Thanksgiving Refrigerator Rolls

By CHEF TRACY DARUE for the Flathead Beacon

I began collecting cookbooks more than 20 years ago while I was a culinary student in San Francisco. I’m fascinated to see how recipes have changed and how our culture has changed. Many of these old beauties were written for the American housewife with references on keeping house, tending to children and making sure to freshen up before the man of the house arrives home from work. Yes, times have changed!

A Thanksgiving tradition in our house is yeast rolls. My mom used to make these when I was growing up, and I can’t imagine not having them. The rich smell of the dough and the aroma while they’re baking only adds to all the other wonderful Thanksgiving smells in the house.

My mom would mix these the night before and bake them on Thanksgiving Day. I have come across and experimented with many icebox or refrigerator roll recipes, and I have adapted this from recipes spanning from 1913 to 1950. My kids really enjoy helping me with these by shaping the dough into balls before the second rise. These are especially good the next day for leftover turkey sandwiches. I hope you will try these this season!



1 cup milk
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
6 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup water
1 whole egg
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt


In a saucepan, bring milk to a simmer. Turn off heat. Add butter and sugar. Let cool to lukewarm. When cool, add egg and whisk.
Place water in the bowl of a mixer, or in a large mixing bowl if mixing by hand. Sprinkle yeast over top of water. Let sit one minute. Whisk mixture with a fork.
Add cooled milk/butter/sugar mixture to water/yeast mixture. Whisk together.
Put half of the flour into liquid ingredients. Blend on low speed with the paddle attachment (or stir by hand). Turn off motor. Sprinkle salt into dough. Blend briefly.
Gradually add and blend in the remaining flour. Mix until dough looks smooth, approximately five minutes.
Use soft butter to grease a large bowl and spread top of dough with soft butter. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
The next day, approximately six hours before baking, pull dough out of refrigerator and let warm to room temperature, approximately two to three hours.
Remove dough from bowl. Divide dough into 18 pieces. Roll into balls.
Place rolls (with the seam down) into a greased cake pan or parchment-lined sheet pan. Leave one inch of space around each roll to allow for rising.
Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm, draft-free place until the rolls double in size, approximately one to two hours.
Bake in a pre-heated 375-degree oven for 15 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Chef Tracy Darue is the Instructional Coordinator of Baking and Pastry at The Culinary Institute of Montana at Flathead Valley Community College. She is a graduate of California Culinary Academy, former chef/owner of a bakery and restaurant, and former school district Food Service Director.