Make-Ahead Soft Yeast Rolls
Follow this make-ahead soft yeast rolls recipe for easy homemade rolls any night of the week. Refrigerate the dough until ready to bake, and top each tender roll with melted butter and a sprinkle of sea salt.
- Skill Level: Intermediate
- Components Used: Enriched Sweet Dough Master Recipe, Egg Wash
Simplify dinnertime and prep this side dish in advance. Make the dough and shape the rolls the day before, then bake them fresh 15 minutes before mealtime. They’re easy enough for a weeknight family dinner but so delicious and special for a holiday meal.
Why I love these make-ahead rolls
- By preparing the rolls the day before, you can eliminate stress when pulling a meal together.
- Homemade dinner rolls are an easy way to kick a simple meal up a notch.
- These rolls are ultra soft and buttery – you’ll want to make them for holiday celebrations and casual family dinners.
Ingredients and Substitutions
The dough for these rolls is the same dough I use for all sweet doughs like cinnamon rolls, sticky buns, and yeast donuts. Although they contain sugar, they’re not actually sweet. The sugar simply helps the rolls stay soft and fluffy.
Yeast: Yeast is a type of biological leavening. It is what makes yeast dough rise.
Milk: Milk is used in sweet dough recipes (as opposed to water in lean dough recipes) to keep the dough soft and add richness in flavor. Instead of whole milk, non-dairy alternatives like oat, almond, or soy milks work great.
Sugar: Sugar retains moisture which keeps these rolls soft and tender (and keeps them softer for longer).
Flour: Flour is the main ingredient in any bread recipe as it builds the structure of the dough. For a gluten free option, substitute the all-purpose flour with a gluten free alternative like Pillsbury’s Gluten Free Flour. Whichever gluten-free flour blend you choose, make sure it contains xanthan gum. If it does not, add 1 teaspoon xanthan gum to this recipe in step 2.
Salt: Without salt, these rolls would taste flat and boring. It also acts as a preservative and keeps any leftover rolls fresh.
Butter: Yeast doughs made with fat are soft and tender as opposed to crispy and chewy (like pizza dough). For a dairy free alternative, substitute the butter with a vegan butter like Earth Balance.
Eggs: Whole eggs work to bind the rolls together. They add structure and strength to finished baked goods. For an egg free alternative, try a flax meal or chia seed replacement like flax meal or chia seed (I have not tested these options so if you do try it, let me know how the rolls turn out).
Soft Yeast Roll Variation Ideas
- Herbed Dinner Rolls: To the flour, whisk in 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary (or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried), and 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley (or 1 tablespoon dried). After baking, brush on melted butter with a sprinkle of chopped herbs and flaky salt.
- Everything Seasoning Dinner Rolls: After baking, brush on melted butter and a generous sprinkle of everything bagel seasoning.
How to Make-Ahead Soft Yeast Rolls
The key to preparing these dinner rolls ahead of time is to refrigerate the unbaked rolls overnight and bake them fresh the next day.
PROOF THE YEAST
Warm the milk to about 110-115°F/43-46°C. Transfer the warm milk to a large mixing bowl and stir in the yeast and a pinch of sugar. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until bubbles and foam start to form.
*This step is called “proofing the yeast.” While option, it’s a good way to test the yeast to make sure it’s active before using it in the recipe. If you do not see any bubbles or activity after 10 minutes, then your yeast is dead or your milk is too hot. Start the process over with fresh yeast and/or cooler milk.
Place all of the dough ingredients into a large mixing bowl, including the milk/yeast mixture. (The order in which everything is added/combined doesn’t make a difference.) Mix together in a stand mixer, or with a wooden spoon, spatula, or your clean hands.
KNEAD THE DOUGH
Knead the dough until smooth and elastic. This takes about 8-10 minutes by hand or 6-8 minutes with a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.
While kneading the dough, add more flour as needed. Stop kneading the dough when it’s still slightly sticky to the touch but feels smooth and elastic. It should stand tall when rounded into a ball.
Shape the kneaded dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Turn to coat and cover with a piece of plastic wrap, a damp cloth, or clean shower cap (my preference) to bulk ferment until doubled in size – about 1 hour for quick rise yeast and 2 hours for active dry yeast. To speed up the process, place the covered bowl in a warm place in your kitchen.
After proofing, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured countertop and divide it into 12 equal pieces. I like to use a bench knife and a kitchen scale to ensure they are all the same size. Working with one piece of dough at a time, 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 palm until a smooth piece of dough forms.
Line a sheet pan (or cookie sheet) with parchment paper or lightly grease a 9×13-inch (23×33-cm) baking dish. Place the dough balls evenly spaced onto the sheet pan or into the baking pan. Cover the rolls tightly with plastic wrap.
Refrigerate Overnight (optional)
To make these make-ahead rolls, refrigerate the pan of shaped rolls for up to 18 hours. For holidays, like Thanksgiving or Christmas, I like to prep these rolls ahead so I’m not dealing with flour all over the counter while making other recipes.
The next day, remove the pan of rolls from the refrigerator about 90 minutes before serving. Keep them covered and let stand for about 75 minutes before moving onto the next step.
If you’d like to skip the refrigerator slow rise, let the rolls rise at room temperature for about 45 minutes (if using quick rise yeast) and about 75 minutes (if using active dry yeast).
Whisk together the egg and water to make an egg wash. Remove the plastic wrap from the pan and brush the egg wash on top of the rolls. The egg wash gives the rolls a shiny, golden top. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. While still hot, I like to brush melted butter onto the rolls and garnish with a sprinkle of flaky salt. Serve warm.
What kind of yeast should I use?
This recipe calls for active dry or quick rise yeast. Quick rise yeast is also known as instant yeast or rapid-rise yeast.
How far in advance can I make dinner rolls?
These unbaked dinner rolls can be refrigerated for up to 18 hours before baking. Remove from the refrigerator an hour and a half before serving. Let them stand for about 1 hour 15 minutes before baking.
Can I bake dinner rolls the night before?
I don’t recommend baking the rolls in advance. Dinner rolls are best served fresh from the oven.
Can I use bread flour?
You can use either all-purpose flour or bread flour in this dinner roll recipe. You do not need to make any other changes to the recipe if you are using bread flour. All-purpose flour will give you light and tender rolls while rolls made with bread flour will be slightly chewier.
How to Store Dinner Rolls
Room Temperature: After baking, let the rolls cool completely. Store any leftover rolls in an air-tight container at room temperature. They are best enjoyed within 24 hours of baking.
Freezer: After baking, let the rolls cool completely. Once cool, wrap in aluminum foil and place the foil package in a zipper bag – freeze for up to 2 months. When ready to serve, let them thaw overnight in the refrigerator and place into a 325°F/163°C oven for 10-15 minutes until warmed through.
MORE RECIPES FROM BAKER BETTIE!
If you enjoyed this make-ahead recipe, you might like to try these other recipes that can be prepped in advance.
Make-Ahead Soft Yeast Rolls
These easy soft yeast rolls can be made ahead and refrigerated until you are ready to bake and serve. This recipe results in tender, fluffy, chewy and buttery rolls easy enough for any day of the week and special enough for holiday gatherings!
For the rolls
- 7 grams (1 package, 2 ¼ teaspoons) active dry or quick rise yeast*
- 227 grams (1 cup, 240 milliliters) whole milk (lower fat or non-dairy can be substituted)
- 50 grams (¼ cup) granulated sugar
- 480-600 grams (4-5 cups) all-purpose flour
- 7 grams (1 ½ teaspoons) kosher salt or table salt
- 85 grams (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, very soft
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
For the egg wash
- 1 whole egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- Warm the milk (227 grams/ 1 cup) to about 110-115°F/43-46°C. In a large mixing bowl add the warm milk, the yeast (7 grams/ 1 package), and ½ teaspoon of sugar and stir to combine. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until you see some bubbles and foaming.
- Add 480 grams (4 cups) of flour, the rest of the sugar (50 grams ¼ cup), salt (7 grams / 1 ½ teaspoons), butter (85 grams/ 6 tablespoons), and eggs (2 large) to the mixing bowl. Use clean hands to mix together until a sticky dough forms.
- If kneading by hand, turn the dough out onto a floured countertop. Dust flour over the top of the dough and knead the dough by hand for about 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. If kneading with a stand mixer, fit the mixer with a dough hook and knead at medium speed for 6-8 minutes. Add more flour as needed while kneading the dough. Stop kneading the dough when it’s still slightly sticky to the touch but feels smooth and elastic. It should stand tall when rounded into a ball.
- Shape the kneaded dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl. Turn to coat and cover with a piece of plastic wrap, a damp cloth, or clean shower cap (my preference) to bulk ferment until doubled in size - about 1 hour for quick rise yeast and 2 hours for active dry yeast.
- After proofing, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured countertop and divide it into 12 equal pieces.
- Working with one piece of dough at a time, 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 palm until a smooth piece of dough forms.
- Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or lightly grease a 9x13-inch (23x33-cm) baking dish. Place the shaped rolls onto the sheet pan or into the baking pan. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap.
- To prep ahead: Refrigerate the pan of shaped rolls for up to 18 hours. 90 minutes before serving, remove from the refrigerator. Let them stand at room temperature for 75 minutes before continuing with step 9. To skip the refrigerator slow rise: Let the rolls rise at room temperature for about 45 minutes (if using quick rise yeast) and about 75 minutes (if using active dry yeast).
- Position an oven rack to the center position. Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C.
- Whisk together the egg and water to make an egg wash. Remove the plastic wrap from the pan and brush the egg wash on top of the rolls.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. If desired, brush baked rolls with melted butter and sprinkle with flaky salt.
*Quick rise yeast is also known as instant yeast or rapid rise yeast.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 0
152 Comments on “Make-Ahead Soft Yeast Rolls”
When you refrigerate . Can you leave them in a bowel and rool them out the next day?
Hi Melissa! You really need to roll them out before refrigerating them. This will allow them to slow proof (rise) in the refrigerator. If you want to refrigerate the dough and roll them out later you want to refrigerate it before the first rise. Then the next day you can roll them out and let them proof. Because the dough will be cold they will take much longer to proof. Somewhere between 2-3 hours. Watch them until double in size. Hope that helps!
Does it matter if the bowl is plastic or glass, metal or porcelain?
Hi Eve! No it does not affect the dough one way or the other. Enjoy!
Can a double batch be made just doubling the ingredients or should I make two separate batches? We have a lot of people at our Thanksgiving dinner.
Hi Jessica! You can definitely double the recipe for a double batch! Another thing to keep in mind is that if you use this recipe to make 12 rolls as I do here they are quite big! I often divide it up into 16 or even 24 rolls for something like Thanksgiving when there will be a lot of other food. Hope that helps!
I made these tonight and they were delicious! One issue I did have was that the first time I mixed the yeast and milk, the yeast didn’t proof. I even added some sugar to try to get it going and nothing happened. I Scalded more milk but this time I used a thermometer to make sure the milk wasn’t too hot before I added the yeast. It took more than 15 minutes to drop from the scalded temperature to 110 degrees, which is the highest recommended for the active dry yeast. The first time I only waited 5 minutes after pouring the milk into a bowl as the recipe states. Although it just felt warm to my finger, I’m sure I killed yeast the first time around. Once I’d sorted that out, they came together easily and tasted wonderful. Thanks for a great recipe!
Hi Angela! So glad to hear you enjoyed them!
I made these rolls for thanksgiving dinner. They were a huge hit! They were requested for our Christmas party, I’ll be making a double batch! I really love that I can prep them the night before! They are wonderful! Thank you for this recipe!
Hi Janice! Thank you so much for the review. I’m so glad you enjoyed these for Thanksgiving!
Can the recipe be halved successfully?
Absolutely Renee! I’ve done it many times.
Hi there – does it matter what u bake the rolls I ? Glass pan, cake pan etc. Also, where in the oven should I place my pan when cooking?
Hi Shannon! It does not! And on the middle rack. I will update the recipe to include these details.
I made this recipe, but I did alter a few things. I used 1/2 cup of honey instead of sugar, double the yeast, and used way more salt.(not sure how much exactly, but it really needed it) The bake time is about 20-22 minutes for a nice brown top, super worth it though.
Hi Pamela! So glad you enjoyed them. Be careful when increasing yeast amounts. The yeast needs enough food to feed on to proof your dough. It can run out of food and you will actually end up with less yeast flavor and less rise than with a smaller amount of yeast. Looks like yours turned out beautiful!
I also used 1/2 cup of honey, rather than a 1/4 cup of sugar. The honey keeps them soft for longer.
I also used a bit of a different method. I used the warm milk to melt the honey and proof the yeast at the same time. I then added the eggs in once the yeast was ready. I did use a stand mixer, but I hand whisked the eggs in with melted butter. I used a hook and had to use a bit more than 4 cups of flour, but the weather here does effect such things. Once the dough was no longer sticky (making sure to not over mix. I keep it on a low setting until the dough becomes more firm) I place the dough in a buttered bowl for about an hour before rolling it into balls.
Hi Pamela! So glad you enjoyed them!
I made these rolls and they were very good! I did a double batch for Christmas at my grandmother’s and everyone enjoyed them very much. I made 18 rolls from each batch. They turned out pretty much exactly as expected. They did take a good bit longer than 14 minutes, more like 25 minutes in her oven. One thing I am wondering, mine turned out with a noticeable yeasty taste. I am wondering if that is normal for this recipe, or if it has to do with something I did?
Hi Rebecca! Yes, these should taste yeasty. That is common for yeast rolls. The longer proof time also increases that a little bit. If you want to reduce the yeast flavor I would suggest making them following the directions to bake them the same day instead. Hope that helps!
Gotcha! Thanks for the info!
These are the very best yeast rolls I’ve ever made in my 50 years of baking! This is the second time and each time they were excellent. Now I’m ready to wow everyone.
Hi Deborah! That makes me so happy! Thank you so much for letting me know that! Yours look beautiful!
This is a wonderful recipe. I really love the fact, that you put the weight of the flour in your recipe.
I’m so glad you enjoy it Lyman! That’s so great!
Can these be rolled out and made in to Parker House rolls?
Can these be made with bread flour?
Hi Jayne, you technically can, yes. But I don’t typically use bread flour for enriched doughs as I want them to be a bit more tender. I find that unbleached all purpose flour tends to give the best texture. But if you want to use bread flour you can substitute it 1:1.
Can you make these up into rolls and freeze them ?
Hi Melissa, Yes you can. I recommend baking them, letting them cool completely, then wrapping each one in plastic wrap and putting them all in a freezer bag to store. Rewarm them at 325 until warmed through!
Can you please suggest any alternative for eggs? Also what is the reason for adding egg?
I know you very clearly say not to use instant yeast 🙂 but it’s all i had so i went for it—and these are FABULOUS. (fyi, i did the overnight fridge rise.) I also made 9 instead of 12 because I wanted them bigger. Currently eating one right now and already dreaming of the next one. Thank you!
I will make it now, but want to know if I can make it without eggs, can you suggest any alternative
I do not suggest making this without eggs as I have not tried it. I would search for a recipe that specifically calls for an eggless alternative rather than substituting.
I have been looking for an answer as to why you need to scald the milk first THANK YOU ! Have you par baked these ? Im trying to prep as much as possible for thanksgiving.. 🙂
Be careful how much flour you use. Four cups was too much for my rolls leading to a huge fail.
Hi Kim! sorry to hear your dough had too much flour in it. If you are measuring with a measuring cup, instead of by weight, make sure you fluff up the flour and lightly spoon it into your measuring cups without packing it down at all. Otherwise, you can definitely end up with too much flour in your dough. I have made this recipe literally 100s of times (I use it for all of my bread classes), so the amount is correct. If you don’t already have one, definitely recommend getting a digital scale for more accurate measuring! Also, with any yeast dough, if it feels too dry you can always work in a little more liquid. This video might be helpful as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tp3C503SaTg
Are these still tender the next day?
They are! Be sure to store them in an airtight container at room temperature.
I made these for dinner & they looked great but we’re dry in the middle. I used a small amount of self rising flour when turned out of the bowl to cut. When I rolled then under, I noticed the flour on bottom. What happened?
Perhaps! That or they baked a bit too long.
These were perfect! I made them for Easter and they were such a hit! I made a couple adjustments, just because that’s what I had on hand. I used instant yeast and doubled it, 2% milk, and I just brushes with butter when they came out instead of using egg mixture. These are so easy and so delecious, my new go to! Thank you, thank you!
Can you freeze these before baking.
You can. Just make sure they come back to room temperature and have time to rise before baking.
Can I develop more flavor by going for a longer, cooler initial rise? I’m thinking 4-6 hours at around 40-50 degrees F (my unheated garage). Or 6-8 hours in the fridge. Also would substituting honey for the sugar, or even swapping in a few tablespoons of whole wheat flour help flavor? I’ve never made this particular recipe, but similar recipes have yielded fairly bland rolls, and I do so want these to be very tasty.
Help and advice VERY WELCOME.
For what it’s worth – I substituted in 75 grams of whole wheat flour and increased the initial rise time to 2.5 hours at around 55 degrees. There are no dimensions given for rolling our the dough prior to shaping – just “a rectangle.” So I rolled mine to approx 16′ x 10″ and cut into 15 10″ strips which I rolled into pinwheels (wish I had seen the video before I made these), and then used the overnight rise method in the fridge. After brushing with the egg wash I sprinkled half with poppy seeds and the other half with a SMALL amount of sea salt. They baked up beautifully and tasted fabulous! We’ll make these again for sure! Might even up the whole wheat to 100 grams though I don’t think I want to go beyond that. Thanks for the recipe, you were a big part of our Thanksgiving feast.
I want to make these for a couple families. They aren’t going to bake them until the 25th of December. Can I make them the 23rd and they be okay? Do I leave them in the fridge for the couple days?
Yes! They can stay in the fridge for a few days.
Love this recipe! I made these for thanksgiving and everyone loved them! Making them tonight for Christmas lunch tomorrow! I’m obsessed with the overnight method. It takes away the stress of having to make rolls and casseroles the same day!
I totally agree! Stress-free baking is the best! So glad you all liked them.
Hi, nice video. Just have one simple question, can I substitute coconut milk instead of regular milk. Thanks
Can I use bread flour instead of All purpose flour?
My dough didn’t rise either so I looked into fixing it and I think I killed the yeast by not letting milk cook down enough. But it turned out great after I added the extra yeast and warm water with some flour.
I can’t use milk products. I use either margarine or a vegan margarine instead of butter. What’s a good milk substitute for these rolls.
You can use any non-dairy milk like oat, soy, almond, etc.
Will this recipe work with bakers dry milk (enzymes are already denatured) and an adjustment to water instead of liquid milk?
Im not sure what happened but I just wasted 4 cups of flour. My dough came out way too hard.
It would be helpful to know how many rolls this recipe makes. I was cooking for a gathering of 11.
It says to refrigerate them up to 18hrs. Can they be in the fridge longer? We are having them for dinner tomorrow but that means I’d have to make them around 9pm tonight. I’d rather make then this afternoon. Thanks.
Was easy and they taste delicious!!
Can you make these in a muffin pan?
I love knowing the science behind recipes, and techniques and tips for making them. Thank you so much for providing that in such an easy and straight forward manner. The rolls received rave reviews! I signed up for your newsletter, and look forward to learning and baking more wonderful recipes. Thank you!
For those wondering if the rolls can be made without eggs, we substituted mashed sweet potato for the eggs (roughly the same volume, maybe a little more) and refrigerated then overnight. They were great– fluffy and rich tasting, and a big hit. We’ll definitely make them again.
Thanks so much for sharing! That’s a great tip.
Just wondering how many ounces per roll if using the scale.
I don’t have a measurement but you can take the weight of the entire dough ball and divide it by how many rolls you want to get.