Ice Box Dinner Rolls

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Do you love fresh dinner rolls?

If so, then I’ll show you how to make rolls that you can be proud to serve this holiday season.

These rolls are tried and true and get rave reviews from friends and family. They consistently work without any fuss which is the type of recipe you need when entertaining guests.

I got this recipe from my aunt who knew how to cook. She was the type who could feed large groups of people and think nothing of it.

One of her specialties was traditional rolls.

Consistently Good Every Time

I never thought I could make them any where near as well as she did, but that proved to be wrong. The first time I somewhat blindly followed her instructions. To my surprise, the rolls came out almost perfect. This was encouraging since baking rolls is a new experience for me.

If you are an experienced baker, then you will be able to make these better than I can. But even if you have never made rolls before, you will be able to get results you will be proud of and do it consistently.

That consistency matters when you are baking for guests. With all of the work involved in a large meal, the last thing you should worry about is some recipe that has lots of difficult steps and a long list of ingredients. Who needs that?

Why Are They Called Ice Box Dinner Rolls?

The rolls are called ice box rolls for the simple reason that the dough can be refrigerated ahead of time. You don’t have to do this, but it adds some flexibility so that you are not so rushed the day you want to bake them.

Some say that the rolls come out better after being refrigerated. This makes sense because aged doughs develop complex flavors which taste different than quick yeast dough. I learned this through experience while making no knead artisan bread.


Tips For Best Results

closeup ice box dinner rolls showing the texture

After making these over and over, it’s clear why they work so well. It really comes down to these 3 tips.

1. Boil the water and then add all ingredients except the yeast.

This not only simplifies the process, it also heats up the flour. This in turn helps the dough rise quickly by providing a perfect environment for the yeast. The only thing to watch out for is that the mixture is cool enough before you add the yeast. If you are using a thermometer, add the yeast when the mixture has cooled to 115 degrees.

This does not take long at all. Generally it has cooled enough by the time the yeast is done proofing.

Note that you don’t need a proofing oven. That’s a plus. All you have to do is to cover the dough and place on a towel to keep it warm. No biggie.

2. Don’t add any more flour than is necessary to handle the dough.

We found out through experience that wetter doughs make lighter rolls which rise higher. It is surely tempting to add more flour so that they are not sticky. Resist this temptation. The point here is to aim for slightly sticky, and no drier.

When you do it this way it takes out the guesswork of adding the right amount of flour. No measuring is required. You will know as soon as the dough reaches a slightly sticky consistency.

3. Use floured hands when forming the rolls just before the final rise if they are too wet to handle.

You can even dip the rolls in flour if you have to when forming the balls with no problem at all. Either method is fine.

form dough into balls
Form the dough into equal sized portions, then form into balls.
top view showing dough that has risen and ready to go into the oven
Allow the rolls to rise in a pan prior to baking. A pan with high sides works well
image showing brushing butter tops of rolls that just came out of the oven
Brushing butter on top helps to prevent drying out and improves aesthetics


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Ice Box Dinner Rolls
Easy dinner rolls that can be made ahead of time
Recipe type: Bread
  • 2 packages active dry yeast (or 4½ teaspoons bulk)
  • ½ cup + 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tablespoons salt
  • 2¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons shortening (vegetable oil or Crisco)
  • 8 cups all purpose flour
  1. Proof yeast by combining 1 teaspoon sugar, ¼ cup warm water, and yeast. Set aside.
  2. Boil 2 cups of water, then combine with ½ cup of sugar, shortening, and salt.
  3. Add 2 cups of flour to the warm mixture, mix well, then allow to cool to 115 degrees before adding the yeast.
  4. After the yeast is added, add flour and mix thoroughly until the dough can be worked, and no further.
  5. Remove from the bowl, then lightly knead for about a minute. Transfer to a greased bowl and allow to double in size.
  6. Form the dough into equal sized balls, then place in a pan. Allow to rise.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 until golden brown and an internal temperature of 195 degrees has been reached.
  8. Remove from the oven, then lightly brush the tops with butter.



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