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Soft Yogurt Sandwich Rolls

Soft Yogurt Sandwich Rolls

One of my favorite parts about breads – especially homemade bread – is the crispy crust that forms in the oven, but a crispy-crust bread isn’t always ideal for all applications. Sandwiches and hamburgers, for instance, usually do better with something a little softer. I love my standard hamburger bun recipes, but lately, I’ve been on a bit of a mission to come up with a new recipe for soft sandwich rolls that keep well and don’t involve a ton of fat (since, if I wanted my sandwich on challah or brioche, I could always just go with that to begin with).

I decided to experiment with yogurt in my bread because it often contributes a nice tenderness to baked goods. It didn’t take long for me to realize that yogurt was a very good idea. The rolls turned out to be soft and moist on the inside, with a soft crust – a classic sandwich roll-type crust that is easy to bite into and doesn’t shatter into a million crumbs with each bite. The crumb of the bread is open enough to soak up juice from, say, a nice piece of hot roast beef, but is sturdy enough to hold your average cold sandwich – with mayo and mustard – for hours without getting soggy. They have a very mild, slightly sweet flavor that will go with any filling you might come up with.

I feel that I should also note that there is no dairy in these rolls other than the yogurt, and this makes them a great choice if you (or the person you’re baking for) are lactose intolerant. The bacteria used to turn milk to yogurt feed off lactose, so it shouldn’t upset any stomachs, while still giving you the soft texture and nice flavor of your average made-with-butter-and-milk soft sandwich roll.

The amount of flour you need will depend completely on how thick your yogurt is, so don’t worry if you don’t use the exact amount I’ve specified below. I used my go-to yogurt of choice: a thick, nonfat, Greek-style yogurt. It is about 50% thicker thick than your average plain yogurt and has a nice tang to it. The tanginess doesn’t really translate straight to the rolls, much like using buttermilk in a bread or cake doesn’t leave you with the sharp tang of buttermilk – however, both add tenderness to the finished products.

The rolls can be cut in half to make dinner rolls, too. You will probably have to cut the baking time down by 5 minutes if you chose to go this route. Fortunately color is a reliable indicator of doneness for these, so just take a peek in the oven every now and again and you should be fine. The rolls will keep for a couple of days when stored in an airtight container, so if you bake a batch on Sunday, they should still be just fine for sandwiches on Tuesday or Wednesday. I can’t guarantee they’ll last that long, since they’re also excellent with butter and jam and make a nice addition to breakfast, as well.

Soft Yogurt Sandwich Rolls, interior shot

Soft Yogurt Sandwich Rolls
3 1/2 – 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp active dry yeast
3 tbsp honey
1 cup water, warm (100-110F)
1 cup yogurt (nonfat/lowfat is fine; I used Greek-style)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp salt

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup flour, the active dry yeast, the honey and the warm water. Stir well and let sit for 10 minutes, until slightly foamy.
Stir in yogurt, vegetable oil, salt and 2 cups of the remaining flour. Gradually stir in more flour until you have a soft dough that sticks together pulls away from the sides of the bowl (This can all be done in a stand mixer with the dough-hook attached, as well).
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding additional flour if necessary to prevent sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic, or about 5 minutes. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Turn risen dough out of bowl and onto a lightly floured surface. Gently deflate, pressing into a rectangle. Divide dough into 10 even pieces with a board scraper or a pizza cutter. Shape each piece into a round roll. To do this, take all the corners of one of the squarish pieces you just cut and pull them together, pinching them to create a seal. This will pull the rest of the dough “tight” across the top of your roll, giving you a smooth top. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
Once all rolls have been formed, press down firmly on each one to flatten. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise for 25 minutes.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until rolls are deep golden on the top and the bottom.
Cool on a wire rack.
Store in an airtight container.

Makes 10 rolls.

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84 Comments
  • Rachel
    April 21, 2008

    These look great – possibly my next baking project! Do you think a partial whole wheat flour substitution would work?

  • Nicole
    April 21, 2008

    Rachel – You’re going to get a coarser texture with whole wheat, but the rolls should still taste good. I would try subbing in 1 cup of whole wheat and seeing how the resulting rolls turn out. If you can find white whole wheat flour, try using that. It should give you a finer texture than regular whole wheat and you’ll probably be able to use a greater proportion of it.

  • Rachel
    April 21, 2008

    Sounds great! I’ll see how it goes. Thanks!

  • These look wonderful! Yet another recipe from your blog I’ll have to try! My favorite place, lately!

  • Lisa in Poland
    April 22, 2008

    Oh! I need to make these! I don’t quite understand the direction “Shape each piece into a round roll, pinching the edges together and pulling one side of the dough β€œtight” across the top.” Would it be possible for you to clarify a little? These look so delicious, and pretty simple. A definite must make!!

  • Hannah
    April 22, 2008

    These sound so tasty.
    Quite low in fat too.
    Thanks for the great recipe.

  • Laura
    April 22, 2008

    Those look great! Do you think sour cream might be a good substitution for the yogurt? I don’t usually buy plain yogurt since all I can find are the huge tubs.

  • Erika
    April 22, 2008

    These look great! I made soup last night and I was wishing I had something like this to go along with it!

  • Karina
    April 22, 2008

    I have soft roll ENVY!

  • Mariah
    April 22, 2008

    OH my.

    I think I may have to buy a pork roast and bribe the neighbors to make BBQ pork if I make homemade rolls…..

    I bet these would be GREAT for BBQ sandwiches… *drools*.

  • brilynn
    April 22, 2008

    You’d think that with the warmer weather I’d be baking less bread but somehow the opposite is true. I’ll have to add these rolls to my ‘to-make’ list.

  • Patricia Scarpin
    April 22, 2008

    I love baking with yogurt, too, Nic. These look so tender, yum!

  • lyra
    April 22, 2008

    These look yummy. I just emailed the recipe to myself-a light fluffy roll is not something that I make very often, and I think now may be the time!

  • Hannah
    April 22, 2008

    I’m planning to make these today.
    But I was wondering if you think this recipe would work well as a loaf. I don’t make a lot of bread so I’m sure about the mechanics of it.
    Would this dough be too soft for a loaf?

  • Nicole
    April 22, 2008

    Hannah – You could certainly try it as a loaf. I’m not sure if the dough would be too big for a loaf pan, but you could always free-form it. Baking time will be significantly longer. Try 40 minutes to start and go from there, but be sure to look for a good color and use an instant-read thermometer to make sure the center of bread reaches about 200F. That’s how you’ll know it’s done.

  • Hannah
    April 23, 2008

    Thanks Nicole I think I’ll give it a shot. I made the rolls this afternoon. The kids are gobbling them up as I type. lol.
    They are fantastic. I am so excited I blogged them right away, I hope that’s okay?
    Thanks so much for the recipe, I’ll give the loaf a go and let you know how it turns out.

  • Catherine
    April 23, 2008

    Hi and thanks for this, I am going to give them a go. I will make the dough up in my Breadmaker and then transfer to my oven. The only question I have is that I am in the UK and when making bread here I would normally use Strong Flour that is specially for bread making but am not sure if this is what you would use Nicole. Many thanks.

  • Jeni
    April 23, 2008

    These look fantastic– perfect for this wet Edinburgh weather!

    Catherine, “all-purpose” flour in the States is the same as “plain” flour here. If a US recipe calls for “bread” flour, that’s “strong” flour here. Hope that helps!

  • Lynn Craig
    April 23, 2008

    These look great! I’m surprised that the yogurt didn’t give them a gummy texture. I love how fluffy they look. I’ll definitely have to try these.

    BTW – I use a Mac and Safari and your site won’t accept comments using that browser even when I change settings to accept all cookies. You might look into that. I switched to Firefox to submit this comment.

  • patsyk
    April 23, 2008

    I am printing this out right now! These look wonderful, and I would prefer to make sandwich rolls myself – that way I know what’s going in them!

  • rhyleysgranny
    April 23, 2008

    These look amazing. I am still reeling that you made them with all purpose/plain flour and not bread/strong flour. I have to go and try them now.

  • Catherine
    April 24, 2008

    Thanks Jeni!

  • Cath
    April 26, 2008

    How can I use fresh yeast instead of active dry yeast? Where I live I only find this type or baking powder! Do you think it’s possible make this bread anyway?

  • Kristin
    April 27, 2008

    Wow — great recipe! I made these with 2.5 c. all purpose flour, 1 c. whole wheat and 1/2 c. wheat bran, and they taste great! Lighter/softer than you’d expect for that mix of flours. Also very easy!

  • Leila
    April 29, 2008

    I just love your recipe specially because I don’t need to have a bread machine to make it. I made a yogurt brioche last saturday and I was so happy with the results and softness. I am sure I’ll like your rolls as well. Great Blog.

  • Heather
    May 2, 2008

    I made these yesterday and they are delicious! We used them last night for pulled pork and will use them again tonight for hamburgers. YUM!

  • Jana
    May 8, 2008

    Hi, I am a searcher of bread recipes — I liked this one, I am sure I will bake the rolls soon. The recipe sounds perfect to me- yoghurt, olive oil, yeast, flour… thank you.

  • Gina
    May 8, 2008

    Thanks so much for this excellent recipe. I haven’t had time to blog about them yet, but I made my first batch the other day using white whole wheat flour just for a little more nutrition and texture. They were quite good, and we’ve already devoured most of them making our sandwiches for lunch this week. I will definitely make them again, but maybe I’ll try the plain old white version next time! Thanks again!

  • Michelle
    May 9, 2008

    Love these rolls! I made them today and used them as buns for mini burgers. They were a perfect texture for that. I LOVED how silky smooth the dough was, and I was able to use my Kitchenaid for the whole mixing and kneading process. Great recipe!

  • Kristin
    May 12, 2008

    For more flour experimentation — I also just wanted to say that these work beautifully with spelt flour. I reduced the water to 3/4 c. and ended up using about 3-2/3 c. flour in total. The dough had that amazing spelt silkiness! It didn’t rise as high in the bowl, which is common with spelt, but the rolls had good loft.

  • Simran
    July 11, 2008

    I just tried these, and the rolls were simply delicious. Thanks for the recipe

  • nidhi
    August 3, 2008

    I have never baked in my life. I guess your sandwich rolls have motivated me enough to give it a try this time. Will let you know as an when I will post it.

  • nidhi
    August 19, 2008

    I had a doubt…I want to bake these in microwave oven… Which mode should I use?

    Thanks!

  • Zeze
    August 22, 2008

    My son in allergic to milk, can I make the same recipe without using yogurt.

  • Zeze
    August 23, 2008

    Well I made it without yogurt, and they turn out really nice and soft, its the best sandwich rolls I have ever made, thank u very much for this great recipe.

  • Pam
    September 3, 2008

    Thank you so much for the pulled pork and this recipe. I just made them for dinner. I had the pork already cooked/shredded so I threw together the sauce and simmered it. My gosh, SOOO good. I had a hard time keeping my daughter away, all she wanted was the rolls! And to Hannah, low fat yes, but not when slathered with butter! Thanks again, I’ve bookmarked you.

  • Pam
    September 3, 2008

    In my bedroom on my laptop and I just overheard the following conversation between my husband and daughter: “Know what I think?” “What?” “Your mom didn’t make enough buns.” πŸ˜€

  • lina
    September 6, 2008

    Nicole,

    The loaf I made using all purpose flour & yogurt was a flop. I added sweetened dried cranberries after the 1st proofing & kneaded it in for about 5 minutes. Both proofings were successful & the dough rose to twice its size.
    1st Problem: However, once cooled, the baked bread remained yellow. Was it the dried cranberries that caused the yellow color?
    2nd Problem: After cooling for about 3 hours, the sliced loaf was very dense even though it was thinly sliced.
    3rd Problem: I stored it in an airtight container overnight. Next morning, I took it out & it was less dense but tasted rather flourey. The yellow color turned me off and I threw the whole batch away. Sigh!
    I modified your recipe using the following measurements:
    All Purpose flour – 2 cups
    Yogurt – 125 grams
    Warm water – 1/2 cup
    Salt – 1 teaspoon
    Sugar – 1 Tablespoon, no honey in the kitchen so I used sugar instead.
    Active dry yeast – 2 teaspoons

    What did I do wrong? It was a total disaster.

  • Nicole
    September 7, 2008

    Lina – It’s actually really hard for me to say exactly what went wrong. I can say, however, that many bread recipes cannot be halved or modified and still come out properly. Since it sounds like the dough was successful (rising, etc), I’m thinking that something went wrong in the oven. Perhaps the temperature was off? No idea about a yellow color, aside from the usual golden brown tops. Sorry I can’t be more help!

  • Casey
    December 1, 2008

    To Lina,

    Most likely what went wrong in your soft rolls was the product of a couple of things:
    Since the dough was heavy, it probably wasn’t kneaded enough.
    The amount of flour will also contribute to this.
    The discoloration might be due to an imbalance in the proportion of ingredients or the type of yogurt. The cranberries would have contributed a pink cast, most likely not yellow. Try again using exactly the items and amounts specified in the recipe…Good luck!

  • Annie
    March 3, 2009

    I made these to use with French dip…SO amazingly good. I shaped them into mini loaves and had a little dough leftover, so I made some mini rolls for my 2 year old. YUM YUM YUM. I think I am going to replace my dinner roll recipe with this one. I will be sure to give you credit. πŸ™‚
    Thank you.

  • Elisabeth
    March 7, 2009

    Thank you for this recipe! I made them, dinner roll-size, to go with stew last weekend and they were wonderful. I’ve never used yogurt in bread before, but I really liked the results. Thank you!

  • Faye
    March 22, 2009

    Many thanks for this wonderful recipe! My three-year-old had a great time helping mommy make these today. We used our new stand mixer to put everything together. One change was that we were out of plain yogurt this week, but had plenty of sour cream. That substitution worked just great! We love this recipe!! πŸ™‚

  • Cathy
    April 2, 2009

    Oh my God, thank you SO much for posting this recipe! I just had my first roll ,still slightly warm from the oven. To die for! I just ate it plain, with butter. Not only are they soft and delicious, but they were so easy to make.

    We are going to be eating a LOT more sandwiches at my house! Thank you again!

  • Sarah
    April 5, 2009

    I made these the other day to go with a turkey dinner. They were fantastic! I got rave reviews from my family, plus they were excellent for turkey sandwiches for leftovers. Thanks for a great recipe, I’ll be sure to make it often.

  • Lisa Klow
    May 15, 2009

    These rolls are AWESOME. I like to make my own “Greek-style yogurt,” because whenever I’ve bought it, it tastes chalky. I drain Dannon plain full-fat yogurt in a sieve till the liquid drains out. I used a cup of that. These are so soft, so tasty, incredible. The best part: the dough freezes well (so they don’t go stale before we can eat them all). When I’m shaping them into buns, I put half of them onto a plastic-covered plate and into the freezer. Once frozen, I put them in a container (wrapped in the plastic I used on the plate). A week or two later, I thaw, coat them in some oil (they get dry sitting out rising), and bake. Just as awesome. My husband and I like to make our own chicken sandwiches with them (like Chik-Fil-A). They’re also good just plain. Thanks!!!!!

  • Marjorie Olsen
    June 24, 2009

    This looks like the recipe I’ve been hunting for, but printing it out wasted 7 piecesd of paper. Can’t you put in a printer friendly option?

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