Heavenly Oatmeal-Molasses Rolls

December 13, 2010

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes:

I wasn’t a bread maker before I joined Food52. I caught the bug after trying AntoniaJames’ Buttermilk Oatmeal bread. I’ve explored many different types of breads and rolls since then. This one is an adaptation of a recipe for oatmeal bread from the James Beard Foundation website, which I checked out after Stephanie Bourgeois’ cook spotlight. When I tried it, the subtle depth of flavor from the molasses really surprised me. Even if you aren’t an experienced bread maker, don’t fear. The steps are straightforward and the dough is a dream to handle (no kneading). It is also very flexible because the 1st rise in refrigerator can go as little as two hours to overnight. One of the changes I made is to really up the butter because I love buttery rolls! Rolling up each roll helps give a nice and shred-y texture when you pull the rolls apart. And don’t pass on brushing the baked rolls with butter after they come out of the oven. The smell of the hot rolls and butter is heavenly, hence the name. - monkeymom


Food52 Review: Monkeymom's supple, rich rolls have just a hint of sweetness to them -- they're chewy and tender and full of deep flavor from the molasses, but versatile enough to complement (rather than overwhelm) a variety of main dishes. We love the ease of the first refrigerator rise, and these are virtually guaranteed to come out looking beautiful, with their butter-slicked and oat-flecked tops. - A&MThe Editors

Serves: 8-12
Prep time: 2 hrs 30 min
Cook time: 40 min


  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup butter cut into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose or bread flour (up to 3 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing tops of rolls (up to 3 tablespoons)
In This Recipe


  1. Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar. Let stand until bubbly. If it doesn’t get bubbly, throw it out and get some new yeast.
  2. Scald milk then add it to the butter in your mixing bowl. When butter has melted, add brown sugar, rolled oats, molasses, and salt. Blend thoroughly and cool to lukewarm.
  3. Add egg and mix well. Add the yeast and mix to incorporate it. Then mix in 2 ½ cups of the flour. Add what you need to of the remaining ½ cup of flour until the dough loses its sheen. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Scrape the dough out of the mixing bowl and put it in a greased bowl. Turn to coat and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of two hours. It can sit overnight as well. It doesn't rise a lot.
  5. Turn out the chilled dough on a floured work surface and knead or fold and turn the dough slightly. Cut dough into 12 balls. Press each ball into a flat rectangle with your fingers, then roll up and tuck ends under. Place seam-side down in a well-buttered 9 inch round pan. Brush all over with ½ of melted butter and sprinkle with a little of the rolled oats. Let rise until doubled in size in a warm place, about two hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 350° F. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until rolls are nicely browned and sound hollow when you tap their tops. The internal temperature should be 190 degrees. Remove from the pans and brush generously with remaining melted butter. Let cool on a rack for 5-10 minutes.
  7. Serve warm…with salted butter!

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Reviews (217) Questions (8)

217 Reviews

bailboy February 12, 2019
These are unbelievable! I found the suggested proof times to be right on, but I had a brand new package of KA active dry yeast. These will be made many more times!.
Laura P. February 10, 2019
Absolutely delicious and a great flaky texture. Two comments: first, the total time should be four hours plus, not two; and second, dividing the dough into 12 makes quite large rolls - good for sandwiches but too large for dinner rolls. Next time, I’ll try making 18.
Lesley F. December 27, 2018
The rolls are flavorful, but the taste, lent by the molasses, is not too strong that it overpowers. My grateful family declared it one of my more successful bakes. I may try pairing them with a butternut squash soup.
Tampamanamy November 21, 2018
So why did the last article I read say this was a vegan recipe when it is clearly not?<br />Have some of you moms become so braindead you actually think just because there's no meat its vegan? Why did the last article I read have all these recipes for vegan Thanksgiving meals (that were all links to other recipes) when that's clearly misleading? Shows how much of the news is a complete lie.
N November 21, 2018
This is meant to be a supportive and positive community. Please refrain from offering insults to others. If it’s not something you eat, it’s easy to simply choose another recipe.
Rachel November 22, 2018
I had that thought too, so I went back and re-read the article about the vegan Thanksgiving menu. It says that you can make these rolls vegan by omitting the egg and substituting a vegan milk.
Author Comment
monkeymom November 22, 2018
What a bummer that food2 posted this in a vegan highlight! I am also terribly disappointed because these are NOT in any way vegan. They are full of butter so leaving out eggs will not help make it vegan.
Victoria November 10, 2018
Do you think these could be frozen?
Author Comment
monkeymom November 22, 2018
Yes! They can :)
Shawna L. February 21, 2018
These were divine! Beautiful colour and flavour from the molasses. A few notes - I thought they lacked salt but recognized my own error in using unsalted butter! Whoops. Used almond milk without a problem. <br /> Most of my oats came flying off the top during final buttering, so not sure what I could have done to make them stick. Finally, I found myself craving honey as soon as they enemtered my mouth so I might incorporate next time...<br />Worth the time and effort - enjoy!
Anne February 12, 2018
Can you use gluten free baking flour, the one to one sort?
Kt4 January 6, 2019
I too would like to know if anyone has done this.
Leslie June 20, 2017
Just made these for a big Iftar crowd, and they were a smash hit. Thank you so much for this! The recipe was so reliable, and I think my Egyptian friends had never tried a bread quite so American and cozy. Keep em coming!
Z January 27, 2017
Hello! Do you think I can add savoury ingredients to this recipe ( like cheese and olives)? I want to make a breakfast sort of bread. Thanks!
Christine January 27, 2017
The molasses in these rolls is fairly distinct and gives them a slightly sweet flavor, so I would be careful to make sure the whatever you add plays well with that flavor. You may want to try a Parker House roll or some other more neutral roll recipe.
Z January 27, 2017
Thank you so much Christine! I'll definitely try a more neutral roll 😊
Katherine C. November 26, 2016
Made these as directed for this Thanksgiving. With all the delicious offerings on our table this year, I think these simple rolls may have been my favorite thing. We're still working our way through leftovers and I've been trying to talk myself out of making another batch until we actually need them. I also can't wait to try this as a loaf!
Tony G. November 23, 2016
I have made these a few times and they are loved by all the family. I have also used the recipe in a bread maker and made a few 400g loaves - still really delicious sliced and toasted for breakfast
Barbara August 18, 2016
BabsT<br />I have had this recipe saved for at least a year and finally made them today. Awesome! These will be a family favorite.
Christine November 28, 2015
I made these the night before Thanksgiving as well-really easy and possibly the star of the show! I'm so glad I made a double batch for leftover turkey sandwiches.
Taylor S. November 27, 2015
WOW! These were the first things to go at the Thanksgiving table this year. I used blackstrap molasses which was heavenly. Also, I made the dough the night before so they came together really quickly and easily in the morning. They are so soft, so buttery, and so tender - really quite incredible.
Joan November 23, 2015
Christine...<br />I used a round pan, in fact I sell baked goods so I used one of my disposable round cake pans.<br />Even though you are using non stick...I don't think it would hurt to use a spray pan release.
Christine November 23, 2015
Can these be baked in a nonstick round cake pan?
Marylouise S. November 16, 2015
I made these a few times last year and while they tasted great, I was never happy with the results. The rolls were very dense. So yesterday, I let the dough rise at room temperature, not in the refrigerator. That seems to have done the trick. This batch was light, and fluffy. I also brushed the tops with a bit of olive oil, rather than melted butter and I liked that better. NOW I can make them for Thanksgiving!
Joan November 14, 2015
I just received the Food52 baking book and this recipe was in it.<br />It was the first one I tried....they are delicious.<br />I made 2 pans of 8 and they were still good size.<br />I will point out they take a little longer to rise, so don't plan them for just before dinner!
Michelle September 17, 2015
I just made these again, this time a double batch. I do not have a 9" round pan so the first time I made them in an 8" square pan with 9 rolls. They were obviously bigger than the 12 rolls were supposed to be. Big enough to slice and toast. Yum. So this time I made a double batch. I put 9 rolls into an 8" round pan to give as a gift and the remaining dough went into 4 mini loaf pans. Really cute little loaves of bread. Especially good toasted. The crust becomes sort of croissant buttery-flaky. Lovely with peach or apricot jam. Thank you so much, this is a terrific recipe. So easy and tasty.
Gregg February 9, 2015
I made these on Saturday and they were so good. We saved half to use in an asain pear bread pudding Sunday night.