What Makes Dinner Rolls Different From Bread

September 9, 2022
Written by Allyza Cepeda

Dinner rolls are a type of bread but most people often wonder what makes it different from ordinary bread. Below, we differentiate the two for you.

Dinner rolls are small, round loaves of bread often served to accompany a meal. It’s different from bread since it’s smaller in size (typically shaped round instead of oval) and has a higher fat percentage, making it softer. However, both are made using the same basic ingredients and follow the same process as well.

Rolls are typically made from fortified dough, which means it has added fat in the form of milk (liquid), dried milk (powder), or butter. The added fat makes your dinner rolls softer and more tender in texture.

Are dinner rolls considered bread?

Yes, dinner rolls are also considered bread. The standard definition of bread is any baked good made of flour, water, yeast, or other leavening agents. When mixed, and risen twice before baking then that constitutes bread.

Since dinner rolls are primarily made using the same ingredients and process, it’s also classified as bread.

Why is it called a dinner roll?

Dinner rolls are currently rising in popularity as more and more restaurants are including them in their menu items. With the booming demand, many have become curious why dinner rolls are called such and not dinner bread, for example.

Dinner rolls are called just that because it’s often rolled to achieve their round shape and also because of the fact they’re often eaten as an accompaniment with other meals during dinner.

The distinct round shape of dinner rolls differentiates them from your standard bread which is typically larger and is most often oval-shaped.

How to turn a bread recipe into rolls?

How to turn a bread recipe into rolls

Turning your bread recipe into rolls is easy. First, make your bread dough as you would usually do. After the first rise, shape it into small, round pieces instead of an oval or loaf shape. After proofing it again, you can now bake it in a preheated oven.

Since rolls are just a type of bread, you really don’t have to do any major modifications to a bread recipe if you’re planning to make it into rolls.

Below are some dinner roll recipes you might want to try!

The Ultimate Dinner Roll Recipe

  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 cup warm milk (100 – 110°F)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) instant yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups (15.43 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

Combine the water, milk, and one tbsp. of butter, sugar, salt, as well as yeast in a bowl.

Add 2 cups of flour first and stir until the dough forms together. Mix using a dough hook at low speed, and gradually add the remaining flour. Knead until a mass of dough forms.

Proceed to knead on medium to high speed for 4 to 5 minutes more until the dough becomes soft and smooth. You’ll know if your dough is done if it feels elastic and slightly tacky to the touch.

Grease a bowl and put your dough in it. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean piece of cloth. Let it rise for about 45 mins. to 1 hr. at room temperature or until the dough has doubled in size.

Grease a 13×9-inch baking pan and then gently deflate the dough. Divide into 15 equal pieces and shape each piece into a ball.

Melt the remaining 1 tbsp. of butter and brush the dough with it. Lightly cover the dough again and let rise for 30 minutes or until double in size.

Preheat your oven to 375°F and then bake the rolls for 15 to 20 mins, or until golden brown. 

Flaky, Soft Dinner Rolls


  • 1 cup or 240ml of whole milk, warmed 
  • 2 and 1/4 tsp. of yeast 
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup or 60g of unsalted butter, softened and cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups (around 375g) of  all-purpose or bread flour
  • Glaze: 2 tbsp melted unsalted butter mixed with 1 tbsp honey


Make the dough: Mix the warm milk, yeast, and 1 tbsp of sugar together in a bowl. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes to allow the yeast to bloom.

Once 5 minutes is up, add the sugar, egg, butter, salt, and 1 cup of flour. Using a dough hook or paddle attachment, whisk on low speed for 30 seconds. In between, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl using a spatula.

Proceed to add the remaining flour. 

Mix on medium speed until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. This will take about 2 minutes. If the dough seems too wet that kneading wouldn’t be possible, add in more flour—1 tbsp. at a time until your dough becomes workable.

The final dough texture should be soft and a bit sticky, but can still be kneaded with lightly floured hands.

Knead the dough: Mix the dough for an additional 3 minutes or knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for the same amount of time. 

1st rise: Grease a bowl with oil or nonstick spray and place the dough in it. Cover the bowl with cling wrap or a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise in a warm environment for about 1 to 2 hours or until it doubles in size.

Proceed to grease a 9×13 inch baking pan or two 9-inch square or round baking pans. You can also bake the rolls in a cast-iron skillet or on a lined baking sheet.

Shape the rolls: When the dough has risen enough, release the air by punching it. Then start dividing the dough into 14 to 16 roughly equal pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball.

2nd rise: Cover the rolls again and allow to rise for about an hour or until puffy. Preheat the oven to 350°F or 177°C. 

Bake the rolls: Bake the rolls on the lower rack for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the top becomes golden brown. Make sure to rotate the pan halfway through for even browning. If the top of the rolls is browning too quickly, loosely cover the rolls with aluminum foil. 

Once golden brown, remove from the oven and brush with optional honey or maple butter topping. Allow rolls to cool for a few minutes before serving. 

To store, put leftover rolls in a tight container and store them at room temperature for 2 to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Allyza Cepeda
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