Thyme Dinner Rolls

basket of thyme dinner rolls

I know that some of you might be thinking there is no possible way you have time to add one more item, let alone homemade dinner rolls, to your Thanksgiving Day timetable, but I’m here on this snowy November morning to encourage — to insist! — that you do. You absolutely have time. Here’s why:

1. This dough, especially if you use instant yeast, takes five minutes to mix together. There is no kneading, no pampering.

2. Moreover, there is no need to flour up a workspace or to get your hands dirty shaping individual rolls. If you have a 12-cup muffin pan and someone lurking in your kitchen hoping to help, you’re in luck. Put that friend to work buttering the muffin cups, punching down the dough, portioning out the rolls. Handling this dough requires no skill.

3. This dough can rise in the corner of your kitchen all morning long. While that turkey roasts away, you can punch the dough down as often as you need, and when at last you find the oven free of birds and stuffings and gratins, in will go your rolls.

4. These rolls bake in 25 minutes. If you plan on letting your turkey rest for a good 30 minutes before carving, you’ll have plenty of time to let these rolls make their second rise (17 to 20 minutes) and to bake them before your guests are seated around the table, at which point you will pass around a basket of steaming hot, thyme-flecked rolls.

I know that from getting the turkey cooked to keeping the stuffing and the vegetables and the plates warm to keeping your guests entertained Thanksgiving can be a logistical nightmare challenge. And when there truly are so many wonderful take-and-bake options in your supermarket freezer, why not cross one thing off your to-do list?

Well, because if there ever was an occasion to push your domestic stamina to its limits, to display your culinary prowess, it’s Thanksgiving. I mean, where is the fun in effortless entertaining? Pony up, Friends. Nothing says you care like freshly baked bread (and turkey and stuffing and gravy and pumpkin pie and punch). Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Flour, salt, sugar, SAF instant yeast and thyme:
yeast, thyme, salt, sugar, flour

Mixed dough:
dough mixed

First rise:

Dividing the dough:
dough divided

Ready for second rise:
dough in pans

Ready for the oven:
second rise

Just baked:
thyme dinner rolls, just baked

thyme dinner rolls, just baked

thyme dinner rolls, just baked

turned out onto cutting board

basket of thyme dinner rolls

Have a wonderful holiday, Everyone! If you’re still looking for ideas, this board might help.

Thyme Dinner Rolls

Yield = 12 to 16

Note: This is yet another variation of the peasant bread. If you would prefer to make round loaves, view this post.

4 cups (1 lb. 2 oz | 510 g) all-purpose flour, preferably not bleached
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast or active dry yeast*
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme leaves
2 cups lukewarm water**

room temperature butter, about 2 tablespoons

* For future reference, you can buy both SAF instant yeast and Red Star active dry yeast in bulk from Amazon. After you open the pouches, transfer yeast to airtight container and store in the fridge or freezer, where they will last forever. If you are using the packets of yeast (the kind that come in the 3-fold packets), just go ahead and use a whole packet — I think it’s 2.25 teaspoons. Recently, I have been using instant yeast more than active dry because when you use instant yeast there is no need to do the proofing step — you can add the yeast directly to the flour — which makes the mixing process a little bit faster.

** To make fool-proof lukewarm water that will not kill the yeast (water that’s too hot can kill yeast), boil some water — I use my teapot. Then, mix 1 1/2 cups cold water with 1/2 cup boiling water. This ratio of hot to cold water will be the perfect temperature for the yeast.

1. If you are using instant yeast: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, instant yeast, and fresh thyme leaves. Add the water. Mix until the flour is absorbed. Cover with plastic wrap (or a tea towel that has been run under hot water and squeezed out). Place in a warm spot to rise: Because your kitchen will likely be nice and cozy with all of the cooking going on, you don’t need to do the warm-oven rise trick. But for future reference, here is how you can create a warm spot: Turn your oven on (to 350 or so) and then turn it off after 1 minute — this will create just a slightly warm environment to get the bread rising nicely.

If you are using active-dry yeast: In a small mixing bowl, dissolve the sugar into the water. Sprinkle the yeast over top. There is no need to stir it up. Let it stand for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the mixture is foamy and/or bubbling just a bit — this step will ensure that the yeast is active. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and thyme. When the yeast-water-sugar mixture is foamy, stir it up, and add it to the flour bowl. Mix until the flour is absorbed. Cover with plastic wrap (or a tea towel that has been run under hot water and squeezed out). Place in a warm spot to rise: Because your kitchen will likely be nice and cozy with all of the cooking going on, you don’t need to do the warm-oven rise trick.

2. Let dough rise for 1 to 2 hours or more or less. As noted in the post above, you can let the dough rise, and when you see that it has reached the top of the bowl, but you don’t have oven space available in the following 20 minutes, punch it down and let it rise again. You can do this as many times as necessary. Meanwhile, generously butter a 12-cup muffin pan, plus a few ramekins (2 to 4).

3. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Using two forks, punch down your dough, scraping it from the sides of the bowl, which it will be clinging to. (Here is video guidance. You can find more peasant bread-making video guidance at the end of the peasant bread post.) As you scrape it down, turn the dough up onto itself. You want to loosen the dough entirely from the sides of the bowl, and you want to make sure you’ve punched it down. Take your two forks and divide the dough roughly into 6 portions. Then, using the two forks, scoop up half of each of these portions and plop each into a buttered muffin cup. Repeat with remaining dough. This won’t be pretty, but it doesn’t matter. Try your best to divide the dough equally, and if you have extra dough, bake it off in the buttered ramekins. Let the dough rise for about 17 to 20 minutes or until it has risen to just above the top of the muffin cups.

4. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375º and make for 10 to 15 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and turn the rolls onto a cooling rack or directly into a bread basket. Pass the butter.

bottom of roll

I repeat, I could totally skip the turkey.

26. November 2013 by Alexandra Stafford
Categories: Baking, Bread, Holidays, Thanksgiving | 51 comments

Comments (51)

  1. Oh Alexandra! Everything you post looks so yummy! I may just make these.

  2. Oh Ali! I love reading your posts. And I love you! Miss you and wish I could stop by your thanksgiving this year, have a wonderful holiday!

  3. As usual, your photographs make my jaw drop! And these rolls look perfect for our table this year! Thanks for sharing!

  4. As usual, your photographs make my jaw drop! And these rolls look and sound perfect for my table (and skill level) this year. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Beautiful as always! Thinking rosemary or sage might be nice, too? Maybe some parmesan cheese? Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. Are these really as easy as you say? You are inspiring me. Wish me luck!

  7. I’m sitting here eating Ritz crackers and cheese (lunch) thinking about how last night, I served Reece undercooked pasta (I have trouble following directions). I still think you should let me pay you to make your deliciousness for me, every post makes my mouth water. That being said, these almost look easy as pie – I made one of those last week and didn’t screw it up…

    Happy Thanksgiving to the whole family. Hugs all around!

    • Nice work on the pie, Amanda! I’m at my sister’s in Holden and am about to start the pie making — pumpkin, pecan, and maybe a maple cream tart. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, hugs to Becca, kisses to Reece, hope to see you soon! Xoxo

  8. The only thing I love more than homemade rolls is homemade rolls with thyme, my favorite herb! The garden herbs are pretty well gone for the year but I’m stopping into my favorite nursery tomorrow after work to get some hot house tomatoes they just posted on Facebook and I bet they have some herbs in pots still! The kitchen floor is in and it’s so beautiful, amazing how a piece of vinyl can make a grown woman cry! :) The new stove came this morning and we’re breaking it in tonite for the first dinner I’ve made in weeks! It’s been a joy getting to know you on the blog this year and I talk you (and it!) up every chance I get! Happy, happy Thanksgiving Alexandra! Love, Laurie!

    • You are hilarious! Please post pics of the vinyl!? And the stove? I am so curious. What was the inaugural feast? We made lamb chops last night, and I thought of you. It has been wonderful getting to know you as well. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Xoxo

  9. O-M-G. Mouth is watering. I swear I can smell these yummy roles just from looking at these pictures!

    I will definitely be making these yummy rolls this week for sure to have with our Thanksgiving Feast! Mmmmmm. Fresh warm rolls and butter! Is there anything better??!?!

    You know…I just love how flexible this Peasant Bread recipe has become for me! It’s my number one go to bread recipe and I always have a few loaves in my freezer now (as I’ve been baking this bread so much!). :)

    Say…did you ever adapt this recipe for English Muffins? If you did, I would love to know how they turned out and how you made them because I LOVE ENGLISH MUFFINS!!!! (I don’t have any of those fancy schmancy ring mold thingies, though, to hold the dough for English Muffins. Maybe I’ll have to get some, eh?)

    I’ll report back on how my rolls turn out! I’m sure my sweet hubby will be gobbling (see what I did there since it’s Thanksgiving this week and turkeys gobble?) them up as soon as I get them on the cooling rack. Gobble. Gobble. (I can’t help myself. Lurve, lurve, lurve the Thankskgiving Holiday!)

    P.S. I also lurved that potato gratin recipe and may make that very soon, too!

    YOU are AMAZING and I wish you and your family the very HAPPIEST of Thanksgivings! (Discovering your rockin’ blog and awesome recipes is one of the items I am truly, truly thankful for this year — as I have been having so much fun making bread. It’s my new hobby.) :)

    Big hugs!

    Patti :)

    • Haha, you are hilarious…gobble gobble to you! I am so happy to hear that you are loving the peasant bread so much. I have not tried English muffins, but I think I must try soon. I do have those fancy shmancy ring molds, which I think might be helpful bc the dough is so wet, but i have made Engies without the molds, so I’ll see what I can do :) Lurve Lurve Lurve hearing from you! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

      • Sweet hubby in Warm Rolls & Butter Heaven right now! Just finished making a batch of these yummy rolls. They turned out great! And…I used a cup of my whole rye sourdough starter and a cup of my white flour sourdough starter in lieu of the 2 teaspoons of instant yeast. (Had to be careful with the amount of room temp de-chlorinated water I used. Adding a bit at a time until the dough was the right, shaggy consistency. I also let it rise in the oven for an extra 20 minutes after I punched down the dough after the initial 2 hour rise completed.) Turned out PERFECT! Eating them right now with slices of warmed yummy ham on the side. (We keep strange hours here at Casa Johnson.) I slathered mine with Virgin Coconut Oil and some delicious jam and hubby ate his slather in butter! Big thumbs up, moans and groans and messy buttery smile from hubby! :) <3


        Big hugs!

        Patti :) <3

    • Er….um….I meant “rolls” and not “roles” (stupid fast typing when I get excited and don’t proofread). :) <3

  10. You talked be back into baking rolls! Had nixed homemade bread from the to-do list, but these look too irresistible!

  11. Your blog should be ‘alexandrarocksthekitchen’ because your recipes are freakaliciously good. I made your apple cheddar mini pies last night. My French husband said they’re almost as good as ‘chausson aux pommes.’ That’s a pretty good compliment in my book. Happy Thanksgiving to you and thanks for sharing such wonderful recipes and beautiful photos. Cheers!

    • Rachel, you are too much! Thank you :) That means a lot. I am so so happy to read all of this. And I am so sorry for this delayed response. Do you happen to have a recipe for chausson aux pommes? I am intrigued. Sounds delicious. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Thanks so much for writing in.

  12. Your blog has had so many fantastic recipes that have all turned out as beautifully as you describe them—yet, I kept ignoring that nagging voice in the back of my head that urged me to try the peasant bread. What can I said, I’m a bread-making scaredy-cat. But when I read this yesterday and a friend told me she had too much thyme to use up from her CSA box and brought it to me, I decided that it was fate. And they were fabulous, and so easy, even when fitting them in between two pies and some side dishes we made this morning! I can tell that they’re going to be a regular thing around here. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    • Laura, nothing makes me happier than to read this! Hooray! I know, bread is one of those foods that so many people fear because of the time and the thought of working with yeast, etc, but it really is so simple and so rewarding. So happy that the CSA thyme finally inspired you to try the peasant bread. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, too! THanks so much for writing in.

  13. I love the smell of thyme, so these dinner rolls not only taste great but I bet they smell just as amazing!

  14. Our turkey dinner day is tomorrow so our granddaughter can be here! Prep started this morning and I’m making the rolls tomorrow! Can’t wait to try them….I’m a little bit of a bread fiend! Hope you had a lovely dinner! The inaugural dinner in the kitchen was strip steaks, sweet potatoes and asparagus…my husband did the shopping and that’s his favorite meal! ;) I’m going to send pictures of the floor as soon as I figure out how! I bought a new little digital that takes faster pictures, more pixels etc but they won’t send anywhere from Picasa….I think it’s because I have a computer that’s not up to the task!

    • Oh fun! OK, my husband’s favorite steak is a strip steak, too. So funny. Must be kind of a guy thing — all that big flavor :) Ben much prefers a strip to a tenderloin. I’m starting to feel the same way. The inaugural dinner sounds delish! Can’t wait to see pictures of your floor. And you’ll figure out your camera eventually…oh technology :)

  15. I made these rolls today and they were AMAZING! Even my grandfather, who is very picky, loved them! Will make these again for sure! Thanks!

  16. For Thanksgiving, I took your recipe and mad my own version, I added rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil, Parmesan cheese, garlic and fennel and a little olive oil, and a little more sugar than it called for, then I put garlic and Parmesan on top. Everybody loved it. Today I’m adding pepperoni and mozzarella in the center of the herbed bread. I hope it’s just as good.

  17. Big hit with Jeffray! Had them warmed up this morning with butter and honey! Yummy times two!

  18. Such a nice entry for coming holidays.
    Thank you for great idea. My kids will love it for sure:)

  19. These look absolutely delicious! I will have to try them in the next couple of weeks!
    Living’s as Easy as 312

  20. I was wondering if you could use dried thyme. I have some excellent dried thyme, but no fresh. Just bought our first home a week before having a baby so no time to plant thyme. How much should I use?

  21. Thank u for the great recipe. Husband said they were the best bread I’ve ever made and a daughter said they were the best bread she’s ever had. These will be a contant in our rotation. Thanks again – I love your blog and recipes!

  22. I made the thyme rolls this evening and found them to be quite dense. The taste was wonderful, but I would like to have the airy ones from your photos. What could have got wrong. I used Red Star active yeast and got a great bubble. 1st rise was 1 hr. 50 mn. and the 2nd was 15, both rises had great increases in volume. Any other tips?

    • Hi Ted, so sorry to hear this! It sounds as though you are doing everything right. I only have a few thoughts: 1. Did you divide the dough among 12 muffin cups versus 12 plus a few ramekins? I’m thinking if you used all of the dough in the muffing tin that that could have caused the density issues. 2. Would you have been able to let the second rise go a little longer than 15 minutes or was the dough already creeping above the rim? 3. Did you let them cool long enough before breaking into them? Let me know! I’ll get to the bottom of it.

      • Thanks so much for the reply. I only made 6 muffins and the rest of the dough was used for a loaf of bread. The 2nd rise went faster than expected and the dough was going over the rim the muffin pans. I used Arrowhead Mills Organic Unbleached flour. I’m going to try again tomorrow with a bread flour from a mill here in Phoenix.
        The loaf of bread while dense was so perfect in the French Onion soup, It soaked up the wonderful broth without getting soggie. What a grand soup it is.
        For meat less Monday I’m trying the Sheet Pan Pasta Gratin.
        Lastly, your recipes, explanations and comments are some of the best I’ve encountered on the web.

        • You are so welcome, and thank you for your nice comment! I’m so glad you like the soup, and I hope you like the gratin!

          I am still a little perplexed about what could have gone wrong with the bread/rolls. You are using such great ingredients — I love red star yeast, and while I have never used that specific flour, I really like arrowhead mills products — and it sounds as though both rises are going well. The only other thought I have now is that perhaps the second rise went too long. I know this sounds crazy because in the previous reply, I suggested the opposite, but in my experience with baking this dough, if the dough creeps too high above the rim, it actually falls when it bakes, so it’s best to stick the bowls in the oven when the dough is just at the rim or just slightly above. If you try the rolls again in the muffin tin, don’t adhere to times, just watch the dough. As soon as it is at the top of the muffin cup, stick the pan in the oven. Hope I am making sense. Let me know if you give the bread another go tomorrow. Good luck!

  23. Hi Alexandra,
    I wanted to thank you so much: I’ve tried these yesterday and they are so good! I was short on thyme so I substituted oregano but it went great anyway!. I just have to fix a rise-problem (they came out pointed-shaped, it was funny) but the taste was supreme!
    I wanted to congratulate you on the blog, it is amazing!
    thanks from Italy,

    • So happy to hear this, Ludina! Love the idea of using oregano. Funny about the pointed shape — definitely let me know how they turn out next time — maybe it’s the shape of your muffin tin? Thank you for the kind words regarding the blog. Cheers!

      • Hi! so, i waited a bit cause I wanted to let you know what went wrong! apparently, i have a marvelous non-stick muffin pan, so butter was in some way preventing the dough to rise: a friend of mine experienced the same thing and she suggested me! I did them without the butter and turned out great! you see, here in italy there are some products, as unbleached flour, which are no that easy to find, as well as GOOD active dry yeast so the dough is a bit adapted.. but really: congrats on the recipe, everyone here loved these rolls!
        thanks for the good work! you’ve given me the further inspiration to open up my own blog.. thanks!

        • Wonderful to hear this, Ludina! I never thought about a non stick pan being the culprit but that makes perfect sense. So glad you were able to find a solution. Thank you for your kind words, and good luck starting your own blog!

  24. Hi Alexandra,

    made this tonight and they turned out delicious. Very easy and convenient and turned out soft/spongy inside as you described. However, the crust (top and sides) was very chewy. I did eat it after it cooled down, maybe an hour. Is the crust supposed to be chewy? or maybe I baked it too long ? (37 mins, 15 mins at 425 + 12 mins at 375). Or maybe I didn’t put enough butter on the muffin molds (I only used half the amount you suggested)? Should I have also glazed the top with water/butter before putting into oven? Wondering if you have any tips? Thank you!

    • Hi Bee – so sorry for the delay in getting back to you — I’ve been out of town! OK, let’s see, the texture of the bread is a bit chewy, but I would describe the center as being chewy and the edges being crisp. Butter does help with crispness, but I don’t think that would do it. What kind of muffin tin are you using?

      • Hi Alexandra,

        I used a non-stick muffin pan. I discovered later on though, that when I reheated the rolls (I think about 5-10 mins at about 350), the crust became crispy (no longer chewy)! So that seemed to do the trick for me at least :) . Thank you again for sharing the great recipe and responding to my question!

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