Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner: Buttery Soft Dinner Rolls

You guys.

I’m going to Chicago this weekend. I think I may have told you about it. Maybe on my facebook?

I’m going to meet my blogging friends Jen and John Yates of Cake Wrecks!!


I’m so excited!

I’ve corresponded with both of them several times, but I’m looking forward to attending their Chicago-ish book signing this weekend, so I can meet them in person. It’s gonna be so fun!!

Plus. It’s Chicago. So. Yeah.


My sis is going a long for the ride and we are gonna cause so much trouble! And shop. There will most definitely be shopping.

In the meantime, I’ve decided that I’m going to do a few posts throughout November, titled “Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner”, to share with you some excellent recipes that will help you have the best Thanksgiving dinner possible. From the best rolls I’ve ever made, to make ahead dishes, to easy, pretty, and delicious desserts, I’ll feature at least one Thanksgiving dinner idea each week this month. Starting today with the best dinner rolls pretty much evah.

I’m revisiting an old recipe today because lat time I made it, I was showing you how this recipe can be versatile (making four dofferent types of bread). This time, I wanted to focus on my favorite way to use the recipe: dinner rolls. Fresh, soft, buttery, delicious dinner rolls.


You just need a few simple ingredients for these rolls: bread flour, water, sugar, an egg (or egg substitute), instant yeast, unsalted butter (or margarine), and salt. Easy peasy.

This dough can be made by hand or in a stand mixer, and it can even be mixed up in a bread machine. I’ve made it both by hand and with a mixer. Although I like the mixer method best (ease of use and smooth, pretty dough), this is so very easy to mix by hand. Granted, your arms will get tired, since you have to knead it for about 10 minutes, but it’s still easy.

Once the dough is smooth and elastic, place it in a lightly oiled bowl to rise.

Once it’s doubled, usually in 1 to 1 1/2 hours, it’s ready to be shaped into rolls.

Divide the dough into 18 to 20 2-ounce pieces. each piece will be shaped into a small boule.

A lot of cookbooks recommend using this method of sort of rolling the dough along the counter top by cupping it in your hand.

I’ve found that it works alright, but sometimes some of the dough gets rolled under the side of your hand, making a funky shape, or I can’t get the boule very smooth.

I prefer to shape the boules my way. They come out smoother, and it’s easier.

Simply stretch the boule around and use your fingers to push excess in on the center of the boule.

Here’s what the back looks like.

Once you have the dough stretched and smooth, pinch the bottom closed. Easy.

Place your shaped boules on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, or a Silpat mat. I like to configure them into the best possible position to get the most middles that I can. Cause everyone knows that the middle ones are the best.

Cover the rolls with a clean, dry kitchen towel. Lots of people recommend using plastic wrap, or lightly oiled plastic wrap. In my experience, plastic wrap, even lightly oiled, always ends up sticking to or pulling on the dough. I always used a clean, dry kitchen towel for all of my breads, and they all rise beautifully.

Once the rolls are risen, they should just gently be pressing into one another. Bake  at 400 degrees (200 C) these for 15 to 18 minutes, until light golden brown (or with an internal temperature of 190 degrees F).

Aren;t they prettyyyy? πŸ™‚ I love dinner rolls. To be honest, I would almost always pick a dinner roll over most sweets. I. Love. Them.

You can brush these with an egg wash just before baking them, if desired. It will give them a slightly deeper golden color and a lovely shine, but to be honest, I prefer them without. The rolls I remember from my childhood, the ones my grandma always made, were soft and light in color, like these. It’s purely a looks thing, but I like them without the wash.

You should really always allow bread to cool completely before slicing or serving, but come on! Seriously?! Who can resist beautifully golden, warm and steaming, fluffy dinner rolls, fresh from the oven??? Not me. I like to pull the aprat and slather them with butter while they’re still hot, so the butter melts into all of the nooks and crannies; soooo irresistible.

If you’re looking for a perfect dinner roll to go with your Thanksgiving meal, or you just haven’t found a great roll recipe yet, this one is worth trying. It’s simple, easy, and fast (taking into consideration that you still have rise times). It only takes about 12 minutes to mix up, and once risen, about 10 minutes to shape. From start to finish, these are ready for the dinner table in less than three hours (with at least 2 of those hours being no-work-just-wait rise times).

You can also make the rolls ahead of time, through to the shaping. Once they’ve been shaped, cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 16 hours. When you’re ready to proceed, remove them from the refrigerator, cover with a clean, dry towel, and allow to sit at room temperature until they double in size. Bake as usual.


Buttery Soft Dinner Rolls [Printable Version]
Makes 18 to 20


5 cups (635 grams) bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons (38 grams) sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast (or one 2 1/4-teaspoon packet)
1 egg, lightly beaten (egg substitute for vegan/dairy free)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 57 grams) unsalted butter or margarine, cut into 4 pieces
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) water (3/4 cup (188 ml) hot, 3/4 cup (188 ml)  lukewarm)
1 egg, lightly whisked with a small amount of water for egg wash (optional)

Combine the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer and stir to combine.

In a 4 cup measuring cup, combine the 3/4 cup hot water with the butter pieces and stir until melted. In a small bowl, lightly whisk the egg, then add it to the butter mixture and whisk slightly. Add the 3/4 cup lukewarm water.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until a dough just forms. If mixing by hand, transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. If using a standing mixer, knead on medium speed, with the dough hook attached, until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. The dough should barely stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour 1-2 tablespoons at a time. If it’s too dry, add more water.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and allow to rise for about 1 to 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Once the dough has risen, divide it into about 20 2-ounce pieces. Shape each piece into a small boule and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat mat. Cover with a clean, dry towel and allow to rise for an hour, or until doubled in size. Once doubled, brush with the egg wash, if desired.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (200 C). Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until they reach about 180 degrees inside. Allow rolls to cool completely (or at least 10 minutes) before serving.

Recipe by Darla

Leave a comment


  1. says

    Umm, is slammin’ blue nailpolish an important part of the recipe for these buns? If so, please send me that color STAT so that I can get my Thanksgiving bun on!!

    Have fun in Chicago and will you take pics, por favor? I’m so sad that I can’t be there with you guys and I can’t wait to hear about you Cake Wrecking your faces off!!!!!

    • says

      I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s important, but it’s definitely helpful! It’s essie aruba blue, but I like to think of it as my Doctor Who polish in TARDIS blue. πŸ˜‰

      I sooooo wish you were going, too! We would have had a blast! Sorry I haven’t replied to your email yet…you know how hectic things get. Watch for a reply sometime this weekend. πŸ˜€

      • Melissa says

        I know I’m a couple years late to the convo, but I just had to say your Doctor Who reference just comfirmed these are the rolls I want to make! LOL πŸ™‚

  2. Paige says

    Ahh! I’m going to make these in the near future. today or tomorrow. And I’m going to use your recipe but’s idea for cloverleaf shaping them. Yay! I’m so excited xD.

  3. Ashley says

    Hi Darla! I’m just a beginner at baking and love your blog! I’m trying to get the basics/technical stuff down and was wondering which rack to place the rolls on inside the oven to achieve the best results. This is the very first bread recipe I have ever tried, so sorry if it keeps like a silly question. lol Thank you for the post!

    • says

      Hi Ashley, there’s no way that’s a silly question. πŸ™‚ When things are closer to the top and/or bottom of the oven, it changes cooking times, so it’s a great question. Unless otherwise noted, everything I bake is cooked with the rack in the very middle of the oven. πŸ™‚ I hope this is helpful!

  4. says

    I admit it, I am a HUGE bread fan. As in I shall definitely be trying these before Thanksgiving- just you make sure they taste good πŸ™‚ After all- you can never have too many bread recipes, right? (case in point, I have a whole Pinterest board devoted to bread LOL)

  5. says

    I have made these rolls twice this week and they are FABULOUS!!! Bread is a huge weakness of mine and I love trying new recipes for bread. This one was very easy and came out perfect both times. I might be changing my standard roll recipe for this one for holidays. Thanks!

  6. Emily says

    Hey Darla – I really want to make these for T-giving next week. Did you ever make them while on St. Croix? Any issues with the dough rising? I have had some slow rising rolls in the past!

    • says

      Hi Emily! πŸ™‚ I made these twice on the island and I never had any rise issues. A few things to keep in mind, though, is that I always use instant, or bread machine, yeast, and I always keep it refrigerated. You may already do that, too, but just in case you don’t, they’re helpful tips. πŸ™‚ Something else that I’ve found that always helps is to rise the dough as tightly covered as possible the first time. Then, after shaping it, just use a clean towel. You might also be using slightly too warm or cool liquid in the recipe. 100 to 110 degrees is the perfect temperature to activate the yeast without killing it; any cooler and it won’t be as effective, and hotter will kill it. The only other issue might be that your yeast is expired. To test your yeast, fill a cup or bowl with half a cup of warm water (100-110 degrees). Add 1 teaspoon of yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar. If your yeast is foaming and bubbly in about 10 minutes, then itÒ€ℒs still good. If not, you need new yeast. I hope that this is helpful. And I hope you’re well!

  7. amalia says

    i’ve just made them yesterday…..the dough was so soft and they tasted delicious!!!!!and the most important is that it was my first time making bread or rolls,i was afraid that i couldn’t make it but i did thanks to your wonderful recipe!!!!!greetings from greece…..

  8. sabrina says

    I just made these as part of our thanksgiving dinner…probably the best dinner rolls i’ve ever had. Thanks alot for the recipe!! πŸ˜€

  9. Joyce Kleine says

    I’ve made those Buttery Soft Dinner Rolls yesterday, but they didn’t came out quite as fluffy as they should be. I have followed your recipe to the letter, so I wonder what I did wrong. Could it have anything to do with the amount of time kneeding the dough?

    • says

      It could be the kneading time, Joyce. Over kneading can cause the bread to toughen up a bit, preventing it from rising as well, or making the rolls chewier, rather than soft and fluffy. Sometimes, you may not knead that dough for as long as a recipe states. Dough is ready when it’s smooth and elastic, but still soft. If it’s still lumpy and sticky, it needs more kneading. If it’s smooth, but firm, then it has been over-kneaded. I hope this is helpful.

  10. Beth says

    Darla, I owe you one. Big time. I have never made bread before. Never opened a packet of yeast in my life. But I made these on Thanksgiving day–while the potatoes were boiling and the turkey was roasting–and they turned out perfectly! Absolutely gorgeous and perfect. They were super easy, your directions and pics were awesome, and my husband’s family oohed and aahed and thought I was totally amazing. So thank you, for the best rolls I’ve ever seen/tasted, and for making my family think I’m some kind of kitchen wizard.

    My husband was skeptical, as in, “You’re trying a new recipe, that you’ve never made before, that you got from a BLOG of all places, on Thanksgiving, with the family coming over?” And I was like, “But it’s Darla’s recipe! You know, the Darla who is friends with Jen from CakeWrecks and who made those awesome Star Trek cookies I showed you that one time?” And he was all, “Oh…well ok, cool.” πŸ™‚

    Thanks, Darla. LOVE your blog, love your recipes. Thanks for being my Thanksgiving hero!

    • says

      Hi Beth, I’m so happy that these worked out so wonderfully for you!! πŸ™‚ Thank you for sharing with me; it really means a lot! And thank you for you’re kind words.

  11. Eula Gallagher says

    Yay! So thank you, for the best rolls IÒ€ℒve ever seen/tasted, and for making my family think IÒ€ℒm some kind of kitchen wizard. Bread is a huge weakness of mine and I love trying new recipes for bread.

  12. Jaime says

    I had to come back to tell you that I made these yesterday for my first family dinner that I have ever hosted, and it was my first time making any sort of bread ever, and they were a total HIT!!! My family devoured them! There was only one left: the lone roll that had to be placed on the outside of the neat little rows since it was the odd ball (just like in your photo, haha) so it was a bit more well done than the others. Thank you for such a DELICIOUS recipe, and EASY to boot! The rolls were requested to make an apppearance at our Christmas dinner! πŸ™‚

  13. Anita says

    Hi thanks for the recipe… I am new to baking breads πŸ™‚
    I have a question… I have the dough rising now… Do I punch It down before rolling my balls?

  14. Kathy says

    Thanks again, they are a hit. I have been making the rolls since Feb. for my friends and neighbors. My Nana would be so proud of me. They taste just like hers.

  15. says

    I tried this recipe today, and the results were superb! .. The rolls were soft and nice. .. definitely going to save this recipe.

    I did a few things that were not mentioned, such as refrigerating the dough after hand-kneading. .. This is because I had class and the dough would not have time rise before I left.
    Wen I came back from class which was approximately 3 hours after, I took my dough out. Since I’m so impatient.. I didn’t wait for it to acclimatize to room temperature.. But placed it in my warm oven.
    I shaped then baked. …
    I used butter to brush though. … Came out really delicious. Shared with my friends on hall!

  16. Peggy F says

    I know this post is a year old, but I had to comment! I’m back yet again to get the recipe – although I probably should have it memorized by now! I’ve made these at least 10 times since you first posted it. My family and friends absolutely love these rolls. I’m making them right now for an early Christmas get-together! Thank you!!

  17. Liz says

    These look fantastic! Would the recipe work if it was halved? That many rolls between two people could get a little out of hand. πŸ™‚

  18. says

    Thanks a lot for the recipe! I have never made rolls except for helping my dad with his crescent rolls from scratch on special holidays, so this was just what I wanted. I used a cup of rye flour in place of one of the cups of flour, and they still turned out soft and pillowy with just a little extra flavor and nutrition. I loved making these! They went really well with broccoli cheddar soup.

  19. says

    Just a note to thank you for this recipe and all of your advice. First time ever making rolls yesterday, I used another recipe and they came out too sweet (1/3 cup of sugar) and a little tough, but I didn’t know why until I read all of the questions and your answers here. Making your recipe next time! Thanks so much.