Honey Yeast Rolls
Learn the simple steps to make the best yeast rolls. These honey yeast rolls are soft, light and airy. This is the only dinner rolls recipe you need!
There’s nothing better than a soft, homemade dinner roll. But many 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 these easy dinner rolls 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 you will brush the tops with honey butter. The honey butter adds a beautiful shine to the rolls and gives them even more flavor. They are so good!
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 a dozen warm, soft, buttery rolls to serve with your meal.
Try these honey yeast rolls for Sunday dinner, or Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas. Your family is going to love them!
How to make yeast rolls
The simple steps to making homemade yeast rolls are:
- Proof the yeast.
- Mix the dough.
- Knead the dough.
- Let the dough rise.
- Shape the rolls.
- Let the shaped rolls rise.
- Bake the rolls.
- Spread on the honey butter!
Let me explain what you’ll need to know to have the best success when making homemade rolls.
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.
You may use regular or fast acting yeast (sometimes called rapid-rise or bread machine yeast) in this recipe. You need warm liquid (usually water or milk) and sugar to activate yeast. 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.
Put the warm milk in the bowl. The milk should be between 105 and 115 degrees 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 degrees.
Sprinkle on the yeast and add the granulated sugar. 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, great, you are ready to proceed with the recipe. If not, your yeast could be dead and you should start again with new yeast.
Should I knead with a stand mixer or by hand?
I always use my stand mixer and the dough hook attachment to knead the dough when I am baking rolls or bread. You can knead the dough by hand, but it takes more effort and I am all about keeping things easy!
Once your yeast is proofed you will add honey, salt, and an egg. Stir these ingredients together briefly and then add the flour.
What kind of flour to use for yeast rolls
- I usually make these rolls with all-purpose flour because that is what I always have in my pantry. You can use bread flour instead if you have that on hand. Bread flour has more protein which helps develop the gluten in the dough. Bread flour may make your rolls a bit more dense and sturdy, and slightly chewy. For the lightest, softest rolls, use all-purpose flour.
- I often replace half of the all-purpose flour in this yeast roll recipe with white whole wheat. The whole wheat rolls are more nutritious, but they are also a bit less soft and airy. I have tried making this recipe with all white whole wheat flour and the rolls were too dense for my liking.
You’ll start by adding 3 3/4 cups of flour to the mixing bowl. Mix it in on low speed using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer (or by hand). Then you will add 4 tablespoons of cubed, softened butter. Mix the butter in and then switch to the dough hook to knead the dough.
Kneading the dough
You will knead the dough for about 8 minutes total, until it is soft and elastic. You may need to add up to 1/4 cup more flour during the kneading process. Add no more than 1 tablespoon at a time and try not to add too much flour.
The dough will be fairly sticky after kneading. If you press your finger to the dough, a little bit of dough should stick to your finger. You want to avoid adding too much flour because that will make your rolls more dense, instead of soft, light and fluffy.
Let the dough rise
When you’re done kneading the dough you will transfer it to a large, lightly oiled bowl. Turn the ball of dough once to coat all of the sides with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let it rest in a warm spot for about 1 hour, until it is doubled in size.
I usually preheat my oven to 200 degrees, turn the oven off, and then place the covered bowl in the warm oven to rise.
How to shape rolls
Once the dough has doubled in size, transfer it to a floured work surface. Punch it down gently to remove any air bubbles and knead it by hand a few times.
Cut the dough into 24 equal-sized pieces. Use your hands to shape each piece into a round ball. I usually use my fingers to pull the dough inward on itself on the underside of each roll, until I have a smooth top on the roll. Place the rolls in a greased baking dish.
Cover the dish and let the rolls rise for about 30 minutes. While they are rising, preheat your oven.
After baking, brush the warm rolls with a mixture of melted butter and honey. Do this while the rolls are still in the baking dish. The honey butter will soak into the rolls, adding even more flavor to the flavorful dough.
Can I freeze yeast rolls?
You can make rolls ahead and freeze them for your holiday meal. Cool the rolls completely and wrap them airtight. Yeast rolls will stay fresh in the freezer for up to 2 months.
I recommend freezing the rolls before brushing the tops with the honey butter. When you are ready to serve the rolls, warm them in a 350 degree oven and then brush the warm rolls with honey butter.
Tips for making these homemade dinner rolls
- Let the egg and butter come to room temperature before starting with the recipe.
- 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.
- 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.
More homemade bread recipes:
Honey Yeast Rolls
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
- Place the warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer. (Alternatively you can mix the dough 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.
- 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.
- Recipe has been retested, improved and updated. The new recipe makes 24 rolls instead of 12 (as shown in the photos).
- 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.
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