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These Soft Butter Dinner Rolls are the perfect reminder that bread is one of the greatest things on the planet.
I could never imagine a life without BREAD. Especially the kind that is soft and tender, yet when you pull it apart, it has a little chewy give that makes your mouth water.
So in my delicious dreams, I imagined a bread roll that didn’t need to be smeared with butter because it was already filled with butter inside. Cue mouth watering.
I believe I saw something similar maybe on Instagram or Pinterest, but now that I’ve searched for my original inspiration I can’t find it.
Either way, I’m just grateful these rolls turned out as deliciously as they did.
You basically mix together butter, sugar, and cornstarch to make the buttery filling. Scoop that filling into balls then freeze them while you make the dough. At first, I thought filling the raw dough with something frozen would completely stop the second rise, but they came out perfectly.
The key was to get the butter filling to hold its shape long enough to make it to the oven. Then, once inside, it melts and becomes a rich, buttery explosion of deliciousness.
Make these rolls for any special holiday like Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or for a Sunday dinner to wow your family.
How to Make Soft Butter Dinner Rolls
Why Use Instant Yeast?
This recipe utilizes a shortcut ingredient: instant yeast. It’s also sometimes called rapid-rise or quick-rise yeast. These types of yeast are specifically created to allow you to add the yeast directly into the mix with all of the ingredients without a need for proofing (aka the step where you combine the yeast with warm liquid for 5 minutes). You can buy my all-time favorite yeast here on Amazon.
Can I Use Active Dry Yeast Instead of Instant Yeast?
If you don’t have or can’t find instant yeast, you can easily use active dry yeast instead. Simply combine it with the warm liquid called for in the recipe and allow it to proof for 5 minutes before adding into the bowl with the other ingredients.
Top Tips for Fluffy, Soft Butter Dinner Rolls
- Avoid adding too much extra flour to the dough. The exact amount of flour you’ll need will depend on your kitchen environment and even the brand of flour you’re using. Things like humidity and altitude can affect your dough. You may not need all the flour called for in the recipe. You may need a little more. Add it in gradually, just until the dough comes together. Trust me, it’s better to have sticky dough than dense, dry rolls.
- Measure your flour correctly. I highly recommend using a digital kitchen scale for accuracy, but if you don’t have one, be sure to use the spoon and level method to ensure you’re not accidentally compacting too much flour in your measuring cups. Learn more about that here.
- Don’t skip the sugar. There’s just a touch in these dinner rolls, to help make the Soft Butter Dinner Rolls tender, soft, and golden brown. Learn more about sugar’s role in baking here.
Can I Knead the Dough By Hand?
Yes! I call for a stand mixer to make easy work of kneading in this Soft Butter Dinner Rolls recipe, but you can also knead by hand. Be sure to knead the dough properly, until the dough is smooth and elastic, to get rolls that hold their shape and bake up nice and fluffy. Check out my full tutorial on how to knead dough here.
How to Tell When the Dough Has Risen Enough
- After kneading, shape the dough into a ball. Place in a lightly oiled mixing bowl. I like to use glass so I can see how much it’s rising. The dough should be turned over to oil the top so that it doesn’t dry out.
- Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap, foil, or a clean towel.
- Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free location. Ideal rise temperatures are between 80°F and 90°F. Lower temperatures will require more rising time; higher temperatures will shorten the rise time.
- The dough is done rising when it’s about doubled in size and passed the “ripe” test: gently stick two fingers in the risen dough up to the second knuckle and then take them out. If the finger marks remain, the dough is ready for shaping into balls. If not, cover and let the dough rise longer until it is.
- The same finger test can be done again when the rolls are shaped and ready to bake.
What Pan Should I Bake Soft Butter Dinner Rolls in?
This recipe uses a 9×13-inch baking pan. I like to use a light-colored metal baking pan, like this one. If you use a glass or ceramic baking pan, you may need to increase the baking time, and your rolls may not get as golden brown – learn more about that here.
How to Stuff Dinner Rolls with BUTTER
- Divide the dough into 15 equal pieces. You can do this perfectly by weighing the mass of dough with a digital kitchen scale and then dividing that amount by 15.
- Flatten one piece of dough with your hands and place a ball of the frozen butter on it.
- Pinch and wrap the dough around the butter and seal completely by pinching firmly with your fingers.
- Roll into a smooth ball.
- Place shaped dinner roll in the prepared baking pan.
- Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Lightly cover the dough with plastic wrap and let the rolls rise for 1 hour, or until about doubled in size. If some of the rolls show cracks or splits as they rise, don’t worry – they should still bake up just fine.
Do I Have to Egg Wash Dinner Rolls?
Yes! The egg wash brushed on top helps to create rolls that are golden brown in color and shiny in appearance. Don’t skip this step!
How to Make Soft Butter Dinner Rolls Ahead of Time
For this Soft Butter Dinner Rolls recipe, here’s my recommended method:
- Make the dough all the way through to rising once and shaping into rolls.
- Once the rolls are stuffed with the butter mixture and shaped, cover the pan well with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
- When ready to bake, bring to room temperature as the oven preheats before baking as the recipe directs.
- If the rolls haven’t doubled in size yet, allow to sit at room temperature until they do. This may take a bit (60-90 minutes) but the exact length of time will depend on your kitchen environment, and how much the rolls rose before being refrigerated.
- The rolls are best served the day they’re baked. However, you can easily reheat the rolls briefly in the oven or toaster oven at 300°F until warmed through to refresh before serving.
- If you need to prep these rolls further in advance, see the freezing instructions just below.
More Dinner Roll Recipes:
- Homemade Hawaiian Rolls
- Ultimate Dinner Rolls
- Ricotta Herb Bread Rolls
- Sweet Potato Dinner Rolls
- Pumpkin Bread Rolls with Cinnamon Butter
For the butter filling:
- 10 tablespoons (142 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons (16 grams) cornstarch
For the rolls:
- 1 cup warm whole milk (100-110°F)
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) unsalted butter, melted
- 2 whole eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) instant yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt
- 4 cups (508 grams) all-purpose flour
For the topping:
- 1 large egg
- Flake sea salt, for sprinkling
Make the filling:
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and cornstarch until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scoop the dough into 2-teaspoon sized balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place in the freezer while you prepare the dough.
Make the dough:
- Combine the milk, butter, eggs, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add 2 cups of the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until absorbed. Attach the dough hook to the mixer, turn to medium-low speed, and gradually add the remaining flour and salt, kneading until a mass of dough begins to form. Only add as much flour as needed to bring the dough together. Continue kneading on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes or until a soft, smooth ball of dough is formed. The dough should feel elastic and slightly tacky to the touch. Only add additional flour if the dough is unbearably sticky.
- Lightly spray a large clean bowl with cooking spray and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap. Let rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours at room temperature or until the dough is big, puffy, and about doubled in size.
- Flatten a piece of dough and place a ball of the frozen butter on it. Pinch and wrap the dough around the butter and seal completely by pinching hard with your fingers. Roll into a smooth ball. Repeat with remaining dough. Place shaped dough in prepared baking pan.
- Lightly cover the dough with plastic wrap and let the rolls rise for 1 hour, or until about doubled in size. If some of the rolls show cracks or splits as they rise, don’t worry. They should bake up just fine.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and gently brush over rolls. Sprinkle with sea salt.
- Bake the rolls for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm. Store leftovers in an airtight container or ziptop bag for up to 3 days.
This post was originally published in 2019 but has been updated with additional recipe tips. Photos by Ashley McLaughlin.