Grandma’s Christmas Rolls


We have been making these for Thanksgiving and Christmas forever.  First Grandma, then Mom, who managed yeast dough along with three kids, turkey, sweet potatoes, pies… we are thankful for that!  Now it is my turn to pass it on.  They are easy although like all yeast recipes, you have to pay attention.   We make them year after year because homemade rolls are delicious, and because they make us happy.


Brown and golden, salty and just barely sweet, homemade rolls fill the kitchen with the most wonderful fragrance ever.  A day later they taste just as good, heated for a few seconds in the microwave with butter and jam, or maybe some turkey and gravy.   I remember Grandma, both in her kitchen and ours, cutting the dough with a drinking glass and folding them into soft, buttered circles.  Here is a picture of them from our kitchen in Ukraine.


We’ve also made them in Azerbaijan, Zambia, Austria, Seattle, New York… we make this recipe all over the world!

Some tips to make them turn out right:

1.  Take them off the pan immediately after removing from the oven and transfer them to a cookie rack to cool.   If you leave them on the pan, they “sweat,” which basically means they got gross and soggy on the bottom.

2.  Don’t put the pan on a hot stove burner to “cool” after you take them out of the oven.  We did that once, and burned the bottoms of our beautiful rolls to a crisp!

3.  Don’t let the dough rise too long.  It’s a pretty forgiving dough, but once we left it too long and the rolls were dry, with a weird, fibrous texture.

4.  Don’t overdo it with the butter in the middle as you fold them in half.  I love butter but once used a little too much, so the dough was too wet to fully cook.  Also gross.

5.  Don’t forget the eggs.

Otherwise, this recipe is easy!!  I use my Kitchenaid for the whole thing.

Parker House Rolls

1.  Microwave in a glass measuring cup:

1 cup milk

1/4 cup (56 grams) butter

1/3 cup water

2.  In a separate bowl mix:

2 packages active dry yeast (I’ve used less – 3 teaspoons – and it turned out fine)

1 cup of flour

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 cup sugar

3.  When melted, pour the butter/milk mixture into the mixing bowl (it should be warm but not hot), and add:

2 eggs

4.  Then pour the flour mixture into the bowl and mix everything together for 1-2 minutes.

5.   Slowly add an additional:

3 1/2 to 4 cups of flour

Total flour:  4 1/12 to 5 cups.  Plus more for rolling out later if you need it.

6.  Mix the dough with the paddle to get the flour incorporated, then switch to the dough hook.  Knead the dough with the dough hook for 4-5 minutes, until it gets that shiny, springy feel.

7.  Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, then let it rise for 60-90 minutes until doubled.  If you used the full 2 packets of yeast, it will rise faster.

Now we are ready to make rolls!

Lightly oil a baking sheet, or line it with parchment.

Punch down the dough and divide it in two, to make it easier to work with.  Roll out one section at a time until it’s about half an inch thick.  It’s very springy and fun to form this dough, so don’t worry about it too much.  Cut out the rolls in circles using a biscuit cutter or a glass, although an actual biscuit cutter makes nice, sharp edges.


As you cut each circle, form it into a roll and place it on the baking sheet.  To form the roll, spread a little bit of softened butter along half of the circle, then simply fold each circle in half.  They are not fancy looking rolls by any means, just puffy little half circles sitting on the baking sheet.  But if you tuck them together (not tight, but touching), they will share their drippy butter centers a little bit and end up fluffy and soft.


After they are all tucked together, let them rise another 1-2 hours, loosely covered in plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.

When they look ready, bake them in a 400 degree oven for 12-15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and immediately take them off the pan (and the parchment).  Cool, then eat with more butter, today or the next day, either way they are just as good.  They freeze well too!


And on the subject of Thanksgiving memories …