Easy Yeast Rolls (Southern Family Recipe)

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A Southern family recipe, these easy yeast rolls are perfectly soft and fluffy. Enjoy these homemade dinner rolls with any Southern supper.

Easy yeast rolls

Today I’m sharing a family recipe.  These yeast rolls are deliciously soft and fluffy morsels of homemade bread whenever an occasion calls for them. I call them easy yeast rolls because let me tell you, they are very easy to make as far as yeast bread goes. I promise there’s minimal kneading and proofing involved to make these homemade dinner rolls.

To get started, you’re going to need some bread-baking essentials: flour, shortening, sugar, salt, eggs, yeast, and butter. If you take out the yeast we’re basically making a cake! The first step is to mix our dough, which is easy enough. Then we need to let the dough rise for 20 minutes before kneading it a few times.

Down below I’ve included two methods for baking my yeast rolls. You can form them into ordinary dinner rolls or roll them up so they look similar to croissants. Either way, the next step is the same. All you’re going to do is let them rise for another 20 minutes and then it’s time to bake for 25 minutes. Then you’ll have a scrumptious batch of golden brown bread rolls ready to serve to your family and friends.

I hope your family enjoys this homemade yeast roll recipe as much as mine does. I especially like to make them whenever I bake ham, Turkey, or Slow-Roasted Beef then I use leftover rolls and meat to make little sandwiches the next day. Yum yum yum! Keep scrolling to the end of the post for even more bread and roll recipes and the recipe card.

Labeled ingredients for easy yeast rolls.

Recipe Ingredients

  • All-purpose flour
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Instant yeast
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Eggs
  • Melted unsalted butter

Helpful Kitchen Tools

How to Make Easy Yeast Rolls

Measure dry ingredients into a mixing bowl.

Measure your dry ingredients (sugar, salt, 2 cups of flour, and yeast) into a large mixing bowl.

Cut in shortening with a fork.

Cut in shortening with a long-tined fork.

You can use a fancy pastry cutter if you want to but that’s just one more thing to clutter up my kitchen so I got rid of it years ago.

Add eggs to mixing bowl.

After you get your shortening cut up in there real good, add your eggs.

Mix eggs into dough.

And mix them in there.

Yeast roll dough.

Like so.

Add melted butter to mixing bowl.

Now we add our melted butter. 

You want to melt this and then give it time to cool so that it isn’t too hot.

Add flour to mixing bowl.

Add the remaining flour.

Add water to mixing bowl.

Finally, add the water, making sure the water is the temperature of baby’s bath water.

If you don’t know what temperature a baby’s bath water is then you could always go borrow a dirty baby, I suppose…

Stir that up well.

It’s going to look like a lumpy blob when you’re done.

Cover bowl with a dish towel for 20 minutes.

Cover that with a towel and let it sit for 20 minutes.

Easy yeast roll dough after it proofs.

After 20 minutes, it’s going to look like an even bigger lumpy blob.

This is good. You have done well, grasshopper.

Place dough on a floured surface.

Now we need to flour a surface and pour our blob of yeast roll dough out onto it.

I just put out a sheet of waxed paper to save cleanup and sprinkle a good bit of flour over it so my dough doesn’t stick.

Now it’s time to knead your dough.

Knead yeast roll dough by hand.

How to knead the dough

Okay, so you need to knead your dough ball a time or two.

What I do is just put some flour on my hands, press the dough into a ball, and then smoosh it out with the heel of my hand. Then put it into a ball again and smoosh it out again with the heel of your hand.

Then wonder what crazy person decided to call that part of your hand a heel because that makes no sense at all to me.

From here there are two ways you can go with these easy yeast rolls.

I’ll start with my favorite and the less-maintenance one.

I like this method best because it’s easy and ends up yielding larger and smaller rolls which seem to suit company better anyway.

Kneaded dough.

The first method

After kneading your dough two or three times, shape it into a rectangle.

If it doesn’t look like a perfect rectangle to you then squint your eyes until it does…

Cut dough using pizza cutter.

Cut into strips with a pizza cutter.

And then cut crosswise.

Place yeast rolls in baking dish.

Spray a 9×13 casserole dish or baking dish with cooking spray.

Arrange the yeast rolls into the prepared pan and spray tops lightly with cooking spray.

Cover baking dish with a dish towel.

Cover with a towel and let them rise for 20 minutes.

Yeast rolls after proofing.

After 20 minutes, they should look like this.

Preheat the oven to 350 and bake for about 25 minutes.

Baked easy yeast rolls.

How good do these homemade yeast rolls look?

Brush yeast rolls with butter once baked.

Brush the baked rolls with melted butter or margarine when done.

Baked yeast rolls in baking dish.

Look at how fluffy they are!

Baked easy yeast rolls with butter.

Enjoy with a spread of butter.

Knead dough into a circle.

The second method

Pat your dough out into a circle, about twelve inches in diameter.

Cut yeast roll dough with a pizza cutter.

With a pizza cutter, cut the circle into sixteen pieces.

Grease baking dish with cooking spray.

Spray two 9×13-inch baking dishes with cooking spray.

Roll up triangles of dough.

Roll each triangle up beginning on the big end and rolling towards the point.

Place yeast rolls in a baking dish.

Space them out a bit and put them into the prepared pans.

I spray the tops lightly with more cooking spray to have prettier rolls when they are done baking and to help prevent them from sticking in the next step.

Cover baking dish with dish towel for 20 minutes.

Cover with a towel and place in a warm place for another 20 minutes.

Easy yeast rolls once proofed.

After 20 minutes, they should look like this.

Baked easy yeast rolls.

 Preheat the oven (without rolls in it) to 350 and bake for about 25 minutes.

Plate of easy yeast rolls.

Brush with melted butter or margarine when done or serve with a spread of butter.

Another delicious option is mixing the butter with honey for a sweet honey butter topping.

They both look mighty good to me!  


Store homemade dinner roll leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Recipe Notes

  • The thing about yeast bread that is most tricky to folks is getting their liquid ingredients at the right temperature. A good rule of thumb that has always served me well has been to make sure liquids are about the same temperature as baby’s bath water. Yes, I stick my finger in the melted butter, it doesn’t hurt anyone. If it’s as warm as a baby’s bath water, but not hot, then it is a great temperature.
  • I’m using instant yeast (also known as rapid-rise yeast), but you can also use active dry yeast. The rolls will just take longer to rise.
  • For richer bread dough, swap the water for milk.
  • Want to add some flavor to your homemade yeast rolls?
    • Add 2 tablespoons of fresh or dried chopped rosemary.
    • Add 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese (any cheese works).
    • Make garlic and herb dinner rolls by adding 2 teaspoons of dried herbs or 1 teaspoon of garlic powder.

Recipe FAQs

Instant yeast jar.

What kind of yeast should I use?

I don’t like to use packets of yeast because I have the patience of a nervous lizard. So I use this Fleischmann’s instant yeast jar you can purchase besides the packets. This way I just measure it out. The back of the jar will tell you how many teaspoons equal a packet. Bonus: this little jar will keep forever if you put it in your fridge.

If your yeast rolls aren’t light and fluffy and come out hard, there are two main reasons why. You either added too much flour or didn’t give them enough time to proof before baking. Follow the recipe to a tee and you should be a-okay.

No, you don’t have to bake these yeast rolls immediately. After shaping them and placing them in the baking dish, what you can do is cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Then let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking as instructed.

Can you leave yeast rolls out overnight to rise?

As above, you don’t want to leave them at room temperature overnight but let your yeast rolls rise in the fridge overnight instead.

Unfortunately, yes, you can over-knead yeast rolls, which results in tough and chewy bread. If the dough becomes difficult to stretch, you’ve gone too far. I only knead my dough about 3 or 4 times and that’s plenty for this recipe.

You can brush dinner rolls with butter before, during, or after baking. The choice is yours.

Do yeast rolls need to rise twice?

Yes, yeast rolls do need to rise twice. The first is allowing the dough to rise and then the second allows the shaped rolls to rise.

Yes, covering yeast rolls is strongly recommended, as the dough needs both a warm and moist space to rise.

What temperature is best for baking rolls?

The best temperature for baking rolls is 350 degrees.

Should you use boiling water for yeast?

No, if you use boiling water for yeast it will kill the yeast’s active ingredient. Warm water is the way to go.

You may also like these quick bread & roll recipes:

Spoon Rolls

Quick Mayonnaise Dinner Rolls

Homemade Dinner Rolls (a.k.a Preston Rolls)

Soft Unleavened Bread

Easy Orange Rolls

Old-Fashioned Butter Rolls

Plate of easy yeast rolls.

Easy Yeast Rolls

A Southern family recipe, these easy yeast rolls are perfectly soft and fluffy. Enjoy these homemade dinner rolls with any Southern supper.
Prep Time: 50 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: bread, rolls
Servings: 12
Calories: 196kcal


  • 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 2 packets instant yeast
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1.5 cups warm water


  • Place dry ingredients (sugar, salt, 2 cups of flour, and yeast) in a large mixing bowl.
    1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1.5 tsp salt, 2 packets instant yeast, 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • Cut in shortening with a long-tined fork.
    1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • Add eggs, beating them lightly with a fork before stirring them in.
    2 eggs
  • Add the remaining flour, melted butter, and water. Stir together well. The dough will look like a big old lumpy blob.
    5 cups all-purpose flour, 1 stick unsalted butter, 1.5 cups warm water
  • Cover with a dish towel and let it sit in a warm place for 20 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes, turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Sprinkle flour over the top and knead three to four times.
  • Pat the dough out into a rectangle that's about 3/4-inch thick. Cut into squares with a pizza cutter.
  • Place each roll into a greased 9×13 baking dish and cover them with a towel. Let them rise for another 20 minutes.
  • Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
  • Brush hot rolls with additional melted butter.


For a different method for cooking these yeast rolls, please see the blog post.


Calories: 196kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @southernplate or tag #southernplate!


“Strength comes from the inside,

but must be fed on the outside to be able to grow.”

-Richard Manintveld

Submitted by his loving wife, Deidra. 

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  1. Thanks for the wonderfully easy looking recipe. I have only used yeast a couple times in my life but really want to try these. I just copied off all of your bread recipes from last week. I do have a question that you may or may not know but at our house we cannot use wheat flour only gluten free. I use a cup for cup blend in other baking and it works fine. However, I am concerned about making bread especially when the recipe calls for bread flour. Do you have any ideas or recommendations on making this successful? I don’t mind trying once but GF flour is expensive and I don’t want to waste any if I can prevent it.

    1. Hi Lou! I am afraid I am not entirely sure. I have never used gluten free flour but I would imagine if it typically substitutes one for one it should work. Let me know how I turns out if you give it a try.

  2. These rolls are great. I have been making them since you first posted them. They freeze great too. My wife likes me to make them square and she will use them for ham and cheese sliders. I always have to make a triple batch so we can freeze some for the college kids to grab and microwave. Thank you for sharing this great recipe with us….

  3. Can these be made the day before, but cook the next day? Want to make for Easter, but with church and mid-afternoon meal, don’t think I can do it all! Christy, I love this blog and all that you do. I’m sure you can just whip it up in a flash! 🙂

  4. I love yeast rolls and I am going to try your recipe soon.I really get a blessing out of reading what you write and I laugh a lot at som of your comments thank you for inspiring us.do you really live in a place called Bountifull?there was a wonderfull movie some yrs back called a trip to Bountifull about and older woman who had to live with son and daughter in law and she want to make one more trip to her home in Bountifull and they wouldn’t take her so she ran away and got a bus anwent look it up its a good movie have a blessed night

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