Light and flaky homemade Crescent Rolls are the perfect addition to your next meal! From a holiday spread on Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter, to a simple Sunday supper at Grandma's, the warm, buttery yeast rolls always disappear fast. You will soon see why these Amish Butterhorns are a family favorite!
Homemade Flaky Crescent Rolls
Don't be intimidated by the thought of baking your own soft, golden brown crescent rolls at home! I promise, with these step-by-step instructions and a few important tips, the easy recipe will yield a perfect batch of fluffy, flaky pillows every single time. They are truly the world's best dinner rolls!
Are crescent rolls and croissants the same thing?
Crescent rolls, also called Amish Butterhorn Rolls, are essentially yeast dinner rolls that are rolled into crescent shapes. It's a rich, slightly-sweet dough, thanks to plenty of shortening, milk, eggs and sugar. The rolls are brushed with melted butter twice -- when they're rolled flat and when they're hot from the oven -- giving them a decadent flavor.
Crescent rolls and butterhorns are not the same as croissants. Unlike crescent rolls, croissants are not a yeast-based dough. Instead, croissants are made by layering butter and dough to produce a light, flaky pastry. While crescent rolls and croissants are both shaped like crescents, the croissants have an airy, flaky puff pastry texture. Crescent rolls have a soft bread-like texture. Both are delicious in their own right, but they're not the same thing.
How to Make Crescent Rolls
This old-fashioned butterhorn recipe yields slightly sweet, very soft, fluffy and puffy rolls. They're simple enough to bake on a casual Sunday afternoon to pair with a roast chicken or a warm bowl of soup, but they're also delicious enough to add to the bread basket on a more formal holiday table. Of all of the different breads, muffins and scones that I bake in our little farmhouse kitchen, these homemade crescent rolls are one of the kids' favorites. When the aroma of warm, sweet, yeasty rolls wafts through the house, the boys come running! One tray doesn't last long around here, so it's a good thing the recipe yields plenty of extras for the freezer.
There’s nothing difficult about this process. Just gather your ingredients and follow the recipe directions carefully. Baking is an exact science, so I do not recommend tweaking the measurements or substituting with different ingredients until you’ve tried it at least once.
- Active dry yeast: helps the dough rise.
- Lukewarm water: softens and activates the yeast.
- Scalded whole milk: gives the dough a richer, more velvety texture and helps it brown. Low-fat milk will also work, but the whole milk yields the best flavor and texture.
- Shortening: creates super soft rolls with a light, fluffy texture.
- Sugar: feeds the yeast, tenderizes the dough, and gives the rolls a slightly sweet flavor.
- Salt: adds flavor.
- Eggs: give the dough structure and flavor.
- All-purpose flour or bread flour: I like bread flour, which has a bit more protein and yields a slightly higher rise. All-purpose flour works fine, too!
- Melted butter: for extra flavor and shine on the inside and tops of the rolls.
How to Scald Milk
The extra step of scalding milk only takes a few minutes, and is well worth the effort. Scalding milk is simply the process of heating milk to 180 degrees F. Bread recipes often call for scalded milk because the scalding process deactivates the proteins in milk whey that can keep gluten from forming properly. The warm milk can also help activate yeast. In short, scalded milk helps yeast breads rise!
To scald the milk for this recipe, place the milk in a saucepan over low heat. Warm the milk until a skin forms on the top. As soon as the skin forms on top of the milk, remove the pan from the heat -- be careful not to let the milk boil.
Step 1: Soften Yeast
Combine the yeast and the lukewarm water in a small bowl and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. It should look a little foamy.
Step 2: Mix Crescent Roll Dough
In a stand mixer (or by hand), combine the scalded milk with the yeast and remaining ingredients to form a thick, rich dough. Once the dough comes together, knead it (with a dough hook or by hand) for about 2 minutes.
Step 3: First Rise
Transfer the dough to a greased bowl, turn to coat in oil, cover and let rise until doubled in size. If the dough is in a particularly warm place, this may only take about 60-80 minutes. If the bowl is sitting in a cooler environment, this will take about 2 hours.
Step 4: Roll Crescent Rolls
Punch down the dough, then divide the dough into 3 equal portions (I love to use a bench scraper to easily cut through the dough).
Roll each piece of dough into a 9-inch circle and brush with melted butter.
Cut each circle into 12 wedges.
Roll up each wedge, starting from the wide end. Place on lined baking sheets with the tip (seam-side) on the bottom. Bend in the ends to form crescent shapes.
Step 5: Second Rise
Cover the dough and let the rolls rise until puffy -- about 1 hour.
Step 6: Bake
Remove the cover and bake the rolls on the middle rack in a 350 degree F oven until golden brown and cooked through, about 10-12 minutes. Brush with melted butter and serve warm!
The homemade rolls are best served warm, straight from the oven. Leftover rolls will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for about 1 day, or wrapped tightly in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Make Ahead Butterhorns
Since it's not always convenient to make the dough just before serving, you can prepare the dough in advance and then bake the rolls when you're ready to enjoy them. This is ideal for Thanksgiving dinner rolls, Easter dinner bread, or other holidays like Christmas when you have a lot of last-minute responsibilities in the kitchen.
To prepare the dough ahead of time, shape the rolls as instructed in the recipe and arrange them on the lined baking sheets. Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 day. About 2-3 hours before you plan to bake the rolls, pull them out of the refrigerator and let them rise on the counter before baking.
How to Freeze Crescent Roll Dough
If you plan to make the dough more than 1 day ahead, it's best to freeze the dough. To freeze crescent roll dough, shape the rolls as instructed in the recipe and arrange them on the baking sheets. Cover tightly and freeze until firm. Transfer to airtight freezer containers; freeze up to 4 weeks. When ready to bake, remove the rolls from the freezer, arrange on baking sheets, and re-cover the rolls with a clean cloth or towel. Place them in a warm spot and let them thaw and rise for 3-4 hours (or until they look puffy). Bake according to the recipe instructions.
How to Reheat Crescent Rolls
If you have leftover crescent rolls that you'd like to reheat, place the rolls in a 350 degree F oven just until warmed through (about 5 minutes). Don't leave them in for too long or they'll become dry and toasted. You can also microwave individual rolls for about 15 seconds, or until warm.
Tips for the Best Homemade Crescent Rolls
- The crescent rolls will look very small when you first cut them and roll them, but don't worry -- they will puff up really nicely and become much bigger as they rise and bake! You can cut larger crescent rolls by dividing each circle of dough into 8 wedges (instead of 12), but we much prefer the smaller rolls, which are easier to shape and an easier size to eat.
- Make sure that the tips are tucked under the rolls when you place them on the baking sheets. This will help hold the rolls together as they puff up in the oven.
- Bake in the center of the oven to prevent excessive browning on the top or bottom of your rolls. You likely will not need to do so, but you can cover the rolls loosely with foil if they start to get too dark on top before they're done baking.
- Store yeast in the freezer. Even unopened packets of yeast with a good expiration date can go bad at room temperature, so I always keep the yeast in the freezer. Old yeast will impact the dough's ability to rise.
- Rise in a warm spot. If your dough isn't rising, check the temperature of your kitchen. Ideally, you want to find a spot that's about 75-78 degrees F, but this doesn't have to be exact.
- Properly measure the flour. Always spoon and level the flour -- do not scoop it out of the package. Incorrectly measuring the flour will result in dense, hard dinner rolls.
More Crescent Roll Recipes You'll Love
- Chicken Crescent Rolls
- Buffalo Chicken Dip Crescent Ring
- 4-Ingredient Ground Beef Casserole with Crescent Roll Crust
- Breakfast Casserole with Bacon, Egg, Cheese and Crescent Rolls
Crescent Rolls (Amish Butterhorn Rolls)
- 1 (0.25 oz) packet dry active yeast
- ¼ cup lukewarm water
- ¾ cup whole milk, scalded (see note below on how to scald milk)
- ½ cup shortening
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 4 ½ cups bread flour (or sub with all-purpose flour), plus more as needed
- 3-4 tablespoons melted butter, divided
- In a small bowl, stir together yeast and warm water. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes, until foamy.
- In a large mixing bowl fitted with a dough hook or paddle attachment, combine scalded milk, shortening, sugar and salt. Stir to dissolve the ingredients in the hot milk. Cool the mixture to a lukewarm temperature (it should feel like warm bath water).
- Add the softened yeast mixture to the milk mixture. Add the eggs and 1 cup of flour. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add remaining flour; beat on medium speed until the dough comes together (about 1-2 minutes). Add more flour (one tablespoon at a time), if necessary, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Continue mixing and kneading the dough for 2 more minutes (or knead by hand on the counter for 2 minutes).
- Lightly grease a bowl with oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl and turn to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1-2 hours).
- Line three baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats. Set aside.
- Punch down the dough. Divide the dough into three equal portions. Roll each piece of dough into a 9-inch circle; brush with melted butter. Cut each circle into 12 wedges. Tightly roll up each wedge, starting from the wide end. Place on baking sheets, with the tip (seam-side) on the bottom. Bend in the ends to form crescent shapes. Cover and let rise in a warm spot until puffy, about 45 minutes - 1 hour.
- Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter.