This old-fashioned butter rolls recipe is something else. A Southern dessert specialty, it includes tender and moist cinnamon-spiced rolls in a creamy sweet custard-like sauce.
Some of our most beloved Southern dishes begin with flour. Biscuits, milk gravy, chicken and dumplings, and today’s recipe: old-fashioned butter rolls. I wish I could say I’d grown up eating butter rolls but the truth is I had this dessert for the first time about 10 years ago, thanks to my Grandmama.
So, what is a butter roll? Trust me when I say, it’s like heaven on a plate. If that isn’t a good enough description, its closest relative is a cinnamon roll. However, it’s baked in a rich homemade custard sauce that stays just runny enough to be considered kind of a custard gravy of sorts. They’re ooey-gooey, tender, and absolutely delicious. Oh Lawd, you need to make these.
Fortunately, they’re a relatively easy dessert to whip together using everyday ingredients like milk, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and butter, of course. By the way, like so many of my other dessert recipes on Southern Plate, you can use Splenda in this one. Just remember that the key to cutting down on the artificially sweetened taste is to use just a hair less than the recipe calls for (remove one or two tablespoons per cup) and be sure you don’t pack it. Splenda should be measured out light and fluffy.
After you give this butter roll recipe a go, feel free to use your favorite biscuit dough or even experiment with canned biscuits. It’s really easy and fuss-free. You may also enjoy this version using a shortcut (also known as Crescent Rolls).
Before we get baking, I have a favor to ask. Since this is a nearly forgotten recipe of days gone by, help me bring it back again so it won’t be lost to future generations. If you enjoy it, please pass this recipe for old-fashioned butter rolls on.
- Self-rising flour
- Vanilla extract
- Butter at room temperature
How to Make Old-Fashioned Butter Rolls
Place your flour in a large bowl along with the shortening.
Cut shortening in with a fork…
until combined well, like this.
Pour in your milk.
Spray your pan.
You don’t have to do this but I was in the mood.
Put some flour on a clean countertop or wherever you feel like doing this.
You can use whatever biscuit dough is your favorite or just go by this recipe. This one is gonna hold up a little better in our sauce because it’s a little drier.
Press it together to form a ball.
Then pat it out with your hands a bit and roll it out into a rectangle-type object.
Notice I didn’t get too particular here. This is an old-fashioned Southern dessert and I figure Granny was busy with kids underfoot and hungry folks marching in the door. Back in those days folks cooked their food, not built a shrine to it.
Now we’re gonna smear our butter on the rolled-out biscuit dough.
All y’all who are on the real butter bandwagon need to give me my gold star today :).
Generously sprinkle all of our sugar over it.
Then comes the cinnamon, just a hint.
The dough and sauce mixed together with the butter and vanilla are going to have the most lovely flavor on their own!
Now roll that up.
Cut it in about one-inch slices (one inch-ish).
Remember, this is old-fashioned food. It’s not supposed to look a certain way, it’s just supposed to taste good.
Place your old-fashioned butter rolls into the prepared baking dish.
Now it’s time to make the sauce!
Add the milk to a saucepan, along with…
The sugar and…
The vanilla extract.
Stir that over low to medium heat until the milk is hot and the sugar dissolves.
Pour the milk sauce over your old-fashioned butter rolls.
I hope you’ve tasted the sauce by now.
If you haven’t, go ahead, I won’t look. ~covers eyes and grins~
Bake at 350 for about 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown on top.
Grab one of your butter rolls, place it on a plate to serve, and…
Spoon more sauce on them. Enjoy real old-fashioned goodness, from Granny’s kitchen to yours.
These butter rolls definitely taste the best hot out of the oven. But if you do have leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. The roll might get soggy sitting in the sauce, so I’d recommend reheating in the oven to crisp it up once more.
- To make your own self-rising flour, see my FAQ page. Speaking of, I use a lot of both plain and self-rising flour at my house and have been known to dump whatever I grabbed first into my flour canister when it got empty. Sometimes I lose track of what is in there and need to know if it’s plain or self-rising. There is an easy fix. Dip your finger into the flour and lick it. If it tastes salty, it is self-rising. If it tastes bland, it is plain. I have to do this at least once a week but I’m perfectly alright with that because I decided long ago that being disorganized was just part of my charm. ~grins~
- If you don’t have shortening on hand, you can substitute it for an equal amount of butter.
- You can also substitute the ground cinnamon for ground nutmeg, or use a pinch of each.
- For something different, add some finely chopped apple, raisins, or chopped nuts to the filling.
You may also enjoy these other delectable old-fashioned dessert recipes:
Ole Fashioned Southern Sugar Plum Cake
Peanut Butter Pie Made the Old-Fashioned Way
Homemade Chocolate Pudding, Southern-Style
Easy Old-Fashioned Peach Cobbler Recipe
- 2 cups self-rising flour
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 stick butter, softened can use margarine
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 cups milk
- 2/3 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Cut the shortening into the flour really well with a fork. Stir in the milk.2 cups self-rising flour, 1/2 cup shortening, 1/2 cup milk
- On a floured surface, dump out the dough and press together with your hands to form a ball.
- Roll out into a rectangle (about 7×10 in size). Spread softened butter over dough and then sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over the top. Roll it up like a jelly roll and press it together lightly.1 stick butter, softened, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Cut into nine slices about one inch thick each. Place into a lightly greased 8×8 baking dish.
- In a medium saucepan, combine all of the milk sauce ingredients. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to bubble lightly. Pour over the rolls in the pan.2 cups milk, 2/3 cups sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, or until rolls are golden brown on top.
- Allow them to sit for a few minutes once done so the rolls soak up more sauce. After you put each roll on a plate, spoon more sauce over it.
At the end of a matter ask,
“What will I learn from this to make me better?”
– Mary Anne Radmacher. Submit your quote here.
Hey, Christy! My mouth is drooling already!!! Question: If using a biscuit mix, does that eliminate the flour/shortening? Thanks so much for sharing this…cannot wait to give it a try!
If you use biscuit mix, I’d follow the box directions for making biscuits exactly, just stop after you roll it out (don’t cut biscuits) and from there go right into spreading butter over it and sprinkling the sugar and such. 🙂
Hope this helps!
And don’t you dare feel bad for taking a shortcut, just makes ya savvy!
I have only HEARD of these — never tasted one…my mouth is watering…hitting print right now.
Woah. That looks amazing. I will definitely need to try it.
These are YUM!! My great aunt and my Mom used to make these! I’ve never seen a recipe either..they were also those people who were like welll you just take a pinch of this and a smidgen of that and just guesstimate your flour…I was finally like MOM…next time you make it when your guessin’ just go ahead and guess using cups and write it down…Thanks Christy for this great recipe! It sooo delicious plus it takes me down memory lane…
Oh thank goodness you went through the frustration loop with me on this one, now I don’t feel so alone! Folks who make them (and have the recipe in their head) think we’re crazy for wanting it written down and it seems from my experience they just make it for us to save the trouble of trying to show us, lol!
We need to get together and have a butter roll party!
I am so going to make these butter rolls!! I love your recipes and made the Parmesan Crusted Chicken & Penne Pasta and it was great!!!
About making bread, my story is that I perfected my sweet roll recipe when I was in my 20’s, not my Grandma’s, and my Grandma made the best rolls ever! Years ago, if a recipe was written out, they always left out an ingredient so no one could make them like they did. I added some vanilla to my rolls and had taken them to a family gathering and everyone wanted to know who made the rolls cause they tasted just like Grandmas!!! She had left that out and I think of her everytime I make my dough to this day!!
Thank you for your site that I stumbled on by accident!!!
I collect recipes and cook and bake all the time!
haha…my Grandma does the same thing,leaving an ingredient out of her recpes so no one makes it as good as she does. She also doesn’t measure anything,which drives me nuts,since my own mother taught me to measure precisely when I cook.My Grandma actually taught me to make cornbread with sweet milk and years later,my mother told me that the reason mine didn’t taste like hers was that she uses buttermilk in HERS.Sneaky old lady.
I’m for having a butter roll party. I love this stuff. I don’t remember the cinnamon either, but I love cinnamon, so hee haw….throw it in the pan! Thanks Christy!
Invite me to the butter roll party! Lol. I have been searching high and low for this recipe too. My mom used to make it and when I was a kid I didn’t care to know how to make it. As an adult, my mom could not provide a recipe but made it whenever it was requested. Now, I crave it and wasn’t able to find a suitable recipe until now! THANK YOU!! I can’t wait to make these yummy, treats as I stroll down memory lane. Thanks again!!
I am so glad you found this recipe MsJ and I hope you get the chance to make a batch SOON!!!
Man people did not have cinnamon due to: unavailability or lack of money If they had cocoa powder they used that
I make a bread pudding that all of my family loves. This looks somewhat similar… I’ll definitely be trying this.
Also, we received the package a couple of days ago. Thank you so much! We watched the movie as a family, and had an absolute blast! It was such a great movie.
oh yay!! So glad, Cara!!!
I’m a huge bread pudding nut myself. I find folks are either bona fide, tried and true bread pudding lovers or they are on the other end of the spectrum. My husband doesn’t care for bread pudding ~hangs her head in shame~ but I am quite sure I’ll never meet one I don’t adore!!!!
Glad you enjoyed the movie as much as I do!
How should these be stored? If refrigerated, suggestions for reheating? Thanks!
Lets have that bread pudding recipe
Christy, I got so excited when I saw your recipe for a butter roll. My sweet country mother in law, now deceased, made this back in the good ole days. She never had a recipe like you said, it was a pinch of this, and a pat of that, but I loved this wonderful sweet gooey dessert better than anything. As I recall, hers was more like a cobbler, and I don’t think it had cinnamon, but it could have. I’m trying your recipe this week for sure. My husband will be so thrilled to have his momma’s butter roll again.
Thanks for the memories!
Hey Darlene!! My heart is warmed at seeing I’m not the only one who has loved this delicious old timey dessert!
You know, lots of folks did it different ways, it was really one of those throw together things. You could easily do two layers of biscuit dough or even one. Sometimes Grandmama keeps hers in a log, even, and bakes it that way.
The cinnamon isn’t really enough to taste, it just adds that little bit of somethin’. I bet you could tweak this recipe to taste just like your mother in laws and I know she’d be proud to know you remembered her by her wonderful baking.
Christy, Love Love Love butter rolls! My grandmother made this for my dad when he was little and then for me too. The other day my grandfather and I were at Marvin’s restaurant in Fayetteville, Tennessee and the dessert on their buffett was a Strawberry Butter Roll and it was SOOO good! Thanks for all your wonderful recipes. I have them all saved, but can’t wait to purchase that cookbook!
My grandmother would make a butterroll for me when I visited her. She lived in Detroit and was raised in Ida Belle, Oklahoma. After she passed, I was upset never having obtained the recipe from her. None of my aunt’s or cousins knew how to make it, or refused to give it to me.
While recently talking to an older cousin was told she’d seen your recipe online.searching I scoured recipe after recipe until I found your recipe. None of others I found even looked familiar just a certain look was missing, other recipes Didn’t make my mouth water as they should have.yours did thank you. I’m 73, and after 40+I’m now content again thank you.Only problem. I’m making a at least 3 per week.
Jennifer/Christy – I live near Fayetteville and eat at Marvin’s a couple of times a month. That was the first place I had ever seen Butter Roll. They still have Butter Roll, but it seems as though their recipe has changed over the last couple of years. Sort of disappointing, as the crust is very soft now instead of crunchy on top. I am definitely trying this recipe!
~heavy sigh~ Greeeeattt, Christy, anooother delicious bread recipe …..you KNOOOOW my weakness for bread!! ~grins~ I know, I will just put in another 20 minutes into my workout. Would you pass the bread basket please?
Sista C, thank you so much for posting this as you are preserving our precious heritage in Southern recipes. Another generation can access dishes and knowledge of how to make them, through your efforts. Salute! Love ya!
Hey Terri!! Thank YOU so much for that last minute email before I sent this post out ~giggles and winks~
You know I love ya!
So excited to finally bring you this recipe, been wanting to do this one for quite a while!
~winks backatcha~ I always tell you that I have your back!
Thanks for this recipe. I am ready to lick my computer screen at the office, lol.
How would I need to do this with the canned biscuits? Kinda confused about the sprinkling of the sugar, cinnamon and the butter–do I need to flatten the biscuits out? I’d like to try this later but use canned biscuits.
Thanks!! I love Southern Plate!!
My mother use to make this for me and my daddy,I’ve looked for a recipe for ever so long,it is so good .I am 85 so you know it’s a old a dab of this and a lump of butter type recipe thank you for finding the old ones and sha
Thank you Bettie, I hope you get the chance to make and enjoy them soon!
Love Butter Roll and Tea Cakes. Do you have a Tea Cake Receipe?
I made these today. I thought they were just ok, my daughter hated them, and my son in law loved them. It was worth a try. There just seemed to be something missing even though I’d never had them before.
So, several hours later and my husband came home and started eating these rolls. He loved them so much that I tried another bite. I have to say they were sooo good “cold” room temp. I can’t believe how much better they are. I had to come back and amend my 1st comment. I will most likely make these again, but it’ll be the night before if I’m going to serve them for breakfast.