Parker House Rolls

Truth: I haven’t been this excited about a new recipe for awhile. I’ve never been a bun-making person. Bread, yes – crusty sourdough, no-knead and W’s favourite Julia Child sandwich loaf (with or without beans), but I didn’t grow up with dinner rolls on dinner tables, so I never really got into it.

So yesterday, Angela requested Parker House rolls for Thanksgiving – she said it was the one thing that always had to be on their table. I had made them before, but not for awhile… I poked around and came across several recipes that had more or less the same formula – Bon Appetit, King Arthur Flour… dough enriched with lard (I used butter, because of course) and an egg, brushed with melted butter before folding and again after baking, and sprinkled with flaky salt immediately upon exiting the oven. The fold, of course, is what makes it a Parker House roll.

Guess what? Angela was right – these are not rolls, but perfectly soft, buttery clouds that are practically designed for stuffing with turkey and cranberry sauce. (Here’s this morning’s chat!) The originals, invented in the same 19th century Boston hotel that came up with the first Boston cream pie, were made with dough cut into rounds, dipped in butter and folded in half – but they tend to pop open in the oven. Someone at some point came up with a new method in which the dough is rolled and cut into rectangles, brushed with butter and folded not quite in half, leaving an edge sticking out. Last time I made them, I stacked them like shingles – this time I followed the King Arthur Flour directive, and these will now forever be part of our Thanksgiving (and always – why wait for a holiday?) repertoire.

Parker House Rolls

The other thing about PH rolls, besides their baked-in fold that makes them perfect for stuffing with pulled pork or turning into little picnic sandwiches, is the butter – you have a ramekin of melted butter at the ready to brush the baking dish with, then the buns themselves as soon as they come out of the oven, so that they’re buttery with a bit of salty crunch on the outside, super soft on the inside.

I’ve already imagined these sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar after the butter (before the fold) – or garlic and cheese – or leftover turkey, ham and cheese or really any sandwich-y filling baked right inside, like a soft steamed bun. Right?

Parker House Rolls
Parker House Rolls

Parker House Rolls


October 8, 2019


1 pkg (2 tsp) active dry yeast

3 Tbsp sugar

1 cup milk, warmed

1/2 cup butter, melted (divided)

1 large egg

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp fine salt

flaky salt, for finishing (optional)


1In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over 1/4 cup warm water, along with a pinch of the sugar. Set it aside for a few minutes, to get foamy. Add the rest of the sugar to the yeast along with the milk, half the butter, egg, flour and salt and stir until the dough comes together. Knead for about 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic - it should still be quite tacky. (I do this in my stand mixer, with the dough hook.) Put it back in the bowl, cover with a tea towel and let rise for an hour or so, until doubled in size.

2Punch the dough down and divide it in half. Roll each out into an 8x12-inch rectangle. Brush all over with melted butter. Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise, then fold each half almost in half lengthwise, leaving about half an inch uncovered.

3Cut the dough crosswise in half, then in quarters, making 8 pieces. Arrange in a buttered, greased or parchment-lined 9x13-inch pan in four rows of four, with the long sides of the buns running along the long sides of the pan. (Once you do this once, you'll totally get the hang of it.) Cover with a tea towel and set aside for about half an hour, while you preheat the oven to 350F.

4Bake for 20 minutes, or until deep golden. Immediately brush the tops of the buns with the remaining butter while they're still warm - and if you like, sprinkle with coarse salt. Makes 16 buns.


About Julie

27 comments on “Parker House Rolls

  1. Kim
    October 8, 2019 at 10:49 pm

    Thank you! My mom asked me to bring “bread” for thanksgiving, and I was at a loss… This goes on the list!

    • Julie
      October 9, 2019 at 11:12 am

      Yay – I hope you love them as much as I do!!

  2. Jacqueline Day
    October 9, 2019 at 6:37 am

    I can’t wait to make these!
    Julie, if one wanted to freeze these dough balls for future use, at what stage would one do so? I’m guessing just before the “rest for 30 mins while warming the oven” stage?

    • Julie
      October 9, 2019 at 11:12 am

      Yes, that’s what I’d do! then let them thaw/rise while you preheat the oven. (You could also make the dough ahead and refrigerate overnight to slow the rise, then let them sit on the counter while you preheat the oven to bake the next day…)

  3. Ashley
    October 9, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    Hi Julie, could I do this in the dough cycle of my bread maker? I have so many other things on the go with Thanksgiving dinner but these look as though they’re enjoyed best fresh.

    • Julie
      October 10, 2019 at 9:15 pm


  4. Anonymous
    October 9, 2019 at 5:29 pm

    Thanks Julie! After your comments on the CBC morning show, I knew I had to find a recipe. Yours look Devine. Could you freeze the baked rolls?

  5. Wendy
    October 10, 2019 at 9:44 pm

    My first introduction to Parker House Rolls was in a book of limericks.
    “A corpulent maiden named Kroll
    Had a notion exceedingly droll:
    At a masquerade ball,
    Dressed in nothing at all,
    She backed in as a Parker House roll.”

    I had to look up the recipe to get the joke. 🙂

    • Julie
      October 11, 2019 at 5:25 pm


  6. Sandra
    October 11, 2019 at 7:12 pm

    Is there a secret to rolling out the dough so it doesn’t stick to the rolling pin? I have no luck with any kind of dough. ?

  7. Megan
    October 11, 2019 at 9:00 pm

    Something about this recipe doesn’t make sense. If you divide the dough in half, roll out rectangles then cut those in half and each piece makes 8 pieces that makes 32 not 16 buns. I tried to make these and have way too many flat pieces of dough. I’m so confused!

  8. David
    October 12, 2019 at 9:26 am

    I’m with Megan, I’m a bit confused on the cutting and rolling. Help!

  9. Nicole
    October 12, 2019 at 9:40 am

    Do you think you can double this recipe for a larger crowd? Or is it better to do 2 batches?

  10. Sandra
    October 12, 2019 at 10:43 am

    Megan & David
    Divide dough in half.
    Take one piece and roll into a rectangle .
    Cut down the middle lengthwise leaving 2 skinnier rectangles .
    Cut one of the new rectangles after folding into quarters.
    Take second one and do the same.
    Now there are 8 buns.
    Take the remaining dough and repeat the above.
    Now there are 16 buns in total.
    Happy Thanksgiving

    • Sandra
      October 13, 2019 at 9:54 am

      Arghh. Autocorrect 🙁
      That should say “cut one of the new rectangles into quarters”.
      Sorry guys! Cheers.

    • Julie
      October 15, 2019 at 3:03 pm

      Thanks Sandra!! Just realized I hadn’t checked the comments over the weekend… so many questions coming in from other channels!

  11. Zaneta
    October 13, 2019 at 6:12 pm

    Well I just baked them and they are hard not good at all because I used spelt flour and whole-wheat or because I can’t bake? I was very looking forward to it. Not sure what went wrong my dough was nicely risen and perfect soft texture but in over did not rise and just hardened.

    • Julie
      October 15, 2019 at 3:06 pm

      That’s too bad! Odd that the dough would rise out of the oven, but not in the oven? Using whole wheat and spelt would definitely make the dough heavier.

  12. The Granary Kitchen
    October 26, 2019 at 3:08 am

    Do you think you can double this recipe for a Medium crowd?
    Or is it better to do 5 batches?

    • Julie
      October 31, 2019 at 9:39 pm

      I’d think the recipe would double well!

  13. Amy
    November 17, 2019 at 5:35 pm

    This was my first attempt at making buns (I have actually only ever used yeast twice before this, haha!), and they turned out perfectly! Very soft, tender, light, and delicious. And the instructions made sense to me to make 16 buns ?

    • Amy
      November 17, 2019 at 5:37 pm

      that question mark at the end is supposed be a smiley emoji…but it seems it was changed on me!

      • Julie
        November 22, 2019 at 2:04 pm

        That happens to me too with symbols the program doesn’t recognize!

    • Julie
      November 22, 2019 at 2:04 pm

      Yesss!! So glad to hear it!!

  14. Lori Forte
    January 5, 2020 at 8:25 am

    Made these yesterday to go with a NYT Cooking recipe for Spicy Bean Stew with Broccoli Rabe… I can only be so healthy on Jan 4… the buns were perfect (I didn’t have any regular yeast soused instant which meant modifying the recipe to so form with demands of instant yeast…but no problem!) Just like the Parker house rolls from Calgary Coop from my childhood. Pluse, the stew recipe called for medium-cooked eggs as a garnish, so we made jammy eggs from Dirty Food. Love your inspiration JVR !

    • Julie
      January 5, 2020 at 1:27 pm

      Amazing Lori! that sounds so fantastic!! Happy New Year!

  15. Shanna
    May 15, 2020 at 8:03 am

    I have made these twice in last few months and they are delicious. Making them for my mom today!

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