How to Make Soft and Tender Dinner Rolls

How to Make Soft and Tender Dinner Rolls

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Emma Christensen
Nov 16, 2018

What's a dinner party without a basket of warm rolls on the table? The softer and fluffier the better, I say. All the better to sop up those last bits of sauce. Here's how I make my absolute favorite, foolproof dinner rolls, a perfect addition to any table.

These are dinner rolls that you can trust. They are soft and tender, but with enough substance to them that they won't break apart under the butter knife. They have a mild sweetness that goes equally well with a Sunday chicken dinner or a casual potluck brunch.

You can make these rolls from start to finish in the span of a few hours, and they are excellent fresh from the oven. All those recipes that tell you to wait until the bread is cool before eating? Don't listen to them here. For mid-week meals, freeze a batch and warm them up for a few minutes in the oven before serving.

Very astute observers will note that this recipe is nearly identical to our recipe for Hamburger Buns. That's because I love the dough from that recipe so much that I use it any time I want a tender, soft bread to go with our meals. (Heck, the recipe is also pretty close to my favorite Sandwich Bread recipe, too!) For these dinner rolls, I just divide the dough into more pieces to make smaller buns and bake them in a casserole dish to help them reach puffy perfection — and also because the tear-away edges make me nostalgic for my grandmother's rolls.

How to Make Soft & Tender Dinner Rolls

Makes 12 rolls

What You Need

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon

    dry active yeast

  • 1/2 cup

    warm water

  • 1/2 cup

    milk

  • 1

    large egg

  • 2 tablespoons

    vegetable oil

  • 2 tablespoons

    granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    salt

  • 3 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • Cooking spray

  • 1 tablespoon

    unsalted butter

  • Equipment
  • Standing mixer or a mixing bowl, if making rolls by hand

  • Bench scraper or sharp knife

  • Parchment paper

  • 9x13 baking dish

Instructions

  1. Combine the ingredients for the dough. Place the yeast and warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl, if mixing by hand), stir to combine, and let it sit until dissolved. Place the milk, egg, oil, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Add this to the yeast mixture and stir until combined. Add all the flour and stir until it forms a shaggy dough.

  2. Knead the dough. Knead on low speed or by hand against the counter until smooth but slightly tacky (it should spring back when poked), 8 to 10 minutes.

  3. Let the dough rise 1 hour. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

  4. Divide and shape the rolls. Dust your work surface with a little flour. Scrape the dough onto the flour. Using a bench scraper, divide the dough into 12 pieces. To shape into rolls, tuck the edges underneath to form a plump little package, then roll the dough against the counter or between your palms until round.

    → Read more about this technique: How to Shape Dinner Rolls.

  5. Heat the oven and let the rolls rise again. Line a 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Arrange the rolls inside the baking dish so that they are spaced a little apart. Let the rolls rise until they look pillowy and fill the pan, 30 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 375°F.

  6. Brush the rolls with butter. Melt the butter and brush it over the risen dinner rolls. This helps the tops to brown and keeps the crust soft.

  7. Bake the rolls 15 to 18 minutes. Bake the rolls until golden-brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Grasping the parchment paper, lift the rolls from the baking dish to a wire rack and let sit until cool enough to handle.

Recipe Notes

Storage: These rolls are best if eaten within a day or two, but will keep in an airtight container on the counter for up to 1 week. Rolls can also be frozen for up to 3 months and reheated in a warm oven. See more about here: How to Freeze & Reheat Dinner Rolls.

Whole wheat rolls: Substitute 1/2 to 1 cup of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour and prepare the recipe as usual. The texture of the rolls will be a bit more dense, but still very delicious.

Doubling the recipe: Double all of the ingredients except for the yeast. To make even more rolls, it's best to prepare separate batches as the dough becomes too cumbersome to work with easily.

Baking rolls on a baking sheet: These rolls can also be baked on a rimmed baking sheet if you'd prefer not to have the tear-away edges. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking liner and space the rolls a few inches apart.

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(Images: Emma Christensen)

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