Basic Sweet Yeast Dough Recipe

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Basic Sweet Yeast Dough can be used for any sweet bread recipe, from dinner rolls to donuts.

This basic recipe is all you need to know in order to make any of these sweet roll recipes (and monkey bread too!) – the possibilities are endless.

A basic sweet yeast dough that can be used for just about any sweet bread your carb-loving heart desires. Its especially great for sweet rolls, dinner rolls, monkey bread and even homemade donuts.

This post has been a long time in coming. One of my favorite things to make are sweet and savory rolls. There are over a dozen roll recipes on the site.

If you’re intimidated by yeast breads, trust me, you can do this. I’m giving you all the tips and directions you need.

Everyone loves homemade cinnamon rolls and once you’ve made them a time or two, you’re going to wonder why you ever waited so long!

I’m here to teach you how to make the easiest and simplest yeast dough and show you it’s a lot simpler than you think.

A basic sweet yeast dough that can be used for just about any sweet bread your carb-loving heart desires. Its especially great for sweet rolls, dinner rolls, monkey bread and even homemade donuts.

This recipe for a basic sweet yeast dough is one I have been using for years to make all kinds of sweet rolls, breads, and yes, donuts too.

Ready? I’m about to break down all the nitty gritty involved in sweet roll dough. If you’re scared, consider this the ultimate guide to sweet yeast dough.

How to make Basic Sweet Yeast Dough

A basic sweet yeast dough that can be used for just about any sweet bread your carb-loving heart desires. Its especially great for sweet rolls, dinner rolls, monkey bread and even homemade donuts.

Begin by getting all of the ingredients ready. You’ll need just seven simple ingredients! Let’s run through each ingredient.

Yeast – I always use active dry instant yeast because I like how fast it rises and it’s never failed me. I buy it in a big package and store it in the freezer so it lasts longer. You can use regular yeast too, it will just take longer to rise. If you store it in the freezer like me, there is no need to thaw it first, the warm milk will do the trick.

Milk – I use whole milk that I have microwaved just until it’s warm enough that I can barely keep my finger submerged in it (115 F if you want to be precise). 2% Milk would work too.  I’ve never tried baking with skim milk.

Sugar – I use regular white granulated sugar

Butter – This should be well softened, almost melted, but not quite. If it does start to melt a little bit, it’s okay, you can still use it.

Salt – Don’t forget the salt. It’s a key ingredient here. Salt is the difference between a bad batch of sweet yeast dough and a successful one. Don’t ask how many batches of bread I’ve ruined because I forgot the salt.

Eggs – Be sure they are room temperature, they will incorporate better into the dough.

Flour – Use regular all purpose flour. I’d stay away from whole wheat flours with this recipe, the dough will be heavy and dense.

With yeast dough, the amount of flour needed can vary slightly depending on the humidity, protein content of the flour, etc.

Add just enough flour so that the dough will hold together. This dough should be slightly sticky. You can always add a bit more flour as you are kneading it if needed.

A basic sweet yeast dough that can be used for just about any sweet bread your carb-loving heart desires. Its especially great for sweet rolls, dinner rolls, monkey bread and even homemade donuts.

Once you have all the ingredients, it comes together very quick. Just stir the yeast and milk together, add the sugar, butter, salt and eggs.

Stir in the flour and you have dough. No mixer is needed. I prefer kneading by hand, but you can use a mixer if you like.

A basic sweet yeast dough that can be used for just about any sweet bread your carb-loving heart desires. Its especially great for sweet rolls, dinner rolls, monkey bread and even homemade donuts.

To me kneading is therapeutic. You’ll want to knead for at least 5-6 minutes by hand to get that smooth elastic consistency.

It will take less time if you use a mixer to knead. If you never done it, check this video on how to knead, it’s very simple to learn.

After kneading, the dough is ready to be frozen, refrigerated, or allowed to rise if you plan to use it immediately.

Can you freeze sweet yeast dough?

Yes, you should freeze the dough immediately after kneading in a gallon sized freezer-safe bag. This is convenient if you want to have dough on hand to make rolls as you need them.

Frozen dough is best used within one month of freezing. However, I’ve used it after that with good results.

To use frozen sweet yeast dough, thaw on the counter and allow to rise until double. Use as directed in the rolls. It can also be thawed overnight in the refrigerator and used the next morning as directed in the recipe.

How to freeze yeast dough. A basic sweet yeast dough that can be used for just about any sweet bread your carb-loving heart desires. Its especially great for sweet rolls, dinner rolls, monkey bread and even homemade donuts.

Can you make basic sweet yeast dough ahead of time (the night before)?

Yes, make as directed through the kneading. Place in a large bowl and cover tightly. The dough will still continue to rise slowly even in the refrigerator, so keep an eye on it so it doesn’t outgrow the bowl.

Use the dough within 24 hours of refrigerating. Take the dough out of the fridge and let it rise while coming to room temperature. Use as directed in the recipe.

A basic sweet yeast dough that can be used for just about any sweet bread your carb-loving heart desires. Its especially great for sweet rolls, dinner rolls, monkey bread and even homemade donuts.


You can use this dough to make the best cinnamon rolls ever, dinner rolls, monkey bread and even homemade donuts.

Throughout the week I’ll be posting and linking to recipes for the dough, but meanwhile, you can get started with one of the recipes below.

A basic sweet yeast dough that can be used for just about any sweet bread your carb-loving heart desires. Its especially great for sweet rolls, dinner rolls, monkey bread and even homemade donuts.

Basic Sweet Yeast Dough Recipe

4.5 from 18 votes
My favorite go-to sweet roll dough for just about any kind of sweet roll or bread. This is a basic sweet yeast dough that can be used for just about any sweet bread. Its especially great for sweet rolls, dinner rolls, monkey bread and even homemade donuts.
Prep Time: 50 mins
Additional Time: 2 hrs
Total Time: 2 hrs 50 mins
Course: Breads
Cuisine: American
Servings: 1 batch

Ingredients 

For the Dough

  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1 cup very warm milk 115 F, I use whole milk.
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter well softened almost melting.
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • 4 cups all purpose flour

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, stir together the yeast and milk until dissolved. Beat in the sugar, butter, salt and eggs until well combined. Add the flour, one cup at a time, stirring until incorporated. The dough should be shaggy and still sticky.
  • Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead 5-6 minutes until smooth and elastic. Or if you use a mixer knead 4-5 minutes. Freeze or refrigerate at this point if desired.
  • If baking now, continue by placing the kneaded dough into a greased bowl. Cover and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size. The length of time needed to rise will depend on how warm the room is. Ideal rising temperature is 72 F.
  • When the dough has risen, punch dough down with a floured hand and shape and bake as desired.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/24 · Calories: 139kcal · Carbohydrates: 20g · Protein: 4g · Fat: 5g · Saturated Fat: 3g · Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g · Cholesterol: 28mg · Sodium: 135mg · Fiber: 1g · Sugar: 3g
Tried this recipe?Mention @chocolatewithgrace or tag #chocolatewithgrace!

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{originally published 4/16/18 – recipe notes and photos updated 1/4/21}

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  1. Bill Sheehy says

    5 stars
    I live in Queensland, Australia and am unable to buy the Pillsbury canned biscuits so your recipe for sweet yeast dough is very helpful.

  2. Jeannette says

    Like the smash and grab guy Bill above, I too am unable to buy Pillsbury canned biscuits, or even frozen bread dough from the stores for my recipes (New Zealand.) We moved two years ago, and that is one of the main things I miss most; having quick access to already made dough. My sisters always had the yeast baking taken care of, so I never had to learn how to do it myself, but am finally starting to have some success. But what brought me here was your information about freezing the dough for future use. Thanks for including that in your writings.

  3. Victoria says

    This recipe at 4 cups of flour made a very wet dough. I had to add almost a half cup more just for it to come together. We shall see. Fingers crossed

  4. Vicky says

    3 stars
    I made the dough today, and had to add almost 3/4 cup more flour. Very sticky with 4 cups of flour only. Dough is not sweet. Very bland. Can you add more sugar to the recipe??

    • Mallory says

      What are you planning on using the dough for? Most of the time I use the dough for cinnamon rolls or monkey bread and those recipes call for a lot more sugar so the dough is plenty sweet as is.

  5. Larry Syverson says

    4 stars
    Hi Mallory… Tried the Basic Sweet Yeast Dough Recipe and have a couple of comments.

    First try… Used the requisite amount of flour though I didn’t sift it before measuring. I normally sift right into the measuring cup. I used exactly one cup of whole milk… which I heated to 115 F in the microwave. Then put the y east into the warm mink to get it going.
    Microwaved the stick of unsalted butter just barely to a liquid. Proofed the dough in my oven with a cookie sheet full of hot water on the “standard proofing” setting. Which is right on 90 F.
    How did it turn out… not well. When I kneaded it with my dough hook and Kitchenaide mixer I could tell it appeared to be lacking moisture, but I forged one. Didn’t rise well.. taste was OK but too dense/dry.

    Second try… Learning from my first try, I made a couple of changes. I used 1 cup of 2% milk… plus 2-3 Tbsp additional. Sifted the flour directly to my measuring cup when measuring. This tends to fluff up the flour so you have actually less flour in the dough mixture. When kneading with my mixer you could see the dough was now able to “flow” rather than just being a clump of dough. Almost like a heavy batter… Proofed the same way… and it rose MUCH better. Easily doubled in size +, this time. In both cases I proofed it for 90 mins. rather than the 60 called for. At 60 mins. it is just getting going.

    One thing I noticed is how it looks after proofing…. your picture at the top of this page shows a big round ball… This is what my first attempt looked like. Second attempt, when you dump it from the proofing bowl it would flow out and settle to a somewhat flat 3″ thick pile. Super soft and fluffy. folded it over and kneaded it a few times the rolled it to about 1 1/2″ thick and used a biscuit cutter to cut circles out of the dough. Placed them edge to edge in a rectangular glass “cake pan”. Proofed it another 30 mins and cooked at 350F for 25 mins. They turned out light and fluffy! Couldn’t add a picture to this post….
    So if anyone has an issue with dry dough,try these changes.

  6. Diane says

    5 stars
    This dough is absolutely….BEAUTIFUL! I was feeling horrible, it was cold, raining and cloudy and I still succeeded and got some highly favorable rresults.

    This is now, officially, my go to yeast dough recipe. I can’t tthank you enough. I did make a couple of adjustments. Although, adjusting a “set” recipe isn’t for everyone I had such success that I thought I’d share the tweaks. Instead of 1 cup of milk, I used half of a cup of milk and half of a cup of heavy whipping cream. I didn’t have any stick butter on hand so I substituted with Land O Lakes soft squeeze spread. And, because I was using it, primarily, as a sweet dough I added a quarter of a teaspoon of lemon extract and a quarter of a teaspoon of vanilla extract. I divided the dough in half and tried a couple of things out. After experimenting with disappointing yeast donut recipes one after another, this one was the blue ribbon winner for me and I used it to make a batch of cinnamon rolls.

    I CAN’T thank you enough for this recipe.

  7. Guynel. Collett says

    5 stars
    I have made a lot of bread in my day, but couldn’t remember the exact measurements. I followed your sweet dough recipient and it turned out perfect. I did use bread flour, however. It proofed beautifully, I use poppy seed filling, it turned out wonderful. Great recipient, I wll use it from now on. Thanks!

  8. Cookie Miles says

    I don’t have the strength to knead. Can this dough be made in a bread machine? What adjustments would be made to the recipe?

  9. Emerald Gardner says

    So trying this tonight! Leaving it in the fridge overnight (lets see what happens 😀 )
    Up to now i have a beautiful dough !

    • Mallory says

      I’ve never tried it, but you’re welcome to give it a shot. The thing is the milk has fat content that’s important to the recipe and almond milk doesn’t have much fat. What would you use for the butter and eggs?

  10. Shelby Bush says

    I dont know what I’m doing wrong even with rapid yeast it takes forever for my dough to rise. Then after I make the cinnamon rolls some tries they didnt rise at all I have tried your recipe. My mamas recipe. I even did it like it said on the yeast pack and mixed the yeast with dry ingriedients. I tried using the whole pack as my mamas recipe called for and flat????

  11. Dannielle says

    5 stars
    I’ve made this twice now. The first time was extremely messy and used a lot of flour during kneading. The second time I added a cup more flour and used minimal while kneading.. this made the whole process easier. Both batches tasted wonderful. I used them to make soft pretzels. so I did the baking soda bath, sprinkled with sesame seeds then baked in the oven.
    Wonderful!! Thankyou.

  12. Marianne says

    4 stars
    No baking temperature mentioned for the bread; nor amount of time.
    The dough was perfect and tasty. Hopefully, baking at 350 for 30 mins will do.

  13. Tereza says

    5 stars
    This is the first time I am leaving review under a recipe.
    I come from Europe and we do a lot of raise dough – but the flour and yeast there are different. So after multiple tries, I decided to follow “north american recipe” to see if that will make a difference.
    I am in Canada for 8 years and this is the first time I got smooth dough that raised nicely. After baking the buns were soft and yummy. Tastes like my childhood. Saving this recipe <3 Thank you so much!

  14. Gina McGraw says

    Thank you for posting the freezing information. My elderly mom used to be able to buy frozen sweet dough in the store but cannot find it now. With the above information I can make it for her and place in her freezer.

  15. Kerri Gates says

    I will be using your recipe soon to make my aunt some prune kitchen. Yours looks simple can’t wait.

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