Every year, without fail, when I ask my husband what he’d like to eat for Thanksgiving he has the same answer: dinner rolls. Not turkey, or stuffing, or any type of dessert. Just dinner rolls. I’m actually convinced I could microwave him a Hungry Man dinner and he’d be satisfied as long as I made dinner rolls from scratch.
The truly obnoxious part is, he’s a fussy dinner roll person. I’m a Parker House girl, and for whatever reason, he turns his nose at them every single time I make them. Then, last year, out of protest, I bought dinner rolls in a can and he ate the entire batch! I was pretty astonished/ashamed/disgusted and threatened to never make homemade dinner rolls again.
The threat only lasted about nine months.
As we’ve been inching towards Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’ve been sucked into the excitement of planning and experimenting with eye-catching recipes I’ve found on other blogs and magazines. After my husband lost his mother last month, we then we decided we were going to order Thanksgiving dinner (we tried it last year, and it was perfect for 4 people!) and spend Christmas in New York City, all of the cooking and researching seemed to be for nothing. Then, my husband requested the inevitable: dinner rolls.
While the rolls aren’t the prettiest rolls I’ve ever seen or made, they’re certainly the most versatile and even Mr. Roll snob loves them. I’ve made them four or five times, tweaking things here and there, and he has eaten the majority of them. It’s kind of a wonder he can still fit into his jeans.
If you’re looking for a soft, fluffy and buttery dinner roll recipe, you’ve found exactly what you’re looking for. The basic recipe is adapted from the most recent issue of Food & Wine and is straightforward with its ingredients—I wanted to bring in some other flavors I usually cook with and simply experimented using fresh thyme, rosemary, and tarragon. If you don’t have any of those herbs lying around, the basic dinner rolls are just as delicious as the herbed version. (Is herbed a word? Well, it is now!)
When I’ve made these the past couple of weeks, I’ve made them over two days, giving the yeast ample time to do its thing and rise to perfection. If your oven has the warming function, I recommend using it for the first rising, as it legitimately triples the dough in size and makes a truly pillow-like roll of deliciousness. After the first rise, plop the dough out on a lightly floured surface, shape it into a ball and cut it into half—then cut each half into at least 6 slices. If you want smaller rolls (and waist-friendly portions), cut more slices so you have lots of rolls.
The rolls are baked in one casserole dish (or two if using smaller casserole dishes to bake them with staggered finishing times), placed together like a puzzle, and while they’re warm from the oven, pulled apart from one another. The plain ones are delicious with jam and butter, while the ones with herbs are the perfect vehicle for an on-the-go miniature sandwich stuffed with turkey (or ham), stuffing, cranberries, and gravy. If by some miracle, they’re just as delicious the next day after being lightly toasted in the toaster oven or reheated in the oven.
If you’re looking for other Thanksgiving recipes, check out our savory mushroom turnovers, southwest inspired cornbread dressing, chocolate pumpkin cupcakes, and maple bourbon sweet potato mash for inspiration. Also, be sure and check out our 7 foolproof tips on stress-free hosting!
- 8 tablespoons, melted and cooled unsalted butter
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup, warmed whole milk
- 2, at room temperature large eggs
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon, optional fresh thyme or tarragon
- 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
Note: if you want to add the fresh herbs, add them with the milk, butter and eggs.