The dinner roll you make for Thanksgiving Dinner will end up being the vessel you eat your leftover turkey sandwiches in, so needless to say, it’s pretty important! My mom makes amazing rolls, and this recipe has been her sole recipe for as long as I can remember! She’s a pro, and not only are these rolls delicious but their folded pocket-roll-shape makes them perfect for splitting open and filling with your favorite Thanksgiving leftovers. YUM!
Making homemade rolls can feel a little intimidating if you’ve never done it, but rolls are actually a great way to break into bread making. Whether it’s your first time making rolls or you’re an old pro, with the tips and step-by-step pictures in this post, you’re going to be a pro in not time! I have a handful of other roll recipes in the archives. You can’t go wrong with any of them, but the people of the internets are pretty crazy about these Lunch Lady Cafeteria Rolls.
Roll recipes you’ll love:
- Lion House Rolls
- Ninety Minute Rolls
- One Hour Dinner Rolls
- Easy Homemade Hard Rolls
- Crescent Shaped Rolls
HOw to Make Mom’s Best Dinner Rolls
Frequently asked questions about making dinner rolls:
do I need a mixer to make dinner rolls?
No, you definitely don’t need a mixer to make these dinner rolls. You can use one, but it is not necessary. Just grab a really big bowl and a spoon or fork, and you’ll be fine. With that said, if you want to use your mixer and it can hold the capacity, go for it!
If I fold these a different way will it change the amount of time they need to cook?
Most likely no. It would depend how you fold them. If you roll them like these Lion House Rolls, you may need to add an extra few minutes. The best thing to do would be to watch them, and as soon as the top and bottom are just slightly browned, they are ready to take out.
Do I need to use Active Dry Yeast or Rapid Rise (Instant) yeast for dinner rolls?
For Mom’s Best Dinner Rolls I prefer to use Active Dry Yeast. It’s what the original recipe calls for. If you only have Instant Rapid-Rise yeast that is fine. You won’t need to proof it though so you can mix it in with the flour and then add all the liquids at the same time.
What is the difference between Active Dry yeast and Rapid Rise yeast?
Active dry yeast needs to be proofed. Proofed means put in water or warm milk, or even beer until it activates (Proofs). It will look sort of foamy. Rapid Rise yeast (instant yeast) is made in such a way that this step is not necessary. You can add it to liquid, but you don’t have to. You can just mix it into the flour and other dry ingredients. Rapid yeast also usually rises faster, hence the name.
Can I freeze these rolls and use them later?
Yes, definitely. I freeze rolls all of the time. When I make them, I like to make a big batch, eat half with a meal, and freeze half for another meal or soup. Another thing that saves me time and sanity is that I try make them a few days or even a week before Thanksgiving and freeze them. This way when I have a ton of other things I need to cook, I don’t have to worry about the rolls. How fun is it to have yummy rolls just patiently waiting to be pulled out of the freezer. It’s best to freeze them in single layers in gallon size Ziploc Freezer Bags.
- 2 (1/4 oz) envelopes active dry yeast or 1 tbsp plus 1½ tsp active dry yeast
- ½ cup warm water +1 tsp granulated sugar
- 6½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1½ cups warm milk (If you have powdered milk you can add ½ cup powdered milk to the dry mixture and use 1½ cups more warm water instead of warm milk...hopefully that makes sense)
- ½ cup warm water
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- ½ cup canola oil or melted shortening
- In a small bowl combine the yeast , ½ cup of warm water, and 1 tsp granulated sugar. Mix and let sit for 5-10 minutes.
- Meanwhile in a large mixing bowl combine the flour, ¼ cup sugar, and salt. (If you are choosing to use powdered milk, you will add it to these dry ingredients as well.) Mix well and set aside.
- Next, In a medium size bowl combine the warm milk, warm water, beaten eggs, and canola oil. (To heat the milk I usually put it in a small pan on the stove and watch it closely. I use my finger and only let it get as warm as a kids bath water or a babies bottle. You want the temp to be between 100-110 F.)
- Make a hole or well in the center of your dry ingredients. Pour both bowls of wet ingredients in. MIx well. The dough will be sticky, but if it seems extra sticky add ½ to ¾ cup of flour.
- Cover with plastic wrap or a loose dish towel. Let rise to double its size, twice. Punch down each time it rises. *See notes for quick rise method. (Also if dough is sticky after first rise you can knead in another ½ cup of flour. But remember you want it to be a soft dough, so only add enough flour to make it workable if it's too sticky.)
- After you have punched the dough down the second rise, divide the dough in half and roll it out. Sprinkle flour on your working surface and roll the dough out to about ⅓-1/2 of an inch thick.
- Use a cup or circle cookie-cutter to cut circles out of the dough. Put a small pat of butter in the center of the circle and fold it over using your finger to cinch it shut. I forgot that if you don't fold the top over the bottom a little, the rolls will pop open when they cook. *See the pictures in the step by step to see what I mean. My first batch popped open. 🙂
- Place folded rolls on a greased cookie sheet or on cookies sheets that has been covered with parchment paper or a Silpat silicone mat. Cover lightly with plastic wrap or a dishcloth again and let them rise for at least 30 minutes or until they have almost doubled in size.
- Uncover and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Brush with butter while still warm.
- Let cool completely before putting in bags or a container for storage or freezing.
Or serve them with your favorite soup!