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Old Fashioned Yeast Rolls

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This old fashioned yeast roll recipe creates a soft, tender dinner roll that is the perfect side for family dinners and holidays. Serve them at your next gathering and you’ll see why they’re considered the best foolproof homemade yeast rolls!

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a baking sheet of old fashioned dinner rolls

Grandma Susie’s Old Fashioned Yeast Roll Recipe

Grandma Susie was known in the family for her amazing baking. She was even a bit of a celebrity in her hometown where her recipes were featured in the local newspaper.

I found several recipes when we inherited her family Bible from the 1800s. One of them was for her easy homemade old fashioned yeast roll recipe. And, like Grandma’s other classic recipes, they are the best we have ever had!

Find out what secret pantry ingredient makes this bread soft yet hearty, and gives it an incredibly irresistible taste with barely any effort.

In fact, the only worry you’ll have with this fail-proof dinner roll recipe is making sure you have enough! No fears, this recipe makes up to 36 – enough for everyone.

a  basket of homemade yeast rolls

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

The best old fashioned yeast rolls are also known as potato rolls because the easy recipe includes a potato as a not-so-secret ingredient in the recipe.

Here is what you need to make this dinner roll recipe:

Yeast – this is what makes the rolls rise, giving them their fluffy, tender texture. It also gives bread that hallmark slightly tangy flavor.

Potato – it’s our secret ingredient! Adding a boiled and mashed potato results in a fluffier, more tender yeast roll. The starch from the potato binds with the yeast for a smooth, moist dough that rises evenly. Subsitute the potato for 3/4 cup of instant potato flakes, mixed with 1 1/2 cups of water.

Sugar – is an essential ingredient in baked goods like bread. It feeds the yeast, adds the perfect flavor, adds tenderness, and helps with even browning.

Eggs – are a leavening agent, helping rolls and breads to rise by binding with the gluten. The yolks in eggs have fat and protein that helps make the crumb tender and light.

Salt – is more than a flavor enhancer in bread rolls. It helps strengthens the strands gluten in the flour, helping the dough to rise.

Butter – gives a creamy flavor to breads and the fat helps for light, tender crumb. The moisture and fat in butter expand during baking, helping it expand and become airy. Substitute butter for extra virgin olive oil for a dairy free version.

All-purpose flour – although I prefer using all-purpose for this homemade roll recipe, as it contains a slightly lower protein content than bread flour, you can use either type of flour.

dough from this dinner roll recipe ready to cut with a bench scraper

How to Make Homemade Yeast Rolls

It is not a fast process making homemade yeast rolls from scratch, but it is very easy. You might wonder about taking the time to boil and mash potato, but trust me, this step is definitely worth it!

Adding the potato is a guaranteed foolproof trick for terrifically fluffy, soft, and tender rolls from this old fashioned yeast roll recipe.

Baking Tip: I recommend starting this recipe a day ahead. That way you can prep it ahead and focus more on your main dish and sides. This is really helpful for busy holiday dinners and gatherings.

closeup of a old fashioned yeast roll with a basket of homemade rolls made from our recipe

Get more easy baking recipes you’ll love!

Short on time? Check out this Rosemary Garlic rolls recipe that uses frozen dough to create super-soft, tasty dinner rolls in a fraction of the time.

For a super-fast bread option, you can have the best fluffy, flakey biscuits in only 20 minutes with my 3 Ingredient Drop Biscuits recipe.

Put that sourdough starter to use with our sourdough rolls recipe for a tangy, bread side that helps use your discard next time you feed it.

Recipe Tips for Success

  • After boiling the potato, be sure to save the potato water. This starchy water is key for creating a slightly sweet dough with a perfect rise.
  • Use a stand mixer for the kneading.
  • Let the dough rise in a greased bowl, and cover it with plastic wrap that has the underside sprayed with cooking spray to keep it from sticking and cover.
  • Brush melted butter on top as soon as they come out of the oven. This recipe uses melted butter to add a beautiful shine and give the yeast roll a softened crown.
green bowl of homemade rolls dough

Baking Tip: look for a warm place, free of drafts, for the dough to rise. I recommend your oven if it has a “proof” setting, set it to 85ºF. Or keep it in the oven with the oven light turned on. Prop the door open if that’s the only way the light will stay on.

green bowl with rising dough

How to I know when My Dough Has Risen Enough?

  • The potato yeast roll dough should have nearly double in size and look bubbly.
  • If you poke the side of the dough in about 1/2″ and the indentation stays (or springs back very slowly) then your dough has risen enough. If it springs right back, then let it rise longer.
green bowl of fully risen dough

How to Shape the perfect dinner rolls

Cut the dough into 36 even balls and roll them in your palms until round.

For a really smooth roll, pinch the bottom of the rough until the top is smooth.

a sheet pan of dough ready to bake

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I don’t have time to make this old fashioned yeast roll recipe from scratch?

For another delicious bread option to enjoy with dinner tonight, try these super quick parkerhouse rolls using frozen bread dough, easy 3 ingredient drop biscuits, or Bisquick buttermilk biscuits

How long does homemade bread last?

These always get eaten up very quickly in our house. However, if you do wind up with leftover bread, store it in an airtight container at room temperature for several days. To reheat, wrap in a paper towel and microwave for just a few seconds at a time until perfectly warm.

How will I know if the dough has kneaded enough?

There are a few signs to look for. First, the dough should be tacky but not sticky, and smooth like the inside of your cheek. Second, when you stretch the dough, it should stretch several inches without tearing. If your dough does not pass both of these tests, then knead it for another 3 minutes.

closeup of Old Fashioned Yeast Rolls
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4.84 from 6 votes

Old Fashioned Yeast Roll Recipe

You'll love this homemade old fashioned yeast roll recipe. The secret ingredient makes the perfect homemade yeast rolls for all your family dinners, holidays, and gatherings!
Course Side Dish, Bread, Holiday
Cuisine American
Keyword homemade rolls, old fashioned yeast rolls
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Rising Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 30 minutes
Servings 36 rolls
Calories 134kcal


  • Baking Sheet


  • 1/4 cup warm water (about 95º to 110ºF)
  • 2 teaspoons yeast (1 envelope of yeast)
  • 1 large potato
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 6-7 cups all-purpose flour


  • Scrub your potato, quarter, and add enough water to cover potatoes by 2". Do not add salt. Bring to a boil and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Remove potato and mash. Set aside 1 cup mashed potatoes. Pour potato water into measuring cup, and set aside 1 ½ cups potato water to let cool.
  • In a small bowl or measuring cup, sprinkle yeast over 1/4 cup warm water . Add pinch of sugar to test yeast. Set aside yeast and water.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine potato water, sugar, salt and yeast mixture. If using a stand mixer, add to the mixing bowl and use the dough hook attachment to mix ingredients. Add butter and eggs. Continue mixing. Add mashed potatoes, then add flour 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly between cups. Stop adding flour after the 6th cup and see if the dough cleans the sides of the bowl. If not, add 1/2 cup of flour at a time until the dough will begin forming a ball. Do not add more than 7 cups of flour. Knead dough in a stand mixer for at least 5 minutes or by hand for 10 minutes.
  • Place dough in lightly greased bowl to rise. Lightly grease top of dough and cover with a towel. Place dough in warm place and let rise for 2 hours (or until double in size).
  • After first rising, punch dough down. Begin second rise for two hours or until double in size, or refrigerate dough overnight. If refrigerated overnight, place dough in warm place the next morning and let rise for 2 hours.
  • Then, 2 hours before baking, divide dough into two pieces and continue dividing dough until you have 36 similar sized balls. Place rolls on greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise in warm place until double in size.
  • Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes. Butter tops of each roll after baking to preserve soft crust. Serve warm.


Although this recipe calls for all-purpose flour, I have used Kamut and bread flour with great results.


Serving: 1roll | Calories: 134kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 142mg | Potassium: 77mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 165IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 1mg
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