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Photograph by Isa Zapata, Food Styling by Mieko Takahashi
  • Active Time

    25 minutes

  • Total Time

    55 minutes plus at least 2 hours chilling

With a top coat of melted butter and a sprinkling of sea salt, these golden brown Parker House rolls are nothing short of trophy-worthy. Created for the Parker House Hotel in Boston soon after it opened in 1855, these classic yeast rolls are sometimes called pocketbook rolls because of their shape, which resembles a purse: Just as ideal for sandwiching a slice of Thanksgiving turkey or holiday ham as they are slathered with honey or a slick of jam for breakfast.

If you are new to baking bread, dinner rolls are a good place to start, but make sure to plan ahead so there’s time to let the dough rise before you shape it and for the shaped buns to chill before baking.

We prefer to knead this dough by hand, but feel free to whip them up in a stand mixer with a dough hook if you’d rather. And while some bread recipes recommend letting the dough rise in a warm place, this Parker House rolls recipe calls for rising at room temperature. Cooler temps will encourage the dough to rise more slowly, giving it time to develop flavor. You could even chill the dough overnight, then shape the rolls the next day.


Makes 36


envelope active dry yeast


cup whole milk


cup vegetable shortening


tablespoons sugar

teaspoons kosher salt


large egg, room temperature

cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface

Canola oil (for bowl)


cup unsalted butter

Flaky sea salt


  1. Step 1

    Whisk yeast and ¼ cup warm water (110°-115°) in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes until foamy.

    Step 2

    Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium until just warm. Combine shortening, sugar, and kosher salt in a large bowl. Add warm milk; whisk to blend, breaking up shortening into small clumps (it may not melt completely). Whisk in yeast mixture and egg. Add 3½ cups flour; stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until dough forms. Knead dough with lightly floured hands on a lightly floured work surface until smooth, 4–5 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl; turn to coat. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature until doubled, about 1½ hours.

    Step 3

    Preheat oven to 350°. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Lightly brush 13x9" baking dish with some melted butter. Punch down dough; divide into 4 equal pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time, roll out on a lightly floured surface into a 12x6" rectangle.

    Step 4

    Cut lengthwise into three 2"-wide strips; cut each crosswise into three 4x2" rectangles. Brush half of each (about 2x2") with melted butter; fold unbuttered side over, allowing a ¼-inch overhang. Place flat in 1 corner of dish, folded edge against short side of dish. Add remaining rolls, shingling to form 1 long row. Repeat with remaining dough for 4 rows. Brush with melted butter, loosely cover with plastic, and chill at least 30 minutes or up to 6 hours.

    Step 5

    Bake rolls until golden and puffed, 25–35 minutes. Brush with butter; sprinkle sea salt over. Serve warm.

    Editor's note: This recipe is adapted from “The Fannie Farmer Baking Book” by Marion Cunningham and was first printed in our November 2012 issue. Head this way for more of our best Thanksgiving recipes

Nutrition Per Serving

Each roll contains: Calories (kcal) 70 Fat (g) 3 Saturated Fat (g) 1.5 Cholesterol (mg) 10 Carbohydrates (g) 10 Dietary Fiber (g) 0 Total Sugars (g) 1 Protein (g) 2 Sodium (mg) 85
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Reviews (575)

Back to TopTriangle
  • Rolls were a hit for Thanksgiving. After proofing the dough ball and cutting it into 4 equal sized pieces, it was easy to then roll each one out to a rectangle, then cut it into three long pieces, and then cutting each of those long pieces into 3 and repeated for the other three parts of the dough ball giving you the total of 36. I chilled for 4 hours and honestly was worried as they did look a bit flat. After chilling, I let them sit at room temp for about 45 minutes which caused them to rise a little and then baked. They puffed to perfection. Will definitely be making again 10/10

    • Allie

    • 11/26/2021

  • These are a must every Thanksgiving. Always a big hit. I have made them since 2012, when they first came out, and always used butter. I don't have CRISCO in the house. Also, last year I made them the night before and put them into the refrigerator overnight, cooked them the next afternoon. They turned out just as wonderful as always. Later dinner this year so made them early in the day. We all LOVE these. I can't imagine a Thanksgiving without them.

    • Jean

    • Sebastopol, CA

    • 11/25/2021

  • To the reviewer from 11/22/21 - You can over proof your dough I think that would cause the baking flat. My guess that your room temperature may have been low. This will require a longer period after you process with the butter fold into the pan. I have been making these for years. I use butter instead of veg shortening as well. They are a huge crowd pleaser and are requested often for family gatherings.

    • Grant

    • Michigan

    • 11/25/2021

  • Where did I go wrong. The dough seemed to have a good first rise but they came out quite flat in the end. I thought it strange that it didn't have a second rise in the instructions? Should it have? Has anyone else had this issue? I haven't rated recipe as I don't know if it was baker error! Would try again

    • Anonymous

    • Pleasant Hill, CA

    • 11/23/2021

  • How can these be made ahead? Thats the title of this article

    • Anonymous

    • KY

    • 10/29/2021

  • Without exagerration, the best bread I've ever had. Time consuming but worth it.

    • Anonymous

    • Toronto, ON

    • 4/26/2021

  • These were relatively easy to make. The rolls were a hit at Thanksgiving dinner last night. I did as someone else said below: Note that If you find these Parker House dinner rolls shaping/cutting directions difficult to carry out, you can simply make 36 balls of equally sized dough, flatten each one at the center with a rolling pin (so the ball becomes and elongated oval), brush the interior with melted butter, then fold the dough over on itself (so the buttered interior is in the center), then continue on with the instructions as directed. This is how they were originally done (and quickly) at the Parker House Hotel in Boston during the 1870s. No matter how you accomplish it, the idea is to fold the dough over on itself and to have a buttered center. Cutting the dough to a precise rectangle as outlined in this recipe when it wants to spring back and not take that shape is the only thing that was difficult about this otherwise crowd-pleasing recipe. Shaping them as I've outlined above instead solves that problem. Thanks so much!

    • Charlotte

    • Shreveport, La

    • 11/27/2020

  • These were quite delicious. I strain bacon fat and save it for recipes, and I used it as shortening in these instead of vegetable shortening. These rolls got RAVE reviews. I made two batches everyone loved them so much.

    • Hannah

    • Atlanta, GA

    • 11/25/2020

  • Can you please make a video for these rolls?

    • April

    • California

    • 11/24/2020

  • These rolls were delicious! I took the advice of other reviewers and replaced the vegetable shortening with melted butter, and used the shaping technique provided in a review from November 2018 (it was much clearer than the one provided by Bon Appetit). The final butter addition felt excessive, so I didn't add any extra butter after pulling them out of the oven and don't regret it - they were already perfectly buttery. Overall, a really great recipe that I will definitely be making again!

    • Anonymous

    • Urbana, IL

    • 6/26/2020

  • Super easy to follow for the dough instructions, and a little less obvious for the shaping instructions. Ultimately mine turned out a little uneven but just as tasty. I used butter instead of vegetable shortening without issue.

    • Anonymous

    • 1/20/2020

  • I cannot recall how many MANY years I've used this recipe, always to rave reviews. Caveat: (Reason for only four stars) You should never use Crisco for ANYTHING. It was not originally intended for human consumption and is not a real food. Also no Canola oil or Pam. I use all melted real butter in the same amounts called for. Far healthier. This is a great "show-off" recipe and becomes a family/friends tradition. A video would be helpful for anyone, especially first-time bakers.

    • Durango Chick

    • Durango, Colorado

    • 12/25/2019

  • Can you make a video for this

    • Anonymous

    • Stamford CT

    • 12/20/2019

  • Hi all, I made this for the first time and the results were amazing but still need a bit of insight. 1) I don't think I used quite enough salt as they were a tad bland in the center and 2) they were just a bit dry. I was careful not to over-proof and didn't over bake either. I do live in Germany so had to use pflanzenfett - which is basically the same thing but in a refrigerated bar. Maybe just that but would love insight from anyone who made these. Thx

    • kdykes

    • Austinite (TX) in Berlin (DE)

    • 12/3/2019

  • Is there a way to make this without crisco/shortening?

    • Anonymous

    • Boston

    • 11/18/2019