Make Ahead Butterhorn Dinner Rolls

Flaky, subtly sweet, and buttery, these make ahead Butterhorn Dinner Rolls will be the star of your Thanksgiving table. This overnight roll recipe makes the loveliest crescent shaped rolls with a fluffy, light interior!

Today I’m going to tell you to make homemade rolls for your Thanksgiving day feast. I know, I know. Like you need one more thing to do on Thanksgiving day. But these butterhorns. Oh friends, these butterhorns are WORTH IT!

A basket full of butterhorns (dinner rolls).

We try to have your back during the holiday with our Ultimate Thanksgiving Menu. It’s our list of every all-star recipe that you could possibly ever hope to fit on your table. Alas, with so many standouts and mainstay recipes to prioritize at Thanksgiving, bread often just gets overlooked.

But I promise you that there are reasons that this butterhorn recipe is an old family favorite. These rolls are sneaky little show-stealers.

That’s because these yeasty, buttery pull apart Butterhorns are the ultimate vehicle for:

  • Butter (Yes, more butter, always. For the holidays, we recommend that you splurge and get the fancy salted butter. Kerrygold, Challenge, Plugra, or fresh rolled butter are all fantastic.)
  • jam
  • cranberry pear sauce
  • Amish peanut butter or apple butter
  • gravy
  • and even turkey leftovers
Jam and dinner rolls on a plate.

Make Ahead Butterhorns

Now before you groan and tell me there’s no possible way you could make homemade bread while simultaneously cooking the turkey AND cheesy taters, let me explain. These are entirely 100% make ahead friendly. As in, you could make them today. Or tomorrow. Or the day before Thanksgiving.

But you most definitely don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn on Thanksgiving morning to enjoy these homemade butterhorn rolls.

Right this very minute you could head to the kitchen, roll up your sleeves, and stir together this sweet, eggy butterhorn dough. It will only take you about 20 minutes, and then you can slip the dough in the fridge for the night, pull your sleeves back down, and curl up on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate.

Tomorrow, the dough will be puffed and ready for kneading, rolling, and baking. This will take a little time and effort, but it’s a therapeutic way to get out any pre-holiday frustration. (Plus, it’s fun to pretend that you’re a contestant on the Great British Baking Show in the midst of a Bread-Week technical challenge.) 

The fluffy interior of our butterhorns dinner rolls.

After a little elbow grease, you’ll have rows of crescent roll shaped butterhorns nestled away in your freezer, ready to bust out and impress the (figurative) pants off of all your Thanksgiving day guests.

The Keys to Better Butterhorns

This beloved family recipe has been on our site for years, but we recently made a few changes to make them EVEN BETTER.

  1. We exchanged water for milk for a softer, slightly sweeter dough with better browning.
  2. We increased the salt to better highlight the sweetness of the dough.
  3. We beat the dough with a dough hook for a few minutes before resting in the fridge overnight. This gave the rolls a glossier, smoother finish. This is not 100% necessary, but it makes for prettier looking Butterhorns that felt worthy of a holiday dinner.

Ingredients in Butterhorns

Our butterhorn rolls are made with eggs, milk, and butter, making them extra rich, tender, and fluffy. Here’s what you’ll need to make them!

Ingredients on a table for butterhorn dinner rolls.
  • Milk- You can use whole or 2% milk. It will need to be warm to the touch, even a bit steamy, but not boiling. I recommend using a thermometer to ensure it’s between 105 and 115 degrees.
  • Dry Active Yeast- You’ll need two packets or 1 ½ Tablespoons. Note: dry active yeast is different than rapid rise yeast, and won’t be quite as bubbly as you might be used to with rapid rise yeast.
  • Granulated sugar and salt- quite a lot of the first, and just enough of the second.
  • Unsalted butter- Adding butter to bread dough adds flavor and tenderizes the crumb.
  • Eggs- Eggs make these butterhorns light and fluffy.
  • All purpose flour- measured with the spooned and leveled technique.

How to Make Overnight Butterhorns

  1. Dissolve yeast. In the bowl of an electric mixer, stir together yeast, milk, and salt. Allow the mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes, then whisk until yeast is dissolved.
  2. Add wet ingredients. Stir in the sugar, butter, and eggs.
  3. Add flour. Add the flour and stir until the mixture is well moistened but still shaggy.
  4. Beat until smooth. Place the bowl on the stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Beat until the dough is smooth and well combined, 2-3 minutes. The dough will be very soft, sticky, and stretchy.
  5. Refrigerate. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, then cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (at least 8 hours or up to 36 hours). The dough should double in size.

Let’s Bake Butterhorns!

  1. Once the dough has doubled in size, flour your work surface. Sprinkle a clean, flat surface with a thin layer of flour. This is a sticky dough, so you’ll definitely need some flour, but we don’t want the rolls to be dry. So go easy at first, and add a bit more if needed. You’ll also want to flour your hands and the rolling pin (sometimes I spray cooking spray on my hands instead of flouring them).
  2. Divide into four pieces. Divide the dough into four equal pieces, each rolled into a dough ball. I sometimes use a scale to make sure they are equal, but that isn’t a necessity.
  3. Roll the dough into a circle. Roll out each of the dough balls into 9-10 inch rounds. Will they be perfectly even? Well, mine definitely aren’t, but maybe yours will be!
  4. Slice and roll. Use a pizza cutter to slice each round into 8 equal pieces. Pretend you’re a famous pizza chef! Do it with flair! Roll each individual piece from the outer edge to the inner point, making a tight crescent shape.
  1. Let rise. After they’re rolled up and looking precious, line them up on the baking sheet, about 1 ½ inches apart. Cover them loosely with a cloth and place in a warm spot for them to rise until puffy, about 2 hours.
  2. Bake. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the risen rolls in the oven and bake for 9-11 minutes, or until golden brown. You can do two sheets at a time, but the bottom sheet might need an additional minute to brown.
  3. Butter. While the rolls are still warm, brush them with melted salty butter. Stuff one in your face while they’re still warm. Sigh in contentment and victory.
Brushing melted butter onto a warm butterhorn dinner roll.

How to Freeze Butterhorn Rolls

There are two different ways we recommend freezing butterhorns. One is before they’ve risen, and one is after they’re baked.

To freeze rolls before they rise:

  1. Roll up the butterhorns as usual and place on a baking sheet, close together, but not touching. Flash freeze for 1 hour, then transfer to a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.
  2. When ready to bake, remove the rolls from the freezer and place them back on baking sheets, 1 ½ inches apart. Cover and let rise in a warm spot until puffed, usually 4-5 hours. Bake as usual.

To freeze baked rolls:

  • Fully bake the rolls, then cool completely. Place on a baking sheet, close together, but not touching. Flash freeze for 1 hour, then transfer to a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Thaw rolls overnight at room temperature. Reheat in a warm oven for a few minutes before serving.
A basket of dinner rolls.
Butterhorns.

Storage and Leftover Instructions

Like most homemade yeast breads, these butterhorns are at their peak served fresh from the oven. That said, they’ll last for several days stored in a ziplock at room temperature.

To reheat leftover rolls, wrap them in a damp paper towel and microwave in 10 second bursts.

Alternatively, wrap the rolls in foil and reheat in a 350 degree oven for 5-7 minutes.

Tips for Success

  • Ensure your yeast is not expired. If you’re worried your yeast might be old, give it a test! When you’re dissolving the yeast in milk, add a teaspoon of sugar to the mix. It should foam up and be a bit bubbly. Yeast is cheap, so if there’s any doubt just get new yeast.
  • Use a thermometer to get the right temperature of the milk. Yeast thrives in warm, not hot, liquid between 105 and 115 degrees. I haven’t honed my finger tip thermometer abilities to this level of precision, so I always use a thermometer to make sure the liquid is not too hot or too cold.
  • Spoon and level your flour. Too much flour can result in dense, dry rolls. To ensure a light and fluffy butterhorn, measure your flour by spooning into your measuring cup then leveling it off, not scooping with the measuring cup.
A pat of butter on a sliced dinner roll.

Need More Holiday Recipes?

Now that you know which rolls you are serving on your Thanksgiving table, what about…

A basket of dinner rolls. Butterhorns.

Butterhorns Recipe

Yield: 32
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

These simple homemade crescent rolls are buttery, soft, and just a touch sweet. They're easy to make ahead or freeze, and they are SO worth it!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm milk (110-115 degrees Fahrenheit), 2% or whole
  • 1.5 Tablespoons dry active yeast (2 packets)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to warm
  • 3 eggs at room temperature, beaten
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 Tablespoons salted butter, melted

Instructions

  1. Dissolve yeast. In the bowl of an electric mixer, stir together yeast, milk, and salt. Allow the mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes, then whisk until yeast is dissolved.
  2. Add wet ingredients. Stir in the sugar, butter, and eggs.
  3. Add flour. Add the flour and stir until the mixture is well moistened but still shaggy.
  4. Beat until smooth. Place the bowl on the stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Beat until the dough is smooth and well combined, 2-3 minutes. The dough will be very soft, sticky, and stretchy.
  5. Refrigerate. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, then cover loosely with saran wrap and refrigerate overnight (at least 8 hours or up to 36 hours). The dough will double in size.
  6. Once the dough has doubled in size, flour your work surface. Sprinkle a clean, flat surface with a thin layer of flour. This is a sticky dough, so you’ll definitely need some flour, but we don’t want the rolls to be dry. Go easy at first, and add a bit more if needed. You’ll also want to flour your hands and the rolling pin (sometimes I spray cooking spray on my hands instead of flouring them).
  7. Divide into four pieces. Divide the dough into four equal pieces, each rolled into a dough ball.
  8. Roll the dough into a circle. Roll out each of the dough balls into 9-10 inch rounds. 
  9. Slice and roll. Use a pizza cutter to slice each round into 8 equal pieces. Roll each individual piece from the outer edge to the inner point, making a tight crescent shape.
  10. Let rise. Line the rolls up on baking sheets, about 1 ½ inches apart. Cover them loosely with a cloth and place in a warm spot to rise until puffy, about 2 hours.
  11. Bake. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the risen rolls in the oven and bake for 9-11 minutes, or until golden brown. You can do two sheets at a time, but the bottom sheet might need an additional minute to brown.
  12. Butter. While the rolls are still warm, brush them with melted salty butter. Stuff one in your face while they’re still warm. Sigh in contentment and victory.

To freeze unbaked rolls:

  1. Follow instructions through step 9. Place the rolls on a baking sheet, close together, but not touching. Flash freeze for 1 hour, then transfer to a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.
  2. When ready to bake, remove the rolls from the freezer and place them back on baking sheets, 1 ½ inches apart. Cover and let rise in a warm spot until puffed, usually 4-5 hours. Bake as usual.

To freeze baked rolls:

  • Fully bake the rolls, then cool completely. Place on a baking sheet, close together, but not touching. Flash freeze for 1 hour, then transfer to a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Thaw rolls overnight at room temperature. Wrap in foil and reheat in a 350 degree oven for 7-8 minutes before serving.

Notes

If you’ve made and loved our original butterhorns recipe and want to stick with it, you’ll need to sub water for milk, lower the salt to ½ teaspoon, and skip the dough hook step, just mixing the flour in until combined then transferring to the fridge.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 32 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 127Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 89mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 3g

Please note nutritional information for my recipes is calculated by a third party service and provided as a courtesy to my readers. For the most accurate calculation, I always recommend running the numbers yourself with the specific products you use.

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28 Comments

  1. I’ve been making this exact, and I mean EXACT, recipe for 30 years but with one difference — whether or not you chill these overnight, leave the dough in the bowl and let it rise to double before you punch it down and roll it out. Doing so improves the taste, the texture, and instead of the rough, lumpy rolls you see in the photograph you’ll have smooth, gorgeous rolls. This same recipe shows up on many websites but always with instructions to allow a first rising of the dough before roll out. Trust me, it’s worth it.

  2. Just making sure this is 2 Tablespoons which would mean need jar of yeast or measure from several packages of yeast?

  3. At 76 I have baked a lot! These butterhorn rolls are the easiest, fastest and so good! I have tossed my tried and true recipe. So happy to have found this gem. Thank you, Teresa

  4. Hi. I made this recipe and baked one after being proofed and it was awesome. Froze the rest and one week later to test before Thanksgiving, took a couple out of the freezer, let them thaw for 20 mins., then baked. They were okay, but lost some of the rise and not nearly as good as when I baked them right away. Not sure what happened, but now I’m going to try baking first after the rise, then freezing them and see if they reheat nicely. Thanks for any advice.

  5. I fixed these delightful butterhorns for our Thanksgiving gathering this year and they were very well received. Came out light and fluffy with the tiniest hint of sweetness. I found that using my pizza cutter to divide the rolled out dough worked really well. Avoided a disaster by re-reading the baking instructions the next morning. I had forgotten that they need to rise for 2 hours before baking! So glad there was still time to do that. I made 2 batches so I was able to freeze some for Christmas. Whoo Hoo! Thanks for a wonderful recipe Courtney.

  6. Do you have suggestions for baking them fresh at high altitude? I want to do my baking up there and I want fresh rolls on the very day. If I freeze the dough And take them with me I think the altitude will change them too much. Hope you or any of your faithful friends on here have suggestions they would be greatly appreciated. I have experience baking these at sea level and they are magnificent. A tradition in my family for years. Now that the matriarch has passed I am the official chef and baker for the Holidays. Happy Thanksgiving to you! jj

  7. Melanie sent me and I followed your exact advice. I got my butt up, mixed them up, and now I’m back to relaxing. HAHA! Can’t wait to bake them up later this week. 🙂

  8. I’ve never heard of a butterhorn and now, I can’t get them out of my mind. They look fantastic, Courtney! And I love the pretty roll-up look. So fancy 😉 The best part is that they can be made ahead. I have so many lofty plans for the four Christmas dinners I’m attending/hosting. Home made bread is on the menu for each so I was starting to stress out a bit. I should make four batches of these this weekend and toss ’em in the freezer!

  9. I was reading this and thinking, “Yea, so no. I can’t make rolls, she’s right I have too much to cook.”…but um, OMG these are insanely easy, Courtney! Thank YOU!

  10. Courtney, these butterhorns look so good and you make it look so easy!! love and pinned!! I’m going to enlist help from my sister and kids for thanksgiving food prep this year . . these butterhorns need to happen, yo!

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