Old-Fashioned Butter Rolls

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. 

Fork slicing into old-fashioned butter roll.

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.

Labeled ingredients for old-fashioned butter rolls.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Milk
  • Sugar
  • Self-rising flour
  • Vanilla extract
  • Shortening
  • Cinnamon
  • Butter at room temperature

How to Make Old-Fashioned Butter Rolls

Place flour and shortening in mixing bowl.

Place your flour in a large bowl along with the shortening.

Cut in shortening with a fork.

Cut shortening in with a fork…

Flour and shortening cut together.

until combined well, like this.

Add milk to mixing bowl.

Pour in your milk.

Mix together batter.

Stir well.

Lightly spray baking pan.

Spray your pan.

You don’t have to do this but I was in the mood.

Place flour on countertop.

Put some flour on a clean countertop or wherever you feel like doing this.

Add dough to floured surface.

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 together to form dough.

Press it together to form a ball.

Roll your old-fashioned butter roll out flat.

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.

Spread butter on dough.

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 :).

Add sugar to rolled-out dough.

Generously sprinkle all of our sugar over it.

Add cinnamon to rolled-out dough.

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!

Roll up your old-fashioned butter roll dough.

Now roll that up.

Cut dough into 1-inch slices.

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 butter rolls into the prepared baking dish.

Place your old-fashioned butter rolls into the prepared baking dish.

Add milk to saucepan.

Now it’s time to make the sauce!

Add the milk to a saucepan, along with…

Add sugar to saucepan.

The sugar and…

Add vanilla to saucepan.

The vanilla extract.

Stir sauce ingredients together.

Stir that over low to medium heat until the milk is hot and the sugar dissolves.

Pour milk sauce over old-fashioned butter rolls.

Pour the milk sauce over your old-fashioned butter rolls.

Old-fashioned butter rolls ready for the oven.

Oh my.

I hope you’ve tasted the sauce by now.

If you haven’t, go ahead, I won’t look. ~covers eyes and grins~

Baked old-fashioned butter rolls.

Bake at 350 for about 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown on top.

Taking butter roll out of pan.

Grab one of your butter rolls, place it on a plate to serve, and…

Spoon sauce over old-fashioned butter roll.

Spoon more sauce on them. Enjoy real old-fashioned goodness, from Granny’s kitchen to yours.

Fork slicing into old-fashioned butter roll.


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.

Recipe Notes

  • 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

Old-Fashioned Rhubarb Crisp

Peanut Butter Pie Made the Old-Fashioned Way

Homemade Chocolate Pudding, Southern-Style

Lemon Icebox Cake

Easy Old-Fashioned Peach Cobbler Recipe

Old-fashioned butter roll on plate.

Old-Fashioned Butter Rolls

This old-fashioned butter rolls recipe is a Southern dessert that includes tender and moist cinnamon-spiced rolls in a custard-like sauce. 
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: butter, dessert recipe, rolls
Servings: 4
Calories: 119kcal


Butter Rolls

  • 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

Milk Sauce

  • 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.


Calories: 119kcal
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  1. Oh, how on earth with the great cooks in my family did we not ever have this? I can’t wait to fix it my husband is going to flip out! His Mother has passed and we didn’t get her cinnamon roll recipe down on paper and I am trying and trying to find one that is like her’s and so far no luck. If anyone knows one for me to try let me know. This will defitely be a hit I can tell with one glance! Thanks, Christy

  2. I think I just fainted for a minute when I saw the picture of them rolls just out of the oven! It was a good faint tho!
    Yum. EE!!

  3. I make a lot of recipes with Splenda and I was thinking the same thing as “cooking for a diabetic”. I think this would turn out just fine with Splenda… that is how I plan to try it out myself.

    These look so YUMMY!!!!!

    Made your banana pudding recipe this weekend (with Splenda). I felt under the weather and needed some comfort food. It was FANTASTIC!!!

  4. This looks fabulous. I will for sure have to try this one out on my husband. He is not a big sweets fan but this one looks right up his alley! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Thanks so much Christy!! I also had a grandmother who just “threw a little of this and a little of that” into a mixing bowl and gave you a little taste of heaven when it was done. Sadly, she is no longer with us. With her loss, we also experienced the loss of some of our favorite foods because there were no recipes. You helped me out with this before with your Bread Pudding recipe, and now you’ve helped me out again with the Butter Roll recipe!

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