Homemade Crescent Rolls

Homemade Crescent Rolls

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These homemade crescent rolls are fluffy and light, filled with lots of air pockets begging to be soaked in butter. Without any strange ingredients, they are healthier than the artificial ones bought from the store. Homemade crescent rolls are a bit of work, but I promise you the end result is worth it! I realize the recipe card looks daunting, but it’s only because I wrote out the steps in detail so that people making them for the very first time could be successful. Working with yeast can be intimidating, but if you make sure your temperature are correct, you are golden 😉 (see what I did there?!). They also freeze well, so you can make them in large batches to eat later! This is especially handy when preparing for Thanksgiving. For those wanting to make most of their Thanksgiving meal in advance, I invite you to check out my Make Ahead Thanksgiving Dinner Guide.

NOTE: I only decided to photograph this recipe starting partway through, so there are some photos missing from the step-by-step instructions. When I make them again, I will take more (and better!) photos 🙂

How do you shape crescent rolls?

You’ll notice in my photos that mine are just straight across. I didn’t put any effort into shaping them. But if you wanted yours to be in the shape of a crescent, you just pull each end of the roll inward to form a C shape.

Can you freeze crescent roll dough?

No. I tried this, and it was a disaster. The dough completely deflated. This particular recipe requires that the rolls be baked first, and then frozen. There are some recipes out there that have additional ingredients that allow you to freeze the dough and bake later. If that is more of what you are looking for, then this recipe isn’t for you. 🙂

How hot does the water need to be?

The temperature of the water is specified on the back of the yeast package. If the water is too hot, the yeast will die, and the dough will not rise. If the water is too cold, the yeast emit a substance that interferes with gluten formation. If you don’t have a thermometer, it’s better to err on the side of the water being too cold than too hot. Also, in recipes where the water is being added to a mixture of yeast and other dry ingredients, the water will need to be slightly warmer to account for the dry ingredients being at room temperature (they act as a heat sink).

How do I know when I am done kneading?

The simplest test to use to assess whether or not the dough has been properly kneaded is the poke test. For the poke test, if you firmly poke the dough and the indentation fills back quickly, then you are done kneading. If the indentation stays as a deep dimple, then continue kneading for a few more minutes and reassess. Other tests that can be used in addition to the poke test can be found here.

What happens to the rolls if I under-knead the dough?

If you under-knead the dough, the rolls will be denser and tougher.

How to Make Homemade Crescent Rolls: Step-by-Step

1. In a large bowl, add one package of yeast and one teaspoon of granulated sugar. Pour 1/2 cup warm tap water into a measuring cup and check the temperature with a digital thermometer to make sure it’s between 100-110F (or whatever temperature range your yeast package specifies). The temperature of the water is critical here for the yeast to function correctly. I usually aim for the top of the range, because you are adding it into a cold bowl which will decrease the temperature a little bit. Add the water to the large bowl. Stir gently until the yeast is dissolved.

2. To the large bowl, add 1/3 cup of granulated sugar, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 cup of softened butter, 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 large egg, and 1/2 cup of milk of your choice at a temperature of 100-110F. Using an electric mixer on low speed, beat until smooth. Add in the remaining 2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour and use your hands to mix it together to form a soft dough. The dough will be sticky and very pliable.

3. Place dough onto a floured working surface. Knead with your hands for 6-8 minutes. If you are new to kneading, here is a great video tutorial on the technique.

Kneaded dough sits on a flour covered wooden cutting board.

4. Grease a clean, large mixing bowl with vegetable oil. Make sure the bowl is much larger than the dough and that you grease the entire bowl, because the dough rises pretty high up the sides. Place the dough in it and cover with a dish towel. Next, we need to turn the oven into a proofing box. We are aiming for an oven temperature between 80-90F, and some humidity (75% is optimal). Before turning on the oven, place one rack in the lowest part of your oven and another at the center of the oven. Place a 13″x9″ pan on the bottom rack. Close the door and turn the oven on to the lowest temperature setting (mine is 170F). Leave it on for a few minutes (2-4). While the oven is heating up, use a tea kettle to boil 3 cups of water. After a few minutes, turn the oven off. Using a digital thermometer, check to see if the temperature is between 80-90F. If it is, pour the boiled water into the 13″x9″ pan and place the bowl with the dough on the top rack. Close the oven and let the dough rise for an hour.

Dough in a glass bowl prior to the first rise.Inside of the oven. A rack sits in the lowest position in the oven with a 13"x9" glass pan containing boiling water sitting on top. A rack also sits in the middle position in the oven with a kitchen towel covered glass bowl containing the dough sitting on top.

5. Remove the dough from the oven and punch the dough down. If you are new to punching dough, here is a great video tutorial on the technique. The technique is exactly as it sounds like. Remove the dish towel covering the dough, and punch down into the dough (not hard, you don’t want to break your mixing bowl!) and then pull your hand straight up to remove it. Don’t twist your hand. The purpose of punching the dough is to safely let out some pent up aggression remove the air from the dough.

Dough in a glass bowl after the first rise.Dough in a glass bowl that has been punched down after the first rise.

6. Split the dough in half and place one of the halves onto a floured work surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out into a 12″ diameter circle. Using a pizza cutter or a butter knife, first cut the circle into four quarters. The cut each quarter into thirds to give you 12 triangles. Starting from the outside (perimeter) working your way in (center), gently roll the dough into a roll. Do this for all 12 triangles. Repeat for the other half of the dough.

Dough cut into twelve triangles. The dough sits on a wooden cutting board.

7. Grease a large baking sheet with vegetable oil. Place each roll point side down onto the greased baking sheet. Only put 12 rolls per baking sheet, otherwise you will end up with the disaster shown in the photo in step 8 ;). Cover the baking sheet with a dish towel. Using the instructions in step 4, turn your oven into a proofing box again. You will need to empty the water from the 13″x9″ pan, and refill with boiling water. If your oven is large enough, you can place both baking sheets in at once, and let the crescent rolls rise for 30 minutes. However, if your oven is small, you will have to do each baking sheet separately. Just be sure to double check your oven temperature and humidity between sheets if this is the case.

Homemade crescent rolls sit on an aluminum baking sheet, before the second rise.

8. Remove the rolls from the oven after the second rise, and gently remove the dish towels.

Homemade crescent rolls sit on an aluminum baking sheet, after the second rise.

9. Preheat oven to 350F. Bake crescent rolls for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer rolls from baking sheets to wire racks to cool. Once cooled, either store in the refrigerator or in the freezer. In the freezer, they are good for about a month.

Homemade crescent rolls sit on a cooling rack.

Other Thanksgiving Sides:

Pair With:

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A close up of the inside of a homemade crescent roll. In the background are the rest of the rolls sitting on a wire cooling rack. This is the vertical image.
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Homemade Crescent Rolls

These homemade crescent rolls are a staple of our Thanksgiving meals, but are great year round as well, and pair with pretty much any meal!

Course Rolls & Breads
Cuisine American
Keyword Thanksgiving
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 24 minutes
Rise Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 39 minutes
Servings 24 rolls
Calories 127 kcal
Author The Panicked Foodie

Ingredients

  • 1 package of active dry yeast (I used Fleischmann's ActiveDry Original Yeast)
  • 1 teaspoon + 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water (100-110F)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter of your choice, softened
  • 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup warm milk of your choice (100-110F) (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • vegetable oil for greasing

Instructions

Turning Oven Into Proofing Box

  1. Before turning on the oven, place one rack in the lowest part of your oven and another at the center of the oven. Place a 13"x9" pan on the bottom rack.

  2. Close oven door and turn the oven on to the lowest temperature setting (mine is 170F). Leave it on for a few minutes (2-4).

  3. While the oven is heating up, use a tea kettle to boil 3 cups of water. After a few minutes, turn the oven off.

  4. Using a digital thermometer, check to see if the temperature is between 80-90F. If it is, pour the boiled water into the 13"x9" pan and place the bowl with the dough on the top rack. Close the oven and let the dough rise for the time specified in the recipe.

Homemade Crescent Rolls

  1. In a large bowl, add yeast and 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar. Add warm water (100-110F) and stir gently until yeast is completely dissolved.

  2. To the large bowl, add the remaining granulated sugar, salt, butter of your choice, egg, milk of your choice (100-110F), and 2 cups of all-purpose flour. Using an electric mixer on low speed, beat until smooth. Add in the remaining 2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour and use your hands to mix it together to form a soft dough.

  3. Place dough onto a floured working surface. Knead with your hands for 6-8 minutes.

  4. Place dough in a large greased bowl and cover with a dish towel. Let dough rise in a warm place for an hour (see "Turning Oven Into Proofing Box" instructions above).

  5. Remove the dough from the oven. Remove the dish towel and punch the dough down.

  6. Split the dough in half. Roll each half into a 12" diameter circle. Using a pizza cutter or a butter knife, first cut the circle into four quarters. Then cut each quarter into thirds to yield 12 triangles. Starting from the outside (perimeter) working your way in (center), gently roll the triangle. Curve ends inward to form a crescent, if desired.

  7. Grease a large baking sheet with vegetable oil. Place each roll point side down onto the greased baking sheet, leaving plenty of room between. Cover baking sheet with a dish towel. Let rolls rise in a warm place for 30 minutes (see "Turning Oven Into Proofing Box" instructions above).

    NOTE: If your oven is large enough, you can place both baking sheets in at once, and let the crescent rolls rise for 30 minutes. However, if your oven is small, you will have to do each baking sheet separately. Just be sure to double check your oven temperature and humidity between sheets if this is the case.

  8. Remove the rolls from the oven after the second rise, and gently remove the dish towels.

  9. Preheat oven to 350F. Bake crescent rolls for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer rolls from baking sheets to wire racks to cool. Once cooled, either store in the refrigerator or in the freezer. In the freezer, they are good for about a month.

Recipe Notes

Recipe very lightly adapted from Taste of Home

Nutrition Facts
Homemade Crescent Rolls
Amount Per Serving (24 rolls)
Calories 127 Calories from Fat 36
% Daily Value*
Fat 4g6%
Saturated Fat 2.4g15%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.1g
Cholesterol 17.7mg6%
Sodium 110.3mg5%
Potassium 32.3mg1%
Carbohydrates 19.3g6%
Fiber 0.8g3%
Sugar 2.8g3%
Protein 3.3g7%
Vitamin A 262.6IU5%
Calcium 12.4mg1%
Iron 0.8mg4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


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