Refrigerator Dough for Quick Soft Rolls

Recipe by Sue Gray

Throw refrigerator dough together in the morning or evening, or whenever you have a few spare moments. The small amount of yeast allows the dough to keep in the fridge for up to 5 days without developing a "sour" taste. We kept one batch for 6 days; the rolls were a little denser, but still tasted good.

30 mins
15 to 22 mins
14 hrs 15 mins
1 to 2 dozen rolls, depending on size
Refrigerator Dough for Quick Soft Rolls


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  1. To make by hand or in a mixer: Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Combine all of the ingredients and mix until cohesive. Knead the dough, by hand or mixer, until it's smooth, about 5 to 10 minutes, adding up to 4 tablespoons additional water if needed. The dough will become shiny and elastic, but should stay very soft, since it firms up quite a bit in the refrigerator.

  2. To make in a bread machine: Place all of the ingredients into the bucket of your bread machine. Program the machine for dough or manual, and press Start. Check the dough after about 15 minutes; it should be smooth-looking, but very soft. Add additional water or flour as needed. Cancel the machine after the final kneading cycle.

  3. Place the kneaded dough in a greased bowl, cover it, and refrigerate at least overnight, or for up to 5 days.

  4. To shape the rolls: Remove the dough from the refrigerator, fold it over gently a few times, and cut off the desired amount for the number of rolls you want. You'll need about 1 1/2 to 2 ounces dough per dinner roll (golf-ball sized pieces); about 4 1/2 ounces per hamburger bun (a ball of dough about 2 1/2" in diameter); or 3 ounces per hotdog bun (about 2 1/4" in diameter). Return the remaining dough to the refrigerator.

  5. To form dinner rolls: shape the pieces into balls, then roll them under your lightly cupped fingers on an unfloured work surface to make smooth balls. To form hamburger buns, shape each piece into a smooth ball, and flatten the balls until they're about 4" in diameter, trying to keep the tops of the rolls smooth; the nicer the top looks at this point, the nicer it will turn out to be once it's baked.

  6. To form hotdog buns: roll the balls into cylinders 5 1/2" in length. Flatten the cylinders slightly; dough rises more in the center, so this will give the buns gently rounded tops.

  7. Place the shaped rolls onto a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, cover them, and let them rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until they're very puffy. Note that these rolls need to rise longer than rolls made from unrefrigerated dough; be sure to leave yourself sufficient time for this extra rise.

  8. Preheat the oven to 375°F for rolls, or to 350°F for hamburger or hotdog buns.

  9. Bake the dinner rolls for 15 to 18 minutes. Bake the hamburger or hotdog buns for 20 to 22 minutes. The rolls or buns will be golden brown when done.

  10. Store the rolls in plastic for 3 days at room temperature, or for 3 months in the freezer.

Tips from our Bakers

  • If you plan to use the dough within 12 hours or so, knead it and then let it rise at room temperature for 1 hour before refrigerating.
  • Use up to 4 tablespoons sugar (2 ounces) if you prefer a sweeter roll.