No-knead sandwich rolls: sliders to subs, the easy way

With the year drawing to a close, it’s time to give one final shout-out to our 2016 Recipe of the Year, No-Knead Crusty White Bread.

We’ve made the dough from this versatile recipe into artisan loaves, and pizza crust. We’ve created loaves stuffed with cheddar and jalapeño, or studded with golden raisins and rolled in cinnamon-sugar. We’ve even showed you how to freeze the dough — and how to make a version with whole wheat flour.

And now, with holiday parties looming, it’s time to make a big batch of no-knead sandwich rolls — the quick and easy way, of course.

No-Knead Sandwich Rolls via @kingarthurflour

Who can resist crusty bread? No-knead sandwich rolls are the perfect addition to any party! Click To Tweet

There’s no simpler holiday spread than a basket of rolls and a platter of deli meats and cheeses, with an array of complementary condiments and sides. Christmas cookies and your bubbly beverage of choice complete the picture.

Get started with no-knead sandwich rolls

No-knead dinner rolls start with a big bucket of dough in the fridge. It’s best to let the dough chill for several days, so make it ahead, then shape and bake rolls right before you need them. Fresh, warm, crusty, perfect — and perfectly easy.

How to Make No-Knead Sandwich Rolls via @kingarthurflour

Make the dough

Combine the following in a large bowl, or the bowl of a 7-quart stand mixer:

3 cups lukewarm water
6 1/2 to 7 1/2 cups (32 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast or active dry yeast

Before we start, why the range in volume amounts for the flour?

Because for best results we want you to use the exact right amount of flour, and people have vastly different techniques for measuring flour. If you measure “the King Arthur way,” by sprinkling flour into your measuring cup, use 7 1/2 cups. If you measure flour “heavy,” by dipping cup into canister and tapping to settle the contents, use 6 1/2 cups.

Best bet? Weigh your flour rather than measure it into a cup. Weighing ingredients, particularly flour, takes away all the guesswork and helps ensure consistent recipe success.

Stir everything together until there are no dry/floury patches showing. Place the dough in a large food-safe storage bucket, or large (at least 6-quart) bowl.

How to Make No-Knead Sandwich Rolls via @kingarthurflour

Let the dough rise

Let the dough rise, covered, for one to two hours at room temperature. I photographed the dough above after one hour; over the course of the next hour, it rose past the line in the bucket.

Chill it up to seven days

Cover the bowl or bucket securely, and refrigerate the dough for at least two hours, or for up to seven days. The longer you keep it in the fridge, the tangier it’ll get; if you chill it for seven days, it’ll taste like sourdough.

How to Make No-Knead Sandwich Rolls via @kingarthurflour

Over the course of the first day or so, the dough will rise, then fall. That’s OK; that’s what it’s supposed to do.

How to Make No-Knead Sandwich Rolls via @kingarthurflour

Remove the dough from the fridge

When you’re ready to make rolls, take the dough out of the fridge. Pull a bit away from the side of the container — see those strands? That’s gluten, the elastic network of flour and water that’ll turn the dough into high-rising rolls.

First, decide what size rolls you want to make. Sliders? Sandwiches? “Sub” rolls?

How to Make No-Knead Sandwich Rolls via @kingarthurflour

Divide the dough

A 2-ounce piece of dough (a bit smaller than a large egg) will make a nice little slider roll, like that pictured at the top of this post.

How to Make No-Knead Sandwich Rolls via @kingarthurflour

Shape the rolls

A 4- to 4 1/2-ounce piece of dough (about the size of an Italian sausage) makes a nice, crusty 5″ to 6″ sub roll. Three ounces of dough, shaped into an oval, risen, and baked, makes a 3 3/4″ to 4″ sandwich roll.

I’ve made an assortment of sizes here, to cover a range of appetites.

Place the rolls on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving a couple of inches between them.

How to Make No-Knead Sandwich Rolls via @kingarthurflour

Coat the rolls with flour

Sieve a thin layer of flour over the rolls. This will help keep them moist as they rise, and also enhance their appearance once baked.

How to Make No-Knead Sandwich Rolls via @kingarthurflour

Let the rolls rise

Let the rolls warm to room temperature and rise; this should take about 60 minutes (or longer, up to a couple of hours, if your house is cool). They won’t appear to rise upward that much; rather, they’ll seem to settle and expand.

Ready your oven

Preheat your oven to 450°F while the rolls rise. Place a shallow metal or cast iron pan (not glass, Pyrex, or ceramic) on the lowest oven rack, and have 1 cup of hot water ready to go.

How to Make No-Knead Sandwich Rolls via @kingarthurflour

Slash the rolls

When you’re ready to bake, take a sharp knife and slash the rolls, making a cut (or two) about 1/2″ deep. The rolls may deflate a bit; that’s OK, they’ll pick right up in the hot oven.

Bake in steam

Place the pan of rolls into the oven and carefully pour the 1 cup hot water into the shallow pan on the rack beneath. It’ll bubble and steam; close the oven door quickly. This steam will help the rolls rise high, and add a tiny bit of sheen to their crust.

Bake the rolls for 25 minutes, or until they’re golden brown.

No-Knead Sandwich Rolls via @kingarthurflour

Pull the hot rolls out of the oven

Let them cool slightly if desired — on a rack, or right on the pan. Or rip right into them if you just can’t wait.

No-knead sandwich rolls: a tasty variation

Let’s add crunch and flavor to our next batch of rolls, shall we?

How to Make No-Knead Sandwich Rolls via @kingarthurflour

A seeded crust makes crunchy, yummy rolls. Here’s how the pros in our bakery seed their rolls:

Soak a smooth cotton towel, wring it out, and place a pile of seeds in the center. Add rolls, rolling them gently in the seeds until fully covered.

How to Make No-Knead Sandwich Rolls via @kingarthurflour

Here’s my go-to seed blend: flax, toasted sesame, black caraway, midget sunflower, poppy, and anise seeds. GREAT flavor and crunch!

How to Make No-Knead Sandwich Rolls via @kingarthurflour

Place the rolls on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and let them rise. Bake as directed above.

No-Knead Sandwich Rolls via @kingarthurflour

Party on!

So, exactly how many rolls does this entire batch of dough make? ONE of the following options:
• 28 small (slider) rolls; or
• 19 medium (sandwich) rolls; or
• 13 large (sub) rolls; or
• An assortment: eight small rolls, six medium rolls, and four large rolls.

And remember, you don’t need to make all the rolls at once. Make some now, some later; the dough’s happy to rest in the refrigerator for up to a week, so it’s ready when you are.

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. Carol

    I have discovered a lovely breakfast variation on these rolls. I roll the 2oz. small rolls in melted butter and then toss them in cinnamon sugar. Bake as directed being sure to use parchment paper to make clean-up easy. I’ve even used a cinnamon/cardamom sugar.

    Reply
  2. Kelly

    I made the rolls. I followed the recipe exactly, even weighing my ingredients. While the dough is very sticky, with a little flour and greased hands, it’s easy enough to shape. My problem is that once the dough has been in the refrigerator, it will not rise when I shape the rolls and let it sit for the hour or when baked. I’ve tried several times in different places in the house, with different temps in the house (and in the summer in Louisiana it get’s HOT when you turn up the AC) and the rolls simply spread during the rise time before baking. I’ve even gone as long as 2 hours rise time and nothing. They don’t even rise when baking, they’re simply flat hard rolls. Even tried to bake them with no steam and they were still flat and hard. The yeast I used it brand new with the expiration date a year in the future so I was wondering if it may be that my flour is too old. I’ve had it in my freezer for a LONG time and completely forgot I had it. So could my issue be that the flour is just too old to be useful for bread?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Kelly, that’s quite a combination of issues! It’s hard for us to diagnose over the internet, but we wonder if you weren’t using a different brand of flour? Very wet dough and reduced rise are things we might expect to see when using an all-purpose flour with a lower protein content. If this wasn’t your issue, we’d love to discuss your ingredients and process with you in more detail through our Baker’s Hotline so that we can help your next batch of rolls be all that you’re hoping for! Kat@KAF

  3. John Kelly

    I’ve been using this recipe for months now and my family and I love it. I am still struggling with forming loaves and rolls. I follow the recipe to the letter and the dough is very sticky, and my rolls flatten out much more than the rolls in the photos. Greasing my hands and/or flouring the dough doesn’t seem to change anything. Suggestions?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We think we can help, John! Shaping rolls and dough to develop a nice tight skin can be difficult to demonstrate through writing so we have a helpful video for you to check out to gather some handy tips and tricks on getting the best rolls and loaves possible. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

  4. Shannon

    Could I form the rolls one night, stick them back in the fridge and then pull them out to prove the next morning?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      That should be just fine, Shannon! Try to not have them in the fridge longer than 12 hours. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

  5. Tom Scott

    Getting a crusty roll. I understand the steaming method but it doesn’t work that well for me. I have a gas oven and have read that they vent too often to be effective with steaming. Is there any truth to this and is there an alternative so that I can get a crispy crust using a gas oven?
    Thank you
    Tom

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Tom, it’s true that some ovens vent more than others. Try spritzing your rolls with water using a spray bottle right when they go into the oven and then again every 3-5 minutes for the first 10-15 minutes of the bake. This repeated spritzing will create a steady flow of steam early on during baking, which is when it will work its magic (creating a perfectly crisp, golden crust). Happy baking! Kye@KAF

  6. Elizabeth Register

    Please make these wonderful recipes in an easy print mode. Printing the page as is takes way too much paper. Thank you kindly.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’ve got you covered, Elizabeth! Under the first picture on any blog post, you’ll see an orange link to bring you to the recipe used in the post. Once you click on that and are on the recipe page, you’ll see “Print Recipe” to the right of the picture. Most of our recipes are only 1-2 pages. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

  7. Vicky

    I made these last night for Christmas dinner and they turned out awesome! They were crispy on the outside and moist and chewy on the inside. I did have trouble getting the seeds to stick them, maybe it was the towel I used. But the thing I did different was about five minutes before I put them in the oven I pulled out even more dough and cut 1/2 inch strips about 5 inches long and made a “pain à l’ancienne” styled bread. I put them in the oven with the rest of the risen dinner rolls and bake them altogether in the oven. The longer uprisen rolls didn’t rise very much and they were crispy on the outside, on the inside sort of like a pregnant breadstick that was tender and moist on the inside. One of the few times I’ve experimented and it actually came out extremely good. Next time I’ll put sesame seeds on them! As usual I love your website I love your recipes I love the blog and all the comments!

    Reply
  8. Frances Lockwood

    How much whole grain, chia, flax, can I add to the no knead bread recipe without problems? How about shredded dried fruit or finely chopped nuts?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      This dough is fairly versatile, Frances. For the full batch size, you could easily incorporate up to 1 – 2 cups of add-ins. For the seeds and/or whole grains, we’d stick with 1 cup (or less), while fruits and nuts could be used in the larger quantities. We have another article about no-knead variations that you might also enjoy reading before getting started. Hope this helps to make for some happy baking! Mollie@KAF

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