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The Best Homemade Dinner Rolls

This is our great-grandmother’s famous homemade dinner rolls recipe — it is a staple at all of our family gatherings and holiday meals! Soft on the inside, with a buttery golden brown top, they are absolutely perfect!! We’ll show you how to make both pull-apart rolls and cloverleaf rolls with the same dough.

fresh baked dinner rolls still in pan

The Best Homemade Dinner Rolls

Stella’s Dinner Rolls

When I was a little girl, I loved when my grandmother came to our house for dinner, because she would bring her amazing homemade cloverleaf dinner rolls. These dinner rolls were not only beautiful, they were incredibly delicious.

Sadly, my grandmother developed Alzheimer’s disease when I was young and she was unable to make the rolls any more. Fortunately, she had taught my mom to make them and my mother continued the tradition, making these exact rolls for every single Thanksgiving and Christmas for over 50 years.

I still continue the tradition of making and serving these buttery soft dinner rolls for holiday meals.

Several years ago, my mom taught me to make them from start to finish and now, I am the one who can wow an entire group with a basket of the best homemade dinner rolls you will ever taste.

This basic dough recipe also makes the best homemade cinnamon rolls too! Be sure and check out this recipe for cinnamon rolls.

cloverleaf dinner rolls in basket

Why These Are the Best Rolls Ever

I’ve never had rolls like this anywhere else!

Nothing in a store compares, though occasionally in the past, I’ve had decent rolls in restaurants. However, it has been years since I’ve had a great dinner roll in a restaurant.

So, if you want to experience the best dinner roll of your life, then give these a try. I’m going to walk you through all the tricky steps so you can get it right the first time you make them!

What You Need to Make Homemade Rolls

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These rolls don’t have a lot of ingredients, so they depend on you using the best ingredients, especially the butter.

  • Dry yeast — Not rapid rise
  • Water — You’ll need both warm and cold water.
  • Salted butter — I use salted, grass-fed butter but really any salted butter will make a tasty roll. You’ll need one stick for the dough and one for forming the rolls.
  • Sugar
  • Warm milk — I prefer whole milk, though you can use any milk you have on hand.
  • Salt
  • 2 Eggs –– beaten
  • All-purpose flour — Don’t skimp on quality! The better the flour, the better the rolls will taste!

Kitchen Tools Used

ingredients to make homemade dinner rolls

How to Make the Dough

Dissolve the two packages of yeast in the warm water and set aside.

dissolving yeast in bowl of water

In a large bowl, soften one stick of salted butter.

To the butter add:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup of warm milk
  • 1 cup of cold water
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • yeast mix
  • 3 ½ cups of flour

mixing dinner roll ingredients in large bowl

Use a hand mixer to blend all of the ingredients together until there are no lumps and it is sticky and smooth.

adding flour to dinner roll doughmixing homemade roll dough

This step takes the place of lengthy kneading of the dough as it helps create a springy and stretchy dough. This is super important.

Now, you’ll start adding the rest of the flour. I like to add a cup at a time, until I’ve reached 6 ½ cups total. (There’s 3 ½ cups in stretchy mix and you add 3 more by hand) Stir in the flour with a heavy wooden spoon.

Your dough will probably still be sticky at this point.

Add more flour, ½ cup at a time. You want your dough to be able to form a ball and not be too sticky. However, you don’t want to add too much flour. So, add just enough that your dough can be formed into a ball that is smooth and elastic. It’s okay if it’s a little sticky.

homemade yeast roll dough on counter

Dump this dough onto a clean surface. Knead it a little with your hands until it forms a real ball. You can use a little more flour if needed.

Wash out your big bowl and dry it. Add about ¼ cup of melted butter or light olive oil.

Put the dough back in the bowl and roll it around in the oil.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place somewhere out of any cold drafts. You don’t have to put it in a warm place but you don’t want an air conditioner vent or fan blowing on it.

bread dough in bowl with plastic wrap on top

Let the dough sit for about an hour and a half, until it fills the bowl. It will be soft to touch and about double in size.

bred dough that's risen in bowl ready to bakeAlternatively, you can let rise in refrigerator until about two hours before you are ready to bake, if you make it early in day or night before.

How to Shape the Dinner Rolls

I like to make two different shapes of dinner rolls. This recipe makes about two dozen rolls. I use a muffin pan to make 12 cloverleaf rolls and a 9-inch square cake pan to make about 16 to 20 pull-apart rolls. But you can make yours all the same either way.

baking pans ready to make dinner rolls

Uncover the dough that is now all puffed up and soft. Use your hands to push down on it, until all the air is out and it is reduced in size and firm again.

Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Divide the two pieces each into four pieces. That’s all the dividing I do. I eyeball everything else.

The important thing is not to get exactly 24 rolls. The important thing is that all your rolls are uniform in size. All the clover leafs are the same size and all the pull-aparts are the same size. Or as close as you can get.

Assemble a little work area. Melt the remaining stick of butter in a bowl. Get out the pans you are going to use. I like to work on a cookie pan because melted butter can get a little messy. You want to have everything ready to go, because your hands will be messy.

I like to do the clover leaf rolls first.  Plan on one half the dough for this pan. You might need a little more and that’s okay. I’d rather have a full pan of clover leaf, so that’s what I always make first.

How to Make Cloverleaf Rolls

You have 12 spaces for muffins and each space will hold three balls of dough. You will be making 36 balls of dough that are about 1 ½ inches in diameter.

Pull a piece of dough and break it off. Form it into a ball by stretching it a bit and tucking the sides underneath. Dip it into the melted butter and place in muffin tin.

Do this procedure 35 more times until the muffin tin is full.

cloverleaf dinner rolls in pan ready to bake

How to Make Pull Apart Rolls

Now, to make the pull apart rolls. When I made this recipe, I ended up with 16 rolls in the second pan.

I make these dough balls a little bigger, more like two inches around. You form them the same way and dip in butter. Then space evenly in your square baking pan. Leave a little room between them.

How to Bake your Dinner Rolls

Whether you’re making cloverleaf rolls, pull-apart rolls, or both, these are the next steps:

Cover both pans with plastic wrap and put them in a draft-free place to rise for 1 and ½ hours.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Remove plastic wrap from rolls and put them in the oven when it is at the correct temperature.

Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes, until they are golden brown on top.

Remove from oven and brush with remaining melted butter.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

pulling apart homemade dinner rolls in pan

Can you halve this recipe?

Yes, it’s easy to halve. But usually I make the whole recipe so that everyone can take leftover rolls home after the meal. You can never have to many, in my experience!

How will I know when dough has risen enough?

That’s one of those things that is learned through practice, but there are few clues.

The dough will usually double in size within the time noted in the recipe. Sometimes it takes longer, sometimes it takes less time.

The time itself isn’t as important as the dough rising enough but not too much. If it rises too much it collapses on itself. So you want it to double in size.

Here is the traditional test to see if dough is ready. Stick your finger into the dough. If the indent stays, you are ready for the next step.

Can you use rapid yeast to make rolls?

You could use rapid yeast instead; however I have not personally tried this, so it’s possible that the times could be different.  All of the times listed in this recipe are based on regular yeast.

What kind of milk do you recommend?

Whole milk would be my first choice. If you have some other kind on hand, I would just use that. For making this batch, I used 1/2 cup of half and half with 1/2 cup water to substitute for the milk.

How hot should the milk and water be?

The water for the yeast just needs to be warm to the touch. This is what will get the yeast started. W

hen I make the recipe, the butter is warm because I’ve just melted it. Then you add milk and water. Together they should add up to something warm but not hot.

This is because if it’s too cold, the yeast will take longer to get going. If it’s too hot, it will kill the yeast.

Don’t stress about it. Just make sure the liquids are warm to touch but not hot or cold.

 

basket of cloverleaf rolls

More of our favorite side dish recipes:

Homemade Dinner Roll Recipe

The Best Homemade Rolls Recipe

Sara Garska
Homemade dinner rolls recipe passed down from our great-grandmother -- soft and buttery and perfect!
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Rising Time 3 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 24 rolls
Calories 157 kcal

Equipment

  • Muffin Tin
  • 9-inch cake pan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Hand mixer
  • large mixing bowl

Ingredients
  

  • 2 packages active yeast
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 7 cups flour
  • 2 sticks butter salted
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions
 

General Instructions

  • Uncover the dough that is now all puffed up and soft. Use your hands to push down on it, until all the air is out and it is reduced in size and firm again.
  • Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Divide the two pieces each into four pieces. That’s all the dividing I do. I eyeball everything else.
  • I like to make two different shapes of dinner rolls. This recipe makes about two dozen rolls. I use a muffin pan to make 12 cloverleaf rolls and a 9-inch square cake pan to make about 16 to 20 pull-apart rolls. But you can make yours all the same either way.
  • The important thing is not to get exactly 24 rolls. The important thing is that all your rolls are uniform in size. All the clover leafs are the same size and all the pull-aparts are the same size. Or as close as you can get.
  • Assemble a little work area. Melt the remaining stick of butter in a bowl. Get out the pans you are going to use. I like to work on a cookie pan because melted butter can get a little messy. You want to have everything ready to go, because your hands will be messy.
  • I like to do the clover leaf rolls first.  Plan on one half the dough for this pan. You might need a little more and that’s okay. I’d rather have a full pan of clover leaf, so that’s what I always make first.

Directions for Cloverleaf Rolls

  • You have 12 spaces for muffins and each space will hold three balls of dough. You will be making 36 balls of dough that are about 1 ½ inches in diameter.
  • Pull a piece of dough and break it off. Form it into a ball by stretching it a bit and tucking the sides underneath. Dip it into the melted butter and place in muffin tin.
  • Do this procedure 35 more times until the muffin tin is full.

Directions for Pull Apart Rolls

  • Now, to make the pull apart rolls. When I made this recipe, I ended up with 16 rolls in the second pan. 
  • I make these dough balls a little bigger, more like two inches around. You form them the same way and dip in butter. Then space evenly in your square baking pan. Leave a little room between them.

How to Bake Dinner Rolls

  • Cover both pans with plastic wrap and put them in a draft-free place to rise for 1 and ½ hours.
  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Remove plastic wrap from rolls and put them in the oven when it is at the correct temperature.
  • Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes, until they are golden brown on top.
  • Remove from oven and brush with remaining melted butter.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 157kcalCarbohydrates: 33gProtein: 4gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 103mgPotassium: 58mgFiber: 1gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 16IUCalcium: 17mgIron: 2mg
Keyword bread, rolls
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homemade rolls in pan and in basket

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