Fluffy Make-Ahead Dinner Rolls

Last week I was digging through this site’s archives as I decided on new recipes to try for Thanksgiving. In doing so, I realized that somehow after nearly six(!) years of blogging, I’d yet to share a classic dinner roll recipe with you guys. How is that even possible? There are plenty of other rolls – everything from pretzel rolls to hamburger rolls and cheddar rolls, but a huge empty gap where a soft and fluffy dinner roll recipe should have been. We’re going to remedy that oversight today!

Fluffy Make-Ahead Dinner Rolls

The funny this is, I have been making the same dinner roll recipe for years so I have no idea why I’ve never blogged it. This is my go-to recipe for several reasons. Most importantly, it produces the lightest, most pillowy rolls ever. They’re buttery and rich too thanks to the inclusion of butter, milk, and egg yolks in the dough. So darn good. I always burn my mouth pulling a roll from the pan and digging in the minute it emerges from the oven.

Fluffy Make-Ahead Dinner Rolls

Oh, and these rolls are easy too! How easy? Let me tell you a quick story. The very first time we made this recipe was a few Christmases ago. I had promised to bring rolls to Shane’s parents’ house for dinner, and of course waited until the last minute (procrastination is my middle name) and had about four other things I needed to do too. So, I enlisted Shane to make the rolls while I finished everything else. He’d never ever worked with yeast before, and yet with minimal verbal instructions from me, he tackled this recipe on his own and made picture perfect dinner rolls! This isn’t a knock on Shane, he definitely knows his way around the kitchen, but rather an illustration of the fact that you don’t need to be an experienced yeast baker to make great rolls. This recipe is completely doable, even for newbies, promise!

Fluffy Make-Ahead Dinner Rolls

You can even prep these rolls ahead of time, which makes them ideal for Thanksgiving when you have plenty of other dishes to worry about making. You simply make the dough and shape the rolls then pop the pan in the fridge overnight. The next day when you’re ready to bake they just need a few hours to rise then you can throw them in the oven right before serving dinner. Warm, fluffy rolls on your Thanksgiving table – what’s not to like about that? If you have any leftover rolls (which, honestly, you probably won’t…) they are perfect for turkey sandwiches the following day too :)

PS – My friend, Mark, featured me in his Tuesday Tutor series today. You can find the post here if you want to stop by and say hello, and maybe learn a little more about what makes me tick!

Fluffy Make-Ahead Dinner Rolls
adapted from Fine Cooking

18 oz (4 cups) all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk (low-fat is ok)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 large egg yolks

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Mix briefly just to combine. Add the milk and butter to a small saucepan and set over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the butter has melted and the mixture registers about 115 F on an instant-read thermometer. (If it gets too hot, just let it cool down until it’s the right temperature – don’t proceed while the liquid is hot, you will kill the yeast.)

Add the warm milk/butter mixture to the mixer bowl along with the egg yolks. Mix on low speed until a rough dough comes together (you may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice to get everything incorporated). Knead the dough on low speed for 5-6 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic.

Turn the dough out onto your work surface and shape into a ball. Spray a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray then add the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes. (To check if the dough has doubled you can press it with your fingertip – if the indentation remains, it’s ready. If the dough springs back, it needs more time.)

Spray a 13×9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Turn the dough out onto your work surface (no need for flour – the dough isn’t sticky). Divide the dough into 16 pieces (if you want to use a scale they’ll each be about 2 oz). Shape each piece into a ball and transfer to the prepared pan. Repeat with remaining dough, placing four balls of dough in four rows in the pan.

**To make ahead: at this point, you can cover the pan and place the rolls in the refrigerator overnight. The next day just remove the pan from the fridge about 4 hours before you want to bake the rolls. Place the pan in a warm spot and allow the rolls to rise until just about doubled before baking (same temperature and time as below).**

If baking immediately: Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for about 30 minutes, or until the rolls have just about doubled in size. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 F. Remove the plastic wrap and bake the rolls for about 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Enjoy!

Makes 16 rolls