Cranberry sauce is always the forgotten dish at our Thanksgiving table. We always just grab a can of it at the store and call it a day. This year I wanted to spice up this classic side dish and combine it with soft and buttery dinner rolls. A swirl of cranberry sauce is baked into these fluffy rolls, making them the perfect addition to any Thanksgiving. Two dishes in one means more room on your plate to fit extra sides!
What makes these the BEST dinner rolls?
This will definitely be your new go-to dinner roll recipe for three reasons:
- They’re so easy and quick to make. You can have fresh rolls in an hour thanks to Fleischmann’s RapidRise® Yeast. It allows these rolls to rise in just 30 minutes.
- No special equipment is needed. Just mix in a bowl by hand!
- The texture is light, fluffy, buttery, and just melts in your mouth. The cranberry gives these a bit of a tang for the perfect savory and sweet side dish.
Whether you’re making these for Thanksgiving or just for dinner, these rolls are a fun way to combine two dishes in one. But if cranberry isn’t your thing, these rolls are easy to customize. Fill them with some sweet jam or a slather of butter for a classic dinner roll. Either way they’re sure to please!
How to make dinner rolls by hand
All you need for this dinner roll recipe is a bowl, a rolling pin, and a mixing spoon. No electric mixers required! The trick to getting delicious and delicate rolls made by hand is by using these two tips:
- Use a good quality yeast with quick activation. This will do all the work for you, allowing the rolls to puff up quickly to give you tons of lift and air pockets. Thats the secret to delicious and light dinner rolls. I recommend using Fleischmann’s RapidRise® Yeast because it’s easy to use and produces delicious rolls every time. Click to learn more about how yeast works in this recipe.
- Gradually add the flour. Since we don’t have an electric mixer, it’s important not to overwhelm the dough with too much flour. Otherwise, it will be difficult to knead the dough by hand and could lead to tough rolls. As you mix, add 1 cup of flour at a time. Once it becomes too difficult to stir with a spoon, switch to your hands to knead the dough inside the bowl.
After kneading, allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. This allows the wet ingredients to fully hydrate the flour and gives the gluten a chance to relax. This will make it so much easier to roll out.
To up your roll making, check out Fleischmann’s full guide on yeast baking techniques.
Easy cranberry sauce filling
Cranberry sauce seems to be a very polarizing Thanksgiving dish. Some people love traditional sauce and some people love the canned cranberry jelly. I personally love the canned because it’s what I grew up with, but these rolls have made me a believer in traditional cranberry sauce.
The combination of juicy and tart cranberries with the light and buttery roll is like a match made in heaven. So even if you aren’t a fan of traditional cranberry sauce or just cranberry sauce in general, I don’t doubt that these rolls will change your mind. Especially when it’s wrapped up in fluffy homemade rolls. The extra step to make these from scratch already makes them 10x better than store bought!
The sauce is also very easy to make. Cook down the cranberries in a pot of butter and sugar. Once it starts to bubble, the sauce will thicken into a jam consistency. For a little extra flavor, I added orange zest at the very end. I find it brightens up the sauce and cuts through the tart cranberries.
How to bake these rolls
To place the rolls inside the pan, make 4 rows of 3 rolls. The swirled ends should all face in towards each other, and it’s OK if they’re touching. Once baked, the rolls are easy to pull apart from each other.
To bake, allow the rolls to puff up for about 30 minutes beforehand. They should nearly fill the entire dish. Brush with an egg wash in order to achieve a light golden brown color on top. Bake for 20 minutes for a light golden brown or 25-30 minutes for a darker golden brown.
Serving cranberry dinner rolls
To serve, you can either leave them in the pan or turn them out onto a serving dish. They should all hold together as on big piece, so you can flip them out onto a plate and then flip back onto your serving tray.
Either way, it’s important to brush the rolls with melted butter when they’re still warm. This allows the butter to sink into the rolls to make them extra soft and tender.
You also have the option of making a double batch of the cranberry sauce. Use half in the rolls, and the other half to serve alongside the rolls.
How to prep these rolls overnight
Once you’ve rolled up the rolls and placed them into the baking dish, wrap in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before baking. When you’re ready to bake, leave the rolls out at room temperature (still covered) for at least 45 minutes. They may not completely puff up but that’s OK. Follow the same baking instructions.
How to bake in a 9×13 dish (24 rolls)
If you’re baking these for a big family gathering, you can double the recipe to fit 18 rolls into a 9×13 dish and the remaining 6 rolls into a 9×5 loaf pan. To form them, cut the dough in half and roll into two separate rectangle. Follow all of the same baking instructions, but the 9×13 dish may need to stay in the oven for an extra 5 minutes to bake all the way through.
For more yeast recipes, check out my:
Make sure to tag me @butternutbakery on Instagram and comment below if you make these Cranberry Sauce Dinner Rolls. To pin this recipe and save it for later, you can use the button on the recipe card or on any of the photos above. Happy baking!