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 1 cup of 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 1 teaspoon of 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 1/4 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 3 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, but it shouldn’t be so sticky that you will not be able to shape it into balls.
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 12 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 buttered baking dish.
Cover the dish and let the rolls rise for 20-30 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.
- The tops of these rolls have a tendency to brown a lot because of the honey in the dough. Begin checking on the rolls after 11-12 minutes of baking time and cover with foil to prevent over-browning.
More homemade bread recipes:
Honey Yeast Rolls
For the rolls:
- 1 cup warm milk 110-115 degrees F
- 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast or one packet*
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg at room temperature
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus more as needed*
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into cubes, plus more to grease the baking dish.
For the honey butter:
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 2 teaspoons honey
- Place the warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer. (Alternatively you can mix the dough in a bowl and then knead it by hand.)
- Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and add the 1 teaspoon of sugar. Stir gently. Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes. The yeast should start to foam. If it does not, start over with new yeast.
- Add they honey, salt and egg and mix gently to combine.
- Add the 3 1/4 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. You may need to add up to 1/4 cup more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. The dough will stick to your finger a little bit when you touch it but not be so sticky that it won't be workable. Avoid adding too much flour as that will create tough, dense rolls.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and turn once to coat all sides of the dough ball with oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
- Grease an 8x8 or 9x9-inch square baking dish with butter. I like to use a glass Pyrex dish so that I can see the sides of the rolls to check when they are done.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times by hand. Cut the dough into 12 equal sized pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and place in the greased baking dish.
- Cover the rolls in the dish and let rise for 20-30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Uncover and bake the rolls for 15-20 minutes, until the sides are very light brown and the rolls are baked through. Check on the rolls after 11-12 minutes and loosely cover the dish with foil to prevent the tops from over-browning. My rolls took 18 minutes total to bake.
- Remove rolls from the oven. Whisk together the 1 tablespoon of melted butter and 2 teaspoons 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. It is best to freeze rolls before brushing with honey butter. Defrost and warm rolls in a 350 degree oven, covering as necessary. Brush warm rolls with honey butter.
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