Fluffy Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

News flash! Whole wheat rolls don’t have to be dense and built-like-a-brick. Promise. These fluffy whole wheat dinner rolls are as light and scrumptious as their French Bread counterparts. And when I say whole wheat, I mean the real deal whole wheat. As in 100% whole wheat. None of this put a quarter cup wheat flour in a recipe with six cups white flour and call it whole wheat stuff.

For the last several years when making the aforementioned French bread rolls, I would just throw in part or all whole wheat flour in order to up the nutrition a bit. They were ok. Not as delicious as the all-white flour version, but not terrible. It’s rare that I make any bread or roll without subbing in at least part of the white flour for wheat thanks to my beloved wheat grinder sitting on the counter just waiting to fulfill its purpose in life (and the fact that white bread is like dessert to my kids – they think something extra special, like the end of the world, for instance, is happening when the bread or rolls in our house aren’t brown). No one in my family really complained about the whole wheat rolls I would make, but in my heart I knew they could be about a million times more fluffy and yummy and equally as delicious as the white flour version.

Fluffy Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

Who knew the solution would be so easy? I took a simple ingredient that I use in my whole wheat bread recipe and added a bit of it to this roll recipe along with 100% whole wheat flour. And whatdyaknow? The most amazing, fluffiest whole wheat dinner rolls on the planet. It’ll be our little secret that there isn’t a speck of white flour to be found in these babies.

If you’ve already made the French Bread rolls, you’ll know they are one of the most foolproof bread recipes out there and a grrrreeeaat place to start if you are knew to the world of making your own yeast breads. This whole wheat version? Despite a few extra minutes of kneading time, they are equally as simple. As always, one of the biggest keys to yeast bread success is to not overflour the dough. Otherwise, you will end up with little brick-ish lumps and your heart most definitely will not be singing hallelujah to the fluffy roll heavens.

Fluffy Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

One Year Ago: Carrot Cake Cheesecake
Two Years Ago: Butternut Squash Risotto
Three Years Ago: Peanut Butter Pretzel and Toffee Bonbons

Fluffy Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

Yield: Makes 12 rolls

As with all yeast doughs, I never use the flour amount called for in the recipe as a hard fast rule. 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. Also, here's a video tutorial on how to shape the rolls.

Vital wheat gluten is basically wheat flour that has the wheat bran and starch removed - it's low in carbs and super pumped up with protein. When added to yeast breads, particularly whole wheat breads, it helps develop the natural gluten in the wheat flour and provides a light fluffiness sometimes hard to achieve with whole wheat bread. It is very fine in texture and light brownish/yellowish in color and is easily found in the baking aisle of most grocery stores near the flour (I get mine from an organic mill near where I live so you may check your local availability for a source like that).

Finally, if you are new to using whole wheat, here is a series on the different types of wheat and another on grinding wheat. I almost always use hard white wheat berries for grinding because I like the texture and lightness of hard white wheat vs. hard red wheat.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 3/4 tablespoon instant yeast (or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten (see note)
  • 3-4 cups whole wheat flour, give or take a little (see note)

Directions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl by hand, combine the warm water, yeast, sugar, oil, salt, gluten, and 2 cups of the flour. If you are using active dry yeast instead of instant yeast, let the yeast proof in the warm water and sugar for about 3-5 minutes until it is foamy and bubbly before adding the oil, salt, gluten and flour.
  2. While mixing, gradually add the rest of the flour until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Judge the dough by how it feels, not necessarily by the exact flour amount called for in the recipe (see a tutorial on working with yeast here). The dough should be soft and smooth but still slightly tacky to the touch.
  3. Knead the dough in the stand mixer or by hand until it is very smooth and elastic, about 7 minutes in a stand mixer or 10-12 minutes by hand. As the dough is kneaded, it will continue to absorb some of the liquid and become less sticky so take care not to overflour at first as the texture will change as it kneads - and you can always add a bit of flour partway through if it seems overly sticky.
  4. If kneading by hand, try using a bit of oil or cooking spray on the counter to help prevent stickiness instead of flour - that way the dough doesn't get overfloured. Lightly spray a large bowl with cooking spray and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with lightly greased plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until it has doubled, 1-2 hours.
  5. Lightly punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly greased countertop. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and form the dough into round balls (a video tip on shaping the dough into rolls here).
  6. Place the rolls on a lightly greased or silpat-lined baking sheet about an inch or two apart. Cover the rolls with lightly greased plastic wrap. Let the plastic wrap gently hang over the sides of the pan to fully cover the rolls but not press them down. Let the rolls rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 12-14 minutes until lightly browned and cooked through.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/fluffy-whole-wheat-dinner-rolls/
Recipe Source: Mel’s Kitchen Cafe (adapted from these French Bread Rolls)

Fluffy Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

60 Responses to Fluffy Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

  1. Sheila says:

    Oh . . . .wow . . .seriously – a rival for the beloved French Bread rolls claiming to be fluffy, light, low in carbs, and pumped up with protein? Never heard of “vital wheat gluten” but just placed on my next task to accomplish finding. Excited! Your skill level and talent are simply amazing!

  2. Kim in MD says:

    Your French bread rolls are a go to recipe for me whenever I am craving fresh baked bread! I can’t wait to try this recipe. Now I have to find me some vital wheat gluten!

  3. Heather says:

    I love using vital wheat gluten in my bread recipes. I’ll definitely be trying these rolls out. Made me laugh: “None of this put a quarter cup wheat flour in a recipe with six cups white flour and call it whole wheat stuff.” You’re a woman after my own heart! Thanks for sharing another great recipe.

  4. Jen T says:

    Where do you get your hard white wheat now that the cannery doesn’t sell it in bulk? Do you just buy it from them pre-canned?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Jen – I have a local, organic mill that I’ve been getting my white whole wheat from but I also order it online from store.lds.org, too, since it’s free shipping. I’ve seen several sources on amazon, too, but it’s just expensive to pay for shipping. I’m still scouting out good resources!

  5. Teresa R. says:

    Another great recipe! We love the French bread rolls and I can’t wait to try this recipe. Thanks!

  6. I love rolls. I suppose I should love it even more if they’re whole wheat. Regardless, I love rolls. I don’t care what flour is used.
    So pretty, Mel! Have a beautiful day!

  7. N says:

    Okay so the vital wheat gluten, is it necessary when baking with whole wheat or is it a preference?

    I’m new to whole wheat baking and just ordered berries for the first time. I’m hoping I can find It at my local grocery store but I do live in a small town so not always can I find those things..our decision to move to whole wheat is the health reasons but making my own bread will help eliminate HFCS and all the junk used in commercial products.

    • Mel says:

      N and Emily – the vital wheat gluten is really important for the fluffy lightness of these rolls. As far as I know, there isn’t a sub. Some people say you can put nonfat milk powder in the place of gluten but in my experience, it doesn’t benefit the roll dough in the same way as gluten. N – I live in a very small town too (less than 2,500 people) and I’m able to find it so I’m hopeful you will be able to also. I’ve made these rolls lots and lots of times (like I indicated in the post) without the gluten and they are just ok. But the gluten helps them achieve a light fluffiness that is amazing. :) If you really don’t want to use the gluten, you can try doubling the kneading time to see if that helps.

  8. Anne says:

    This may be a silly question, but in the picture you’ve obviously doubled the recipe. Should I be baking a single recipe in a 9×13 baking dish or can I still bake them on an 11 x 17?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Anne – yep, I did double the recipe (I usually double it or triple it when I’m making it) but if you are making a single recipe you can bake them in a 9X13-inch pan or just use half of a large sheet pan – either option will work just fine.

  9. Hilary says:

    Already have the dough rising! Will let you know how much we all loved them after supper- thanks again for another stellar recipe!!

  10. Amber says:

    I make your french bread rolls all the time and am seriously stoked for this all wheat recipe! Honestly, so far in my bread making career your french bread roll recipe is the only one I have had success with time and time again. Thanks for sharing awesome recipes!!

  11. Oooo, I love rolls. I’ve been wanting to make 100% whole wheat rolls. I must try your recipe. Thanks!

  12. Bridget says:

    Can’t wait to make these! I have been looking for a good Whole Wheat Roll recipe for some time. An actual 100% wheat roll, using 1/4 Cup of wheat flour does not make them wheat!! Thanks!

  13. Emily says:

    Is it possible to make them without the vital gluten stuff? Is there something to sub in it’s place?

  14. Ali says:

    Have you played around with freezing them in dough form? If not, how would you attempt that?

    • Mel says:

      Ali – I have done that a time or two. I roll the dough into the cute little balls, place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and put them in the freezer. Once frozen, I take them off the pan and place them in a freezer ziploc bag (kind of like a bag of frozen Rhodes rolls!). When I want to bake them, I take out however many I want from the bag, place them on a lined baking sheet, cover with greased plastic wrap and let them defrost and rise at room temp for 6-8 hours, really depends on the warmth of your kitchen. The rolls have a slightly yeastier taste (not in a bad way) but otherwise, it’s a great option. Have fun if you try it!

  15. I look forward to trying these. Our school system down here in Louisiana has switched over to only making whole wheat rolls. So instead of those awesome old-fashioned school rolls, they have little whole wheat hockey pucks. It’s nice to know that just because they are whole wheat doesn’t mean they have to be that way. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Regina says:

    I buy my vital wheat gluten at my local health food store.

  17. Lyndsay says:

    Your French bread rolls have changed our life! Never again will I eat a burger on a store bought bun. I’m excited to try these! Is vital wheat gluten different than just gluten flour?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Lyndsay – as long as the gluten flour is 75% protein, it should be interchangeable with vital wheat gluten. I’ve used both with similar results (the only confusion comes because sometimes bread flour or other high protein flours are labeled as “gluten flour” – that isn’t what you want – you want the light brown/tannish, fine wheat gluten).

  18. susanj says:

    These look delicious.

  19. Hilary says:

    Oh my, oh my!! These are UNBELIEVABLE!! My 4 kids were asking for “another roll” for dessert- seriously!!! This recipe is a keeper!!! THANK YOU!!

  20. Andrea Donaldson says:

    I just made your French Bread Rolls for dinner, 100% whole wheat, and added the vital gluten as I always do for my bread. They were fabulous! Then I saw this recipe, and had to laugh. We both had the same idea! These make you not even miss white rolls.

  21. Tammie says:

    I did a year long study on making Wheat bread “Just because” and after several hundred different changes I discovered I hate vital gluten I feel it leaves a taste I just don’t like . What I did find is this. I add an egg to my bread it help with taste and gluten also I have found that if I add 1 cup of blended oats to my bread that it makes the most soft bread without the added gluten

  22. Scott says:

    Barley malt flour is another must for light fluffy rolls, and it adds just a hint of sweetness. It is especially wonderful with recipes using whole wheat. There are specialty places that sell it, but I’ve found it to be cheapest here:
    http://www.preparedpantry.com/bakers-barley-malt-flour.aspx

  23. Mmm these rolls look like perfection. And whole wheat?! Love it. I want one right now!

  24. Diane V says:

    Add me to the list of people who are seriously excited to try these! But, I do have a question – We have church at 1pm on Sundays, so I like to put something in the crock pot so it’s ready when we get home. So I really want to figure out how to have fresh homemade rolls to go with it. How could I make these rolls so that they can go in the oven right when I get home? Or maybe just rest/rise at room temp for 1/2 hour? Is that possible? I was thinking maybe they’d rise slower in the fridge and then I could take them out for a bit and then put them in the oven, but I really don’t know if it would work and I don’t want to ruin them! The other thing is that I can’t make them *right* before I leave, because I have 4 young children, and I’m sure you can understand how that goes before church. And my husband’s in the bishopric ;) So I’d probably be mixing up the dough around 10am. Thoughts??

    • Mel says:

      Hi Diane – your life seems very similar to mine so I totally get it. :) If it were me, I’d make them on Saturday afternoon or evening. Let the dough rise, punch it down, shape it into rolls and place on the baking sheet. Cover with greased plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator. Take them out right when you get home and try to let them rest at room temp for 30 minutes or so. They should have puffed a bit in the fridge. Put them in the oven while you preheat it if they need a bit of extra oomph for rising. Then just bake like normal. Good luck!

  25. Britany says:

    I made these rolls tonight for dinner and they are awesome! Best whole wheat rolls I’ve ever had! They were super light and fluffy and really easy to make. We had them with your loaded broccoli cheese soup which was equally amazing! Keep the great recipies coming :)

  26. Michelle says:

    Thank you Mel!! We just had these for dinner along with some soup, and we LOVED them!!! :) Amazingly fluffy, flavorful, and just perfect in every way. I’m passing along this recipe everywhere I can!

  27. bluebaker says:

    Mel- just curious how do you measure 3/4 Tbsp. yeast? Is is equal to one commercial “packet”, which is 2 1/4 tsp.? I made these just now and they are very good but I didn’t get the fluffy rise, I think I may have overfloured, and I think the amount of yeast may have been off. I am getting a little better about troubleshooting these things. These taste delicious, even though they are a little ‘heartier” than your picture. I am definately going to give it another shot on my next baking day.

    • Mel says:

      bluebaker – well, three teaspoons equals a tablespoon so while I haven’t figured it out precisely, I do think the 2 1/4 teaspoons in a packet of yeast is about the same as 3/4 teaspoon. How much did you use? If you used 2 1/4 teaspoons and the yeast was active and not expired, that’s probably not the reason for the dough not rising. I’m guessing it’s probably an overflouring issue. Did the dough rise at all?

  28. Kelly says:

    At my local Wal-Marts (I shop at the Layton, Utah area Walmarts) the Vital Wheat Gluten is located on the aisle next to all the canning supplies, which is also the aisle with can openers, etc. AND the same aisle of the wheat berries. I don’t know if there is a “food storage” aisle at Walmarts outside of Utah, but just a tip for anyone looking for it in Utah.

  29. kandi v says:

    Just a tip: I have a measuring spoon from King Arthur that measures yeast. It is equal to the amount of yeast in one packet. Makes life easy peasy. I bought vital gluten quite awhile ago and have never used it, but since I am making rolls for the broadcast dinner tomorrow, I will finally use it. Can’t wait to try this recipe!

  30. bluebaker says:

    Hi Mel- yes they did rise some.but not what i would have liked . I think there were three problems: 1. overflouring 2 underkneading 3. my overly talkative sister was on the phone, but I was so excited to be trying these that I wanted to keep going, so I had the phone kinked up in my shoulder while listening to her and trying to finish what I was doing. #3 may have caused 1 and 2. next time I will try it without the distraction..

  31. Katherine says:

    Hi Mel… I recently started following you and I am addicted! My daughter now calls me “chef-Momma”! I love trying your roll recipes – I had never made a single roll until I found your blog… But I have a question: What machine do you use for mixing your dough? I have a 5 qrt Kitchen Aid, and I find after 5 – 6 cups or so of flour, it has some difficulty – and when I have made a way too large a batch, I have even started to smell the burn of the motor! I would love to always double or even triple my batches as they get eaten so quickly, but have to be careful. I would love to know what machine and size you use so I can start leaving not-so-subtle hints for my husband

    • Mel says:

      Hi Katherine – so glad you are enjoying the recipes! I use a Bosch mixer for all my bread making. I’ve never really used a KitchenAid much (I don’t own one) but I have several friends who have them and they usually cut down bread recipes in half to make smaller batches in their KitchenAid so it doesn’t burn out the motor. The Bosch is a workhorse – it can easily fit 15 cups or so of flour and I can’t imagine making bread without it! Having said that, I think KitchenAids work as long as you use small bread/roll recipes and/or knead by hand so the mixer doesn’t get worn out (and of course all this depends on what size motor your KitchenAid has – I’ve heard the ones with 500 watts or more do just fine; the Bosch has an 800 watt motor). I’d be fully supportive of you leaving hints to your husband for a Bosch. Your life will never be the same. :)

  32. Courtney says:

    If you’re using instant yeast why do you have the first rise?

    • Mel says:

      Courtney – you don’t necessarily have to with instant yeast but for these rolls (and other bread recipes) letting the dough rise in a big batch at first helps develop flavor as well as make the dough much, much easier to work with when rolling out because the gluten has had time to relax.

  33. Lorrie says:

    Just pulled these out of the oven and they are heavenly…by far the best whole wheat bread or rolls I have ever made! Light and fluffy and not heavy at all. I wanted a smaller dinner roll so made 2 dozen using 2 9×13 pans and they turned out beautifully! I am in Canada and purchased “gluten flour” at Bulk Barn and it worked perfectly.

  34. Caroline says:

    So good, Mel! I was sweating it for a minute because the dough seemed to be way too dry but wow they turned out fabulous! So soft, so fluffy, I dare say even softer and fluffier than the regular french bread rolls. Thanks so much! Will be using this recipe forever!

  35. Mel says:

    Mel would you use this recipe for wheat hamburger buns or stick with the french bread roll recipe using half white whole wheat flour?

  36. Penny says:

    Mel. Will this recipe work with a bread machine? I am unable to hand knead any more due to arthritis so I rely heavily on my machines. (yes I run 2 all day when I make buns and I feed an army).

    • Mel says:

      Penny – I don’t have a bread machine so I can’t be certain but if you compare the ingredient amounts to other recipes you put in the bread machine, it should knead just fine. My concern is more overflowing if the amounts are different. Good luck feeding your army!

  37. Barbara Ostergaard says:

    I have made this recipe 3 times now, and never have any left to save for later, and I at least double it! My guys turn into pigs with these. There were 6 of us at dinner tonight with 24 rolls. I didn’t even eat one, and they are all gone. None for lunches tomorrow even. The company we had chose these with butter and jam over the quick no-bake cookies I made for dessert. Greeeeaaaaaat recipe. I used to always make the French bread rolls, and they were great. These knock it out of the park!! Thank you!

  38. Ashleigh M says:

    I’ve made many of your yummy rolls in the past, including your delicious French bread rolls today, and I just can’t get mine to brown as beautifully as yours. What’s your secret? I’m at ~4,500 feet elevation, does that have anything to do with it?

    • Mel says:

      Hey Ashleigh – sometimes it depends on where you position your oven rack and it really depends on the oven. In some houses I’ve lived, my rolls brown better at the bottom of the oven and this house, it’s definitely in the top third of the oven where they brown the best so you might want to play around with that. I’m not sure if high altitude has anything to do with it – might be worth googling though. Good luck!

  39. Diane says:

    I haven’t invested in a wheat grinder yet and I can’t seem to find ground hard white wheat (though, interestingly, I have a good source of soft white). Have you tried these with hard red? Are they still fluffy? I rather enjoy the flavor of hard red, but I didn’t love using it in your French bread rolls (half white/half wheat).

  40. Sheila says:

    I made a double batch of these whole wheat rolls a couple of days ago. And they are everything you claimed them to be — light, fluffy, flavorful, healthier. We will not be able to give up the indulgence of the French Bread rolls (our favorite and on the menu for Easter) but these will be adorning our lunch and supper table most of the time. Have I told you lately how wonderful you are?? :-)

  41. Christine Hull says:

    I normally don’t comment, because I usually just grab the recipe and make the food….rude huh! But WOW. These rolls were insane. I have never had such chewy, soft bread in MY LIFE! And I am a chronic bread recipe “tryer outer.” This is hands down the best. We had them for Easter. Thanks so much. Who knew wheat gluten was so amazing? Ps….I ended up adding much more water than the recipe calls for, but maybe that’s because I live in Wyoming?!?!

  42. nosh says:

    Hi i have tried most of your roll recipes and they are all just perfect !!! Best ones i must say. Please share croissant recipe and oatmeal bread and other wholemeal variations of baking. Keep em comin !! ♡♡♡

  43. Sara H. says:

    I have made these rolls three times and they are amazing! I have to admit that I was a little bit skeptical the first time I made them- I thought they would be dense like other whole wheat rolls that I have tried. No so at all. They are so soft and fluffy. No one believes me when I say that they are 100% whole wheat! I love the french bread rolls but I dare say these are a bit superior. Thanks so much!

  44. Martha says:

    Has you tried making loaves? I’m on the search for a good sandwich bread the kids will like. Any suggestions?

  45. Teresa says:

    I finally got around to making these yesterday after I bought the vital wheat gluten. Oh, they were just delicious. My recipe took exactly 3 1/2 cups of flour and they were tender, fluffy, and just yummy. I froze the rest to keep on hand. As much as I love the original french rolls and will continue to make them, these are just divine with the white whole wheat flour. Thanks so much for another excellent bread recipe, Mel.

  46. These are delicious! Thanks for the recipe!

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