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Cornmeal Dinner Rolls: A Bread Machine Recipe

What happens to yeast rolls when you add cornmeal?  You get a surprisingly soft and somewhat chewy interior with a slight but interesting crunch to the crust. Cornmeal Dinner Rolls are especially nice with soup.

Although this recipe is formulated to be mixed in a bread machine, alternate directions for making with a stand mixer or by hand are included in the recipe notes below.


Recipe Inspiration

The shape of these rolls takes me back to the brown-and-serve rolls my mother-in-law used to serve on holidays.

She liked to split them straight out of the oven, just enough to cradle a big hunk of butter (although it was probably margarine, now that I think about it).  The melty and messy butter made those cheap grocery store rolls so memorable…and sinful beyond redemption.

These might look like brown-and-serve rolls, but in reality, there’s no comparison. Yes, they are light and fluffy, but they are more substantial and flavorful than their commercially-made cousins.

Why add cornmeal to yeast bread?

These cornmeal yeast rolls are not like yeasty cornbread. The half cup of cornmeal gives these rolls a barely perceptible personality boost with the slightest crunch, most noticeable in the crust.

After baking, split these and add butter “mother-in-law style” if you like. Personally,  I think it’s unnecessary when they are fresh out of the oven–it also ruins the rolls for leftovers.

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Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Flour: The recipe calls for bread flour but you can substitute unbleached flour or bleached all-purpose flour if that’s all you have.
  • Cornmeal: Either white or yellow cornmeal will work but I prefer white in this recipe. Stoneground cornmeal would not be a good substitute.
  • Milk: Whole milk, 2% or fat-free are all acceptable. I prefer whole milk for maximum flavor.
  • Yeast: Anytime you are using a bread machine, instant yeast or bread machine yeast makes it easy. But if you only have active dry yeast in the house, you can use it. Here’s how:
    Dissolve the same amount of active dry yeast (as specified in the recipe) in about 1/4 cup of the liquid specified in the recipe. First, warm the liquid until it is lukewarm like bath water for a baby. Stir the yeast into the liquid (usually milk or water) until it dissolves. Let it sit on the counter for about 10 minutes. Add to the pan along with the remaining ingredients specified in the recipe and proceed as usual.
rolls that have proofed and are ready to bake
unbaked rolls

Recipe adapted from One Hundred Years of Bread by Sidney Brockman Carlisle.

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Cornmeal Dinner Rolls

Yield: 16 rolls
Prep Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes

This Bread Machine Cornmeal Yeast Rolls recipe makes a yeast roll formulated to be mixed and kneaded in a bread machine with just enough cornmeal to add a slight but interesting crunch to the crust.


  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup white cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2-1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon bread machine or instant yeast


  1. Add cornmeal to boiling water and pour into bread machine pan.
  2. Add lukewarm milk, salt, egg, sugar, butter, salt, flour, and yeast to pan in that order.
  3. Select dough cycle and press start.
  4. After 5-10 minutes, check dough to be sure it is not too wet or too dry--just sticking to the side, then pulling away. If too wet, add 1 tablespoon flour at a time. If too dry, add 1 tablespoon water until dough looks right.
  5. When dough cycle has completed and dough has doubled in size, remove dough to floured surfaced.
  6. Divide dough into 24 equally-sized portions and roll each one into a ball. Place two balls into each cup of a muffin pan.
  7. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise in a warm place until almost doubled (30-45 minutes). Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  8. Bake rolls for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.


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 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 132Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 166mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 4g

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Tuesday 1st of July 2014

These look great! Could they be made with yellow cornmeal? I realize that in doing so the color of the rolls will be affected.


Tuesday 1st of July 2014

Jocelyn, Yellow cornmeal has a slightly coarser texture so may have more of an impact on the finished product. Although I haven't tried it, I predict the rolls would still be delicious.