These rolls turned out WAY better than I ever imagined. A friend actually said they were possibly the best dinner rolls he’s ever eaten. I’d say that’s a pretty incredibly review!
We had these rolls with a savory steak dinner and they were superb. But we also served them earlier in the day with my Whipped Cinnamon Pumpkin Butter and they were absolutely fabulous.
Since they go beautifully with both sweet and savory, they’re absolutely perfect for Thanksgiving!
Sweet Potato Dinner Rolls Recipe Tips
These rolls are super simple. No need to be intimidated by yeast baking! But I always like to include some extra tips and insights into the science of the recipe so you feel really confident walking into the kitchen.
The Sweet Potato
For this recipe, I simply use one medium-large sweet potato and microwave it until tender. The trick to ultra light and fluffy rolls is to mash the potato until it’s completely lump-free. I think this is best done in a potato ricer (which also makes the BEST mashed potatoes) or even with a blender or food processor. Just don’t over-process. If you have to mash by hand, just keep going until no lumps remain.
I always use instant yeast (also called rapid-rise or quick-rise) because it’s so incredibly easy as it doesn’t require any proofing. You can literally just throw it in with the rest of the ingredients. If you don’t have it, you can always use regular active dry yeast. You’ll need to combine the active dry yeast with the warm water for 5 minutes, or until frothy, before you can add proceed with the recipe.
There’s two tablespoons of honey in this recipe to enhance the sweet potato flavor without making the rolls super sweet. However, if you like sweeter rolls feel free to double that amount (1/4 cup honey) and add in about another 2 tablespoons flour to compensate for the extra moisture.
This not only acts as a tenderizer, but it also gives a very slight tang to the rolls to balance out the flavor profile beautifully. If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own (get the substitution directions in my FREE baking sub guide here) or simply use whole milk. Full fat works best in this recipe.
Eggs & Butter
The eggs and the melted butter called for in this recipe help to add flavor, richness, and a soft and tender texture. An egg wash is also brushed onto the unbaked rolls to encourage browning and a beautiful shiny crust. I also love to sprinkle the unbaked rolls with flaky salt to really enhance the flavor, I’d definitely recommend you do the same!
Do I have to use bread flour?
The bread flour in this recipe has a higher percentage of protein, which helps the dough to develop stronger strands of gluten. Basically, that means it helps to form rolls with a nice tall structure and slightly chewy texture. If you don’t have bread flour, you can use the same amount of all-purpose, they just might not be as chewy and tall.
Another note about flour. I develop my recipes in Phoenix where it’s extremely dry. If you live in a humid climate, you’ll likely need to add more flour to the dough. Start by adding just a tablespoon at a time until the dough isn’t unbearably sticky. It’s better to have a sticky dough and beautiful rolls because adding too much extra flour can cause the rolls to become dense instead of light and fluffy.
I know this is important for holidays like Thanksgiving.
You can always let the dough rise for the first time overnight in the fridge. Simply refrigerate the dough after kneading in a container wrapped in plastic. Once you’re ready to proceed with the recipe, remove the dough from the fridge. Punch it down and allow it to rest and warm up to room temperature before shaping into balls, about 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. The final rise may take a bit longer since the dough might still be cool.
You can also refrigerate the shaped rolls ahead of time. Place the rolls in your baking dish, then spray a sheet of plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray before using it to cover the rolls. Let them come to room temperature (should take about 30 minutes to 1 hour) before baking.
Although bread is always best eaten when it’s very fresh, you can also store the fully baked buns. Store rolls, well-wrapped, at room temperature for several days or in the freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost to room temperature then reheat in a 300°F oven until warmed through.