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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!

Close up shot of make ahead butterhorns served on a table with jam

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.

Overhead shot of homemade crescent rolls on a serving platter

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.

Ingredients

  • 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.

Process shot showing how to make crescent roll dough

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).

Three balls of crescent roll dough

Roll each piece of dough into a 9-inch circle and brush with melted butter.

Brushing butterhorn roll dough with melted butter

Cut each circle into 12 wedges.

Process shot showing how to cut crescent roll dough

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.

Process shot showing how to roll crescent rolls

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!

Horizontal shot of a tray full of old fashioned butterhorn recipe

Storage

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.
Tray of amish butterhorn rolls on a wooden table

More Crescent Roll Recipes You’ll Love

Close up shot of make ahead butterhorns served on a table with jam

Crescent Rolls (Amish Butterhorn Rolls)

Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 11 minutes
Inactive Time 3 hours
Total: 3 hours 36 minutes
Servings 36 rolls
Calories 109 kcal
This easy recipe for homemade crescent rolls will soon become a favorite on your dinner and holiday tables!

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

Scalding milk is just the process of heating milk to 180 degrees F. 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.
To Make Ahead: 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.
To Freeze the 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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1rollCalories: 109kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 3gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 81mgPotassium: 27mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 57IUCalcium: 10mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: amish butterhorn rolls, butterhorns, canned chicken crescent rolls, homemade crescent rolls
Course: bread
Cuisine: American, Amish
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. So my Grandma has made butterhorns every Thanksgiving since I was a little girl…well, since my mom was a little girl. Mom is 74 now. Anyway, for years they have complained that they’re not big enough (or as big as they used to be). Mom has talked about how delicate these things are, don’t knead them, takes 2 days to make. This year, I offered to make them and I was doubted. They think I can’t make them. So I made a test-batch according to her instructions (which were vague), and they were awful. Flat, lacked flavor. I knew when I was making them that the process was wrong. So I found your recipe and I’m getting ready to go in there now and re-do them. Fingers Crossed!

    1. How did they turn out? Did you stick to the recipe or did you make changes….if you did what did you do?? They look absolutely divine and I want to try them.

  2. Do you use salted or unsalted butter? Do you use regular salt, sea Salt, kosher? Not sure if it makes a difference. When oiling the bowl can you use olive oil. Thank you for your help

    1. Hi, Ria! I use salted butter, and regular table salt in this recipe. Yes, you can use olive oil when oiling the bowl here. It might add a touch of flavor to the dough, but that’s not necessarily bad. You can also just grease the bowl with nonstick cooking spray if that’s easier. Hope you enjoy the rolls!

    1. Hi, Jay! I honestly don’t know — I’ve never baked with or used oat milk. I would think it would work okay, so long as there’s a decent amount of fat in the non-dairy milk.