Buttermilk Dinner Rolls

This recipe may look a little familiar seeing as how it’s been resting in the archives of my site for six years now (well, actually, I hope the rolls don’t look familiar since the old pictures were very awful and very terrible).

Every time I make these tender buttermilk rolls, I think “gosh, these rolls are good” – that sentiment usually being echoed across the table – which means it was only a matter of time before the post got a little facelift. Now seems appropriate. If you’re still yearning for the perfect roll recipe to fall into your lap as you crazily menu plan for next week, you might be at the right place at the right time today because these are magnificent.

The best part? The dough can be refrigerated for up to seven days (not all yeast doughs can survive this way, trust me) and once pulled out of the fridge, the shaped and baked rolls are as delicious as if they had been made start to finish at the beginning. In fact, they might even be a bit tastier after the dough rests in the refrigerator. Buttermilk is the key (no substitutions, pretty please, although homemade buttermilk is completely acceptable) – it contributes to the light and tender dough as well as the amazing flavor.

There’s just nothing quite like a pillowy, soft dinner roll. Thanksgiving or anytime really. If there’s homemade rolls for the taking? I’m there.

Buttermilk Dinner Rolls

Make-Ahead Buttermilk Dinner Rolls

Yield: Makes about 3 dozen rolls, depending on size

Make-Ahead Buttermilk Dinner Rolls

I usually don't plan ahead and get the buttermilk out of the refrigerator to come to room temperature so I pour it into a liquid measure and microwave it for 45 seconds (all microwaves will vary a bit) and then give it a good stir to get rid of any warm spots.

As with all yeast doughs, I never use the flour amount called for in the recipe as a hard fast rule (unless a weight measure is given and then I pull out my kitchen scale). Because humidity, temperature, altitude and a multitude of other factors can impact how much flour you need in your yeast doughs, I always judge when to quit adding flour by the texture and look and feel of the dough rather than how much flour I’ve added compared to the recipe. This tutorial on yeast may help identify how a perfectly floured dough should be.


  • 3 cups buttermilk at room temperature (here is a guide for making your own buttermilk)
  • 3 cups flour (about 15 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6-7 cups flour, more or less


  1. In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer (I only ever use a Bosch, never tried this in a Kitchenaid), mix the buttermilk, 3 cups flour and yeast together. Cover and let stand at room temperature until puffy and bubbly, 2-3 hours.
  2. Add the sugar, eggs, salt, oil, and baking soda. Mix well and start adding the remaining flour until a soft dough is formed that clears the sides of the bowl and is smooth without being overly sticky or overflowed. Knead for about 7 minutes.
  3. At this point, you can roll out the dough or cover and refrigerate for up to seven days. If doing so, place the dough in a large container or bowl as it will expand a bit in the refrigerator.
  4. To use immediately, shape the dough into rolls: cloverleaf (three balls each about 3/4-inch in diameter popped into a greased muffin tin), crescent (divide the dough into thirds and roll each section into a 10- or 11-inch circle, brush with butter and cut into 8 or 12 sections and roll up), classic dinner rolls (about 2-3 ounces of dough rolled into a taut ball and placed in a 9X13-inch baking dish or on a large baking sheet). Cover the rolls with greased plastic wrap and let rise until double, about an hour or so.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees until golden and baked through (exact time will depend on shape; for cloverleaf about 11 minutes, crescent about 15-16 and dinner rolls about 16 or so).
  6. For refrigerated dough, pinch off the desired amount and shape. If the dough is really cold and hard to work with, let it rest covered at room temp for 30-45 minutes before shaping.
  7. Once shaped, cover with greased plastic wrap and let rolls rise until double in size, 2-3 hours (dough taken from the refrigerator will take longer to rise since it's been chilled) and bake with the above instructions based on shape.
  8. Remove from the oven and butter the tops, if desired.

Recipe Source: from my sister-in-law Erin and her sister, Melanie (yeah, it gets a little confusing)

105 Responses to Make-Ahead Buttermilk Dinner Rolls

  1. Jayme says:

    Just found your blog and love it! I’m making your sloppy joes tomorrow. I’m putting your link on my blog, hope you don’t mind.

  2. Sophie says:

    Very tasty — especially with the buttermilk, it’s perfect for rolls!

  3. laurielclewis says:

    I saw your blog off a friend’s link and what a great find! Thanks for all these great ideas! I’m in a serious cooking rut and I need new ideas! I’ll be following closely.

  4. Delectable Dining says:

    Mmmm… sounds wonderful! Can’t wait to make these. It might have to happen today! :)

  5. Kara@ Creations by Kara says:

    I don’t think I have ever tried yeast bread with buttermilk. I am very intrigued and can’t wait to give them a try. Every recipe I’ve made from here has been awesome, so I’m sure these will be too!

  6. cindy says:

    Just made these yummy rolls–they were a hit! I think I will make cinnamon rolls with caramel icing with the remaining dough. This recipe is a keeper!

  7. Heidi says:

    I’ve made a much more complicated cloverleaf roll. I will give these a try next time :)

  8. Amy and David Ziehl says:

    These are totally DELISH!!! They also taste great with homemade strawberry jam. YUMMY!

  9. teresa says:

    Well, if these are what you use next to the Lions House rolls, which are the best rolls in the world, then they must be fab. I love how pretty they are!

  10. Erin says:

    I can’t wait to try the cloverleaf next time I am making these rolls. Yum!

  11. Melanie says:

    Jayme – I don’t mind at all. I just made the sloppy joes tonight – great timing! I hope you like them.

  12. PheMom says:

    I know I will be making these soon. They look perfect!

  13. ~Carole says:

    Ohmigosh, those look fabulous. I think buttermilk makes everything taste better.

  14. Elyse says:

    These rolls look fantastic! I love a nice tried and true recipe that always yields delicious desserts. What great looking rolls! I’m definitely going to try out this recipe soon.

  15. Abby says:

    Seriously? You can leave it in the fridge? I have never heard of such and it makes my heart sing to hear it now. Gotta try these.

  16. Netts Nook says:

    I always make the Lion House I will have to give this recipe a try. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Melanie Anne says:

    Yes this is my all time favorite roll recipe! I like your cloverleafs–very nice! I almost always make the dough into the crescent shape. I should branch out!

  18. Melanie says:

    Cindy – thanks for trying them so quickly! I’m so glad you liked them and your idea of caramel icing sounds divine. Let me know how it goes!

  19. Bunny says:

    I absolutely love making rolls for dinner, I ‘ve never made the cloverleaf though. I ‘m bookmarking to try these they sound so good!!

  20. Sara @ Our Best Bites says:

    These look soooo good. That picture makes me drool!

  21. grace says:

    i do love the glistening, buttery sheen. soft rolls slathered in butter almost make me weep with joy. :)

  22. Marisa says:

    Mmmmmmmmmmmmm! When your blog opened and I saw that picture, I was seriously salivating. These look fabulous. I am such a sucker for carbs :-). I’ll for sure be trying these!

  23. Elizabeth says:

    Yum, those rolls are my favorite. I’ve been trying to figure out how to make them for years!

  24. from my motorhome to yours says:

    love your blog, just found it!!

  25. Jen says:

    I just tried these last night and loved them! This morning when I opened the fridge the dough was almost coming out of the bowl, it had risen so much (I just kept it in my kitchenaid bowl.) Is this normal? I just punched it down, but wasn’t sure if that was the right thing to do. I’m kind of a newbie when it comes to baking with yeast!

  26. Melanie says:

    Jen – I’m glad you liked these rolls! Yes, sometimes when I make them, I open the fridge and the dough has expanded over the bowl. I’ve started using a really, really big bowl to prevent that, but either way, it’s fine to punch it down and cover it again.

  27. Anissa says:

    Hi Mel,
    So I’m going to attempt to use these for a wedding dinner (only 50 people, buffet style). I LOVE the fact that I can make the dough 2 or 3 days in advance. PERFECT. So the question is, when I go to shape and cook the rolls the day of the wedding, what is going to be my fastest method for shaping? The cloverleaf or the the crescents or can I do just a standard roll shape?
    Thanks so much!!!

    • Mel says:

      Anissa – good luck with the wedding dinner! Sounds like a lot of work, but fun, too. As for these rolls, if it were me making that many, I would go with the crescent shape. More work than a standard roll but the presentation is much nicer, plus they are less work than the cloverleaf, in my opinion (and I think overall the crescent shape is the most beautiful for a wedding dinner). Just keep in mind that if you’ve had the dough in the fridge, it doesn’t roll out very well cold, so I like to let it sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes, if I have the time, to take the chill off and make it easier to roll out. Good luck!

      • Anne says:

        Anissa – I would just add that the Lion House roll shaping method (cehck out Mel’s tutorial) would probably work nicely here too, and I find it easier/faster than the crescent since I don’t need to get a decent circle shape first. I use an acrylic pizza wheel for cutting. Have fun!

  28. Anissa says:

    Thank you so much for the great tips Mel. You’re awesome!

  29. Megan says:

    These are awesome. I have a similar recipe…but in mine I have to scald the buttermilk so it’s nice to skip that step! Yeah that I can have fresh rolls again this week!

  30. Cori says:

    How many rolls does this make? I want to make them for 11 people.

  31. Cori says:

    Thank you!

  32. Nicole says:

    These do look sooooo divine! I’m making them tonight with my other favorite of yours- the basil stuffed chicken. Anyways I REALLY loved your tutorial on the 2 types of yeast, especially because I tried your divine breadsticks before and they didn’t turn out and after I found out I was using the wrong yeast they were perfect! So my question is- which type of yeast am I suppose to use for this one since you didn’t specify?

  33. Mel says:

    Nicole – you can use either active dry or instant yeast in this recipe since it is dissolved and proofed in water before proceeding with the recipe (I always use instant but that’s because I have it on hand).

  34. Maria says:

    Hi there! I am excited to try these tomorrow, but I have one question- how long would I knead it in the stand alone mixer? Thank you in advance.


  35. Mel says:

    Hi Maria – I make these in my electric stand mixer and knead for about 5-6 minutes. Good luck!

  36. Karen says:

    Hi Mel, what kind of oil do you use? Could you use all or part butter?
    I hope all is well in your new home.

  37. Mel says:

    Karen – I use canola oil. I’ve never used butter but it’s probably worth a try!

  38. Denise says:

    Thank you so much, Melanie! I made these rolls the other day and love that the dough can stay in the fridge for up to a week! We had fresh baked rolls several times this week because of this wonderful recipe! Pure Genius, thanks for sharing!

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  40. Abby says:

    I am one of your biggest followers, but never comment! I comment to my mom and my sisters and everyone else in the world! Anyway, I’m not sure if you will get to my question in time but do you not cover the first mix that stands for 2 hours?

  41. Keri says:

    Mel….these rolls were absolutely delicious!! I can’t believe how easy it is to actually make them (although a bit time consuming) and they are 100% better than store bought. I’m going to bake up other half of dough and freeze for Thanksgiving. Thanks so much!

  42. Kimberly Abrams says:

    OMG! Made this recipe & I’m in love! Used it to make rolls and cinammon rolls. Make sure you give it the rise time it needs for best results. I’m so hooked.

  43. HH says:

    Hi Mel,

    Just wondering. Its a total of 8 cups of flour right? 3 cups plus 5 more?

    • Mel says:

      I always add flour based on texture but the 8 cups is a general guideline. This makes a lot of dough so yes, the 8 cups is correct.

  44. HH says:

    Thanks for the confirmation. & yes, i will see how the dough works out to and gradually will add up to 8 cups – if required at all! Im so excited to make these!

  45. Ali says:

    If you were to cut the recipe in half, would you make any changes to rising times? Looks good!

  46. HH says:

    I finally tried making the rolls…wow. This one is a keeper. I usually use the Tangzhong method for soft fluffy bread-which is AMAZING, but this recipe is a contender. I live in Singapore where it’s superbly humid. I had to use 9 cups of flour in the end as it was way too sticky to shape with 8 cups. All turned out good in the end. Thanks so much for posting this recipe. Please do know that my family and i appreciate all your hard work in providing great recipes that we all can count on!

  47. Kat says:

    I love, love, love this roll recipe. It’s so nice to be able to have fresh rolls so easily. One of my favorite ways to dress them up is to brush with melted butter and sprinkle with rosemary before baking. So divine. And as if the dinner rolls weren’t delicious enough, this dough makes the most light and heavenly cinnamon rolls of all time. ya. amazing.

  48. Katherine says:

    Mel, I LOVE your blog and I really want to try the crescent roll method but I’m having problems visualizing how to do it. Any chance you have step by step pictures?

    • Mel says:

      I don’t have step-by-steps of this but I’ll try to take some next time. Basically you press each portion of dough into a circle and cut it like you would a pizza (so you’ll end up with triangle-shaped pieces). Then start from the long end of each triangle and roll up. Does that help?

  49. Donna says:

    Last year at Christmas I made your wheat/potato rolls and they were a huge hit. I think I’ll be trying this recipe for our Christmas dinner this year. They look yummy and seem easy to make. I’m all about the easy!

  50. These rolls look so perfect! I love that they can be made ahead :)

    Dani | http://www.styledvariety.com

  51. Jill says:

    do you have to leave the first step for two to three hours…I’m wanting to make them but don’t have quiet that much time?

    • Mel says:

      Yes, if you want the rolls to bake up light and fluffy – that first “sponging” or rising step means you don’t need to go through an official 1st rise like many recipes call for so I wouldn’t recommend skipping it (plus I think it also has a lot to do with the buttermilk in the dough and how all the chemistry plays together?).

      • Jill says:

        thanks Mel…I really did have time I was just whining! Hahaha! the rolls were amazing…making another batch this weekend for thanksgiving! you’re the best! Jill

  52. Megan says:

    This recipe sounds absolutely amazing and I want to try it for Thanksgiving next week. I do have a question. Do you think these could be shaped after the first rise and frozen for a three hour car trip, then let them thaw, rise, and bake? I would love to try them but would rather spend my limited time with family and not babysitting dough.
    P.S. My sister turned me onto your site and I LOVE it! Thanks for sharing so many wonderful recipes!

    • Mel says:

      That’s a great question, Megan – I’ve never done that exact same method but because the dough is so versatile and does so well in the refrigerator, I think that plan stands a really good chance of working!

  53. Helen says:

    This is another one of those… how did I miss these moments?!? Time to change up my roll portion of my menu for next week and give these a whirl…. along with the other 3 roll variations I was already planning on, hmmm… Is it possible that I have a roll obsession?

  54. Diana L. says:

    I’ve just spent the last hour on your site pinning away! So many wonderful recipes I can’t wait to try. Time to start my meal planning for the next few weeks. Your pictures look fabulous BTW.

  55. Jenny says:

    Can you use regular all purpose flour, or does bread flour work better?

    • Mel says:

      I usually use unbleached all-purpose flour (or 50% all-purpose and 50% freshly ground white wheat) but bread flour would probably work too – even lighter and fluffier rolls is my bet.

  56. Tiffany says:

    I want to double this for our thanksgiving dinner, would you double the yeast? Is your general rule of thumb double recipe = double yeast, triple recipe = 2.5 times yeast?

    • Mel says:

      It kind of depends on the recipe but usually for a double recipe I double the instant or use slightly less than double. Most of my roll recipes are too big to triple but if you were doing so, then yeah, I’d probably decrease the total yeast just a bit.

  57. Rachel says:

    Hi, I am wondering about shaping the rolls and then putting them in the fridge overnight. The next morning take the rolls out or the fridge and let them come to room temp. Then bake. We are eating Thanksgiving dinner at 11 am and will be traveling for a couple of hours. Have you ever done this? Do you think this would work. Thank you for any advise :)

  58. Rachel says:

    advice 😉

  59. Paige says:

    These rolls look amazing! I’ve never actually made homemade rolls before, but I’ve been wanting to make them for Thanksgiving so I’ll definitely be trying out this recipe!


  60. Katie says:

    These look so yummy! Question??? I’ve made just about all your roll recipes and your Parker house rolls are my all time favorite! How do these compare in taste and texture? I love that the Parker house rolls are a little sturdier and slightly sweet. Thank you!

  61. Anna says:

    Just thought I’d mention a typo: In the body of the crescent roll instructions, you say to “divide the dough into thirds and roll each section into a 10- or 11-inch triangle” Shouldn’t that say CIRCLE, instead?

    Thanks for this recipe, I’ve got buttermilk that ‘needs’ to be turned into rolls.

    • Mel says:

      Thanks for bringing that to my attention, Anna! You are right…just edited the recipe (no wonder some were confused!).

      • Anna says:

        Glad to help!

        I made a half batch of dough today, and baked up half of that as crescent rolls this afternoon. So good. Thanks for sharing this recipe. Perfect timing for the holidays.

  62. Shelley says:

    I can’t wait to try these rolls. I LOVE your website. I read through the directions and I think you meant to say for making crescent rolls “roll out into a 10″ circle” not a triangle. But that could be fun! Thanks for sharing your awesome talents with us!

  63. Michele Gledhill says:


    How many crescent rolls do you usually put on one pan? I’ve tried it with 12 and 24. With 24 it was much faster but it seemed like the tops got more golden than the rest of the roll. With 12, you double your baking time in the kitchen. Also, do you ever use parchment paper underneath? I have done both ways but feel like parchment made them a little on the softer side.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Michelle – I always use parchment on my sheet pans when baking rolls. And I put 24 on a pan. Ovens are such funny things. Mine right now (it’s been different in every house we’ve lived in) will only brown the tops of my rolls if I bake them at 375 or 400 (at 350, no matter how long I keep them in there, they bake through but are pale on top).

  64. Melissa says:

    These rolls look amazing! Would they freeze well after they are baked? I’m also making for Thanksgiving but don’t want the hassle of frozen dough in the 1.5 hour car ride. Thanks- love your website!

  65. Julie Brock says:

    Can you please tell me which of the roll recipes would be best – Make-Ahead Buttermilk Dinner Rolls or the French Rolls. I will be shaping them into balls. Also, are your measurements metric (as in Australia). Our tablespoon is 20mL and a cup 250mL.

  66. Cheryl says:


    Do you think I can use this recipe in a bread maker?

  67. Kathy says:

    Hi Mel, was wondering if I can make a 1/2 batch if I will need to adjust the yeast? I made this in my kitchen aid mixer and the big batch kept climbing up the dough hook. We just sampled the first pan out of the oven and they are delicious, soft and fluffy! Taking to our thanksgiving get together. I just love your blog you really do have the best recipes!

  68. Mel says:

    Hi Mel,

    I was craving a nice, warm, soft roll with butter, so I made these and they are just what I wanted! They are pillowy soft and delicious! I am taking some to work with me tomorrow for my lunch. Thanks for another wonderful recipe!

  69. Rachael says:

    Made these for an early thanksgiving dinner…very light in texture and beautiful. Great recipe. My dream roll.

  70. barb says:

    Could I bake these the day before thanksgiving, freeze the baked rolls and just warm them up for dinner on Thanksgiving day? Or do you recommend (for these rolls) that they not be frozen after baking?

    • Mel says:

      I’ve frozen them after baking and they are fine but I think if you are making them the day before, you could get by with just covering well and then warming lightly before dinner.

  71. Maggie says:

    Hi Mel,

    Would white whole wheat flour work in this recipe?


  72. Valley says:

    I think I’ll try these rolls for Thanksgiving instead of the ones I usually make; they sound great.

    Sent here by Ellen and Marita, of the Oh My Goodness cookbook and TheFAMILYLife fame. :)

  73. Laura Jewell says:

    I made these for our Thanksgiving dinner, my first time making rolls ever! They were delicious! I made one pan of cloverleaf and one of classic roll shape. 11 minutes was maybe a minute or two too long for my clover leaves, but the dinner rolls were perfect!

  74. Kelly says:

    I love your site, Mel, and have made dozens of your recipes successfully. But these rolls were troublesome for me.

    I shaped them into 3 oz balls and put in a 9×13 pan. They were in there pretty tightly. They took much longer than 16 minutes to bake. Or maybe 375 was too high a temp. The tops browned but the insides were raw at 16 minutes. They were also very skinny and tall because there was no room in the pan to spread out. We had sat down to eat Thanksgiving dinner and I was tired of getting up from the table and checking on the rolls so I just turned the oven heat off through dinner and let them sit in the oven. We didn’t eat the rolls that night, of course, but they tasted good the day after. However, because they were skinny and tall, they didn’t make great day-after sandwiches.

    Next time I’ll make crescent shapes.

  75. Becky says:

    I made these for Thanksgiving and they were the best rolls I have ever made! I used fresh ground soft white wheat kernals for the 3 cups of flour you mix with the buttermilk and yeast then I used all-purpose flour for the remaining 5 1/2 cups I used to get a soft dough. I made them into 36 crescents and they were perfect! Thank You Mel for all your great recipes! I have 6 sons and 1 daughter :)

  76. Susan says:

    Last Thanksgiving I made your Creamy Confetti corn and fell in love with it. This year, thanks to our local Walmart not carrying our typical brown and serve rolls, I decided to try making these rolls and, OMG, there is no going back. They are delicious!

  77. Liz says:

    Can you clarify the flour amount? It says 3 cups flour (about 15 oz) but wouldn’t that be 24 oz if it was 3 cups? Also it says 1 TB instant yeast. Is that just one packet? I just dumped it in in the little packet without measuring. Oops! Thanks for any info!

    • Mel says:

      One cup of flour weighs 5 ounces (the way I measure it, everyone varies slightly) even though the volume of the cup is 8 ounces. That’s why the total flour amount is about 15 ounces for 3 cups. Usually there’s 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast in one packet. I buy mine in bulk so I just measure it out by a tablespoonful.

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