Every holiday meal needs homemade dinner rolls. You won’t believe how easy they are to make from scratch! They turn out fluffy and soft, and can be made ahead of time. Try this recipe for Thanksgiving or any holiday meal.

fluffy homemade dinner rolls in a pile on white cloth in basket

The holidays call for heartwarming meals with comfort food. Homemade dinner rolls are easy to make from scratch and taste better that way! They go well with any family meal especially Thanksgiving. This is a classic recipe made with yeast and milk.

Why this recipe works

These easy dinner rolls require only a few basic ingredients. They are made in a stand mixer or by hand with a little elbow grease. It’s also a recipe that can be made the night before the big meal!

homemade dinner rolls ingredients in bowls labeled with text

How to make homemade dinner rolls

  1. Make the dough: Whisk warm milk, yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let sit for 5 minutes. Add 1 cup flour, butter, egg, salt and remaining sugar. Mix until combined.
  2. Knead the dough: Add remaining flour and knead on medium speed for 4 to 5 minutes. Dough should be soft and not sticky.
  3. First rise: Transfer dough to an oiled bowl and turn the dough until it is lightly coated with oil. Cover and let dough rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until doubled in size.
  4. Shape the dough: Cut the dough into quarters and cut each quarter into four pieces. Use your hand to shape the dough into balls (it doesn’t have to be perfect.)
  5. Second rise: Place rolls in a well greased pan and cover. Let them rise for 1 hour.
  6. Bake: Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake for 20 to 24 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with butter and serve.

Tips to knead dough without a stand mixer

The dough can be made without a stand mixer, but you’ll need some arm strength and patience. Mix together the ingredients in a bowl until a shaggy ball of dough forms. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand until the dough is soft and pillow-y.

Be patient. Only add more flour if after 3 minutes the dough is difficult to bring together into a ball. Then add flour 1 tablespoon at a time until the consistency is right. Kneading by hand may take closer to 10 minutes.

photo collage demonstrating how to make dough for dinner rolls in the bowl of a stand mixer
photo collage showing first and second rise for homemade dinner rolls and how to shape dinner roll dough

Helpful tips

Use a high protein flour such as King Arthur flour. The dough will hold their shape better, which is helpful with the higher fat content from the butter, milk and eggs. If you’re baking at high altitude, use bread flour. Be aware of the texture of the dough while kneading. If the dough is too wet while kneading, add more flour one tablespoon at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough is too stiff, add another tablespoon of milk. Aim for a soft dough that is not dense or sticky.

How to shape dinner rolls

Divide the dough into 15 or 16 pieces. Take a piece of dough and use your hands to gently roll it into a ball. Pinch the loose ends underneath the ball so the top is smooth. The shape doesn’t have to be perfect. You can watch the recipe video for a visual on this step.

Overnight instructions

After shaping, cover them tightly with plastic wrap (I like to use a glass pan with a lock lid). Store the rolls in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours. Three hours before serving, bring them to room temperature to rise (it will take longer to rise since they are cold). Bake according to instructions.

homemade dinner rolls in glass baking dish. next to white kitchen cloth

Frequently Asked Questions

How to make soft dinner rolls:

Use whole milk and soft butter. The fat helps make a soft bread. Also, weigh your flour using a kitchen scale. Too much flour will lead to a dense dough.

How to reheat dinner rolls:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place rolls on a baking sheet or pan. Heat for 5 to 10 minutes or until warm.

Can you freeze dinner rolls?

Yes, baked rolls can be frozen. Once cooled, wrap them securely in aluminum foil (or plastic wrap) and place them in an airtight container. Freeze for up to 3 weeks. Defrost in the refrigerator before bringing to room temperature or reheating.​​​​​​​

Can I use instant yeast?

Yes, the same amount of instant yeast may be used in place of active dry yeast. You do not need to proof the yeast. Simply add it in with the first cup of flour and proceed with the recipe.

two homemade dinner rolls on a plate next to basket of rolls and butter stick

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soft homemade dinner roll with golden brown top

Homemade Dinner Rolls

Homemade dinner rolls are the perfect side to any home cooked meal. They can also be used as buns for sliders or served on their own with butter and jam!
5 (3 ratings)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk, warm (about 110° F)
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast*, (1 packet)
  • 2 Tablespoons (25 g) granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • ¼ cup (60 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour

Instructions 

  • Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together warm milk, active dry yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar. Let mixture sit for 5 minutes (it should foam up a bit). Add remaining tablespoon of sugar, egg, butter and 1 cup flour. Attach the dough hook to the mixer and mix ingredients on low speed until combined, about 1 minute.
  • Knead the dough: Add remaining 2 cups flour and knead the dough on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes. You want a soft, pillow-y dough. If it's sticky and not pulling away from the sides of the bowl, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough is no longer sticky.
  • First rise: Grease a large bowl with oil and transfer the kneaded dough to the bowl. Turn it a couple times so the ball of dough is coated. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until doubled in size. I usually leave the bowl on the counter near the stove.
  • Shape the rolls: Punch the risen dough down and transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Use a knife or bench scraper to dive the dough into 4 equal parts. Divide each part again into 4 more parts for a total of 16 pieces of dough. The size doesn't have to be exact, but if you're aiming for perfection use a kitchen scale. Shape the dough into a ball and tuck any loose ends underneath the ball of dough (refer to video for visual).
  • Second rise: Generously grease a 9×13 glass baking pan (or two 9-inch round or square pans) with butter. Place the rolls in the pan not touching each other. Cover the pan with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Allow rolls to rise for 1 hour.
  • Bake the rolls: Preheat oven to 350° F. Wait 10 minutes so the oven is nice and hot, then uncover the rolls and bake them for 20 to 24 minutes or until golden brown. Check the rolls around 15 minutes and make sure the tops aren't brown too quickly (if they are, cover the pan with aluminum foil). Cut and serve rolls immediately.

Notes

Yeast: You can also use instant yeast, but it doesn’t need to proof in warm liquid. Simply add it with the first cup of flour and continue with the rest of the recipe. Rising times will be quicker with instant yeast.
Overnight instructions: After shaping the rolls, cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Immediately place rolls in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours. Before baking, remove the rolls from the refrigerator and allow them to rise at room temperature for 3 hours. Bake according to instructions.
Store dinner rolls in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days or individually wrap them and freeze the rolls in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Defrost in the refrigerator before bringing to room temperature.
High altitude adjustments (Denver CO, altitude: 5,820 ft): Use bread flour instead of all purpose flour. If the dough is too stiff, add an extra 1-2 tablespoons warm milk. Rising times will be quicker. Look for the dough doubled in size and rolls to be puffy.
Suggested tools: Kitchen scale, stand mixer with a dough hook, bench scraper and baking pan.
Serving: 1roll, Calories: 135kcal, Carbohydrates: 21g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 19mg, Sodium: 121mg, Potassium: 65mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 127IU, Calcium: 23mg, Iron: 1mg

References: Sally’s Baking Addiction and The Stay at Home Chef

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