Friends, I think you will really love these Thanksgiving dinner rolls. They are soft and flavored with garlic and Parmesan.
They stay soft for days because of the Idaho Potatoes® in the dough, which acts like a shortcut Tangzhong to hold onto moisture.
You might also enjoy my savory pumpkin bread, which is also lovely for Thanksgiving.
For ease of browsing, here are all of my bread and rolls recipes all in one place. Thanks for stopping by!
I am proud to partner with the Idaho® Potato Commission to bring you this recipe for Thanksgiving dinner rolls, also known as Garlic Parmesan Pull Apart Rolls.
Watch my Thanksgiving dinner roll web story here.
Why You Need to Make These Rolls for Thanksgiving
Because of the potato’s high starch content, yeast loves it.
I can practically hear the yeasties salivating as I tip them into their dinner bowl full of complex carbohydrates they can happily break down into sugar and alcohol, all the while merrily burbling out carbon dioxide.
And with so many yeasties eating so much delicious food and, um outgassing, so much carbon dioxide, dough made with potatoes or even just the water from cooking potatoes rises relatively quickly to dazzling heights.
Potatoes also have the most desirable ability to keep breads soft and fresh for several days.
How do they work this magic?
When you cook a starchy Idaho potato such as russet, all the starch granules swell up with moisture like little sponges. That’s called gelatinization.
In this instance, gelatinization has nothing to do with actual gelatin and everything to do with the way starches behave when heated.
And the cool thing about gelatinization is that, unlike sponges that dry back out, starch granules hold onto their moisture for days. And it is this ability to hold onto moisture that keeps breads baked with potatoes so soft and fresh for a relatively long period of time.
It seems like magic, but it’s just delicious science.
Here are some more reasons you’re going to love these dinner rolls:
- They’re soft and squishy with a nice soft crust
- Subtley flavored with garlic and Parmesan cheese
- Enriched with avocado oil (or olive oil) and egg
- They only take about 2-2 1/2 hours to make, including rise time
How to Make These Soft Dinner Rolls
Ingredients and Substitutions
Here’s what you’ll need to make these guys:
- Idaho® Russet Potato: Use a starchy rather than waxy potato for best results. Using waxy potatoes will result in rolls that are firmer at room temperature. Russets are my recommendation, but Yukon Golds will work as well.
- Fruity oil such as avocado or olive: Either works here. If you don’t like the flavor of either, use a neutral vegetable oil
- Granulated sugar: Adds a touch of extra tenderness (because we want super tender dinner rolls). You may substitute a little squeeze of honey if you prefer
- Garlic: Used both in the dough and in the butter topping. I use a premade paste, but you may also use finely minced garlic
- Salt: I use Morton’s kosher salt. If you use Diamond Crystal, increase salt by about 1/4. If using table salt, decrease by about half
- Pepper: I like freshly ground
- Milk: I use whole milk. You may substitute 2% or a plant-based milk
- Egg: Adds a bit more liquid, fat, and emulsifiers. Makes the dough a touch richer
- Parmesan cheese: Used in the dough and in the topping, Parmesan provides a warm nuttiness that’s hard to resist. Use fresh Parmesan rather than the kind in a can. It will melt into the dough better and have much more flavor than canned.
- Flour: I use bread flour. For even softer rolls, you can use all-purpose flour, but do use a higher-protein AP like King Arthur. Since bread flour soaks up more liquid, if using all-purpose flour, you may need to decrease the amount by a little.
- Yeast: Use active dry or instant. If you are at all concerned that your yeast is old and possibly dead, proof it in some of the milk (warmed up a bit) to make sure it foams before proceeding with the recipe
- Butter: I call for salted in this recipe. You may also use unsalted, but in that case, add about 1/4 teaspoon salt to the melted butter before brushing it on your rolls.
Are These Hard to Make?
The recipe is a matter of boiling potatoes and drying them out on the stove for just a bit, and then mixing them together with the other ingredients.
The recipe even tells you what order to add everything. I do recommend using a
The soft dough needs a good 10 minutes of machine kneading, and that translates into maybe 20 minutes–at least–of hand kneading.
Also, for consistency’s sake as well as ease of measuring, I list all my ingredients by weight (except for teaspoons or tablespoons), so to succeed with my recipes and to standardize your own recipes, a kitchen scale is pretty necessary.
Equipment You May Need
If you’re going to be spending time making at least a fair amount of bread or rolls, you will want to invest in both.
A Microplane is also an excellent and multi-purpose tool in the kitchen. For this recipe, I use it to grate the Parmesan, but you will find all sorts of uses for it, from zesting citrus fruit to grating ginger and nutmeg.
You can change up the “look” of these rolls by changing the baking pan.
If you don’t mind some odd-shaped rolls and are good with calling them “rustic,” you can bake them in a 10″ round pan.
If you prefer squared-off, more regularly shaped rolls like the ones in these photos, bake in a straight-sided 9 x 13-inch baking pan.
And if you want rolls that look more like burger buns, you’ll want to bake them far enough apart that they don’t get squared off from touching each other.
In that case, you’ll want to bake on one or maybe two half-sheet pans.
You can also run the risk of underbaking your rolls.
Since they’re full of potatoes and oil, they’re not going to give you a “hollow thumping sound” so you’ll know they’re done. Do what I do and rely on an instant read thermometer.
You’re looking for a temperature of 195-200F.
How Long Does It Take To Make Them?
- About 15 minutes to boil the potatoes and 5 minutes to dry them out.
- During that time, you can get out and weigh the rest of your ingredients. Then it’ll take a minute to put everything together, 11-12 minutes of mixing/kneading, about an hour or so of rising.
- Then you’ll scale and shape the rolls, let them rise again for 30-40 minutes and bake.
What is that total? Maybe 2 hours, start to finish.
NOTE: Refrigerate the dough overnight for the first rise or shape the rolls and refrigerate them overnight for the second rise.
The schedule is up to you. Be the boss of yeast and, if the timing isn’t working out for you, put it to sleep by refrigerating it. It’ll work way more slowly in the fridge and then perk back up once it warms back up. Nice!
I buy my yeast in bulk, and it just lives in the fridge until I need it.
Yes! One of the wonderful properties of homemade rolls–or any bread, really–is that it freezes and thaws beautifully.
What I like to do is allow my rolls to cool completely and then place them in zip top freezer bags, pressing out most of the air without squishing my rolls.
When I want to thaw them, I take out what I need and either thaw in the microwave for a few seconds or allow them to come to room temperature slowly on the counter.
You can then wrap them in foil and heat for about 10 minutes at 350F for just-baked flavor.
I know you have a burning question: Are these really the best rolls for Thanksgiving? Yes. Yes, they are.
The Beloved and I have been plowing through them like it’s our job, and I can’t wait to make these again and again. And yes, to serve them at our Thanksgiving dinner. Enjoy!
A Note About Measurements
For convenience, consistency, and accuracy, almost all my recipes are written by weight, either in ounces and/or grams, even the liquids.
I strongly encourage you to purchase a kitchen scale and learn to use it.
This is the one I used for years. I love it and highly recommend it:
Don't let its small price and small size fool you. The Escali Primo is an accurate and easy-to-use food scale that I have used for years. It's easy to store, easy to use, has a tare function, and easily switches between grams and ounces/pounds for accurate measurements.
It would be so helpful to me and to other readers that, when you make a recipe, you rate it and leave a comment. Whether it’s a recipe or an informational post, your feedback helps others decide if the post is helpful or if the recipe works as advertised.
If you could leave a star rating, that would be very helpful. Thank you for being here!
The Best Thanksgiving Dinner Rolls
For the Dough:
- 1 medium Idaho® Russet Potato
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- Cold water to cover
- 2 oz barely scant ¼ cup fruity oil such as avocado or olive
- 1 ½ Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons prepared garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 10-20 grinds fresh black pepper depending on how much pepper you like
- 8 oz 1 cup whole milk you may use 2%
- 1 large egg
- 3 oz about 1 ½ cups finely grated Parmesan cheese divided
- 1 pound about 3 ¾ cups bread flour
- 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
To Finish and Bake:
- 1 stick salted butter or use unsalted butter and ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons prepared garlic paste
- Finely grated fresh Parmesan
For the Dough:
- Wash, peel, and cut the potato into 1″ pieces.
- Place in a saucepan in lightly salted water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes or until potato pieces are easily pierced with a knife. Drain, cover, and return to low heat for 5 minutes to dry a bit.
- Measure out 6 oz of cooked potato and place in the bowl of your stand mixer.
- Add the oil, sugar, garlic paste, salt, and pepper.
- Fit your mixer with the paddle attachment and mix on medium low speed until the potato mixture is smooth.
- Add the milk, egg, half the Parmesan cheese, flour and yeast, in that order.
- Fit your mixer with the dough hook, and mix on low speed until the flour is evenly moistened and the dough is starting to come together, about 2 minutes..
- Knead on medium speed for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth, shiny, stretchy and clears the sides of the mixer bowl. The dough is soft, so some will stick in the bottom of the bowl. That’s just fine.
- Scrape the dough into a rough ball in the mixer bowl, spray with a bit of oil or pan spray, and set aside in a warm place to rise until double. Since yeast loves potatoes so much, this will only take about an hour or so.
- 10. Scrape the risen dough out onto a lightly oiled surface and press out the gases.
- 11. Sprinkle the other half of the Parmesan over the dough and then knead it in. You do not have to be very thorough because we want some pockets and ribbons of cheese running through the dough. Just knead until the cheese is incorporated.
- 12. Divide the dough into 12 or 24 even pieces. If you have a scale, weigh the entire amount of dough and then divide that weight by the number of rolls you want. Now you have a weight for portioning. I scaled 12 large rolls at just over 3 oz each.
- 13. Stretch each portion of dough to find a smooth side and then tuck the rest of the dough under to form a smooth ball. Tighten up the ball by rolling it between your palms on your work surface.
- 14. In a 9” x 13” nonstick pan, evenly space the rolls in 3 rows of 4 for large rolls or 4 rows of 6 for small ones.
To Finish and Bake:
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Melt the butter, garlic, and salt (if using) in the microwave. Spread the tops of the rolls liberally with half the mixture.
- Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until almost double, about 30-40 minutes.
- Pour or brush the rest of the butter mixture evenly over the rolls and then place in the oven.
- Bake for about 25 minutes for large rolls and 20 minutes for small rolls. Rotate the pan if browning unevenly. The rolls are done when the internal temperature reaches 195-200F. They will be deeply golden brown on top and golden brown on the sides. If the rolls seem to brown too quickly, tent loosely with foil.
- As soon as you take the rolls out of the oven, grate on a bit more Parmesan cheese.
- Allow the rolls to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Then carefully ease them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Wrap loosely in foil and reheat to serve. They’re great cold, too, but you will really love them warm. Enjoy!
Did You Make Any Changes?
Freezing InstructionsOnce the rolls have cooled completely, break them apart and freeze them in zip top freezer bags with as much of the air pressed out as possible. They will keep well for up to 2 months. To thaw, allow the sealed bag/s to sit at room temperature, or thaw them in the microwave.
What are my qualifications to teach you baking and pastry? As a former working pastry chef and special educator, I marry my passions for both teaching and for baking into explaining techniques, methods, and developing the best possible recipes. For more info, you can read more about me.
If you’d like to receive new recipes and the occasional newsletter, I’d love for you to sign up for my Inbox Pastry Chef.
Thanks again to the Idaho® Potato Commission for sponsoring this post. And thank you guys for supporting the brands with whom I work.
Thank you for spending some time with me today. Take care, and have a lovely day.