As Easy As Apple Pie

Soft Cloverleaf Dinner Rolls

It’s hard to imagine a dinner without a basket full of warm, homemade bread.

With their buttery flavor and fluffy texture, cloverleaf dinner rolls are perfect for every occasion, from weeknight meals to small dinner parties! They’d be great for Thanksgiving and Christmas too!

They are incredibly simple to make and can be easily customized. Top them with cheese for extra flavor, add some Italian seasoning to the dough, or sprinkle garlic and herbs salt on top of the warm rolls just before serving.

A wicker basket filled with homemade cloverleaf dinner rolls.

Cloverleaf rolls are one of my favorite types of dinner rolls to bring to the table. They have a satisfying chewy texture, and they’re perfect with a bowl of sweet potato soup on a chilly day!

With this recipe, you will get approximately 12 yeast rolls. If you are having guests, double or triple the recipe as they will quickly disappear from the bread basket!

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Easy to make: if you’re not familiar with making homemade bread from scratch, this roll recipe is a great place to start.
  • So delicious: these classic dinner rolls are rich, buttery, super soft inside, and bake up perfectly golden brown every time.
  • Perfect addition to any dinner: dinner rolls go well with any meal from pasta or roasted meat to soup or salad.

Ingredients & easy swaps

  • Flour I made this recipe with all-purpose flour, but bread flour will work too. Make sure you measure it correctly.
  • Milk for the softest dinner rolls, I use whole milk. You can use low-fat milk, skim milk, or non-dairy milk if you prefer.
  • Unsalted butter – softened. Butter is softened when pressed with the back of a spoon, it leaves an indentation.
  • Granulated sugar it can be swapped with honey.
  • Instant yeast it can be replaced with active dry yeast. Active dry yeast needs to be activated first, and the rising time will be slightly longer.

See the recipe card below for a full list of ingredients and measurements.

Recipe variations

Here are some variations that you could make to this dinner roll recipe:

  • Make it vegan or dairy-free: use plant-based milk and replace the butter with extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, or vegan butter.
  • Add herbs: add 1 or 2 tablespoons of dried or finely chopped fresh herbs to the dough, or mix the herbs with the melted butter to brush on top of the rolls after baking.
  • Add cheese: mix in 1/3 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.
  • Add toppingssprinkle a bit of flaky salt, garlic salt, or sesame seeds on top of the warm rolls just before serving.

How to make homemade dinner rolls

This bread roll recipe comes together easily with the help of a stand mixer.

Step 1 Make the dough and let it rise – knead all the ingredients and let the dough rise for an hour or so.

dough kneaded on a wooden board.
dough in a bowl before first rise.
dough in a bowl after first rise.

Step 2 Shape the rolls – once the dough has risen, simply divide it into twelve parts, then divide each part into three equal-sized pieces and roll each piece into balls.

dough divided into 12 pieces.
dough divided into 36 pieces.
dough pieces rolled into balls.

Step 3 2nd rise and bakeplace the balls, three at a time, into muffin cups, and let them rise for one hour. Then bake for 22 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown on top. Right when the cloverleaf rolls come out of the oven, brush them with melted butter to give them a gorgeous shiny finish.

cloverleaf rolls in muffin tin before second rise.
cloverleaf dinner rolls ready to be baked.
baked dinner rolls.

The dough is quite versatile. Shape it into twisted rolls, pinwheels, knotted rolls, or even hot dog buns.

Tips for success

  • Flour: measuring the flour correctly is key to avoiding a dense dough, which leads to heavy rolls. Spoon and level your flour; do not scoop it out of the package.
  • Yeast: I used instant yeast. It can be added straight away to the dry ingredients; it doesn’t require any proofing. If you want to use active dry yeast instead, activate it first. Dissolve it in 2 tablespoons of lukewarm water + a pinch of sugar, let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes or until frothy and bubbly, and then add it to the remaining ingredients. 
  • Milk: it should be lukewarm, not hot or cold. If it’s too hot, it can kill the yeast. If it is too cold, the yeast may not activate. If you are in doubt, I recommend testing the milk with a cooking thermometer; it should be within the temperature range of 110-115°F. 
  • Dough: the dough will be soft and slightly sticky. Do not be tempted to add extra flour!
  • Proofing: how quickly the dough rises depends on temperature and humidity. In a warm place, this takes about 1 hour; if your kitchen is very cold, it might take a little longer.
  • Shape: I used a kitchen scale to get equal-sized balls. Each ball weighed 17 grams (0.6 oz.). Making the rolls the same size ensures even baking.

Put the dough and a bowl of hot water in your oven with the light turned on. This creates a warm, moist environment that speeds up the rising process.

brushing the bread rolls with melted butter.

How to store, make ahead, and freeze

To store: keep your dinner rolls in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 or 4 days.

Make ahead: you can easily prepare these bread rolls ahead of time. Before the last rise, wrap the muffin pan with cling film and place it in the fridge for up to 24 hours. When ready to bake, remove the rolls from the refrigerator and let them sit on the counter for 90 minutes or until puffed.

Reheat: homemade rolls taste best when you serve them warm. If you’ve baked them ahead of time, wrap them in aluminum foil and place them in the oven at 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) for 10-15 minutes. 

Freeze: you can freeze these before or after baking.

To freeze after baking – allow the baked rolls to cool completely, put them in a large ziplock bag, and seal tightly. To reheat, let them thaw on the counter and just pop them in the hot oven for a few minutes before serving. They will be as good as freshly baked!

To freeze the unbaked buns – place the rolls in the muffin pan and allow them to rise for 20 minutes. Wrap tight and freeze for up to 4 weeks. To bake, thaw them overnight in the fridge, then bake as directed.

Recipe FAQs

How do I make my rolls equal in size?

Use a kitchen scale. Weigh the dough and divide that weight by 36. That’s the weight of each ball. In my case, each ball weighed 17 grams (0.6 oz.).

Can I double the recipe?

Simply click on the number of servings in the recipe card and slide the toggle that appears to the number of servings you want to make. The ingredient amounts will change accordingly.

Why didn’t my yeast rolls rise?

It could be for several reasons.
1- Your yeast could be old and past its prime. Double-check the expiration date before using it.
2- Make sure that the water you used wasn’t too warm to dissolve the yeast—it shouldn’t exceed 115°F
3- Knead only until the dough is smooth. Over-kneading can cause dense dough.
4- Maybe your kitchen is too cold. In that case, just pop the dough in a cold oven (do not turn it on!) and place a pan of boiling water on the rack underneath. 

A basket full of soft dinner rolls, fresh out of the oven, ready to be eaten.

More ideas for your bread basket

If you tried these homemade rolls or any other recipe on the blog, let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment/rating below! I love hearing how it turns out for you! ♡

close up of cloverleaf dinner rolls.
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(5 stars) 64 ratings

Cloverleaf Dinner Rolls

With their buttery flavor and fluffy texture, cloverleaf dinner rolls are perfect for every occasion, from weeknight meals to small dinner parties! They are incredibly simple to make and can be easily customized. Top them with cheese for extra flavor, add some Italian seasoning to the dough, or sprinkle garlic and herbs salt on top of the warm rolls just before serving.

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 3½ cups + 2 tablespoons (440 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup + 3 tablespoons (275 ml) whole milk lukewarm
  • 4 tablespoons (55 g) unsalted butter softened
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • teaspoon salt

You will also need:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted

Instructions

Make the dough

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all the ingredients and mix until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl (about 6-7 minutes).
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly to form a smooth, slightly sticky ball. 

1st Rise

  • Place the ball in a greased container and cover it with cling film. Let it rise until it doubles in size (this will take approximately 60-90 minutes).
  • Brush a 12-cup muffin tin with 1 tablespoon of melted butter and set aside.

Shape the rolls

  • When the dough has doubled, punch it down and divide it into 12 parts.  Divide each part into 3 equal-sized pieces and roll each piece into tiny balls.
    You can also use a kitchen scale to make equal size balls.

2nd Rise

  • Place 3 balls, seam side down, in each muffin cup. Cover the muffin tin with lightly greased plastic wrap, put it in a warm spot, and let the rolls rise for another 60 minutes.

Bake

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Remove the plastic wrap and bake the cloverleaf rolls until golden brown, about 22 minutes.

Brush

  • Remove the rolls from the oven and brush them immediately with melted butter.  After 5 minutes, carefully transfer them to a rack. 
    Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes

  • Nutrition information – substituting any ingredients may change the posted nutrition information.
  • To double the recipe, simply click on the number of servings in the recipe card and slide the toggle that appears to the number of servings you want to make. The ingredient amounts will change accordingly.
  • Yeast: I used instant yeast. It can be added straight away to the dry ingredients; it doesn’t require any proofing; and it rises a bit quicker. If you want to use active dry yeast instead, activate it first. 
  • To make the dinner rolls dairy-free or vegan, replace the milk with non-dairy milk and the butter with extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, or vegan butter.
  • ShapeI used a kitchen scale to get equal-sized balls. Each ball weighed 17 grams (0.6 oz.). 
  • Make-ahead: cover the rolls before the last rise and place the muffin tin in the fridge overnight. When ready to bake, remove the rolls from the refrigerator and let them sit on the counter for 90 minutes or until puffed.
  • Bake and freeze: bake the rolls as directed and let them cool completely. Put them in a large ziplock bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and warm before serving. 
  • If you want to freeze the unbaked buns, shape the rolls and place them in the muffin pan. Wrap tightly and freeze for up to 4 weeks. To bake, thaw overnight in the fridge, then unwrap and bake as directed.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 roll, Calories: 177 kcal, Carbohydrates: 29.9 g, Protein: 4.4 g, Fat: 4.4 g, Saturated Fat: 2.7 g, Cholesterol: 12.1 mg, Sodium: 300.1 mg, Fiber: 1.2 g, Sugar: 3.2 g
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40 comments on “Soft Cloverleaf Dinner Rolls”

  1. Best ever! The ONLY recipe I need for dinner rolls!5 stars

  2. I have tried many dinner roll recipes and this is hands down, the very best. Delicious and very easy. 5 stars

  3. Such a lovely dough to work with! I found that 6 minutes on speed 2 of my Kitchen Aid stand mixer was all I needed. Didn’t have to do any kneading as the dough came together very quickly.  I used a touch of honey instead of sugar and used a scale.  This recipe made 16 rolls for me instead of 12. Bonus! I baked 4 immediately (chef’s treat) and stored the other 12 overnight in the fridge.

    Thank you for a brilliant recipe!5 stars

  4. My uncle’s clover leaf rolls are my little guy’s favourite and something he’s really been missing since extended family dinners have had to stop. I’ve tried a few different versions to try to compensate for them during holidays and have spectacularly failed every time. These came out absolutely perfectly and he was so excited. Thank you so much! 5 stars

  5. Great recipe! i switched out the milk for buttermilk and it worked great!5 stars

  6. Wonderful !!! I’m so glad I found your recipe online, they are SO tasty. These are the type of rolls served at Lobster Suppers in PEI and Nova Scotia. In our gas oven at 350 they take about 30 minutes. Half whole wheat and regular yeast works too.5 stars

  7. This dough is a dream. Very easy to work with. Thanks for such a great recipe and the detailed instructions and variations.5 stars