What is a special dinner without homemade rolls? This is the best recipe for those soft and fluffy, slightly sweet and buttery, yeast dinner rolls we all know and love.
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When I was young, we went to my father’s parents every year for Thanksgiving. It was one of the few times we saw them. (Doesn’t it seem like men see their parents for Thanksgiving, and women see their parents for Christmas?). They took us out to dinner at their country club, which was surprisingly delicious, if a little untraditional.
But every year I hoped for deliciously fluffy yeast rolls, and every year I was disappointed. All they had was cranberry cornbread. Boo.
(To see more winning holiday recipes, scroll down to the bottom for some of my favorites from around the internet.)
Getting back to basics
I love unusual bread recipes just as much as the next person, but for Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas dinner, you have to have classic soft rolls. It’s the law.
But a lot of recipes for simple rolls can be disappointing. I wanted one that was extra fluffy and soft, somewhat sweet and buttery, and still easy enough for the complete beginner. If you have a bread machine, these are totally foolproof. If you don’t, they are still very easy! You can knead bread very well in a stand mixer too.
This recipe uses plain, everyday ingredients that you probably have on hand.
What you’ll need for these rolls
Nothing fancy! Just flour, salt, sugar, milk, butter and an egg. It’s sort of amazing how delicious it is when you consider how plain the ingredients are.
If you want to, you can sprinkle them with poppy seeds or sesame seeds, but it’s not necessary, and there is something perfect about them just as they are.
- A bread machine. You only need a basic one, since all it will do is knead and rise the dough.
- Instant yeast. It’s the best for home bakers.
- Parchment paper that lays flat on the baking sheet. Much easier to deal with!
Step by step dinner rolls, if you’re a beginner
If you have never made a yeast bread before, please check out my beginners guide to yeast bread baking, which will go over the basic steps and different methods you can try.
If you are using instant yeast, like you should, you can just dump all the ingredients in a bowl or your bread machine bucket in any order.
Mix everything to form a dough. It seems dry and there are crumbly bits, add water a teaspoon at a time. If it’s too wet and is sticking to the bowl, add flour a teaspoon at a time.
The dough should clear the sides of the bowl and form a ball, like this:
Knead by hand, mixer, or bread machine until a smooth dough forms, about 15 minutes.
Then cover it in and place it in a warm place to rise. (The bread machine dough cycle will automatically switch over to a rising period and do this for you.)
It will be very puffy once its risen:
Shape it into a log so it’s easier to divide equally. You want 16 pieces, so it’s easy to divide in half, then quarters, then eighths, then sixteenths. (Is that a word?)
Now don’t be afraid of shaping them into rolls. There’s no need to get hysterical about what the bottom looks like, we are just concerned with the top. So just pinch the bottoms and you’ll see how the top smooths out and gets round. Don’t smash from the top. Handle them as lightly as you can.
They will all fit on one baking sheet, but they will look small at first.
Make sure to cover them with plastic wrap that’s well-sprayed with cooking spray. They will rise up to touch it, and it will stick to the rolls if it’s not well greased. Place them in a warm place to rise for about 45 minutes. Partway through the rising time, start preheating your oven to 400 degrees.
They will look like this when they are ready to bake. Before they go in the oven, brush with two tablespoons of melted butter. Don’t be shy!
Bake for 13-16 minutes, until golden brown. Then brush with another tablespoon of melted butter. (Or be lazy and grab a stick of butter and just rub it on.)
Here’s your recipe!
If you make this recipe, please leave a rating and comment below and let me know how it went!Print
Traditional Soft Dinner Rolls
Soft, simple, and delicious yeast rolls to serve with a holiday dinner. Made even easier if you have a bread machine!
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 45 minutes plus rising time
- Yield: 16 rolls 1x
- Category: breads
- Method: baking
- Cuisine: American
For the dough
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 3 tablespoons melted butter, divided
1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl or in the bucket of your bread machine. Knead by hand, with a stand mixer, or with a bread machine set on the “dough” cycle. (If using bread machine, skip step 2 and allow machine to complete the full cycle.)
2. Shape dough into a ball and place in a clean, lightly oiled bowl to rise. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
3. Turn dough out onto clean surface and divide into 16 pieces with a sharp knife. Shape the pieces into balls by pinching the bottoms until the tops are round and smooth.
4. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or cooking spray, and place the rolls an equal distance apart. They will all fit on one sheet. Cover with greased plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until very puffy, about 45 minutes. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat oven to 400 degrees.
5. Remove the plastic wrap and brush the rolls with 2 tablespoons of the melted butter. Bake for 13-16 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool on rack and brush with the remaining tablespoon of butter while still warm.
6. Serve immediately, or allow to cool completely and freeze for up to 1 month. Warm in 200 degree oven for 10 minutes before serving.
- You can sprinkle with poppy seeds or sesame seeds after brushing with melted butter the first time (before baking).
- Unfortunately, the dough does not freeze well (they won’t rise as fluffy when you bake them). So to make ahead, bake fully and freeze.
Keywords: soft dinner rolls, easy dinner rolls, dinner rolls for thanksgiving, Christmas dinner rolls
More dinner roll recipes that we love:
- Honey Wheat Rolls have a pretty, “harvest” look that works well for fall.
- Crusty Sourdough Rolls are a totally different texture and awesome for next-day turkey sandwiches
- Hawaiian bread made into rolls are always popular, but maybe not for Thanksgiving!
Need more sides and baked goods to round out your holiday dinner?
Jenn at the Everyday Farmhouse has a Cranberry Harvest Pie for a little change from your typical Thanksgiving pies.
The Duvall Homestead prepares Brussel sprouts my favorite way: Crispy Brussels sprouts.
The Tidy Cape Code has a dessert recipe I love: Pumpkin Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream.
A classic Thanksgiving favorite is Jayden’s recipe for sweet potato casserole.