These Sage and Brown Butter Honey Rolls contain sage-infused brown butter, honey, and flaky sea salt for a melt-in-your-mouth dinner roll. They can also easily be made ahead of time a few different ways to easily fit into your own busy Thanksgiving and holiday schedule. Jump to Recipe
Sage and Brown Butter Honey Rolls
You don’t need any fancy equipment to make these Sage and Brown Butter Honey Rolls. I don’t have a KitchenAid and don’t need one. My tool of choice is a fork but a spoon or spatula does just as fine too. A rolling pin will help get the dough more even for cutting out the rounds. But you can also just pull the dough out to spread it.
Blooming the Yeast, Mixing, and Kneading
Watching yeast bloom is super fun. There are different ways to bloom yeast, but I think the easiest way is just adding active dry yeast to milk.
First, you heat the milk up until it’s almost simmering. Then you have to let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes until the temperature is between 105 and 110. Anything hotter will kill the yeast and anything lower isn’t warm enough.
You let it sit for 5 minutes to “bloom” which is the perfect word for what happens. It almost looks like a rash is spreading super fast.
As you wait for the yeast to bloom, mix together the flour, salt, brown butter, egg, and honey until rough dough forms. Once the five minutes has passed, pour the milk and yeast mixture into the dough and mix until a more cohesive dough forms.
Knead on a lightly floured surface until the dough is smooth and elastic. This usually takes between 5 and 10 minutes, but sometimes as soon as 3. You will probably have to keep sprinkling a little bit of flour onto your countertop.
Adding too much flour though can affect the texture of your rolls. I like to measure out a ¼ cup of flour to give me a visual of how much I’m using. Try to stick to 1 or 2 tablespoons at most.
On the first rise, the dough sits unshaped, covered with a towel in a lightly oiled bowl. I turn my oven on for 5 minutes and then turn it off to give the dough a warm place to rise. If the oven is already on and in use, putting the dough towards the back of the stovetop is also a good spot.
I shaped these Sage and Brown Butter Honey Rolls as parker house rolls. Pulling apart the bottom of a steaming hot roll is like opening a Christmas present. Simply
- Roll out the dough till it’s 1/4th of an inch thick
- Cut out 2.5 to 3-inch rounds
- Brush the rounds with butter
- Make off-center indentations with the dull edge of a knife
- Fold the larger part over the smaller so that it overlaps.
Parker house rolls are my favorite, but you can shape the rolls any way you want.
I reformed the extra leftovers into a ball and rolled it out again to cut out more rounds. There was still some unused dough left after but it was starting to get tough. Rather than rolling the dough out again, I made three big balls and put them into a lightly greased ceramic baking dish to rise and bake in. They came out just as well as the parker house rolls.
Second Rise and Baking
Once the Sage and Brown Butter Honey Rolls are shaped, they go through a second rise until they have doubled in size. Before cooking, I brushed them with a brown butter and honey mix and then sprinkled some flaky sea salt on top of the rolls.
I tested doing this before cooking and after and didn’t notice any change in the texture of the rolls. Some people say that brushing them with butter before baking can weigh the rolls down but I didn’t experience that. I decided to brush before and after because browned butter and honey are delicious.
For an extra flavor enhancer, consider taking all the leftover crispy sage leaves from browning the butter and crumbling them on top of the rolls along with the flaky sea salt. In consideration of some the guests coming over for Thanksgiving, I didn’t do this, but I wanted to.
These rolls bake in 10 to 12 minutes, which I LOVE. That means I get to eat them sooner.
In various places within the recipe, I’ve provided instructions on how to prepare the rolls ahead of time in different ways. This includes baking the rolls completely and then freezing, letting the rolls rise a little before freezing them unbaked and letting the rolls rise for up to 18 hours in the fridge for making them the day before.
Pick whatever method works best for your Thanksgiving schedule. I decided to bake the rolls completely, freeze them, thaw them out in the morning, and then warm them up real quick while the turkey is being carved.
I think yeast breads force you to put a lot of trust in yourself. Which makes them difficult. We are our own worst critics and doubters. Anytime I’m creating a recipe it almost always comes out amazing the first time. And I think it’s because the first time, I’m not following a concrete recipe. I’m seeing how it goes as I feel the dough.
The second time through, I’m trying to follow my own recipe to the tee, making sure I’ve gotten everything down right. This always leads to me ignoring my instincts. I can feel the dough is smooth and elastic already even though I’ve only been kneading the dough for 3 minutes instead of 5. But I continue because the first time I kneaded the dough for 5 minutes.
Rising time is another component I over think. The second time I made these 45 minutes came and half the rolls looked ready to bake and the other half still hadn’t raised enough. Even though they were both set to rise in the same place, with the same temperature.
Yeast is a living organism. And just like people, you’ll never get the same result twice. It requires you to read and feel the situation and use your best judgment, even with the most tried and true recipes out there.
Taking pictures while baking yeast bread also complicates matters. I was ready to make another batch of these. But even though they didn’t turn out as fluffy and airy as the first time, they are still, according to my sister, the best rolls she’s ever had.
And that’s the beautiful part about making your own rolls. Even if everything doesn’t go perfect, they still end up blowing everything else out of the water.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and trust in your abilities to get everything done!
Other Thanksgiving Sides
Want some other ideas on what to serve with these Sage and Brown Butter Honey Rolls? Here are some of the recipes I’m making for Thanksgiving:
- Vegetarian Mushroom Gravy
- Cornbread and Cranberry Vegetarian Stuffing
- Cranberry Pomegranate Sauce with Apple Cider
- Creamy Garlic Cauliflower Potato Mash
Sage and Brown Butter Honey Rolls
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, separated into three 1/4 cup portions
- 9 sage leaves
- 1 and 1/4 cups whole milk
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 3 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon Morton Kosher Salt
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons honey, separated
- 1 egg, room temperature and lightly beaten
- flaky sea salt
- Place 1/4 cup butter and 3 sage leaves in a small or medium skillet over medium heat. Let the butter melt and then turn the heat to medium-low. Stir frequently until the butter starts to foam, turn a dark gold color, and smells nutty. About 7 to 10 minutes. Pour browned butter into a small bowl, remove the sage leaves, and let the butter come to room temperature.
- In a small saucepan, heat the milk on medium-low until it’s almost simmering. Pour the milk into a bowl and let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes (you want the temperature between 105 and 110 Fahrenheit).
- Add the yeast to the milk and stir. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, melted browned butter, 1/4 cup honey, and egg together with a spoon or fork. Add the milk and yeast mixture and stir together until it forms a dough.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for 5 to 8 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic. Keep lightly dusting the counter with flour if needed. Just be aware though that the more flour you use, the tougher your rolls will be.
- Put the dough in an oiled bowl, turn it to coat the other side, and cover with a clean towel. Let it sit in a warm place for 1 hour, until it has doubled in size.
- While the dough rises, brown the other 1/4 cup butter and 3 sage leaves. Pour into a bowl, remove the sage leaves, and set aside.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Gently punch down the center of the dough and pour it out onto a lightly floured surface.
- Roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it’s 1/4-inch thick.
- Use a 2 and 1/2 to 3-inch biscuit cutter to cut the dough into rounds.
- Take a round and brush with the browned butter. Use the dull edge of a knife to make an off-center crease in the round. Fold so the large half overlaps the shorter edge. Repeat until all the rounds are folded. You can reform any extra dough into a ball, roll it out, and cut more rounds.
- Place the rolls on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them 2 inches apart.
- If you are making these a day or two ahead of dinner, you can refrigerate the dough right after shaping for up to 18 hours. Take the rolls out of the fridge an hour and a half before you want to bake them, removing the plastic wrap and covering the rolls with a towel.
- Cover the rolls loosely with a towel and let them rise in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes, until they are double the size.
- If you are freezing the rolls, let them rise only part way, till they are only just starting to puff out, about 10 to 15 minutes. Wrap the rolls up tightly on the baking sheet with plastic wrap and foil and freeze up to 3 weeks. The day before you want to bake the rolls, transfer the baking sheet to the refrigerator to thaw overnight. About an hour before you want to bake the rolls, remove the foil and plastic wrap and let the rolls sit in a warm place loosely covered with a towel for an hour until the rolls have expanded and are double their original size.
- While the rolls rise, brown the last 1/4 cup of butter with 3 sage leaves. Pour the browned butter into a bowl, take out the sage leaves, and mix in 2 tablespoons honey, and a pinch of Morton Kosher Salt.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the rolls have doubled in size, lightly brush the tops with the browned butter-honey mixture and sprinkle with some flaky sea salt.* Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
- Once the rolls are out of the oven, brush them again with the browned butter-honey mixture.
- To freeze the fully baked rolls, let them cool completely and then wrap them up tight in aluminum foil and place them in a zip-lock bag in the freezer. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Take the rolls out of the freezer and ziplock bag and loosen the foil. Place the aluminum package directly on the oven racks and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the rolls are hot and warmed through. You can also let the rolls thaw out at room temperature overnight in the loosened aluminum package and then reheat them briefly for 10 minutes in a 300 degree Fahrenheit oven.