These are hands down the BEST 100% whole wheat dinner rolls! They’re light, fluffy and incredibly delicious!
We’ve always loved our 1 Hour Soft & Fluffy Dinner Rolls, but these Whole Wheat Rolls are just so wholesome. And surprisingly, they’re just as light and fluffy despite using wheat flour! I love the heartiness whole wheat adds to recipes like Whole Wheat Banana Bread or Whole Wheat Pancakes.
A Tried and True Recipe!
I kid you not, it’s taken me 5 times (and a lot of research) to get this recipe right. Obsessed much? Yep. I’m sure my family is sick of rolls, but I’m proud to say, this recipe is finally everything I’ve hoped for!
These 100% whole wheat rolls are light, fluffy and delicious! Think that’s impossible with all whole wheat flour? Think again! I’ve got a few secret ingredients along with some tips and tricks that help make these rolls the best!
The Secret Ingredients
My first big secret ingredient is vital wheat gluten. Have you ever heard of it? I know prior to making 100% whole wheat recipes I hadn’t. It’s kind of a miracle ingredient. It makes whole wheat goods fluffy and tender. It’s a definite MUST in this recipe!
Second is honey. It adds flavor and sweetness to these rolls (although the sweetness isn’t noticeable).
Third is buttermilk. Again, it adds flavor and richness.
Fourth is orange juice. Yes, I said orange juice. After the third attempt I was doing a little reading and discovered that orange juice (or any citrus juice) helps neutralize the wheat flavor and tones it down a bit. That way you get all of the health benefits of whole wheat without all of the bitter taste.
Making Whole Wheat Rolls
Tips for making the dough:
- I used freshly squeezed orange juice, but you can always use store-bought.
- In order to not add too much flour from the get-go, slowly add the vital wheat gluten and then the flour, ¼ c. at a time. Then once you’ve added 2 ¼ c. total, add one tablespoon at a time.
- The key to fluffy rolls is the correct ratio of flour to moisture. When the dough comes together it should be sticky (when you touch it with your finger it should stick) but you should be able to roll it into a ball without it sticking to your hands.
- Giving it the proper amount of time to double will ensure that the rolls turn out correctly. Sometimes, especially in winter, I like to turn my oven on to 200 degrees, turn it off and then leave the dough in to rise (both times).
SHAPE. Punch the dough, then knead on a clean surface for 2 minutes. Allow to rest for 5 minutes. Divide it into 12 equal pieces, either using a scale, or eyeball it the best you can (this is what I do). To get perfect little round balls, fold the dough over and pinch at the bottom. If you need to you can smooth it out a bit (I like Mel’s video tutorial here).
RISE. Place the balls of dough into a parchment lined 9×13 pan or onto a parchment or baking mat lined quarter sheet pan. Brush with soft butter and cover with plastic wrap to rise again. Make sure that the rolls have doubled in size and that their sides are touching (see picture above). That way when they bake they will rise upward versus spreading outward—this is key to getting tall, fluffy rolls!
BAKE. Place in a preheated oven and bake at 350 degrees for 17-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown on top. Remove, slather a nice thick layer of butter on them and let them cool for a few minutes before breaking apart and eating!
Serving + Storing
What to serve them with: These are a great side dish to any main course that you are making for dinner. They’re especially great for sopping up any extra liquid in pastas or soups. Here are some of our favorites:
STORE your rolls in an airtight bag at room temperature for about 5 days. Past this point, you risk the rolls drying out.
You can FREEZE homemade rolls for up to 3 months. Wrap the rolls tightly in foil and then place them in a freezer bag.
For more of our favorite rolls, check out:
Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls Recipe
- 1/4 cup warm water - 100-110 degrees
- 1 tbsp active dry yeast
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter - room temperature
- 2 eggs - room temperature
- 1/2 cup buttermilk - room temperature
- 1 tbsp orange juice
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp vital wheat gluten*
- 2 1/4-2 1/2 cup whole wheat flour - white or regular
- 2 tbsp butter - melted (divided for brushing)
- In a small bowl combine the warm water and the yeast. Allow to proof for 5 minutes or until it becomes bubbly and the yeast is dissolved.
- Meanwhile, a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the honey and butter for 30 seconds on medium speed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Gradually add the warm water/yeast mixture along with the buttermilk and orange juice.
- With mixing speed on low, add the salt, vital wheat gluten and the flour (one cup at a time), mix until a soft and sticky dough forms.
- If using a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook and set on the lowest mixing setting for 3 minutes or until the dough becomes elastic (you may need to add a bit of additional flour (part or all of the 1/4 c.) or knead by hand on a lightly floured surface for 3-4 minutes. The dough should be tacky, if you pinch it between your fingers it should stick, but if you roll it in a ball in your hands it shouldn't. Just remember this is a soft dough and you don't want to add too much flour to it.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size (about 45 minutes).
- Once the dough has doubled, punch it down, turn it onto a clean surface (you may need just a bit of flour to prevent it from sticking) and knead it for 2 minutes. Then let it rest for 5 minutes (I cover mine up again. Cut it into 12 equal pieces. Roll into circles and place into a well-buttered 9x13 pan or ¼ baking sheet (or one lined with parchment paper/a baking mat). Generously butter the tops and sides of each roll. Cover and allow to double (until the rolls touch sides), about 1 hour 15 minutes.
- Place into an oven preheated to 350 degrees. Bake the rolls for 17-20 minutes or until tops are lightly golden brown in color. Just keep an eye on them, they may take a little less or a little more time. Remove from the oven and brush with the remaining butter. Serve immediately!
-I like to help my yeast along, so I preheat my oven to 200 degrees and turn it off each time I let my rolls rise. Not only does this speed the process along, but it insures that your yeast thrives.
-This recipe can be easily doubled. These rolls also freeze well.