Big Batch Quick Dinner Rolls: Baking buns for a crowd and singin' away


Timer rings, are you listenin’?
On the tray, turkey’s glistenin’
A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight,
Thinkin’ ’bout a big batch of buns…

Seriously, I think I need to clear space on a shelf for a Grammy for that ditty, don’t you? Wait ’til you hear my rendition of “Baby Got Butter” a.k.a. “I Like Big Buns.”

Other hits include the reggae classic “No Gravy, No Cry;” and let’s not leave out the kiddies with ” The Stuffing and the Buns Go Round and Round.”

Hey, my feeling is when you’re happy enough, you should sing it out; and if it’s food that is making you so happy, sing about the food.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year to be happy as we surround ourselves with friends and family. It’s a busy and hectic time of year here at King Arthur Flour, but we definitely try to take time to let our co-workers and customers know how much they mean to us.

One way that I try to give back is to plan out a recipe or two that I know customers have been requesting via the Baker’s Hotline, emails, Facebook, etc. This year in the kitchen I worked on bringing a few vegetarian options to the table for main dishes, and this recipe for a really big batch of buns.

I’ve been making different versions of this recipe for years now; it’s definitely a holiday staple at our house. It makes a whopping 24 buxom buns, enough to fill a half sheet pan, or four 8″ round pans. My husband always loves to know that after dinner there will be plenty of rolls left to make turkey sandwiches for lunch on Black Friday. And my daughter would rather have a second roll than a second piece of pie. That is definitely worth singing about, in my book.

Another reason to belt out your best Broadway version of “It’s Raining Rolls?”  These beauties are on the table in just about an hour, start to finish. “Hallelujah, it’s rainin’ rolls!”

Let’s make a Big Batch of Quick Dinner Rolls.

You can mix up this dough by hand, or in your stand mixer. In your work bowl, place:

1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 cups warm milk (100°F – 110°F)
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 1/2 tablespoons yeast, instant preferred (yes, it’s tablespoons, not teaspoons)

Mix well and let set for about 5 minutes, until nice and foamy.

Using the paddle attachment on your mixer, blend in 5 cups (21 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour. You’ll have a loose, wet dough at this point but it should be quite smooth.

Add additional flour 1/2 cup at a time until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough. Once the dough starts to come together in a mass, switch over to your dough hook to start to develop the structure of the dough.

After about 5 minutes of kneading, give your dough the “doorbell” test. Lightly flour your finger and press into the dough just like you would to ring a doorbell. Just a quick “ding,” not a prolonged “bzzzzzzzzz”. The dough should spring back and fill in the indentation of your finger quickly. If not, knead a little longer and try again.

** If you’re baking the buns today, preheat the oven to 350°F. **

Once the dough is well kneaded, round it into a ball and set it on the counter with your bowl inverted over the top. This makes a handy-dandy little proofing place. You can go the traditional plastic wrap route, but your dough will only be rising about 15 minutes so I try not to waste the wrap on such a short rise.

To test to see if your dough is sufficiently risen, you’ll be using your finger again but this time you’ll be doing a “poke” test. Flour your finger, and press into the dough up to your first knuckle. This time, you’re looking for the indentation to stay in the dough when you pull your finger out.

Pat the dough out to a rough rectangle, about 1/2″ thick. Cut into 4 long strips, then cut each strip into 6 small squares. Voilà, 24 buns in the making.

Roll your dough into 24 buns and pan up the way that works best for you. Here I’ve used 4 bake and give pans, with 6 buns each.

If you’re baking now, let the buns rise for about 15  minutes until they’re full and round. Remember, they still need a little room to grow in the oven, so don’t let them go overboard.

Bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden browned and fragrant. Serve warm with plenty of fresh butter and gallons of gravy. “Gravy, gravy, give me your answer true. I’m half crazy (crave-y?), all for the love of you…”

If you’re planning to freeze the buns, only let them rise for about 10 minutes on the counter. Then, wrap well in freezer-safe bags, or a double layer of bread bags. Seal well and place in the freezer for up to 4 weeks.

To bake after freezing, remove the wrapped buns from the freezer the night before you want to bake them and let them thaw in the fridge overnight. Bake at 350°F, adding about 5 to 10 extra minutes to the baking time to account for the chilled dough.

Here’s how I do these rolls at home. A half sheet pan lined with parchment paper holds one batch of rolls perfectly.

I know, at this point you’re expecting me to burst into song one more time, but I’m sorry, I just can’t do it.

Why? I’m too busy eating rolls! So, now it’s your turn to sing about food. Share your best food song, real or made up, in our comments section.

Please bake, rate, and review our recipe for Big Batch Quick Dinner Rolls.

Print just the recipe.

Looking for other great roll recipes? Check out these favorites: Dark & Soft “Chain Restaurant” Rolls , Ham and Cheese Buns, Honey Whole Wheat Rolls.

MaryJane Robbins

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...


  1. KB

    These rolls were delicious, but looked anemic to me. I placed fresh butter after pulling from the oven, but any other tips to enhance the brown color on top? The butter added a soft sheen, that was difficult to appreciate hours later.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi KB, it sounds like your rolls could have used another 5 minutes in the oven to get the tops to fully brown. (If you have a convection setting on your oven, try turning it on for the last 5 minutes to get nicely golden tops.) You can also try increasing the amount of sugar in the dough to 1/4 cup, which will increase the caramelized color. Last tip? Brush the rolls with an egg wash before putting them into the oven. You can save the butter for slathering on the rolls when you eat them. Good luck! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’re glad you asked, Kimberly. We have a video on our website showing how to do just that: shaping dinner rolls. It involves a little folding, pinching, and rolling. It’s easier than you think! Kye@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Shirley, while sourdough can be used to leaven dinner rolls like these, the rise times would be significantly longer, so we would no longer consider them “quick”. If you’re interested in experimenting with the process, our article entitled “Adding sourdough to a recipe”, can help guide your substitution. Best of luck and happy baking! Mollie@KAF

  2. Isabel

    Hello! I’m relatively new to baking and I was just wondering about the first step of this recipe. If you’re using instant yeast, why do you let it sit? Is that something that would affect flavor or texture? Thanks!

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      Hi Isabel,
      While the yeast is an instant yeast, it still needs time to activate and produce the bubbles needed to lift the dough. It happens pretty quickly in this recipe, but still needs a bit of time. ~MJ

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sunny, even though there’s a small amount of sugar in these rolls, it is difficult to detect sweetness in the final rolls. If you want them to be slightly sweet, consider brushing the baked rolls with a bit of honey butter while they’re still warm. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  3. loopner

    I froze about a dozen dough balls when I made at Thanksgiving (half wheat and half are your white recipe). They were good then, but will not rise today. That’s only 3 weeks – so disappointed! I do not understand what Rhodes’ secret is. Anyone know?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We can help with this! The secret is revealed in our Freeze and bake rolls article on our blog. We’ll give you a little hint to secret to success… it requires skipping the first rise and going right to freezing. That way the yeast still has some of its energy left to rise when they thaw. I hope that helps! Kye@KAF

  4. Janel

    I have a Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, that is about 2 hours away so i need to make the rolls today! Should I bake and freeze them or just leave them in a air tight bag?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Janel, if you’re just trying to keep your rolls overnight, you can wrap them in plastic or store them in airtight bags — no need to freeze unless you’d like them to last longer than 3 days. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  5. Jaky

    I’ve been making these rolls for two years now, these are super easy to make and very delicious… they will fly from the bread basket !
    Now I’m wondering if you could fold the dough like the parker house rolls?

  6. Rebecca

    Hi, making these for Thanksgiving Dinner this year. I want to make them on Saturday or Sunday prior. Once kneaded and proofed for 15 minutes, shaped and allowing to proof again for 10 minutes, will I then place evenly spaced on a cookie sheet, allow to freeze solid and then put into freezer safe bags? Also, If i take them out of the freezer on Wednesday to thaw will they be ok in the fridge until 2:30-3:00 pm Thursday? I plan to cook them around 3:30 or 4:00pm

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Rebecca, you’ve got the whole process prior to freezing down! 18 hours or more is a little longer than we’d like for these to sit in the fridge, but they should still be ok. If possible, we’d try to bake them off in the morning rather than the afternoon; but if not, you might try reducing the yeast a bit (down to 2Tbsp from 2.5) to help slow the rise in the fridge. Happy holiday baking! Mollie@KAF

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