Soft and pillowy dinner rolls from an ultra-enriched brioche dough. These are so easy to whip up, and make a big batch so you can have some now and freeze some for later.
Some dinners just beg for dinner rolls to go with them (which we will oblige!), and these brioche rolls are a great all-purpose roll that work with almost any meal!
These rolls are my favorite because they are so SOFT. Some rolls fall more into the camp of basic bread baked into roll form (which are delicious in their own right), but these I would describe as pillows of rich, flavorful dough, brushed with butter for extra softness. They will steal the show at mealtime!
What really sets these rolls apart is the dough. It's enriched with butter, milk, and eggs, which make it so tender and flavorful. It's ever so slightly sweet, but works well with sweet and savory dishes.
- Butter. Adds rich flavor and a soft texture.
- Milk. Milk here helps with browning, and makes a softer roll than water alone would.
- Sugar. Not only does sugar here give these brioche rolls their signature slightly sweet flavor, it also helps them rise faster and makes them softer.
- Yeast. The yeast does all the work of rising these babies! Be sure to use active dry yeast rather than instant.
- Eggs. Eggs give the dough a lighter and softer texture.
- Salt. Salt gets an honorable mention here because if you've ever made bread without it you know it's inedible. Don't forget the salt!
Lots of enriched doughs I've made require warming liquids and then cooling them slightly. I streamline that here by melting the butter in a skillet, then removing from heat and adding the milk and water. The warm skillet and butter will warm the milk and water, while the milk and water cool the butter, resulting in a perfectly warm liquid mixture that's ready to add to the yeast!
One major factor that makes these rolls so soft is that the dough is WET. Because it's so wet, I highly recommend kneading it in a mixer. It won't come together and pull away from the sides as some doughs do, but don't worry! It will work.
It's the most fun part of making rolls! After your dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. It's important not to add too much flour at this stage as it could produce a dry roll. Use just enough to prevent sticking.
First, you'll need to divide the dough into 24 pieces. To do this, press the dough down with lightly floured fingers to form disc. Use a bench scraper to divide the dough into fourths. Divide each fourth in half, then divide each half into thirds for a total of 24 pieces. This is the easiest way I've found to get roughly equal size rolls. You can weigh the rolls if you want, but I find the fourths-to-eights-to-thirds works well enough!
Working with one piece of dough at a time, press it gently onto a lightly floured work surface. Fold all the ends in toward the middle, then flip so the seam is on the work surface and work into a tight ball.
Tips for working with wet dough:
- Dough sticks to dough. If you get dough on your hands, wash it off right away! Dry your hands completely and lightly flour before proceeding.
- Use quick movements. I used to make big, sticky messes with any dough I used because I would poke around when trying to shape. Don't dilly dally here - just do what you need to and move along.
- Don't worry if it's not perfect. Dough shaping takes practice. But freshly baked rolls warm from the oven are delicious no matter what they look like!
As this recipe makes 24 rolls, you can split them between 2 (9 by 13-inch) baking dishes, or 3 (8-inch round) cake pans. I usually bake a dozen and freeze the second dozen for later. Be sure to grease whatever pans you use!
Preheat the oven to 350 while the rolls are undergoing their second rise, then bake for 25-30 minutes, until browned on top and cooked through.
I'd caution against baking the rolls in a crowded oven. Any time I've tried it (embarrassingly, more than once) the rolls haven't risen as they should and have taken longer to bake.
Baking Frozen Rolls
You can bake these straight from the freezer and I think they're every bit as good as when they're baked fresh!
One day, we were having leftover soup for lunch and were (tragically!) out of bread. Which of course is NON-NEGOTIABLE when having soup. I did, however have a pan of frozen rolls in my freezer.
Everywhere on the internet told me they needed to thaw and rise before baking, but I figured even a limp roll was better than no roll, so I threw caution to the wind and baked 'em and guess what?? They were bomb diggity.
Soft, pillowy, perfectly baked through. So now I always make two pans - one for now, and one to freeze for later.
To bake from frozen, just leave on the counter while preheating the oven to 350 degrees (they won't thaw - it's just enough time so the pan isn't fully frozen when going into the hot oven), then bake 30-35 minutes, until baked through and beginning to brown on the tops.
Then, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with salt.
Don't skip the butter + salt!
Soft Brioche Dinner Rolls
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 282 grams milk (1 cup 3 tablespoons)
- 114 grams water (1/2 cup)
- 720 grams all purpose flour (6 cups, spooned and leveled)
- 70 grams sugar (1/3 cup)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Make the Dough
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and add the milk and water.Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add in the warm butter mixture and eggs and mix until just beginning to come together. Affix the dough hook and knead for 5 minutes - scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl every couple of minutes - until dough is smooth, stretchy, and shiny. The dough will be quite sticky at this stage, and won't be coming together as some doughs do. Don't worry, it's going to work! Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Divide the Dough
- Turn the risen dough out onto a very lightly floured surface. Press down gently with lightly floured fingertips to form a round disc, then cut into fourths using a pastry scraper. Cut each fourth in half, and cut each of the eight pieces into thirds for a total of 24 pieces.
Shape the Rolls
- Take one piece of dough at a time and flatten gently onto your worksurface with lightly floured fingertips. Fold the edges of the flattened dough in toward the middle, until all the edges meet in the middle. Flip the dough over and cup your hands together while rolling the dough to seal the edges and form a tight ball. Place in a greased baking dish (see notes for sizes). Repeat with all the dough pieces. Cover baking dishes tightly with plastic wrap and rise for 30 minutes - 1 hour, until dough is puffed up slightly.
Bake the Rolls
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake rolls on middle rack for 25-30 minutes, until browned on the tops and baked through. Brush the tops with melted butter when they're fresh from the oven and sprinkle with kosher salt. Serve hot!
- 2 (9 by 13-inch) baking dishes, with 12 rolls in each.
- 3 (8-inch round) baking dishes, with 8 rolls in each.