Every time my extended family gathers for the holidays my mom has one request. She says, “Please bake dinner rolls from scratch.” You see, my mom thinks homemade dinner rolls require a master’s degree in yeast and a full day dedicated to it. But I’m going to let you in on a baker’s secret: Dinner rolls—even if the dough has yeast—are one of the easiest breads to make, freeze, and bake later.
Dinner rolls can either be frozen as unbaked balls of dough, or you can bake, cool, and then freeze them to reheat later. Each method has advantages as well as a few things to watch out for. Here’s what you need to know about freezing and baking dinner rolls.
Wait, I Can Freeze Yeasted Rolls?
The short answer is yes! While freezing and thawing does impact the yeast’s effectiveness every so slightly, there are tricks to limit the impact temperature changes can have on it.
- Make sure you’re using yeast that’s not expired and has been properly stored.
- Freeze the dough in a thin even layer or even already portioned into rolls so that it freezes quickly. The dough stops proofing when fully frozen so you want the dough to freeze as quickly as possible.
- Thaw the dough slowly by moving it from the freezer to the fridge before bringing it out to room temperature and baking. This means you should take it out of the freezer and into the fridge the night before you plan to serve the rolls.
How to Freeze and Bake Dinner Rolls
There are two methods for freezing unbaked dinner rolls. As a rule, most frozen dinner rolls are best if baked within a month.
Freeze the whole batch: Simply freeze your whole batch of dough after making it. Flatten the dough into a disk or square, and stash it in an airtight container or zip top bag. This works for when you’re in a hurry the day you make the dough, but will have time later to thaw the dough slowly in the fridge overnight before shaping, rising, and baking the rolls. One thing to note: Because the dough mound takes longer to freeze and thaw, the rolls may not rise as much and be a little denser when baked.
Shape the rolls, then freeze: This is my favorite method for freezing dinner rolls. Make and proof the dough once before shaping them into rolls. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and freeze the dough balls on it in a single layer. Once frozen, move them into a zip top bag for space-saving storage. This will allow you to thaw and bake as few or as many rolls as you’d like at a time. And because the rolls freeze and thaw more quickly, you’ll get a better rise and texture. When you’re ready for dinner rolls, thaw them on a baking sheet in the fridge overnight. Take them out of the fridge for about 30 minutes before baking.
How to Freeze and Reheat Dinner Rolls
Another way to plan ahead for dinner rolls is to bake the rolls, fully cool them, and then transfer them into airtight storage. I like to layer them in a large zip top bag with foil in between each. Then you can freeze the baked rolls.
The night before you plan to serve the rolls, remove them from the freezer and thaw them at room temperature. Serve the thawed rolls as is or reheat them in a warm oven just before serving.
The Best Way to Reheat Dinner Rolls
You can reheat dinner rolls in the microwave, in a slow cooker, or air fryer, but I’ve found after years of testing, that the best method is to reheat dinner rolls in the oven. Heat it to 300°F and pop the rolls in for 8 to 10 minutes. Brush the warm rolls with butter—I highly recommend it.
Reheat Rolls in a Slow Cooker?!
Yes! You need two clean, slightly damp kitchen towels. Use one to line the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the rolls and cover them with the other kitchen towel. Place the lid on and set the slow cooker to low heat. In about 30 minutes, they'll be ready! Set to heat to warm and it'll keep your rolls warm until dinnertime. Genius!