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Steakhouse Dark Brown Bread Rolls without Rye

Preview: These dark brown bread rolls are soft and darkly colored dinner rolls with no rye flour. I wrote this recipe for a bread machine, including directions for a stand mixer if you prefer.

These big rolls remind me of the dark brown bread mini-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.

dark brown bread rolls on a cooling rack

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

The more robust 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, and no rye. There is not even whole wheat flour.

steakhouse rolls on a baking sheet during second rise
Rolls before they have been slashed and baked.

What is the secret ingredient that makes these dark brown bread rolls dark?

The dark color comes from a spoonful of cocoa. But don’t worry. They don’t taste like chocolate. (Although chocolate in bread can be fabulous!)

sliced steakhouse rolls with knife and  butter

Most of my bread recipes are mixed in a bread machine, then 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, let them rise again, then bake in a conventional oven.

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dark brown bread rolls on a cooling rack

Dark Brown Bread Rolls without Rye Recipe

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.
Paula Rhodes
4.5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Mixing & Rising Time 2 hrs 15 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 5 mins
Course Savory Bread Machine Loaves and Yeast Rolls
Servings 8 large rolls


  • cup lukewarm water - 160 gr
  • ¼ cup orange juice - 62 gr
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter - 42 gr
  • ¼ cup honey - 84 gr
  • 1 ⅔ cup whole wheat flour - 188 gr
  • 1 ⅔ cup unbleached bread flour - 200 gr
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon salt - 7 gr
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa - 11 gr
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast - 7 gr


  • Add ingredients to a bread machine pan in order given. Set on the DOUGH cycle and press START.
  • 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.
  • When the dough cycle finishes and the dough has almost doubled in volume, remove it from the bread-machine pan to a floured board.
  • Divide dough into 8 pieces and form into oval rolls.
  • 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.
  • 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.



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. Then, using a dough hook, turn the 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. Kneading 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 for instant yeast. Dissolving it first is optional. Active dry yeast tends to rise slower initially but will catch up eventually.


Serving: 1rollCalories: 271kcalCarbohydrates: 50gProtein: 8gFat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 334mgFiber: 4gSugar: 10g
Keyword bread machine recipes, dinner rolls, steakhouse rolls
Cuisine American
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Recipe Rating


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!