Dark & Soft Restaurant Dinner Rolls

Recipe by PJ Hamel

These dinner rolls are an attempt to replicate the soft, kind of sweet, deep chocolate-colored rolls served at various chain restaurants (particularly steakhouses) around the country. The taste-testers here at King Arthur raved about these, so even if they're not an exact match for those restaurant rolls, we're sure you'll find them tasty.

22 mins
24 mins
3 hrs 16 mins
10 rolls
Dark & Soft Restaurant Dinner Rolls


  1. Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess.

  2. Combine all of the dough ingredients in the bucket of a bread machine, or in an electric mixer. If you're using a bread machine, program it for the dough or manual cycle. If you're using a mixer, start with the flat beater, then switch to the dough hook when the dough starts to form a ball and come away from the sides of the bowl.

  3. Mix and knead until you've formed a smooth, slightly sticky dough. Note: You may also prepare this dough by hand. It's very sticky and a bit messy at first, but just keep at it, flouring your hands and trying not to add too much additional flour to the dough; eventually it'll smooth out.

  4. Let the dough rise in the bowl (or bucket of the bread machine) for 1 hour. It won't have doubled in size, but should be just a bit puffy.

  5. Divide the dough into 10 even pieces (about 4 ounces each), and shape the pieces into 6" x 2" oval rolls.

  6. Coat each roll, top and bottom, with some yellow cornmeal. Place them on a lightly greased baking sheet, and allow them to rise, covered, in a warm place, for 90 minutes to 2 hours. They won't have doubled in size, but will appear puffy; when you gently press your finger into one, the indentation will rebound quite slowly. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

  7. Bake the rolls for 24 minutes, until the bottoms appear slightly browned (you'll have to carefully pick one up to look), or until a digital thermometer inserted into the center of a roll reads about 200°F.

  8. Remove the rolls from the oven, and cool them on a rack.

  9. Serve the rolls warm, or at room temperature. Store at room temperature, well wrapped, for several days; freeze for longer storage.