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Homemade Rolls for Thanksgiving

One of the things that really seems to daunt home cooks is making homemade rolls.  But many recipes are actually quite easy, and there is nothing quite so good as hot rolls right out of the oven.

This recipe for crescent rolls has been a staple at my family’s Thanksgiving table for many years.  They are light and the crescent shape is elegant enough for a special occasion.

Here’s the recipe:

Mom’s Crescent Rolls

  • 2 Tbsp. dry active yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 beaten eggs
  • 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour

Click here for the printable recipe on Tasty Kitchen.

Here’s how to make these yummy rolls:

1.  Combine warm water with 2 tablespoons dry active yeast.  One of the important tips to successful yeast breads is getting the liquid temperature right to activate the yeast.  Think baby bottle warm.  If you are unsure, check the temperature with a candy thermometer, it should be approximately 110-115 degrees.  Take a look at the picture above, the yeast is really bubbling and activated.

2.  In a separate larger bowl, combine one cup milk with 1/2 cup butter (one cube.)  Heat in the microwave until butter is melted.  You can also do this step in a small saucepan on the stove top.  Allow the mixture to cool.

3.  Stir 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp. salt and 3 beaten eggs into milk/butter mixture.

4.  Add yeast mixture and stir to combine.

5.  In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add 4 1/2 cups of flour.

6.  Pour liquids into the mixture and mix until smooth.  If the mixture is too sticky, add up to 1 cup of flour until dough starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl.  (Dough will still be a bit slightly sticky, but manageable.  A soft dough will produce a lighter roll.)

7.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise until doubled.

8. Turn dough out onto a floured counter and cut into two equal pieces.  Form into two balls.

9.  Roll dough out into a 16 to 17 inch round.

10.   Using the back of a spoon, spread very soft butter onto the dough round.

11.  Cut round into 16 pieces, like a pizza.  (for larger rolls, you can cut it into 12 pieces.)

It should look like this:

12.  At the top of the triangle grab each corner and gently tug to stretch the dough.  Then start rolling toward the point.

13.  Place rolls on a cookie sheet, curving into a crescent, making sure the tip is carefully tucked under the roll (if isn’t tucked, the rolls don’t look as pretty when they are cooked.  The tip can even pop up and burn.)  This recipe makes 32 rolls and I use 3 cookie sheets.

14.  Cover each sheet with a clean dishtowel and allow to rise for one hour.

15.  Bake for 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

16.  When rolls come out of the oven brush them lightly with butter.  This keeps them moist and delicious.

I’ve eaten four of them today…  that’s the only problem with these rolls, I can’t say no to them.

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31 Responses to “Homemade Rolls for Thanksgiving”

  • Those look wonderful :)

  • oh, these look so yummy! Thanks for the great pictures I might have to try these for sunday dinner!

  • Sally:

    Thank you, thank you. I was just thinking I am tired of buying dough at the store. Do you have a pizza dough recipe? I love the pictures. I’m giving this a try tomorrow. I make pigs-in-blanket on the weekends. My past experience with pizza dough was not very good but you make it look easy for rolls.

  • Tenille:

    I am addicted to these rolls. I make them almost every Sunday. My kids love them too!

  • Nancy:

    These look super yummy. Can you give me a sense of how long these take to rise? I’m thinking I might try these out on Thanksgiving. Have you ever refrigerated the dough for a day before baking? I’m trying to do as much on Wednesday as possible. Thanks!

    • Nancy, sorry for the delay in getting back with you. I needed to check with the expert (my Mom) who has been making rolls for 40 years. I have never tried to make these rolls the day before. This recipe has a lot of yeast, which makes it a faster rising roll than some. They take about an hour to double in the bowl, and about a hour to rise on the cookie sheets. (I do not like rolls that are over-risen.) Of course depending on how cool or warm your home is.

      She did think you could make the dough the day before (do not roll out) cover the bowl with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator overnight. Remove them from the refrigerator Thanksgiving morning, allow them to warm up, roll them out and place them on the cookie sheets, cover them with a towel and put them back into the refrigerator. Bring them out of the refrigerator one hour before cooking to warm up. They will still rise in the refrigerator a bit, but it will slow them down so you have more time later in the day. Good luck with all your cooking. Happy Thanksgiving, Calli

  • Amber Polk:

    I don’t have a dough mixer and would like to try breads. How would I know it’s mixed enough if doing it by hand and does it matter if I use a metal or wooden spoon? I think I heard that somewhere??

    The cresent rolls look delicious!!

    • Amber, it is possible to make this dough with a wooden spoon and maybe some hand kneading. I have never tried it, but few of our grandmothers had any thing like an electric mixer. And they made rolls and bread all the time. The nice thing about making rolls is they don’t knead for a long time like bread. The important thing is to mix the dough until it’s smooth. good luck, Calli

  • Those look scrumptious!

  • foodteacher:

    I haven’t been this excited about bread rolls in a very long time. Thank you!

  • Thank you very much for your many projects!!!i love all your sewing tutorials and the poinsettia pin too!!!have a wonderful time for holidays!I am from Italy..

    • Diana, Ciao! I love Italy… I spent one lovely month in Rome before I was married, with side trips to Naples, Capri, Orvieto, and Tuscany. I never ate so well or saw more beautiful works of art in all my life. Thanks for your message, Calli

  • Wow! Thanks! I am so tired of the weird can ‘o dough kind, but have not had an alternative until now. I think these might be nice with cinamomn sugar in them, as a breakfast roll….hmmmm the wheels are turning!

  • Oh. My. God. I just made these tonight – they are to die for!!! :)

  • You came through on my CRAFT Rss!!

    I have always wanted a good tried and true crescent roll recipe! And love the step by step!!

    I have tons of recipes using crescent rolls (you know the whack & pop kind?) and I just can’t bring myself to buy those…….soooo nice to have a great recipe now!!

    Thank you!

  • Nom.

    I think I will try these this year.

  • pam:

    I am so glad Rachel featured your recipe on CRAFT! I will giving these a try for Thanksgiving! They look easy and -= yes – delicious!
    Thank you for the great how-to.

  • Thank you so much for posting this Calli! I think that half the reason I signed-up for so many classes from your mom was so that I could eat her food too. :) And these rolls were always heaven.

    Your pictures and explanation make me think that maybe even I can do this! And my husband would love me even more.

  • [...] I decided to try these myself using my homemade Crescent Roll recipe.  (Don’t tell my father-in-law, but the homemade dough tastes so much better!) You can pick [...]

  • Jodi:

    I made these today for Thanksgiving. They were so easy and came out perfect. I have not been the best bread maker in the past, but these rolls were a snap/

  • I’m totally going to make these!

  • I’ve been a bad blog hopper lately so I’m catching up here. The rolls look amazing. I think I need to make these. My recipe didn’t quite turn out the way I’d like. They were rather heavy. I like a light roll and I’m always afraid to roll mine out like yours but you make it look so easy, so I will try. They look magazine picture, Martha Stewart, perfectly fabulous.

  • kim:

    have you ever tried substituting these crescent rolls in a recipe for cold vegetable pizza? the recipe calls for 2 packages of crescent rolls spread out on a cookie sheet and baked, then topped with a ranch/cream cheese mixture and fresh veggies. i’m trying to avoid purchasing the prepackaged crescent rolls and was wondering if you have had an success with this recipe. thank you!
    kim

  • Christina K.:

    Thank you SO MUCH for this recipe!! My first batch just came out of the oven, and my husband thinks I’m a genius :) These are going to steal the spotlight from the Thanksgiving turkey tomorrow!

  • Christina K.:

    I have used this recipe twice now and LOVE it! I’m in the middle of whipping up another batch right now- but this time I plan to use the dough in several recipes that call for a can of crescent roll dough. My question for you is, if wrapped up & sealed, does this dough freeze well? I’d really like to be able to keep it on hand. Thanks so much!

  • Melanie:

    Do you have any recommendation as far as subbing white whole wheat flour for all or part of the flour in this recipe?

  • Lorena:

    Hello! I was just wondering can these be frozen? I would like to make the dough, half the dough and put it in the freezer for later use. Is that possible?

    • Hi Lorena, I’ve never frozen homemade rolls, but another recipe I make, the recipe for Lion House Dinner Rolls has a recommendation for freezing. They suggest that you double the amount of yeast, freezing the uncooked rolls right after rolling out and shaping. Freeze them on a cookie sheet, and once frozen, place them in a freezer bag, and press out all the air. They can be frozen for up to 3 weeks. Thaw on a cookie sheet covered in plastic wrap for 3-5 hours and bake as normal.

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