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
12 rolls
Dark & Soft Restaurant Dinner Rolls


Prevent your screen from going dark as you follow along.
  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 60 to 90 minutes. It won't have doubled in size, but should be just a bit puffy.

  5. Divide the dough into 12 even pieces (about 85g each), and shape the pieces into 4" 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 1 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.