School Cafeteria Yeast Rolls

School Cafeteria Yeast Rolls – the rolls that came with my grammar school lunch were always the highlight of the meal. I found the recipe for those yummy rolls in a government cookbook & couldn’t resist trying them. OMG! SO good! Super easy to make with only 6 ingredients – bread flour, salt, sugar, vegetable oil, water, and yeast. These are now our go-to homemade rolls for the holidays!

basket of yeast rolls

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School Lunchroom Yeast Rolls

A few months ago I posted a recipe for School Cafeteria Pizza on the website. It was a HUGE hit at our house, so I decided to try another recipe from the recipe book. I decided on these School Cafeteria Yeast Rolls. OMG! These rolls are ridiculously delicious. They tasted just like the rolls we ate back in grammar school – only better! The rolls are surprisingly easy to make with only 6 simple ingredients – bread flour, yeast, sugar, dry milk, salt, oil, and water. Give these a try the next time you need some delicious homemade bread. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

brushing yeast rolls with butter

How to Make School Cafeteria Yeast Rolls

I know working with yeast can be intimidating but, don’t worry, these rolls are very easy to make. It just takes a little patience for the dough to rise.

To make the rolls, start with combing yeast and warm water. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer combine flour, salt, sugar, and dry milk. Add vegetable oil and warm water. Mix for 2 minutes. Add the yeast mixture and knead the dough on medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover the bowl and let the bread rise in a warm place until doubled in size. Punch down the dough and form it into 24 balls. Place dough in a baking dish. Cover and let the rolls rise in a warm place until doubled in size. Once the rolls have risen, bake. Brush the cooked rolls with melted butter.

  • This recipe calls for 2½Tablespoons of yeast. That is correct.
  • Can I substitute all-purpose flour for the bread flour? Yes. The only difference between all-purpose flour and bread flour is the protein content. Bread flour has a little more protein. The extra protein will give you a slightly higher rise than all-purpose flour. You will still get a good rise from all-purpose flour.
  • Can Cafeteria Yeast Rolls be frozen? Yes! You can freeze the baked rolls for later. When ready to eat, thaw and reheat in the microwave or covered in the oven.
yeast roll resting on corner of baking pan

What to Serve with Homemade Bread

These rolls are a new favorite. They are light and fluffy and especially delicious slathered in butter. Whip up some Homemade Creamy Honey Butter if you really want to put this bread over the top.

These rolls go with absolutely everything! I especially love them during the holidays. The rolls make a mean leftover ham or turkey sandwich! Here are a few of our favorite recipes from the blog that go great with this homemade bread:

baking pan of yeast rolls

School Cafeteria Yeast Rolls

Yield: 24 rolls
Prep Time 1 hr 45 mins
Cook Time 18 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 3 mins
School Cafeteria Yeast Rolls – the rolls that came with my grammar school lunch were always the highlight of the meal. I found the recipe for those yummy rolls in a government cookbook & couldn't resist trying them. OMG! SO good! Super easy to make with only 6 ingredients – bread flour, salt, sugar, vegetable oil, water, and yeast. These are now our go-to homemade rolls for the holidays!

Ingredients:

  • Tbsp yeast
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • cups bread flour
  • 11 Tbsp instant non-fat dry milk powder
  • Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • Tbsp vegetable oil
  • cups water

Instructions:

  • In a small bowl, combine yeast and ¾ cup of water. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine flour, sugar, salt, and dry milk powder.
  • Add vegetable oil and 1¼ cup water. Mix on low for 3 minutes.
  • Add yeast mixture and knead on medium speed for 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  • Loosely cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm spot until double in size, about 45 minutes.
  • Punch dough down. Lightly spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Divide the dough into 24 balls and place in the prepared baking dish. Loosely cover the dish and let the dough rise in a warm spot until double in size, about 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 400ºF. Bake rolls for 18 to 20 minutes.
  • Brush baked rolls with melted butter and enjoy!

Notes:

  • This recipe calls for 2½ Tablespoons of yeast. That is correct.
  • One cup of flour weighs 4.25-ounces. To properly measure flour, give the flour a stir to loosen it up in the container. Use a spoon and lightly spoon the flour into your measuring cup. Use a flat straight edge (like the straight back of a knife) to level off the top of the flour in the measuring cup. Do NOT compact the flour in the measuring cup.
  • Can I substitute all-purpose flour for the bread flour? Yes. The only difference between all-purpose flour and bread flour is the protein content. Bread flour has a little more protein. The extra protein will give you a slightly higher rise than all-purpose flour. You will still get a good rise from all-purpose flour.
  • Can Cafeteria Yeast Rolls be frozen? Yes! You can freeze the baked rolls for later. When ready to eat, thaw and reheat in the microwave or covered in the oven.

Steph

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baking pan of yeast rolls
yeast roll resting on the side of a baking pan

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Comments

  1. If a recipe says yeast or even dough, I’m usually out but I am definitely making these. I still remember walking into the cafeteria and smelling these rolls before I even saw them. Something I also remember from elementary is the sugar cookies. They were small and fairly crispy. I usually don’t like a crispy cookie but I still dream of those. Thanks for bringing back all the memories.

  2. Just had a question, planning to try this this coming weekend. The yeast is going into water, is that warm/hot/cold water?

  3. After going thru all your School Cafeteria recipes, it finally registered why they all used dried milk and peanuts! Only remember cause we didn’t get a hot lunch program til my last year of school and the neighbor lady was the head cook. She said they had to use government commodities.
    Thanks for providing all the recipes and memories.

    1. Either is fine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I use active, since I let the yeast sit in water. If you use instant yeast you can skip that step.

  4. So many great recipes in the government cook book (red cookbook). Still working in the cafeteria it’s been over 30 years!
    Sad the kids don’t get to see how good the food used to be it’s changed so much over the years! I would make dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls and cheese rolls 2 or three times a week now it’s prepackaged rolls!
    Still love my job and thanks for cutting the recipes to a more manageable size my daughter has requested cheese rolls for thanksgiving!

  5. These were absolutely heavenly!! I swear my husband reverted to that cartoon dog Snuffles from Quick Draw McGraw!! LOL

    I saw the note about freezing the baked rolls but is there a point where I could premake and freeze the rolls prior to baking? Would it be after I shape but before the last rise?

    Thank you!

  6. I absolutely LOVED the yeast rolls in my high school cafeteria. They were at least 4″ tall! I have never had a roll like it since. i will be making these a.s.a.p. to see if I can relive the childhood memories!

  7. Do you have a recipe for school Beefaroni? We had it in high school and they always served it with these rolls. It may have came In a can for all I know, but me and my husband have tried to make some to taste like it did for years.

  8. My daughter has a dairy allergy, and this includes powdered milk. Can I leave this out? I leave it out of a cookie recipe and there’s no problem, I usually substitute a little more flour. What do you think?

      1. What did I do wrong if my rolls were dense and heavy? The flavor was great just very dense instead of light and fluffy. Please help!

        1. Maybe you used too much flour? Try weighing it with a kitchen scale next time.

    1. You mentioned the rolls could be frozen for later. Could they be made the night before, refrigerated, and baked the next day? (Pardon my ignorance, but I have never worked with year before and am slightly intimidated 🙂 )

      1. Definitely. Shape tools. Put in pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Remove from I’ve box about 1 – 1 1/2 hours before needed. Let your little nuns warm up from their overnight stint in the I’ve box. Put in warm area to rise and when doubled in bulk, Put in oven to bake. You can also just refrigerator the dough and shape/rise/bake the next day, but having them already shaped is great. 🙂

        Now, the dough will rise on the I’ve box, but really needs to warm before baking.

        Any other questions about working with yeast or baking, contact me. I am a professional chef and baker and taught same for many years. Retired and really disabled now, but helping people with questions is one of my greatest joys.

        1. hate autocorrect.

          I wrote ICE BOX and not “I’ve box” jeez. Also, let your little buns warm, not “nuns.” Also, not shape “tools”, shape rolls.

          Good luck, everyone. And name is Skye MacAllister. Not Maco.
          I’m always available for questions

        2. Can u make cinnamon rolls with this recipe also just roll them out and put some kind of cinnamon sugar spread ?

  9. Hi Stephanie. For the School Cafeteria Yeast Rolls, can I use the equivalent Splenda instead of the 6½ Tbsp sugar? Thank you!

    1. I don’t cook with Splenda, so I am not sure how it works in baking. If you’ve had success with it in the past, I say go for it.

  10. hi did you happen to find a recipe for brownies made with dried eggs in your book. Would love to see the recipe. The brownies were very thin…sooooo good I can still taste them.

  11. Did they happen to have a recipe for au gratin potatoes in that government recipe book??? I LOVED the cafeteria au gratin potatoes and have never been able to recreate them. LOL

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