These Sweet Potato Rolls take dinner rolls to a whole new level! They’re soft, pillowy, ever-so-slightly sweet and feature a salty, herby topping. Serve these with a slather of butter for Thanksgiving or enjoy them as buns for chicken sandwiches, burgers, pulled pork and more.
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Why This Recipe Works
These sweet potato rolls are a definite show-stopper. Oftentimes dinner rolls are relegated to being the “filler,” or the side dish you always have but think little about. Not these—these sweet potato rolls have so much going for them. They’re soft, tender, slightly sweet, salty and herby. Schmear a warm roll with soft butter and you’ll be in heaven!
And because they’re baked on a sheet pan as individual rolls (not packed together in a baking dish) these rolls can be enjoyed in a variety of ways—as a side dish for Thanksgiving, as burger buns or pulled pork buns, to make a sandwich, and more.
Curious how I came up with this recipe? I joined the Bake from Scratch team for their Bread Box project with Red Star Yeast. This recipe is a variation of their Everything Bagel Potato Buns.
Both all-purpose flour and white whole-wheat flour are used in these rolls. For one, we love baking with whole-wheat flour here at ZK, and two, it adds a nice nutty flavor to the rolls which pairs wonderfully with the sweet potato.
Sugar is important for adding sweetness (not surprisingly) and feeding the yeast.
Platinum Yeast is THE key to taking the intimidation out of baking with yeast. It’s also the key to getting great results every time. Red Star Platinum Yeast strengthens the dough and creates more “spring” in these sweet potato rolls.
Platinum Yeast may be substituted 1:1 for Active Dry or Instant Yeast. Instant yeast has a faster rate of action than active dry yeast; therefore, your dough MAY rise faster. Simply monitor your dough while it is rising and adjust the time as needed.
For this recipe we’re using mashed sweet potatoes. But one thing to note: it’s important to use mashed sweet potatoes that have been roasted. Boiled sweet potatoes will add too much additional liquid to the dough (and dilute the sweet potato flavor). Follow the baking instructions in this recipe. If you don’t want to dirty a food processor, you can skip the puréeing step in favor of your hands or a potato masher.
Za’atar Seasoning is such a delicious spice blend for these sweet potato rolls! This spice blend features toasted sesame seeds, dried thyme and oregano, ground sumac and salt. It’s herby, slightly tart (thanks to the sumac) and toasty, all of which pair wonderfully with sweet potato!
test Kitchen Tips
- Make the mashed sweet potato ahead of time. This is a huge time-saver! I usually roast the sweet potato 1–3 days ahead of time. Just pop it in the oven when you know you’ll be home for at least 45 minutes. It takes minimal work, and cuts down on total prep time of these rolls by quite a bit. Store the mashed sweet potato in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Use room temperature ingredients. By warming the water, milk and butter together, we take care of the most common cold-ingredient offenders. But make sure the egg and mashed sweet potato are at room temperature before adding to the dough (especially if you make the mashed sweet potato in advance).
- Use the Right Kind of Yeast. These rolls use Red Star Platinum Yeast for a reason! It’s the unicorn of active dry yeast—it increases the amount of rise, is super effective in whole-grain breads and rolls, and decreases the risk of your dough collapsing post-bake. It’s a must.
Storage: Fresh bread and rolls are best enjoyed the same day they’re baked. But even as major bread-fans, our two-person household can’t get through a full batch of 12 rolls in a day.
These sweet potato rolls can be stored at room temperature for three days. If you don’t anticipate getting through them in three days, I recommend sharing with friends or wrapping in plastic wrap followed by foil and storing in the freezer for up to two months.
Defrost the rolls at to room temperature then reheat in a 300°F (149ºC) oven until warmed through.
Variations on These Sweet Potato Dinner Rolls:
- Swap the za’atar for dried rosemary.
- Mix dried oregano, thyme and/or rosemary into the dough.
- Skip the za’atar and brush the tops of the baked rolls with warm honey right before serving.
- Keep it simple by skipping the za’atar and instead brush the warm rolls with melted butter right before serving.
More Bread Recipes to Love…
Japanese Milk Buns
Healthy Skillet Cornbread
We haven’t tested this recipe using pumpkin puree, so we can’t guarantee it will work. If you want to try it, we recommend draining as much liquid from the canned pumpkin puree as possible. Check out this Pumpkin Cookie recipe for instructions on how to drain the pumpkin.
If you add your yeast to a cup of warm water or milk, it should get foamy and smell yeast in about 10 minutes. If the yeast mixture doesn’t foam, then you need to get new yeast.
We haven’t tested this, and we don’t recommend attempting to make this recipe vegan. You could easily make these dairy free by using soy milk and vegan butter, but you really need the eggs in order to achieve the correct texture and structure.
Sweet Potato Dinner Rolls with Za’atar
- 2 ¾ cups (333 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
- 2 cups (236 grams) white whole-wheat flour
- ¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons (10 grams) Morton kosher salt
- 1 (0.25-ounce) package (7 grams) Platinum Yeast
- ½ cup (120 grams) water
- ½ cup (120 grams) whole milk
- ¼ cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, cubed
- ½ cup (123 grams) mashed sweet potatoes (roasted, peeled, and mashed), room temperature *see notes
- 2 large eggs (100 grams) room temperature and divided
- 2 tablespoons za’atar seasoning
- Flaky sea salt
- High quality butter, for serving
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat 1½ cups (188 grams) all-purpose flour, sugar, salt, and yeast at low speed until combined.
- In a medium saucepan, combine ½ cup (120 grams) water, milk, and butter; cook over medium-low heat until butter is melted and an instant-read thermometer registers 120–130°F (49–54°C).
- Add warm milk mixture to flour mixture; beat at low speed for 1 minute, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add mashed potatoes and 1 egg (50 grams).
- Beat at low speed until well combined, about 1 minute.
- With mixer on low speed, gradually add whole-wheat flour and and 1 cup all-purpose flour, beating just until a shaggy dough forms.
- Switch to the dough hook attachment. Beat at low speed until a soft, elastic, and slightly tacky dough forms, 12–15 minutes; add up to remaining ¼ cup (31 grams) all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon (8 grams) at a time, if dough is too sticky (*see note). Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and shape into a smooth round.
- Lightly oil a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top.
- Cover with clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 40–50 minutes.
- Position oven rack in top third of oven. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Punch down dough; cover and let stand for 5–10 minutes.
- Turn out dough onto a clean surface; divide into 12 portions (about 86 grams each). (Keep portions covered as you work.) On a clean work surface, shape each portion into a smooth dough ball. Using your hands, pat each ball into a 3-inch disk. Place 6 dough disks, evenly spaced, on each prepared sheet. Cover with clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until puffed and tops are rounded, 25–30 minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk remaining 1 egg (50 grams). Working with one batch at a time, brush tops and sides of dough with egg wash. Sprinkle dough rounds with za’atar and additional flaky sea salt (or kosher salt).
- Bake, one batch at a time, until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 200°F (93°C), 13–15 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Serve warm or at room temperature. Best served same day.
This recipe and article was created in partnership with Bake From Scratch Magazine and Red Star Platinum Yeast. This recipe was adapted from their Everything Bagel Potato Buns. As always the thoughts, opinions, photos and content are all my own.
This recipe article was originally published on August 31, 2021.