Honey Yeast Rolls

These Yeast Rolls are ultra soft and fluffy, with a delicious honey butter topping. The tops bake up beautifully golden brown. This yeast roll recipe is simple to make using just a few common ingredients.

yeast rolls brushed with honey butter in baking dish

There’s nothing better than a soft, homemade dinner roll.

Some people are intimidated by baking with yeast and that keeps them from making yeast rolls at home. I’m here to show you that it’s really easy to make homemade yeast rolls from scratch.

The steps to making these honey yeast rolls are simple. I’ll walk you through how to make this easy roll recipe and give you my tips to make sure that your rolls turn out perfect, every time.

These honey yeast rolls have the best flavor because the dough is made with milk, an egg, honey and butter. After the rolls finish baking, the tops are brushed with honey butter. The honey butter adds a beautiful shine to the rolls and gives them even more flavor. They are so good!

close up of soft fluffy rolls

These rolls are made with ingredients that you probably have in your kitchen right now. When the rolls are finished baking, not only will your kitchen smell wonderful, but you’ll also have warm, soft, buttery rolls to serve with your meal.

We love to make these honey yeast rolls for Sunday dinner. They are delicious paired with Butternut Squash Soup, White Chicken Chili or Baked Pork Chops. These yeast rolls are also perfect for Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas. Your family is going to love them!

Yeast Roll Recipe Ingredients

ingredients for honey yeast rolls

  • Milk: We are using milk in the dough, instead of water, because milk will give us a richer, more flavorful yeast dough. I recommend using whole milk, but if you only have low-fat milk that will work too.
  • Granulated Sugar: A small amount of sugar adds a touch of sweetness and also helps the yeast to become active.
  • Yeast: You can use regular active dry yeast in this recipe, or rapid-rise yeast. Either way, you’ll follow the same recipe steps. 
  • Honey: Honey adds flavor and a little sweetness to the dough.
  • Salt: Salt is essential for flavoring the rolls. 
  • Egg: An egg adds richness to the dough.
  • All-Purpose Flour: Using all-purpose flour in this recipe produces rolls with the best soft and fluffy texture.
  • Butter: Adding butter to the dough brings richness and contributes to the best texture and flavor.
  • Honey Butter Topping: After the rolls bake, you’ll brush them with a mixture of melted butter and honey. This gives the rolls a beautiful shine, and the best flavor!

How to Make Yeast Rolls

Here’s an overview of the steps to making this recipe. You’ll find the full ingredients list and instructions in the recipe card below.

  1. Proof the yeast by combining warm milk, sugar and yeast in a mixing bowl. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes until the yeast bubbles or foams. proofing yeast in mixing bowl
  2. Mix the dough: Add honey, salt and an egg and mix to combine. Then add flour and, finally, cubes of softened butter. 
  3. Knead the dough until it is smooth and slightly sticky to the touch. I use a stand mixer but you can also knead the dough by hand. As you knead the dough, if it is very sticky you can add a little more flour, a tablespoon at a time. Try not to add too much flour because this will make the rolls dense instead of light and fluffy. It is ok if the dough is somewhat sticky to the touch. kneading yeast roll dough in a stand mixer
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and let it rise for about one hour, or until doubled in size.
  5. Punch down the dough to remove any large air bubbles. Cut the dough into 24 equal pieces, first by cutting the dough into thirds and then cutting each third into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a ball. You can read more about how to shape the rolls below. cutting the dough into 24 pieces and shaping the rolls into balls
  6. Let the shaped rolls rise for about 30 minutes.
  7. Bake the rolls.
  8. Brush the warm rolls with honey butter! brushing baked rolls with honey butter

How to Proof Yeast

Yeast works as a leavening agent to make bread rise. It is always a good idea to proof yeast before baking with it because this step allows you to check if your yeast are alive and active. Your bread will not rise without active yeast.

When you proof yeast, you are basically just doing the first step of your bread baking recipe and then waiting a few minutes to make sure the yeast are active. Then you will proceed with the rest of the recipe.

To proof your yeast, you will need a bowl or liquid measuring cup. When I make this recipe I use the bowl of my stand mixer.

To proof yeast for this recipe, you’ll first put warm milk in the bowl. The milk should be between 105 and 115° F, because this is the temperature range that will activate the yeast. If the milk is too hot it will kill the yeast. If it is too cool the yeast will not activate and your rolls will not rise. I use an instant read thermometer to measure the temperature of the milk and aim for about 110°.

Add the granulated sugar to the milk and sprinkle on the yeast. Stir gently and then let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes. During this time, the yeast should begin to foam or bubble. If it does, you are ready to proceed with the recipe. If not, your yeast could be dead and you should start again with new yeast.

rolls served in a basket

How to shape rolls

I find that the easiest way to shape rolls into balls is to shape them in my hands. Use your fingers to pull the dough inward on itself on the underside of each roll, until you have a smooth top on the roll. Place the rolls in a greased baking dish, with the smooth top side up.

How to Make Yeast Rolls Ahead

You can prepare the yeast rolls a day ahead and refrigerate overnight before baking. Make the dough, let it do the first rise, and shape the rolls. Cover the shaped rolls and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours. 

Take the shaped rolls out of the refrigerator about 1 hour before you are ready to bake them. This gives them time to warm to room temperature and rise a bit. Then bake the rolls as directed in the recipe.

Or, follow the directions below for freezing baked yeast rolls.

How to Freeze Yeast Rolls

You can make rolls ahead and freeze them for later. This is especially helpful when you are baking homemade rolls for a holiday meal.

Cool the rolls completely and wrap them airtight. Yeast rolls will stay fresh in the freezer for up to 2 months.

When you are ready to serve the rolls, let them thaw at room temperature for about an hour. Then warm rolls in a 350° F oven, covering them as necessary to prevent over-browning.

yeast rolls piled in a basket with honey and butter on the side

Recipe Tips

  • Let the egg and butter come to room temperature before starting with the recipe. If you forget, as I often do, let them sit for just 10-15 minutes at room temperature to take the chill off and you’ll be good to go.
  • Be careful to not add too much flour to the dough. Using less flour creates soft, light and airy rolls. This dough will be somewhat sticky but should not be so sticky that you can’t shape the rolls. Flour your hands when shaping the rolls to prevent sticking.
  • I use a stand mixer to mix and knead the dough. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can mix and knead the dough by hand.
  • To create a warm environment for the dough to rise, preheat your oven to 200 degrees F and then turn it off. You can place the covered bowl with the dough in the warm oven. Just be sure the oven is off before you place the dough inside. If your kitchen is warm, you can let the dough rise on the counter.

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Honey Yeast Rolls

yeast rolls brushed with honey butter in baking dish
Print Pin
5 from 1 vote
The BEST soft and fluffy yeast rolls! These homemade dinner rolls are brushed with honey butter after baking. This yeast roll recipe is easy to make with simple ingredients!
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Keyword yeast rolls
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time18 mins
Rise Time1 hr 30 mins
Total Time2 hrs 18 mins
Servings 24 rolls
Calories 120kcal

Ingredients

For the rolls:

  • 1 ¼ cups warm milk (110-115° F)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast* (or one packet)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 large egg (at room temperature)
  • 3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour (plus more as needed)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (at room temperature, cut into cubes)

For the honey butter:

  • 1 ½ tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 ½ tablespoons honey

Instructions 

  • Place the warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer. (Alternatively you can mix the dough by hand in a large bowl and then knead it by hand.)
  • Add the granulated sugar and sprinkle the yeast over the milk. Whisk gently to combine. Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes, until the yeast starts to foam and/or bubble.
  • Add the honey, salt and egg and mix gently to combine.
  • Add the 3 ¾ cups of flour. Use the paddle attachment to mix on low speed until the flour is mostly incorporated. Add the butter cubes and continue mixing on low speed until the butter is incorporated.
  • Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough on low speed until it is smooth and slightly sticky to the touch, about 8 minutes. The dough is supposed to be slightly sticky, but if it is very sticky you can add a little more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Avoid adding too much flour, because this will make the rolls more dense instead of light and fluffy. The dough should stick to your finger a little bit when you touch it but not be so sticky that it won't be workable.
  • Transfer the dough to a large lightly oiled bowl and turn once to coat all sides of the dough ball with oil. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  • Grease a 13x9-inch rectangular baking dish with cooking spray or butter.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times by hand.
  • Cut the dough into 24 equal sized pieces. To do this, first cut the dough into 3 equal pieces. Then cut each of the 3 pieces into 8 pieces by first cutting it in half, then cut each half in half, and then cut each piece in half once more. You should end up with 24 roughly equal pieces of dough. Shape each piece of dough into a ball and place in the greased baking dish.
  • Cover the rolls in the dish and let rise for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Uncover and bake the rolls for 16-20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and the rolls are baked through. (Mine usually take about 17 minutes to bake.)
  • Remove rolls from the oven. Whisk together the 1 ½ tablespoons of melted butter and 1 ½ tablespoons of honey. Brush the honey butter over the tops of the rolls. Serve warm.

Notes

  • Recipe has been retested, improved and updated.
  • Both regular active dry yeast and rapid-rise yeast will work in this recipe. Use 2 1/4 teaspoons from a jar or 1 packet of yeast. If you buy a jar of yeast, store it in your refrigerator after opening. Always check the expiration date to be sure the yeast hasn’t expired.
  • To create a warm environment for the dough to rise, preheat your oven to 200 degrees F and then turn it off. You can place the covered bowl with the dough in the warm oven. Just be sure the oven is off before you place the dough inside. If your kitchen is warm, you can let the dough rise on the counter.
  • Rolls will keep at room temperature, tightly wrapped, for 2 days, or in the freezer, wrapped airtight, for up to 2 months. Thaw and warm rolls in a 350 degree oven, covering as necessary to prevent over-browning.
  • You can prepare the yeast rolls a day ahead and refrigerate overnight before baking. Make the dough, let it do the first rise, and shape the rolls. Cover the shaped rolls and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours. Take the shaped rolls out of the refrigerator about 1 hour before you are ready to bake them. This gives them time to warm to room temperature and rise a bit. Then bake the rolls as directed.

Nutrition

Serving: 1roll | Calories: 120kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 137mg | Potassium: 51mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 111IU | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 1mg
Nutrition information is an estimate.
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