Freeze and bake rolls: a head start on the holidays

What’s the best way to put fresh, hot, homemade yeast rolls on the dinner table at Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or [name your holiday] – without making yourself absolutely crazy?

Well, you can bake them now, wrap, and freeze. Then thaw and rewarm and serve. But somehow, they just won’t taste quite like fresh-baked.

Or you can make the dough, shape the rolls, refrigerate them overnight, and bake them the next day. But what if you don’t have time for that 2-day process and the day-before prep work (as you probably won’t, on the Wednesday of Thanksgiving week, or Christmas Eve)?

Freeze and bake rolls to the rescue!

I tested a slew of different make-ahead roll techniques for this post, from par-baked and frozen to risen and chilled to halfway risen and frozen to… well, it was controlled chaos in my kitchen, if you know what I mean.

And after the flour dust had cleared, the simplest solution was this: shape your kneaded (but unrisen) yeast dough into rolls. Place them in a pan and freeze. Once frozen, bag them airtight and stash in the freezer.

The day you want to serve them, take as many rolls as you want out of the freezer; place them in a pan; and let them thaw/rise for 4 to 5 hours or so. Bake. Enjoy.

You’re up at the crack of dawn anyway on Thanksgiving, right? If your turkey’s going to be hogging the oven from 6 a.m. to noon, get your frozen rolls out at about 7:30 a.m., and put them in their pan. By the time they’re fully risen, the turkey should be out of the oven and resting; pop the rolls in, along with any vegetable dishes that need rewarming. Bake for 20 minutes, while you’re carving the turkey.

Plated turkey. Hot vegetables. Oven-fresh dinner rolls. That’s the goal, and it looks like you’ve reached it.

Let’s take a look.

Freeze and Bake Rolls via @kingarthurflour

1. Make your dough with cool, not lukewarm, liquid (water or milk).

Why is this? You want the yeast to remain as dormant as possible for as long as possible, so it’s less vulnerable to damage during the freezing process.

Freeze and Bake Rolls via @kingarthurflour

2. Shape rolls as soon as your dough is fully kneaded.

I’m making our guaranteed Soft White Dinner Rolls here. Potato and milk make them moist and tender, adding rich flavor as well.

Note: If I plan on freezing these rolls for longer than 2 to 3 days prior to baking, I increase the amount of yeast by about 20% – just to be safe.

As soon as you’re done kneading the dough, shape it into rolls. That’s right; you’re not going to let the dough rise in the bowl first, as you usually would. Again, you want to minimize yeast activity.

Freeze and Bake Rolls via @kingarthurflour

3. Shape the dough into rolls.

Do this quickly; remember, you don’t want the yeast to start percolating.

Place the rolls in a pan lined with waxed paper or parchment. Cover the pan with plastic wrap or, as I’ve done here, a clear shower cap.

Place the pan in the freezer. Make sure to place it in the coldest part of your freezer, then leave the freezer door shut until the rolls are frozen hard. The more quickly they freeze solid, the better your final result will be. More on that later.

Freeze and Bake Rolls via @kingarthurflour

4. Freeze the rolls completely.

They should be rock-hard, with maybe a little frost on their surface. We’re not just chilling here; we’re FREEZING.

Freeze and Bake Rolls via @kingarthurflour

5. Bag the rolls and stash them in the freezer.

Frozen rolls should be good for a couple of weeks; longer than that, they start to noticeably lose their rising power due to yeast die-off; again, more on that later.

Freeze and Bake Rolls via @kingarthurflour

6. The day you want to serve freeze-and-bake rolls, remove them from the freezer.

Space the rolls in a lightly greased pan. Cover the pan (there’s that handy shower cap again!), and let them rise.

You can hurry the process by putting the pan somewhere warm, like in a corner of your busy kitchen. Or slow it down by putting it somewhere cool, like on the back porch. But standard-size frozen dinner rolls, frozen for just a couple of weeks, will take about 4 to 5 hours to thaw and then rise at cool room temperature (about 65°F to 70°F).

Freeze and Bake Rolls via @kingarthurflour

7. Bake the risen rolls.

Wow, these poor rolls are all by their lonely self! More typically for a holiday, they’d be surrounded by a green bean casserole, mashed squash, and scalloped potatoes.

Freeze and Bake Rolls via @kingarthurflour

8. Serve freeze-and-bake rolls warm from the oven.

Brush them with butter. Just because.

OK, that was easy, right? Well, scientifically speaking, it’s like that famous duck: serene up above, paddling like heck below the surface! For a relatively deep dive into yeast, freezing, and bread dough, keep reading.

I’m part of the EAT team here at King Arthur Flour. And while we do enjoy eating, the acronym stands for Education Advisory Team. Made up of various bakers/teachers/chefs from around the company, we make sure that the baking information and advice we pass along to you – via our baker’s hotline, kids’ classes, website, and printed materials – is accurate, consistent, and scientifically sound.

In starting this freeze and bake project, I turned to the team for advice on the best way to freeze yeast rolls.

Their answer? Don’t do it!

But after rounds of emails, the team concluded that yes, you can freeze yeast rolls, given a few caveats:

Freeze and Bake Rolls via @kingarthurflour

• Freeze for no longer than 2 weeks, 3 at the outside;
• Freeze as quickly as possible: in a 0°F freezer, without opening the door;
• Store where rolls will remain at a constant temperature, and completely frozen. This rules out self-defrosting freezers, which continually warm up, then cool down.

Why the cautionary notes? Well, some (but not all) of the yeast will be killed during freezing, thus lowering the rolls’ rising ability. But the bigger culprit is ice crystals, which develop during freezing. And the longer it takes for the rolls to freeze solid, the larger the ice crystals will be.

So what, you say? Ice crystals cut through the rolls’ gluten strands, creating a permeable network that allows CO2 from the developing yeast to escape. In other words – your rising rolls are full of (microscopic) holes. Not the best way to ensure a strong rise. In addition, those same ice crystals damage yeast – which is already stressed by being frozen.

Oh, and one more roadblock to high-rising rolls from the freezer: dead yeast releases a substance called glutathione, which acts as a natural dough relaxer. The more relaxed your dough, the less eager it is to rise upwards; it would rather spread outwards. The result? Rolls that don’t rise as high.

Dying yeast. Ice crystals. Glutathione. It’s a wonder frozen rolls turn out at all! But after explaining all of this to me in great detail, Jeff Yankellow, one of our company’s most talented bakers, summed it up like this: “Now having said all that, if I were to freeze dough for 2 to 3 weeks I probably wouldn’t change a thing to my process – although I would expect the leavening power to reduce over time.”

My advice? Do what I’ve done here. Use our guaranteed recipe for Soft White Dinner Rolls. Freeze the unrisen, shaped rolls for no longer than 2 weeks. Let them rise for 4 to 5 hours, then bake.

Freeze and Bake Rolls via @kingarthurflour

Trust me, you’ll think you’re enjoying absolutely fresh-made rolls.

Surely you can find the 20 minutes or so it takes to make and shape yeast rolls during those 2 weeks before Thanksgiving, right? After struggling for years with “When should I start the rolls?” – this is my favorite solution yet.

Now, what about using this technique with your own favorite dinner roll recipe? It should work just fine. We’ve found that the richer the roll (e.g., rolls made with milk, butter/oil, and/or eggs), the better the results. A “lean” dough (one made with simply flour, water, salt, and yeast) is more susceptible to freezer damage, since it’s easier for ice crystals to form in this type of dough.  

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. Denise Hammond

    I always freeze my buttermilk biscuit dough but have never tried it for yeast rolls. Now I just might. Thanks.

    Reply
  2. Janene M

    Thank you for this post! I’m going to be making rolls for Thanksgiving at my Mom’s side of the family. She is 1 of 8 children! So by the time you add spouses, kids, grand kids and now some great grand kids we can have a large crowd.

    I think I’ll give this a try this year. Previously I have had a roll making marathon the day before! So now I can make batches at my convenience in the 2 weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and just bake them all the day before.

    Reply
  3. Keri

    Instead of letting rise at room temp for 4-5 hours, do you think they could be put on a pan and then in the fridge to thaw the afternoon before they’re to be baked?

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Keri,
      Sure, thawing the fridge would be just fine as well. Now, I think you should hop into the kitchen and make us some rolls. You know right where my desk is. 🙂 ~ MJ

    2. WillIlPgh

      Off the top of my head, I’m thinking this might actually improve your rolls: the longer thaw/rise time would give the yeasties a chance to replenish their depleted numbers and you’d be (slightly) fermenting your dough, improving its taste and texture. Gonna have to try this myself…

  4. sherry chambers

    my family has done this for years, but I can not get a frozen dinner roll to thaw and cook and be as good as my fresh ones. I do just as you are suggesting. Wonder what I am doing wrong?

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Sherry,
      Is there something in particular that seems to be the issue? Not as high on the rise, or not the same flavor? Is it a texture issue? If you can determine what’s different, that will help determine what changes might need to be made. ~ MJ

  5. Jennifer

    Can I do this with rosemary sourdough rolls? We’re having a big crowd and I was hoping to use my bread recipe for rolls. My large loaf usually takes 30 minutes at 400 degrees … any advice on how to convert cooking time & temp to rolls?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Use the same temperature, for shorter bake time. Usually rolls bake in 20-25 minutes. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

  6. Jean

    I was very excited when I saw this and immediately read your instructions. The one thing that may mess up a lot of folks is the caveat of not using a “self defrosting freezer”. I’m going to suggest that most home cooks have them versus a commercial grade freezer you’re probably using in the KAF test kitchen. All that being said, I’m still going to try this with my favorite Parker House roll recipe. Wish me luck or additional advice!

    Reply
    1. Rhonda

      Jean, I thought the same exact thing about the “self-defrosting freezer” vs. the commercial grade freezer. I’ve got (2) refrigerators in my home and BOTH are self-defrosting freezers. How did your rolls come out using the self’defrosting freezer? If you could let me know ASAP so I won’t waste my time making these if they didn’t come out that good. thank you so much.

    2. Staci Johnson

      How do you do Parker house roll that are shaped fiffrrntly and dipped in butter before their last rise?

    3. sarah

      Chest freezers are a very common household appliance Jean. They are not “frost-free” via the temp change method. I store lamb, beef, cooked soup, farmer’s market bounty, and a few quick grab and go meals in my deep freeze. The only items that go in our fridge’s freezer are ones that we go through so rapidly that the defrost/refreeze cycle of the fridge’s freezer won’t cause freezer burn or ruin them because they won’t stay in there long. Unless someone has an apartment/tiny house, uncommon household set-up, or simply doesn’t cook much, I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t have a decent chest freezer.

  7. bampam1

    As usual, King Arthur and Mary Jane to the rescue with awesome recipes and advice. Can’t WAIT to try this method. What I wouldn’t give to be at King Arthur and witness the trial and error process.
    Thanks again!!!!!

    Reply
  8. Sue

    You can bet I’ll be trying this for Thanksgiving. I’ve tried to par-bake the before freezing in the past and wasn’t happy with the results. I bake from a “scientific” place (I’m an engineer) and I really appreciate the information why they should be frozen a certain way.

    Reply
  9. zysmith

    I wonder if adding a touch more yeast would offset some of the die-off and add a little protection if the rolls are to be frozen closer to 3 weeks?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Adding more yeast would make the best sense if planning to freeze much longer than 2 weeks. But, you still have the issue of ice crystals damaging the gluten strands. Try it! Elisabeth@KAF

    2. Vivian

      Wouldn’t the ice crystals be a non-issue if you sealed the frozen rolls with a food sealer (like FoodSaver)?

    3. The Baker's Hotline

      Great thinking. Thanks for sharing your method for all who own a food sealer. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

    4. kwjuls

      Just a note about using the FoodSaver… you would have to freeze the rolls first before putting them in bags and vacuum sealing them, otherwise the vacuum would suck the balls back into one mass of dough. Although the vacuum sealing will, of course, protect them for a longer period from other freezer perils, the ice crystals you speak of will have already formed in the initial freezing process.
      BTW, I’ve been a FoodSaver user for 25 years… can’t live without it! If I can’t use bread fast enough or make an extra loaf, I bag the extra one after it fully cools and vacuum down to just before it would start to collapse the bread then hit the seal button.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I don’t know that we have tried this method for cinnamon buns, Devora. You could be the first one, though! You have to promise to let us know how it goes, Ok? The alternative is to try this method for freezing cinnamon buns. Enjoy! Elisabeth@KAF

    2. Liz Meimann

      I’ve done this for years with a very rich buttery/eggy dough. Any slight defect is usually outweighed by having very fresh, warm from the oven rolls at breakfast time.

    3. Jacky Hissem

      I have been freezing cinnamon rolls for years. Take them out of the freezer the night before and let rolls sit out all night. Pop in the oven, then frost and enjoy. A woman who had a farm and had to feed the workers shared her idea of freezing cinnamon rolls. She made lots, and lots of cinnamon rolls.

    4. Jennifer

      I’ve frozen them many times – I put individual cinnamon buns in buttered 5″ ramekins, cover them with saran wrap and stack them in the freezer. The night before I need one or however many, I take it out to thaw, and it’s ready to bake the next morning. This method has served our family well – for Christmas mornings, sleepovers, and those times when my daughter just has a craving for a cinnamon roll. I’ve never altered the recipe, and I’ve kept them in the freezer for a few months without issue.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We haven’t tried it, but I can’t see it not working. Give it a go and let us know how it turns out. Jon@KAF

  10. Ceil

    Anytime I have done this it has killed the yeast and not worked. But I have a chest freezer. It probably would work if you used the freezer in the refrigerator which isn’t as cold.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You’ll want to look at the rolls and determine if they are risen and ready to bake. Usually an overnight thaw and a half hour or so on the counter is about right. If they are well risen the next day, you may want to keep them cool until the oven is ready. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  11. Phoebe

    Well, I’m not courageous in the kitchen. I bought a bag of frozen yeast rolls dough. After reading this, I’d better try them before the holidays. I think I’ll bake some today to see what happens, or what doesn’t happen.
    Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Beverly

      I baked rolls from bagged frozen dough today for a church pot luck and got compliments. To bake 24 rolls, I melted in the microwave 3 TBSP.butter, right in a glass baking pan-8 x11 size. Before rolling each dough ball in the melted butter, I placed a folded dish towel under one end of the pan to make the butter deep enough to do this. I made 6 rows of 4 across and let them rise in a warm place for 4 hours before baking them at 350 for 2-25 minutes. Not one roll left!

  12. Mary-Lou

    Is there a substitute for the powdered milk and potatoe flakes when making the freezer rolls? They are not items I have on hand or usually buy.

    Thanks!

    Mary-Lou

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Mary-Lou, you can substitute lukewarm milk for the water content and leave out the dry milk. You can also substitute half the amount of potato flakes with potato flour, or add about 1/3 cup mashed potatoes instead of the potato flakes. Barb@KAF

  13. Kathy

    I will give this method a try but I’ve had great success with making this recipe the day before, let them cool then wrap in foil. Then on Thanksgiving day I stick them in the oven at 350 for about 15 minutes. I try to time it so they are hot when the last person has filled their plate. Love these rolls.

    Reply
  14. Mandy W.

    Thanks for an interesting article! I read somewhere in the past that keeping your jar of yeast in the freezer extended the life of it, well past the expiration date. After reading your article, I’m wondering about that. Is the yeast killed off in the freezer due to being mixed in the dough? Or should I not keep my jar of yeast in the freezer at all?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Mandy, the dry yeast in the jar in your freezer is not yet activated, and won’t be damaged. It’s only when the yeast is in the dough that you have to worry. Barb@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sharon, if your oven has a regular bake setting, I would recommend using that. If you plan to bake them with convection you should reduce the baking temperature by 25 degrees, although some convection ovens do this automatically, so check your manual. Barb@KAF

  15. Deborah

    I am thinking about making bread dough for freezing and using later… to make small individual pizzas, actually. I am wondering if this recipe might work for that….

    Also, I noticed the notes about freezing dough. If it was packaged with something like a Foodsaver, would it last longer… and should I put more yeast in something I would want to freeze on purpose, for an unknown time length…. they have pizza dough and pie crust in the markets… I am thinking of how to do that for myself.

    Thanks… any info is appreciated….

    Reply
  16. TK Garrett

    What a great post – thanks! Although I do a lot of baking the day of – and the day before – each holiday, how nice that this is something I can do several days ahead of time to lighten the load. And I’m glad you posted now and didn’t wait until next month – it gives me plenty of time to practice this method to see how I like it. Thank you PJ and the rest of your team!

    Reply
  17. Cynthia

    Any suggestions for modifying this recipe for high elevation? I moved to CO last year and have struggled to make my old recipes work here at 7100ft. Thanks.

    Reply
  18. rachiti

    How is it that Rhodes brand can sell frozen bread dough that sits in freezers for months without much trouble? I have left their dough in my freezer for nearly a year and the dough balls still worked – it just took longer to rise. I’m not doubting that 1 month is the feasible limit…I’m just wondering what they do differently to keep their product viable.

    Reply
    1. Jordan

      I know it’s been about a year, but I imagine they use a very powerful industrial freezer. The quicker you can freeze the dough, the less damage is done to the yeast. Then it’s just a matter of keeping the dough at freezing temps. Unfortunately, home freezers can’t freeze near as fast.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Judy, the link to the recipe can be found underneath the top most picture where the words appear in orange “Soft White Dinner Rolls,” or you can click here. I hope that helps solve the trouble so you can practice making your rolls ahead of time! Kye@KAF

  19. MerriLea Hoff

    I have been doing this for years. I also do my cinnamon rolls this way, sure saves time and cuts down on the stress.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You can certainly bake them- go a little on the light side- then cool and freeze them. Le them thaw for a few hours before you need them, and reheat for 5-7 minutes in a 350 oven. They’ll be just right for the holidays! Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      One ounce equals 28.35 grams. If you’re looking for general size guides for the loaves and buns, please scale dinner rolls between 2-3 ounces (57-85g), hamburger buns at 4 ounces (114g), baguettes anywhere between 10-16 ounces 283g-454G), and loaf breads (9×5 pan) at two pounds (907g). Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  20. Sharon

    You don’t need a commercial freezer to have one that is not self-defrosting. Many, if not most, deep freezers and freezer-only models (not part of a refrigerator) do not have a self-defrosting cycle. However, I would guess that most refrigerator/freezer combos these days are self-defrosting.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      If you can’t seem to get the computer to agree with you, let’s do things the old-fashioned way! We’d love to mail you a hard copy of this recipe. Please send us an email with your mailing address using this contact us form, or give us a call at 800-827-6836 and we will send one right out to you! Kye@KAF

  21. Jennifer

    PJ, you are a lifesaver. As usual, I’m having a big spread here at my place with both sides of our family and kids and grandkids and cousins galore. Every year, the traditional dinner roll preparation gives me stress. I am so excited to try this! My mom in law’s recipe is an enriched dough with milk, Crisco (yep), and eggs. Just to clarify, this usually rises twice and then a third time once the rolls are shaped. No rising at all? Just roll and shape and freeze? And maybe up the yeast a bit? This makes perfect sense, as this same basic recipe, with the addition of more milk, is the traditional cinnamon roll dough. I used to be on morning high school winter sports cinnamon roll detail, and I always made these the day before and chilled them to slow them down; baking them and icing them fresh in the morning. They rocked!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Jennifer, the no-rise method has worked great for me – I don’t see why it wouldn’t work for the recipe you describe. Just to clarify, you DO let the rolls rise at room temperature, as they thaw; it’s just the initial bowl rises you skip. Enjoy your gathering – sounds delightfully raucous! PJH

  22. Ann Wilkening

    This is so exciting! I am traveling the day before and will keep th rolls frozen until I get to my destination. One question–how cool should the water be?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sprinkle some water on your wrist. If you detect the water is too cool for a bath or for a baby bottle, it’s just the right temperature for a cool water yeast recipe! Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

    2. Ann Wilkening

      I made our family recipe ten days ago and defrosted a dozen yesterday. They were perfect. My new question is — can you freeze a whole batch together rather than freezing th rolls individually?

    3. The Baker's Hotline

      I am sorry but I am not sure I know what you mean, Ann. Do you mean the dough itself before it is shaped? Yes, you may freeze the dough after its first rise. Allow to defrost in the frig overnight, Divide and shape, rise and bake! Elisabeth@KAF

  23. kittyd7926

    The recipe calls for dried potato flakes. Usually you guys have potato flour as the ingredient, with potato flakes as a second choice only if you don’t have flakes. Which would be better for this recipe, especially if pre-made and frozen?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Either will work just as well. You can use the same amount of potato flour (by weight) or about 1/3rd of the flour by volume. Jon@KAF

  24. Katie P

    Is there any way around the self-defrosting freezer issue? I unfortunately have a “frost-free” freezer/fridge combo – is it a lost cause? Thanks as always – love your articles!

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid

      Best advice for your situation is to wrap like crazy. The quest for best results is to keep air exposure to a minimum. PJ has the trick of using a straw to suck out air from a ziptop bag, and it’s a step worth taking for this. Susan

  25. Jen

    Hi PJ – Great post!! I need to bring rolls for a post-Thanksgiving meal. We will be on the road for several hours on thanksgiving Day, and then I will bake the rolls the next day. If I freeze them and pack in a cooler with an ice pack, and then put back in the freezer after several hours traveling, do you think the rolls would still bake ok? Or in this case would it make more sense to par bake and then freeze for transport? Thanks so much!

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Jen,
      I’d go with the par-baking this time. No need to put too much stress on the yeast and not get good results. ~MJ

    2. StressedDad-NoobBaker

      Similarly, I will be traveling for the better part of the day (Wednesday) and want to bake them on Thanksgiving (Thursday.) Is it possible to make the dough Tuesday night with cool ingredients, form rolls without rising, and store them in a pan in the fridge, then transport them Wednesday in a cooler, back to the fridge for the night, then let them rise over Thursday morning? (ps, it’s Tuesday night now…)

    3. The Baker's Hotline

      We may be too late in offering this advice since it’s now Wednesday morning, but 48 hours of refrigeration is a bit long for this dough – ideally the refrigerated rise is more like 12-16 hours at most. For future reference, we’d suggest either par-baking as Mary Jane and Jen were discussing or freezing your unbaked, unrisen rolls. Then, if transported in a cooler, they can thaw and rise while you travel and be baked off Wednesday evening or first thing Thursday morning. However you chose to go about it this year, we hope it works out well. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! Mollie@KAF

  26. Arlie

    I made one batch and have them frozen in a ziplock. I told the host of our Thanksgiving dinner and she requested that I make more than 16. I will make another batch tonight, to be baked this Saturday (we are feasting early to accommodate traveling). My question is can I bake all these in one pan? I see the traditional 8 in a round cake pan, but what would be an appropriate spacing and pan size for a double batch?

    Reply
  27. Embth

    I tried a “test bake” of frozen dough balls and your method worked like a charm! Now we can enjoy freshly baked rolls for Thanksgiving dinner, rather than re-heated rolls that were baked the day before. Thanks to all the staff/owners at KAF who do the research necessary to develop good techniques, then write clear and detailed instructions for home bakers. Happy Thanksgiving!

    Reply
  28. Michelle

    If I am using active dry yeast, should I still mix it with the sugar and water per the recpie if I’m planning to freeze the dough? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’ve found that whether you are using instant yeast or active dry yeast, you can use them interchangeably. Just add both to the dry ingredients in your recipe, and you can expect them to rise beautifully during the thaw. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  29. Sarah

    Excited to try this!
    I have potato flour (only ingredient listed is potato). Any chance I can substitute that for the potato flakes?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Yes, you can Sarah! Use half the amount of potato flour instead potato flakes in this recipe (1/4 cup). Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  30. Stephen Blumm

    I’m confused by how to substitute potato flour. Is it the SAME amount as potato flakes by weight? And half as much by volume? Or is it also half as much by weight? I’m a bit confused by the answers. Thanks for the excellent advice about freezing.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hello Stephen! When replacing potato flakes for potato flour (or the reverse), you can use either the same amount by weight or 3 times the amount by volume as the flakes are much, much larger than the flour particles. Jon@KAF

  31. Susan

    Fantastic! It worked! I froze the dough balls on Friday and baked them off on Sunday. As the directions suggested, they were ready to bake about 5 hours after removing them from the freezer. I took the advice from KAF representative, because I did not have dry milk on hand, I replaced the water called for in the recipe with milk and omitted the dry milk entirely. I served the rolls with bowls of beef stew and they were enjoyed by the entire family (ages 2 to 92). I am learning so much from your website! Thanks KAF.

    Reply
  32. Lennie

    The rolls are fantastic frozen! I made them on Saturday and took them out at 9:30am this morning to bake around 2pm. They had risen really beautifully and baked up soft and delicious. The texture was soft and pillowy as if I hadn’t frozen them at all. Better yet, the minimal handling and removed responsibility of babysitting dough until it rises made this the EASIEST baking experiment ever!

    This is going to be my go-to method from now on. I have no complaints! Thanks so much for the wonderful walk through!

    Reply
  33. Marci Nugent

    Thank you, PJ, for this awesome recipe. I made them for Thanksgiving today, and everyone loved them. I would never have attempted to freeze the dough before letting it rise once, but it worked, just as you said it would.

    What a blessing you are–all the work you do to help us have nice holidays. Yours are the only recipes I would dare to try as new-to-me recipe for a major holiday. But you never let your readers down, and the method worked exactly as you said it would. To say I have confidence in your recipes would be an understatement. Thank you. I’m sure these rolls will be on my holiday table for years to come.

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Thanks, Marci, truly. It’s always a delight to hear stories from our fellow bakers about how we spread the joy for their family. All the best from YOUR fans at KAF. <3, MJ

  34. Bill M

    This is excellent! Made & froze them last weekend, baked them yesterday. Truly delicious. I did not have the potato flakes, but I had potato flour and it seemed to work fine. Today we used the leftover rolls for mini-turkey-sandwiches and enjoyed them again. Thanks for this excellent make ahead tip!

    Reply
  35. Kitty

    I was SO dubious about this freeze ahead thing, but I tried it. Better than everyone standing around watching the turkey cool off while I dealt with rolls for T’giving. They were PERFECT!!!! I live at 5000 feet, so the extra rise I always get up here if I don’t reduce the yeast, was just what these frozen guys needed. Wonderful wonderful. KAF absolutely made my Thanksgiving. This recipe/technique, the pecan pie with no Karo, and the apple pie using the technique of letting the apples macerate and boiling the juice down with the boiled cider. The crust was still not soggy days later. Darn, I wish I’d known these techniques years ago. Thank you again!!! Your website and generous helpful bakers have returned the joy of baking to my life.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Kitty, we’re so happy to hear our posts helped make your Thanksgiving baking successful! Thanks for your lovely comments and for helping to make our work so gratifying! Barb@KAF

  36. Cheryl Vath

    Followed the blog AND recipe to the very last word…..that’s my Thanksgiving recipe from now on!

    Made the rolls Monday…..again following all the specifics and served to rave reviews on Thursday!

    Thanks much!

    Reply
  37. noor

    Hi,
    i had a little doubt here. I’m sure the recipe works well when the yeast is added to the dough.i just wanted to clarify a few points here:

    – can we just skip the thaw process and put the rolls straight into the proofer to rise and then bake?

    – or if we thaw them for 3-4 hours, do we still need to rise them in the proofer ?

    -i had read somewhere that its possible to freeze the dough without adding the yeast and on the day of baking we can thaw and add the yeast to the dough and further ferment and bake?

    TIA

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Noor, I’ve never heard of mixing the dough without the yeast and then adding the yeast after it has thawed. Since the dough will already have developed a gluten structure, it would seem that adding yeast after it has thawed would damage this structure. The thawing time described in this post is both a thawing and rising period. While you can certainly shorten the time by putting the rolls in a warm spot, such as a proofer, I would caution against setting the proofer too high, as this may cause the outer part of the rolls to become warm and sticky before the internal portion is fully thawed. I think 80 degrees might be a good temperature for thawing/proofing. Barb@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Not to worry, Mel, this can work too! If the dough is already shaped and risen, go ahead and freeze in just the same way (flat on a sheet tray until solid, then in something airtight for up to a couple weeks). When you’re getting ready to bake, pull the frozen rolls from the freezer, arrange them on a tray as you’ll want to bake them, and leave them loosel covered in the fridge for 8-12 hrs to thaw. Then go ahead and pop them right into the oven to bake without any rise at room temperature. Hope this helps! If you have more questions, feel free to give us a call at 855-371-BAKE to chat with one of our bakers. Mollie@KAF

  38. MaryPat

    I have a vacuum sealer, do you think it would make a difference if I froze the unbaked dinner rolls using that method?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Freezing in a vacuum-sealed bag should work just fine, Mary Pat. Just make sure your rolls are frozen solid before you put them into the bags for sealing. Happy baking! Mollie#KAF

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Sure, Beverly — the bread machine will do a great job mixing and kneading the dough. Just don’t let it go through the rise cycle, OK? Shape the rolls as soon as the machine stops kneading. Good luck — PJH

  39. Sue

    Great advice. I had frozen croissants and they worked once but not again. I now realize why. I froze them for more than 3weeks never again.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Ella, the only adaptation would be in your roll recipe, if you’re trying to convert an altitude recipe to high altitude. The method of freezing before any rising should work just fine at whatever altitude you’re at. Good luck — PJH

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Peggy, I tried that but didn’t have as good luck with it as I had with freezing right away. I couldn’t seem to nail the exact amount of time I needed to par-bake them in order that they were set, yet not baked through. Then when I baked them, they always seemed dry. Maybe you’ll have better luck with this method than me! PJH

  40. Jan

    I make dozens of cinnamon rolls this way every Christmas. I bake them Christmas morning and deliver them to all the neighbors. They always get rave reviews. (I also use pumpkin pie spice instead of cinnamon, too. That’s my secret weapon!)

    Reply
  41. Janice

    If I’m making these freeze-and-bake rolls, I’m assuming I shouldn’t wait for the yeast/water mixture to bubble up? And should I leave out the pinch of sugar? Or do I still want the yeast to activate before proceeding to make the dough?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Janice, unless you’re concerned about the freshness of your yeast (and therefore need to proof it), we’d go ahead and skip straight to step #2, mixing all ingredients (including the yeast and full amount of water) together. No need to activate the yeast ahead of time. Mollie@KAF

    2. Crystal Roberts

      This was my question as well. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one unsure about this step!

      PJ, perhaps it may be worth putting that information in the post itself, it was unclear to me, though that likely was due to my own error. Thanks for the great recipe, I think I’ll be making these for years to come! Off to make these now!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      It sounds like our video on shaping dinner rolls could be of help here: http://bit.ly/1PPfa2l Once you shape your rolls, you’ll want to allow them to rise again in the pan, per the package’s directions. Good luck! Mollie@KAF

  42. Maddy

    I made the recipe as written. But I’m confused about the amount of rolls it yields. I did not let it rise at all so after kneading I had a pretty small ball of dough. It looked smaller than the one in your photo. I divided off the rolls and only ended up with 10. But now looking at the recipe for Soft White Dinner rolls it says that it yields 16. Does this mean that mine will be huge once they rise in the pan after defrosting, and I should have made them smaller to yield 16?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Hi Maddy – yes, your rolls will definitely be larger than a typical dinner roll, but that’s OK; they’ll be so tasty people won’t complain about them being BIG buns! And now that you’ve made them this size, you might find it’s a size you prefer, since they’ll be appropriate for sandwiches. Enjoy — PJH

  43. Cristina

    Would you do the same for refrigerated rolls? I want to shape them in the pan and have them ready to just toss in the oven. Would I shape them with no rise and then place them in the fridge; pull them out the day of and let them rise before baking?

    Reply
  44. Dipti

    I started the recipe. I did a trial run of 6 rolls. I’m new to baking.

    I let the dough rise, first time. Then I saw this website. I had no idea I could freeze these. If I freeze them after the first rise, how do they turn out?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Rolls tend to do best if they’re frozen immediately after shaping. This way the yeast has enough rising power left to make the dough rise as it thaws. If you freeze rolls after the first rise, they tend to deflate in the oven slightly. Try using this technique here and see how you like the results. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  45. Dar

    Can I let dough rise, make the clover leaf rolls in cupcake pans and then freeze, leaving the final rise for Christmas morning

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Dar, if you’d like to freeze cloverleaf rolls, you can use the method that’s shown in this blog, which is to skip the first rise and go right to shaping, then freeze. Let the rolls thaw in the fridge overnight and then at room temperature the next morning while the oven preheats. Bake as directed in the recipe. Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  46. BETH

    I made these for Christmas dinner but even after taking them out of the freezer and setting them on the kitchen counter from 6 am to 1 pm, they could still have used another hour to rise fully. I baked them anyway but was a bit disappointed in them.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sounds like your rolls might have benefited from a little blast of heat to help them rise. Next time, put a boiling glass of water in your microwave (turned off) with the rolls to create a cozy little proofing box. You can also put them in the oven with the light on to encourage a bit more rise out of them. We hope this helps next time! Kye@KAF

  47. Bess

    Do you think I could use this method to make rye rolls ahead of time? The recipe I am thinking about uses a combination of bread flour and rye flour. I have a bad habit of experimenting on guests, but I’d like to try something that will have a chance of working!

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Hi Bess,
      Yes, the same method should be fine with rye rolls and I’m sure your guests will never know a thing! ~ MJ

  48. Charlotte

    Do you have a knock off recipe for the Rhodes frozen rolls? I have tried several recipes and they just aren’t the same. My family loves my homemade rolls but really love the softness and flavor of the Rhodes rolls.

    Reply
  49. RBW

    Do you think this technique would work for the Amish Dinner Rolls recipe which has actual mashed potatoes in the dough? This is hands down my favorite rolls recipe to make for Thanksgiving, but I’m also hosting and would love to get a little extra work done ahead of time. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We certainly understand the competing priorities, fellow baker. While we haven’t specifically tried it ourselves, we think this technique should work just fine with our Amish Dinner Rolls and have in fact heard from a number of other bakers that they’ve had success prepping the rolls in advance this way. Cheers to a delicious and stress-free Thanksgiving meal! Mollie@KAF

  50. Liz Cuillard

    Hi KAF! Big fan over here.
    I don’t have a chest freezer but am trying to make this work in my fridge/freezer combo. I’m using my own recipe, but have followed the above advice. I’ve added more yeast, vital wheat gluten, cool liquid, shaped straight after kneading, shoved in the back of my freezer right away, doubled bagged and even sucked the air out of the bags with a straw lol. But I had to let my rolls thaw for 9 hours at room temp ( yes 9 lol) for them to get to be the size they normally are when I put them in the oven ( my house is 75ish degrees) And then they didn’t rise at all in the oven, no spring to them. They taste great, but just are not nearly as big as my normal ones. I make and sell yeast breads so I’m pretty experienced with making them. Any other advice on what I’m doing wrong? Or is the lack of a chest freezer something I can’t get around with this method?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Liz, it shouldn’t be the chest freezer that’s holding things back. Couple of questions: how big were the rolls you shaped (i.e., based on cups of flour, how many rolls did you get from your recipe? Typically I’ll make about 16 rolls from a 3-cup-flour recipe). And, how long did you have them frozen? We’ve found that longer than 2 weeks, the yeast starts to deteriorate. And did you use SAF instant yeast, and King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, or another yeast/flour? Your best bet might be to call our hotline, 855-371-2253, to share the recipe you used and try to figure this out… PJH@KAF

  51. Evone

    So, you do not allow the rolls to do a first rise is that correct? Some say to let the rolls rise once and then freeze and others like this site say to freeze before rising very confused. Can you tell me why you wouldn’t let them rise first, so I can understand the science behind it? Thanks so excited to try this:)

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Evone, its’s true that both methods can be used, and one’s not necessarily better than the other. For best rise, your goal is to have the yeast as inactive as possible when freezing, which is why we call for shaping immediately and freezing, skipping the first rise. The flip side is that this sacrifices some of the flavor that comes from two rises, which is why some recipes suggest allowing the first rise to happen, then shaping and freezing. Really either method can work, you’re just trading off between optimum flavor and optimum rise. Mollie@KAF

  52. Evone

    Oh and I also heard using rapid rise yeast should never be used if freezing dough because it activates to quickly and won’t work very well is this true?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We agree, Evone, and we actually don’t recommend using RapidRise in anything but recipes that are specifically designed for one, quick rise. We definitely wouldn’t use it in any dough that will need to sustain a freeze. Mollie@KAF

  53. Kimberlee Marshall-Coleman

    Mollie: Your kitchens are my mainstay in any part of baking. Loving the frozen roll process and will be using your recipe and process for 2017 Thanksgiving. I have always been the go-to-gal for all of the bread and rolls for holidays or get togethers. Since I’ve found the King Arhur site and blog, you have saved my baking life many times in the past year. I had a stroke 18 months ago, and have forgotten all of the tips and recipes, (my bad for never writing anything down previously). This is just a huge THANK YOU from SoCA. You have given me back my confidence knowing that our first big Thanksgiving (24 people) together AND with me cooking and baking will be the bomb-diggity! I’m also using your Soft White Dinner Rolls. The only question I do have is, if I’m making all whole-wheat, honey dough, does the freezing and rising process change? Thanks

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      It’s our pleasure to be able to help, Kimberlee, and we’re excited for you for your big meal. No need to change the freezing and baking process for honey, whole wheat dough. If you’re looking to adapt our Soft White Dinner Roll recipe to use all whole wheat, however, you may find that you need additional liquid (up to 1 Tbsp per cup of flour) to reach the desired dough consistency. To help limit the damage the sharp edges of bran can do to gluten development, try mixing your dough ingredients and allowing them to rest for 20 minutes before beginning to knead. This allows the flour to fully hydrate and soften those otherwise sharp edges. Hope this helps, Kimberlee. Enjoy the holiday! Mollie@KAF

  54. Kathy

    I absolutely want to do this ASAP. A few questions please: 1) Is there a temperature for “cool” water/milk? Could it be milk straight from the refrigerator (if I am not using dry milk)? 2) Can it be regular milk, not skim? 3) If freezing rolls, add 20% yeast to the 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast in original recipe (so 2 1/2 tsp plus 20% more yeast)? Thank you!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Kathy, you can use water that’s anywhere from 40-50 degrees F to make your rolls that will be frozen. Milk (or water) straight from the fridge is perfect. You can use milk that has a higher fat percentage in it if you like; there won’t be a notable difference. And for your last question, yes: you’ll want to use about 20% more yeast than what the original recipe calls for. (In this case, you’ll want to use 3 teaspoons total.) Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  55. Savanna

    I plan on making yeast rolls for Thanksgiving by using my bread machine to mix the dough. I think I can find a way to stop it from resting in the machine (not sure though). I usually let it rest and rise outside of the machine some before I make them too. Can I just take the dough straight out of the machine and put directly in the freezer – in one large lump – and then thaw completely out before separating into rolls to bake?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Savanna, if you’d like to freeze unbaked dough, it’s best to divide and shape the rolls right away rather than freeze as one bulk of dough. This way the yeast is kept inactive and the dough will rise nicely when it thaws. We recommend thawing in the fridge to allow the rolls to proof, and then they’ll be ready to bake! Kye@KAF

  56. Sheila

    Hi KAF!
    My husband has requested crescent rolls for thanksgiving tgusbyear. I am ing graveyard starting Wednesday night. So I will have all the ‘fiddly bits’ prepped ahead and he’ll make turkey and mashed potatoes. Could I quickly shape crescent rolls, brushing the inside of crescent with butter. Then chill in the refrigerator overnight on Wednesday, with him pulling out to warm and rise about 4 hours before dinner? Or is asking too much of the dough? I will up to check the rise before baking.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Most yeast dough can be split into a two-day process using the method you’ve described. Prepare the rolls up through shaping, then cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge overnight to rest. The next day, they’ll be quite puffy so they may need just a brief rest at room temperature before being baked as per usual. Try to plan your bake so that you can enjoy the rolls while they’re still warm. They’re the best like that! Kye@KAF

  57. AnotherSusan

    I am sorry to say that this was a failure for us today. The dough didn’t really proof though I waited until they had been out of the freezer for 5 1/2 hrs. I had no choice but to bake them. They were dense and a bit rubbery. Didn’t get my usual oven spring. Not the lovely, lofty rolls that I made two days before as a test run. In fact, I wish I had simply started making the rolls this morning. The homemade butter was delicious however.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’re sorry to hear this method didn’t turn out well for you, fellow baker. We’d love the chance to troubleshoot further to see what may have impede the rise. (The kind of yeast? The kind or amount of flour? The temperature?) Consider giving our Baker’s Hotline a call at 855-371-BAKE(2253) if you’d like to dive into this further. This is a recipe worth mastering! Kye@KAF

  58. GrammyP

    For decades, I’ve arisen in the wee hours to get yeast cinnamon rolls on the table by 7am on Christmas morning. The advent of bread machines has shortened the time, but with our crowd of 29 in the house, we still need three of those whirring at night. I wondered if I could pre-shape after first rise and pre-shape, then freeze, so I tested my usual rich (egg, butter) dough recipe, but the result is a poor substitute! I’ll give your suggestion of no first rise a try, but wonder if you have any other suggestion as these are rolled and spread with butter and cinnamon sugar as I prepare them. Could those ingredients create more ice and cause the low-rise problem? Any advice?

    Reply
  59. GrammyP

    Thank you so much! I’ll give these methods a try. In the meantime, Grandpa P is quite happy to continue the bake/taste tests! Merry Christmas!

    Reply

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