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Easy Yeast Rolls

Just a dozen easy yeast rolls? You got it. No more, no less, and all the easy steps you need to make light, airy rolls anytime you need them. 

brush spreading warm butter over dinner rolls in a muffin tin

This recipe was originally published in March, 2014

Yeast rolls seem like they terrify way too many people. Are you one of them? Or maybe you’ve been searching for the softest, most flavorful easy yeast rolls  that don’t make a blue ton or use 3 pounds of flour to put together.

You just need 12!

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    No matter what your situation, these easy yeast rolls will do it. This version is made by rolling two balls of dough about 2 inches in diameter and putting them side by side in a muffin tin to rise. That’s how you get the split down the middle. We called these butt rolls growing up. You can see why obviously.

    If you don’t want to roll balls, just put them in the muffin tin in one larger ball or place them in a round cake pan barely touching–that’s another easy way to get your easy yeast rolls done with less fuss.

    They’ll emerge from the oven so soft, warm and begging for a smear of butter and jam.

    a close up of one dinner roll

    How to make these easy yeast rolls

    • You’ll have to tackle yeast. Yes, I know. But you can do it. If you need some help, check out my post on how to activate yeast. It takes about 5 minutes. You can handle it. You can also watch me activate yeast on YouTube. 
    • Over the years I’ve tried a lot of flours–and a lot of brands of flours–to find one that works best. I actually find that the cheaper the flour is, the better it works, resulting in a lighter dough. If you want to use just all purpose flour, my favorites are King Arthur, Aldi’s flour or Hogsdon Mills from Walmart. I do not recommend Pillsbury or Gold Medal by any stretch.
    • Bread flour is also excellent here and something that I really just started using in the last year and a half or so. I really like it here–it has more gluten in it and gives your dough more structure as it rises and I think the the yeast rolls are lighter. I like King Arthur for bread flour. You could also do half all purpose and half bread flour if you wanted to go that route.
    • Avoid working too much flour into your dough when you knead it on the counter. A little stickiness won’t hurt anything. Keep your hands floured and avoid dumping it on the dough itself.
    • If you want a stronger yeast flavor in your dough, let it rise in a cooler area for longer–the yeast will develop more fully and give you that signature flavor.

    The difference between active dry yeast and instant yeast and how to swap them

    There have been tons of questions about the difference is between active dry and instant yeast. This recipe calls for active dry yeast which needs to be activated in warm water before using it. I use active dry yeast because it was the standard type of yeast developed before instant and most time trusted recipes are written for that type–but one isn’t necessarily better or worse than the other.

    Instant yeast can be activated in water OR it can be added dry right into the flour or dry ingredients and then added to your recipe. Instant yeast does not rise faster than active dry despite the “fast rise” on the package.

    If you only have instant yeast on hand

    If you only have instant/rapid rise yeast on hand, add the water (warm) that’s used in the recipe in with the eggs and oil. Then open the package of yeast and add it into the flour before adding it to the recipe and proceed as the recipe instructs.

    Remember: Instant yeast can still fail

    Just because you don’t have to activate instant yeast doesn’t mean it will just automatically rise. Your water must still be the correct temperature (luke warm) and your other ingredients needs to be room temperature as well. Too cold and the yeast still won’t wake up and leaven your rolls.

    Not looking to work with yeast? Try my no-yeast quick rolls  and give either version a big smear of my slow cooker apple butter.

    Watch me make these rolls on YouTube

    Get instructions for this recipe as a loaf of bread here.

    brush spreading warm butter over dinner rolls in a muffin tin

    Homemade Yeast Rolls

    The perfect recipe for a dozen delicious yeast rolls.
    Prep Time 2 hours 30 minutes
    Cook Time 12 minutes
    Total Time 2 hours 42 minutes
    Servings 12 people
    Author Rachel Ballard

    Ingredients
      

    • 1 cup water about 110 degrees or just slightly warmer than lukewarm
    • 1 package active dry yeast *see note 1 for using instant yeast instead
    • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
    • 2 tablespoons flavorless oil I prefer avocado but vegetable or canola also works
    • 1 egg at room temperature
    • 3/4 teaspoons salt
    • 3-3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

    Instructions
     

    • In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water.
    • Add the sugar, oil, egg, salt, and half of the flour and mix until just combined.
    • Add one more cup of flour and mix until the flour is combined again.
    • Add between 1/2 of a cup to 1 whole cup of the remaining flour as needed until the dough comes together and is soft but not gooey. (Usually takes about 3/4 of a cup for me, but will depend on weather and humidity)
    • Spray the top with cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap.
    • Allow to rise in a warm place for one hour or until doubled.
    • Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead 4 or 5 times until the dough is slightly smooth.
    • Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.
    • Pinch off balls of dough about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and place two in each muffin tin side by side.
    • Allow to rise about one hour more until doubled again.
    • Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes and brush melted butter over the tops when you take them out of the oven.

    Notes

    Note 1: If using instant yeast, add the warm water called for to activate the yeast to the bowl with the sugar, oil, egg and salt. Add the packet of yeast in to the bowl when you add  the first half of the flour and continue with the recipe as written. 

    Nutrition

    Calories: 171kcal
    Tried this recipe?Tag us on Instagram @feastandfarm and hashtag it #feastandfarm
    Course Side Dish
    Cuisine American

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    252 Comments

    1. I have made rolls 4 times everytime they turn out heavy, I have tried a different recipe each time still heavy, I want a fluffy roll,how can I make that happen

      1. Hey Dee, that’s a great question and a common problem. The truth about bread is that you usually have to make dozens of batches–maybe more than that before you really get a good handle on how to make them fluffy. Bread is a learned art and just takes practice. Assuming that your yeast is properly activated and that you have that part down, here are the most common reasons bread is heavy:
        1) The wrong flour. Pillsbury, Gold Medal and White Lily make the worst bread I’ve ever eaten. I’ve found that King Arthur bread flour is my current favorite though I’ve had great success with Aldi all purpose, Hogsdon Mills from Walmart does well, and King Arthur all purpose is good.
        2) Adding too much flour when kneading. This is the biggest problem usually. For my recipe here, I recommend measuring out 1/4 cup of flour and using only that to knead and shape your rolls. Adding 1/3 of a cup, or more (many people knead in a whole cup accidentally!) will make your bread hard and heavy.
        3) Fiddling with the dough too much. Use a light touch when kneading and shaping balls of dough. Don’t fiddle with them for several minutes or treat them like play doh. This causes the gluten to build up further and makes them tough.

        I have Youtube videos using this recipe to make a loaf of bread you can watch, plus posts here about how to properly knead dough (also using this recipe). I hope that helps and let me know if you have any other questions. –Rachel

    2. I live in Mexico and I think that the yeast I have is instant and it is bulk so I have to measure it and I was wanting to know how much would I need?
      Thank you for your instructive videos, I just found your vids tonight, watched a couple of them. I tried making bread earlier today but it was a flop more or less. Keep the narrow way that leads to life in Messiah by trust and obedience.

    3. Hello,
      I noticed you do not recommend a couple of certain brands of flour😬 would it be terribly bad if I used one particular flour….at the moment that’s all I’ve got on hand😐

      1. You’re welcome to use what you have. Just know that some flours just don’t make good bread. If you don’t love it or it’s very heavy after you bake it, try again another time with a different flour. –Rachel

      1. Hey Maria, so freshly milled flour is whole wheat and this recipe (and all recipes for that matter) need to be written specifically for whole wheat in order to swap it here. You can exchange about half the flour in this recipe for whole wheat but the other half will still need to be all purpose or bread flour. I’d recommend finding a recipe written for 100% whole wheat flour if you want to use it exclusively. –Rachel

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