grandmother recipe: grammy’s yeast rolls

I interrupt all the talk about freezer meals and how I’m not cooking until Christmas to talk about: cooking. Thanksgiving cooking to be exact. Because I adore Thanksgiving.  It’s the culmination of everything I hold dear: family, food, a cozy home, and the ultimate annual dinner party.

I’m going to talk about yeast rolls. Slightly sweet, fluffy and delicious yeast rolls.

Homemade and deceptively simple yeast rolls that might make you forget all about that “Sister” who sells the rolls in the freezer section of your supermarket.

IMG_1869This year for the family gathering I’ll be making my favorite macaroni and cheese based on Martha’s recipe, sweet potatoes (recipe yet to be determined), Back in the Day Bakery’s recipe for Pumpkin Crunch Bars, and Grammy’s (Virginia’s) yeast rolls.

Making a Grammy recipe is of the utmost importance at Thanksgiving.  It was her favorite holiday, and it was the holiday she always tried to ensure her three girls and their families would be near.

IMG_4973 (1)
you can use butter and let 1980 have its oleo back.

One of my last favorite memories of Grammy was at Thanksgiving in 2009.  She was already pretty far along with Alzheimer’s disease but had what felt like a real moment of lucidity when I showed her my engagement ring.  Brandon had proposed the day earlier. (Like I said, Thanksgiving week is the bees knees for me.)  She squealed her signature “Ohhh!” and seemed genuinely happy for me.  I’ve always treasured that memory.

This is Grammy’s (Virginia’s) classic yeast roll recipe. Mom makes these most years for our Thanksgiving feast. They’ve always been a favorite of mine, and this year I asked to be given the recipe and make the rolls for this Thursday’s meal.


Yeasted doughs are scary for most people. Flashbacks to dense bread loaves and flat cinnamon rolls make me a little nervous too. I’ve honestly never been too thrilled with any bread dough I’ve made. I think something breaks down in the kneading step for me. I’m not sure what it is. I usually err on the side of believing “I’m probably going to fail” whenever I embark on a yeast dough.

(Aside from the never fail Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Their recipes have never let me down. I’m their biggest evangelist.)

But trust me, these are different. I hesitate to ever say “fail safe”, but there is very little room for error with these little circles of goodness.

This recipe takes about ten minutes of prep work (stirring!), one hour of rising time (while you sit and watch the parade!), and ten minutes to bake (you can probably set the table in that time!). That’s it. You can easily make these the morning of your family’s feast and have them ready by lunchtime.

These rolls are tender, slightly sweet, and pleasantly rich. And they’re sturdy enough hold up beautifully as a receptacle for some leftover turkey and cranberry sauce around 8:00 PM when your belly finally lets you know that you can, in fact, look at food again!

Since I can’t invite you all to join us around our dining room table to feast and laugh together, make these rolls as a warm Thanksgiving hug from my family to yours.

Enjoy, y’all!  And happy Thanksgiving!


Grammy’s Yeast Rolls


  • 1/4 Cup Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Shortening
  • 1/2 Cup Minus 1 Tablespoon of Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Boiling Water
  • 1 Package Yeast
  • 1/2 Cup Lukewarm Water
  • 1 Egg
  • 3 Cups Un-Sifted All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt

Method: mix together boiling water with melted butter, melted shortening, and sugar. Allow to cool.
Add in other ingredients and stir in other ingredients at once. Stir until all incorporated and it becomes a cohesive dough (use your hands if needed). (It will still be a pretty sticky dough.) Turn out onto a floured surface and dust the top with flour.  Roll to about 1 inch thick. Cut with a biscuit cutter or into the shape you prefer. Allow to rise on a buttered baking sheet for 1 hour in a warm place. (Near a pre-heated oven is a great location.) Then bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Or until just lightly golden. I like to finish the warm rolls with a brush of melted butter. Because- butter.  Makes approximately 15 rolls.  Easily doubled or halved.

What’s on YOUR Thanksgiving table?



3 thoughts on “grandmother recipe: grammy’s yeast rolls

  1. Thank you. Though I expect I have Mom’s recipe, I am glad to have it so that I am sure to have it. Not sure I will get to it this year, but I will cherish it nevertheless. You are such an outstanding cook Caitlyn, I doubt that you ever get anything wrong. You certainly inherited Mom’s love of cooking and trying new things. So glad to have a few days off with the holiday, and maybe I will get around to this (after I get through the 10 inch pile of grading, and the mechanisms of Thanksgiving Day! Aunt Janet

  2. I’m going to try these tomorrow! I am not at all afraid of yeast dough – I bake all the bread we eat, including rye bread and hot dog buns – but I have never made dinner rolls. All of the recipes from my go-to sources are a little complex. These look easy enough to try. 🙂

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