Who doesn’t love a bread basket filled with warm, pillowy dinner rolls? For me, they’re the star of Thanksgiving. I enjoy making a mini slider with almost everything on my plate—turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, a bit of green bean casserole. I sincerely believe Thanksgiving would not be complete without rolls.
Making freshly baked dinner rolls isn’t always feasible with my hectic schedule, and I’ve unabashedly reached for store-bought rolls many times. What makes store-bought rolls an unsung superstar is how customizable they are.
Grocery store rolls are easily upgradable. Plain grocery store dinner rolls are the perfect blank canvas for flavorful experiments. All you need is an oven at 350°F, five minutes, and some creativity. Here are nine of my favorite easy upgrades for store-bought dinner rolls.
1. Bring on the Cheese
Amaze your guests with a TikTok-worthy cheese pull! Simply cut each roll down the middle (from top to bottom), being careful not to cut through the rolls completely. Fill each roll with your favorite meltable cheese—I’ve found mozzarella works wonderfully—and top everything with shredded Parmesan. Heat in the oven until the cheese is super melted and get ready for that cheese pull.
2. Garlicky Goodness
If you like garlic bread, then make garlic butter dinner rolls. Brush melted butter on the rolls’ exterior and sprinkle with garlic powder—you get to decide how garlicky you want them. Then top with a generous amount of shredded Parmesan cheese. Bake until the cheese is golden and the aroma of garlic fills your kitchen.
3. Presto, Pesto
Pesto is a versatile ingredient and should not be limited to pasta or sandwiches. Smear a dollop (or two or three) of either homemade or store-bought pesto onto each roll and top with Parmesan. Pop it into the oven until the pesto and cheese are nice and crispy. Trust me, your kitchen will smell amazing!
4. Only the Freshest Herbs
Looking for another green upgrade? Use fresh herbs. Brush melted butter onto your dinner rolls and add your choice of fresh herbs—I like fresh thyme leaves. Bake until the herbs and rolls are toasted, then sprinkle on some flaky sea salt. Now you have herby rolls that pair wonderfully with that holiday lasagna.
5. Spice It Up
For all the spicy food lovers, chili crisp is a reliable, tried and true add-on for virtually any recipe, including grocery store dinner rolls. Scoop your desired amount of chili crisp onto the dinner rolls, and don’t forget to drizzle some of the oil too. Bake until the chili crisp is extra crispy and you have a spicy addition to your Thanksgiving spread.
If you want to include a bit of umami, sprinkle on a pinch of mushroom seasoning while the buns are still hot. This is my favorite dinner roll upgrade!
6. An Italian Twist
Pepper, Parmesan, and butter—the simple but flavorful cacio e pepe trifecta gives your dinner rolls an Italian twist. After brushing some melted butter onto the rolls, top with freshly cracked pepper and shredded Parmesan cheese. Pop it in the oven until the cheese is all melted and the pepper is toasted.
7. Add Your Favorite Spice Blend
Want an even easier upgrade? Top your butter-smeared dinner rolls with your favorite spice blend. I enjoy a good homemade za’atar blend. Bake the spice butter rolls until they are toasted and smell fragrant.
8. Cinnamon Sugar
For a sweet treat, upgrade dinner rolls with an easy-to-make cinnamon sugar topping. Simply mix together a 2:1 ratio of sugar to cinnamon and sprinkle it over your rolls brushed with warm butter. Bake until the sugar has slightly caramelized, creating a crackable top.
9. Honey Butter
Make delectable honey butter rolls with your store-bought rolls. Heat honey and butter in a saucepan until smooth and season with a pinch of kosher salt as the color deepens to caramel. Spoon the honey butter onto the dinner rolls and bake until the warm butter oozes down the sides, completely covering the bread. You’re left with dinner rolls covered in a beautiful honey-caramel gloss.