Classic Soft Dinner Rolls

Can I introduce you to the fluffiest dinner rolls ever? Shiny tops. Sweet, tender interior. The Soft Dinner Rolls of your dreams.

Why Soft Dinner Rolls?

When cold weather rolls around, there’s nothing easier or more comforting to make than classic Soft Dinner Rolls.

You know the ones I’m talking about. The kind of buns that are impossibly soft and delicious. Light, airy rolls that break apart easily. Wispy, shaggy ends; delightfully fluffy center.

A good roll tastes good with just about everything — cozy soups and stews, hearty braised meats, saucy spaghetti and meatballs, and roasted vegetables.

baking pan full of brown, shiny dinner rolls

The texture of these rolls is reminiscent of Japanese Milk Bread. Or the soft and fluffy buns you eat at Hong Kong style diners.

I’ve made the portion size large enough to feed a family and then some. Leftovers can easily be eaten for breakfast the next day or made into sandwiches for lunch.

Ethereal and dreamy, airy and light — these dinner rolls will become your new forever favorite!

Ingredients:

  • Flour, Sugar, Salt. The dry ingredients.
  • Milk, Butter, Eggs. The wet ingredients. Adds richness and deep flavor. Whole, 2%, or 1% milk works well; I don’t recommend skim milk.
  • Instant Yeast. I use instant yeast because it doesn’t need to be activated by water. If using active yeast — sprinkle on the wet ingredients first.
  • Egg Wash. A simple addition — right before baking — creates appealingly shiny tops.
hands tearing apart a soft dinner roll

Special Equipment:

  • 9×13″ pan. A classic pan that’s multi-functional. Choose one that looks good on the table, too.
  • Food processor. Not necessary but makes the process faster and easier. Make sure it can hold at least 8 cups of ingredients. Alternate instructions are in the recipe card below.
  • Large Bowl. The dough will rise enormously. Use the biggest bowl you have.
  • Cover. To create an ideal environment for the dough to rise, cover the bowl tightly. In the past, I’ve used plastic wrap, a stock pot lid that fits snugly, and a silicone cover. A towel does not work well, as air can flow through to create a skin on the surface of the dough.
  • Pastry brush. For the egg wash at the end. I prefer silicone over a boar brush because it’s dishwasher friendly and you don’t have to worry about bristles that fall into the food.

Instructions:

  1. Place dry ingredients in the food processor. With the machine running, slowly pour in wet ingredients. The end result will be a sticky, shaggy ball.
  2. Knead dough until smooth and elastic.
  3. Cover and place in a warm, draft-free place so it can rise.
  4. Divide into rolls. Place in 9×13″ baking pan. Cover and wait for the second rise.
  5. Now it’s time for the egg wash.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes at 350F. Enjoy!

PRO Tips:

  • Butter the 9×13 pan. For easier removal. Otherwise, the rolls will stick to the sides.
  • Create an ideal rising environment. To create a warm, draft-free area for the dough to rise, preheat the oven to 175F. Once it reaches the temperature, turn off the heat immediately. Cover the dough tightly and transfer to the oven.
  • Check your yeast. Yeast is tricky and easy to kill. To make sure it’s alive and active, sprinkle on top of lukewarm water. After 5 minutes, it should be foamy and bloated looking. That tells you the yeast is alive!

Serve with:

smearing jam on a soft dinner roll

FAQ:

Can I halve the recipe?

Yes, absolutely! This recipe makes a large amount. To make a smaller portion, halve all the ingredients and bake in an 8×8″ square or 9″ cake pan instead.

How do I freeze Soft Dinner Rolls?

There are two ways to freeze soft dinner rolls — after they are baked OR before they are baked.

AFTER they are baked, cool completely. Then transfer to a ziploc baggie and store in the freezer. They should stay good for 1-2 months. To reheat, bake in a 350F oven until soft and warmed through.

BEFORE they are baked, roll into balls and place inside the 9×13″ pan. Cover tightly with saran wrap and transfer to the freezer. When ready to bake, simply remove from the freezer and let stand at room temperature until defrosted and puffy, about 1-2 hours. Bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes, as per usual.

Help! My dough won’t rise!

Working with yeast is notoriously tricky. If your dough is not rising, it’s probably because of the yeast. Some common problems:

  • Yeast that’s too old might be dead. To determine if your yeast is active and alive, sprinkle on top of warm water. After 5 minutes, it should be foamy and bloated. That tells you its alive. If not, it’s time to buy new yeast!
  • Yeast that’s overly heated can also die. To make sure you’re not accidentally killing the yeast, add lukewarm liquid (110F).
  • Yeast that’s in a cold, drafty area will be slow to rise. Cover tightly and transfer to an oven that’s been preheated to 175F. Don’t forget to turn off the oven though — you only need the residual heat! And be patient — the suggested time for rising depends on many factors and can range from 1-2 hours.

More Side Dish Inspiration:

baking pan full of brown, shiny dinner rolls

Classic Soft Dinner Rolls

The Subversive Table | Lis Lam
The fluffiest dinner rolls ever. Shiny tops. Sweet, tender interior. The Soft Dinner Rolls of your dreams.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Rising Time 1 hr 45 mins
Course Bread, Side
Cuisine American
Servings 32 small rolls
Calories

Equipment

  • Food processor (optional)
  • 9×13" Baking Pan
  • Large Bowl
  • Cover — plastic saran wrap, stock pot lid, or silicone cover
  • Bench Scraper (or knife)

Ingredients
  

Dry Ingredients:

  • 5 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 tsp (instant) yeast *see note below if using active yeast

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup milk, warm (whole, 2%, 1% all work; I don't recommend skim milk)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled

Egg Wash:

  • 1 large egg, beaten well

Instructions
 

  • Attach the dough blade to a food processor. Place dry ingredients in the bowl: flour, sugar, salt, instant yeast (if using active yeast, see note below).
    white food processor on kitchen counter
  • Combine wet ingredients in a large measuring cup: milk, eggs, butter. (A 2 cup measuring cup will be very full. A 4 cup measuring cup is better, but not everyone has one.) As the machine runs, carefully pour the wet ingredients in a slow and steady stream until a rough ball forms. Let dough rest 2 minutes. Then pulse for 30 seconds more. The dough will be sticky and rough looking.
    sticky dough in food processor bowl
  • Transfer dough to a clean work space. Knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 5-10 minutes. Transfer to a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap, lid, or silicone cover. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours.
    bread dough in white bowl
  • When the dough has doubled in size, punch down to deflate. Then divide into 32 equal-sized rolls. I cut the dough in half, then keep cutting the dough in half until I get to 32. An easy way to keep track is to work with one half at a time and divide each half into 16 rolls. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 30-45 minutes.
    unproofed dinner rolls in a baking pan
  • Heat oven to 350F/175C during the second rise. When the rolls are ready, brush each roll with egg wash.
    brushing egg wash on dinner rolls
  • Bake until tops are shiny and brown, about 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and rest for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
    baking pan full of brown, shiny dinner rolls

Notes

*1 To mix the dough by hand, combine wet ingredients in a large measuring cup and sprinkle yeast on top. Let sit for 5 minutes until the yeast dissolves and foams. Place remaining dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add wet ingredients. With a spatula, mix wet and dry ingredients together until shaggy. Dump onto a well-floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10-15 minutes.
*2. ACTIVE YEAST — If using active yeast in the food processor, I suggest blooming the yeast in the warm liquid first. Then pour it into the flour mixture while the food processor runs. Make sure to scrape down all the liquid yeast mixture with a small spatula.
*3 The dough is very sticky. Feel free to sprinkle the dough ball and kneading surface with flour from time to time if it gets too sticky.
**Yeast is finicky. There are many ways to kill yeast. Yeast can also die if it’s too old. To determine if your yeast is still active, sprinkle a small amount (a pinch) over warm water. If it foams, it’s still good. If it doesn’t foam, then you may need to get a new batch.
Keyword Dinner Rolls, Soft
All Recipes, Dinner with Friends, Holiday, Potluck, Side

2 Comments

  1. Lis, can you freeze these? They look delicious, but not sure that my family of little ones could finish a whole pan at once and unfortunately company is out of the question right now.. ๐Ÿ™

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