Published Sep 13, 2023
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Warm, buttery, and delicious: this crescent roll recipe makes baking a batch of homemade crescent rolls quick and easy. These golden brown dinner rolls are brushed with melted butter, sprinkled with salt, and are perfect for your next Sunday supper or holiday gathering.
A plate of homemade crescent rolls is the first thing to disappear from the dinner table. When these warm, soft, buttery rolls are pulled from the oven, the aroma alone is enough to bring everyone to the table.
If you’re used to popping open a can of Pillsbury crescent rolls for holiday dinners, then you’re going to love this crescent roll recipe that’s just as easy as everyone’s favorite quick dinner rolls. The steps for making these rolls are easy, and crescent rolls freeze well, so you can make them ahead of time and bake them in minutes.
Crescent rolls vs croissants
Crescent rolls and croissants share the same half-moon shape, but they are actually pretty different. The main difference between the two comes down to how they are made. Croissants are made by using lamination, which is the process of rolling butter into layers of dough to form a super flakey texture. Lamination is also what makes croissants a pastry, rather than a soft, doughy bread like crescent rolls.
How to Make It
- Make the dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand, then add butter, salt, and flour. Mix on low until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Proof. Let the dough rise for about 20 minutes.
- Roll and shape. Form dough into a ball and cut into quarters. Roll each ball into a circle and slice into 8 even triangles, like you’re slicing a pizza. Starting at the outside of the circle, roll each triangle towards the center.
- Second proof. Place the crescent rolls on a baking sheet and allow the rolls to rise for about 20 minutes.
- Bake. Bake for 13-15 minutes. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with salt before serving.
- Warm Water – The best temperature for activating yeast is between 110 degrees F/45 degrees C and 115 degrees F/45 degrees C. Use a thermometer to get just the right temperature.
- Instant or “fast-acting” yeast – Instant yeast is easy to use. If the dough isn’t rising, the yeast could be expired. Always check the yeast package before using.
- Sugar – A bit of sugar helps to activate the yeast.
- Unsalted Butter – Soften the butter to room temperature so that it easily integrates into the dough.
- Kosher Salt – To bring the flavors together.
- All-Purpose Flour – All-purpose flour is all you need in this easy crescent roll recipe.
- Unsalted Butter – Use melted, unsalted butter to give freshly baked crescent rolls a glossy finish, and a delicious taste.
- Sea Salt Flakes – Maldon is my go-to for flaked salt.
How to Store
Homemade crescent rolls will disappear before your eyes, but if you have leftovers, store them in a sealed container at room temperature. They will keep for 3 to 4 days.
How to Freeze
The trick to freezing these rolls is to freeze them on a baking sheet first. Once they are frozen, transfer to a plastic bag and return to the freezer. When you’re ready to serve, defrost at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to baking.
- Use a thermometer to check the water temperature before adding it to the yeast. If the water is over 117 degrees F/47 degrees C, it will kill the yeast.
- Cut the dough with a pizza cutter for uniform triangle pieces.
- Make them sweet – Cinnamon sugar crescent rolls make breakfast or brunch a little sweeter. Before shaping the dough into rolls, sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar for a tasty treat.
- Add cheese – For extra savoriness, add homemade or store-bought Italian seasoning, garlic or onion salt, and Parmesan, Pecorino Romano, or Asiago cheese.
Flakey, buttery crescent rolls go well with so many types of meals. Try this crescent roll recipe with roast chicken or pot roast, or any hearty dinner that includes a sauce or gravy. Homemade crescent rolls also go great with special occasions like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or a New Year’s Day brunch. Planning a weekend brunch? The rolls’ pull-apart shape makes them perfect with jams and jellies too.
The easiest way to make crescent rolls into rolls is to think of the rolled out, circle-shaped dough like a pizza. Once you have your flat pizza shape, simply cut the circle into 8 even triangles, then roll the triangle from the outer pizza “crust” to the center. Viola!
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Crescent Rolls Recipe
- Stand Mixer
- Half Sheet Pan
- Rolling Pin
- Sharp Knife or Pizza Cutter
- 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
- 1 tablespoon instant or "fast-acting" yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 cups all-purpose flour (500 grams)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (40 grams)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes, like Maldon
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, stir together the warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes.
- To the yeast mixture, add the butter, salt, and 2 cups of the flour. Mix on low-speed until the ingredients begin to come together. Still on low-speed, add 1 cup of the remaining flour and mix for 1 minute. Add the remaining 1 cup flour. Mix on low-speed until the final addition of flour is fully incorporated into the dough. Increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. (Resist the urge to add additional flour unless the dough still refuses to come together after a couple minutes of kneading. The dough will still be slightly sticky, but you will know it is ready when it starts to make a slapping sound as it hits the sides of the bowl.) Remove the bowl from the mixer and cover it with a dish towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 20 minutes.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and form it into an even ball. Using a serrated knife, cut the dough into quarters. Roll each ball of dough into a rough circle about 15 inches in diameter (no need to be too precise). Using a pizza cutter or knife, slice the circle into 8 even triangles. Starting at the widest end, gently roll each triangle up into a crescent shape. Place 1-inch apart on two lightly greased baking sheets.
- Set the baking sheets aside and let the rolls rise while your oven is preheating to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) – about 20 minutes.
- Lightly brush the rolls with about half of the melted butter before baking. Bake until golden brown, 13-15 minutes. Immediately after removing the rolls from the oven, brush them with the remaining melted butter and sprinkle with salt. Serve immediately.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.