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Knotted Dinner Rolls

Scott Phillips

Yield: Yields 18 rolls

Soft, rich, and worlds better than store-bought, these gorgeous, buttery dinner rolls are easier to make than you may think. In fact, describing how to shape them is more difficult than actually doing it. Look here for step-by-step photos for shaping them or watch our video on shaping and baking these dinner rolls, as well as Cloverleaf, Parker House, and Butterflake, all made with this same dough.


For the dough

  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk; more as needed
  • 1 packet (1/4 oz. or 2-1/4 tsp.) instant or active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil; more as needed
  • 1 oz. (2 Tbs.) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 lb. 7 oz. (5-1/4 cups) unbleached bread flour; more as needed
  • 1-1/4 tsp. table salt or 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 large egg

For shaping and baking

  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 1 large egg
  • Poppy or sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 210
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 60
  • Fat (g): 7
  • Saturated Fat (g): 2
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 2.5
  • Cholesterol (mg): 25
  • Sodium (mg): 180
  • Carbohydrates (g): 30
  • Fiber (g): 1
  • Protein (g): 6


Make the dough

  • In a small saucepan, heat the milk until lukewarm (about 95°F). Remove from the heat and whisk in the yeast until it dissolves. Add the oil and butter—the butter may begin to melt, but it’s OK if it doesn’t melt completely—and then whisk in the sugar. Let rest until the yeast just begins to float to the surface, about 5 minutes.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl), combine the flour, salt, and egg. Add the yeast mixture and mix on low speed (or with a large spoon) until a coarse ball of dough forms, about 1 minute. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  • Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook and mix on medium-low speed (or knead by hand on a lightly oiled work surface) until the dough feels soft, supple, and pliable, about 3 minutes; it should feel tacky to the touch, but not sticky, and pull away from your finger when poked instead of sticking to it. If the dough is too sticky, add 1 Tbs. flour at a time, kneading to incorporate. If it’s stiff, knead in 1 Tbs. of milk at a time.
  • Rub a little vegetable oil on a work surface to create an 8-inch circle and put the dough on this spot. Stretch and fold the dough over itself from all four sides to the center, crimping it where the folded ends meet, to form it into a tight, round ball.
  • Put the dough seam side down in a lightly oiled bowl that’s twice the size of the dough. Tightly cover with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.

Shape the rolls

  • Line two 13×18-inch rimmed baking sheets with parchment or nonstick baking liners and lightly mist them with vegetable oil spray.
  • Using a bench knife, divide the dough into eighteen pieces (about 2-1/4 oz. each).
  • With your hands, roll one piece into a 12-inch-long rope. If the dough starts to stick, mist your work surface lightly with vegetable oil spray or wipe it with a damp towel. Don’t use flour.
  • Wrap the dough around your fingers into a loose knot; there should be about 2 inches of dough free at each end. Wrap the left end of the dough up and over the loop. Wrap the right end down and under the loop. Lightly squeeze the two ends of dough together in the center to secure them.
  • Gently squeeze the whole piece of dough into a nice rounded shape. Put the roll, pretty side up, on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. Mist the top of the rolls with vegetable oil spray and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
  • Let the rolls sit at room temperature or refrigerated until they just begin to swell, 30 minutes to 1 hour for room-temperature dough, 1 to 1-1/2 hours for refrigerated dough.

Bake the rolls

  • Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. If using a convection oven, heat it to 375°F; if using a conventional oven, heat it to 400°F.
  • Thoroughly whisk the egg with 1 Tbs. water and brush all over each roll. Sprinkle poppy or sesame seeds (if using) on the rolls.
  • While the oven heats, let the rolls continue to rise at room temperature, 20 to 40 minutes. They should be 1-1/2 to 2 times their original size before they go in the oven. (Once in the oven, they will rise about 20 percent more.)
  • Put the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 6 minutes. Rotate the sheets 180 degrees and swap their placement on the racks. Continue baking until the rolls turn rich golden-brown on top and develop some browning underneath, another 6 to 8 minutes. Let the rolls cool on the sheets or on a cooling rack for 15 minutes before serving.

Make Ahead Tips

You can make the dough up to 4 days ahead. Refrigerate it well wrapped so that it slowly rises to double its size then shape as directed.


Need help shaping your rolls? Check out our step-by-step guide on how to shape knotted dinner rolls.


Rate or Review

Reviews (27 reviews)

  • doriseide | 11/29/2016

    There is a mistake in the flour measurements. Once I Alize's that and used my scale, they turned out beautifully.

  • greeklady | 03/30/2016

    These were delicious and the instructions were excellent -- a big hit with my family of 6 and guests! I am looking forward to trying the other roll recipes. Thank you so much for the inspiration!

  • GlendaLeslie | 01/03/2014

    I made these twice. Once as written and then modified. Thought it lacked a little flavor as some others had noted. I changed the milk in the recipe to 1 cup buttermilk + 1/2 cup whole milk, upped the sugar to 5 TBSP, upped the salt to 1 1/2 tsp table or 2 1/2 tsp kosher. I also halved the vegetable oil and doubled the butter. I added one egg yolk to the existing egg in the recipe. I only heated the whole milk and then added the yeast, etc to that and then whisked in room temp buttermilk to prevent the buttermilk from curdling. Although, the buttermilk might be fine only being heated to 95 degrees. The extra tablespoon of sugar, the substitution of the buttermilk and the slight salt increase all helped with flavor. And with the exception of the salt, all of those things contributed to a tender crumb. Kept the bread flour because it gives an exceptional rise and a lovely texture. Additional egg yolk added more fat but also gave the interior a pretty golden color. I love Mr. Reinhart and Fine Cooking, I hope they don't mind that I tinkered with their formula.

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