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My Favorite Classic Dinner Rolls from a Bread Machine (+Video)

I’ve been making this recipe for my favorite “Classic Dinner Rolls from a Bread Machine” for over 25 years (yep, I think I bought one of the original bread machines ever sold in America). That means this recipe has been “tested and approved.” Truly. Proceed with confidence.

No bread machine? No worries! You can still mix the dough in a stand mixer or do it by hand. See the recipe notes for details.

My Favorite Classic Dinner Rolls Recipe for a Bread Machine--baked rolls ready to bake

Updated 5/2020

I published this recipe for my favorite bread machine dinner rolls in the very early days of this website. People complained when it disappeared for a while. I’ve brought it back with a video I hope will be helpful.

Recipe Inspiration

Back in the ’80s and ’90s, I was raising my boys on a tight budget. (Hubby started a new business.) As you can imagine, those boys were growing and always hungry.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that I could fill them up with bread. Flour was cheap, and they loved fresh rolls.

I clipped this recipe out of our local newspaper, the Star-Telegram. Supposedly, it was the recipe used by a local school district in their cafeteria. I pulled out my new bread machine and here we are a million+one batches later.

dinner rolls torn apart and ready to serve

This recipe has evolved over the years. Let’s talk about it.

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Flour: Unbleached flour is my first choice for a very scientific reason. It’s what I keep in the flour canister on my countertop making it easy to grab.

    I’ve tried bread flour, white whole-wheat flour, and bleached flour. They all make great rolls.
  • Milk: Whole milk is best. The more fat in the milk, the better. If you have some other milk on hand, go ahead and use it.

    If you aren’t using whole milk, you could substitute 1 tablespoon of heavy cream for 1 tablespoon of milk. The liquid should not total more than 1 cup.
  • Egg: I use nothing but “large” eggs in all of my bread recipes. Make adjustments in the amount of liquid if you use a different size egg.
  • Sugar: The recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of sugar. I often add only 2 tablespoons depending on how tight my pants are feeling that day. Suit yourself.
  • Butter: The original recipe specified shortening, aka Crisco. After a few years of that, I switched to butter and never looked back. If you happen to be out of butter, you can use shortening as a substitute.
  • Yeast: Again, the original recipe called for active dry yeast. I quickly exchanged the idea of waiting 10-minutes while the yeast dissolved for instant or bread machine yeast that doesn’t need to be dissolved. As it turns out, active dry yeast no longer needs to be dissolved. Substitute 1 for 1.
  • Salt: Kosher salt is my favorite and what I always use. Substitute another salt if you like, but don’t leave it out completely. Salt is an important part of the whole package.

How do you use a bread machine to make dinner rolls?

I’m so glad you asked. It’s one of my favorite topics on this website. If you are a bread-maker newbie, be sure to read 6 Bread Machine Secrets You Need To Know . For now, here’s the quick answer.

Use the bread machine DOUGH cycle to mix up the dough, knead it, and let it rise. That means you will dump all the ingredients into your bread machine pan in the order listed in the recipe. Start the machine.

The most important thing you should do when using a bread machine…

Check the dough a couple of times by lifting the lid to take a peek. Do this right after the machine starts in order to make sure the paddles are engaged properly. It’s also an excellent time to add the butter. (See recipe.)

Check again 10-15 minutes into the dough cycle to look at the consistency of the dough.

opening the lid to look inside the bread machine
Lift the lid and have a look.
bread machine dough, too wet, too dry, and just right
You want your dough to look like the bottom picture after about 10-15 minutes into the DOUGH cycle.

If your dough is too wet, add flour 1 tablespoon at a time. The dough should stick to the side, then pull away cleanly.

Conversely, if the dough is too dry, add 1 tablespoon of liquid at a time until the dough looks just right. See the video for another illustration of what your dough should look like.

The goal is for the dough to be shiny and elastic. It should stick to the side, then pull away cleanly.”

Once the dough cycle ends, remove the dough from the machine and shape into balls. Place the balls of dough into baking pans and cover while they rise again. Bake rolls in your conventional oven.


Recipe Tips

#1

Weigh the flour.

weighing flour on a digital scale

Weighing is so much more accurate than using a measuring cup. Ever since I started measuring, I rarely have to add more flour or liquid to my bread dough.

If you don’t have scales, fluff up the flour with your scoop or spoon. Spoon flour into a measuring cup with a delicate hand. Level. Please don’t be a scooper. This practice inevitably leads to too much flour and heavy rolls.

#2

Measure the liquid carefully.

The proportions of liquid to flour is important in bread making. If you add too much liquid, you will have to add extra flour. If you add too much flour, you will have to add more liquid.

This also applies to the egg. Using a size larger or smaller will change the proportions.

#3

Add softened butter after you start the bread machine.

This is a little-known secret I stumbled upon a couple of years ago. Now I do it with almost all of my bread recipes. Don’t add the butter until after you have started mixing all the other ingredients together.

After your machine has been running about 1 minute, open the lid. Add the softened butter (important that it is neither melted nor hard) a tablespoon at a time to the dough. This gives the other ingredients a chance to dissolve and mix together for a moment before the fat comes in to coat everything.

If you don’t do this or forget, no problem. Dumping everything in at once will still result in extraordinary dinner rolls.

#4

Use a silicone baking sheet as your “floured surface.”

using a silicone mat as a "floured surface"

Silicone mats are the best platform for rolling out dough. Why? Because the mat is easy to wash. Throw it into the dishwasher.

Also, it doesn’t take as much flour to keep the dough from sticking. Try it and you’ll see what I mean.

Speaking of flour, if the dough is too sticky for you to manage, add a little flour to your hands and more to the surface. Try coating your hands with a little butter when you’re making the balls to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers.

#5

Use colored pans to get a nice crust on the bottom of your rolls.

My pans of choice are the gold-colored pans. After that, I would choose a pan with a dark non-stick surface. The heavier the pan, the better.

Lightweight aluminum pans or disposable foil pans are slow to brown. If it is your only choice, place the rolls onto the lower rack of your oven.

#6

Check for doneness with a thermometer.

Some of you may be thinking, “I never saw my grandma use a thermometer.” I didn’t either. Experience can take the place of a thermometer.

But if you’re a beginner or you like to try new recipes, a thermometer can save you a lot of disappointment. It doesn’t have to be a fancy one. A quick-read thermometer with a long and skinny probe (paid link) works best.

When using a thermometer, delicately poke the probe from the side of the rolls into the middle to find the lowest temperature. Your rolls should reach 190˚F when they are fully baked.

#7

Don’t leave the rolls in the pan longer than 10 minutes after they come out of the oven.

Because these rolls are so soft, you will need to leave them in the pan for just a few minutes to cool and let them “set.” However, remove them after about 10 minutes or they will become soggy.

Place them onto a paper plate, a plate covered with a paper towel or a cooling rack. After about 20 minutes, I pull the rolls apart and pile them into a basket lined with a towel.

By this time, you will have people gathered around wanting to taste-test for you. I let them! Everyone will appreciate your efforts more when they are hungry.

Can I make these dinner rolls ahead of time?

Yes. Go ahead and shape the rolls and put them in the pan you plan to use to bake them.

The next day, take the rolls out of the fridge 1-2 hours before you plan to bake them. Let the cold rolls come to room temperature and rise a little bit. When they are puffy, bake them in a preheated oven until golden brown.

Can I make a double batch when using a bread machine?

Doubling a bread machine recipe is never a good idea unless you are actually mixing the dough with a stand mixer or by hand. A bread maker has a limit to how much flour it can knead properly. The size of most machines limit the recipe to around 4 cups of flour, but some are even less.

When making a double batch, there are two options.

#1 Option: If you should happen to have two machines, use them both. My second machine is old and was never good at baking bread, but it can still knead. Make one batch in each machine.

#2 Option: Make two batches in the same machine.

Assemble and start the first batch. When the kneading stops and the bread maker goes quiet after about 20 minutes, remove the dough to a large bowl. Cover it and move it to a warm place where it will continue to rise.

Clean out the bread machine pan and assemble a new batch in your bread machine. You can allow the second batch to complete the DOUGH cycle. Remove the dough and continue as usual.

If you are in a hurry, remove the dough from the second batch to another large bowl. Cover and set the bowl in a warmer place to rise. Oftentimes, my second batch will catch up to the first batch and they will both be ready to shape at almost the same time.

Variations

Because they are plain, basic, classic dinner rolls, the dough is versatile. Make cheese rolls, cinnamon rolls, raisin rolls, and more with the very same dough.

Change the flour and make white whole-wheat rolls. Add rosemary and brown the butter to make a wreath with the balls for a holiday meal.

Because I never quit tweaking my recipes…

I adapted this super simple recipe by adding the Tangzhong technique. In my opinion, it’s even better because the rolls are flaky and stay fresh longer. The secret is in a liquid/flour paste that allows the baker to use less flour. However, it is slightly more trouble. You can see the recipe for my Favorite Dinner Rolls with the Tangzhong method here.


How To Shape “Dinner Rolls from a Bread Machine”

I hope these pictures will give you an idea how to transform the dough into dinner rolls. There is more than one way to make a dinner roll.

Some people like to roll the balls on a floured surface. Others roll them between their hands. But I like the method shown in the video. Once you get the hang of it, it goes much faster.

My best kitchen secret for shaping…

“Don’t worry about making perfect dough balls. If they are too perfect, people will think you bought your rolls from the grocery store.”

dough in bread machine pan at the end of the DOUGH cycle
After the dough cycle ends in your bread machine, the dough should be doubled in size.
forming dough into a ball after removing from bread maker
Remove the dough from the bread machine pan to a floured surface.
Dividing the original dough ball in two with a bench scraper, then dividing each ball into 8 pieces
Divide the ball in half. Divide each half into 8 equally-sized pieces.
showing how to form each piece of dough into a ball with your fingers
Make each piece of dough into a ball by pulling the dough from the sides and pinching underneath. (This is hard to describe. See the video.)
covering dough balls with a cheap shower cap
Arrange in an 8 or 9-inch greased pan and cover.
Dough balls after second rise and ready to bake
Let rise until almost double in size.
Finished rolls before removing from the pan to cool.
Bake at 350˚F for about 12-14 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Internal temperature should reach 190˚F.

Click here to sign up for a FREE 6-day Quick-Start email course: “Make Fabulous Bread with Your Bread Machine.”

More Bread Machine Recipes and Tips


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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 saladinajar.com.

Thank you for visiting!
Paula


Classic Dinner Rolls from a Bread Machine

Classic Dinner Rolls from a Bread Machine

Yield: 16 rolls
Prep Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 57 minutes

This recipe produces a light and airy slightly-sweet dinner roll you can mix up in your bread machine. Shape by hand and bake in your conventional oven for the best of both worlds.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg (room temperature)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 cups (360 grams) unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons bread-machine or instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened (not melted)

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients but the butter into your bread machine pan in the order listed. Select the DOUGH cycle.
  2. After about a minute or two, open the lid and add softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time.
  3. 10-15 minutes into the DOUGH cycle, lift the lid and check your dough again. It should barely stick to the sides and then pull away cleanly. If too wet, add flour 1 tablespoon at a time. If too dry, add water or milk one tablespoon at a time.
  4. When the dough cycle finishes, the dough should be doubled in size. If not, leave the dough in the bread machine a few more minutes until it you can punch two fingers into the dough and it fills in gradually. If it doesn't fill in, it has risen too much. If the dough bounces right back and the dough fills in immediately, then it needs to proof (rise) a little bit longer. (This may happen if your kitchen is cold.)
  5. Pull dough out of the machine and onto a floured surface. Knead the dough and form into one large ball. Divide in half, making 2 balls. Divide each of those balls into 8 equally-sized lumps.
  6. Make a ball from each piece of dough by pulling the dough toward the bottom while turning the dough. (See video.)
  7. Arrange balls in 2 well-greased 8 or 9-inch round or square pans (non-stick is better) and cover with a tea towel or a cheap shower cap. Place in a warm spot until doubled. (I put mine in the microwave where I have already boiled a cup of water for 5 minutes to make it warm and steamy.)
  8. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  9. Bake in the oven until golden brown, usually about 12-15 minutes. Rotate to get even browning. Internal temperature should reach 190˚F.
  10. Within 5-10 minutes, dump baked rolls out of the pan and let cool on a rack or paper plate so they won’t get soggy from the steam they produce.

Notes

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.

Please note: You can substitute active dry yeast for instant or bread machine yeast. There is no longer any need to dissolve it. Be aware that it may be a little slower acting than instant yeast, but it'll get there.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1 roll
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 139Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 21mgSodium: 176mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 4g

Did you make this recipe?

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Karen

Monday 7th of September 2020

The first time I made these, ( maybe a week ago?), they turned out beautifully and super fluffy. Today I made them again. They tasted good but were very dense, not big and fluffy like before. What did I do wrong?

Karen

Tuesday 8th of September 2020

@Paula, I’m trying again!

Paula

Tuesday 8th of September 2020

Hi Karen,

I'm sorry about your rolls. There could be more than one reason. How did you measure the flour? Is it possible that you used more this time? Were any of your ingredients cold? That's not a problem, but it will slow down the rising time. Speaking of rising, did you allow them to double before you baked them? Did the dough over-rise or over-proof when it was in the bread machine pan? That can happen pretty easily if your kitchen is warm. There are more reasons, but since I didn't watch you make the rolls, I can't be specific.

But don't be discouraged. You'll get it. We've all that those failures, but that's how you learn. Right? Just like momma said. :-)

Peggy Thomas

Monday 27th of July 2020

I made these rolls over the weekend and the aroma sent me back to my Grandmother's kitchen in the Winter and the fogged over windows in her kitchen. If we were playing outside, we knew to come and get it! When the husband took a bite he said "OMG, cafeteria rolls!". Thank you, Paula, the search is over!

Paula

Tuesday 28th of July 2020

Hi Peggy,

This is my favorite kind of comment!!! Thanks for taking the time to share.

Elane

Saturday 4th of July 2020

I've just made these rolls, and they are absolutely wonderful, and look exactly like the photo you have on here of the finished article. My husband and I have just shared one straight from the oven and dripping with butter...delicious! Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe...I shall be making a few more bread items from your site now that I've pulled my bread machine out of the cupboard it's been hiding in for the past few years. xx

Paula

Sunday 5th of July 2020

Your letter is quite a day-brightener and so encouraging. Glad to hear your bread machine is no longer hiding but instead, bringing you delicious homemade bread. Stay in touch. I would love to keep up with your bread-making adventures.

Bethan

Friday 19th of June 2020

It's been a while since I made these but they are my favourites. If I didn't want to do the new recipe for the cheese rolls could I just add the cheese to these? I think that was basically what the old cheese rolls recipe was??? Sorry for being a nuisance but I liked them the old way xx

Paula

Friday 19th of June 2020

Yes, Bethan. Adding cheese to these makes them just like the old cheese recipe. I had no idea there were so many fans of the old recipe. Glad you are one of them.

Bonnie Smith

Sunday 17th of May 2020

This may be one of my favorite recipes on your blog, Paula! Glad to see the recipe again. It works every time and it is so easy and the rolls are always delicious. Thank you, Paula!!

Paula

Monday 18th of May 2020

Thanks for the confirmation! You're welcome.