Make-Ahead Fluffy Dinner Rolls

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When dinner is at your house this year and you have ten different dishes to time right and prepare for, a make ahead recipe is much appreciated.  These rolls are a family favorite and simply cannot be replaced with a store bought substitute.  Mutiny (led by my 12 year old daughter, Emma) would ensue.  My mother normally makes them, but she is hundreds of miles away this Thanksgiving☹, so the duty falls on me.  That is where the make ahead part comes in and makes everything both easy and good.

These rolls are the perfect compliment to Thanksgiving dinner.  They are sturdy enough to sop up gravy, but tender enough to be a pat of butter's dream date.  They are also just the right size for late night and all weekend turkey sandwiches.

Printable Recipe

Fluffy Make-Ahead Dinner Rolls
makes 15

For the Dough
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 2 Tablespoons for bowl and baking dish
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup honey
3 Tablespoons vegetable shortening
5 to 5 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
1 Tablespoon active-dry yeast
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 extra large egg

For the Wash
1 extra large egg
1 Tablespoon of water

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 200° F.  When oven reaches 200° F, shut oven off.  Grease a large bowl with 1 tablespoon of the butter.  Line a 9- x 13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving overhang on all sides.  Grease foil with 1 tablespoon of butter; set aside.

Place the milk, honey, shortening and remaining 3 Tablespoons of butter in a large measuring cup.  Microwave until the milk is warm (110° F) and the butter and shortening begin to melt, about 1-2 minutes.  Stir well.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix together 4 1/2 cups of the flour, yeast, and salt.  Turn mixer on low and slowly add the milk mixture.  After dough comes together, increase the speed to medium, add one egg, and mix until dough is smooth, about 2 minutes.  Add another 1/2 cup of flour and knead until dough is shiny and smooth and comes away form the sides of the mixing bowl, about 6-7 minutes (add up to 1/2 cup more flour if dough is too sticky).  Turn dough onto an unfloured surface and knead briefly to form a smooth, cohesive ball.  Transfer dough to the buttered bowl and turn to coat.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in the turned off oven until dough has doubled in size, about 50-60 minutes.

Gently punch the dough down and transfer to a lightly floured surface.  Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces, shape each piece into a cylinder, and cut each cylinder into 5 equal pieces.  Working one piece at a time (keeping the others covered with plastic wrap) form dough pieces into smooth, taut rounds and arrange in the prepared baking dish.  Lightly press on dough rounds so that they touch each other.  Cover baking dish with plastic wrap and return to turned-off oven until dough has doubled in size, about 50-60 minutes.

Remove dish from oven and heat to 375° F.  In a small bowl, beat together the egg and water.  Remove plastic wrap and brush rolls with the egg mixture.  Bake until the rolls are deep golden brown, about 25-27 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.  Using foil overhang, remove rolls from the baking dish and cool on a wire rack for 1 hour.  Remove foil from rolls, return to rack, and cool completely, about 2 hours longer.  Keeping rolls together, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then foil; freeze for up to 1 month.

To serve, remove plastic wrap and foil (reserving foil) from rolls, wrap in reserved foil, and defrost at room temperature for 2 hours.  Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375° F.  Bake foil-wrapped rolls on a baking sheet until heated through, about 30 minutes.  Serve.  Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from cookscountry.com via my mother


  1. I cannot thank you enough for posting this recipe!!! I now have a 'go to' roll recipe. I made them for Thanksgiving and they were amazing!!! I didn't have time to freeze them, but I plan on making some for Christmas and keeping them in the freezer. Thanks again!!!

    1. I am so pleased you enjoyed the recipe as much as we do! Thank you for letting me know.

  2. Interesting that you use an enriched dough to make these. I suppose that's what makes them so soft - I can see the softness from the picture. I tend to stick with a basic bread dough for rolls.

    One to try, I think!

  3. Hi Nicole, I've baked a lot of breads but I haven't felt compelled to complement the blogger in most cases. Your bread was great. It made my husband and nanny were happy to taste a bread that reminded them of "back home", and my daughters couldn't get enough of it. Great blog and thanks for the recipe!

    1. I am so pleased that you and your family enjoyed the recipe! Nothing like serving warm bread at the table. Buttered leftovers toast up nicely for a breakfast treat;)


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