Homemade Dinner Rolls

Is there anything much homier and comforting the Homemade Dinner Rolls? We think not. These are so nostalgic and just perfect.

Simple flavors from the egg, milk, butter, and yeast. Amazing by themselves, with a little pat of butter, or with a roast and delicious gravy. Follow these steps and we promise, you’ll have perfect, fluffy, delicious rolls for dinner!

A basket lined with a grey cloth filled with homemade dinner rolls.

HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE DINNER ROLLS

These delicious rolls are not really difficult to make, but there are a few steps that you need to make sure you follow to ensure perfect light, fluffy, and delicious rolls.

Make sure your yeast is fresh, you have time to allow the dough to proof, and you’ve got a thermometer to make sure your warm water and milk is not too hot, or too cold.

Watch us show you how to make these incredible dinner rolls in your own kitchen!

CHOOSING THE RIGHT YEAST FOR FLUFFY DINNER ROLLS

The main purpose of yeast in baking is to jump-start the process of fermentation, which is essential in the making of bread. The purpose of any leavener (in this case, the yeast) is to produce the gas that makes bread rise.

There are two types of dry yeast for baking: Regular Active Dry and Instant Yeast (also known as Fast-Rising, Rapid-Rise, Quick Rise, and/or Bread Machine Yeast). The two types of dry yeast can be used interchangeably. The advantage of the rapid-rise is the rising time is half that of the active dry and it only needs one rising.

Instant Yeast does not require the double-rise (proofing) process. We love going “old school” and using Active Dry Yeast. We start off by sprinkling the yeast to warm water (between 105°F to 115°F) and let it ferment for about 5 minutes.

EXPERT TIP: 1 envelope or packet of instant yeast = 2 1/4 teaspoons = 1/4 ounce. To substitute instant or bread machine yeast for active dry yeast, use 25% less instant yeast than active dry. See more about conversion measurements in the NOTES.

A small glass bowl of warm water with instant dry yeast dissolving in it.

BRINGING TOGETHER THE DOUGH

After the yeast has been activated in the warm water, it’s time to add the cold water along with the warm water (the cold water tempers the warm milk). Next goes in the dissolved yeast, melted butter, sugar, egg yolk, and salt.

We find using our stand mixer to bring the dough together works best. We start with the paddle attachment to incorporate the yeast mixture (everything except the flour). Then, we use the dough attachment to incorporate the flour, and then bring it all together to a smooth, elastic, and somewhat tacky dough.

EXPERT TIP: 3 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour is usually just the right amount to add to the yeast mixture. However, you may not need quite this much. Keep adding the flour until the dough moves around the bowl, with the dough attachment, and cleaning the sides of the bowl.

A mound of dough in a stand mixer clinging to a dough attachment.

HOW TO PROOF THE DOUGH

Form the dough in a ball with your hands.

Transfer to a greased bowl and cover with plastic. Then, allow the dough to rise (double in size) in a warm, draft-free area for 1 to 2 hours.

EXPERT TIP: Because the active yeast has begun the fermentation process, the dough will rise, even if you don’t have a warm and drafty area in your kitchen. Don’t ever place the dough in an overly warm area, such as your oven, on low heat. Many ovens nowadays have a “Proof” setting, which is great. No matter what, your dough will rise. You need it to about double in size. It just may take longer for this to occur in a cooler location. Even your refrigerator!

A ball of un-risen dough in a ceramic greased bowl.
Dough for homemade dinner rolls that has doubled in size in a large ceramic bowl.

FORMING THE DINNER ROLLS

Soft dinner rolls need to rise, and in our recipe, they rise twice.

After the first proofing is complete, and the dough has doubled in size, simply turn the dough out onto a cool surface (not floured), and knead a few times with the back of your hand. Don’t over-knead, or you won’t get the super soft dinner rolls you’re looking for!

EXPERT TIP: You will get 12 nice big fluffy homemade dinner rolls from this batch. When forming the rolls for the 2nd proofing, pull a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball and pinch the edges under to form a smooth ball. Place in a baking buttered baking dish. We go with an 11″x7″ glass dish. As they proof one more time, they will expand even further.

A hand kneading dough on a black countertop.
Two hands form a piece of dough for homemade dinner rolls.
Two hands placing a ball of dough into a dish next to other balls of dough.

PREPARING THE ROLLS FOR THE OVEN

After letting the formed balls of dough proof (rest in a warm, non-drafty area) for about another ½ hour to 1 hour, it’s time to bake them!

Brushing a thin layer of milk over the uncooked rolls will give a nice brownish top to the rolls. If you prefer a deeper golden color, add an egg to the milk, and brush over the rolls.

We think a sprinkling of white sesame seeds is a nice touch but is completely optional.

A hand using a small brush to add milk over the tops of doughs of rolls in a glass baking dish.
A hand sprinkled white sesame seeds onto uncooked dinner rolls dough in a glass baking dish.
Two hands holding a dish of baked homemade dinner rolls.

HOMEMADE DINNER ROLLS FAQs

  • How do I know if my yeast is no longer usable? All yeast packages (packets and bottles) come with a ‘purchase by’ date. The closer to the actual date, the fresher the yeast will be. Rule of thumb is that active and instant yeasts have a shelf life of 2 years. However, if you think your yeast is past its prime, read in NOTES on how to test to see if it’s still active. Often, yeast will stay active for years.
  • What if I don’t have an instant-read thermometer? No worries! If you get pretty hot tap water, give that a try. If not, place the water (and/or milk) in the microwave and nuke for about 10 seconds. Test the water with your finger. If it’s a bit more than lukewarm, but not painful to the touch, you’ll be just fine.
  • Can the dough be made in advance? Yes! Simply place the covered bowl with the dough in the refrigerator. This will slow down the rising of the dough, but it will still rise. You can do this 12 hours in advance.
  • Can I make smaller rolls instead of the larger ones? Of course! Simply pinch off smaller pieces of dough, but use the same size dish for baking. This recipe can also easily be doubled for twice as many rolls, though you may need to allow more time for proofing.
  • Can the rolls be made in advance? Yes, but we feel these are the most spectacular fresh out of the oven. We recommend forming the rolls in the dish an hour before serving.  

A dinner roll split open on a white plate with melted butter on it, next to a basket of homemade rolls.

Ready to make rolls that will rival even grandma’s homemade yeast rolls? Go for it! You can do it!

And when you make these amazing rolls, be sure to take a picture, post on Instagram, and tag @howtofeedaloon and #howtofeedaloon!

A basket lined with a grey cloth filled with homemade dinner rolls.

Homemade Dinner Rolls

These Homemade Dinner Rolls are simple homey deliciousness. The smell as they are baking in the oven is just heavenly. Make sure you allow them to rise each time so they reach their full potential. So light and airy on the inside. Just wonderful with a roast or by themselves. Yum!
4 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Bread
Cuisine: Bread
Keyword: fluffy dinner rolls, homemade rolls, how to make dinner rolls, soft dinner rolls
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Proofing (Twice): 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 45 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 299kcal

Equipment

  • A stand mixer is recommended, a hand mixer will work in a pinch.

Ingredients

  • tsp active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup warm water 105°F to 115°F
  • ½ cup cold water
  • ¼ cup whole milk warmed to 105°F to 115°F, plus an extra tablespoon for brushing the unbaked rolls
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter melted and then slightly cooled, plus a little more for greasing the dish
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • tsp Kosher salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds or poppy seeds for topping the unbaked rolls

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let it stand for 5 minutes. Then, stir to dissolve the yeast.
  • Mix the cold water and warm milk together in the bowl of a heavy stand mixer (or large bowl) to cool the milk to tepid.
  • Add the dissolved yeast, melted butter, sugar, egg yolk, and salt.
  • On low speed, with the paddle attachment, mix enough of the flour to make a soft dough that cleans the sides of the bowl.
  • Change to the dough hook and mix on medium-low speed, adding more flour as needed, until the dough is smooth, elastic, and tacky - about 6 minutes.
  • Lightly grease a medium bowl. Shape the dough into a bowl and put the dough in the bowl, turn the ball to coat it, and leave smooth side up.
  • Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let stand in a warm, non-drafty, place until it is double in volume, about 1½ to 2 hours. (See NOTES about proofing)
  • Lightly butter a 7"x11" baking dish. Turn the dough out onto an un-floured work surface and knead briefly.
  • Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and shape each into a taut ball.
  • Place the balls, smooth sides up, equally spaced, in the baking dish.
  • Cover loosely the dish with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until almost doubled in volume, about 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Lightly brush the tops of the balls with some of the milk and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  • Bake until the rolls have fully risen and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Use a knife to cut the rolls and remove them with a small spatula or fork.
  • Serve warm or cooled to room temperature.

Video

Notes

If you don't have an instant-read thermometer, simply use the finger test.  The liquid (water and milk) should be slightly warmer than luke warm, but not scalding to the touch.  Hot tap water probably will work, if not, nuke in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds.  Be sure to not let completely cool before using. 
If you use Instant Rise instead of Active Dry Yeast, no need to add the yeast to the warm water first.  Just add the yeast into the mixing bowl directly with the warmed water and milk, egg, sugar, and salt. 
If you don't have a warm, non-drafty area to proof the dough, just cover in plastic wrap, or damp kitchen towel, and place on the counter.  The dough will still rise, it just may take an additional hour, or so. 
When you remove the dough after the first round of proofing, it will be a little sticky. This is okay and good. We don't recommend adding flour because it may dry out the dough.  It the dough is too sticky to work with, wet your hands from a bowl of water.
The dough can be made up to 12 hours in advance, just allow the first round of proofing to occur in the refrigerator. 
Conversion Measurement for Active Dry Yeast vs. Instant Rise Yeast:
Multiply the amount of instant yeast by 1.25 for the equivalent of active dry yeast.
How To Test Your Yeast to See It's Still Usable:
  • Dissolve 1 tsp of sugar in a ½ cup of warm water in 1-cup measuring cup.  
  • Stir in 2 ¼ tsp of dry yeast (1 package) until there are no more dry yeast granules on top. The yeast should be at room temp. before using.
  • Within a few minutes, the yeast will have absorbed enough liquid to activate and start to rise.
  • After 10 minutes, the foamy yeast mixture should have risen to the 1-cup mark and have a rounded top.
  • If this happens, your yeast is very active and can be used immediately.
  • Remember to reduce ½ cup liquid from the recipe to adjust for the water used in this test.
  • If the yeast did not rise to the 1-cup mark, the yeast is not good to use..

Nutrition

Calories: 299kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 44mg | Sodium: 591mg | Potassium: 123mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 176IU | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe? Take a Picture!Mention @HowToFeedALoon or tag #HowToFeedALoon!

POST UPDATE:  This recipe was originally published November 2016, but the recipe was tweaked, with new photography and fabulous new video added in December 2019

8 Comments

  • I am making this bread right now and it says add cold milk to the hot milk to make it tepid. But there is no where, that I can see in the recipe, that it says to heat the milk. Was this step left out. I did not heat the milk so I am hoping it comes out. I have it rising right now.

    • Oh gosh, Mary!! I was left out in the ingredients to warm the milk to 105 to 115F. You should still be okay. You will probably let the dough rise longer than indicated in the directions. I always give it a little more time for proofing. If I make a mistake in baking, it’s usually they I don’t let the dough proof long enough. We really hope these work out. Please let us know. Sometimes when I make these, they aren’t as beautiful as other times, but they almost always have that fluffy delicious flavor. Thanks for the heads up on the recipe. Take care and do let us know how they turn out. Best, Kris & Wesley. P.S. I updated the recipe. 🙂

      • Hi, Thanks for the update. So after thinking about this I don’t think you really need to heat the milk especially if you are going to mix it with cold water just to make it tepid again. The rolls are just finishing…actually I am going to stop for a minute to pull them out of the oven. Ok out of the oven and I put a little butter on them and they are very good. So everything worked out. I had to make them earlier because I am putting a prime rib in the oven and so I will not be able to use the over until the guests arrive. This week I am going to try your chicken salad recipe….it looks delicious! Have a wonderful Saturday and thanks again!!! Mary

      • Mary! Best news we’ve heard all week! My gosh, can we come over…sounds like you are having a feast!! Thanks so much for letting us know. You will enjoy the chicken salad recipe…it is one of the best recipes on our blog (it is hands down the most popular and liked). Thanks again, have a wonderful time with your guests!!! Stay in touch!! xoxo Kris & Wesley

      • Dinner was great and everyone loved the rolls. Anytime you are in NE Ohio you are welcome to come by!

        I will let you know when I try the chicken salad!

      • AWESOME!! I’m so glad it turned out great! We get around quite a bit…next time our schedules takes to near you, we’ll let you know. And please do let us know about the chicken salad. xoKris&Wesley

      • Awesome….Cleveland is a great town!!

        And for sure I will let you know about the chicken salad!

        Have a great Sunday!

        Mary

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