World’s Best Dinner Rolls

Is there anything better than warm bread smeared with melty butter? Thousands of people across the country have fallen in love with these dinner rolls, and for good reason- they truly are THE BEST! They are beginner friendly, so if you’re nervous about working with yeast, don’t be. This recipe makes two full pans of rolls and will definitely fill a standard Kitchenaid mixer to the absolute brim, so feel free to cut it in half if you are feeding a smaller crowd.

Ingredient Notes

  • Milk – Whole milk is best. You can use 2% in a pinch, but avoid 1% or skim.
  • Yeast – This recipe calls for active dry yeast. I have not tried using rapid rise yeast, where the first rise is replaced by a 10 minute rest of the dough. If you feel like experimenting feel free to give it a try, just know it hasn’t been tested for this particular recipe. If you’re nervous about working with yeast, check out this post on tips for working with yeast dough.
  • Eggs – You’ll notice the recipe calls for 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.

How to Make the World’s Best Dinner Rolls

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

best dinner rolls

  1. Combine milk, sugar, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until butter melts. It’s salty. It’s sweet. Yum.

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

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

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and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until butter melts.

2. 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.

3. While the milk mixture is cooling, dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes or until the yeast is very bubbly and the mixture has risen significantly.

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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.

4. In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 cups of 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.

5. Crack your eggs and give them a good whisking (this little heart whisk is one of my favorite tools for jobs like this). Add to dough mixture and mix until well combined.

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6. 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.
7. Place the bowl in a warm place and cover with a clean towel; allow to rise 1 hour.

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8. 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.

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

Related Recipes

Short on time? These One-Hour Dinner Rolls are on the table in a flash.

These French Rolls or this Easy No Knead Overnight Artisan Bread are other great alternatives to traditional rolls.

For Sweet rolls, check out these Overnight Cinnamon Rolls or Everyday Cinnamon Rolls.

FAQs

  • Can I make these ahead and freeze? While I do think rolls are best fresh and hot the day you make them, you can in fact prepare these ahead of time. Make dough through the roll-shaping step.  Place your shaped rolls on parchment paper in a single layer and place in freezer. Once frozen solid you can place them in a bag together.  When ready to cook, leave at room temperature, lightly covered with a piece of plastic wrap sprayed with non-stick spray.  They will need to defrost and then also have time to rise (think store-bought rhodes rolls) so you will want to leave plenty of time for that (I’m guessing 3-5 hours). You can also cook the rolls, cool completely, and then freeze immediately.

Did You Make This?

I’d love to hear from you! Snap a picture and tag me on Instagram, and then come back and give this recipe a rating!

World's Best Dinner Rolls

5 from 1 vote
These reader favorite dinner rolls are soft and fluffy. Perfect for holiday dinners!
Servings24 rolls

Ingredients

  • 2 cups 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.
  • 2/3 cup warm 105-115-degree water
  • 8-9 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 beaten eggs

Instructions

  • Combine milk, 1/2 cup 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.
  • 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.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 cups 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.
  • Add beaten eggs.
  • 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.
  • Punch down dough. Lightly flour your work surface and turn dough out onto surface. 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. 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.
  • 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.
  • Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden-brown.
  • When done, remove from oven. Rub a stick of cold butter over the tops of the rolls.

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.
Author: Our Best Bites
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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. I made these today! I usually don't have that much luck in the roll department. I can whip up a loaf of bread like there is no tomorrow. But rolls are another story. They usually just come out so-so. These, though, were FaBuLoUs!
    Incidentally that's about all my boy and girl ate for dinner. But there is milk and eggs and flour. That's three food groups!

  2. I live at a high elevation and I made these today without any problems. I used instant yeast (not bread machine yeast) and followed the rest of the ingredients. I actually 1/2'd the recipe and it turned out just as light and fluffy and beautiful as the pictures. Tastes amazing! Thanks for the recipe!

  3. I made this recipe 4 times in the past couple weeks for canadian thanksgivng. The first time it didn't work out but my boyfriend had no problem eating them all, then I used bread machine yeast and VOILA. Perfect. I got so many compliments on them they were so delicious.
    The orange rolls are also amazing. After making them with this recipe i had to try the no-rise version.

    For anyone who lives in a high elevation/ very dry place, try using only about 6-7 cups of flour. Thats all I put in (kneading by hand) and they came out spectacular.

  4. Wow how beautiful are those?? Bookmarking to try, hopefully they won't give me a hard time. These would have gone beautifully with the brisket I just posted!

  5. Kate (other Kate, not me–I'm not talking to myself…yet! 🙂 )–

    Instant yeast works great. I like bread machine yeast, which is a form of instant yeast, because it gives consistent, fast results even when you're not using a bread machine. The only yeast you DON'T want to use is a no-rise yeast (like the yeast we're doing the giveaway for this week). It's AWESOME for pizza crust, but the texture of these rolls depends on the two rises and I don't think the no-rise yeast would work very well. Hope that helps! 🙂

  6. Becca, I started making these in Utah, so I think while it can make a difference, the problem was the original yeast-to-water ratio (too much yeast, not enough water, no sugar to feed the yeast). I think that led to rolls that didn't rise well and sometimes made them heavy. I doubled the water and added some sugar to the mixture and that has REALLY made things easier on my end.

    Barbara, I've meant to try it with whole wheat flour, but have never gotten around to it. I'd definitely start with 1/2 and 1/2 and experiment with it because while it's not AS moody as it used to be, you may run into more trouble than normal getting a light roll.

    Trimble, I don't know enough about flaxseed as an egg substitute to say if it will work, but I WILL say that due to the eggs, these rolls are really rich, kind of brioche-y, so the eggs are partially there for their baking purpose and partially there for flavor. I think you/someone in your family has egg allergies, right? Anyway, if you play around with it, let us know how they turn out!

    1. just found this comment after I asked for help in the above comment!

      so 2/3 cup water x 2 w/ same amount yeast? How much more sugar? Sugar in the yeast like the recipe says or in dough?
      Thanks and sorry to be baking lame!

  7. Kate- do you think the elevation makes a difference in this recipe? I couldn't find the recipe i usually use so I made these a few weeks ago and it didn't work out very well! Sara said she had had difficulty with it too so we were thinking maybe our higher elevation was causing problems?

    1. me too. When I take the dough out (this is my second attempt) to rise it looks like your risen rolls (firm and smooth) not like your picture and I only used 7 cups of flour. I am using food storage flour, maybe it is old? Would this make a difference? The first batch I didn’t bake into rolls because I decided I put too much flour in so I made scones, turned out good. I just got done baking the second attempt and they are not fluffy looking again like your picture.
      HELP, what am I doing wrong?!!

    1. Yes! I actually think they are fluffier with flax seed substituted. I didn’t have eggs one day but did have flax seed. They turned out so incredibly light and fluffy I only make this recipe with flax seed now.

  8. Ohhh you just had to go and out me, now didn't you?! I will have to try these again with the new and improved directions (and great pics by the way) and see if I can master them. Practice makes perfect, right? I see a lot of roll making in my future, lol.

  9. Oh, these look divine. We call rolls that we love in our house "Yummy rolls". It's a long-standing stupid joke. We'll have to try this recipe and see if they qualify! They look like they will!

  10. I have a very similar recipe… the only difference is that I use shortening instead of butter. I'll have to test this one out and compare.

  11. I will give these a try! My hubs likes sammiches every day and I think these might make a good sammich base.

    oh and I have made the creamy chicken taquitos like 5 times now. I made up a massive batch of taco chicken Sunday night and grilled 5 chicken breasts for us to eat off of this week. I also am now making a weekly batch of lime cilantro dressing to go with everything from salads, sammiches, to of course the chicken taquitos.

    You guys have such good recipes. I swears.

  12. Oh yummy! I may have to call in from work so I can stay home and make these. I can almost smell them now . . . !! 🙂

  13. 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!

  14. 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 😉

  15. 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!

  16. 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. I always assumed unsalted was best for baking, especially when you are adding more salt. Interesting.

      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.

  17. Salted or unsalted butter? I’m always unsure and usually go with unsalted if it doesn’t say.

  18. 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!

  19. 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!