Homemade Brown ‘n Serve Rolls

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Serve freshly baked rolls at short notice with these Homemade Brown ‘n Serve Rolls. They’re soft and fluffy with a golden brown top.

Thanksgiving is such a busy holiday. But it’s also one of the best! In our family, Thanksgiving is a way to connect with our family and give thanks for how much we are blessed with. Our family doesn’t have many Thanksgiving traditions, aside from all sitting down at the table and enjoying a feast together.

A Thanksgiving key item is my mom’s homemade rolls. A soft, fluffy roll on my plate will make my Thanksgiving Day dinner! If you are really busy during the holiday season you may use brown ‘n serve rolls. Today we’re sharing a recipe for homemade brown ‘n serve rolls. It’s the best of both worlds!

buttered dinner roll split in half

Why you’ll love these rolls:

  • Homemade rolls that you don’t have to take the time to make the day of Thanksgiving.
  • Classic Amish recipe from our favorite cookbook.
  • Bake your rolls halfway, then freeze and bake the rest of the way when you need them.
  • Soft, fluffy and golden brown!

Working with Yeast

If you’re unsure about making your very own yeast rolls, let me assure you. I used to not be that comfortable using yeast either. What type of yeast is best? How do I know how warm enough to make the water so the yeast will activate but yet cool enough so it won’t die?

We used active dry yeast for this recipe. Be sure to read the back of your yeast packet and add the yeast according to the instructions. Every type of yeast is different!

Use a thermometer to test the water to make sure your yeast will work. For this recipe, the water should be anywhere from 110 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit. If the yeast is activating correctly, it will get bubbly and frothy and start dissolving.

**We LOVE our Thermoworks ThermaPen to quickly test water temperatures. This probe thermometer is AMAZING.  Get it here.**

half of a dinner roll on top of other rolls

How to Make Brown and Serve Rolls

Here are some tips when making the rolls.

  • Because of the yeast, this dough needs to rise 3 times. I know it seems like a lot of time, but that’s what makes these rolls fluffy and delicious. You need that rising time to get that perfect homemade bread flavor. Plan ahead!
  • If you only have salted butter, lower the salt to ½ tablespoon.
  • Bread flour works great, but you can use all purpose flour if you’d like.
  • We used a stand mixer to knead the dough. You can use your hands if you’d like. Just don’t add too much flour while kneading. The dough should be slightly tacky to touch.
  • After your rolls have risen, you bake them at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. The rolls should not be browned at all. In fact, they won’t look a whole lot different than when you popped that pan in the oven.
  • Allow the rolls to cool, put them in zippered freezer bags and freeze them until Thanksgiving Day or sometime when you need a freshly baked roll.
brown and serve dinner rolls in a bag
  • When you’re ready to bake them, all you’ll need to do is thaw them out (about 45 minutes on the counter or in the fridge overnight) and bake at 400 degrees for 8-12 minutes. The exact time depends on how large you’ve made the rolls. 
6 brown dinner rolls

What if my rolls shriveled?

They key to not ending up with shriveled rolls is to cook them correctly the first time. If the rolls are not done when you pre-bake them, they will shrivel as they cool. Cook them through (ours took a full 20 minutes). Then they’ll bake up beautifully golden brown the second time.

And there you have it! The ultimate homemade rolls! You or your guests won’t notice that they’ve been in the freezer for a few days or weeks. Soft, fluffy…They’re simply perfection.

stack of two brown and serve rolls
stack of two brown and serve rolls

Homemade Brown ‘n Serve Rolls

4.53 from 42 votes
Serve freshly baked rolls at short notice with these Homemade Brown ‘n Serve Rolls. They’re soft and fluffy with a golden brown top.
Servings 24
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Rise Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients
 

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened)
  • 3/4 tablespoon salt
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour (or all purpose flour)

Instructions
 

  • In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Let it sit for 5-7 minutes until the yeast is frothy and activated.
  • Heat the milk in the microwave for about 1 and a half minutes, until it is hot. Add the sugar and butter and allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes until it is warm to the touch (about 110º Fahrenheit). Add this to the yeast mixture.
  • Add 2 cups of flour and mix until it makes a very soft batter. Cover and allow this to rise for 1 hour in a warm place.
  • Add the salt and another 2 ½ cups of flour so that it makes a soft dough. Knead for 5-7 minutes by hand or 5 minutes using the dough hook on your stand mixer.
  • Put the dough in a greased bowl, cover it. Allow it to rise in a warm place until double, about 30 minutes.
  • Punch the dough down and work it into 20-24 rolls, depending on the size you'd like. Place the rolls in a greased pan and allow them to rise until double, about another 30 minutes.
  • Heat the oven to 275 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes. The rolls should not be browned but will be fully cooked through. Allow the rolls to cool, then freeze them in zippered bags in the amounts that you'd like.
  • When you are ready to bake the rolls, allow them to thaw in the refrigerator overnight or on the counter for 45 minutes. Bake the rolls at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 8-12 minutes, depending on the size of the rolls.
  • If you'd like, you can bake these rolls immediately instead of freezing them. If you'd like to do this, just bake them at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 18-20 minutes.

Notes

The calories shown are based on the recipe making 24 rolls, with 1 serving being 1 roll. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information.**

Nutrition

Calories: 132kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 323mg | Potassium: 47mg | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 110IU | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1.1mg
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Calories 132
Keyword homemade rolls, thanksgiving dinner

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Janet Abramson
13 days ago

5 stars
I mixed them all by hand. They taste great

Jessica
12 days ago

Can these be left in the refrigerator for a few days before baking, or is freezing them a must? FYI, the grams conversion for flour may not be accurate to how you measure a cup of flour. I got a VERY wet dough when cooking by weight.

Renée
10 days ago

I made the brown and serve rolls. The dough was way too wet to handle, so I added about a cup and a half of flour. I had no idea what each roll was supposed to weigh so I kept them around 2 ounces. I didn’t know how far apart they should be placed, so I put them right next to each other, not crammed, but a hair apart. After 20 minutes @ 275 there were NOT done and started to fall, so I put them back in for another 10 minutes. They were pretty good in the end, but… Read more »

Lid
8 days ago

3 stars
I made 3 batches for thanksgiving and I don’t know if I will make these again. They take a very long time to make and they taste more like a biscuit then a roll. They are doughy instead of airy.