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.
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 leftovers. YUM!
- All-purpose flour
- Solid vegetable shortening
- Lukewarm water
- Hot water
- Three packets of rapid rise yeast
Your water needs to be hot, boiling if possible.
Combine the shortening and hot water and stir until the shortening is melted.
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.
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.
Pour the yeast mixture into a large bowl and stir really well until a dough ball is formed.
The Next Steps
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.
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.
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 on a greased baking sheet or pan, cover, and set aside to rise for two hours.
Two hours later…
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.
Bake these at 425 for 15 to 20 minutes, or until your 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 recipe and see.
These are wonderful anytime. However, my favorite time to have a deliciously soft 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.
- 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.
- I use Red Star rapid-rise yeast for this . 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.
- 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:
- 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
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.
When a child learns to walk and falls down 50 times, he never thinks to himself,
“Maybe this isn’t for me.”