Homemade Sweet Dinner Rolls


The absolute BEST dinner rolls.  Ever.

I can say with complete confidence that these rolls are the most delicious rolls that will ever pass your lips.  Sweet, buttery, moist – there’s no comparison.  I started making these rolls about ten years ago, but have eaten them every single Thanksgiving since I was a little girl.  Some of my most vivid memories of Thanksgiving are of my granny sitting at her kitchen table, shaping balls of dough into rolls for our dinner.  My cousin and sister and I would try to sneak bits of dough to eat and Granny would playfully banish us from the room.  Everyone loved her rolls.  After Granny passed away, my aunt and mom took over bringing piles of rolls to our holiday gatherings, and now, even for our smaller family celebrations, someone always makes the rolls.  Yesterday, I was looking through a booklet that my grandma filled out about her life – I was actually trying (unsuccessfully) to scan in her picture to share – and I got caught up reading some of her entries.  I came across a page with commentary about family traditions and meals and, wouldn’t you know, my Granny wrote down her rolls as a favorite family tradition.  I love that!

Homemade Dinner Rolls - these are the best!

So, the rolls.  I make my roll dough in a bread maker.  Do you have one?  Bread makers really make the process easy, but you don’t have to use one.  My bread maker is an older version of this one:Breadman Programmable Bread Maker (affiliate link).  Not too fancy and it works just fine for my occasional bread maker needs.  It takes a little more work, but you can hand mix the dough instead.  I’ll provide instructions for both methods.

Homemade Dinner Rolls - these are the best!

Homemade Sweet Dinner Rolls

Roll Dough Recipe:

1 Cup sour milk (mix 1 C. 2% or whole milk with 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice and let sit for 5 minutes)
4 Tablespoons of softened butter (let it sit out for 20 minutes or so, do not microwave to soften)
1 egg
3 1/4 C. flour
1/3 C. sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon Rapid Rise active dry yeast

Breadmaker Instructions:  You simply dump in all of the ingredients in the order listed and start the dough cycle on the machine.  The machine mixes the dough and lets it rise.  After about an hour, the machine is done doing its work and it’s time to form the dough into rolls.

Handmixing Instructions:  Mix 1 teaspoon sugar, yeast, and 1/2 C. warm water and leave untouched for 5 minutes.  Reduce milk by 1/2 cup – warm until lukewarm, add lemon, and let sit.  After 5 minutes, stir the yeast mixture into the milk mixture and stir in a large bowl.  Add in egg and butter; stir well.  Combine remaining dry ingredients and gradually stir into the wet ingredients.  When about half of the dry ingredients have been stirred in, sprinkle flour on a work surface and dump the dough out of the bowl – it will be really sticky at this point.  Work the remaining flour mixture into the dough, kneading and turning the dough, and adding flour mixture until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Form the dough into a ball.  Grease a large clean bowl with butter and place the dough inside.  Flip it over once so all of the dough has some butter coating it.  Place a damp towel over the bowl and place it in a warm draft-free location to rise.  You can turn on your oven to its lowest setting for a couple minutes and place the dough bowl in there or just set it in a warmer part of the kitchen/house.  The dough will double in size over about an hour’s time.  Once it has risen, punch the dough down and you are ready to form the dough into rolls.

Forming the Dough into Rolls:  Grease an 9″ x 13″ glass casserole dish with butter.  Dab the tips of your fingers in some butter and pluck a golf ball size piece of dough from the bowl.  Form it into a smooth ball by wrapping the dough from the top and sides around and into the bottom center.  It’s kind of hard to explain, but you’re kneading the roll in your hands and forming a smooth top on the ball at the same time.  The dough can be a little sticky – be sure you regrease your fingers for every roll and work the dough just on your fingertips.  Place the roll into the pan.  I make 20 rolls for each batch of dough.  You may have to redistribute some of the dough to make evenly formed rolls to fill the pan – that’s fine.  Once your pan is full, place a dry towel over the top and place the pan in a warm, draft-free location to rise once again.  This takes about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  When you can gently press your finger into the roll and the dough does not bounce back up, they’re ready to bake.

Baking the Rolls:  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Remove the towel from the roll pan before baking.  Bake rolls for 12-15 minutes.  The rolls are done when the tops are deep golden brown and the bottoms of the rolls are mostly cooked.  When you’re baking in a clear glass pan, you can peek at the sides and bottom edges to see if there’s a little browning.  It can be hard to tell and you’ll likely need to bake a few batches to get a feel for the level of doneness you want.  I like my rolls just a little dough-y, but some people don’t.  Granny used to tap on the rolls in the oven to check for doneness; I do this, too, but I have no idea what I’m listening/feeling for, it’s just a gesture.  ha!

A Couple Notes:  A few things that I think make a significant difference in the outcome – 1.  milk with a higher fat content is preferable, 2.  use real butter, 3.  use a glass baking dish, 4. undercooked is better than overcooked.

Homemade Dinner Rolls - these are the best!

Do you think your Thanksgiving menu has room for these heavenly rolls this year?  I know I’ll be making up a batch or four and shuffling my girls out of the kitchen when they run by trying to snatch my dough right out of the pan.  What traditional dishes will you be cooking?


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  1. says

    These look delicious. I eat very little bread – but I think I will make an exception in this case and will try to make these over the holidays! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Lea white says

    These are indeed heavenly! Each holiday or family gathering Stefanie makes these and they are amazing! So light and fluffy and simply delicious!

  3. says

    I loved this trip down memory lane. Some of my most favorite memories were Thanksgivings at Grandmas, when we’d emerge from our “button play” for sneaking food. I’m so glad the tradition of Granny’s rolls is still going strong. I don’t remember her baking a lot, but I will never forget her in the kitchen making the Thanksgiving rolls, and her fruit roll pastries – remember those?

    • girlinspired says

      Hi GG,
      We eat the whole batch before we can even think about freezing them, but….I asked around and my aunt says she freezes them all the time, no problem. Cool them completely, then put them in a plastic freezer bag, seal, and freeze! They defrost just fine! Let me know how it goes!

      • Kiki says

        Hi…just found your website! :) If you were to freeze then, how would you suggest, after defrosting, how to heat them up again?

        :) Kiki

        • girlinspired says

          Hi Kiki,

          I would suggest defrosting them completely, then cover them with a light towel and microwave for just a short time (10 seconds for a single roll, maybe 30 seconds for a bowl full?) if you want to warm them. Personally, I lovity love them room temperature.

          • Katie says

            Hi! I just found the link to your Homemade Sweet Rolls via Pinterest. They look and sound Heavenly!! I was wondering they can be frozen BEFORE baking and then baked after defrosting?

          • girlinspired says

            I’ve never tried it Katie, but I think I’ll give it a go this season because several people have asked. If you try it, let me know how they turn out!

  4. Melanie says


    I was just looking at the hand mix instructions and it states to mix with 1/2 cup of lukewarm water but I don’t see the water included in the list of ingredients. Do I still use the 1/2 cup of lukewarm water? Thanks!

    • girlinspired says

      Hi Melanie, Yes, you’ll want to use the water to get the yeast going – just reduce the listed quantity of milk by the equivalent – so use 1/2 C. water with the yeast and the teaspoon of sugar in the hand-mixed recipe and only use 1/2 C. of milk when you mix the milk in. Good question!

  5. Christine Rodriguez says


    I’m a bit confused on the hand directions, cause It says 1 tsp sugar, yeast. 1/2 cup warm water and leave for 5 min. So is that 1 tsp yeast as well? Recipe calls for 1tsb of yeast?
    Also, it says: reduce milk by 1/2 cup?…add lemon and let sit? I’m understanding to do that first. It’s calling for a cup of sour milk. Can you try and clarify this for me?

    • girlinspired says

      Hi Christine, All of the ingredients are the same except you’ll replace 1/2 C. of the milk with 1/2 C. of water. You’ll take that 1/2 C. of water and mix it with the 1 Tbs. of yeast plus 1 tsp. sugar before doing anything else. Reduce the called for amount of milk to 1/2 C. and add lemon to make the sour milk – you’ll do this while your yeast mixture is bubbling up. When you do the mixing by hand, you have to treat the yeast differently. That’s why you mix the yeast with the water and a little sugar before you mix everything together. Once you have the water/yeast mixture and the sour milk ready to go, then you start mixing everything else together. I hope that makes more sense. I always use a breadmaker, but I did mix it up by hand so that I could give instructions for those who don’t have a breadmaker.

      • Ruth SAndin says

        Hi Stef! I just want to make two comments on yeast roll/bread making: 1) in the “old days”, one was never sure if the yeast was viable, so one would “proof” the yeast by putting it in warm water with sugar to see if it would grow. That is not necessary anymore – unless your yeast is really old. So, you could just mix all the ingredients in a bowl (minus some of the flour) and knead by hand. 2) I only use aluminum pans, so this might not apply to glass, but my mom taught me to test baked goods doneness by the sizzle test (just like testing an iron): lick your finger and touch the bottom of the pan. When it sizzles, it is done! This applies equally to all baked goods – cakes, yeast doughs, quick breads, etc.

  6. Debby Lovett says

    I have another question about freezing. Can the dough be frozen before you bake the rolls? Maybe before the last rise? I would love to make these for Christmas but, I’m always so busy trying to get everything else done that I don’t have time to get the rolls made. It would be nice to be able to make them in advance and freeze them, then pull them out to defrost to rise for that last riser and bake at the last minute? I would appreciate your answer on this…I hope this can be done…the recipe sounds, delishous!
    Thank you…..
    Debby Lovett

    • girlinspired says

      Hi Debby! I’ve never tried it, but it’s always worth it to give it a try!! If I can test it out in the next couple weeks, I’ll let you know if it works. Good idea!

  7. says

    hi i’m goingto do these for c’mas..but a question..i am using my bread machine..and only have bread machine yeast..will that still work??..thx for your recipe..huggzz

  8. Cheryl says

    What a great roll recipe. So happy I found it on Pinterest. We just pulled out of the oven and most didn’t even make it till dinner. Thank you for sharing!!

  9. Sally says

    Made your rolls for Thanksgiving. They are being brought back by popular demand (unanimous) for Christmas Eve dinner! Thank you for the best rolls ever. Have a wonderful Christmas!!

  10. Jenn says

    So I’m on my second time making these and they aren’t getting done in the middle. I don’t mind a little doughy but they are hardly cooked at all by twelve minutes but the tops are very brown. I have them on the lower rack in the oven this time but can’t really tell a difference.

    • girlinspired says

      Hi Jenn, If you need them to cook longer and the tops are getting too brown, you can put a piece of tin foil over the top while they cook a bit longer.

  11. Lekkie says

    Hi there.
    I am making it now and I did 20 balls evenly! They are waiting to be baked in an hour or so. Wow! can’t wait to have the home smell heavenly :) I will take some photos to show my Facebook friends.
    Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe.

  12. Cala says

    hi I just mixed these and now they’re rising by hand, but I had to add extra flour because it was so sticky. I’m wondering if I did something wrong with the recipe. I was confused because of the milk thing but read tge comments for further instruction

    • girlinspired says

      Hi Cala, I think that sometimes the weather/environment effects the consistency of the dough. I had a batch turn out extremely sticky over Christmas, even though I do everything the same every time. I also mixed in extra flour so that I could form the rolls – they were still good, but it did change the finished texture some. I would suggest trying them again on another day and see how they turn out!

  13. TjNurse93 says

    I keep forgetting to come back here to post a comment. But, I made the time today. I have made your rolls numerous times. The first few times I realized I had to adjust the cooking time, but this is my go-to recipe for dinner rolls. Just the right amount of sweetness and very tender. These are eaten up! I took them to work more than once for get togethers and again, they were gone! It is so nice for you to share your recipe with all of us. This is in my top 5 favorite breads to make, and definitely in my cookbook!

    • girlinspired says

      That is so nice to hear, thank you for taking the time to come back here and leave a comment!

  14. Billie Sue Hanson says

    Can you use a stand mixer with a dough hook? Also, do you use 1 tsp sugar in the yeast and 1/3 cup in the dry mixture?

    • girlinspired says

      Hi! I’ve never tried it with a stand mixer and dough hook, but I’m sure you could?? Yes, 1/3 C. sugar in the dry mixture and an additional tsp. sugar in the yeast mixture when you’re doing it by hand (or hook). 😉

  15. Allison says

    Excited to make these for dinner this afternoon! Just one quick question about the pan size: to my knowledge, 8.5″ X 11″ is a standard paper size, but I’m pretty sure I don’t have any pans that size. Do you happen to mean 9″ X 13″? Thanks!

  16. says

    I’ve never posted a comment so hope I do this right! Just had to say that I made these today, my first ever yeast dinner rolls because they always seemed so scary and complicated to make, even though I’m 64 yrs. old. New cooks–don’t be shy to try these as they’ll help make your cooking reputation! I had skim milk and oleo in the house so I used them, with spray Pam for the glass pan and my fingers. They came out perfectly and beyond delicious! I can’t imagine how much better they could be with the whole milk and butter, but will try them sometime when I have the ingredients. They turned out light and fluffy, perfectly formed and browned and now I’m sorry I only made 1/2 the recipe in case they didn’t turn out with the alternate ingredients because I’ve already eaten two hot out of the oven! Thank you so much to Stef here on Girl. Inspired. for sharing this special recipe! It will become part of my family’s favorites now too as soon as they taste them.

  17. says

    OMG!!!! I found and pinned this recipe on Pinterest and made these rolls tonite. They were so easy to make and delicious! I have tried so many yeast roll recipes and they were all an epic fail :-(, but these no ma’am my family was going back for more n skipped out on dessert. Thank you for such a wonderful recipe well thanks to Grandma ;-). This will be a go to recipe for rolls in my family and they actually taste better than store brought or restaurant rolls in my opinion.

  18. Tabitha says

    Hi! I can’t wait to try your roll recipe for my family! But I have a question about the sour milk…. Is it the same as buttermilk, or do I have to use the lemon? I’m still sort of new to this cooking thing as my mom passed away before she could teach me to cook like her:). I hope to one day be the holiday cook of the family and what better way to practice than with yummy recipes such as this one!! Thank you!

    • girlinspired says

      Hi Tabitha! You can definitely use buttermilk! I can’t say if it alters the taste at all, but the buttermilk will still taste delicious. I never have buttermilk on hand, so I always use lemon+milk. You’re doing great – your mom would be so proud!!

  19. Jenifer says

    When you freeze this recipe. Could you prepare in the bread machine. Then form your balls. Then freeze. Thaw and let rise last time then bake?

    • girlinspired says

      I haven’t done it that way – I do the full prep and baking, but the cooked rolls freeze and then thaw great.

  20. Lauren says

    Hi! I was just wondering what kind of flour do you use… All purpose or bread flour? I am making these this weekend for a test run for turkey day next week. Thank you!

    • girlinspired says

      Hi Lauren, I just use all-purpose flour. My mom has made them with whole wheat before and they turn out good, but “healthier” tasting. 😉

  21. CIerra Page says

    Today’s the day before Thanksgiving and I was going to make these. How would you suggest storing them till tomorrow?

    • girlinspired says

      I would let them cool completely in the pan, then either wrap the whole pan in a couple layers of Saran wrap or remove them from the pan and put them in large Ziplock bags. I made a batch a couple days ago and put them in Ziplocks and then into the freezer, but I don’t think I’d bother freezing just a day ahead – they’ll still be super good!

      • CIerra Page says

        Thanks! I’m making a few batches since we have to do a few family “dinners” tomorrow. Both sides of my boyfriend’s family (his mom and dad) in morning/midday and then my family in the afternoon.

  22. Ninke says

    This recipe is 5/5. I’ve made this recipe about 5 times and they always turn out perfectly. My only complaint is that they’re almost too good. Now my friends are requesting me to make them buns!

    Quick question: Do you ever double the recipe? I know some recipes don’t turn out well if you attempt to double them so what I’ve ended up doing is getting a helper (aka, my husband) and then making 2 completely seperate batches.

    • girlinspired says

      Thank you so much, Ninke! My bread machine won’t fit more than a single recipe, but when I made them by hand, I did double the recipe and they turned out just fine! I’m always scared to double recipes, too, so I hope that helps!

  23. Jean M says

    Just like my mother-in-laws! Looked for a long time for a recipe, this is IT!!!!!!! We make cinnamon rolls out of it too and they are beyond good. I also make loafs out of it. The BEST recipe I have used. Thank you!

  24. Emilia says

    Thanks for the most versatile recipe ever! :) Dinner rolls turned out perfect (huge hit, so delicious!) and in addition to that, this recipe is just perfect for Finnish cinnamon rolls and the vanilla roll cake! Thank you so much!

    • girlinspired says

      Oh! Thanks Emilia! I’m not sure what Finnish cinnamon rolls and vanilla roll cake are, but I want to try them immediately!!!

      • Emilia says

        Cinnamon rolls:
        The dough in this recipe is the traditional Finnish version, but your recipe actually works better and tastes more like the pulla my grandmother used to bake when I was a kid.

        Vanilla roll cake: change the filling into any kind of thick vanilla sauce/pudding that can be baked in the oven. Or mix cream cheese, sugar, plenty of vanilla, some lemon juice and couple of eggs and use that as a filling. Cut the roll into straight pieces and place them into a cake tin, raise and bake. I bake mine at 175C for 35 minutes.

        I have finally found some good use for my bread maker! 😀 Thanks!

  25. says

    Thank you so much for sharing your family sweet hot roll recipe. I’ve been looking for 30+ years for a hot roll recipe that had a yeast flavor and sweet too. I’ve made dozens that I thought would be “the one”, but I never found it until I tried yours. They’re super easy using a bread machine too. I just made 4 dozen for my family reunion. I had a few people ask for the recipe but I didn’t give it …Hey, it took me too long to find it…maybe I’ll give it to them next reunion..lol


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