I don’t often call my recipes “the best” because there are so many delicious recipes out there for almost anything you can think of. But these dinner rolls are so light and pillowy-soft, I really do think this is one of the best soft dinner roll recipes around. I make these rolls with a yeast dough enriched with milk, eggs, and butter. The result is a soft, fluffy roll with an unbeatable flavor and texture. And if you like this recipe for homemade dinner rolls, also check out my recipe for Quick and Easy Hamburger Buns.
These homemade soft and fluffy dinner rolls are a real treat at our house. When I serve these rolls with a meal, you know it’s going to be a good one, and it’s an occasion the whole family looks forward to. And that’s because I don’t make these rolls an everyday affair. They aren’t difficult to make, but they do take a bit more time and effort than whipping up a quick batch of biscuits. So I tend to make this recipe when I have a little extra time for dinner preparation. I love to serve these rolls when I’m making a nice roast or a hearty pot of beef stew.
So what makes a soft dinner roll?
In this case, these dinner rolls get their pillowy softness from an enriched dough. Yeast doughs can be lean or enriched. A lean dough contains very little in the way of fat or sugar. Lean doughs produce bread products that are crusty and chewy. Things like artisan bread loaves, baguettes, and pizza crust. In contrast, an enriched dough has a higher content of fat and sugar, typically from the addition of milk, dairy, eggs, and/or sugar. Brioche, cinnamon rolls, and soft sandwich bread come from the enriched dough. And it is this type of enriched dough that I use in these rolls and it’s what makes these rolls so soft.
Let’s talk about a few of the ingredients for the Best Soft Dinner Rolls
Milk – I have used both 2% and whole milk for this recipe. I haven’t tested the recipe with skim milk, but it’s possible that the lack of fat in skim milk may affect the texture. So, I recommend sticking to 2% or whole milk.
Butter – Use either salted or unsalted butter. If you’re using unsalted butter, add an extra 1/4 teaspoon of salt (in addition to the amount called for in the recipe).
Yeast – I make these soft dinner rolls with active dry yeast. I like that the dough rises a bit more slowly with the active dry yeast. From my experience, a slower rise results in a softer, tastier roll. That being said, you can use instant or rapid-rise yeast. Just skip the proofing part, and add the yeast directly to the flour. (The proofing is where you add the yeast to the water with sugar to make sure it is active). Also, keep a close eye on the dough while it’s rising, because it’s likely to rise faster than indicated in the recipe.
Eggs – Large eggs are what I use in this recipe.
Sugar – Granulated sugar of your choice. It’s best to use fine sugar (like table sugar) and not coarse sugar (like turbinado).
Flour – Just regular all-purpose flour is what you need to make the best soft dinner rolls. I use unbleached, all-purpose flour, but bleached flour will work, too.
Tips for making the best dinner rolls:
- One batch of dough should make 24 rolls, provided you divide the dough evenly. The easiest way I have found to do this is to use my bench knife to divide the dough first into half. Then divide each half again, giving you 4 pieces of dough. Divide in half again, giving you 8 pieces of dough. Then divide each of these 8 pieces of dough into 3 pieces. This should leave you with 24 (relatively) equal size pieces of dough. If you want to be really precise, you can use a kitchen scale to weigh out the pieces. I don’t bother with this, however, because close enough is good enough for me. For a little extra help with this, see the photos below:
- Properly shaping the dough is an important part of getting the best result in terms of texture and the final shape of the rolls. This means we need to create tension in the surface of the dough. To do this, you want to take each piece of dough and turn it inside out on itself while rolling the edges under. This forms a dough ball with tight skin on the top surface. You then pinch the underside together in the middle to form a seam, creating what looks like a pouch or a purse. Then you’ll place the rolls seam-side down in the prepared baking dish. See the photos below:
- Allow the rolls to rise again in the baking dish, but don’t let them get too big. The sides of the rolls should just be starting to touch when you put them in the oven. They will finish rising in the oven. When they’re finished baking they will have that soft pull-apart quality that we all love.
- Use a baking dish of around 9 x 13 -inches. It will need to be a few inches deep so that the rolls rise properly. Prepare the baking dish by generously greasing it. You can use oil, but I prefer to use a solid fat like butter.
Tools for making homemade dinner rolls:
The truth is, you don’t need a lot of tools for making dinner rolls. You can get by with the most basic tools like a mixing bowl and a wooden spoon. I also like to use a pastry mat, a bench knife, and a stand mixer, but these are optional.
How to store and reheat fresh, soft dinner rolls:
Of course, soft homemade dinner rolls are best served fresh from the oven. But should you have leftover rolls, you can store them in an airtight container for about 2 days. To reheat dinner rolls, I usually pop them into the microwave for about 20 seconds. You can also reheat them in the oven on a baking sheet at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 5-7 minutes.
Can I freeze soft dinner rolls?
Yes, you can freeze the rolls. You can freeze the baked rolls by wrapping them tightly in a layer of plastic wrap followed by a layer of foil. For best quality, freeze for no more than a few weeks to a month.
You can also freeze the rolls when they are shaped but unbaked. To do this, place the shaped rolls on a parchment-lined cookie sheet in the freezer, and freeze them for a few hours until solid. Then pop the frozen rolls into an airtight, freezer-safe container before storing them in the freezer. On the day you want to bake the rolls, place them in the prepared baking dish at room temperature and allow them to defrost and rise for about 5 hours. Then they should be ready to bake. Follow the recipe instructions for baking.
Making the Best Soft Dinner Rolls is an easy project. It takes a little bit of time and effort but with minimal ingredients, a few tools, and a bit of patience, you’ll be serving up big soft, fluffy dinner rolls that will surely be a hit at dinnertime.
If you try this recipe, I hope you love it. And follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram so you don’t miss a post.
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