Skip the fake, store-bought refrigerated rolls and switch to homemade

Recipe: Refrigerator Whole Wheat Rolls

Have you ever seen that holiday commercial where two brothers “fight” over the last crescent roll. If they only knew what was in those rolls their fights might end for good.

Do you know what's in your dinner roll? It may surprise you how UNREAL it is!

Although the exact ingredients may vary slightly by manufacturer, here’s a run down of what’s in the average can of refrigerated crescent rolls:

Do you know what's in your dinner roll? It may surprise you how UNREAL it is!

While these crescent rolls may pretend to be a fresh baked good, nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, they’re simply a highly processed food that’s at best a distant relation of fresh, real, whole wheat bread. Here’s why:

  • Enriched, bleached flour is basically wheat, stripped of it’s nutrients, with some vitamins added back. Thanks, but no thanks.
  • Soybean and Palm / Hydrogenated Palm Oils are industrialized fats, so highly processed that our bodies don’t even recognize these oils as food.
  • Although sodium aluminum phosphate (a leavening ingredient) isn’t dangerous per se, we’re eating way too much sodium and phosphates in processed foods, and they’re having negative health consequences.
  • TBHQ is food preservative that’s been associated with an increased incidence of tumors in rats in several respected studies.
  • Processed food are filled with GMOs. While the GMO debate continues I think we all deserve to know if GMOs are in our food. For these crescent rolls the soybean oil, sugar, dextrose, xanthan gum, and citric acid are likely made from GMO crops.
  • Added colors to bread? When’s the last time grandma added Yellow 5 or Red 40 to her bread dough? Yellow 5 and Red 40 are both on CSPI’s “additives to avoid” lists  due to a variety of significant health concerns/studies.

Yikes. That’s certainly not a pretty picture. So what can you serve for dinner instead? If you don’t want to bake your own rolls, try finding a local bakery that uses real ingredients. Or maybe you try to bake up a batch instead?

In our home I’m totally up for making some of my delicious Refrigerator Whole Wheat Rolls. What’s great about them is you can make the dough ahead of time, and both the unbaked and baked versions of these rolls freeze well. So if you’re not afraid of kneading and rolling out a little dough, give these a try. Once you’ve made them a few times, I think you’ll agree … they’re delicious and well worth the extra effort!

Skip the fake, store-bought refrigerated rolls and switch to homemade

Whole Wheat Refrigerator Rolls

Recipe By: Bruce Bradley
Prep Time3 hrs
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time3 hrs 15 mins
Course: Bread
Cuisine: American
Servings: 40 rolls

Note: For most recipes you can adjust the measures for more or less servings by hovering over the servings number and moving the slider.


  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • ½ cup warm water 105F-115F
  • 8 tablespoons butter we recommend pastured, grass-fed butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 eggs beaten (we recommend pastured eggs)
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup freshly riced boiled potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 ½ - 3 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour plus extra for rolling out the dough
  • 4 tablespoons butter melted (for brushing prior to and after baking)


  • In a glass measuring cup add warm water (105F-115F) and yeast. Stir until yeast is mixed into the water.
  • Boil water and cook about 3-4 small potatoes (I use Yukon gold potatoes usually). When a fork easily pierces the potato, remove pan from the stove, drain, and rice the potatoes. Measure out 1 cup of potatoes and set aside.
  • Add milk to a 2-quart pan. Scald milk and remove from heat and add 8 tablespoons of butter.
  • Let the butter and milk mixture cool down until it’s just warm to touch. Add beaten eggs, maple syrup, and salt. Stir. Add in the freshly riced potatoes and stir. Finally, add proofed yeast to the butter, milk, egg, maple syrup, potato mixture and stir (see notes).
  • In a large, stand mixer with the dough hook attached, add 3 cups of whole wheat flour and the butter mixture. Blend gently. Increase the speed of the mixer. Every 30 seconds stop the mixer and add whole wheat pastry flour one cup at a time. The dough should start forming a ball when about 2 ½ cups of whole wheat pastry flour have been added. Keep adding flour until a loose ball is formed. (I prefer to have the dough a little stickier at first since you can always add more flour when you knead the dough). Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, and let the dough sit for a couple of minutes. In the meantime, prepare a surface to knead the dough sprinkling it lightly with whole wheat pastry flour.
  • Scoop the dough onto the lightly floured surface and knead it gently … about a half a dozen times. Knead in enough flour so the dough is not terribly sticky, but a little stickiness is okay.
  • Let the dough rest for another 5 minutes. Grease a large bowl with butter (the bowl should be big enough to hold the dough ball when doubled in size). Place the dough in the bowl and cover with a piece of greased waxed paper or greased plastic wrap. Then top with a kitchen towel that is damp with warm water. Place the dough in the refrigerator and store for at least two hours, although overnight works best.
  • When you remove the dough from the refrigerator, let it rest covered for 30 minutes. Punch down the dough in the bowl, and turn it out on to a lightly floured surface. After kneading 2-3 times, divide the dough into four equal portions. Knead each portion 2-3 more times to form a round disc. Let the four discs of dough rest for 5 minutes.
  • Roll out each disc of dough. Using a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out the rolls. Each disc should yield about 10, 2-inch rolls. I prefer using a square biscuit cutter, but round ones work just as well. Place the rolls you want to bake immediately on a greased baking sheet and brush lightly with melted butter. (For freezing rolls, see the notes below.) Set your cut rolls aside and let rise until they're almost doubled in size. The amount of time this takes depends totally on the temperature of your dough and where it is set to rise.
  • Preheat your oven to 425F. Bake rolls for approximately 15 minutes or until nice and golden brown. Remove from oven and brush once more with butter. Serve warm and enjoy!


We recommend using organic ingredients when possible.
I add a teaspoon of the maple syrup to the water, yeast solution to get the yeast proofed quicker.
Make sure the butter, milk, egg, maple syrup, potato mixture isn’t too hot when you add the proofed yeast. If it’s above 115F, you’ll kill the yeast and your rolls won’t rise.
I use my oven’s bread proofing feature to proof the yeast and let the dough rise. If you don’t have this option, choose a warm, draft-free location in your kitchen.
I’ve had bad luck using honey instead of maple syrup with yeast rolls and breads. Real, unpasteurized raw honey can have anti-bacterial properties and kill yeast, so I prefer using maple syrup.
For freezing unbaked rolls, first roll them out and cut them. Put the cut rolls between layers of waxed paper and then seal them in a zippered bag and freeze.
I’ve frozen both cooked and uncooked rolls. I think frozen, uncooked rolls tend to work out best if the dough is used within a month. Let the frozen dough thaw, then rise. Frozen dough may not rise quite as much as unfrozen dough.
Baked rolls can be wrapped in foil and sealed in a zipper bag and frozen. I find they taste great up to 3-4 months after being frozen.
This recipe was adapted from The Joy of Cooking, Refrigerator Potato Rolls.
HIGH ALTITUDE BAKING: Use only 3/4 of the amount of yeast.


Kitchen Resources / Tips:

  • Although this recipe can be made without a stand mixer, boy does one make it easier. I have this KitchenAid mixer. I’ve owned it for 20 years now, and it’s still going strong!
  • I use my ThermaPen instant read thermometer to make sure the yeast is treated to perfect temperatures!
  • I’ve got both a potato ricer and a food mill. Both do the job easily, but for this recipe, a potato ricer is much easier.

P.S. — If you’re looking for a laugh (and don’t mind a little profanity), here’s Bridge & Tunnel Sketch Comedy’s spoof of the crescent roll ad I mentioned earlier in this post. of the crescent roll ad I mentioned earlier in this post.

Skip the fake, store-bought refrigerated rolls and switch to a homemade, make-ahead, whole wheat yeast roll that will wow your entire family!
Skip the fake, store-bought refrigerated rolls and switch to homemade

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