Pillowy inside with the slightest bit of chew to the crust, these Italian sub rolls are good enough to eat on their own. Not only do they taste great, but they’re also easy to make with just a few simple ingredients.
Best of all, you can freeze them, so you always have fresh rolls on hand.
Soft Italian Sub Rolls
- 3 ½ cups bread flour
- 1 ¼ cups water
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- Knead. Add all ingredients to a stand mixer, bread machine, or mixing bowl (if you are kneading by hand.). Knead until smooth and stretchy, and “windows” appear in the dough. The dough should be smooth and slightly sticky to the touch but should clear the sides and bottom of the bowl. Allow the cycle to finish.
- First Rise. Place in a warm place to rise for 1 hour, covered, until very puffy.
- Rest. Divide the dough into 8 pieces and loosely shape into logs. (It is easiest to divide into half, then quarters, etc.). Cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes. This will make them easier to shape.
- Shape. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and dust cornmeal on top. Gently shape into oval rolls by pulling down the bottoms of the dough to smooth out the tops. Pinch the ends so they are smooth, and no seams are visible from the tops.
- Second rise. Brush with melted butter. Place the rolls on the baking sheet and cover with heavily greased plastic wrap. Place the baking sheet in a warm place for the rolls to rise, until they are very puffy, about 45 minutes. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 425° with a rimmed metal baking sheet on a lower rack.
- Bake with steam. When the oven is hot, pour 1 cup of water on the baking sheet to create steam. Immediately place the rolls inside. Bake for 15-19 minutes until golden brown. Remove and cool on a wire rack. Let cool completely before slicing for sandwiches. Eat within 2 days or freeze.
Make sure you use a metal baking sheet for the steam; glass will shatter.
I recommend SAF instant yeast for bread machine baking, and this basic bread machine, perfect for kneading.
🧂 note about the Ingredients
Here’s what you’ll need to make these delicious hoagie rolls.
- bread flour (yes, it makes a difference!)
- instant yeast
- vegetable oil
- a stand mixer is helpful but not necessary
- large bowl for rising
- plastic wrap
- rimmed metal baking sheet
🥫 Storage instructions
To freeze: Let the rolls cool completely and place them in a freezer bag. They will stay fresh up to three months, and you can defrost one at a time as needed.
For immediate use: Store in an airtight container, such as a zip-top bag, and eat within two days.
Bread flour! It’s the secret to getting that perfect blend of soft and chewy. That being said, using all-purpose flour is not he end of the world. Reduce the water by about 20% to start, because it will absorb less moisture.
Don’t overthink this. Just shape it into an oval with seams at the bottom. After you do it yourself a few times, you’ll see there’s no real wrong way to do it.
If the process feels weird to you, you can skip it. But I personally love how it makes them super fluffy and rise high.
👩🏻🍳 Expert tips
- Use bread flour for the best results.
- Knead until the dough is smooth and stretchy and you can see “windows” in it. This may take longer than you think.
- Don’t forget to brush the rolls with melted butter before baking. It’s a must for that golden-brown crust.
- Use parchment paper and cornmeal on your baking sheet so the rolls don’t stick.
- Let the finished rolls cool completely on a wire rack before slicing them open. They will finish baking as they cool.