’t eat, but I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to resist them even in the freezer. Mike agreed that these are phenomenal and now a staple for Thanksgiving dinner.

What makes these the Best Yeast Rolls Ever

They’re not any more trouble then traditional yeast rolls. However, there are two things that make them softer.

First, you make a paste with water and flour and thicken it in the microwave then add it to the yeast and flour mixture.

Second, once the dough has risen and you are ready to make them into rolls, instead of forming into balls, you roll out the dough and cut it with a knife into 4 inch by 2 inch strips. Each strip is then rolled up into a cylinder and placed in a round cake pan.

A cake pan filled with homemade dinner rolls before being baked.

Rolling them like this instead of in a ball yields a tender and extremely light and airy dinner roll. It only takes a minute or two more than forming them into balls, but the difference is just amazing.

You get rich buttery rolls from the milk and butter in the dough, don’t try to substitute.

Ingredients for Yeast Dinner Rolls

  • Bread flour – its high protein makes for a light and fluffy roll. All purpose flour still produces a great roll.
  • Yeast – either quick acting or regular will work for this recipe.
  • Whole milk and butter – this is not the time to be concerned about fat, buy whole milk.
  • Sugar and an egg

How to make Yeast Rolls

Step 1

Make a paste with flour and water and microwave it until it is the consistency of pudding.

Step 2

Add the paste to a stand mixer and mix with milk and an egg. Add flour and let it rest for 15 minutes then add a little sugar, salt and softened butter.

Step 3

Let rise for an hour until doubled and roll out into a rectangle. Cut into squares.

Homemade yeast dough cut into squres

Step 4

Press the squares into 4 x 2 inch strips and roll up like a cylinder and place in a cake pan.

Yeast dough rolled into cylinders

Step 5

Let rise until they fill the pan.

Pro Tip: You can refrigerate the dough after formed into rolls. Remove from the refrigerator and let warm to room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.

Step 6

Bake for 15-20 minutes and brush with butter.

A pan of dinner rolls with butter on top

After trying these, you’ll be confident enough to offer to bring rolls for your next potluck or family dinner

I’m so excited that I now have a tried a true recipe for yeast rolls that won’t let me down and I can move on to making the perfect salmon dish. I am struggling with seafood right now.

Troubleshooting the Best Yeast Rolls

Working with yeast can be a little finicky, but this recipe is pretty much fool proof. If you make sure your yeast is alive and let the dough rise in a warm humid place, you’ll have light and fluffy rolls every time.

Why are my yeast rolls heavy?

If your yeast rolls are heavy, they probably did not rise long enough. The dough needs to double when it rises.

Why won’t my yeast rolls rise?

There are a couple of reasons why yeast rolls don’t rise.

The first is that the yeast is dead. This could be due to using water that is too hot or yeast that has expired. One way to prevent this is to proof the yeast first in a bowl with water and a pinch of sugar. If it doesn’t get bubbly then the yeast is dead.

It also could be from the salt. Salt deactivates the yeast, so you want to wait until the yeast has proofed before adding it to the dough.

What causes yeast rolls to be tough?

If your rolls are tough, it is probably due to adding too much flour. The dough for yeast rolls should be sticky.

Homemade Rolls FAQs

Should I use all-purpose flour or bread flour for dinner rolls?Bread flour is used in this recipe. Bread flour has more protein than all purpose flour which allows it to rise higher, it can absorb more liquid which causes it to rise upward. You can substitute all purpose flour and still get amazing rolls, they just might not be as light and fluffy as those made with bread flour. I generally use King Arthur’s or Bob’s Red Mill which are both unbleached.

Can you refrigerate the dough before bakingIf you want to make these the day before, refrigerate the dough once you have rolled them into cylinders and placed in the cake pan. They can get the second rise overnight. Remove from the refrigerator and let them stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.

Can you freeze soft dinner rollsAll yeast rolls freeze well after baking. First let them cool then wrap in aluminum foil and place in a resealable plastic bag to keep any air out. Reheat in foil at 325º for about 10 minutes.

Can you double the recipe?This can easily be doubled so you can share or freeze the second pan.

How do you reheat dinner rolls?The best way to re-heat dinner rolls is to place them in a slow cooker. It will warm them up without drying them out. You can also use it to keep dinner rolls warm until you are ready to eat. No more cold rolls.

What to serve with Homemade Rolls

Try with some of these dinner recipes:

Grilled Tenderloin with Cherry Sauce

Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Shallots

Steak Marsala

Short Rib Chili

More Easy Homemade Yeast Rolls Recipes

Sour Cream Yeast Rolls

Pull Apart Bread

Sweet Hawaiian Roll Recipe

Leftover Mashed Potato Rolls

Dessert to enjoy after your meal

Chocolate Cobbler

Apple Crisp with Oatmeal

Sprinkle Blondies

Carrot Cake Cheesecake Bars

Homemade Yeast Dinner Rolls
Recipe details
  • 12  servings
  • Prep time: 3 Hours Cook time: 20 Minutes Total time: 3 hr 20 min
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  • ▢ 1/2 cup water
  • ▢ 3 tablespoons bread flour
  • ▢ DOUGH
  • ▢ 1/2 cup cold milk
  • ▢ 1 egg
  • ▢ 2 cups bread flour
  • ▢ 1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • ▢ 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ▢ 1 teaspoon salt
  • ▢ 4 tablespoons butter softened
  • ▢ 1/2 tablespoon butter melted

Whisk water and flour together in a microwave safe bowl until there are no lumps. Microwave, whisking every 20 seconds until mixture thickens to a stiff, smooth, pudding like consistency. (if it gets too thick, add a little water and whisk until it is smooth)
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the paste with milk until smooth, then whisk in the egg. Add flour and yeast and mix on low speed with the paddle attachment until all the flour is incorporated, about 2 minutes. Let sit for 15 minutes.
Add the sugar and salt and mix on medium-low speed for 5 minutes, then add softened butter, 1 tablespoon at a time until incorporated and continue to mix for an additional 5 minutes, scraping down sides as needed.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface, it will be sticky. Knead briefly to form a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with tall sides. Transfer dough to lightly floured surface and press gently to remove the air. Pat and stretch to form an 8 inch by 9 inch rectangle. With the short side facing you, cut dough into 4 equal strips and cut each strip into 3 equal pieces. Work with one piece at a time and press it into an 4 inch by 2 inch strip. Starting at one end roll each strip into a tight cylinder. Place seam side down in prepared pan, pointing inward. Place 10 around the pan and 2 in the center.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375º. Bake until deep golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 3 minutes and then remove and brush with melted butter and let cool slightly before serving.
  • Rising tips: To help the dough rise, heat up some water in the microwave and then add the bowl of dough to the warm microwave and shut the door, or you can heat the oven to 200º. Place the dough in the warm oven shut the door and turn off the oven.
  • Make ahead tips: You can refrigerate the dough after formed into rolls. Remove from the refrigerator and let warm to room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.
  • Double the recipe: You can easily double this and share or freeze the second batch.
Barbara Curry
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