Parker House Rolls

These light and fluffy yeast rolls may be more impressive than any other side on the plate.

Parker House Rolls in a teal dish
Photo: Photographer: Alison Miksch / Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn / Prop Stylist: Christina Brockman
Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 50 mins
Servings:
24

It's not often that the rolls at a meal are more intriguing than the sides, but when you put a basket of these Parker House Rolls on the table, don't be surprised if all two dozen rolls are wiped out by the time the meal is wrapping up.

The delicately sweet and fluffy yeast rolls are the perfect size for holiday meals and parties. They can be served as they are, or you can get creative and turn them into small sliders. Ham and Swiss with mayo would be a delicious option, as would turkey with a schmear of cranberry mustard.

But truly, these famous Parker House Rolls are adored just as they are, which is why you'll see lots of brands make and freeze their own to sell in the bread section at the grocery store. Everyone wants to eat them; so few know how to make them. Now, with this recipe, you can make Parker House Rolls for your next Sunday dinner or holiday gathering. It'll be the most requested dish in no time.

Parker House Rolls Ingredients

To make Parker House Rolls, you'll need:

- whole milk
- granulated sugar
- unsalted butter
- instant dry yeast
- eggs
- cooking spray
- all-purpose flour
- table salt
- flaky sea salt

How to Make Parker House Rolls

To make Parker House Rolls for 24 people, allow close to three hours of total cook time. About 25 minutes of that will be active hands-on prep. This dish has a lot of time for rising and doubling, so you can certainly make it while you're working on the main dish and other sides.

Step 1. Start the dough

First, warm milk in a saucepan, stirring regularly, until the edges start bubbling. Take the milk off the heat, and pour it into the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir in the butter and sugar, and let the milk mixture cool slightly to 110°F.

yeast mixture in stainless steel bowl
Photographer: Alison Miksch / Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn / Prop Stylist: Christina Brockman

At that point, add the yeast, stir, and let the mixture stand until it is foamy and cooled to about 100°F. This should take 15 to 20 minutes, but use an instant-read thermometer to keep an eye on the milk mixture's temp.

blooming yeast for Parker House Rolls
Photographer: Alison Miksch / Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn / Prop Stylist: Christina Brockman

Add eggs, flour, and salt to the stand mixer bowl. Attach the dough hook to the mixer, and put the bowl on the mixer. Beat on low to combine the ingredients, about 1 minute. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the dough is smooth, about 8 minutes.

If the dough is too sticky, add more flour, a teaspoon at a time if you need for texture. Don't add more than a tablespoon or you risk the dough not forming properly.

Step 2. Let the dough rise

dough in bowl
Photographer: Alison Miksch / Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn / Prop Stylist: Christina Brockman

Transfer the dough into a large bowl that is coated with cooking spray. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel, and let the dough rise until it doubles in size.

dough that has doubled in size
Photographer: Alison Miksch / Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn / Prop Stylist: Christina Brockman

Microwave the remaining butter to melt it. Brush some of it into a 9- x 13-inch baking pan. Lightly flour your work surface, and turn the dough onto it.

Step 3. Shape the dough

Punch the dough down a bit, and then work it into a large rectangle. Trim the edges of the dough with a pizza wheel or knife to create a precise shape. If you have leftover dough scraps, you can toss them, or pop them into the oven with your other rolls. Scraps make a delicious snack before the main meal.

rolled dough
Photographer: Alison Miksch / Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn / Prop Stylist: Christina Brockman

Cut the rectangular dough lengthwise to create smaller, narrow rectangles. Brush the tops of the dough strips with melted butter.

strips of dough
Photographer: Alison Miksch / Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn / Prop Stylist: Christina Brockman

Stack one of the rectangles on top of another, then repeat. You will have two double stacks of dough.

stacked dough
Photographer: Alison Miksch / Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn / Prop Stylist: Christina Brockman

Cut each strip crosswise into 12 pieces.

dough cut into rolls
Photographer: Alison Miksch / Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn / Prop Stylist: Christina Brockman

Place the rolls into the buttered baking pan.

Step 4. Let the rolls rise

Cover the pan with plastic wrap, and let it rise until the size of the rolls nearly doubles.

parker house rolls in pan
Photographer: Alison Miksch / Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn / Prop Stylist: Christina Brockman

Step 5. Bake and butter

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the tops of the rolls with melted butter before baking them in the preheated oven. Bake until golden brown.

Let the rolls cool slightly before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely or be served warm. Finish by brushing the rolls with more melted butter and garnishing with sea salt if you choose. Serve the rolls warm.

Why Do They Call Them Parker House Rolls?

Legend has it that Parker House Rolls derive their name from the Parker House Hotel, which opened in Boston in the 1800s. The story goes that an angry baker tossed a batch of unfinished rolls into the oven—and this style of roll is the result of that happenstance event.

Several styles of rolls claim to be Parker House Rolls, but this layered rectangular style is the most common for the name.

What Is the Difference Between Parker House Rolls and Dinner Rolls?

Yes, Parker House Rolls are dinner rolls. But they are differentiated from other kinds of rolls by their signature layers. This makes Parker House Rolls easy to pull apart and separate to enjoy the softness inside.

How Do You Heat Parker House Rolls?

To reheat Parker House Rolls, brush or spray some water or butter on them for extra moisture before placing them in a 350°F oven for about 5 minutes. To keep them from getting too crisp around the edges, place rolls together in a baking dish so their edges touch as they heat.

Editorial contributions by Alesandra Dubin.

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cups whole milk

  • cup granulated sugar

  • ¾ cup (6 oz.) unsalted butter, divided

  • 1 (1/4-oz.) envelope instant dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • 4 ½ cups (about 21 oz.) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting and as needed

  • 2 tsp. table salt

  • Cooking spray

  • Flaky sea salt

Directions

  1. Cook milk in a small saucepan over medium, stirring occasionally, just until edges begin to bubble, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; pour into bowl of a stand mixer. Stir in sugar and 1/2 cup of the butter. Let cool until mixture reaches 110°F and butter is fully melted, about 20 minutes. Stir in yeast; let stand until mixture is foamy and cools to 100°F, 15 to 20 minutes.

  2. Add eggs, flour, and salt to stand mixer bowl; fit mixer with dough hook attachment, and place bowl on mixer. Beat on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Increase mixer speed to medium; beat until dough is smooth and elastic, but still slightly sticky to the touch, about 8 minutes. If needed, add more flour, 1 teaspoon at a time, until mixture is slightly sticky, up to 1 tablespoon total. Coat a large bowl with cooking spray; transfer dough to prepared bowl. Cover, and let rise in a warm place (about 85°F) until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

  3. Microwave remaining 1/4 cup butter in a small microwavable bowl on HIGH until melted, about 30 seconds. Brush some of the butter in bottom and up sides of a 13- x 9-inch baking pan; reserve remaining melted butter for brushing rolls.

  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Punch dough down and press into a 10- x 16-inch rectangle. Trim edges with pizza wheel or knife to create a perfect rectangle, discarding scraps of dough. Cut dough lengthwise to create 4 (16- x 2 1/2-inch) rectangles. Brush tops of rectangles evenly with some of the reserved melted butter. Carefully stack 2 of the rectangles each on top of another rectangle, creating 2 double-stacked strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 12 (about 1 1/3-inch) pieces, and place in prepared baking pan, cut sides facing edges of baking pan. Cover baking pan with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until puffy and almost doubled, about 45 minutes.

  5. Preheat oven to 350°F. Microwave remaining reserved butter on HIGH until melted, about 30 seconds, if needed. Brush tops of rolls with melted butter, reserving 1 to 2 tablespoons for brushing after baking.

  6. Bake in preheated oven until rolls are golden-brown, 28 to 30 minutes. Let cool in baking pan 10 minutes. Transfer rolls to a wire rack; brush tops with remaining 1 to 2 tablespoons melted butter, and garnish with sea salt, if desired. Serve warm.

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