Easy Yeast Rolls (Southern Family Recipe)

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, using the leftover rolls and ham 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

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!  

Storage

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

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

Nutrition

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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263 Comments

  1. Extraordinarily well put, Christy! Thank you kindly!

    When my kids were littler, and I was pulled in six directions every five minutes, I’d think, “In no time at all they will be grown – love them now!” and I’d hug them up as hard as I could. Now they’re a little older and a little pricklier to hug (you know how older boys get), but I still hug ’em every chance I get. Time evaporates!

    Who are we to think we’re the center of our universe? Who would we serve if we were? The serving is the point of our lives!

    Hats off and big hugs to you, sister Christy!

    Julia
    Lago Vista TX

  2. I admit it…I am going to be 40 years old this year – and I have NEVER bought or used yeast in my whole life!…But I think I can do it! I want to try this. Thanks!!!!!!
    Kim

    1. Hi Kim, I am 40 and then some and I have at least ~winks~ bought a packet of yeast but have never tried to use it. YET! Let’s do this together, like say, on the first day of February or something. Are you game?

      1. that is a great idea(notice I just barged in on yalls conversation), maybe all of us that are afraid of bread baking could do this on the same day and let Christy know how it turned out!

      2. I’m barging in too, but just to say I have bought yeast before. We use it to put down the commode to keep the septic lines working. Never baked bread with it. Ya’ll have fun baking the rolls. I don’t think I can knead the dough.

        1. Now I’m barging in (but we’re all here chatting so I don’t ever actually see it as barging when we converse on the comment thread, its more like “being social”)
          I’m wondering if I should do a video of making these, what do y’all think?

          Wanna hear something funny? My MOTHER has never made yeast rolls, either!!!

          Let me know if you think a video might be helpful and I’ll do it mid Feb.
          Gratefully,
          Christy 🙂

  3. Thanks so much for the roll recipe. I’ve been searching all over, looking for different ways to make them and bought countless bags of flour trying them out. I’ll add this one and do my best not to pig out on them.

    I hope everything gets back to “normal” soon or at least slows down for you. Normal is relative of course.. but not a word you’d use talking about my relatives lol.

    Love ya kiddo!

  4. Thanks for the laugh…borrow a dirty baby! HA!

    These look SO good…might have to just go make some right now! I love your website!

  5. Those rolls look so good! I bet they taste and smell as good as they look. I will have to try to make these sometime soon. I am normally afraid of using yeast but you make this look so easy.

  6. OMG! These sound so heavenly. I am a Foodservice Manager for a Middle School. Ironically we have rolls tomorrow and I am going to try cutting our dough with a pizza cutter.
    Volunteering for homework – due tomorrow – will post pics tomorrow night. I feel as if you are my family. I can’t wait to check in – I admit when I’m not working – several times a day. Just to make sure I won’t miss something. You not only inspire me but give me several laughs a day. Funny how God brings people in our lives, huh?

    1. ~Hugs Kathy~

      I feel the exact same way, Kathi. Thank you for being “family” for me!

      It’s amazing to have such wonderful people in my life. I don’t know how I ever got so lucky or so blessed.

      Gratefully,
      Christy

  7. You never cease to amaze me, Christy. Your positive outlook and way of looking at life and the ways of the world is motivating. You inspire me to be a better person in every way. Thank you for your words of wisdom AND your humor. Thank you too for the Jordan rolls recipe. I shall try it one day, seeing as I have never, ever tried baking bread with yeast and find it intimidating. This post, step by step seems like I just might be able to handle it.

    1. Don’t know what I’d do without ya, Terri.

      When I read things like this, you make me want to meet me!

      ~hugs~
      Thank you for all of your support and friendship. And to think I met you through Southern Plate! lol

      Gratefully,
      Christy

      1. You are so very welcome, my sweet friend. Likewise for your support and friendship that helps to keep me sane. Well….sort of……

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