From our kitchen to yours: favorite Thanksgiving dinner rolls

When you think Christmas baking, you think cookies, right?

And when you think Thanksgiving, the first thing that springs to mind is probably pie.

Or not. If you’re a bread “apprecianado” like me, the very first Thanksgiving baking decision you need to make is, “Which dinner rolls will I make this year?”

Maybe you have your favorite, the rolls you make year in and year out. You know, the ones you have to bring to the table, lest everyone give you the sad eyes and fading smile. “You didn’t make your rolls this year? Oh, I was SO looking forward to them…”

For me, those rolls had always been Golden Pull-Apart Butter Buns – until last year, when I pulled a fast one on the crowd and substituted Amish Dinner Rolls: a slightly heavier, slightly moister, just-as-delicious roll.

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And guess what? No one knew the difference. The whole family, from 3-year-old Elizabeth to 90-something Gram, was uniformly happy with my “squishy white rolls.”

And that’s the goal after all, right? Happiness. Thankfulness. For pumpkin pie, the love of family, shelter from the storm, and the freedom to gather together. For safe travel (sorry for your troubles, Buffalo!); and for a day spent relaxing (you have our sympathy, all of you who have to work).

And last but certainly not least – for dinner rolls.

What rolls will you be baking this year? Our King Arthur Flour Bakery churns out thousands of dinner rolls these last few days before Thanksgiving. Their recipe: Walter Sands Basic White Bread, an entirely fitting tribute to the Sands family, whose energies built and nurtured King Arthur Flour for over two centuries.

Pictured at the top of this post, with some of those thousands of Walter Sands rolls, are Lidia, Lucas, Angie, and Rob, four members of our crazy-busy Bakery crew.

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MaryJane Robbins (MJ, as you’ll often see her referred to here) is one of our long-time bloggers and a member of our customer service baker’s team. She’s someone you may have connected with on our baker’s hotline, or via live chat or email. A talented cookie decorator (and Easter-egg artist), as well as a cake fiend, MJ says flat-out, hands-down, no-question: Big Batch Quick Dinner Rolls are a given on her Thanksgiving table.

Says MJ, “Our family loves making sandwiches with Thanksgiving leftovers. Having plenty of these rolls on hand means sammies for everyone!”

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Sue Gray, a long-time King Arthur Flour employee-owner, started in our Baker’s Store, then moved to the test kitchen and eventually became head of product development, a post she’s held for many years. If you enjoy any of our many delicious mixes or wildly successful gluten-free products – thank Sue.

These rolls – aptly named Sue’s Favorite Potato Rolls – are a Thanksgiving must-have in the Gray house. “Butter in the dough plus extra butter brushed over their crust while they’re warm from the oven really take these over the top,” says Sue.

PJ_Rolls-8 Susan Miller, director of our Baking Education Center, is a seasoned, devoted – one would even say passionate – bread baker. When asked if she has a favorite Thanksgiving roll, she’s quick to offer these light, crusty rolls made with an overnight starter: Susan’s Crusty Thanksgiving Rolls.

Says, Susan, “The idea for these came to me in a dream one night, and I was so excited I woke up and wrote the recipe down.”

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Dream rolls, indeed!

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OK, here I am, in my usual pre-Thanksgiving stance: hauling rolls out to the car. I haven’t spent Thanksgiving at home for 38 years, so “Let’s roll” has a double meaning when Turkey Day comes around.

You’ve already read about my sly roll substitution from last year: this year, I’m making sure everyone’s happy with those Amish Dinner Rolls, but adding two more types as well:

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Golden Pumpkin Dinner Rolls, and Sour Cream & Chive Potato Rolls.

The former are light-textured, elusively sweet, and bright gold. The latter, extra-flavorful from their sour cream and fresh chives (surprisingly, still green and growing in my frost-browned garden). Both are solidly in the “squishy white roll” camp – so I have every hope my family, despite their new devotion to Amish Dinner Rolls, will give them a try.

So, that’s the roll roundup from King Arthur Flour, here in cold (but thankfully not yet snowbound) Vermont. What rolls are you baking this year? Please share with us and your fellow readers in “comments,” below.

And whatever you bake, wherever you go, just remember: give thanks for the food in your larder, the roof over your head, and the loving companions around your table.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Couldn’t resist one more favorite: Honey Wheat Rolls, for those who enjoy throwing whole grains into the mix.

 My special thanks to colleague Julia Reed, who took most of the pictures in this post.

PJ Hamel
About

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!

comments

  1. jencoym

    I made the Amish Dinner Rolls after Thanksgiving- they were very popular! I used up my leftover mashed potatoes too, and the peels we leave on when we mash the potatoes created no problem for the rolls.

    Thank you KA! You all are always a go-to source for me on baking recipes. 🙂

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Glad the Amish Dinner Rolls were a post Thanksgiving hit! And what a great way to use leftover mashed potatoes–with or without skins! Barb@KAF

  2. Julie In The Berkshires

    For the last 15 years or so, Thanksgiving has been at my brother’s home because it was closer for my folks who didn’t have to drive so far to one of our homes. Steve always made the stuffing from scratch and I couldn’t get enough of it. We each brought a part of it and the meal was traditional and completely delicious from start to finish. This year, Dad passed away in April…Mom left us in 2002…and my sister immediately said she’d like to have us all at her home in New York this year. She was cooking turkey but nothing else on the menu was traditional…EXCEPT that she asked if I would please bring my pumpkin pie AND the dinner rolls! I was thrilled…and sorry we’d miss Steve’s stuffing…but everything on her menu was a surprise and absolutely scrumptious. I’ve been making your BIG BATCH QUICK DINNER ROLLS for a while now and everyone loves them, especially ME! And I love that I can make 2-3 dozen in one quick session so everyone has plenty. Each of my siblings and my nephew took home the extra rolls but I was good…I only had one at dinner. I’ll only be happy about that when I step on the scale at my next WW meeting! 😉

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Thanks for sharing your Thanksgiving story with us, Julie! It’s nice to have some new dishes as well as the traditional elements, isn’t it? Barb@KAF

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      HI Sallie,
      For one cake of yeast, you can safely use one packet of yeast, or 2 1/4″ teaspoons. Cake yeast is much harder to find these days, but some larger grocery stores still do carry it in the refrigerated section. ~ MJ

  3. "Mrs Cindy"

    I have been making MrsM’s Best Ever Yeast Rolls from the OBC for several years. They are a deep mahogany brown, squishy, white roll. This year I made two large pans, a total of forty rolls. There was only a partial pan left after the meal and the hostess was lamenting she wouldn’t have enough for leftover sandwiches. Could I make more at Christmas? Please? Of all the different breads I make, these are the most requested.

    Reply
  4. Carolyn

    We lost power in the NH snowstorm the night before Thanksgiving, so my ovens were not functional on the holiday. My family looks forward to the KA butter buns every year, so it was time to get creative! I made the dough by hand and baked them on the grill, by indirect heat. They were wonderful! In fact, the whole dinner was made that way. A new family tradition 🙂

    Reply

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