Vegan dinner rolls - these delicious milk bread rolls are super soft, fluffy and delicious. They are perfect for serving as a side, with soup or for making sandwiches.
The tangzhong method helps to keep them soft for days without needing to add lots of fat. Don't worry, it's really easy!
These vegan dinner rolls are based on my popular vegan Hokkaido milk bread recipe, which is the softest, fluffiest, most delicious bread you will ever eat!
It works great as rolls; they are soft and tender with a delicious buttery, slightly sweet flavour.
These rolls are really versatile and can be served alongside lots of different meals, use them to make sandwiches or you could even use this recipe to make burger buns or hot dog rolls.
What Is Tangzhong?:
Tangzhong is basically where you take a portion of the flour and liquid of the recipe and mix them together like a roux, then cook it until it forms a thick, pudding-like texture. This mixture is then cooled and added to the bread dough.
This technique pre-gelatinises the starches in the flour which means that they can absorb more water. In fact, flour will absorb twice as much hot water or milk as it does the lukewarm water or milk you would usually use in yeasted doughs.
Not only does the starch in the flour absorb more liquid; since heating the starch with water creates structure, it is able to hold onto that extra liquid throughout the kneading, baking, and cooling processes. This means that the bread will rise higher due to more water creating more internal steam (which makes bread rise in the oven — along with the carbon dioxide given off by the yeast)
Because the bread retains more water during baking, it will be softer and more moist and stay fresh for longer.
What Do I Need To Make Vegan Dinner Rolls?:
Bread flour: White bread flour helps to give these rolls their soft, fluffy, chewy texture. Plain (all-purpose) flour will also work though the texture isn't quite the same. I don't recommend using wholemeal flour as that will make the bread too dense.
Instant/fast action yeast: I always prefer to use fast action yeast when making bread as it can just be added straight to the flour and doesn't need to be activated first. See below for instructions if you only have active dry yeast.
Salt: You simply cannot make good bread without salt. Don't omit it.
Non-dairy milk: Soy milk is always my favourite for baking as it has the highest protein content so most closely resembles dairy milk. Any variety of non-dairy milk will work however, but go for an unsweetened one if you can.
Sugar: I use caster sugar in the dough as it dissolves easily; it can be swapped for granulated if that is all you have.
Vegan butter: While in most cases I only recommend using a block butter for baking, in this case a tub variety is fine as well (but not one of the low-fat ones!). I used Flora Original.
How To Make Vegan Dinner Rolls:
(Full measurements and instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of the page)
To make the tangzhong, place the flour in a saucepan and gradually whisk in the milk to avoid lumps.
Place the pan over a medium/low heat and whisk constantly until the mixture has thickened to a paste/pudding-like consistency.
Scrape the tangzhong into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and pour the rest of the cold milk on top. This will cool the tangzhong down so that it doesn't kill the yeast.
Add sugar, salt and flour and finally the yeast. Stir until it forms a rough dough then set the stand mixer to a medium speed and mix until the dough is smooth and stretchy.
Add the softened vegan butter and knead for about another 5 minutes until it is fully incorporated and the dough is smooth, elastic and no longer feels greasy.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and place in the fridge to rise overnight, or in a warm spot for 1-2 hours.
How To Shape The Rolls:
Punch down the dough and give it a brief 30 second knead to knock out the air bubbles.
Divide the dough into 9 equal pieces (or 12 for smaller rolls) and roll each one into a ball.
You can either simply shape the dough portions into classic round buns, or follow my intructions to make taller buns with a more pull-apart texture.
Roll each ball out into a rough oval, fold one third of the oval over the middle (from the side, not the top), then the other third over the top to form a long, narrow packet.
Roll over the seam to flatten it, then roll it up tightly from one end to make a fat sausage. Repeat with the other balls of dough then arrange them in the tin.
Cover the tin and set aside to rise for 45-60 minute until puffy.
Brush gently with milk then bake for about 30 minutes.
As with all of my baking recipes I really do recommend using the metric measurements with a digital scale rather than the cup conversions. Cups are a wildly inaccurate measuring system and you will get far better, more consistent results using a scale, not to mention that it is also easier and less messy than cups!
This recipe will make 9 large rolls, or 12 smaller ones.
I bake them in a 23 cm/9 in square tin but you can also use a larger 23 x 33 cm/9 x 13 in one and space them further apart. In this case they will likely bake a bit quicker, about 20-25 minutes.
The shaping method I use makes taller rolls with a more flaky texture. You can also simply shape them into balls if you prefer though.
The rolls would be great brushed with garlic butter when they come out of the oven.
Make sure that your yeast isn't out of date! Old yeast can lead to bread that doesn’t rise.
The amount of flour needed may vary a bit as different brands absorb different amounts of liquid and the weather can also affect it. Start with the quantity given in the recipe and add a little more as needed if the dough is too wet. This is meant to be a soft sticky dough however, so don’t add too much as that will make the bread dry.
If you want, you can give the dough it’s first rise overnight in the fridge rather than at room temperature. This breaks up the workload and gives the bread an even better flavour.
The rising time of the dough will vary depending on how warm it is; on hot days it will rise much faster than on cold ones. If you refrigerate the dough for it's first rise, the second rise will take longer than if it's first rise was at room temperature.
Can I Knead The Dough By Hand?:
This is a fairly soft, sticky dough so it is easier to use a stand mixer to do the kneading for you but yes, you absolutely can knead the dough by hand, just be prepared for a bit of a workout!
When kneading, you shouldn't flour the surface as you will end up incorporating too much flour and making the dough too dry. Instead, if the dough is sticking too much, you can lightly oil the worksurface and your hands to help, or just be prepared to get a bit sticky!
A bench scraper is incredibly handy when kneading dough by hand to unstick the dough from the surface.
What Kind Of Yeast?:
I always use instant yeast when I am baking bread as it doesn’t need to be activated in liquid first, you can just add it straight to the flour. I highly recommend buying instant yeast if possible.
If you are only able to get active dry yeast then you can still use it but the method will be a little different.
Use 10g (3 tsp) of active dry yeast. Make the tanghong as directed, but then scrape it into a bowl, cover with clingfilm or greaseproof paper directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and leave to cool to room temperature.
Instead of using cold milk in the dough, it should be lukewarm, NOT hot. You should be able to comfortably hold your finger in it. If it is too hot it will kill the yeast.
Mix the active dry yeast with the lukewarm milk and a pinch of the sugar. Let it sit for 10-20 minutes until it has become bubbly then proceed with the rest of the recipe as written.
How To Speed Up The Rising Time:
If your room temperature is cold and you want to speed up the rising time a bit then you can heat the oven up on it’s lowest temperature for a couple of minutes then switch it off and open the door for 30 seconds to let some of the heat out.
Hold your hand in there for a few seconds to make sure it isn’t too hot. It should feel warm but not hot, like a warm summer day kind of temperature. If it is too hot it will kill the yeast so be careful!
Place the covered dough in the oven and shut the door. If it is a really cold day then you may need to warm the oven up again after a while but I usually find that once is enough.
Alternatively, place a bowl or loaf tin in the bottom of your (cold, switched off) oven and place the covered dough on the middle shelf. Fill the bowl with boiling water and close the oven door. The steam will create a warm environment for the dough to rise.
How To Tell When The Bread Is Baked:
The best way to tell if bread is baked properly is to check the internal temperature with a probe thermometer. It should reach at least 90°C/194°F.
Overbaked bread will be dry and if it is under-baked then you will be eating raw dough, yuck! It is impossible to give a one-size-fits-all baking time as all ovens vary.
I really do recommend investing in a probe thermometer, it is an incredibly handy kitchen tool!
If you don’t have a thermometer then the rolls should sound hollow when you tap them on the bottom, or a toothpick inserted into the centre of a roll should go in and out smoothly with little resistance and come out clean.
How To Store These Vegan Dinner Rolls:
While these vegan dinner rolls are best on the day they are baked, the tangzhong helps to keep them soft for 2-3 days.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature. You may wish to re-warm them in a low oven before serving.
Can I Freeze Them?:
Yes, any leftover rolls can be frozen. Freeze them on the day that they are baked to preserve freshness but make sure that they have cooled completely first.
Freeze them in an airtight container or ziplock bag. Allow to defrost at room temperature then refresh them in a low oven before serving.
Can I Make Them Gluten-Free?:
No, I’m afraid that you cannot use gluten free flour. Making gluten free bread is tricky and the entire recipe would need reworking. Gluten free baking is not my area of expertise so I cannot advise you.
It is best to use a recipe that is designed to be gluten free rather than trying to adapt a non gluten free recipe.
More Vegan Sharing Bread Recipes:
- Herby vegan breadsticks
- Sun dried tomato breadsticks
- Vegan garlic dough balls
- Vegan pretzel bites
- Vegan garlic pull apart bread
- Vegan pesto bread
- Vegan beer pretzels
- Sea salt and rosemary focaccia
- Vegan naan bread
- Easy flatbreads
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Vegan Dinner Rolls
- 30 g (¼ cup) white bread flour
- 160 g (⅔ cup) unsweetened non-dairy milk (soy is best)
- 180 g (¾ cup) cold unsweetened non-dairy milk (soy is best)
- 30 g (2 Tablespoons) caster or granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 400 g (3 ¼ cups) white bread flour
- 8 g (1 ½ teaspoons) instant yeast
- 45 g (3 Tablespoons) vegan butter softened
- To make the tangzhong, place the flour in a saucepan and gradually whisk in the milk to avoid lumps.
- Place the pan over a medium/low heat and whisk constantly until the mixture has thickened to a paste/pudding-like consistency.
- Scrape the tangzhong into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and pour the rest of the cold milk on top. This will cool the tangzhong down so that the heat doesn’t kill the yeast.
- Add the sugar, salt and flour and finally the yeast. Stir until it forms a rough dough then set the stand mixer to a medium speed and mix until the dough is smooth and stretchy, this can take about 10 minutes.
- Add the vegan butter and knead for about another 5 minutes until it is fully incorporated and the dough is smooth, elastic and no longer feels greasy. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.
- The dough should still be soft and sticky, but it should pull away from the sides of the bowl cleanly. If it seems too wet then you can knead in a little extra flour, a tablespoon at a time. Be careful though, this is meant to be a soft dough and adding too much extra flour will make the bread dry.
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and place in the fridge to rise overnight, or in a warm spot for 1-2 hours, until doubled in size.
- The following day (or once the dough has doubled in size at room temperature), knock back the dough and give it a brief 30 second knead to knock out the air bubbles. Line a 23 cm/9 in square tin with baking parchment.
- Divide the dough into 9 or 12 even pieces and shape each one into a ball. You can either arrange them in the tin now, or follow the shaping instructions below for rolls shaped like the ones in the photos.
- Roll each ball out into a long oval, fold one third of the oval over the middle (from the side, not the top), then the other third over the top to form a long, narrow packet.
- Roll over the seam to flatten it, then roll it up tightly from one end to make a fat sausage. Repeat with the other balls of dough then arrange them in the tin, seam side down.
- Loosely cover and leave to rise until puffy, about 45-60 minutes. If you gently press the dough with your finger it should spring back slowly, and maybe leave a slight indentation. If it springs back quickly then it needs a little longer, and if the dough deflates then it is over-prooved so keep an eye on it!
- When the bread is nearly ready, preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/gas mark 4.
- Gently brush any exposed dough with a little milk, then bake the rolls for 30 minutes. They should be deep golden and a probe thermometer inserted into the centre should reach at least 90°C/194°F.*
- Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then carefully lift it out onto a wire rack and leave to cool for about 30 minutes before serving.
- See post above for tips, details and step-by-step photos. If you have a question I may have already answered it above!
- As with all of my baking recipes I really do recommend using the metric measurements with a digital scale rather than the cup conversions. Cups are a wildly inaccurate measuring system and you will get far better, more consistent results using a scale, not to mention that it is also easier and less messy than cups!
- I find it easier to weigh out the liquid ingredients using my scale, which is why I have given the amounts in grams. The quantity is the same if using a measuring jug (160ml milk for the tangzhong and 180ml for the dough).
- *If you don’t have a thermometer then a toothpick inserted into the centre of a roll should go in and out smoothly with little resistance and come out clean.