Buttery Cornmeal Crescent Rolls

A few weeks back, my Aunt Marilyn sent me a new roll recipe that uses cornmeal and milk as the base. Enter: major skepticism. But I trust my Aunt implicitly, so I gave them a go. Before I offer my verdict, let me explain that I don’t need a new roll recipe. I have several that I love and use all the time. I’d much rather spend my time looking for new double-chocolate-anything recipes than roll recipes.

But let me tell you, these cornmeal crescent rolls have skyrocketed to my new favorites. I feel slightly disloyal to my other faves, but the truth cannot be withheld. They are deliciously unreal.

If making them six times (yes, six!) in the last three weeks, including making 100 of them for a church function, is any indication, then yes, they are my new favorites.

Light, flaky and absolutely soft and tender, these rolls are decadent in their butteryness and while you can’t taste the cornmeal as a main, strong flavor, the subtle texture and lightness it provides is essential to the success of these beauties.

I can’t stop making them. I really can’t. Please, oh please, someone join me in my happy carb-induced nirvana.

Buttery Cornmeal Crescent Rolls

One Year Ago: Schoolyard Cupcakes
Two Years Ago: The Best Blueberry Muffins
Three Years Ago: Solid Peanut Butter Cups

Buttery Cornmeal Crescent Rolls

Yield: Makes 2 dozen rolls

Buttery Cornmeal Crescent Rolls

Note: if you need/want to use active dry yeast instead of instant yeast, change the amount of yeast to 2 tablespoons active dry and dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water and 1 tablespoon sugar. Let the yeast mixture activate and foam (approximately 5 minutes) before adding it to the cornmeal mixture with the butter and 1/3 cup sugar.

Also, 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.

Lastly, I often use half to 3/4 finely ground white whole wheat flour with good results - and sometimes I get crazy and use 100% whole wheat flour (always finely ground white wheat) but the bread is a bit more dense with 100% whole wheat flour. If using part or all whole wheat flour, add a few minutes to the kneading time to help develop the gluten.


  • 2 cups milk
  • 2/3 cup yellow corn meal
  • 1 ½ tablespoons instant yeast
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 5 ½ – 6 cups flour (see note)


  1. Heat the milk to just below a boil so bubbles are just appearing around the edges (this is called scalding milk). Add the cornmeal and cook and stir until thickened, lowering the temperature if needed so the mixture doesn’t boil (see picture below the recipe for an idea of what the consistency should be). Pour the cornmeal/milk mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl and let cool until lukewarm. Add the yeast, butter and sugar (if you dissolved active dry yeast with a bit of water and sugar until it foamed, add it now). Mix. Add the salt and eggs. Mix well. Add the flour gradually until a soft dough forms. Knead for 5-8 minutes.
  2. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl covered with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.
  3. Divide the dough into three portions and roll each into about an 8-10 inch circle. Brush the top lightly with butter. Cut into 8 wedges and roll each wedge up starting from the wide end so it forms a crescent roll shape. Place each roll on a lightly greased or silpat- or parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing about 1-2 inches apart to allow for rising. Cover lightly with greased plastic wrap. Let the rolls rise until doubled.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned. Brush with butter while still warm.

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from my Aunt Marilyn who got the recipe from her friend, Anne K.

Here is a picture of what the consistency of the cornmeal/milk mixture should look like when it is done cooking and thickening.

165 Responses to Buttery Cornmeal Crescent Rolls

  1. Melissa says:

    I’m no baking expert but I have made these multiple times. I think for those who are having the problem of a clumpy cornmeal mixture, it’s because the cornmeal/milk mixture is too hot. I’ve had it happen to me before. Today when I made them I made sure that the milk/cornmeal never boiled and I did not have any clumps in the mixture at all. Just my 2 cents!

  2. Cindy Hovey says:

    I finally made these about 10 days ago. Wow. It’s a good thing I splurged on the big bag of cornmeal because I have made 3 batches since then. My family stops everything when these come out of the oven. We had them with your favorite clam chowder last night and my husband was worried about going into a food coma. Thanks for keeping us all happy over here!

  3. Salem says:

    Here’s to making these amazing rolls for church functions! I sign up for rolls every time and then come home and make these. Although today my husband suggested we just buy some, and I was shocked!! 🙂

    Thanks for great food!

  4. Salem says:

    So Mel, when you put these on the pan to bake, how do you arrange them? I never know how to do it.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Salem – I usually try to fit three rolls across lengthwise across the top and five or six down (on a large 12X18-inch baking sheet) for a total of 15 or 18 per sheet. Does that help?

  5. marlow says:

    I tried this recipe on thanksgiving, wasn’t sure if they would turn out like yours, but to suprise they were wonderful and the most picky of my family were delighted with them, thanks again, have a wonderful holiday.

  6. marlow says:

    I just tried this recipe for thanksgiving. I wasn’t sure if they would turn out like yours, but to my suprise they were wonderful. Even the pickest of my family agree they were the best. thanks again.

  7. Carolyn D. says:

    I can’t wait to make these after reading all the posts about them. Is the butter that is brushed on the rolled out dough in addition to what you have listed in the ingredients?

  8. Cindy says:

    Here is our latest thing. Before we roll these up, we stick in a mozzarella cheese stick and some pepperoni slices. Oh my! Don’t worry, we eat them the regular way at least twice a month too.

  9. Barbara says:

    You can’t possibly know how much I’d love these, but 2 dozen for two old people is way more than we can handle. Do you suppose that it would be just as successful if I cut the recipe in half? (I’d still have plenty to freeze.) Oh, I do hope it would work well because I just know I’d love these! If not, I’ll be sharing with at least two other people, and probably three. I have several widowed neighbors who help me eat cookies, LOL!

  10. Sarah says:

    If I want to add a filling to these crescent rolls, at what point in the recipe would you do that? Thanks! Love your website 🙂

    • Mel says:

      Sarah – If you are thinking a filling like, say, nutella, I’d spread it on before cutting the dough into wedges – then just roll up, let rise and bake. Good luck!

  11. Bri says:

    I’m thinking these are going to be my Easter rolls this year!

  12. Lori S. says:

    Went searching fora recipe for Beef Barley soup and found yours. You suggested making these to go along with it. Am I ever glad I took your suggestion – these are fabulous! (The soup was mighty fine as well!) I am not the patient type so after I put the cornmeal mixture into the bowl of my stand mixer, I added cold butter and once it had melted, beat it in and continued beating the mixture until it got to the lukewarm stage. Worked very well! I also used a fine white cornmeal. Next time I try these I am going to try the cinnamon sugar filling!! Thank you for your awesome recipes!!

  13. Beth W says:

    I made these last night and were they ever a hit! I have a couple questions, though. First, mine turned out huge and not nearly as pretty as yours in your pictures. About how big are yours when they’re done? Also, how do you store them? Even though we’re a family of 6, it’s going to take us a week or so to work through 24 big rolls. Thanks!!

    • Mel says:

      Beth W – I’ve never specifically measured the finished rolls but they are probably a couple inches across (maybe 3?) and an inch or so in width. If they came out too big, you could cut more triangles and get more per batch. If we have leftovers, I usually store them in a freezer ziploc bag in the freezer and pull them out as we want them.

  14. Windflower says:

    Eating one of these hot out of the oven – this is the first time I’ve ever made yeast rolls (or yeast anything outside of pizza crust) and they came out perfectly. I now feel like I can bake anything! Cinnamon rolls are next….

    I only had access to polenta, which is maybe why I only needed 4 cups of flour. I was sure the enormously heavy lump in my mixer bowl would never rise, but it did, and rolled out beautifully, and rose again (though maybe I didn’t leave it quite long enough, but I was starving).

    I doubled the salt as I was using unsalted butter, but may use salted plus the doubling next time. Thanks for the recipe!

  15. cibele says:

    Hey there Mel, love your recipes, I’m always coming back to check on the new ones!
    Got a question for you, how can I freeze these rolls? Have you tried freezing them before?
    Does it change the texture or taste? Thx.

  16. Brenda says:

    Is it possible to not roll into crescent shapes and just make a normal shapes dinner roll? I am thinking for the large amount I need having one less step would be sooooo much easier

    • Mel says:

      Good question; I haven’t tried it that way but it’s a pretty soft, great dough to work with so I think it should work just fine to roll them into a dinner roll.

  17. ErinM says:

    These sound delish! I’m so excited to make them! Any estimates on how long they take to make with the rising and such?

  18. Megan lemon says:

    Hey Mel! I love these rolls and have made them a few times for dinner. I recently found a quick breakfast recipe where I use crescent roll dough in a tube and put eggs, ham and cheese in them and then bake. My husband loves them! Do you think there is a way to make this dough ahead of time and roll them in the morning with the other ingredients? Thanks for your help!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Megan – I think you could definitely make this dough and then refrigerate it (letting it go through a slow rise instead of rising in a bowl at room temperature). I’d take it out a couple hours before you want to use it so that it’s soft and pliable but I think it could definitely be made ahead of time. I actually think, also, if the eggs were patted dry so they weren’t overly liquidy that you could assemble the little ham/cheese pockets and refrigerate those – then bake the morning you want them.

  19. Kat says:

    Is the 1/2 c butter supposed to be melted, softened, room temp?

  20. Amber Petersen says:

    I have made these multiple times and want to make them for thanksgiving but I’m hosting so I have a ton to do. Can you form the rolls and put them in the fridge overnight and then let them do the second rise in the morning?

  21. Ami says:

    Made these today for a mini Thanksgiving dinner and they were FANTASTIC! So tender and buttery. Everyone loved them. Thanks for taking the time to make, photograph, and share your recipes.

  22. Maria says:

    Had to change some things at high elevation in Utah but we love them! Made these twice this month-once to practice and once for Thanksgiving. The changes I had to make: First, I doubled it both times and used between 9-10 (instead of 11-12) cups of flour and it was PLENTY. The second time I used 10 c. and they were a little denser and less fluffy than just 9. I don’t pack my flour either so I’ll definitely change that on my copy of the recipe. Secondly, I rolled out my circles bigger (and thus thinner) and cut them into 10-12 rolls each and they turned out much prettier than the first time when I did an 8″ circle and 8 rolls. And last, both times we made these (and in different ovens both times) it took more like 20 minutes to get them lightly golden brown. Thanks, Mel for another home run hit. Everyone loved them at Thanksgiving! 🙂 (I made your apple pie and sour cream crust too. We talked about how much we love your site over dinner. 🙂

  23. Erin says:

    Oh wow! I made them tonight and ate 1 1/2 before I even had them on the table! I used 1 cup whole wheat flour & the rest “regular” flour. We live at almost 7,000 feet, so I had to add more flour to have the right feel (almost 6c white flour & 1c whole wheat). I also baked them at 375 degrees instead of 350.
    I mixed all of the ingredients except the yeast with half of the flour & let my stand mixer develop the gluten (less kneading) before adding the yeast/ water mixture & the rest of the flour. I followed the rest of the directions exactly as written. Thank you soooo much! They were fantastic!

  24. Julianne says:

    These are great. I used about half whole wheat, half white flour. I was planning on halving the recipe, and so only used 1 cup of milk and 1/3 cup cornmeal…and then my brain blew a fuse or something, because I used the full amounts for everything else. I didn’t realize my mistake until after the first rise. However, they still turned out fantastic. Very light and fluffy (and PERFECT with jam or honey, or nothing at all), even with the missing ingredients. We had these with the Spicy Brown Sugar Pork Loin and this was a hit of a meal for us.

  25. Laurie says:

    I would love to try these rolls, but the 1/3 of a cup of sugar in them makes me wonder – do the rolls end up tasting sweet? I don’t like sweet rolls – or rather if I am making rolls/bread I want them to be savoury, not sweet. I know I will need sugar to activate my dry (not instant) yeast – but do you taste the 1/3 c. of sugar, or do these taste like “normal” non-sweet rolls? Thanks if anyone can advise!

    • Mel says:

      You could definitely reduce the sugar if you like. They aren’t overly sweet tasting to me so I’ve never adjusted the sugar amount but if you are worried about it, you could start with 1-2 tablespoons.

  26. CindyP says:

    These look so yummy! I am going to make them for Easter….. How did you prep yours for Church?
    I will be making a dinner for 50… wondering if I should make these ahead and freeze, make the day of (which is doable with oven usage but not convenient), or ???
    Any suggestions?
    This crowd happens to be pretty big bread lovers 🙂

    • Mel says:

      Well, nothing beats fresh rolls so if you can make them the day of, that’d be the top preference. You could even make the dough, let it rise, shape the rolls and cover with plastic wrap – then pop them in the fridge overnight and bake them the next day.

  27. JC says:

    OH WOW. These are delish! Winner! I have to admit I almost didn’t make them – the idea of scalding milk and thickening the cornmeal sounded tedious (just being honest!) But wow! These whip up pretty quickly and are so light and fluffy! I’m a fan. Thanks, Mel! This is a keeper 🙂

  28. Kassie says:

    Maybe this is a dumb question…but do you melt the butter? or just leave it softened?

  29. april says:

    I just made these yesterday and the texture is unbeatable! so soft and fluffy! i am wondering if you use unsalted or salted butter? I used unsalted and they lacked a little flavor so i am going to try to use salted next time. thanks for all the delish recipes.

  30. margaret says:

    My mother made these rolls for fifty years. Everyone asked for the recipe. She cooked the cornmeal mixture in a double boiler, thus no lumps or clumps. Delicious!

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