Small Batch Dinner Rolls
These fluffy Small Batch Dinner Rolls are made from scratch yeast rolls brushed with homemade honey butter on top. Recipe makes 4-6 eggless dinner rolls, ideal to serve alongside your dinner for two.
I love baking bread but certainly don’t do it often enough.
Kneading homemade dough is therapeutic, but often times it requires patience.
Patience for two rise times. Patience for kneading the dough. Patience for them to bake and cool slightly before diving in.
However, the reward is worth it. Nothing beats eating fresh Small Batch Dinner Rolls from scratch.
The yeast dough actually doesn’t take long to make. Really most of the time is spent waiting. That means while it’s resting, you can finish prepping the rest of dinner.
Or make them for holiday meals. I always have a small batch of yeast rolls ready for Christmas and Easter.
If you’re scared of baking with yeast, don’t be! I’ll walk you through how to make bread dough from scratch.
Really all you need to worry about making yeast rolls is using yeast before its expiration date and making sure your liquid is the correct temperature. Two very easy tasks.
And if you’re still not quite sold on this recipe, they’re no egg dinner rolls. Whether you’re out of eggs or you have an egg allergy, you can still enjoy these small dinner rolls.
What is yeast?
Yeast is a living organism: single-celled fungi to be exact. If that scares you, it’s similar to eating edible mushrooms or blue cheese with the mold.
In other words, it’s perfectly safe to eat.
You can find yeast often sold in packets in your baking aisle.
Ingredients For Small Batch Dinner Rolls
To make your small batch yeast rolls, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- All-purpose flour: Provides structure by forming gluten and helps bind the dough together.
- Granulated sugar: Provides food for the yeast as well as contributes to browning.
- Active dry yeast: Traditional yeast used in most recipes. More on that below.
- Salt: Not only makes your dough less bland, it helps tighten the gluten strands, making them stronger for baking
- Garlic and onion powders: Optional but adds extra flavor
- Whole milk: Make sure the temperature is between 120F – 130F. Too cold and the yeast won’t activate. Too hot and it’ll kill the yeast.
- Butter: Adds flavor and creates air pockets in the dough, which contributes to a soft, fluffy texture
- Cheddar cheese: Optional but who doesn’t love cheesy dinner rolls?
- Honey: Used to make honey butter on top
You can even take it one step further and stuff your rolls like I did with my Jalapeno Popper Rolls.
Can you make small batch dinner rolls vegan?
These small dinner rolls can be made vegan! Substitute water for the milk, vegetable oil for the melted butter, and omit the honey butter.
Which yeast should I buy?
When buying yeast at the store, you may notice two types: active dry yeast and quick rising yeast.
Active dry yeast is your traditional yeast used in most bread recipes. It requires two rounds of resting and rising before baking.
Quick rising yeast is a fast-rising yeast that shortens rise time by 50 percent. This means it only requires one round of resting and rising.
My dinner rolls for two call for active dry yeast. However, if all you have is quick rising, the first resting period will only take 10 minutes before shaping into rolls.
Do I need to proof yeast before using?
Proofing yeast is a step done prior to adding yeast to a recipe. You add yeast to warm water and wait until the mixture starts forming. This proves the yeast is alive and ready to bake.
It certainly never hurts to proof yeast before using, just in case your yeast is dead.
However, as long as the packet hasn’t expired, it’s not a necessary step. The liquid in the recipe is enough to activate your yeast as long as it’s still alive.
How To Make Small Batch Dinner Rolls
At first glance, this small batch dinner roll recipe may seem time-consuming. However, most of it is resting and rising time. You can work on other tasks while the dough rests.
The bake time is 12-15 minutes, so you can pop them in the oven when dinner is almost ready.
First prep your ingredients, starting with the milk.
It’s important you measure your liquid temperature with a digital thermometer and make sure it’s between 120F-130F degrees.
Too cold means the yeast won’t activate. Too hot and the yeast will die.
I put the milk in a heat-proof measuring cup then microwave it in 10 second increments until hot enough.
If the milk does get too hot, let it sit while you measure the rest of the ingredients. That’ll give it some time to cool down.
Next, add your dry ingredients to a mixing bowl. On low speed or by hand, stir in the milk and melted butter.
Then stir in cheese and additional flour to form a dough. Now it’s time to knead.
How To Knead Dough For Dinner Rolls
Kneading is working the dough with your hands until a smooth ball is formed.
This process helps strengthen the gluten in the dough, which gives the rolls their structure and texture.
After mixing your dough, transfer it to a flour-dusted surface. The dough should be slightly sticky but not too sticky.
If it’s too sticky to handle, add a little more flour. However, don’t add too much or your dough will become too tough.
Gather all the dough pieces together and form a ball with flour-dusted hands.
Using the heels of your hands, push the dough away from you. Fold the dough in half, rotate 90 degrees, and push the dough again. Keep doing this until a smooth dough forms.
Normally kneading takes about 10 minutes, but since we’re working with small batch dinner rolls, it’ll take about 4-6 minutes.
Your dough is well kneaded when it holds its shape (aka won’t droop) and indentation in the dough with your finger quickly fills back in.
Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover loosely with a towel, then let rest in a warm spot for 1 hour.
Your dough is ready when you can leave a finger indent and the dough does not rise back up.
Can you knead bread dough in a stand mixer?
Own a stand mixer with a dough hook? You can use that instead of kneading by hand. Run the mixer for 4-6 minutes.
How Warm Does The Dough Need To Be To Rise?
Recipes call for dough to rise in a warm, draft-free area. But how warm is warm?
Your dough needs to be between 80F-90F degrees when rising.
Sounds easy enough, but what if you don’t have a warm spot in your kitchen?
One trick I’ve learned is turn your oven on for 1 minute to warm up then immediately shut it off. Let some of the air escape a bit then add your dough.
Just don’t forget about it when you preheat the oven!
How To Shape Small Batch Dinner Rolls
After your dough has rested, divide the dough into equal pieces and roll into balls.
As you can see by the photos, I opted to make 4 large dinner rolls. However, you can also make 6 smaller rolls.
Place the dough balls in a greased 6 inch round pan.
They may seem small, but the dough will double in size when it rests again. Cover again with a towel and rest in a warm area for 30 minutes.
Don’t have a round cake pan? You can put the balls into muffin cups. They won’t have that rustic look from pulling the rolls apart, but they’ll still be equally as delicious.
What do you brush on rolls before baking?
Typically you brush your rolls with an egg wash before baking.
However, I didn’t want to mess with a tiny bit of egg and waste the rest, so I used some milk. Brushing your dinner rolls with milk helps with browning.
How To Make Honey Butter For Rolls
Want to know how to make eggless dinner rolls even better? Brush them on top with a honey butter glaze!
While the rolls are baking, whisk together the honey, butter, and salt. Please make sure you use salt if you’re using unsalted butter. Trust me.
Once the rolls are done, immediately brush them with the honey butter. Let sit for about 15 minutes before serving.
How To Make Small Batch Yeast Rolls Ahead Of Time
Because homemade dinner rolls do require time to rest, sometimes it’s best to break the steps up over several days.
Bread dough rises the fastest at a warm temperature. However, it’ll still rise in the refrigerator, just at a much slower pace.
This means after shaping your dough into rolls, you can let the dough rest overnight in the fridge. Let the pan sit out at room temperature until no longer cold to the touch then bake as directed.
How To Store Homemade Dinner Rolls
Small batch yeast rolls are best eaten the day they are made. However, you can store them in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
More Yeast Recipes
Since you’ll have yeast leftover, here are more bread recipes using yeast:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 + 1/8 teaspoons (1/2 package or 1/8 ounce) active dry yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder (optional)
- 1/3 cup warm milk (120F-130F) plus more for brushing
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1/8 teaspoon salt (preferably kosher)
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together 3/4 cup flour, sugar, yeast, salt, garlic powder, and onion powder.
- Add warm milk and melted butter. Beat on low speed (with paddle attachment if using a stand mixer) or by hand until smooth.
- Add the cheese if using and remaining 1/4 cup flour to form a soft dough. Dough should be slightly sticky. However, if it's too sticky handle, you may add up to 4 tablespoons more flour.
- On lightly floured surface with floured hands, knead the dough for 4-6 minutes. The dough should be smooth, hold its shape without drooping, and indentations should immediately fill back up. Transfer to a lightly greased bowl, loosely cover with a towel, and rest in a warm, draft-free area for 1 hour.
Alternatively, you can knead the dough in your stand mixer with a dough hook for 4-6 minutes.
- Lightly grease a 6 inch round pan. Divide the dough into 4 large or 6 small pieces, shape into balls, and place in the pan. Cover loosely with a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.
At this point if you're not baking them right away, loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Let the pan sit out at room temperature for about 30 minutes before baking.
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Once ready, brush the rolls with some milk then bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
- While the rolls are baking, make the honey butter: In a small bowl, whisk together the butter, honey, and salt. Once the rolls are done, immediately brush on the honey butter. Let cool about 15 minutes or until the glaze sets then serve warm.
Rolls are best eaten the day they're made but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
First published June 10, 2012