The Ultimate Dinner Roll Guide
This is your complete guide to making homemade dinner rolls— from how to make a variety of roll shapes and flavors, to how to prepare rolls ahead of time, and more!
This recipe is sponsored by Red Star Yeast.
Welcome to the ultimate dinner roll guide! Let me show you how to make the most delicious dinner rolls. They’re light and tender, and full of rich buttery flavor. And they’re sure to steal the show at any meal!
These yeast-risen rolls require just 7 basic ingredients and are a lot easier to make than you may think. If baking homemade rolls intimidates you, then this tutorial is exactly what you need to get started!
The ultimate dinner roll guide
This is the only dinner roll recipe you’ll ever need— it’s just one recipe with endless possibilities. Not only are these rolls tender and delicious, but you can make them so many ways!
Pictured in those post are traditional white rolls, honey wheat rolls, and herb rolls. But I also have instructions for a few more flavor variations like cheddar, garlic and “everything” spice. (And psst, you can mix and match flavor combos too!)
Classic dinner roll rounds are always a good choice, but I’ll show you how to make other shapes like crescent, cloverleaf, and knots also.
Ingredients you’ll need
Let’s get baking! Here’s everything you’ll need to make the best dinner rolls (full recipe at the bottom of the post):
- Bread flour
- Platinum Yeast from Red Star
- Granulated sugar
- Add-ins and substitutes for flavor variations, keep reading for more info!
Why I bake with Red Star Yeast
I’ve been baking and sharing recipes with Red Star Yeast for almost 10 years. It’s the only yeast I use in my baking, and their Platinum® yeast is my favorite! It’s a premium instant yeast blended with natural dough improvers so dough rises better and faster, and with a higher volume in the finished product. Baking success has never been this easy!
Start with the dough
To make rolls, first we need to prepare the dough. You can use a stand mixer with a dough hook, or if you plan to knead by hand you can use any large bowl.
Note: these instructions show traditional white dinner rolls, if you’re mixing another variety there will be an additional simple step or two.
1. Heat butter and milk. Combine in a small saucepan over medium low heat until butter is melted and mixture is 120-130°F.
2. Combine dry ingredients. Stir some of the bread flour, yeast, sugar and salt in mixing bowl.
3. Add liquids and eggs. Pour warmed milk mixture and eggs into mixing bowl and combine to make a very wet dough.
4. Add more bread flour while kneading. Knead with dough hook or by hand, adding remaining flour a bit at a time, waiting until it is incorporated into the dough before adding more. Stop adding flour when dough mostly clears the bowl and is only slightly sticky to the touch.
5. Let rise. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Now that the dough is prepped, we’re ready to shape it into rolls.
How to shape dinner rolls
You can’t go wrong with classic round dinner rolls, but sometimes it’s fun to switch things up! Regardless what shape you’re looking to make, I always first make sure all my rolls are portioned to be the same size with the help of a kitchen scale.
Once the dough has been portioned evenly, you can shape into:
- Traditional round dinner rolls
- Cloverleaf rolls— divide each portion into 3 additional portions and shape into rounds. Place 3 rounds in each cup of a greased muffin tin.
- Knotted rolls— roll and stretch each portion into a 6-8 inch rope. Use your hands to tie into a knot.
- Crescent rolls— divide dough in half instead of 12 portions. Roll each half to ½ inch thick. Cut into 6 triangular pieces and roll up, starting at the wider end, with the point facing down.
For step-by-step instructions and photos, see my full tutorial on How to Shape Dinner Rolls.
Once rolls are shaped, cover them loosely with a clean towel or plastic wrap and let them rise another 30 minutes until puffy.
The final step is to bake the rolls! Bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes, or until rolls are golden brown.
Dinner roll flavor variations
Honey Whole Wheat Rolls— replace 1½ cups of bread flour with whole wheat flour, sub granulated sugar for ¼ cup honey, and heat with milk and butter.
Herb Rolls— add 1 tablespoon fresh (or 1 teaspoon dried) herbs like rosemary, thyme or a combination to the dry ingredients.
Cheddar Rolls— stir in 2 cups cheddar cheese to the dough once it has been initially mixed, before adding additional flour.
Garlic Rolls— add 2 cloves of minced garlic to the butter and milk as they heat.
“Everything” Spice Rolls— a 1 tablespoon everything bagel seasoning to the dry ingredients. Additional spice may be sprinkled over the rolls before baking.
Note: feel free to mix and match flavor variations as desired. For example, garlic-herb rolls, whole wheat and cheddar, etc.
How to make dinner rolls ahead of time
- Rise the dough in the fridge overnight— Place kneaded dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Put in the fridge overnight. The next morning, portion and shape into rolls, rise, and bake.
- Rise the shaped rolls in the fridge overnight— Place shaped rolls in prepared pan and cover with plastic wrap. Put in the fridge overnight. The next morning bring it to room temperature for 1 – 1 ½ hours until risen, then bake.
- Freeze shaped rolls up to 2 months in advance— Place shaped rolls on a pan lined with parchment paper so they aren’t touching. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 1 hour. Transfer frozen rolls to a heavy duty ziplock bag and store for up to 2 months. When ready to use, place frozen rolls in prepared pan and thaw at room temperature for a few hours, let rise, then bake.
- Freeze baked rolls up to 1 month in advance— Bake rolls as normal and cool completely. Wrap in foil and then place in a ziplock bag. When ready to serve, remove from bag and warm in a 350°F oven for 20-25 minutes until warmed through.
More dinner roll tips
- Use an instant-read thermometer to make sure the milk mixture is between 120-130°F before adding it to the dry ingredients. Temperatures over 140°F will kill the yeast, and lower temperatures will result in an increased rise time.
- Bread flour is used in this recipe for improved structure and rise, as it has a higher gluten content to better trap expanding gases in the dough during rising and baking. You can use all-purpose flour instead, but you may notice a difference in rise and fluffiness.
- The amount of flour you’ll need for these rolls will vary depending on many factors, which is why I give a range of 3 – 3½ cups. You’ll know you’ve added enough flour when the dough is still very soft and tacky to the touch, but you can handle it without the dough sticking too much to your hands. Adding too much flour will make your rolls tough and dense, so use only as much as you need.
- I prefer to use a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment to mix and knead this bread, but of course you can knead by hand. Here’s a great video to show you how to knead by hand.
- I like to let dough rise in my oven. Heat the oven to its lowest setting for a few minutes, then turn it off. Place the covered dough on the center rack and close the door. More rising tips can be found here.
- Brush rolls with a simple egg wash of 1 egg whisked with 1 tablespoon water before baking for a nice shiny color.
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The Ultimate Dinner Roll Recipe
- ¾ cup milk (170 grams)
- ¼ cup unsalted butter (56 grams)
- 3-3 ½ cups bread flour (360-420 grams)
- 2 ¼ teaspoons Platinum Yeast from Red Star (1 envelope, 7 grams)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (25 grams)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg , beaten with 2 tablespoons water, for egg wash
- In a small saucepan, combine the milk and butter. Warm over medium low heat until butter is melted. Cool for about 5 minutes, or until temperature is 120-130°F.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (or in a large bowl if planning to mix by hand), combine 2½ cups of the bread flour, the yeast, sugar and salt. Add the warm water mixture, followed by the eggs, mixing on low speed until incorporated.
- Add the remaining bread flour 2 tablespoons at a time while mixing on medium low speed until dough almost clears the bowl and is only a slightly sticky to the touch (It's okay if some dough sticks to your fingers). You may not need all of the remaining flour, or you may need more than is called for. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 5-7 minutes more.
- Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm place and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Punch down dough and let rest for a few minutes. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces and shape into balls or desired shape (see Notes).
- Place in a 9x13-inch pan or quarter sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Spray some plastic wrap with non-stick cooking spray and place over the shaped buns/rolls. Return to a warm place and continue to rise for an additional 30 minutes until doubled.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Brush buns with egg wash. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Serve warm or cool completely on a wire rack.
- Honey Whole Wheat Rolls— replace 1½ cups of bread flour with whole wheat flour, sub granulated sugar for ¼ cup honey, and heat with milk and butter.
- Herb Rolls— add 1 tablespoon fresh (or 1 teaspoon dried) herbs like rosemary, thyme or a combination to the dry ingredients.
- Cheddar Rolls— stir in 2 cups cheddar cheese to the dough once it has been initially mixed, before adding additional flour.
- Garlic Rolls— add 2 cloves of minced garlic to the butter and milk as they heat.
- “Everything” Spice Rolls— a 1 tablespoon everything bagel seasoning to the dry ingredients. Additional spice may be sprinkled over the rolls before baking.
Disclosure: This recipe was developed in partnership with Red Star Yeast. All opinions are my own, as always. Thank you for supporting partnerships with brands I believe in. Be sure to visit Red Star Yeast on their website, and follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube.