Parker House Rolls

Parker house rolls

I’ve had it in mind to make a batch of Parker House rolls for some time, and a rainy long weekend (with temperatures dipping to 2 degrees) plus two boys out at a superhero movie provided exactly the right opportunity to turn on the oven, poke around the house while dough rose on the countertop, then bake and eat half a pan of sweet, buttery-warm rolls with butter and jam in the company of only myself – and Netflix.

parker house dough

It was so rainy on Sunday morning, it felt like dusk. On mornings when I don’t have to be anywhere, I love being able to turn out some dough that I know won’t be ready to eat for awhile – not until we’re good and hungry – just in time for second (or third) coffee.

I came across a recipe on Diner Journal that reminded me of my must-make list, and searched for others to compare – Bon Appetit‘s is identical, and King Arthur’s and others were similar. Dough enriched with lard -although butter will do- and an egg, brushed with butter and sprinkled with salt immediately upon exiting the oven. Folded, of course – which makes it a Parker House roll.

Parker house rolls 4

There are a lot of different ways to shape Parker House rolls – the originals, invented in the same 19th century Boston hotel that came up with the first 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 that helps arrange the pieces in a pan like shingles, partly overlapping each other.

Parker house rolls 2

Mine came out more upright, but I liked them that way – they were four-bite buns you could pull apart from the others, straight from the pan. They were still bigger than BA’s, but King Arthur has a slightly different technique that produces larger buns in what looks like a more streamlined way – however you do it, there’s no need to make them perfect. The goal is rolled out pieces you can brush with butter, fold and tuck into a pan.

Parker house rolls 1

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 crunchy on the outside, soft and poufy on the inside.

Parker house rolls 3

I’ve already imagined these sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar after the butter (before the fold) – or garlic and cheese, or pesto. Right?

Parker House Rolls


May 23, 2016


1 pkg (2 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast

1 cup milk

1/4 cup lard or butter, cut into pieces

3 Tbsp. sugar

1 large egg

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup butter


1In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over 1/4 cup warm water. Set it aside for a few minutes, to get foamy. Meanwhile, heat the milk, lard and sugar in a small saucepan until it's warm but not hot - the lard will start to melt, but doesn't need to melt completely. (If it gets too hot, leave it until it cools down to a bit warmer than body temperature.)

2Add the milk mixture to the yeast along with the egg, flour and salt and stir until the dough comes together. Knead for 5-6 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Put it back in the bowl, cover with a tea towel and let rise for an hour or so, until doubled in size.

3Punch the dough down and divide it into three pieces. Roll each piece into a long rectangle - about 6x12-inches - and cut each lengthwise and crosswise into thirds, so that you have 9 rectangles. Melt the butter in a small dish and brush it over each piece, and the bottom and sides of a 9x13-inch baking dish.

4Fold each rectangle almost in half lengthwise, leaving about a 1/2-inch at one end. Arrange them in the baking dish, overlapping them slightly, like shingles - I did 3 rows of 9, but some recipes go the other direction, with the long side of each piece of dough going along the long side of the baking dish. I've seen some lay theirs in concentric circles in a round cast iron skillet - it doesn't much matter. Brush the tops with butter, cover with plastic or a tea towel and set aside while you preheat the oven to 350F. (If your oven takes awhile to heat, refrigerate the buns - you don't want them to double in size this time. Some recipes say to chill the dough for half an hour, others to let them sit at room temp.)

5Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until nice and golden. Brush the tops of the buns with the remaining butter while they're still warm - and if you like, sprinkle with coarse salt. Makes 27 buns.


About Julie

You May Also Like

2 comments on “Parker House Rolls

  1. Denise
    May 24, 2016 at 8:06 am

    Have you tried using whole wheat flour? I’d like to make these PH buns not sure if I’d have to adjust any of the ingredients if used whole wheat. I’m diabetic so try to avoid white flour if I can.

  2. gina
    January 8, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    Yeite chef. . . the Parker House rolls were easy to make and came out perfectly do to your well written instructions. this makes my third recipe of yours that I’ve tried each and every one is exactly as described. I’ve been cooking 50 years and wanted to try some different recipes (I’m not someone that enjoys using a recipe). the combination of clear instructions along with the pictures are what set your website above others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.