The Best Soft and Fluffy Honey Dinner Rolls

There’s something about soft, warm, fresh dinner rolls that makes them nearly impossible to resist.

They’re so irresistible that I could happily and easily make a dinner out of dinner rolls.

The Best Soft and Fluffy Honey Dinner Rolls - Soft, fluffy rolls brushed with sweet honey butter! Truly the best dinner rolls ever. They disappear so fast at holiday meals & parties!

Until these rolls, I had never made dinner rolls, but they turned out to be the best dinner rolls I’ve ever had. They’re going to be a very tough act to beat and even though my search for the perfect end-all-be-all chocolate chip cookie recipe isn’t over, I think my dinner roll recipe search is. Rarely does recipe karma strike so perfectly that the first attempt at a recipe is the one I want to live with forever, but in this case, I struck dinner roll gold.

Recipes for dinner rolls are like chocolate chip cookies. There are so many and they all promise to be the best. In chocolate chip cookies, among other variables, the ratios of brown and granulated sugars, butter, flour, baking soda or powder, dough chilling, baking times and temperatures all vary from recipe to recipe.

MY OTHER RECIPES

In dinner rolls, making the dough with water or milk, using butter or oil, including an egg or not, sweetening the dough and to what degree and with sugar or honey, kneading or no-knead recipes, are among the many wild cards.

The Best Soft and Fluffy Honey Dinner Rolls - Soft, fluffy rolls brushed with sweet honey butter! Truly the best dinner rolls ever. They disappear so fast at holiday meals & parties!

Before making these, I read dinner roll, honey dinner roll, honey wheat dinner roll, and Parkerhouse dinner roll recipes like it was my job. Having a slightly sweet dinner roll was a priority, and one sweetened with honey was even better. Honey is used twice in these golden puffballs, both in the dough and it’s brushed on top of the rolls just before baking them using a honey and melted butter mixture.

The resulting rolls are slightly sweet and the flavor of the honey is present and discernible. Sometimes when I bake with honey it gets lost, but not in these. The final sweeps of honey-butter brushed on the rolls before their stint in the oven goes a long way to enhance the overall honey-butter punch. As a bonus, whatever mixture pools in the bottom of the pan creates a slightly caramelized and chewy honey-butter crust on the base of the rolls. If could pick off just those golden sticky bases from all the rolls in the pan, I would, just like I pick off muffin tops.

I used oil in the dough rather than butter. In my mind, butter-based doughs are reserved for pie crust,  brioche, or decadent cinnamon rolls and even though I wanted a buttery, soft, tender roll, butter wasn’t the way to that goal; oil was. In doing research about bread-making, I’ve learned that oil keeps bread dough softer and more pliable than butter, much like using oil instead of butter in cakes keeps them moister and more tender, too.

The rolls are soft, tender, supple, moist and the glorious honey-butter mixture brushed on the rolls before baking provides plenty of buttery flavor.

The rolls are light, but not feather-light, and retain enough density for some hearty chewing. Bread flour, rather than all-purpose flour, is used exclusively, and because of it’s higher gluten and protein content, it creates marvelous chewy texture. It’s always better to chew your food rather than just inhaling it, and these have just the right amount chew-factor; enough so that you don’t mindlessly inhale three in three minutes as is the case with feather light, flaky croissants.

It’s rare for me to say, but the rolls are fabulous plain and don’t actually need butter. But twist my arm, cinnamon sugar-butter or honey butter won’t hurt. Scott is a major bagel-and-cream cheese guy, and with cream cheese smeared on them, the dinner rolls have an almost bagel-like aura.

If you’ve never made bread using yeast before, these are not hard at all. The rolls can be made, from start to finish, in about three hours. Making the dough is a snap and it comes together in just minutes, about the same time as it takes to make cookie dough. Using a stand mixer is easier, but making without is completely viable.

After making and kneading the dough, it’s placed in a bowl and allowed to rise for about 90 minutes. Because the dough is made exclusively with white bread flour, and because I used Red Star Platinum yeast, there is almost no way to screw up the rising with this recipe. In fact, my dough rose so well it almost blew the plasticwrap off the top of my bowl. When canning, the sound of a sealing jar is music to my ears and in bread-making, a big bowl of high rising dough is one of the most beautiful sights ever. Not worrying that the dough didn’t want to rise is a moot point with this recipe.

After the first rise and the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and knead it gently for a minute or two. Then, allow it to rest for ten minutes, which makes shaping the dough into rolls easier because it gives the gluten a chance to relax a bit. Then, from the big wad of pillowy dough, form one dozen rolls and place them in a pan and allow them to rise for about thirty minutes. Immediately before baking, brush the rolls with honey-butter and bake for fifteen minutes.

They bake up very fast and are baked in a very hot oven because that blast of really hot oven air helps contribute to them rising well, known as oven spring. Because of the high heat in conjunction with the honey and the butter, they can also burn as the baking time draws to a close. I recommend hanging out in the kitchen while these bake because things can change quickly and you don’t want burnt buns.

Just think about what a star you’ll be when you place a basket of these on the Thanksgiving dinner table, and they can be made in advance. As is the case with most any bread, you can make a batch of the rolls from start to finish, freeze them, and then on the big day or on any day for breakfast, a snack, or to eat with dinner, just pull out one or four or two dozen, and allow them to thaw. Warming them gently in a low oven immediately prior to serving them gives them that just-baked quality, with zero work on the day-of, which is my kind of recipe for Thanksgiving or on a busy Monday night for dinner. Effortless and stress-free at crunch time keeps the cook, and everyone around her, much happier.

Although I haven’t tried it, I would also venture to guess that after the first rise of ninety minutes, and after the dough has been shaped into rolls and placed in the pan, you could cover the pan and refrigerate it overnight, and bake the rolls off the next morning; a loose interpretation of the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day principles. I have a recipe from that book coming later this week. It’s been carb-tastic here.

The Best Soft and Fluffy Honey Dinner Rolls - Soft, fluffy rolls brushed with sweet honey butter! Truly the best dinner rolls ever. They disappear so fast at holiday meals & parties!

These dinner rolls are every single thing I could ever want in a white dinner roll recipe. Light and fluffy balanced with chewy and hearty. Moist, soft, and tender and the slightly caramelized crust that forms on the base from the honey-butter is dreamy. They’re generously sized, too. One is probably all you need, but needs and wants can vary when the sweet smell of bread baking has been tantalizing you.

Scott is a white carb freak, from potatoes to rice to pasta to bagels and bread, and he said these were the best dinner rolls he’s ever had. I agree.

The Best Soft and Fluffy Honey Dinner Rolls - Soft, fluffy rolls brushed with sweet honey butter! Truly the best dinner rolls ever. They disappear so fast at holiday meals & parties!

The Best Soft and Fluffy Honey Dinner Rolls - Soft, fluffy rolls brushed with sweet honey butter! Truly the best dinner rolls ever. They disappear so fast at holiday meals & parties!

The Best Soft and Fluffy Honey Dinner Rolls
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Time investment includes the first rise of 2 hours, the punch down and resting time for 10 minutes, the second rise for 30 minutes, and the baking time is 15 minutes. From start to finish, you can knock these out in 3 hours. They are worth every minute - consider making a double batch and freezing half for later. The rolls can be made ahead of time - make a batch from start to finish, freeze the rolls, and pull them out as needed for dinner, brunch, snacks, a special meal, or holiday gathering, allowing them to unthaw and gently reheating in a low oven immediately prior to serving if desired - also see notes below. These are the best dinner rolls I've ever had. They are lightly sweetened from honey in the dough and are then brushed with honey-butter prior to baking, which lends both a golden color to the rolls and infuses them with a subtle sweetness. They are light and fluffy, yet have enough density, chewiness, and richness to be satisfying and hearty. They are not difficult to make and are a 5-gold stars recipe that I know I will make over and over, for years to come.
Serves: 1 dozen generously-sized rolls, one 9-by-13-inch pan
Ingredients
  • 1 cup water, warmed to 120 to 130F for Red Star Platinum yeast (or 105 to 115F for most other yeast, or according to package directions)
  • 2¼ teaspoons instant dry yeast (one ¼-ounce packet, I use Red Star Platinum)
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 3¾ to 4 cups bread flour (I use King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons honey
Instructions
  1. Add water to a glass measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl and heat on high power to warm it, about 30 seconds. Testing with a thermometer is highly recommended, but if testing with your finger, water should feel warm but not hot.
  2. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the water and sprinkle the yeast on top of it. Beat on low speed for about 10 seconds, just to combine; let mixture stand for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the egg, ¼ cup honey, oil, salt, and mix until well-combined, about 2 minutes on low to medium-low speed. Add 3 cups flour and beat until a sloppy, wet, loose dough forms. Scrape off any dough bits stuck to the paddle, remove the paddle attachment, and put on the dough hook.
  4. With the dough hook attached, turn mixer on low speed, and slowly sprinkle in remaining ¾ cup flour. If necessary to obtain soft, smooth, non-sticky dough, sprinkle in the full 1 cup flour that remains (for a total of 4 cups flour, rather than 3¾ cups, noting that the more flour used, the denser the finished rolls will be). Knead dough for about 8 minutes. It will be firm, smooth, not sticky, and elastic. Turn dough out onto a Silpat Non-Stick Baking Mat or floured work surface and knead dough by hand for 1 to 2 minutes, just to get into the nooks and crannies with your fingers the dough hook may have missed and make sure dough is very smooth and uniform in texture. Place mounded ball of dough in a cooking sprayed or lightly greased large bowl and cover with plasticwrap. Place bowl in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours. Tip - Preheating your oven for 1 minute to 400F, then shutting it off (make sure you shut it off), and quickly sliding the bowl in so the hot air doesn't escape is one way to create a warm environment; think 85 or 90F summer day warm environment. A cooler environment simply means dough will take longer to rise.
  5. After dough has risen and doubled, punch it down to release the air bubbles, and turn it out onto a Silpat or floured work surface. Knead for about 1 minute. Mound dough into a ball, place it back into the bowl, cover it, and allow it to rest and relax for about 10 minutes, making it easier to shape into rolls.
  6. Prepare a 9-by-13-inch baking pan by lining it with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  7. Place dough on Silpat or floured work surface, and using your hands, roll it into a long cylinder shape, about 12 to 15 inches in length, and it will about 3 to 4 inches in girth. Divide the log into 12 uniformly-sized pieces with a dough cutter or sharp knife. Roll each piece into a ball, creating surface tension on the top of the ball by stretching the dough over itself a bit and pinch off the bottom, tucking the dough into itself. Place each piece into the prepared pan, seam side down, uniformly spaced, four rows by three. (Dough may also be rolled into just a simple 'plain ball', without pulling on the top surface of dough to create tension and not bothering to pinch off the bottom a bit, but I find they rise better and are fluffier if they're pinched off rather than just round dough globes)
  8. After all pieces are in the pan, cover it with plasticwrap and allow to dough to rise for about 30 minutes. While dough rises, preheat oven to 400F. A good place for this rise is placing baking pan on the stovetop while oven is preheating for the carryover warmth.
  9. Prepare honey-butter mixture by melting butter in a microwave-safe bowl on high power, about 1 minute. To the melted butter, add 2 tablespoons honey and stir to combine; set aside. After the rolls have risen and before baking, brush tops and sides of dough with the honey-butter mixture, getting into the sides and crevices and with a pastry brush. Bake rolls for about 15 minutes or until golden; they bake up very fast and watch them closely so the honey-butter mixture doesn't burn in this very hot oven. Allow rolls to cool before serving. Serve with Honey Butter or Cinnamon-Sugar Butter
  10. Rolls may be stored at room temperature in an airtight container or ziplock bag for up to 4 days. Rolls also freeze very well and can be made from start to finish, cooled, and placed in a freezer-safe airtight container or a ziplock for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, unthaw them and if desired, immediately prior to serving warm them in a low oven (~175 to 200F) for a few minutes and just until warmed.
Notes
I highly recommend Red Star Platinum Yeast and King Arthur Bread Flour because they gave great results.

The recipe can be made by hand and kneaded by hand, it will just take you a bit longer. I am unsure if this recipe can be made in a bread machine as I don't have one. I suspect the dough could also be baked in loaf pans; I'd use two 9-by-5 inch loaf pans, but I have not tried it.

The rolls can be made ahead of time, making them from start to finish, freezing the finished rolls, and can be unthawed prior to needing them, and if preferred warming them gently and briefly in a low oven for that just-baked taste is nice. Although I haven't tried it, I would guess that after the first rise of ninety minutes, and after the dough has been shaped into rolls and placed in the pan, you could cover the pan and refrigerate it overnight, and bake the rolls off the next morning.

Recipe adapted from here and here

Related Recipes

Cinnamon Raisin English Muffin Bread with Cinnamon Sugar Butter – If you’ve never made bread before, this is a goofproof, foolproof, no-knead recipe that’s perfect for the first-time bread maker. You’ll never have a need for storebought English muffins again, especially because this bread is spiked with cinnamon-sugar and raisins

Outback Steakhouse Wheat Bread {Copycat Recipe} (vegan) – This recipe is based on my love of Outback’s bread and makes two small loaves of hearty, dense, wheat bread. The bread is ever-so-slightly sweetened and is infused with subtle hints of molasses, and a dead-ringer in the flavor department. Serve with honey butter for even more authenticity

Cinnamon Swirl Bread – As close to a cinnamon roll as a bread can get and still be called bread rather than dessert. Rich, sweet, and light. This bread is for the cinnamon lover’s and is abundantly flavored with cinnamon, which is used twice in the bread recipe, and again in the cinnamon-sugar butter I serve it with

Banana Bread with Vanilla Browned Butter Glaze – This banana bread recipe is the equivalent to the new dinner roll recipe; everything I could ask for in banana bread and is the one I will turn to, likely forever. For the vanilla fanatics, it’s used four times in the recipe

Cinnamon Bun Pie – Best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever made (to date) and they’re ready from start to finish in less than 30 minutes because they use a shortcut. I’m working on yeast-based cinnamon rolls next

Do you have a favorite dinner roll or dinner roll recipe?

Feel free to link up your favorites. Like chocolate chip cookies, there are zillions of recipes for white dinner rolls, honey dinner rolls, honey wheat rolls, Parkerhouse rolls, and endless combinations on a similar theme.

I feel like my search for white honey dinner rolls is over because these were an ultimate success right out of the gate and a huge hit with the family. I love the recipe so much that I already tweaked it and used it as a jumping off point for another (whole-grain) dinner roll.

Thanks for the An Edible Mosaic Cookbook Giveaway and Special K Gift Basket Giveaway entries

196 comments on “The Best Soft and Fluffy Honey Dinner Rolls”

  1. I’ll take 10 of these, please. Seriously — they look soooo yummy, Averie!

  2. These remind me of the dinner rolls we’d have at family get togethers and holidays growing up. I wonder why we don’t have them anymore?!? It’s too bad!

  3. Wow, Averie.. wow! These look like they came from a bakery and considering this was your first go at making a dinner roll, I give you major props! “Rarely does recipe karma strike so perfectly that the first attempt at a recipe” – ain’t that the truth?! I had a nightmare of a recipe flop this weekend. Don’t even want to talk about it. These look particularly beautiful, SO fluffy, and soft. And you make them look very approachable to the yeast novice. Eating them plain – something I don’t think I could ever do with bread, but the way you describe them makes me believe I could change that. I love your double plate presentation – the pretty pink and pattern plate. I get so much inspiration from your food styling!

    And I love the “oven spring” method you used too – I didn’t know that was the term! It is how I bake my muffins, but then I lower the temps down after the initial blow of hot air around 425. This recipe is wonderful, I’m pinning. Saving for the rainy day I make my first yeasted bread!!

    • I knew you’d appreciate that recipe karma line. There are some recipes, i.e. the pumpkin-choc chip cookies I made this fall – I will NEVER forget those :) that just do.not.come.easily, or really ever. So sorry about your flop. Usually I can salvage things, to either eat here even if I dont post about it, but after all that time/investment and the content you plan for, to have a flop is devastating on about 4 levels all in one fell swoop! Not like you can go ‘create’ 6 more hours in your day now, either.

      They are truly good enough to eat plain – seriously! And you know I love my butter, frosting, sauces, dips and I can go plain with these and so can Scott!

      The food styling came about b/c I had found that little plate at the thrift store the day before I shot these and was determined to use it :)

      And oven spring. I learned that term by watching bread-baking videos…after bread rises, it will get a final boost of spring/rise when you hit it with the oven air. And yes, same principle with muffins! Thanks for the Pin, too!

  4. I loooooove sweet, doughy dinner rolls! As far as I’m concerned they’re the most important part of a holiday dinner. I strategically place the bread by me. :)

    • I think the bread strategically placed by you is a good call :) I am loving those rolls you made. Psyllium husk is truly a new one for me. Fiber much? :) I would love to try them and am so impressed that you’re taking the bull by the horns on this new path of yours and just diving in! Necessity is the mother of invention!

  5. Mmmm homemade rolls are delicious. These honey rolls sound incredible too Averie! I love how you always give us a cooking lesson….so helpful!!!

    • Sometimes I feel like I’m too wordy but with something like bread, I’d rather be too wordy and avoid someone having a mistake than not wordy enough! You know those recipes you read where they’re so vague and I’m always like well how does that work exactly…. :)

  6. these sounds look incredible. dinner rolls are to me the ultimate indulgence at holidays – i truly let myself run wild and have however many i want. and although it’s worrisome when i am nearing the double-digit range in one holiday weekend, i just let it happen. you only live once.

  7. They look puffy and perfect for the thanksgiving table! I agree- there is nothing like a good roll or bread

  8. I’ve made lots of dinner rolls, but never with honey. Yum. These look so amazing; the photos make me want to dive in to my screen. With a knifeful of butter.

  9. Those look perfect. I think that says volumes when a roll can go plain

  10. I’ve never made a dinner roll – YET! This look incredibly soft and delicious. I only wish I had bread flour in my apartment. I guess that means I’ll be making them at home during Thanksgiving!

  11. I LOVE the look of these. I would eat just dinner rolls for dinner, forget the other stuff! (Especially when they are covered in butter and honey!)

  12. Yes, I have a favourite dinner roll recipe. It is from the old Red Betty Crocker cookbook that my mom had, and probably your mom had, because everyone’s mom had it!

  13. I think I can almost smell these just looking at your photos. What a perfect pan of puffy dinner rolls! Today is a good “stay inside and bake bread” sort of day–it’s cool, windy and rainy. Bummer I have to go to work. I’ve never made dinner rolls with honey brushed on…I can see that nice glaze on the bottom. I love that part too! My husband loved the parsnip fries –no leftovers in sight! He thought they tasted so much like regular french fries and bet most people wouldn’t know the difference.

    • Paula you HAVE to make these! Knowing that you already make bread, and that you liked the English muffin bread, you will love-love-love these! The honey glaze is just to-die-for crazy good, too! It just adds that touch of something extra. If you try them, keep me posted!

      And glad your hubs loved the parsnip fries and there were no leftovers in sight! He and mine would get along well, they aren’t overly discerning about their ‘potatoes’ :)

  14. Looooooooovaaaaa theeeeese! Dude, so gorgeous.

  15. and this is the reason I avoid making breads!
    for fear of eating way too much.
    croissants, sourdoughs, and soft rolls are my downfall!!!
    for real.
    these look insanely good!

  16. Oh my these look like honey butter roll heaven! I’d like to make them for thanksgiving, then save them for our turkey leftovers, but let’s get real–my fam would clean the entire pan in one sitting!

  17. Please pass the bowl – I could inhale these in one sitting!

  18. I feel the same about my recipe for dinner rolls – found the one and only, to be shared on Friday on my blog. The look of your rolls make this bread-fanatic really happy! :) I will have to give your recipe a try!

  19. You know, fresh, yeasted dinner rolls don’t get the attention they deserve, in my honest opinion, especially because they can also be used for tasty breakfast treats and even mini lunch sandwiches! These are absolutely lovely, A. – beautiful rolls and a wonderful recipe!!

    • Yeasted dinner rolls are so versatile, yes! My parents would take leftover rolls like this from Thanksgiving, or just any time, and make little sandwiches with them from cold cuts from the deli. Blast.from.the.past. i.e. 2 decades ago++ :)

  20. Averie, I love these! And we totally need to make bread together someday :)

  21. I’m just plain jealous of these. You have such a way with bread, I wish you could come here and give me lessons. I will try these, they look just perfect.

    • Thanks, Sue :) As long as you promise to make those latest chocolate cookies of yours or there’s a flourless chocolate lava cake you have or that almond cake with the doilly pattern sugar – there’s about 10 things of yours I want!

  22. Perfect timing! I was just thinking that I needed to start looking for recipes for Thanksgiving rolls-I always try something new every year and I think these are it for this year!

  23. Oh em gee, Averie. I could live on carbs alone, but rolls happen to be one of my favorites. Especially buttery, warm, and plush dinner rolls like these! They look positively melt-in-your-mouth HEAVENLY. And I want them on my Thanksgiving table. Scratch that–my table 24/7.

  24. I agree there is nothing like a perfect dinner roll. These definitely look like a winning recipe. Going to pin and try the recipe soon -can’t wait. Thanks for sharing & love your photos:)

  25. Mmm! These look awesome, Averie! I just rediscovered the fun of bread baking over the weekend. Every year I say I’m going to make homemade rolls for Thanksgiving dinner — I think this might be the year!

    I like your comparison of dinner roll recipes to chocolate chip cookie recipes — so true! The best thing is to find what works for you and stick with it… and experiment occasionally, of course. :) Honey in the recipe sounds ideal though!

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