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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Homemade Dinner Rolls
- A stand mixer is recommended, a hand mixer will work in a pinch.
- 2¼ 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
- 1½ tsp Kosher salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds or poppy seeds for topping the unbaked rolls
- 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.
- 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..
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