Easy Milk Bread Rolls

Make Hokkaido style milk bread rolls with this simple recipe. These milk bread rolls are super soft, airy, moist, and slightly sweet. They’re very easy to put together and hold up well when made ahead. They’re perfect for your holiday dinner party and simple enough to make as an everyday recipe.

Pulled-apart dinner rolls with butter and jam

I had the softest bread when I was living in Japan, back when I was in school. Not just the freshly baked bread from the bakery, but even the mass-produced sliced white bread in Japan has a super fluffy and fine texture. You could easily smash a 1” (2 cm) thick piece of bread until paper-thin and it would still bounce back. My taste for milk bread heightened after I enjoyed it for two years in Japan. Fast forward to 10 years later, I still crave that soft bread slathered with a dollop of butter and jam.

Now that the weather has turned cold and the holiday season is around the corner, I want to bring these soft and fluffy bread rolls to your Thanksgiving dinner table. My goal was to develop a very easy recipe that requires minimal hands-on time and yields the best result. After much testing and refinement, my teammate Lilja and I finally settled on this easy milk bread roll recipe.

Hokkaido style milk bread rolls

Why this recipe

  • Easy ingredients. It’s likely that you have most of them in your pantry and you can find everything in regular grocery store.
  • The recipe doesn’t require a starter (a.k.a Tangzhong). This makes the process easier.
  • Let the mixer do all the work. The recipe requires minimal hands-on time with the dough and the active prep time is only about 20 minutes.
  • Outstanding result with a soft, springy texture and tiny air bubbles.
  • Foolproof process that any beginner baker can easily follow.

One word on the ingredients. We tested multiple formulas with different combinations such as milk, heavy cream etc. We finally settled on this one using condensed milk. It gives the bread a sweetness like the bread from an Asian bakery.

Ingredients of making milk bread rolls

Pulling stringy milk bread rolls

Cooking process

1. Prepare the dough – 1st rise

The recipe starts by activating the yeast. Even though you can get away without this step, I feel that it’s quite necessary to make sure your yeast is fresh and will work properly. So you don’t end up wasting a lot of time and ingredients with expired yeast.

Once you mix the ingredients together, let the dough mass sit for 20 minutes to let the yeast do its work.

Then knead it with a mixer until the dough is smooth. Once the dough is ready, it will be very wet and a bit sticky, but you should be able to handle it with your hands.

Rest the dough for about 1 hour.

Preparing dough for milk bread rolls

3. Assemble – 2nd rise

The dough will double in size once rested, as well as become springy and less sticky. You’ll need to punch the dough to squeeze out the air, so the end result will have an even texture.

Divide the dough into nine even pieces. To ensure even baking and consistent size, you can measure out the dough balls with a scale.

Once you’ve placed the dough balls onto the baking sheet, let the dough rise again, for 35 to 45 minutes.

Then brush a very thin layer of milk onto the bread so it will yield a beautiful golden brown color after baking. We chose to use a milk wash instead of an egg wash, so the bread rolls’ outer texture would be similar to that of traditional dinner rolls.

Shaping dough for milk bread rolls

4. Bake and serve

The rest is easy. Simply bake the milk bread rolls at 350° F (176° C) for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.

The dinner rolls will come out fluffy, airy, and slightly sweet. When you pull them apart, you’ll see the stringy texture with even, tiny air bubbles.

These milk bread rolls taste best when fresh. But the best part of this recipe is, you can store them at room temperature for a day and they will stay soft and moist.

You can store the bread in the freezer for longer storage, but it’s very unlikely they will last that long!

Baking milk bread rolls

Afterthoughts

It’s true that it takes a bit of time and patience to make bread at home. But this recipe is so simple that it can totally become one of your everyday recipes. These rolls taste great by themselves, but you can use your favorite spread on them, such as butter, jam, or peanut butter.

The recipe is also perfect for the holiday season and any dinner party, because it requires very little active cooking time. You can prepare them in advance and they hold up well.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Pulled-apart dinner rolls with butter close-up

Serve these milk bread rolls with

If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it @omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with.

Easy Milk Bread Rolls | Make Hokkaido style milk bread rolls with this simple recipe. These milk bread rolls are super soft, airy, moist, and slightly sweet. They’re very easy to put together and hold up well when made ahead. They’re perfect for your holiday dinner party and simple enough to make as an everyday recipe.

Easy Milk Bread Rolls

Make Hokkaido style milk bread rolls with this simple recipe. These milk bread rolls are super soft, airy, moist, and slightly sweet. They’re very easy to put together and hold up well when made ahead. They’re perfect for your holiday dinner party and simple enough to make as an everyday recipe.
5 from 19 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: thanksgiving
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Resting Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 55 minutes
Servings: 9 rolls
Calories: 226kcal
Author: Maggie Zhu

Ingredients

  • 300 g (2 1/2 cups) bread flour
  • 140 ml (1/2 cup ) whole milk , and extra for brushing onto the bread
  • 7 g (1 packet / 2 teaspoons) yeast
  • 30 g (2 1/2 tablespoons) sugar
  • 5 g (1 teaspoon) salt
  • 80 g (1/4 cup) sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
  • 1 large egg

Instructions

1st rise

  • Add the milk into a small bowl and warm to approximately 100-110°F (38°C), about 30 seconds in the microwave. The milk should be warm, just a bit above body temperature. Add a pinch of sugar and the active dry yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes so the yeast will activate.
  • While the yeast activates, add the rest of the ingredients into your mixer bowl.
  • Once the yeast is activated, you should see bubbles on the surface of the mixture. Pour it into the mixer bowl. Mix with a spatula until the dough just comes together. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes.
  • Install the dough hook on your mixer (I used a KitchenAid). Start at low speed, then gradually increase to setting 8 out of 10. Knead for 10 to 12 minutes, until the dough is very smooth. Stop the mixer in the middle and scrape the dough from the sides of the bowl. Test the dough by pulling a piece of it using both of your hands. It should stretch into a very thin and translucent sheet. The dough should be wet and a bit sticky.
  • Grease a big bowl with a thin layer of oil. Place the dough into the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.

2nd rise

  • Line a 9” x 9” (23cm x 23 cm) baking pan with parchment paper.
  • Punch the air out of the dough. Transfer it onto a lightly oiled working surface. Divide the dough into 9 even pieces by cutting it into 3 even strips, then further cutting each strip into 3 small pieces. Each piece of dough should weigh 68 to 70 grams.
  • Shape the dough one piece at a time. Tuck the dough onto itself by pinching the dough from all sides into the center using your fingers, creating a round shape. Then roll the dough in a circular motion with your palm against the table, until it forms a round ball. Place the dough balls onto the parchment paper, evenly spaced, in a 3-by-3 array.
  • Cover the baking pan with plastic wrap. Let rest again for another 35 to 45 minutes, until the size has doubled.

Bake

  • Preheat the oven to 350° F (176° C) while resting the shaped bread rolls.
  • Right before baking, gently brush a thin layer of milk onto the tops of the bread rolls.
  • Bake the milk bread rolls on the middle rack for 20 to 25 minutes, until the top turns golden brown. You can also test the doneness by inserting an instant-read thermometer into the middle of the center bun. It should register at least 190°F.
  • Let the bread rest in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer it onto a cooling rack.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.

Store

  • Once the milk bread rolls have cooled completely, you can store them in an airtight container on your kitchen counter for up to 2 days. The rolls will stay very soft at room temperature. You can also warm them up in the microwave it for 10 seconds or leave them in a 350° F (176° C) oven to warm up before serving.
  • For longer storage, place the dinner rolls in a ziplock bag, squeeze out as much air as possible, and store them in the freezer for up to a month. To reheat, bake the rolls at 350° F (176° C) without thawing, until warm throughout, 10 minutes or so.

Nutrition

Serving: 1roll | Calories: 226kcal | Carbohydrates: 34.7g | Protein: 5.6g | Fat: 7.3g | Saturated Fat: 4.2g | Cholesterol: 36mg | Sodium: 279mg | Potassium: 115mg | Fiber: 1.1g | Sugar: 9.1g | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 2mg
Easy Milk Bread Rolls | Make Hokkaido style milk bread rolls with this simple recipe. These milk bread rolls are super soft, airy, moist, and slightly sweet. They’re very easy to put together and hold up well when made ahead. They’re perfect for your holiday dinner party and simple enough to make as an everyday recipe.

Disclosure

Omnivore's Cookbook is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
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Hi I'm Maggie Zhu! Welcome to my site about modern Chinese cooking - including street food, family recipes, and restaurant dishes. I take a less labor-intensive approach while maintaining the taste and look of the dish. I am originally from Beijing, and now cook from my New York kitchen.

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Recipe Rating




68 thoughts on “Easy Milk Bread Rolls

  1. Barbarainnc

    Just wanna make sure, it uses Sweetened Condensed Milk?? Can’t wait to try these. Nothing better than hot bread and butter. 😋😋😋

    Reply
      1. Bon

        Hi Maggie, I’m looking forward to trying this recipe after many failed attempts at making Milk bread. I think my problem has been the temperature and place of which I allow my dough to rise. What is the idea temperature and place in your opinion? In the past I have preheated my oven to about 60-90deg Celsius (depending on the recipe) and everytime I get hard and stale like bread rolls. Would you have any advice on this? Thanks heaps! ^v^

      2. Maggie Post author

        Hi Bon, the room temperature for dough rise can be quite flexible, so it’s more about judging the dough and adjust the rising time accordingly. I think the best temperature of dough rising is 80°F to 90°F (26°C to 32°C). I made this dish in the winter (put the dough in the warmest spot in the room) so the room temp might be slightly lower but not by too much.
        For baking, the temperature you used sound super low. I think 350°F (176°C) is the way to go.
        Good luck and I hope this recipe works for you!

  2. ELIZABETH

    Just to clarify, please…when refer to condensed milk are referring to ordinary evaporated,canned milk or the sweetened condensed milk, like Eagle Brand?
    I would like to try these for my upcoming holiday dinner, but don’t want to mess up by using the wrong kind of milk.
    Thank you in advance for your response.

    Reply
      1. ELIZABETH

        Thank you for clarifying…they look so delicious and incredible, I wanted to be sure I made the correctly!

  3. Jenny

    Hi,

    Are these baked in a 9×13 or in a 9×9 or 8×8 square pan? In the photo the pan looks square, but in the directions it says to use a 9×13 pan.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  4. Matt

    Hello Maggie,

    New to your site and loving it already. Going to try your pea shoots recipe tonight!

    Question: Can these rolls be made without a stand mixer?

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Matt, it’s going to be so much easier to make this recipe with a stand mixer. You can knead the dough without the mixer for sure, but it’s hard if you do not have bread-making experience. The dough is very wet. If you knead them on a surface, you need to grease the surface and use a dough scraper to fold the wet mass at the beginning until it develops gluten and possible to knead by hand. You also need to work with the dough with speed, since the dough will be very runny and sticky to handle.

      Reply
    1. Lei

      5 stars
      I give this a 5 ⭐️. Firts time I tried your recipe and it went very well. Thank you for sharing your recipe 😌

      Reply
    2. Shar

      Hi there,
      After kneading on the stand mixer for 10 mins my dough was only slightly sticky, not wet. Should I add more liquid to it?

      I did the reverse and mixed the flour and other ingredients into the yeast mixture. Could that be the reason why my dough was on the. Drye dryer side?

      Reply
      1. Maggie Post author

        The slightly sticky dough is actually the correct texture. The dough is not very wet when the kneading is done. If you’ve knead the dough in the mixer for a full 10 minutes, you shouldn’t add more liquid at that stage and should just go ahead and bake the bread.

  5. Kiesh

    5 stars
    Excellent bread rolls. First rise went nowhere. After an hour and a half, I went ahead with shaping and the second rise. After another 90 minutes, I baked. They turned out soft and fluffy. I usually prefer the tangzhong method for all types of bread, but sometimes I just don’t want that extra step. These are excellent without it. Great smeared with sweetened condensed milk ….and sometimes a sprinkling of cinnamon.

    Reply
  6. Herman Gersten

    5 stars
    Maggie, this recipe is a winner, producing yummy rolls with a feathery soft interior and a delicately crunchy crust. Because I was out of regular milk, I substituted condensed milk, and I also used instant yeast and Caputo 00 Chef’s flour. I pulled them from the oven at 22 minutes, at which point they were nicely browned. I increased the dough weight to 80 grams, rolled the dough pieces into cylinders, and used a Wilton non-stick pan with openings for 8 mini breads. I think the condensed milk helped give the rolls a nice challah-like texture. You are quite right, by the way. They will all be gone by the end of the day tomorrow!

    Reply
  7. Charli

    Hi! Do you think I would possibly be able to fill these buns with a savoury filling like a take on a Char Sui style bun?

    Reply
  8. Melinda

    5 stars
    Freaking delicious rolls! This is an easy must try recipe. I was looking for an milk roll recipe that didn’t require me to go out and buy a bunch of ingredients I’d only use once. I did use a scale to measure everything and it made a huge difference. I didn’t have whole milk so I used 2% plus a little half and half mixed in. Also, the recipe said to mix from low to high using the dough hook for 10 minutes which I didn’t do. I used a KitchenAid mixer on the 2 setting for 2 minutes and the 4 setting for 1 additional minute. It looked like it was mixed just enough. I made a double batch and baked all 18 rolls in a 9×13 pan lined with parchment paper. Baked for 28 mins and they came out perfect. Thank you Maggie!!!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Gin, the rising time might increase a little bit but shouldn’t be doubled. Also your room temperature matters. So the best way is to check on the dough until the size doubles.

      Reply
  9. Aldana

    Hello Maggie, I’m so looking forward to try your recipe, looks amazing!! I have one issue though.. How long should I knead it since I don’t have a mixing bowl? Thanks

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      You need to hand knead the dough for quite a while, starting from 10 minutes but probably longer. To test the dough, you should able to stretch the dough into a semi transparent sheet without it breaking apart when it’s ready.

      Reply
  10. Shelia King

    Please help me! The flavor is great, but the rolls are too moist in the middle although I checked the temperature. Should I have made a larger (smaller rolls) quantity than 12?

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Shelia, I think using a longer baking time will solve the issue. The temperature method might not be super reliable sometimes and I do combine with observing the bottom of the bread.

      Reply
  11. Brianna Tang

    Would this recipe work with a hand held mixer or bread machine instead of a stand mixer? If so, which would be better?

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Brianna, I have never tried either but I think a bread machine will work better. Once you finished kneading in the bread machine, check the dough by stretching it. It’s ready if the dough can form a thin semi-transparent sheet without breaking apart. Then you can let it rise at room temperature and bake in the oven according to the recipe.

      Reply
  12. Karen

    What do I do if my dough is not to the consistency you mention after kneading in a KitchenAid mixer for 12 minutes? It still looks wet and sticky. Doesn’t stretch out like you described.

    Reply
  13. Khadeeja

    Hi there, let me tell you this recipe is a winner.
    My family is obsessed with these buns and it comes out perfect every time I make it and it’s so easy and simple to make.
    I’m just wondering though if it’s possible to make a loaf and if it is how long do you reckon it will take in the oven?

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      You can definitely make it into a loaf if you know how to shape it and bake it. However if you’re not familiar with the process I wouldn’t recommend you to do so. Shaping a loaf requires a different process than the small rolls, and it might not rise well if you shape it wrong.
      I think the baking time might be around 25 to 30 minutes, but you should able to tell by observing the top of the bread.

      Reply
  14. Lorna Neequaye

    5 stars
    I made these amazing rolls over the weekend. They were too good to last a night. My family ate rhem all at a go!. Now i am here going to do it again and honestly i have to double the recipe ! Yummy soft and just like the bread i used to enjoy in Asia

    Reply
  15. Carl Martinez

    Hi Maggie, I’m excited to try making these bread rolls. I’m not sure if I am overthinking but is the pinch of sugar in the recipe for activating the yeast separate from the 30g sugar listed under the ingredients list?

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Carl, good question! The pinch of sugar doesn’t matter too much either way but I always used a pinch from the 30g sugar I’ve weighed.

      Reply
  16. Anna Sy

    5 stars
    We love this bread. It truly tastes like the bread we grew up with, sweet and airy. My husband and I grew up in Asia and have been looking for this kind of bread. Your recipe is great for a beginner baker like me, so easy to follow and the pictures help a lot. Will be making this bread again for sure.

    Reply
  17. Terri

    5 stars
    I’ve had failure after failure with bread but this was amazing and it’s so yummy!! I don’t write recipe reviews but I’m so happy with the bread. I used a bread machine to knead–i feel like the paddel like attachment makes a difference when mixing. It’ll be sticky (stuck quite a bit to my hands without dipping my hands in water) even when shaping but no extra flour needed. Love it when a bread recipe tells me exactly how much flour to use. MAKE THIS BREAD.

    Reply
  18. Min

    Can I make this as a bun and put kaya as filling? Can I double the recipe and put it in a 9×13 pan? Will the baking time be the same of there’s a filling and if it’s baked in a 9×13 pan? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      I’m pretty sure you can stuff the bun with whatever filling you want. I’ve tried with char siu filling before and it worked out beautifully.
      And yes, you can double the recipe and put it in a 9×13 pan. As for the baking time, it might potentially need shorter time (15 mins or so) but you need to observe the buns to make sure. My oven is wonky and sometimes the temperature goes high, so the 20 mins baking time might work for you.

      Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Lily, I’ve never tried freezing the dough before baking but I’m afraid the freezing might affect the dough to rise. I recommend to bake them fresh and store. The baked bread freeze very well and it tastes fresh after reheating.

      Reply
  19. Tasha L

    5 stars
    First time ever making rolls and I love this recipe! I was nervous about trying it and they came out great! My family are them up and enjoyed them so much. I will be makig these for Thanksgiving!

    Reply
  20. Josefina Acosta

    I just tried this recipe. I was so happy. First time to make bread. My teens love it. I made the recipe 2x yesteday. And its so easy. Just used the all purpose flour. And its already good. How much more if I used the bread flour? Thanks for sharing the recipe. It takes long time for the process but only 20 minutes to bake.

    Reply
    1. Maggie Post author

      I’ve never tried it personally but I think you can. Replace the 2 teaspoons active dry yeast with 2 1/2 teaspoon instant. Do not dissolve the instant yeast in the water. You should mix it directly into the dry ingredients.

      Reply
  21. Gillian

    5 stars
    I made this without a mixer and it turned out great! I had to knead by hand for a little bit longer, maybe 5-7 minutes more than indicated. I used an 8×8 in pan. Then in our fan-assisted oven, it was golden brown by around 18 minutes. This will be a regular feature in our home for sure.

    Reply
  22. Techie

    First time for me to bake bread and this was perfect! Thank you! Had to look for a video on how to knead though 😊

    Reply