Steakhouse Dark Brown Bread Rolls without Rye

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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.

dark dinner rolls on a cooling rack

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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 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.

If you have questions or suggestions, email me privately to Paula at Hope to see you again soon! Paula

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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.
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.


Nutrition Facts
Dark Brown Bread Rolls without Rye Recipe
Serving Size
1 roll
Amount per Serving
Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Author: Paula Rhodes
Course: Savory Bread Machine Loaves and Yeast Rolls
Cuisine: American
Keywords: bread machine recipes, dinner rolls, steakhouse rolls
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Recipe Rating


  1. i’m sure these rolls look beautiful. unfortunately, my work computer is filtering out all pictures on your website. so it’s not as fun to look at. i don’t think there is much you can do to modify this from your end. gotta love corporate computers!

  2. They turned out beautifully!!

  3. When you say “instant yeast”, do you mean the dried yeast in the small package that says “instant”. or is does it mean just regular dried yeast in a package?

    1. When I say “instant” I’m referring to the little package called instant or bread machine yeast which often comes in jars. Neither instant or bread machine yeast need to be dissolved in warm liquid first as does regular yeast.

  4. Interesting recipe, I guess we could call them cocoa rolls. I’ve gotten rid of my bread machine. Between my Cuisinart and KA HD stand mixer, I found I really don’t need it.

    1. Judy, I love my Cuisinart and KA too. But I can’t set a timer with them. Really handy to throw all ingredients for pizza dough or rolls in bread machine in the morning and walk in the door with dough ready to roll out. Also, the bread machine provides the perfect environment for proofing. Especially handy in the winter. Guess I just find the dough needs less handling than with my other appliances. In fact, I have two bread machines–for use when cooking for a crowd.

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

  6. OH!!! These look fantastic.

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

  7. 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!

    1. Clarissa,

      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.

  8. ~Jacqueline~ says:

    Do these rolls taste like chocolate?

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

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

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