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Dark Dinner Rolls (No Rye)–A Bread Machine Recipe

This recipe for Dark Dinner Rolls is similar to the ones we used to get at Steak and Ale, now closed. They didn’t taste at all like rye or pumpernickel. The fact that they were always served hot with softened butter made them taste even better. This is the way I remember them.

Instructions are written for a bread machine. If you don’t have one, see the notes for how to make these by hand or in a stand mixer.

dark-colored steak house rolls on a cooling rack

Dark bread is mysterious to me. Names like pumpernickel and Russian rye don’t help.

The stronger flavors aren’t exactly what this midwest farmer’s daughter grew up eating in her lunch box.  Bologna and pumpernickel?? Nope.

But in this recipe, there are no strange flours. No hard-to-find additives or flavoring. No rye. Not even whole wheat flour.

What is the secret ingredient that makes these rolls dark?

The dark color comes from a spoonful of cocoa. But don’t worry. They don’t taste like chocolate.

baked steakhouse rolls on a baking sheet

These oversized rolls remind me of dark loaves we used to get at Steak and Ale–the kind brought out on a wooden board with a serrated knife and garnished with whipped butter. You may find yourself looking for a white tablecloth and candles to complete the mood.

sliced steakhouse rolls with knife and  butter

As with most of my bread recipes, these are baked in a conventional oven.  The bread machine does the mixing, kneading, and proofing.  All you have to do is form the rolls into a pretty shape and bake in a conventional oven.

Did you try this recipe and enjoy it? Consider helping other readers (and me) by returning to this post. Leave a rating on the recipe card itself underneath the picture. Although always appreciated, comments aren’t required.

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

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Steakhouse Rolls--Another Bread Machine Recipe

Steakhouse Rolls--Another Bread Machine Recipe

Yield: 8 large rolls
Prep Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes

Steakhouse Rolls are dark-colored rolls like we used to get at Steak and Ale. Directions for mixing and kneading in a bread machine are included.


  • 2/3 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 2/3 cup unbleached bread flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa
  • 2 1/4 t. instant yeast


  1. Add ingredients to a bread machine pan in order given. Set on the DOUGH cycle and press START.
  2. Stand by for the first 10-15 minutes of the cycle and check the dough. If too sticky, add 1 tablespoon flour at a time. Conversely, if too dry (dough slaps loudly against the side of pan) add 1 or more tablespoon(s) of water.
  3. When the dough cycle finishes and the dough has almost doubled in volume, remove it from the bread-machine pan to a floured board.
  4. Divide dough into 8 pieces and form into oval rolls.
  5. Place on cookie sheet, cover loosely with a tea towel and allow to rise until almost double in a warm place. Use a serrated knife or kitchen shears to make a slash through the middle.
  6. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Bake rolls for approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Their dark color makes these rolls somewhat difficult to assess for doneness. Either look at the bottom for browning or check internal temperature which should be close to 190 degrees F. Serve with butter.


Alternate Mixing Instructions:

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 a 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 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 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 the dough ball into a greased bowl. Cover and allow to rise until double. Deflate dough gently and shape as indicated in the recipe.

How to substitute active dry yeast for bread-machine yeast or instant yeast:

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 the dough.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 servings Serving Size: 1 roll
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 271Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 334mgCarbohydrates: 50gFiber: 4gSugar: 10gProtein: 8g

Did you make this recipe?

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Monday 1st of July 2019

May I know if I can sub the orange juice with vinegar? Thanks.


Tuesday 2nd of July 2019

I have not tried that Ju. The orange juice adds sweetness in addition to the acid.


Friday 19th of April 2013

Do these rolls taste like chocolate?


Tuesday 4th of November 2014

Not at all. They're similar to the rolls you'd get at Outback Steakhouse.


Friday 21st of September 2012

Hi, I love your tips for successful bread making! I'm dying to try this recipe, but here in Brasil we don't have "unbleached flour". I'm in Rio de Janeiro and I can't find this kind of flour in supermarkets, it's so disappointing... Is there any replacement? Thanks a lot! Clarissa


Sunday 23rd of September 2012


You can used bleached flour. That is all I used for years. Some recipes may require a tablespoon or more of bleached flour when substituted for the unbleached.


Friday 4th of December 2009

OH!!! These look fantastic.

This is how I do a lot of my breads. Machine work. Oven bake.


Friday 4th of December 2009

Wow. Those look awesome. I'm surprised by the orange juice! Can't wait to try these!