Parker House Dinner Rolls


by Heather Harris Brady

A variation of this roll recipe first appeared in New England in 1874, so one can assume that they were served for some time beforehand at the Parker House in Boston.  The term has become something of a catchall for any tender, buttery dinner roll. However, the traditional shape is that of a folded pocketbook (above).

This recipe will give you delicate and delicious rolls. I like to make them small, because the Thanksgiving dinner menu tends to be heavy on the bread, what with the stuffing and all. You can make oodles of rolls with this recipe, or divide the dough in half. Use the reserved half for braids, and you’ll have a ready breakfast on hand for overnight guests or a lovely hostess gift. (We’ll make the braids in the next post.)

This recipe is based on one by Marion Cunningham, from the glory days of the now-defunct Gourmet magazine.

Parker House Dinner Rolls, Full dough batch makes about 80 small rolls; or reserve half for two braids and get 40 dinner rolls

2 c. warm milk

1/3 c. warm water

2 pkg. yeast

1 stick butter, melted

2 eggs, room temperature

1/2 c. granulated sugar

7-8 c. unbleached all-purpose flour

Dissolve the yeast in the water, and combine with the milk, butter, sugar and eggs.


Stir in 6 cups of the flour and let rise until doubled in bulk. You can divide the dough in halves at this point if you want.


Turn the dough out on a floured countertop and knead it for three-five minutes.


It should be smooth and soft. Roll it out into a large rectangle and preheat the oven to 350. Cut rounds and lay them on a greased baking sheet, folding one-third of the circle over on itself.


Brush them with melted butter and let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.


Bake for about 15 minutes, until the tops begin to brown.


You can brush the tops with melted butter again when they come out of the oven if you like. Feel free to bake these a day ahead and warm them just before serving. (The microwave will work if you’re short on oven space.)


One year ago: Cranberry Orange Bread Pudding


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