The Best Use for Leftover Cranberry Sauce: Cranberry Dinner Rolls

Sneak Preview: Do you have leftover cranberry sauce? Try putting it in this bread machine recipe for Cranberry Dinner Rolls. It makes the best slider buns for leftover turkey or ham. The dough is flavored with jellied cranberry sauce and dried cranberries.

Cranberry-Lemon Dinner Rolls --two pansPin

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Satisfy the tradition of having cranberries on your Thanksgiving menu with these delicious Cranberry Dinner Rolls. If Thanksgiving is already over and you have some leftover cranberry sauce, it’s the only excuse you need to make these rolls.

Three Reasons You Will Enjoy This Recipe

  1. Cranberry sauce does amazing things for homemade bread. Adding dried and sweetened cranberries to the dough intensifies the flavor profile.
  2. Makes tasty slider buns for leftover turkey or ham sandwiches. Add cheese and/or mustard to your sandwich if you want to be like the “condiment family.” (That’s our nickname.)
  3. Leftover rolls are a breakfast treat with a little bit of jelly. Microwave Lemon curd is my favorite.
  4. Although this recipe is designed to be mixed with a bread machine using the DOUGH cycle, you can also use a hand mixer or make them by hand.

Happy Bakers Speak Up

“Great recipe. We loved it!”MARY

Recipe Inspiration

Jellied cranberry sauce, the smooth and sweet kind you buy in a can from the grocery store, was a tradition in my husband’s family. He talks about it every Thanksgiving and likes to see it on our table.

Cranberry-Lemon Dinner Rolls split on a platePin

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • CRANBERRY SAUCE: Canned cranberry sauce is the easiest way to go. I’ve only tested this recipe with the smooth variety.
  • MILK: Whole milk is always best in bread because of the higher fat content. When I don’t have whole milk on hand, I substitute a tablespoon or two of cream for part of the milk. The milk does not need to be warmed.
  • EGG: All of my bread recipes are tested with “large” eggs. If you use a different size, don’t forget to adjust your other liquid.
  • SALT: I use table salt or sea salt. If you want to use Kosher salt, add ¼ teaspoon extra. Don’t be tempted to leave the salt out completely. The yeast needs it to work right.
  • BUTTER: Some people substitute hydrogenated shortening or margarine for the butter. It’s unnecessary to let the butter come to room temperature. Chop it finely, and the friction of the paddles in your bread machine will melt the butter in a hurry.
  • LEMONS: Fresh lemon rind gives the best flavor. Be careful not to grate into the white part of the lemon skin. The lemon flavor can be omitted if you like. Orange zest would make a wonderful variation.
  • FLOUR: My first choice is all-purpose flour (unbleached). Bread flour would also work but produces slightly chewier rolls. All-purpose bleached flour will suffice if that’s all you have.
  • YEAST: Bread machine or instant yeast is the easiest option. If you only have active dry yeast, see the recipe notes for further instructions.
  • DRIED CRANBERRIES: These are optional. Substitute raisins, dried cherries, or dates if you prefer. Add toasted almonds, walnuts, or pecans for even more flavor.

Using a Bread Machine To Make Yeast Bread

If you are new to my blog, you may not know that I use my bread machine in a rather unorthodox way. I almost never use it for baking bread. The DOUGH cycle is my favorite way to mix, knead, and provide a warm place for the first rising of the dough.

If you are a bread machine beginner, be sure to read 6 Secrets for Bread Machine Beginners to get started on the right foot. For nearly all my bread recipes, you will only use the DOUGH cycle.

Cranberry-Lemon yeast rolls dough on floured boardPin
The bread dough right after it has been removed from the bread machine after the DOUGH cycle completes.

After the dough cycle completes and the dough has doubled its original size,  remove the dough to a floured surface. (If your kitchen is cold, the dough may need to sit in a warm place for a while longer to rise until it doubles.)

📌Kitchen Tip📌 Looking for easy clean-up?

Use a silicone baking mat as your “lightly floured surface” when shaping bread. When you’re done, clean-up is as easy as throwing the mat into the dishwasher.

formed dinner rolls in baking pan before risingPin

What Is the Best Pan for Baking Yeast Rolls?

Gold Teflon-coated cake pans are perfect for baking homemade dinner rolls. The pans in the picture came from Williams-Sonoma. They will help your rolls brown perfectly on the bottom. USA cake pans are also favorites.

If you don’t have any gold pans or USA pans, at least use dark pans as opposed to light-colored pans for the best golden brown color on the rolls. If you don’t have two 8 or 9-inch cake pans, you could use a 9 x 13-inch pan instead. Avoid foil pans.

dinner rolls proofing while covered with a cheap shower capPin

📌Kitchen trick📌 for covering the rolls while they rise

Use cheap shower caps (like the kind you get at a hotel) to cover your rolls while they rise just before baking. You could use a tea towel, but these caps are just the right size and hold in the moisture better. They’re light enough to stand up, which gives the rolls plenty of room to grow without sticking to the plastic.

FAQ for Cranberry Yeast Bread

Can I make this dough into a loaf?

Yes. Roll out the dough into a rectangular shape. Starting with the short end, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Seal the seams and the end. Place the cylinder of dough seam side down into a prepared 8½ x 4½ inch loaf pan. Let the dough rise until it peeks over the edge. Bake at 350˚(180˚C) for 30-35 minutes or until the internal temperature measures 190-200˚F (88˚C).

Can I freeze the dough and bake the bread later?

Yes. After shaping the rolls or loaf, place the rolls on a baking sheet (or a loaf pan is making a loaf) and cover them with plastic wrap. Freeze until the rolls or loaf is hard. Remove the rolls from the pan and double-wrap.

When ready to bake, remove the rolls or loaf from the freezer and allow them to thaw and start to rise. When the rolls are puffy, bake as directed in the directions.

Parting Thoughts: Are you an adventurous bread maker? I thought you might be since you looked at this recipe. Check out these easy bread recipes for Dark Dinner Rolls (No Rye)–A Bread Machine Recipe, Herb and Garlic Yeast Rolls, and these Overnight Yeast Rolls with All-Bran. I think you’ll find any of these rolls a great addition to your dinner table.

Recipe Help at Your Fingertips: For questions or suggestions, email Paula at If you need help, I’m happy to troubleshoot via email (faster than leaving a comment). Attach pictures and as many details as possible for the best advice.

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Cranberry-Lemon Dinner Rolls (A Bread Machine Recipe) perfect for ThanksgivingPin
Yield: 16 rolls

Leftover Cranberry Sauce Yeast Dinner Rolls: a Bread Machine Recipe

Put that leftover cranberry sauce to good use. Make this Cranberry Yeast Bread into a loaf, dinner rolls, or slider buns. The lemon and cranberry flavors go perfectly with turkey or ham. It’s also a delicious way to put cranberries on your Thanksgiving menu.

Rate this recipe

(5 stars if you loved it)

5 from 2 votes


Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Rising Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Total time: 3 hours


  • 1 cup (296 g) jellied cranberry sauce
  • ¼ cup (57 g) whole milk or half-and-half
  • 1 large (50 g) egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup (57 g) butter, chopped
  • Grated rind from two medium lemons
  • 3 cups (360 g) all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons bread machine yeast or instant yeast
  • 1 cup (130 g) dried cranberries


  • Add all ingredients: 1 cup (296 g) jellied cranberry sauce, ¼ cup (57 g) whole milk or half-and-half, 1 large (50 g) egg, 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ cup (57 g) butter, chopped, Grated rind from two medium lemons, 3 cups (360 g) all-purpose unbleached flour, and 2 teaspoons bread machine yeast or instant yeast, to the bread machine pan in the order given.
  • Select the DOUGH cycle and push the start button.
  • Check the dough at least twice during the mixing and kneading phase by lifting the lid to take a peek. The first time, look immediately after the machine starts mixing to ensure the paddles are engaged correctly. 
    Look again 15 minutes into the DOUGH cycle to assess the consistency of the dough. For most recipes, the dough should stick to the side, then pull away cleanly.
    If your dough is too wet, add flour one tablespoon at a time.
    Conversely, if the dough is too dry, add one tablespoon of liquid at a time until the dough looks just right. Read more about this surprising secret to success with a bread machine here.
  • When the machine beeps to indicate the best time for additions, add 1 cup (130 g) dried cranberries to the dough.
  • When the dough cycle completes, remove dough from the bread machine and place it on a floured surface. (I prefer to use a silicone baking mat so I can throw it into the dishwasher when I’m done.)
  • Divide dough into two equal pieces. Then divide each of those dough balls into 8 equal-sized portions and shape them into balls.
  • Place balls into two 8-inch cake pans as pictured above.
  • Cover rolls with a tea towel or cheap shower caps and let rolls rise for approximately 45 minutes or until almost double in size.
  • Preheat oven to 350˚F (180˚C).
  • Bake rolls approximately 14-16 minutes or until golden brown.
  • After removing rolls from the oven, let them sit in the pan for about 5-8 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool. If you leave the hot rolls in the pan, they will become soggy on the bottom.


  • To make this recipe in a heavy-duty stand mixer:  Add ingredients to the bowl in the same order. Turn on low to mix until all ingredients are moistened. Using a dough hook, turn speed to 2 or 3. Continue beating/kneading until dough becomes smooth and elastic (about 5-10 minutes). Cover and allow to rise in a warm place. Deflate dough gently and shape as indicated in the recipe.
  • If making by hand: Combine all ingredients into a shaggy ball in a large bowl. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead with your hands until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. This will likely take 10-20 minutes depending on your experience. Place the dough ball into a greased bowl. Cover and allow to rise until double. Deflate the dough gently and shape as indicated in the recipe.
  • Please note: You can substitute active dry yeast. Dissolving it first is optional. It tends to rise slower in the beginning but will catch up eventually.


Serving: 1roll | Calories: 149kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 161mg | Potassium: 61mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 35IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1mg

All images and text ©️ Paula Rhodes for Salad in a

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Recipe Rating


  1. lynda Edris says:

    Hi, I am a great follower of your site. I love love your bread machine recipes. Made your corn meal rolls for Thanksgiving. They were excellent. Everyone loved them. I have always had great success with them until this loaf. It is just not rising in the machine. I now measure everything in grams as you suggested. This recipe included. It has 4 min left in the dough cycle. I am leaving it in the machine for 10 extra min. to see what happens. But I think I will have a weapon instead of a great loaf of bread. Any suggestions as to what might be the problem? Thanks so much Paula for all your great bread recipes. Your explanations of how to do your recipes are excellent. Oh, 1 more thing. None of your videos come up. Do I need to do something special. Thanks again Paula.

    1. Is your kitchen cool? Sometimes, that can really slow down the rising. I would move the machine or pull the dough out and move it to another bowl in a warmer place until it actually doubles. Even if it takes a long time to rise, it won’t hurt the bread. In fact, a long rise will improve the flavor.

      Has the dough risen at all? If not–did you remember to add the yeast? (It’s happened to me more than once–I wrote a post about it.)

  2. carol green says:

    I made these in a stand mixer + they are delish! Thank you.

    1. Hi Carol,

      Thanks for coming back to say so. Even though I spend a lot of time talking about bread machines, stand mixers can do the same job just as well, but without the handy timer.

  3. 5 stars
    Great recipe. We loved it!

  4. Beth Pope says:

    Ok – these sound so yummy-I will figure out how to make them without a bread machine. I’ll let you know how they turn out.

    Beth P

    1. Hey Beth,

      Great to hear from you. Do you have a Kitchen Aid mixer? If so, just dump all the ingredients into the bowl in the order listed. Use the dough hook. Turn on slowly at first to mix things up. Turn up the speed a bit and knead for several minutes. This is where you will have to use your experience to know when it has been kneaded long enough. If too dry and dough thumps around like a heavy ball, add liquid–1 tablespoon at a time. If dough is too wet, and it won’t turn into a ball after 10 minutes of kneading but looks very sticky, add flour–1 tablespoon at a time. The goal is for the to dough stick to the side, then pull away. When sufficiently kneaded and dough is elastic, cover dough and set in a warm place to double in size. Follow the directions I give for the bread machine from there. The cool thing with a bread machine is that you can dump the ingredients in the machine and walk away once you are satisfied the moisture is right. When you come back and dough cycle is finished, it is time to make into rolls. So easy, especially for beginners.

      Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving with all your grands!

  5. Paula, it is the same at my house. My husband and son love this canned cranberry sauce, but I never ate it again after making my first batch of homemade cranberry sauce. So easy, and so much better. So this is timely. If there are leftovers, I will definitely make these buns, or maybe I will just buy some for that purpose. Thanks!

    1. Becky,
      I couldn’t agree more about homemade cranberry sauce. However, I would prefer to eat the requisite cranberries in these rolls. 😉