Baker Bettie

How to Make Yeast Rolls

Learn the step-by-step process of how to make yeast rolls. These soft yeast rolls are tender and incredibly fluffy. I am breaking down all of the steps to make the process very easy to follow! 

Yeast Roll Overview

Soft dinner rolls are made from an enriched yeast dough. This means the dough contains fat, eggs, and sugar making a yeast bread that is soft and tender. 

These yeast rolls can be made the day they will be served or can be prepped the day ahead and baked the next day. The rolls turn out soft, tender, and slightly sweet. This dough is also the same dough I use for my classic crescent rolls, which means you can make either once you learn how to make the dough! 

How to Make Yeast Rolls Step-by-Step

Yeast dough can feel intimidating for people, but it really can be easy once you get conformable with it. I’m going to break it down for you! 

Step 1: Mix Butter, Sugar, and Salt Together

In a large mixing bowl, mix together your butter with the sugar and salt. You want your butter to be at room temperature so that it will easily mix in.

You don’t need to cream these ingredients together like when making cookies. Just make sure they are well combined. 

Step 2: Add the Eggs 

Stir in the room temperature eggs into your butter/sugar mixture. Your mixture will likely look somewhat curdled at this point. That is okay! 

Step 3: Add the Warm Milk

You want the milk for your yeast rolls to be warm, somewhere around 110 F (43 C). Yeast loves warm temperatures and it will wake it up quickly. However, if your liquid is too hot you can kill the yeast. It is best to error on the side of using liquid that is cooler rather than too hot. 

I typically warm my milk in the microwave for about 30 seconds. It should be just slightly warm to the touch and not hot. 

Step 4: Mix in the Flour and Yeast

Most yeast bread recipes will list a range in the amount of flour used in the recipe. This is because flour is temperamental and depending on where you live you might need more or less for your dough. Start with the lowest amount of flour listed and then you can add more in while kneading the dough. 

You can use active dry or rapid rise yeast for these rolls. Both will work well and can be added right in with the flour, no hydrating needed. Note: If you are making make-ahead yeast rolls (prepping the day before), you want to be sure to use active dry yeast. 

Step 5: Knead the Dough

This yeast dough can be kneaded by hand or with a stand mixer using the dough hook. You want to knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic but still slightly sticky. Add more flour as needed while kneading your dough. 

Step 6: Let the Dough Rise (Fermentation)

Now your dough needs to rise until about double in size. This process is called fermentation. The dry yeast, which was in a dormant state, is now awake and it needs time to feed. The yeast will feed on the starches and sugars in the dough and will create carbon dioxide gas which allows the dough to rise. 

You have two choices here, you can let it rise at room temperature or you can put it in the refrigerator to slowly rise. If you let your dough rise at room temperature this will take about 45 minutes if you used rapid rise yeast, or it could take about 90 minutes if you used active dry yeast. If you let it rise in the refrigerator, you can let it stay in there for about 12-16 hours. 

Step 7: Deflate the Dough

Gently press down on your risen dough in the center to deflate the gas out of it. Turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. 

Step 8: Divide your Dough

Divide the dough into equal pieces for the rolls. You don’t want to stretch and tear the dough, rather use a knife or a bench scraper to cut it. 

I like to make 16 rolls if making these for a big holiday dinner, like Thanksgiving or Christmas. And I usually make 12 if making it for a dinner where there aren’t as many sides being served. 

Step 9: Shape the Rolls

(if you press play on the above video it will start at the part of the process where the rolls are being shaped)

Take piece of dough and pull down on the sides creating a seam at the bottom. Set the piece of dough, seam side down, on an un-floured part of the counter top. Roll the dough gently under your hand to create a smooth ball. 

Step 10: Bake the Rolls

You can bake these rolls in a 9X13″ baking dish or on a parchment lined baking sheet. Using the baking dish will allow them to grow taller as they all bake up against each other. On a baking sheet will produce a little flatter rolls, but both are equally delicious! 

Before the rolls go into the oven I like to brush them with a little bit of egg wash. Whisk 1 egg with about 1 tablespoon of water and brush on top of the rolls. This gives the rolls those pretty shiny tops. 

Soft Yeast Rolls

Soft Yeast Rolls

Yield: 12-16
Prep Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 48 minutes

Super soft and fluffy yeast dinner rolls. This recipe can be made the day before baking or prepped the same day.


  • 6 TBSP (85 gr) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (50 gr) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup (237 ml) whole milk, slightly warm (about 110 F, 43 C)
  • 4-5 cups (480-600 gr) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 package (7 gr, 2 1/4 tsp) active dry or rapid rise yeast (*note: you should use active dry yeast if you follow the instructions for prepping the day before)


  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the butter, granulated sugar, and salt until well combined.
  2. Add the eggs into the mixture and stir until incorporated. The mixture will look curdled at this point.
  3. Warm the milk slightly. I typically warm it for about 30 seconds in the microwave. It should be barely warm to the touch and not hot. Stir the milk into the mixture until incorporated.
  4. Add 4 cups of the flour and the package of yeast into the bowl and stir to combine. Reserve the 5th cup of flour to add in if needed while kneading the dough. If you will be following the instructions for prepping the rolls the day before baking, make sure you are using active dry yeast. If you will be baking the same day, you can use either active dry or rapid rise yeast. You do not need to hydrate the yeast before adding it into the dough.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it by hand for about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. You may need to work in a little more flour as you knead it if it is sticking to the counter too much. The dough will become less sticky as it is kneaded and the gluten structure forms. Alternatively, you can knead it with your dough hook in a stand mixer on medium high speed for about 8 minutes.
  6. Transfer the dough back to a mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  7. At this point, the dough needs to rise (ferment) until about double in size. You can do this at room temperature and it will take about 45 minutes if you used rapid rise yeast or about 90 minutes if you used active dry yeast. If you want to shape the rolls the next day, you can refrigerate the dough immediately after kneading it and allow it to slowly rise in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours. (If you would rather refrigerate the rolls after they are shaped to bake the next day, proof the dough at room temperature and see the notes in step 10.)
  8. After your dough has risen, gently press down in the middle of the dough to press all of the gas out of it. Turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it evenly into 12 or 16 pieces.
  9. To shape the rolls, pull down on the sides of the dough creating a seam at the bottom. Place the piece of dough seam side down on an un-floured part of the countertop. Cup your hand over the dough and roll it under your hand to form a smooth piece of dough. Place the shaped rolls on a parchment lined sheet pan or in a 9" x 13" (23 x 33 cm) baking dish. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap.
  10. At this point the rolls need to rise a second time (proof) until about double in size. You can proof them at room temperature to bake them the same day, or you can proof them in the refrigerator overnight. The rolls will take about 45 minutes at room temperature if you used rapid rise yeast and will take about 75-90 minutes if you used active dry. If you want to let them rise in the refrigerator overnight, you can refrigerate them right after shaping them for 12-18 hours. They need to come out of the refrigerator about 1 hour before baking.
  11. Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C). As an optional step, brush the rolls with an egg wash (1 egg whisked with 1 TBSP of water) to give them a nice shine once baked. Bake the rolls on the center rack in the oven until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.
  12. Brush the baked rolls with melted butter and sprinkle with some flaky salt if desired.

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30 comments on “How to Make Yeast Rolls”

  1. You always have us covered!!!! I looooove rolls

  2. Great recipe! I’m a newbie to bread baking so your clear instructions demistified the whole process! Thanks!

  3. great recipe which is a must try. suppose I hydrate the yeast into milk for some while before mixing in the flour what could be the results

    • Hi Anne, you can proof the yeast if you like. I don’t do that if I am making overnight rolls because they might over proof. But you can do it if you will be baking them that day! Just pour the yeast in the milk and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Make sure your milk isn’t too hot!

  4. Fantastic yeast roll recipe! Made these for a family gathering (36 of them !) and not even a smell left! As a newbie baker these were a smashing success! Can’t wait to try some of your other recipes. 

  5. Do u need to oil the mixing bowl prior to putting the dough in it?

  6. Haven’t worked with yeast since I was your age 🙂 which I am no longer. I found your recipe and it sounded so easy I just had to try it once. OMG best dinner rolls ever. Thank you so much for making baking with yeast fun again. I am anxious to try some of your other recipes soon.

  7. I’ve never had homemade rolls turn out. Thank you for making this video and recipe. They turned out perfect. I used salted butter and 2 % milk because that’s what I had on hand. They were big, fluffy and tasted so yummy. Everyone bragged on the taste and how pretty they were. The yeast rolls made my house smell amazing!!! Cant wait to make them again!!

  8. Can you substitute buttermilk for whole milk?

  9. These rolls are AWESOME! Recipe written perfectly, demo video gave great tips. Made the 16 count batch using the make-ahead method with 1.5 Oz. of Sharp cheddar wrapped inside. Turned out perfect! Bumped up the cook time slightly to brown deeper. Thank you Baker Bettie for a great way to have my Eastern NC Cheese Biscuits. Can’t wait to make them again!

  10. I love to watch the videos they are very helpful. Thanks for sharing

  11. Can you freeze the dough before the 2nd rise?

  12. Can I use instant yeast (like the red SAF instant?) or instant quick rise (like red star)?  If so, what would I change?  Thanks. 

  13. Tried these but they came out dense and chewy. What did I do wrong?

  14. Hello Bettie
    I just found you while searching for a dinner roll recipe. After thanksgiving, I know, but the rolls someone brought for thanksgiving dinner were not at all yummy and I thought, how hard can it be. I just watched your YouTube video on making rolls and just love the way you explain everything, especially about how the yeast works! So, I’m making my first batch of rolls today and have started following you on Instagram and YouTube. I have a feeling I’ll be visiting you very often.

  15. I have to compliment and thank you! This recipe turned out great and my family loved them. The YouTube video was very helpful and easy to follow. I look forward to cooking with you more!!

  16. This recipe was actually really easy to follow which I love. And everything looked the way it showed via the video. I can’t wait to see how they taste once done baking


  18. Thank you very much for the recipe it worked out great I will always use this recipe and I have a mixer coming that will have the dough hooks on it so it’ll make it a lot easier for me but thank you again it was great.

  19. I appreciate your detailed recipe.  I used active dried yeast so I proofed the yeast first with 1/4 cup from the whole milk at 110 degrees and 1 teaspoon from the sugar before adding it to the recipe.  Wanted to ensure it was good before going through the entire procedure.  The rolls were beautiful but unfortunately they didn’t have much flavor.  Any suggestions? 

  20. Can almond milk be used or can I just use water instead of milk?

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