Parker House Rolls – Buttery, soft dinner rolls, rolled in a fun shape and so perflectly buttery and salty that you won’t need add any jams, spreads, or dips
Dinner rolls have become some of my favorite things to bake. The bread making process is fun and worth every second. From the second the aroma of the freshly baked bread hits the air, all that effort you put in pays off. And don’t forget about their fluffy texture and crisp tops. There just isn’t anything like homemade bread.
These rolls are probably some that you’ve had before, but just didn’t know what they were called. Parker House Rolls are named for the hotel that invented them in Boston. They’re characterized by their rich flavor, fluffy texture, and golden brown color on top. Traditionally, they’ll be in a folded shape or rolled. I like how the rolled shape created a fluffier center so that’s what I went with.
What I love most about these rolls are their flavor. They are perfectly salted with lots of butter. But the butter doesn’t overwhelm your taste buds like it can with biscuits or croissants. These rolls have just the right balance to bring the flavor of butter with just the right fluffy texture to absorb it all.
Making the dough
The dough in this recipe isn’t anything fancy: flour, yeast, milk, butter, egg, sugar, and salt. That’s it! It’s all mixed together and then kneaded until soft and smooth. It then rises for 1 1/2 hours.
Forming the rolls
This next step is so fun. We get to form the rolls! To do this, the dough is split into 4 even pieces. Each piece is rolled into a rectangle and then the top is brushed with melted butter. Then, we cut each rectangle into 3 strips width-wise. Each strip is cut into 3 rectangles. Each rectangle yields 9 smaller rectangles, making 36 total. Then, each small rectangle is rolled into what I think looks like a mini Swiss roll.
All the formed rolls get placed into two greased square baking pans, covered with a towel, and then left to rise for another 1 1/2 hours.
Baking the rolls
Once the rolls have risen, they are brushed with more melted butter and then baked in a preheated oven for about 30 minutes. The rolls will get golden brown when done. You can also check the temperature of the center rolls to make sure they’re done. They should be about 200-205 degrees.
The baked rolls get topped with more melted butter an a sprinkling of flaky sea salt.
Tips and Tricks
- I used a glass pan for baking my rolls and the bottoms got perfectly golden brown. However, I can tell that they would probably burn if a metal pan were used. As such, I suggest lowering the temperature to 325 degrees if using metal pans.
- This recipe (and many bread/roll recipes) calls for scalded milk. This means milk that is heated just before it begins to simmer/boil. The heat kills the whey protein in milk, which helps the dough rise higher. This is key to getting that chewy consistency. So don’t skip this step!
- Salt can inhibit the rise of the dough so it’s very important to use unsalted butter throughout this recipe.
- The rolls need to be touching before you bake them. This makes sure they’re super soft. If you bake them on a sheet, they’ll get too crunchy on the outside. So make sure you use two square pans.
- You can easily freeze any leftover rolls. Just place them into a freezer-safe storage bag/container. They keep for a couple months. Whenever you crave a roll, pop it in the microwave for 15 seconds and it’s warm and fluffy again!
Parker House Rolls
For the yeast rolls:
- 1¼ cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 14 tablespoons butter unsalted, divided
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 packet instant yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 1 large egg
- Add milk, 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter, sugar, and salt to a small sauce pan and scald over medium heat. Scald means to heat right before a simmer. You should see small bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Attach bowl to stand mixer and fit mixer with dough hook. Add flour and yeast and mix on low to combine. Add in egg and mix on low. With the mixer still on low, slowly drizzle in melted butter and milk mixture, making sure all sugar makes it into the flour. Once it's all poured in, let the dough hook mix everything together until the dough forms.
- Once dough forms, turn up speed to medium and knead dough for 8 minutes. If the dough is still sticking to the sides after 8 minutes, add flour a tablespoon at a time until it loosens up. Place dough ball in a greased bowl and cover with a towel. Let it rise for 1½ hours. It should be double in size. Grease two square pans (9×9 or 8×8). Set aside.
- Punch down risen dough and remove from bowl. Place on clean counter with a little sprinkled flour. Cut dough into 4 even slices. Working with one piece at a time, roll into a 12×6 inch rectangle, trimming uneven sides before measuring. Brush rectangle of dough with melted butter. Cut the rectangle into 3 strips measuring 4×6 inches. Then, cut each strip into three 4×2 inch rectangles. Take each rectangle and roll into a log. Place the log into one greased pan. Repeat with the rest of the rectangles and then start again with another piece of dough. Continue until all 36 logs are formed and in the greased pans.
- Cover pans with a towel and let them rise again for 1½ hours. At the 30-minute mark, preheat oven to 350 degrees. **If using a metal pan, preheat to 325 degrees**
- Remove towel from rolls and brush with more melted butter. Bake in preheated oven for 28-30 minutes, or until deep brown on top. Remove from oven and immediately brush with melted butter and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.