Memphis-Style Butter Rolls

Southern Kitchen

Serves: 12

Hands On Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes



1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the counter

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup buttermilk, chilled

Ground cinnamon (optional)


2 cups whole milk

2/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla


To make the rolls: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap one stick of butter, set on a plate, place on the counter near the heating oven, and let come to room temperature. It should be very soft and spreadable.

Meanwhile, cut the second stick of butter into small cubes, place in a small bowl, and freeze for 10 minutes to chill. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and 2 tablespoons of the sugar with the baking powder, salt and baking soda. Add the chilled cubed butter and toss to coat in the flour. Use your fingers to pinch and rub the butter into the flour mixture to form a crumbly meal. Add the buttermilk and stir gently until no dry spots of flour remain.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured counter. Flour the top of the dough and roll into a rectangle that measures about 12 by 18 inches. Gently spread the softened butter across the surface of the dough. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and sprinkle with cinnamon, if using. Starting from one of the longer sides, roll the dough up as you would a jelly roll. Use a sharp knife or a bench scraper to cut the dough roll into 12 even slices.

Place the rolls, cut side-up, in a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Refrigerate while making the sauce.

To make the sauce: In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, sugar and vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.

Pour the sauce into the baking dish around the rolls. Bake until risen and golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool at least until the sauce stops bubbling. Serve the rolls warm, drizzled with the sauce.

About the recipe

Made from buttermilk biscuit dough, sugar and plenty of butter, these rich dessert rolls are made in the style of Memphis soul food restaurants. Learn more in Saving Southern Recipes.