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My closely guarded dinner roll recipe

2011 April 25
by Emily Hill

For quite a few years I have been making these homemade dinner rolls, and for quite a few years they’ve been one of the most requested recipes by family, extended family and friends. I’m sure even strangers would request them if they happened to stop by, knock on the door and ask if we had any freshly baked rolls in the house. We pretty much double fist them, especially if homemade jam is within reach. (Oh, and Steph? We need more jam.)

Though not my original recipe, I’ve kept these homemade rolls a closely guarded secret. I’ll admit it—I kinda like being a little famous. But it’s time I finally got over my selfishness (and ever-so-slight amount of pride) and share this recipe with you. I’m just sorry I didn’t get this roll recipe posted in time for Easter dinner. It’s okay, though. You don’t need a special occasion to make them. They go well with any dinner and are delicious as leftovers for lunch the next day. (I’d say dinner too but trust me, if you’re lucky enough to have leftovers for lunch, they’ll be gone by dinner.)

Oh, and these rolls freeze really, really well. Just defrost on the counter and warm in the microwave. I’ve made them ahead for Thanksgiving (doubling and tripling the recipe) and you couldn’t tell they’d been frozen. You think Easter candy is dangerous to have around the house…just wait until you make these babies. Good luck eating just one…or two or three.

homemade dinner rolls

Note: I make these as crescent rolls but you could just as easily to cloverleaf, knot or Parker House rolls. You could even use this same bread dough recipe and make cinnamon rolls!

Em’s Famous Dinner Rolls
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup warm milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt (I prefer Real Salt Fine Sea Salt)
3 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (or 1 .25-oz. package)
2 T butter, softened

Place water, milk, egg, butter, sugar, salt, flour and yeast in the pan of a bread machine. Select dough cycle and press start. (My dough cycle includes a 1-hour or so rise cycle.) When cycle is done, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. If dough is extra sticky, add a little flour until it is smooth and elastic.

Divide dough in half and roll each half into about a 12-inch circle. Spread 1 T of the butter over the entire circle of dough. Cut each circle into 12 wedges. (If you’d like larger rolls, go for 8 wedges instead. I like them small because then I feel like I can eat more without the added guilt.)

homemade dinner rolls

..
Roll wedges tightly but gently starting at wide end.

homemade dinner rolls


Pinch the pointed end to seal it, which will (hopefully) keep the rolls from unwinding while baking.

homemade dinner rolls


Place rolls pointed side down on a lightly grease baking sheet. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for about 1 hour or until nearly double in size. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. (Sometimes mine only need 8 minutes, so watch them carefully!) Serve warm, preferably with a side of homemade jam.

homemade dinner rolls

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37 Responses Post a comment
  1. April 25, 2011

    Oh baby! I can’t wait to try these. I love the crescent-roll-inspired shape, too. Mmmmm!
    Rebecca´s deep thought ~ Wherein my basement floodsMy Profile

    [Reply]

    Emily Reply:

    They really are delicious–I hope you like them as well!

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  2. April 25, 2011

    Why have I never had the opportunity to try these? I think we need to have another Sassy potluck.
    Kristina P.´s deep thought ~ If You Are My Dad- Or Have Good Values- Click Away NowMy Profile

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    Emily Reply:

    Maybe because you’re never over for family dinner on Sundays? ;)

    [Reply]

  3. April 25, 2011

    Yummy!!! They look delicious! What if I don’t have a bread maker?? Is there a specific order or instructions to make them without a breadmaker?? I’m not a great cook, so I need specifics… :(

    [Reply]

    Emily Reply:

    Yes! I finally figured out how to do it without a bread machine. First, pour warm water and milk into a large bowl and add sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Then add yeast and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes until it’s creamy and foamy. Mix in butter and salt, then add the slightly beaten egg. Add flour one cup at a time, stirring after each addition. Cover with a clean dish towel and allow to rise for about 1 hour in a warm area. Punch the dough down and then continue with the rest of the recipe (starting with dividing the dough in half). That should work!

    [Reply]

  4. April 25, 2011

    CREEPY! Our roll recipes are almost the same.
    Steph´s deep thought ~ My GPS Hates Me So I Had To Play Dodge the NajavoMy Profile

    [Reply]

    Emily Reply:

    We are BFFs. They should be. It is in the BFF rulebook.

    [Reply]

  5. April 25, 2011

    I am a sucker for rolls. I’ll give this a try, even if it is hard to beat my sister’s recipe (technically my sister’s husband’s father’s mother’s recipe).
    Charlotte´s deep thought ~ Two Types of Green in this WorldMy Profile

    [Reply]

    Emily Reply:

    Well, a sister’s husband’s father’s mother’s recipe is ALWAYS hard to beat. And perhaps if this one does win, don’t let your sister’s husband’s father know. ;)

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  6. Jennifer permalink
    April 26, 2011

    Those look fantastic! How come you weren’t making Em’s famous dinner rolls when I was around to reap the benefits? You owe me!!

    [Reply]

    Emily Reply:

    You only stopped in for a minute. There wasn’t time! Next time for sure! (Or we’ll just go to Naborhood Bakery in Gardner Village…)

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  7. mom permalink
    April 26, 2011

    YES! I love these rolls…can you make a dozen for just me when I come out…PLEASE?!?!?!?

    [Reply]

    Emily Reply:

    Totally!

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  8. Barbie permalink
    May 5, 2011

    I LOVE this recipe! I have been making it for a few years and it always makes such great bread. I love it more than Lion House Rolls. Have you used this dough for Orange Rolls or Cinnamon Rolls??? HEAVEN!

    [Reply]

    Emily Reply:

    I’ve been dying to try orange rolls with it. Now you have me thinking I need to do it soon!

    [Reply]

  9. November 18, 2011

    Can these be made without a bread maker?
    Tiffany´s deep thought ~ My kids are funny…My Profile

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    Emily Reply:

    Totally! I’ve made them at my friend’s home without a bread machine. I referenced a “traditional” roll recipe to find out how to combine the ingredients and worked it that way. It involves letting the yeast proof first and then combining liquids with dry. If you need a reference, I can try and google one for you!
    Emily´s deep thought ~ Our favorite Thanksgiving recipesMy Profile

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    Tiffany Reply:

    I think I can figure it out, I’ve baked bread before. Thanks though, you are awesome!! Matthew has a pre-school Thanksgiving feast on Monday and he has to bring rolls!! So perfect timing!
    One more question, how many rolls does this recipe make??
    Tiffany´s deep thought ~ Stuff and Things and a birthday wish listMy Profile

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    Emily Reply:

    When I make them I divide the dough in half and roll it into about a 12-inch circle. Then I use a pizza cutter to divide it into fourths, and then I divide those fourths into thirds so I have a dozen per circle for a grand total of 24. :)
    Emily´s deep thought ~ Cherry almond vanilla cake…Lego styleMy Profile

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  10. November 21, 2011

    These rolls are simply beautiful. I could eat a whole plateful! It was so nice to see you at the McD’s launch, even though we didn’t get a chance to visit! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

    [Reply]

    Emily Reply:

    I know! I would’ve loved visiting with you! Next time for sure. :) Happy Thanksgiving to you too!

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  11. April 20, 2012

    Wow, the recipe looks amazing and uses a bread maker! Absolutely brilliant!
    Susan Bewley@Budget Earth´s deep thought ~ Method Cleaning Products: Do Their Products Work?My Profile

    [Reply]

    Emily Reply:

    The bread machine is my favorite thing about this recipe. Well, that and the bit of added sugar and butter. :)
    Emily´s deep thought ~ Cajun chicken pasta–a family faveMy Profile

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  12. Brittany permalink
    September 26, 2013

    Made these the other day. New favorite dinner roll.

    [Reply]

    Emily Hill Reply:

    Yay! I’m so glad you liked them!
    Emily Hill´s deep thought ~ Chocolate caramel cookie blondies {GIVEAWAY}My Profile

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  13. TAMMI permalink
    February 4, 2014

    love this! So simple, I use it for pizza, dinner rolls or any bread. :)

    [Reply]

    Emily Hill Reply:

    I need to try it for pizza and cinnamon rolls. :)
    Emily Hill´s deep thought ~ Greek feta dip (another “crack” dip; you’re welcome)My Profile

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