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Cranberry-Lemon Dinner Rolls: Perfect for Thanksgiving

Satisfy the tradition to have cranberries on your Thanksgiving menu with these delicious Cranberry-Lemon Dinner Rolls.

Although this recipe is written to be mixed in a bread machine, don’t fret if you don’t have one. Directions for making these rolls by hand or with a stand mixer in the notes at the end of the recipe.

Cranberry-Lemon Dinner Rolls --two pans

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.

His favorite part?

Admiring the little ring-like indentations left in the sauce by the shape of the can. For some mysterious reason, he is intrigued by the look of it.

When served, it must be sliced uniformly so that the slices fall over on each other like the New York City Rockettes when they dance to the Little Drummer Boy at Christmas.

Cranberry-Lemon Dinner Rolls split on a plate

Billy is the only person who eats it, which means most of the cranberry sauce goes untouched. I’ll admit to throwing it away in the past, but then I got the idea to make dinner rolls with the leftover sauce.

Adding dried and sweetened cranberries to the dough will intensify the flavor.

Cranberry-Lemon Dinner Rolls make perfect 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.)

Leftover rolls are a breakfast treat with a little bit of jelly. Lemon curd is my favorite.

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

How to use a bread machine to make these dinner rolls:

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 to bake bread, only to mix, knead, and provide a warm place for the first rising of the dough.

If you are a bread machine beginner, take a quick look at this post to get started on the right foot. For nearly all my bread recipes, you will only use the dough cycle.

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.)

Video for “An Easy Way to Make Balls from Bread Dough:”

Looking for easy clean-up?

Use a silicone baking mat as your “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 rising

What is the best pan for baking yeast rolls?

Gold Teflon-coated cake pans are perfect for baking homemade dinner rolls. Mine came from Williams-Sonoma. They will help your rolls brown perfectly on the bottom.

If you don’t have any gold 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 cap

A 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.


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If you have a question or tip to share, please leave it in the regular comments after the recipe so I can answer back. Or, email me privately: paula at saladinajar.com.

Thank you for visiting!
Paula

Cranberry-Lemon Dinner Rolls (A Bread Machine Recipe) perfect for Thanksgiving

Cranberry-Lemon Dinner Rolls--A Bread Machine Recipe

Yield: 16 rolls
Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes

A light and fluffy dinner roll with lemon and cranberry flavors that go perfectly with turkey or ham; a delicious way to put cranberries on your Thanksgiving menu

Ingredients

  • 1 cup jellied cranberry sauce, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup whole milk or half and half, lukewarm
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • Grated rind from two medium lemons
  • 3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to the bread machine pan in order given.
  2. Select dough cycle and push the start button.
  3. When machine beeps to indicate the best time for additions, add dried cranberries to the dough.
  4. When dough cycle is completed, remove dough from the bread machine and place on a floured surface. (I prefer to use a silicone baking mat so I can throw it into the dishwasher when I'm done.)
  5. Divide dough into two equal pieces. Then divide each of those dough balls into 8 equal-sized portions and shape into balls.
  6. Place balls into two 8-inch cake pans as pictured above.
  7. Cover rolls with tea towel or shower caps and let rolls rise for approximately 45 minutes or until almost double in size.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  9. Bake rolls approximately 14-16 minutes or until golden brown.
  10. After removing rolls from the oven, let them sit in the pan 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.

Notes

Directions for making bread with a stand mixer or by hand:

  • 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 dough hook, turn speed to 2 or 3 and 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 rolls as indicated in recipe.
  • If making by hand, combine all ingredients into a shaggy ball in a large bowl. Turn dough out on a floured surface and knead with your hands until dough becomes smooth and elastic, a process that will likely take 10-20 minutes depending on your experience. Place dough ball into a greased bowl. Cover and allow to rise until double. Deflate dough gently and shape rolls as indicated in recipe
  • Please note: If you substitute regular yeast for instant or bread machine yeast, you must dissolve it first before adding to the dry ingredients. Stir it into about 1/4 cup of the lukewarm liquid called for in the recipe. Let sit for about 10 minutes. Add to other wet ingredients and then add dry ingredients. Proceed as directed to knead and shape rolls.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 rolls Serving Size: 1 roll
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 182Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 164mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 2gSugar: 13gProtein: 3g

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Beth Pope

Wednesday 15th of November 2017

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

Paula

Wednesday 15th of November 2017

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!

Becky

Wednesday 15th of November 2017

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!

Paula

Wednesday 15th of November 2017

Becky, I couldn't agree more about homemade cranberry sauce. However, I would prefer to eat the requisite cranberries in these rolls. ;-)