Classic Dinner Rolls

classic dinner roll recipe

When it comes to feeding my friends and family, there’s little I can make that will impress them seeing as we eat the exact same meal year after year after year. Don’t get me wrong, I adore tradition, but as an enthusiastic cook I also like to put a few surprises on the table when possible. I’m also a realist, though, and know that when I’m making dinner for 20 people (or even more), frivolous baking is not something I have a lot of time for, which is why I began making classic dinner rolls in the first place.

When I realized that I could make homemade buns up to two months in advance of when I needed them, I was completely sold on the idea. I preach about make-ahead meal components to anyone who will listen (because it really is the best way to entertain and feed a crowd without losing your mind) so this particular idea really spoke to me. Not only could I up the ante of my big family gatherings, but I could also make the buns during a slow week, tuck them in the freezer and forget about them for a few weeks. On the day you’re hosting a big dinner, they can be pulled from the freezer and left to rise in the warmth of the kitchen for a few hours, before popping them into the oven for a quick bake.

If you make this recipe today, tomorrow or sometime in the next six weeks you’ll arm yourself with a sure-fire way of impressing your guests with very little effort required. Oh, and here’s the best part: if you’re not hosting, but are called to contribute something to a meal someone else is making, offer to bring the buns. You’ll wow the crowd with your homemade rolls, maintain manageable pre-dinner stress levels, and simultaneously keep yourself out of the grocery store. Sounds like a win-win to me.

Makes 30 small rolls. 

Good to Know: 

  • If you’re unsure about the freshness of your yeast, purchase a new package before making this recipe.
  • If you want to make these in advance, the rolls can be shaped and placed in a buttered and floured baking dish (you can fit 12-15 in a 9 x 13-inch baking pan). Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and a layer of aluminum foil and freeze for up to 8 weeks. When ready to bake, let the rolls defrost/rise for 3 hours and then bake as per the recipe directions.

You’ll Need

  • ¼ cup warm (110°F) water
  • 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk, warmed
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 – 6 ½ cups all-purpose flour or bread flour, plus extra for sprinkling
  • Vegetable oil
  • Egg wash (1 egg + 1 tsp water whisked to combine)

Prep and Cook

  • Pour the warm water into the bowl of stand mixer and sprinkle with the yeast. Add a pinch of the sugar and let stand for five minutes or until foamy.
  • In a separate bowl whisk together the warm milk, melted butter, salt, eggs and the remaining sugar. Add the wet ingredients to the yeast mixture, along with 3 cups of the flour, and mix until well blended and sticky.
  • Gradually add more flour, one cup at a time, and beat with a dough hook until it creates dough that’s soft and shaggy. You may have to add in more flour that the recipe calls for if the dough is too wet.
  • Knead the dough for 7-10 minutes, until soft and pulling away from the sides of the bowl. When ready, lift out dough and grease the bowl with a bit of vegetable oil, and place the dough back in the bowl. Cover with a towel and place in a warm spot to rise for 1 hour.
  • Once the dough has doubled in size, grease and flour 2 baking sheets.
  • Punch down the puffy dough and make golf ball-sized balls, placing them on the baking sheets 2-inches apart from each other. Cover formed rolls with the towel and place the baking sheets in a warm spot, letting them rise for an additional hour. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Once the rolls are ready to be baked, brush the egg wash over the surface of the rolls.
    Sprinkle each with a little extra flour - this isn’t required, it just gives the rolls a rustic, homemade look.
  • Place rolls into preheated oven and bake for 15-17 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.


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