World’s Best Dinner Rolls

Today’s post is actually a re-post of one of our very, very first recipes–like one of the recipes we had up on the blog before we even launched it! It is one of my most beloved recipes and an all-time favorite of my friends and family-members. I’ve always known that the dough was a little temperamental and that some people have had trouble with it, but it wasn’t until I talked to Sara a few weeks ago and she told me that she has never successfully made these when I realized I needed to do something about it. I’m totally not sharing this to knock Sara in any way–heck, I have never been able to successfully make her famous Creamy Chicken Taquitos, so go ahead, judge me now. I’m saying this because if you’ve tried these rolls in the past and haven’t had a lot of success, be happy to know that a) you’re in good company, and b) I’ve tweaked the recipe, the yeast procedure in particular, in a way that I believe makes the dough more user-friendly and less moody. If only someone could find a similar cure for PMS…

If you’re still nervous about working with yeast, check out this information on working with our fungal friend.

Ready? Awesome. You’ll need whole milk, all-purpose flour, yeast, sugar, salt, butter, and eggs. Nothing fancy.

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Combine milk,

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1/2 c. sugar,

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butter (sorry, no enticing action shot for the butter. It seems kind of like there might be some real-life parallels here…),

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and salt

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in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until butter melts. It’s salty. It’s sweet. Yum.

Remove from heat. Allow to cool to lukewarm. I usually rub some ice cubes along the sides of the pan or pop the entire pan in a sink full of ice cubes to cool the mixture down because this step can take forever. This step is really important because if the mixture is too hot, it will kill the yeast.

While the milk mixture is cooling, dissolve the yeast

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and 1 Tbsp. sugar

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in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes or until the yeast is very bubbly and the mixture has risen significantly.

Before:

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10 minutes later:

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If the yeast hasn’t bubbled, you’ll need to repeat this step–moving on with yeast that hasn’t been activated properly will only end in heartache for you and hate mail for us.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 c. flour and milk mixture.

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Beat on low for 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Add yeast mixture and beat on high for 3 minutes.

Crack your eggs…

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and give them a good whisking (this little heart whisk is one of my favorite tools for jobs like this). Why should you beat your eggs first? Same reason you should combine your dry ingredients before adding them to moist ingredients when making cookies and cakes–it ensures everything is well-mixed and can be evenly-distributed through your dough or batter. If you add the whole eggs, your dough may not be as consistent.

Stir in as much remaining flour as needed to make a soft dough.
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This dough should be very soft–it will be coming away from the sides of the bowl, but it will still stick to your finger when you touch it. Don’t worry, it will firm up during the rising process. Part of what makes these rolls so good is that they’re so soft and light; if you add too much flour, they will be heavy and dense.
Place the bowl in a warm place and cover with a clean towel; allow to rise 1 hour.

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Punch down dough. Lightly flour your work surface

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and turn dough out onto surface.

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Divide in half.

Spray 2 9×13 glass pans with cooking spray. Roll first portion of dough into a rectangle and then cut it into 12 equal-sized pieces.

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I like to use a pizza cutter because it has a blade on each side (a plastic bowl scraper is also fantastic), so it cuts right through dough without sticking to the blade. This dough should be very easy to work with, almost like playdough. Shape each piece into a ball and place in prepared pan. Repeat with remaining dough in the second pan.

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Cover with a clean cloth and allow to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes. When dough has about 15-20 minutes to go (depending on your oven), preheat oven to 375.

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Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden-brown.

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When done, remove from oven. Rub a stick of cold butter over the tops of the rolls. You must now eat one. Now. While it’s hot. Then pop the rest into a bowl and no one will ever know that you cheated.

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P.S. Using this filling or these fillings, this dough makes fabulous cinnamon or orange rolls. Just bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

MAKING AHEAD:  We have received tons of comments and emails asking about making these rolls ahead, or freezing the dough, etc.  Note that we have never before tried any of these methods so we can’t give you an answer for sure.  You can try freezing the dough after they have been shaped (but before the second rise) and you can certainly try cooking and cooling completely and then freezing.  Just keep in mind we only make these fresh and eat them hot from the pan so that’s all the info we can give you.

 

 

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Ingredients

  • 2 c. whole milk (if you’re in a pinch, you can use 2%, but whole is best. Don’t use 1% or skim)
  • ½ cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
  • 1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) butter
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 packages active dry yeast (or 4 1/2 tsp.), preferably bread machine yeast
  • 2/3 cup warm (105-115-degree) water
  • 89 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 beaten eggs

Instructions

  1. Combine milk, 1/2 c. sugar, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until butter melts. Remove from heat. Allow to cool to lukewarm. I usually rub some ice cubes along the sides of the pan or pop the entire pan in a sink full of ice cubes to cool the mixture down because this step can take forever. This step is really important because if the mixture is too hot, it will kill the yeast.
  2. While the milk mixture is cooling, dissolve the yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes. If the yeast hasn’t bubbled, you’ll need to repeat this step–moving on with yeast that hasn’t been activated properly will only end in heartache for you and hate mail for us.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 c. flour and milk mixture. Beat on low for 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Add yeast mixture and beat on high for 3 minutes.
  4. Add beaten eggs. Why should you beat your eggs first? Same reason you should combine your dry ingredients before adding them to moist ingredients when making cookies and cakes–it ensures everything is well-mixed and can be evenly-distributed through your dough or batter. If you add the whole eggs, your dough may not be as consistent.
  5. Stir in as much remaining flour as needed to make a soft dough. This dough should be very soft–it will be coming away from the sides of the bowl, but it will still stick to your finger when you touch it. Don’t worry, it will firm up during the rising process. Part of what makes these rolls so good is that they’re so soft and light; if you add too much flour, they will be heavy and dense. Place the bowl in a warm place and cover with a clean towel; allow to rise 1 hour.
  6. Punch down dough. Lightly flour your work surface and turn dough out onto surface. Divide in half.
  7. Spray 2 9×13 glass pans with cooking spray. Roll first portion of dough into a rectangle and then cut it into 12 equal-sized pieces. I like to use a pizza cutter because it has a blade on each side, so it cuts right through dough without sticking to the blade. This dough should be very easy to work with, almost like playdough. Shape each piece into a ball and place in prepared pan. Repeat with remaining dough in the second pan.
  8. Cover with a clean cloth and allow to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes. When dough has about 15-20 minutes to go (depending on your oven), preheat oven to 375.
  9. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden-brown.
  10. When done, remove from oven. Rub a stick of cold butter over the tops of the rolls.
  11. Then pop the rest into a bowl and no one will ever know that you cheated.

Notes

  • MAKING AHEAD: We have received tons of comments and emails asking about making these rolls ahead, or freezing the dough, etc. Note that we have never before tried any of these methods so we can’t give you an answer for sure. You can try freezing the dough after they have been shaped (but before the second rise) and you can certainly try cooking and cooling completely and then freezing. Just keep in mind we only make these fresh and eat them hot from the pan so that’s all the info we can give you.

 

348 comments

  1. Is there a recipe for a cheesy garilc roll. I made it the other night and can't find the recipe anywhere. (A friend wants it) Could someone help!

  2. I didn't exactly make THESE rolls because I have my own delish cardamom roll recipe that I wanted to use as a base for the orange idea!

    It yields the same amount of dough- half of which I used for dinner rolls and the other half I used the orange stuff….my only issue was that it was a little too much butter mixture..so ended up kind of too buttery (I know is there even such a thing?) and also I took them out of the oven too soon because dinner rolls were done and I didn't realize these would take longer.

    Soooooo I messed them up a bit. Still ate three in about 2 minutes though…you know, just to be sure they weren't all that bad 😉

  3. I have recently acquired a microplane! And now I don’t close the pages whenever I see “orange zest”, “lemon zest” and whatever zest!

    What a great idea to use dental floss to cut the rolls!

    Thanks for all the great tips!

  4. I just made these last Thursday, because I didn’t plan enough ahead to get my Grandma’s roll recipe in time for dinner. I was able to compare the two recipes tonight, and they’re almost the same…except that my Grandma’s has 3x the butter and 2x the sugar and a little more yeast. No wonder I remember them tasting so good.

      1. same here ….. if you’re adding salt to a recipe I always use unsalted. If you’re not adding salt, I use salted butter (it’s why I always have a ton of butter in my fridge LOL)

        1. Good question! you almost always want to use unsalted butter in baking. It lets you control the amount of salt in your recipe (so maybe add a pinch if you use unsalted for this recipe. Conversely, if a recipe calls for unsalted butter and all you have is salted, cut out 1/2 of the “other salt” in the recipe).
          Cooking is chemistry, and salt can change a lot of the properties of your ingredients (like the boiling and freezing temperature of water, for example). It also affects the yeast (too much salt can kill them). It also reduces oxidation of the crust which means it may not brown as well or as evenly, and it reduces caramelization of the sugar and the Millard reaction of the fats/proteins in the eggs and flour (i.e., all of your flavor!). It affects how the gluten is formed. It also affects the flavor of butter when it is melted (due to a chemical reaction of the salt and heat). Any time you are melting butter in a pan, you want unsalted butter. If you’re spreading butter on potatoes or toast (or melting it on top of the rolls like above), salted butter is fine.

  5. Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!! These are THE best rolls ever. I made them tonight and I seriously just gained 10 pounds from eating them. i didn’t make the orange rolls, just regular rolls, and they are fantastic. I’m trying the orange rolls in a couple of weeks. So good!

  6. I call this recipe “I’m going to get fat thanks to you!” I have been looking for a great roll recipe and this is truly the “worlds best roll”. I wanted to make the orange rolls but I didn’t have any orange juice or orange zest so I made cinnamon rolls instead. I can’t stop eating both. LOVE IT!

    1. haha… you’re funny …..but o it’s soooo true, this is exactly my Grandma’s recipe!!! which is amazing!!! but the pointers in here were freakin awesome I think I’ve been killing the yeast by adding it to the hot mixture rather then letting it cool first, and then letting the yeast raise 10 mins rather then 4 as she calls for it. Thanks Lady 😀 it helps alot!

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