Homemade Whole Wheat Rolls

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Whole Wheat Rolls are soft, light, and airy with a rich, buttery flavor. They make a wonderful addition to any holiday dinner table. Even if you’ve never worked with yeast before, this recipe is simple and straightforward, with no special skills required.

Whole Wheat Rolls on a plate

Best Whole Wheat Rolls Recipe

These whole wheat dinner rolls are so soft, airy, and fluffy. They have a rich, buttery, and slightly sweet flavor, thanks to ingredients like shortening and applesauce. Basically, they’re the best dinner rolls you could possibly ask for!

This is a very versatile recipe and as far as yeast rolls go, this one is quite simple. Just be sure to plan for plenty of rise time. These are a great holiday side dish but you can also use these rolls in place of Hawaiian rolls in Ham and Cheese Sliders Appetizer or Pepperoni Pizza Sliders. Or you can serve them with my Mississippi Pot Roast recipe!

Whole Wheat Rolls in a basket

Why You’ll Love These Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

We make these whole wheat rolls quite frequently, as they’ve become a family favorite.

  • Soft and airy. Thanks to the addition of bread flour, these whole wheat rolls have an incredibly soft and fluffy texture.
  • Rich, buttery flavor. Shortening is used in the recipe to add that buttery flavor while butter is also brushed over the tops for extra flavor.
  • Versatile. These whole wheat rolls can be used for anything from a holiday side dish to a Hawaiian roll replacement.

Ingredients

The whole wheat rolls are made with yeast, shortening, applesauce, and a few other pantry staples. See the recipe card below for measurements.

  • Warm water – Be sure it’s warm, not hot or cold. Hot water can kill yeast and cold water will slow the activation.
  • Sugar
  • Yeast – Be sure it’s not expired.
  • Milk – 2% or whole milk both work.
  • Shortening – Adds a rich buttery flavor and extra moisture.
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Applesauce – Makes these whole wheat bread rolls extra moist.
  • Bread flour – Bread flour helps create a more elastic dough and therefore softer rolls
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Melted butter

How To Make Whole Wheat Rolls

While these whole wheat dinner rolls do take some time to prepare as they need to rise twice, the process is very simple and easy enough for anyone to do. See the recipe card below for more detailed instructions.

  • Make the bread started. Combine the water, bread flour, and milk and cook over medium heat until it reaches a pudding-like texture. Allow to cool.
  • Prepare the yeast. Whisk the sugar and water together then sprinkle the yeast on top. Let sit until frothy.
  • Make the dough. Heat the milk and shortening in the microwave until warm. Pour into a mixer bowl with applesauce, sugar, eggs, salt, and the bread starter. Whisk lightly then add the yeast mixture. In a separate bowl, combine the bread flour and whole wheat flour. Add 1/3 to the mixer and mix with a dough hook then add the remaining flour. Knead for approximately 5 minutes until soft but not overly sticky.
  • Rise. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the dough doubles in size.
  • Shape the rolls. Punch down the dough and shape it into rolls. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, about 1/2 inch apart. Cover with plastic and allow to rise until double in size.
  • Bake. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan then transfer to cooling racks. Brush the tops of the rolls with butter.
baked Whole Wheat Rolls in a pan

Tips for Success

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you work on these whole wheat bread rolls.

  • Make sure the yeast is good. If the yeast doesn’t froth in the first step, toss it and start again. It could either be that the yeast was expired or the milk was too hot or cold.
  • Do not over-knead the dough. Knead the dough with the dough hook just until it’s smooth and not overly sticky. Kneading it too much can result in dense rolls.
  • Add more flour as needed. If the dough is too sticky, you can add flour a few tablespoons at a time until it’s soft and tacky but not so sticky.
  • Brush on the butter while the rolls are still warm. This allows the butter to seep into the warm rolls, adding an even buttery flavor.
Whole Wheat Rolls opened up showing the inside

Serving Suggestions

These whole wheat dinner rolls can be served in so many different ways. With a dab of butter or some cinnamon honey butter, they make the perfect side dish for any meal.

They’re perfect on the holidays, next to the turkey or ham and sides like green bean casserole. I love to use them to soak up every last drop of gravy!

And, as mentioned above, they’re a great replacement for Hawaiian rolls in recipes like ham and cheese sliders.

How To Store Whole Wheat Bread Rolls

  • Room temperature. Store your whole wheat rolls in a ziploc bag on the counter for up to 2 days. Feel free to pop them in the microwave for a few seconds before enjoying them!
  • Freezer. These rolls can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Let cool completely then place in an airtight container. Thaw on the counter.

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Whole Wheat Rolls

Whole Wheat Rolls are soft, light, and airy with a rich, buttery flavor. They make a wonderful addition to any holiday dinner table. Even if you've never worked with yeast before, this recipe is simple and straightforward, with no special skills required.
Servings: 36 rolls
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Rest Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total: 3 hours 5 minutes

Ingredients
  

Bread Starter

Dinner Roll Recipe

  • ½ cup Water warm
  • 1 ½ tsp Sugar
  • 4 ½ tsp Yeast
  • 1 cup Milk
  • ½ cup Shortening
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Applesauce
  • 3 large Eggs
  • 5 cup Bread Flour
  • 1 cup Whole wheat flour
  • 3 Tablespoon butter melted

Instructions

Bread Starter

  • Mix the water, bread flour, and milk
  • Cook over medium heat on the stovetop until it reaches a pudding-like texture. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Yeast Mix

  • Whisk together sugar and water in a small bowl until mixed well.
  • Sprinkle yeast on top while continuing to stir.
  • Let sit until the mixture becomes frothy.

Dinner Rolls

  • Add milk and shortening to a large glass mixing bowl.
  • Heat in microwave for 30 seconds at a time until warm.
  • Pour into the mixer bowl and add applesauce, sugar, eggs, salt, and bread starter mix. Whisk lightly.
  • Add the yeast mixture to the mixer bowl.
  • Combine the bread flour and whole wheat flour.
  • Add 1/3 of the flour to the mixer bowl and mix with a dough hook.
  • Now add the remaining flour and knead for approx. five minutes, adding more flour as needed. The dough will be soft but not overly sticky.
  • Place the dough ball into a large greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. About 1-1½ hrs.
  • Preheat oven to 325°
  • Punch down the dough to release air and shape it into rolls. You should get about 3 dozen rolls.
  • Line baking sheet with parchment paper and place rolls on a sheet. Rolls should be about ½ inch apart.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise again until double.
  • Bake at 325° until rolls are a light golden brown (approximately 10-15 minutes).
  • Remove from the oven, cool for about 10-minutes in a pan, and then remove rolls to cooling racks.
  • Brush the top of rolls with butter and allow to cool.

Last Step:

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Nutrition

Calories: 144kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 77mg | Potassium: 55mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 48IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 0.3mg

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