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

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This recipe for homemade dinner rolls (also known as Preston rolls around these parts) is easy and results in the most heavenly-smelling freshly-baked soft yeast rolls.

A stack of homemade dinner rolls (aka Preston rolls).

I wish, so badly, that you could smell these rolls right now. If you were here, you wouldn’t even have to lean in because my entire house smells like freshly baked yeast rolls. My entire house smells like warm, homemade yeast bread and it is heaven.

These rolls were brought into the family by my mother’s stepsister, Wanda. Wanda married into the Preston family and these were the rolls that the Preston family had at every meal they could. Many old Southern families have a recipe similar (or identical) to this one with various names. No matter what you call it, this easy homemade dinner rolls recipe is revered and loved today for the same reasons it was so loved in the days of the life of a busy farm wife. They are made with a from-scratch recipe but with a shortcut that allows you to make the dough on the weekends and store it in your fridge for up to a week to have fresh, risen yeast rolls even on busy weeknights.

Fortunately, this recipe for homemade dinner rolls is quite easy and versatile. Serve your warm roll for dinner to soak up the sauce on a dish like Southern cubed steak and milk gravy and crispy breaded pork chops with milk gravy. Alternatively, make a batch during the holidays and pile them high with turkey breast and baked ham Thanksgiving dinner leftovers. YUM!

Ingredients for homemade dinner rolls.

Recipe Ingredients

  • All-purpose flour
  • Solid vegetable shortening
  • Eggs
  • Salt
  • Lukewarm water
  • Hot water
  • Three packets of rapid rise yeast

Mix shortening and hot water.

Your water needs to be hot, boiling if possible.

Combine the shortening and hot water and stir until the shortening is melted.

Dissolve yeast packets in bowl with water.

Pour all three packets of yeast into a bowl. Add 1 cup of warm (not hot) water and stir until yeast is dissolved.

Let your yeast sit for five minutes and make sure there are some little bubbles on top. That means your yeast is alive and active.

Add eggs to yeast mixture and then place remaining ingredients in separate large bowl.

After five minutes, your yeast is considerably cooler, so add your eggs and stir really well.

In a separate large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and sugar.

Mix yeast mixture together in large bowl.

Pour the yeast mixture into a large bowl and stir really well until a dough ball is formed.

The Next Steps

Dough in Dutch oven.

Place a lid on this or seal it with plastic wrap and place dough in the refrigerator. Before you go to bed, punch the dough down a bit and punch it down again the next morning.

However, when you punch it down it is not going to be huge because the refrigerator coldness really slows the growth of the yeast, which is why this recipe works so well.

Dough on floured surface.

Two hours before you want rolls, take out as much yeast dough as you like and place it on a floured surface.

This is a little more than half of my dough. This entire recipe makes about two dozen but the beauty is that you can make just a few at a time if you like and have homemade rolls all week long!

Knead dough just a few times by pressing it into a ball and then flattening it a little bit with the heel of your hands. Repeat that twice and you’re good.

Cutting dough into rolls.

Pat it out to about 1/2-inch thickness or as thick as you want. These are closer to an inch because I wanted big old tall rolls. I was also photographing this at 6:00 am and getting hungrier with every picture!

Cut them out with a biscuit cutter or drinking glass.

Place rolls in pan and let sit to rise.

Place on a greased baking sheet or pan, cover, and set aside to rise for two hours.

Two hours later…

Dinner rolls ready to go into oven.

Look at these beautiful rolls! Now you can put them straight into the oven or you can do one of two things:

  • Brush them with melted butter to help them brown a little bit.
  • Brush them with a mixture of one whole egg and a tablespoon of water to get them nice and golden (that is what I did for this post).

Lil’ secret: Sometimes I sprinkle a few grains of coarse salt on top of each dinner roll, too.

Homemade dinner rolls fresh from the oven.

Bake these at 425 for 15 to 20 minutes, or until your baked rolls are golden.

This is the part where I remember to tell you that if you have my first book, this recipe is on page 230.

Let’s talk about how your kitchen smells right now. Like the best granny from the old days has come to visit and spent weeks making fresh homemade bread for you to enjoy, hot from the oven and slathered in freshly made butter, each day. Think I’m kidding? Just try this easy dinner rolls recipe and see.

Stack of homemade dinner rolls.

These are wonderful anytime. However, my favorite time to have a deliciously soft dinner roll is as soon as they are just cool enough to get out of the pan without burning the tar out of yourself, while steam is still rising from the bread and the kitchen is filled with the smell of hot yeast bread, fresh from the oven.

Storage

  • This dinner roll dough will last covered in the refrigerator for up to one week, so you can enjoy freshly-baked homemade dinner rolls all week long.

Recipe Notes

  • I use Red Star rapid-rise yeast for this rolls recipe. I have never had good luck with Fleishman’s (the yellow packet). It only works for me about 50% of the time (although some people do swear by it), but I’ve never had the Red Star not work, so I just thought I’d throw that out there in case you had a choice.
  • When dealing with yeast bread recipes, it is important that your water be warm but not hot. A good rule of thumb is to think “baby bath water”, that is the temperature you are going for. If you’ve ever given a baby a bath, you know exactly what I’m talking about! If you haven’t given a baby a bath before, go for good and warm but not hot; just a little above lukewarm.
  • Okay, now let’s talk about this amazing biscuit/roll baking pan I’m using for this recipe. This is one of my favorite pans for rolls as it fits a dozen perfectly. This is an enamel quarter sheet pan, 7.5 x 10 that you’ll actually find in the art department. However, it is porcelain coated and perfectly safe for food. Other pans like this you’ll find in the kitchen department. I learned about these from food stylists who worked on my first book and you’ll see them in Come Home To Supper. You can also see this tray back on a post for my Amish Revel Bars that I did in 2013. I bought this one on Amazon for less than $10 with free shipping. To see it, click here

Recipe Variations

  • For garlic-flavored bread rolls, add a teaspoon of garlic powder to the dough or brush the rolls with a combination of minced garlic and butter before baking.
  • You could also add 1 to 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh herbs, like rosemary or parsley, to the bread dough.
  • For cheesy dinner rolls, mix 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese into the bread dough. You could also add parmesan cheese to the dough and then sprinkle some on top of the rolls five minutes before they’re done baking.

You may also like these bread-based recipes:

Jordan Rolls (Southern Family Recipe)

Ten Minute Rolls

Easy Challah Bread with Honey

Soft Unleavened Bread

Easy Dutch Oven Bread Recipe

How To Make Hot Water Cornbread

Homemade Dinner Rolls

This recipe for homemade dinner rolls (also known as Preston rolls around these parts) is easy and results in the most heavenly-smelling freshly-baked soft yeast rolls.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: rolls
Servings: 2 dozen rolls
Calories: 203kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 3 packets Rapid Rise Yeast I use Red Star
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

At least a day before you want the rolls

  • In a bowl or 2-3 cup measuring cup, place the shortening and pour boiling water over. Stir until shortening is melted. Allow to cool slightly while you do the rest.
    1 cup boiling water, 1 cup shortening
  • In a separate medium-sized bowl, stir the yeast and lukewarm water together until yeast is dissolved. Set aside.
    3 packets Rapid Rise Yeast, 1 cup lukewarm water
  • Mix the eggs into the yeast mixture. Once the shortening has cooled a bit, pour that into the yeast mixture as well and stir well.
    2 eggs
  • In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add in the yeast mixture and stir until a dough is formed. Cover this and place it in the refrigerator. Before you go to bed, punch it down and punch it down again in the morning.
    6 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon salt

Two hours before you want the rolls

  • Remove the amount of dough you want to use and place it on a floured surface. Knead it just a few times (by pressing it into a ball and then flattening with the heel of your hand, then repeating two more times) and then pat it out to about 1/2-inch thick. Cut out the rolls with a small biscuit cutter or drinking glass. Place on greased baking sheet and cover, allowing to rise for two hours.
  • Bake at 425 for 15 to 20 minutes.

If you'd like your rolls to appear more brown on top, brush them with melted butter or a mixture of 1 whole egg and 1 tablespoon of water. This is purely optional.

    This dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

      Nutrition

      Calories: 203kcal
      Tried this recipe?Mention @southernplate or tag #southernplate!

       

      When a child learns to walk and falls down 50 times, he never thinks to himself,  

      “Maybe this isn’t for me.” 

      ~Unknown

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      148 Comments

      1. Great tip on the Red Star Yeast. I’m going to make these rolls, as they sound delicious. I have your first cookbook and love your recipes.

      2. I love the smell of baking bread! My mother made the best bread and buns in the world; her sister, my Aunt Helen, baked a lot of bread, too, and even though I know she wasn’t baking bread every time I went there, in my memory her house always smelled like fresh bread! I can’t wait to make these–my mouth is watering right now but since it’s 1:30 in the morning and I only have regular yeast and not rapid rise, I guess I’ll have to wait a day or two.

      3. I’m not usually home 2 hours before I start cooking. Can these be cut and set out to rise in the morning before leaving for work, then cooked when arriving home? If I waited 2 hours after we got home to cook supper my family would starve and kill me. Thanks for your help they look yummy.

        1. Hey Jennifer! The foolproof way to do this is to let them rise when you can, the full two hours, and then bake them fully. Allow them to cool and wrap well and reheat when you want them. If you set them out to rise at room temp they will rise and deflate over the course of that much time and if you let them rise in the fridge they will most likely not be where you need them to be by the time you get home. One process is way too fast and one way too slow :). What I would do if I were you is cut them out and all that jazz, put them on a greased tray, spray the tops with cooking spray in case they rise too much,cover them loosely with cling wrap or the like and put in the fridge for the day. When you come home they may need another hour-ish to rise once you take them out but that can be your call. I hope this doesn’t sound confusing as I was walking through possible scenarios while I typed 🙂 Baking fully and then reheating will be your best, no fail option though :). Have a great day!

      4. Christy, I love all of your recipes that I have tried, and that’s quite a few. Jordan Rolls are to die for, but with this recipe am wondering – do you have to put them in the fridge, or can you just go ahead and bake them?

        Thanks

        1. You can but you’ll miss two of the risings so they won’t be as fluffy or flavorful (the flavor develops over time). I was going to recommend Jordan rolls but you’re already covered there! 😀 Thank you so much Janet!

      5. I just got the post with the roll recipe today and decided to make the rolls right away. The dough came together easily and I kept out enough dough to make some rolls for tonight. They rose up nice and high but by the time I got the oven up to temperature, they had deflated to about half the size they were. It was my fault for not heating the oven sooner and getting them in to cook as soon as they had risen enough. I do have to say the flavor was sooooo good! My husband, who is a bread lover, really enjoyed them and commented on how good the flavor was. I still have about half the dough in the fridge and will make them again in the next couple of days to see if I can get them in the oven fast enough to keep their “loft”. Thanks for the great recipe, Christy. This is definitely a keeper!

        1. Hey! First of all, I’m glad you enjoyed them! What you’re looking at in terms of them deflating is that you were actually cooking them on that first rise, which is fine, but the second (and third) is where you get the volume and more developed flavor – and there is no race to get the oven preheated because it is more stable. 🙂 That is why we punch down the dough in the refrigerator, to get it going on that second rise. When we shape them into rolls and let that rise, that is the third. I think you’ll see a big difference the next time you make them and love them even more! 🙂 Have a great day, LaFern!

        1. Hey Kandice! I try to use my dough by week’s end, so about a week but it’s best not to stretch it out to the seventh day if you can help it :). I don’t generally freeze yeast dough as it can be a bit unpredictable, but the completed rolls freeze very well if wrapped up really good :).

        2. Hi
          I make yeast rolls a couple of times a week but I use lard in mine, that’s what my grandmother used.. can you use lard in these rolls instead of shortening?

      6. Christy

        These look wonderful. Want to make them in the morning–if I made them 6am or so in the morning–would it be in the fridge long enough to bake some tomorrow evening? Just too tired to mix it up this evening.

        1. I made a batch of dough this afternoon and kept out enough to have rolls for dinner tonight. After making the dough I let it rise for an hour then punched it down and pinched off enough for tonight’s rolls. I cut those out and put them covered in a warm place to rise for another hour. I put the rest of the dough in the fridge for later. I would guess as long as the dough has enough time to warm up and rise, any amount of time between mixing it and cutting it out would be O.K. Right, Christy?

        2. Yes. If you make them first thing in the morning, leave the dough sitting out for about half an hour (or so) before putting it in the fridge, then punch them down around lunch and you should be fine by supper. Have a great day, Sibyl!

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