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Classic soft dinner rolls: those warm, fluffy rounds of goodness that have graced dinner tables for generations. They’re iconic on American holiday tables and a must-have for all the big feasting days, from Thanksgiving to Christmas to Easter. They may look simple, because, well, they are, but they are loaded with comfort, nostalgia, and flavor in each bite
Why You’ll Love This Dish
The beauty of classic dinner rolls lies in their simplicity and versatility. Soft and fluffy, they go perfectly with a range of dishes, from hearty roasted meats and stews to lighter salads and steaming bowls of soups begging for something to dunk.
Plus, that smell that wafts through your home while they’re baking? Doesn’t it smell just like Grandma’s kitchen at the holidays? I love to make these rolls for the big feasting holidays, but let’s be honest: they’re just too good—and too easy to make—to reserve for special occasions.
Ingredients You Need
Making this dinner roll recipe is straightforward, but choosing the right ingredients is key. There are only a handful and you likely already have all of them on hand!
- Sugar: Just plain granulated sugar works best here.
- Yeast: Using instant yeast or rapid rise yeast helps the dough rise quickly, cutting down your prep time. You can substitute active dry yeast if that’s what you have on hand, but it will require a longer rising time.
- Warm milk: Use whole milk and warm it up to between 100°F and 110°F. You can substitute dairy-free milk alternatives if you want to make the rolls dairy free.
- Flour: You can use all-purpose flour here, or bread flour if you happen to have it.
- Salt: I prefer to use kosher salt or any additive-free sea salt for clean flavor.
- Butter: Go for unsalted butter. Cut the butter into small pieces, which will ensure even distribution throughout the dough. If you’re going dairy free, make sure you swap this out for a dairy-free butter substitute.
- Melted butter and garlic salt for topping: These are optional but they add some additional great flavor and the melted butter makes the rolls look especially nice, too.
How to Make It
Creating these homemade dinner rolls involves just a few simple steps and a little bit of patience.
- Start by combining the sugar, yeast, and warm milk in a mixing bowl. Wait for it to foam; this takes about 5 minutes.
- Add flour and salt to the yeast mixture and mix well. You can do this in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or by hand using a wooden spoon.
- Incorporate the cut-up butter. If the dough feels sticky, add a bit more flour in 1/4-cup increments.
- Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes.
- Place the dough in a bowl, cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel. Set the bowl in a warm spot and let it rise for about 45 minutes. The dough should nearly double in size.
- Separate the dough into 15 even pieces and roll them into balls. Arrange them in a greased baking pan or casserole dish.
- Let the dough balls rest for another 45 minutes in a warm spot.
- Preheat the oven and, if you like, brush the rolls with melted butter and sprinkle with garlic salt. Bake until golden brown on top.
What to Serve With It
These fluffy dinner rolls can work with such a wide range of menus—what can’t you serve them with?
They’re obviously perfect alongside a roast turkey, mashed potato casserole, Instant Pot cranberry sauce, and brussels sprouts salad with maple dressing for a classic Thanksgiving Dinner. Or how about serving them with Instant Pot ham for either Christmas dinner or Easter Brunch? I love to serve them alongside Instant Pot duck confit for an out-of-the-ordinary holiday meal.
These rolls are also delicious warm from the oven and spread with honey butter. Or rosemary and hot pepper butter. Or a drizzle of maple syrup.
Classic Soft Dinner Rolls
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 packet instant yeast
- 1 ⅓ cups warm milk between 100°F and 110°F
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour plus more for kneading if needed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup butter cut into small pieces
- 2 tablespoons melted butter optional, for topping
- Garlic salt optional, for garnish
- Mix together the sugar, yeast, and warm milk in a bowl, let sit for at least 5 minutes, it should foam.
- Add in 2 to 2 ½ cups of the flour, salt and mix until everything is well combined.
- Add in the cut up butter and combine with the rest of the dough, add more flour ¼ cup at a time until dough is just slightly sticky to the touch.
- Knead for 10 minutes.
- Let sit in a warm place for at least 45 minutes, it should just about double in size.
- Separate into 15 even pieces, roll into balls, place evenly in your casserole dish, let rest in a warm place for at least another 45 minutes..
- Grease your casserole dish and preheat your oven to 375℉.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes
- Brush on the melted butter and garlic salt, if using, before enjoying with your favorite dinner!