How do you take a soft, tender dinner roll and make it even more delicious? You dip it in butter. Yes, you read that right. Parker House Rolls are what regular dinner rolls want to be when they grow up.
These rolls are heavenly. They are decadent. When you want something truly special for your table, Parker House Rolls are the answer. Here's how to make them, step-by-step.
I can't take credit for inventing Parker House Rolls. That fine honor goes to the Parker House Hotel in Boston, who started serving the rolls in the late 1800's and still serve them to this day.
Two things make these rolls special: First, they get dipped in melted butter before going on the baking sheet, and second, they are folded in half to give them their signature pocketed appearance. The result is a feather-light, incredibly tender roll that can either be torn apart for plate-mopping purposes or stuffed with butter and jam for snacking purposes. There's no wrong way to do it.
Set the milk-butter mixture aside until just barely warm — you should be able to comfortably hold your finger in the liquid for several seconds; the liquid should feel barely warm. The mixture should also register below 110°F on an instant-read thermometer.
How To Make Parker House Rolls
Makes about 36 rolls
What You Need
1 tablespoon active-dry yeast
1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup whole milk
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, divided
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons salt
4 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
Small mixing bowls
Large mixing bowl
Stand mixer, or knead by hand
2 1/2-inch cookie or biscuit cutter
2 baking sheets
Parchment paper or Silpat
Dissolve the yeast: Mix the yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar into the warm water. Let stand until the yeast has dissolved and become foamy, about 10 minutes.
Melt 1 stick of butter into the milk: Combine the milk and 1/2 cup (1 stick) of the butter in a saucepan. Set over medium-low heat until the butter has just melted.
Whisk the sugar into the milk: Whisk the remaining 1/2 cup sugar into the warm milk and butter mixture.
Let the milk-butter mixture cool until barely warm: Set the milk-butter mixture aside until just barely warm — you should be able to comfortably hold your finger in the liquid for several seconds; the liquid should feel barely warm. The mixture should also register below 110°F on an instant-read thermometer.
Whisk in the eggs. Whisk the eggs into the milk-butter mixture.
Combine the liquids and the yeast: Combine the milk-butter mixture with the yeast mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer or large mixing bowl.
Add 4 cups of flour: Add 4 cups of flour to the liquids.
Stir to make a shaggy dough: Stir the flour into the liquids until you see no more dry flour and you form a lumpy, shaggy dough.
Knead for 8 minutes: Knead for 8 minutes on low speed in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, or for 10 minutes by hand. It's ok if the dough sticks to the bottom of the bowl, but if it sticks to the sides or feels very gummy, add the remaining flour a little at a time until it no longer sticks. The dough is ready when it is smooth, slightly tacky, and holds its shape in a ball when lifted.
Shape the dough into a smooth ball: Transfer the dough to the counter and knead it once or twice to shape it into a tight ball. Clean out the mixing bowl, film it with a little oil, and transfer the dough back to the bowl.
Let the dough rise: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Roll out the dough: Sprinkle a little flour on the counter and turn the dough out on top. Sprinkle a little more flour over the top of the dough. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick.
Cut out rounds of dough: Use a 2 1/2-inch cookie or biscuit cutter to cut out rounds of dough. Cut the rounds very close together so you avoid wasting too much dough. You should get roughly 36 rounds of dough, depending on the exact thickness of your dough.
Dip the rounds in butter: Line 2 baking sheets with parchment and place them near your workspace. Melt the remaining 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter in the microwave or over low heat on the stovetop. One by one, dip the rounds of dough in the butter so they are completely coated. (You can also dip the extra bits leftover from cutting out the rolls! Arrange them in any leftover space on the baking sheet)
Score the rounds with a knife and fold: Using the blunt side of a butter knife, score the rounds slightly off center. Fold the larger half over the smaller half. Press gently to make sure the rolls stay closed. Transfer the rolls to the baking sheet and space a little apart.
Let the rolls rise: Cover the rolls loosely and let them rise until puffy, 30 to 40 minutes. Some rolls may puff open as they rise; just gently fold them closed again. At this point, the rolls can be refrigerated overnight or frozen; see Recipe Notes.
Preheat the oven to 375°F: While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 375°F. Arrange two racks in the top third and bottom third of the oven.
Bake the rolls until golden: Uncover the risen rolls and transfer them to the oven. Bake until the rolls are golden-brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Rotate the top and bottom pans once toward the middle of the baking time.
Serve while warm: Let the rolls cool enough to handle, then transfer to a bread basket and serve. Rolls can also be cooled completely and re-warmed in a 300°F oven just before serving.
Make-Ahead Refrigerator Rolls: Prepare the rolls and let them rise. Refrigerate, covered, up to 24 hours. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour while oven is preheating. Bake and serve as directed.
Freezer Rolls: Prepare the rolls and let them rise. Freeze on the baking sheet until solid, then transfer to freezer bags or containers. Freeze for up to 1 month. To bake, let the rolls thaw on the baking sheets for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, then bake as directed.
Freezing Baked Rolls: Let the rolls cool completely, then transfer to freezer bags or containers. Freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw for 1 hour on the baking sheets, then warm in a 300°F oven until warmed through, 15 to 20 minutes.