This easy recipe for 100% whole wheat rolls results in soft, tender, fluffy homemade rolls that are packed full of whole grains and kissed with honey.
Not only are these Whole Wheat Rolls made with 100% whole wheat flour and naturally sweetened, but they also happen to be dairy-free and egg-free as well.
The Best Homemade Whole Wheat Rolls
This recipe proves that soft, fluffy whole wheat rolls do exist!
I took my recipe for Whole Wheat Bread and turned it into a recipe for the most flavorful whole wheat rolls you will ever enjoy. No scratch that--this recipe produces the best dinner rolls PERIOD!
These rolls are dairy-free and egg-free, but they are richly flavored with sweet honey and rich olive oil. And despite being made with 100% whole grains, they are light and tender. They truly are my favorite recipe for rolls EVER!
Ingredients For Wheat Rolls
- Whole Wheat Flour: This recipe has been perfected using whole wheat flour, yet with a few tips you can still have light and fluffy rolls using 100% whole wheat flour.
- Olive Oil: Be sure to use extra virgin olive oil for a roll that is moist, tender, and full of flavor.
- Honey: The honey will help to flavor and sweeten the rolls and activate the yeast.
- Vital Wheat Gluten: This may sound like an oddball, but trust me it makes a WORLD of difference when making whole wheat bread and wheat rolls. Wheat flour does not have the same amount of gluten that white flour has, and without the addition of vital wheat gluten, whole wheat rolls can become very dense and heavy. This ingredient makes all the difference!
- Yeast: Be sure to use instant dry yeast and check to see that it is not expired.
- Butter (optional): I know what you are thinking--How can you have dairy-free rolls with butter? And the butter is NOT necessary, but I highly recommend brushing the baked rolls with melted vegan or regular butter for additional richness.
How to Make Whole Wheat Rolls
Step One: Bloom the Yeast
- Sprinkle yeast over warm water that is between 100-110 degrees F. If the water is colder the yeast will not activate and if any warmer and the yeast will be killed.
- Add the honey and give the mixture a quick stir and let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes, or until foam or bubbles form on top of the water.
If for some reason your mixture does not foam, start the process over again. It may be that your yeast was expired or you used water that was too hot or too cold.
Step Two: Prepare Dough
- Once the yeast has bloomed, add oil to the yeast mixture and mix well.
- In a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, combine 2 cups of flour, salt, and vital wheat gluten.
- Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and mix together with a wooden spoon or dough hook on a stand mixer, until the dough comes together and easily pulls away from the edges of the mixing bowl and the dough is smooth. If you notice that the dough is too sticky, add 1 tablespoon more flour at a time, until the right consistency is reached.
Step Three: Knead the Dough
- To knead the dough, turn the stand mixer to medium-low and let the dough hook knead the dough for 5-10 minutes, or until the dough is elastic, shiny, and no longer sticky to the touch. Alternatively, you can knead the dough by hand. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Use your hands to fold the dough over itself again and again, until smooth and shiny. This will take anywhere from 10-15 minutes.
Step Four: Proof the Dough
- Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let rise until double. This can take anywhere from an hour to ninety minutes, depending on the temperature and humidity of your house.
Step Five: Shape Rolls
- Once the dough has risen, remove it from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough out into a rectangle that is about ½ inch thick.
- Cut the dough into 12 equal sections.
- Gently roll each section into a ball to form a roll-like shape.
Step Six: Let Rise
- You can opt to place the shaped rolls onto a baking sheet spaced 2 inches apart or you can place the rolls into a greased 7x11 pan, spaced out evenly. Personally, I prefer using a 7x11 baking dish as placing the rolls into a small space causes them to push themselves upwards as they rise, keeping them a bit lighter in texture.
- Cover the rolls with a clean kitchen towel and let rise until doubled again in size. Again, this will take anywhere from one hour to ninety minutes depending on the temperature and humidity of your house.
Step Seven: Bake
- Once the rolls have risen again, bake until golden and the internal temperature of the rolls reaches around 190 degrees F. It is best to check on the rolls mid-way through baking, if you notice the rolls are browning on the top too quickly, cover them loosely with foil to prevent over-browning.
- Remove the rolls from the oven and brush with melted butter, if desired, and sprinkle with coarse salt if desired.
- Let rolls cool for 5-10 minutes and then serve.
How to Prevent Dense Rolls
The number one complaint about whole wheat rolls is that they can be dense. But if you follow my recipe and these tips, you will NOT have dense rolls.
- Measure the flour correctly. It is best to spoon the flour into a measuring cup instead of scooping the flour out directly with the measuring cup. Scooping the flour from the bag or canister with a measuring cup can result in an extra tablespoon or two of flour per cup.
- Use vital wheat gluten. The addition of vital wheat gluten is a game-changer when it comes to creating light wheat baked goods.
- Do not overwork the dough. You want to knead the dough until it just comes together, but is no longer sticky. If you knead the dough too long, you will develop too much gluten and that can result in tough rolls.
- Give the dough time to rise fully. The dough for homemade rolls needs to rise twice before baking. Each time the dough should double in size. While I can give you an estimated amount of time it takes to rise, it will vary based on the environment in your kitchen. Be sure to wait until the dough is fully doubled before proceeding with the next step.
Storing Homemade Rolls
Because these rolls are made with 100% whole wheat and no preservatives, they will only keep at room temperature for 2 days in a sealed container. You can store the rolls for up to 5 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator or you can freeze the rolls after they have been baked and cooled for up to one month in a freezer-safe container.
Preparing Rolls In Advance
I love having frozen rolls stocked in my freezer to bake fresh as desired. Having frozen wheat rolls on hand is a simple, hands-off way to enjoy freshly baked rolls whenever the craving strikes.
- Prepare rolls up to through shaping.
- Once the rolls are shaped, place them onto a baking sheet and freeze until solid. This will keep the rolls from sticking together in the freezer.
- Once the outside of the rolls is frozen solid, place them into a freezer-safe bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months.
- To prepare rolls from frozen, remove as many rolls as desired from the freezer. Place them on a baking sheet, cover them with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap, and allow the rolls to thaw and rise until double in size. This will take 5-8 hours depending on the temperature of your house.
- Once doubled in size, bake as directed.
Bread Machine Directions
Making whole wheat rolls is even easier if you happen to have a bread machine.
- Add the warm water, oil, honey, flour, salt, and wheat gluten to the pan fitted in the bread machine, in the order suggested per your model.
- Make a well in the ingredients and add in the yeast.
- Set the bread machine to the dough setting.
- Once the cycle is complete, shape the dough into a rectangle and cut it into 12 rolls.
- Cover the rolls with a clean towel and let the rise rolls again.
- Bake according to the recipe directions.
These dairy-free, egg-free homemade wheat rolls complement any family meal well and are a must-make for Holiday Meals alongside Brined Turkey and Instant Pot Honey Baked Ham.
I especially love pairing these rolls with soups and stews like Instant Pot Beef Stew, Vegetable Beef Soup, or Broccoli Cheddar Soup.
More Homemade Bread and Dough Recipes
- Homemade Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
- Homemade Italian Bread
- Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread
- Honey Whole Wheat Bread
- Homemade Garlic Toast
- Cranberry Walnut Bread
If you enjoyed this recipe for whole wheat rolls, I would love for you to leave a comment and review below.
Whole Wheat Rolls
- ¾ cup warm water 100-110 degrees F
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 to 2 ¼ cups 100% whole wheat flour
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tablespoon butter or vegan butter melted
- coarse salt
- Mix together water, yeast and honey, Set aside for minutes, or until the mixture gets creamy and a bit bubbly. If the mixture does not bubble, your water may have been too hot or cold or your yeast was bad and you must start over.
- Once the yeast mixture has become foamy, add the oil to the water mixture.
- In a separate large bowl, mix together 2 cups of flour, vital wheat gluten, and salt.
- Make a well in the flour mixture and pour in the water mixture. Stir together with a wooden spoon or paddle mixer on a stand mixer until dough just comes together and easily pulls away from the edges of the mixing bowl. If you notice if the dough is too sticky, add 1 tablespoon more flour at a time, until the right consistency is reached.
- At this point, change the paddle mixer for the dough hook and knead the dough for 5-7 minutes, or until the dough is soft and just pulls away easily from the mixing bowl. Alternatively, knead by hand until the dough is soft but not sticky.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place it into an oiled bowl and cover it with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Once the dough has doubled, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Shape the dough into a rectangle about ½ inch thick and then cut into 12 equal rectangles. Shape each rectangle into a ball and place each ball into the greased or buttered 7x11 or 9x13 baking dish, evenly spaced apart.
- Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise until doubled again, about 60-90 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Bake the risen rolls for 18-20 minutes or until browned and an internal temperature of rolls reads 190 degrees. Check on the rolls after 12 minutes of baking, and loosely cover with foil if browning too quickly.
- Remove rolls from oven and place pan on wire cooling rack. Let cool for 5 minutes and then brush with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse salt if desired.
The instructions were so easy to follow and they turned out perfectly! Will be making these rolls a lot in our future!
This is my go-to recipe for rolls, everyone loves them! They come out fluffy every time. Thank you for this perfect recipe!
I served these rolls with gravy and they were perfect so light and airy, I loved this recipe, the perfect guilt-free dinner roll recipe!
I really like the taste of these rolls. I forgot to make the temperature of the water 100-110 degrees and my rolls didn't rise as they should have (and i had to add more flour) but the taste was out of this world. These are my new dinner rolls - healthy and relatively easy to make! Thanks for the recipe! Barbie
Hi. I'm not a big fan of rolls that are too fluffy, what do you suggest I doo when I make these to make them a bit more dense??
Hi Kim! I would leave out the vital wheat gluten--that should help get the texture you are looking for.
Thanks for letting me know. However I've just discovered I only have wholemeal self raising flour and normal all purpose flour, do you think I could still make these?
I have dried yeast and as you suggested above I will leave out the vital wheat gluten as I cant find that here in Melbourne Australia anyway.
Hi Kim! I would use all-purpose flour--that will work perfectly. Enjoy
Can I omit the honey ?
Yes you can!
These are beautiful rolls. Soft and pillowy. Everyone in my family loves them!
YAY! That makes me so happy Renee! I am so glad you all enjoyed
There is nothing better than a soft and fluffy roll! I've only ever made white dinner rolls, but were so yummy!
I am so glad you enjoyed Kelly!
I don't want whole wheat, can I substitute bread flour?
Hi Shirley, I have not tried this recipe with all purpose flour. I would assume it would work, but you will not need vital wheat gluten and you may need slightly more flour. If you try it, please let us know how it goes.
Hi there... wondering what to use other than vital wheat Gluten?
Hi Van! You can use 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice for similar results.