Homemade Cloverleaf Dinner Rolls
Warm, homemade bread is a staple at any dinner table, and Cloverleaf Dinner Rolls are one of my all-time favorites! With a satisfying chewy texture, they pair perfectly with a bowl of creamy sweet potato soup on a chilly day.
This recipe makes about 12 delightful yeast rolls, but watch out—they tend to disappear fast from the bread basket! If you’re hosting a dinner party or holiday gathering, double or even triple the recipe. Trust me, your guests will thank you for it!
Why you’ll love these cloverleaf rolls
- Easy to make: whether you’re a novice or an experienced baker, this bread recipe is a great place to start. With just a few basic ingredients and a bit of patience, you’ll have delicious, fluffy pull-apart rolls in no time.
- Versatile: you can shape the dough into twisted rolls, pinwheels, knotted rolls, or even classic hot dog buns.
- Flavorful: get creative with toppings and seasonings. Add Italian seasoning to the dough, sprinkle garlic and herb salt on warm rolls just before serving, or top with cheese for an extra burst of flavor.
- Perfect for any meal: homemade rolls are a versatile side dish that pairs well with a variety of dishes, from pasta and roasted meat to soup and salad.
- Unique shape: the cloverleaf shape is not only visually appealing, but it also allows for easy separation into smaller portions.
Ingredients & substitutions
Here are some helpful notes about the key ingredients for these buttery rolls:
- Flour: all-purpose flour works well, but you can also use bread flour for a chewier texture. Measure your flour accurately for the best results.
- Milk: whole milk will give you the softest bread rolls. However, low-fat milk, skim milk, or non-dairy milk are good options.
- Unsalted butter: soften the butter to room temperature before using.
- Granulated sugar: You can replace it with honey.
- Instant yeast: if you don’t have instant yeast, you can use active dry yeast instead. Just be sure to activate the active dry yeast before using it, and the rising time will be slightly longer.
See the recipe card below for a detailed ingredient list and step-by-step instructions.
How to make cloverleaf rolls
This dinner 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. After the dough has risen, divide it into twelve parts. Then, take each part and divide it into three equal-sized pieces. Roll each piece into balls.
Step 3 2nd rise and bake: place three dough balls into each muffin cup and let them rise for one hour. Then bake for 22 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown on top. Once the cloverleaf rolls come out of the oven, brush them with melted butter to give them a shiny finish.
- Vegan or dairy-free option: opt for almond, soy, or oat milk, and replace the butter with vegan butter or oil.
- For a burst of flavor, add 1-2 tablespoons of dried or finely chopped fresh herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, or parsley, to the dough. You can also brush the rolls with a mixture of melted butter and herbs after baking. Or sprinkle a touch of flaky sea salt or garlic salt on the warm rolls before serving.
- For a cheese twist, mix in 1/3 cup of shredded cheddar cheese to the dough.
Tips for success
- Measure flour correctly. This is important to avoid dense and heavy rolls. Use a spoon to fill your measuring cup and then level it off, rather than scooping directly from the package.
- Activate yeast properly. If you’re using instant yeast, add it directly to the dry ingredients. For active dry yeast, dissolve it in 2 tablespoons of lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar, wait for it to become frothy and bubbly (about 15 minutes), and then add it to the rest of the ingredients.
- Use lukewarm milk. The milk temperature should be between 110 and 115°F. A cooking thermometer can help you check.
- Don’t over-knead the dough. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky. Avoid adding extra flour, as it can lead to dense rolls.
- Adjust proofing time. The dough’s rising time depends on temperature and humidity. In a warm place, it typically takes around 1 hour. In a cold kitchen, it might take a bit longer.
- Warm proofing. To speed up the rising process, place the dough in a warm spot. If your kitchen is cold, you can use your oven with the light turned on to create a warm, moist environment.
- Use a kitchen scale. For even baking, measure the dough and create equal-sized balls using a kitchen scale. Each ball should weigh around 17 grams (0.6 oz).
Make ahead & storage instructions
Make ahead: wrap the muffin pan with plastic wrap before the last rise. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours. When it’s time to bake, let the rolls sit on the counter for about 90 minutes or until they’ve doubled in size.
Storage: keep your cloverleaf rolls fresh by storing them in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 to 4 days. For longer storage, consider freezing.
Reheating: these dinner rolls taste best when they’re warm. If you’ve baked them in advance, wrap them in aluminum foil and place them in a in a 300°F (150°C) oven for 10-15 minutes, or until they’re heated through.
Freezing: you have options for freezing, either before or after baking.
- Freezing after baking: allow the baked rolls to cool completely. Place them in a large ziplock bag, seal it tightly, and freeze. When you’re ready to enjoy them, let them thaw on the counter and then pop them in the oven for a few minutes to warm up.
- Freezing before baking: to freeze unbaked rolls, place them in the muffin pan and let them rise for 20 minutes. Wrap the pan securely and freeze for up to 4 weeks. When it’s time to bake, thaw the rolls overnight in the fridge, and then follow the recipe’s baking instructions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Use a kitchen scale to weigh the dough and divide it into equal-sized pieces. Each roll should weigh around 17 grams (0.6 oz.)
Yes, simply adjust the serving size in the recipe card to the desired number of rolls. The ingredient amounts will automatically update accordingly.
Here are some common reasons why yeast rolls don’t rise:
1. Expired yeast: make sure your yeast is fresh and not past its expiration date.
2. Incorrect water temperature: the water used to dissolve the yeast should be lukewarm (around 110–115 °F). If it’s too hot, it can kill the yeast, and if it’s too cold, it won’t activate.
3. Over-Kneading: don’t over-knead the dough, as it can cause it to be dense and not rise properly.
4. Cold temperature: if your kitchen is too cold, it can slow down the rising process. You can place the dough in a cold oven with a pan of boiling water underneath to create a warm and humid environment.
Have you tried these easy dinner rolls yet? Share your feedback, variations, or any questions you have in the comments below. We’re here to help!
How To Make It: 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 plastic wrap. 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-sized 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: please note that substituting any ingredient may change the posted nutrition information.
- To make a larger batch, simply adjust the number of servings in the recipe card. The ingredient amounts will automatically update.
- Yeast: I used instant yeast, which doesn’t require proofing and rises a bit quicker. If you prefer to use active dry yeast, you’ll need to activate it first.
- For a dairy-free or vegan version, use non-dairy milk and replace the butter with extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, or vegan butter.
- Shaping the rolls: I used a kitchen scale to get equal-sized balls. Each ball should weigh around 17 grams (0.6 oz).
- Make-ahead: you can prepare the rolls ahead of time by covering the dough before the final rise and placing the muffin tin in the fridge overnight. When you’re ready to bake, remove the rolls from the refrigerator and let them sit on the counter for 90 minutes or until doubled in size.
- Bake and freeze: after baking the rolls, let them cool completely before storing them in a large ziplock bag in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, thaw, and warm before serving.
- To freeze unbaked rolls, shape the dough and place it in the muffin pan. Wrap tightly and freeze for up to 4 weeks. To bake, thaw the dough overnight in the fridge, then unwrap and bake as directed.