How to Make Scrumptious, Quick Homemade Rolls

Sometimes, my inner June Cleaver kicks in, and I want hot rolls with dinner. Such was the case a few weeks ago, when we were having friends over. I thought crescent rolls would look sporty with the meal, but I didn't have any on hand. (See also: How to Bake Sourdough Bread (and Save a Buck on Every Loaf)

A bakery downtown had some rolls, but not crescents — and I didn't want to pay $2.70 apiece. I then tried calling another bakery, where I was informed that I would have to put in an order, two days ahead of time, via their website. So much for instant gratification.

So off to the grocery store I went. The store "bakery" rolls looked pretty boring. My other choice was the Doughboy's canned dough, but that wasn't quite the homemade flavor that I was looking for.

Undaunted, I picked up flour and yeast and decided I'd make them myself. How hard could it be? I knew I'd beat the bakery price, besides!

The first thing I did, once back home, was to dig out my mother's roll recipe. Her recipe makes the best rolls in the world, but it ain't for sissies. I only had about an hour and a half before I was serving dinner, so these had to be fast. Pen in hand, I revised the recipe, hoping a simpler version would be good.

Quick Chive Rolls

(Makes approximately two dozen)

  • 2 packages of "Rapid Rise" yeast (this allows you to skip the "rising" step and save time)
  • ½ cup warm water (not hot, or you'll murder the yeasties)
  • 3 tablespoons of white sugar
  • 4 cups white flour, plus a little extra for rolling out dough
  • ½ cup instant mashed potatoes (dry)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk (I used low-fat, but regular would work fine)
  • ¼ cup oil (I used olive, but Mom liked her Canola)
  • ¼ cup chopped, fresh chives
  • Approximately 3- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Crisco, for greasing baking sheets

I used my KitchenAid mixer for this recipe, as it has a dough hook and really handles mixing easily. However, you do not need one — you just need a big bowl and some elbow grease. You will have to knead your dough by hand, if you don't use a dough hook. If you haven't done that before, this YouTube video shows how.

If you don't have buttermilk around, you can use a substitution. To a cup of milk, add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar. Stir gently and allow it to stand for five minutes.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Mixing and Kneading

The first thing we are going to do is to get our yeast going. Open up the yeast packages and place them in a bowl or Pyrex measuring cup. Add some of the sugar — 1 tablespoon — and the warm water. Stir and let it wake up. It'll start growing. Yeast is fun. If it doesn't grow, it's dead — start over with fresh yeast.

Here is how the yeast looks, when it gets going.

Next, sift together the 4 cups of flour, salt, and baking soda. When that is sifted, add the mashed potato flakes and stir until nicely combined.

While the yeast is doing its thing, warm up the buttermilk. Do not boil it — you just want it nice and warm. My mother used to say, "Like a baby's bottle." Remember, we don't want to kill the yeast.

In your large bowl or mixer bowl, add the yeast mixture to the buttermilk mixture, as well as the additional three tablespoons of sugar and the oil. Gently combine. Add the chopped chives and stir to distribute.

Gradually add in the flour-potato mixture. If I am using a mixer, I let it knead for about five minutes. If you are doing this without a mixer, when your dough is combined, take it out and knead it on a floured surface for ten minutes.

Here comes the fun part!

Shaping the Rolls

Separate your dough into halves.

Sprinkle your work surface with flour, and roll half of the dough out into a 12-inch diameter circle. It doesn't have to be perfect (obviously). Mine looks more like a paramecium.

Using a pastry brush, brush melted butter over the surface of the circle.

Cut the circle into 12 slices, like a pizza.

Beginning at the wide edge of one of the dough slices, roll into a crescent. Place rolls onto a greased cookie sheet. Give them space so that they don't bake into each other. Don't worry if the shapes aren't perfect (look at mine!). I guarantee they will taste great.

Brush the tops of the rolls with melted butter, and bake for 13 minutes. Keep going with the other half of your dough.

Set your oven timer for 13 minutes. At the 13-minute mark, your rolls should be nicely browned. Cool on a wire rack.


One of my friends told me that dill or any combination of chopped herbs worked nicely in this recipe, too.

Substituting some whole wheat flour in place of the white flour adds nutrition and gives the rolls a nutty flavor.

They also freeze very well, and if you microwave them for about 30 seconds they taste like they just came out of the oven.

Do you have a favorite, quick bread or roll recipe? What do you do when company's coming and dinner needs one more thing? Please share it in comments!

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Guest's picture

I prefer home made to anything bought in a grocery store. These look absolutely amazing!!

Marla Walters's picture

Hi, Mary! Me, too (prefer homemade). Tx for commenting!

Guest's picture

I like Cuban bread. Simple to make, it's great in the winter with stews and soups. In warmer weather we like baking powder biscuits, great with a garden vegetable laden fritatta.

Marla Walters's picture

Hi, Olivia! I haven't ever had Cuban bread, so I googled a recipe: ( It sure looks good! Thanks for mentioning it.

Guest's picture

(An easy hint)
Instead of 1/2 cup of water, use 1/2 cup orange juice. Use only 1 Tbsp of sugar instead of 3. This imparts a wonderfull light orange flavor to the rolls that will go with most herbs.
(I did this for the rolls I was entering at the state fair and WON!)

Marla Walters's picture

Scoutmaster, this is brilliant! I get so many awesome tips from readers. Gotta try this. Thanks for writing!