Soft Cloverleaf Dinner Rolls
It’s hard to imagine a dinner without a basket full of warm, homemade bread.
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.
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.
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 toppings: sprinkle 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.
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.
Step 3 2nd rise and bake – place 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.
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.
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.
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.).
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.
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.
More ideas for your bread basket
- Homemade Sweet Potato Dinner Rolls
- Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
- Homemade Hamburger Buns
- Pretzel Buns (Laugenbrot)
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! ♡
Cloverleaf Dinner Rolls
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
- 1½ teaspoon salt
You will also need:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Remove the plastic wrap and bake the cloverleaf rolls until golden brown, about 22 minutes.
- 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.
- 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.
- Shape: I 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.