Herb & Onion Rolls: whatever shape you’re in…

“Bend me, shape me, any way you want me…”

If you now hear a long-forgotten rock tune wafting through your mind, keep it to yourself – lest you reveal yourself to your younger colleagues as a True Boomer.

Yes, that song, from the barely remembered group American Breed, hit the top of the rock charts in…


As in 43 years ago.

“No kidding!”

Yeah, that was my reaction, too.

But the 15-year-old who “grooved” to those lyrics so long ago (me), finds they still have meaning today.

When applied to yeast dough.

Especially the dough for these Herb & Onion Rolls, which is a joy to work with.

I’ve used this dough to make free-form rounds, “statuesque” rolls in a muffin tin, cloverleafs, and pull-apart buns.

I’ve also tried knots of various types, and even thought about fantans – before deciding they were just too much work. (Check ’em out: they’re in The Joy of Cooking.)

Want to play with your food? These wonderfully tasty rolls are a great recipe for practicing your shaping techniques.

And when you’re done practicing, bake up a batch for your Thanksgiving bread basket. They go perfectly with turkey.

Mix the following:

3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons minced dried onion
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence, or your favorite combination of dried herbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup lukewarm potato cooking water (water in which potatoes have been boiled)*

*Reduce the salt in the recipe by 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon if the potato water tastes salty.

No potato water? Mix 3 tablespoons potato flour or ½ cup dried potato flakes with the dry ingredients, and use 1 cup lukewarm water in place of the potato water.

Once the dough comes together, knead it for about 7 minutes in a stand mixer, or about 10 minutes by hand, until it’s smooth and springy.

As you knead, you may notice the dough is quite sticky, and isn’t quite clearing the sides of the bowl. That’s OK. It’ll firm up a bit as it rises.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or 8-cup measure, cover it, and let it rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until it’s just about doubled in size.

Gently deflate the dough, and place it on a lightly greased countertop or rolling mat.

Decide what shape and quantity of rolls you want to make: divide the dough into 24 pieces (for small rolls); 16 pieces (for medium rolls); 12 pieces (for large rolls), or 36 pieces (for cloverleaf rolls).

First, let’s make large stand-alone rolls.

Round the 12 pieces of dough into smooth balls…

…and space on a half-sheet (or similar size) pan.

Cover the pan, and let the rolls rise for about 90 minutes…

…until they’re puffy.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 350°F.

As long as I was playing with shapes, I decided to experiment with different toppings, too, ranging from whole egg to salt water to a cornstarch wash. I wanted to see how the rolls’ crust color would change.

Verdict: color-wise, only a beaten whole egg makes a significantly different (darker) crust. The rest, the difference is so small as to be unappreciable.

Back to those rising rolls.

Brushing the rolls with milk or cream just before baking helps keep their crust soft, rather than crunchy.

Bake the rolls for 25 to 30 minutes.

You can see the roll with the egg wash (back row, second from left) is browning more quickly.

Remove the rolls from the oven. The egg-washed roll definitely has a shinier, darker crust.

And the second darkest crust? Check out the roll at the upper right – which had no topping at all.

Now that’s a nicely shaped roll, if I do say so myself.

Next, a different shape: taller, a bit more stately.

Into a lightly greased standard muffin pan go the 12 rounds of dough.

Let rise, brush with melted butter (for a soft, buttery crust), and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove from the pans as soon as you can, so their bottoms don’t steam.

How about cloverleafs?

Divide the dough into 36 pieces, and round each piece into a rough ball.

Place 3 balls in each cup of a standard muffin pan, nestling them into the bottom.

Let rise, and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 22 to 24 minutes, until they’re golden brown.

Like this.

But wait! There’s more…

How about making some pull-apart buns, and along the way adding 1/2 cup golden flax seeds to the dough?

Divide the dough into 16 pieces. Place 8 pieces in each of two lightly greased 8″ round cake pans.

Let the buns rise until they’re fairly puffy. They aren’t crazy risers; this is good enough.

Bake for 22 to 24 minutes, or until they’re a light golden brown. Remove the rolls from the oven, and turn them out onto a rack.

“Bend me, shape me, any way you want me, long as you love me…”

And yes, you’ll find plenty to love with these rolls!

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Herb & Onion Rolls.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. redshan68

    These look delicious! Do you think these could be par baked and frozen for a short time? Or frozen after proofing in the baking pan? Are there general guidelines as to what kinds of breads can and can’t be frozen and at what stages?

    Most yeast breads can be frozen; exception would be those with potentially runny fillings, or fillings that don’t freeze well. We find the best results (so far; testing continues) come by letting the dough rise in the bowl once, then shape, then freeze. To bake, thaw in the fridge overnight, then allow plenty of time the next day for bread to warm to room temperature, then rise. That’s how I’d treat these rolls, rather than par-baking. Good luck – PJH

  2. Sandra Alicante

    Mmmmmm. I can almost smell them now. I was lucky enough to find dried roasted onions in a large bag recently and I use those in my rolls. A bit more than you though maybe! If you really want to have a yum factor, put slivers of strong cheese on top before baking. I can guarantee you’ll have queues of people lining up because of the smell! They go really well with winter soups and stews or one of my favourites, ratatouille.

    Sandra, I’ve found the dried onion really soaks up the liquid in the dough – if you use more, you may want to bump up your amount of liquid. Enjoy! PJH

  3. ellengraf

    I’d love to prep these ahead of time – at what point could I pop them in the freezer? Shaped but NOT risen, or shaped and risen?

    Shaped but not risen, Ellen – you’ve got it. Thaw overnight in the fridge, and leave yourself plenty of time the next day for them to come to room temperature and rise. PJH

  4. sleeloo

    When you roll the balls of dough out, do you use any special techniques, such as stretching the dough out underneath your palm as you are shaping it?

    I stretch/gather the dough at the bottom of the ball, into a little knot – think of a balloon with its knot on the bottom. This stretches/smooths the top crust. Then I gently cup my fingers above the ball, and roll it around in circles, just barely pressing down, if at all. My fingers are like a little cage in which the ball of dough is rolling around. You can’t do this on a floured work surface; it should be lightly greased, so the ball doesn’t stick, but still has some traction. This is really easy to do – really hard to explain – and we’ll be posting a video of it very soon! PJH

  5. sbuchanan

    When I bake bread, my Mom taught me to use oil for the kneading process and not more flour. I’ve made my bread this way for years and it works really well for me. We use to mill the Winter wheat and then make the bread when the flour was still warm. It was really great. Being an empty nester I haven’t been making much bread but have recently made a couple of things. I love sourdough and I find that most sourdoughs just don’t do it for me. I’d be interested in knowing what PJ thinks of my Mom’s method of using oil instead of flour for the kneading process. Happy baking all.

    Do it all the time. I never flour my work surface, only use oil, except in rare instances when the dough is totally unworkable and it simply needs a touch more flour; sometimes ciabatta dough is like this. Thanks for sharing this with our other readers – there’s entirely too much flour being kneaded into yeast dough (and this from someone who sells flour!) 🙂 PJH

  6. Joy

    We were just discussing butterflake/fantan rolls the other day. Do you think it would work to put the dough through a pasta machine, then butter, stack and cut?

    Sure, Joy – I’d keep it on a thick setting, and you may need to let it rest, then put it through again if it shrinks too much. Good idea – if I had a pasta machine, I’d try it! Let us know how it goes, OK? PJH

  7. "Cori T."

    I’m sure these rolls are amazing as posted, but swap out dried minced garlic and Italian herbs for the onion and “herbes” and you’ve got a great bread to mop up the leftover sauce from a lasagna.

    Incredible work and recipes as always, KAF. Thanks for sharing!

  8. lyna

    One of my husband’s favorite jobs with the Chrysler Corporation was running a Prototype Lab, partly because he could justify buying the latest cool hardware. Seems to me the KAF Test Kitchen NEEDS a pasta machine 😉 !

  9. suad1186

    Could you use half white whole wheat for these yummy-looking rolls?
    Sure, feel free to use a combination with this recipe, but just add about 1 tablespoon more water per cup of white whole wheat flour. ~Amy

  10. ajm0212

    I made these yesterday and they are delightful! They have a nice onion-y and herb-y flavor without being overwhelming. The dough was easy to shape, I made them into pull-apart buns in cake pans which worked well. The next time I make them (will definitely be making them again!) I’ll try baking them in a muffin tin. I am tempted to buy the hamburger bun pan to make this recipe in. It would make a wonderful complement to a turkey sandwich. Thanks for sharing yet another wonderful recipe, thanks for all you do!

  11. Christine

    Made these over the week-end. What a fantastic recipe! I doubled the recipe with the exception of yeast, used 4 teaspoons. I added extra dried onion flakes, and used dried parsley. They were very easy to shape, rose beautifully and smelled heavenly while baking. The onion aroma was more intense than the taste of the rolls.
    They were great with just butter eaten out of hand, but when I added a few chunks of leftover ham with a little mustard, the flav-o-meter went straight to WOW! Winner! Winner! Will make many times over.

  12. Kathleen

    I have been making dinner rolls for years, but my recipe calls for eggs and I have noticed that a lot of your recipes don’t call for eggs. What would be the differences be?
    Eggs tend to add richness to dough recipes. They also aid in color (a more “yellow” dough) and browning. ~Mel

  13. Gfkid

    I don’t have any DRIED onion,so would it change much if i used regular onion?

    Some bakers find the taste of raw onions a bit strong, so they use sauteed or dried onions to temper the bite of the onion. Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF

  14. debbey

    living in india , want to make this can i use regular all purpose flour, will the texture different? kindly guide me. Yes, the recipe calls for all-purpose flour. You can substitute the herbs de Provence for “Indian ” herbs and spices. Let us know if you come up with a great combination. betsy@kaf

  15. debbey

    going to make this today but on whhich rack should they be baked.
    If you have a convection oven I would definitely use the middle rack. If your oven has a nice even heat then the middle rack, but if you have hot spots try and avoid that rack and be sure to rotate your pan. betsy@kaf

  16. debbey

    Made it today with Indian spices like cumin seeds, coriander powder, used pizza seasoning, raw finely chopped onion. It turned out great but I am facing a problem that my crusts are hard even though I have brushed them with milk. Could you please give me advice on this?
    Can you please teach us that how to make garlic bread? Can we get kaf products in India?
    If your crusts are tough and chewy, it could be that your dough is proofing too long and you may need to cut back on that time a bit. If the crusts are too hard, the bread may be over-baking or your oven temperature may be too hot. Check out this recipe for garlic bread and also not that there are several other garlic bread recipes on our website that may interest you. We can ship our products to you in India. You can contact us with your interest at customercare@kingarthurflour.com. We look forward to hearing from you. ~Amy


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