When I was little, my family enjoyed packing into the car and driving to Quincy’s Buffet. I don’t even know if Quincy’s exists anymore. Even if it does, it’s probably not the magical wonderland of food my childhood brain made it out to be. At any rate, I so loved making the pilgrimage to it back then. My memories from the all-you-can-eat buffet include ravaging the macaroni and cheese and visiting the soft-serve ice cream dispenser. I’d get a chocolate vanilla swirl cone with lots of random candy, sprinkles, nuts, and goo for good measure. But the most memorable part of Quincy’s — the part we all raved about before and after our visit — were the warm, fluffy yeasts rolls with honey butter smeared all over them.

Those are fond memories, but even Quincy’s yeast rolls were just a pale imitation of the light, soft, and buttery rolls my mother would make from scratch a few times a year. In the middle of the nights following Thanksgiving, I would creep out of my downstairs bedroom and warm up some leftover rolls with butter, turkey, and gravy tucked in each one. It might be easier to head to a restaurant, but you won’t regret spending a bit of time in the kitchen to make these homemade rolls. As a bonus, this same dough can be used to make phenomenal cinnamon rolls, as my mother does each Christmas morning.

Overnight Yeast Rolls

My rolls in the pictures below are a bit darker than normal because, for this batch, I used part wheat flour in an attempt to make these healthier. While they’re good either way, I’ll stick with all-purpose flour all the way next time around. No reason to mess with a good thing!

Overnight Yeast Rolls

Recipe By: Clyta Lundsford
Yields: Makes a big, rectangular pan and a half


2 packages active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups lukewarm water (between 95 and 110 degrees F on a candy thermometer)
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup shortening, cut into cubes
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
8 cups all-purpose flour (You can use 5 cups all-purpose flour and 3 cups wheat flour for a slightly healthier, slightly less delicious version.)
1/2 cup butter, melted, for brushing over the tops


Soften yeast in water for 10-15 minutes to activate it and be sure it foams (if it doesn’t, it might have died and you’ll want to start over with fresh yeast). Add sugar, salt, eggs, shortening and 4 cups of flour and mix until smooth. Let sit 1 minute, then add rest of flour and mix well. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and a 9-inch round cake pan (or an 8-inch square baking dish) with cooking spray. Pinch off dough and form into rolls, placing them in the pan. Cover the pans with a towel. Let rise for 1 hour (or until doubled in size) in a warm place, such as on top of the preheating oven. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Let the tops get a little browner than you think they should to ensure the rolls aren’t doughy in the middle. Brush the tops with melted butter when the rolls are done to soften them (yes, use all the butter). Serve warm with softened butter (or honey butter!) and jam for spreading.

Dough rising in the refrigerator.

Rolls rising on top of the oven.

9 Comments on Overnight Yeast Rolls

  1. Robin Williams
    August 2, 2009 at 6:17 pm (15 years ago)

    I have tried to do the RSS feed for your blog but havent been successful. Is your blog private or am I supposed to sign up for a WordPress blog? not sure. I have a blog myself but have never done the other side of it, signing up for someone else’s blog. Robin

    • Julie
      August 2, 2009 at 6:36 pm (15 years ago)

      Hi Robin! I so wish I understood the whole RSS thing! My blog isn’t private and I don’t think you have to be a member of WordPress. What do you use to view your RSS feeds? If you let me know, I’ll look and try to figure out where you’d need to put the feed address.

    • Julie
      August 12, 2009 at 9:23 pm (15 years ago)

      Hi again Robin! I might have finally figured it out! I think the correct feed address is http://willowbirdbaking.wordpress.com/feed/. You can also subscribe to my blog through email now by clicking on the link on the right. Hope that helps!

  2. melissa
    November 14, 2009 at 3:19 pm (15 years ago)

    I’m looking for a great roll for thanksgiving! it’s my first year cooking so i’m going to try this out. do you think it would make a good roll for thanksgiving???

    • Julie
      November 14, 2009 at 4:26 pm (15 years ago)

      YES! Melissa, these are ALWAYS at our Thanksgiving table! 🙂 Hope you love them!

  3. Ellie
    August 26, 2012 at 6:40 am (12 years ago)

    Love reading about your recipes and the feedback.

  4. Judy
    April 12, 2014 at 2:20 am (10 years ago)

    Love your blog. Want to make these rolls, and want to know if these rolls are a little on the sticky side. They look so in the pics. I do not want to add too much flour and get hockey pucks. They look so good and easy. A win, win in my book. Thank you.

    • Julie Ruble
      April 12, 2014 at 10:49 am (10 years ago)

      Thanks Judy! Yes, the dough is quite sticky! Just flour your hands well when you’re ready to pinch off rolls. I hope you love them. They’re a family favorite!


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