Potato Rolls

Potato Rolls

This is another of the posts in my Memory Lane series.  I am having fun digging into my earliest food memories and sharing the recipes here.  As I think about it, though, I do believe that my earliest food memory is from when I was 2 years old.  Yes, I really can remember back to when I was 2.  Anyway, that earliest memory revolves around eating a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast.  My baby brother woke up and I stopped eating breakfast to follow my mom into his room.  When I came back to the table, my scrambled eggs were gone.  I remember crying about it and my mom told me that I must have eaten them and she wouldn’t make me any more.  To this day, I don’t know what happened to those eggs.  So strange.

However, scrambled eggs has absolutely nothing to do with my memories surrounding potato rolls.  These were very special rolls that my grandmother only made for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.  I don’t know why they were only reserved for those times, but it may be because the dough is prepared the night before and left to rise in the refrigerator.  That’s a great plus during busy Sundays or Holidays when cooking time is at a premium.

These rolls are amazingly tender and moist.  My cousins and I used to sneak as many of these as we could before the adults would ban us from existence.  What can I say?  It was the South in the 60’s and we “young-un’s” weren’t supposed to be seen or heard (except by Granny because she loved us so much and appreciated that we loved her rolls enough to risk life and limb to sneak them.)

I have not made these rolls for many years, mostly because I live my life flying by the seat of my pants and always make quick recipes for rolls.  However, after making these rolls and taking that first wonderful bite, I promised myself that these will be on my to-do list more often.  My husband and son were the only ones around for dinner the night that I made these and both of them asked the same thing, “What did you do to these rolls?”  “They are potato rolls.”   “Is there honey in them?”  “Nope.  Sugar.”   “Did you add any kind of spices?”  “Nope.  Just mashed potatoes.”   It is incredible what mashed potatoes and the potato cooking water can do for the flavor of what would otherwise be fairly ordinary rolls.  Plus, allowing the dough to sit overnight really sends these rolls over-the-top on the flave-o-meter.

In the spirit of true confessions, I ate three rolls, John ate two of them, and Matt gobbled up something like six or twelve (with butter).  He had a plate piled high with them and was heading for the couch when John and I went up to bed.  Time to get somebody on a statin for cholesterol control.

I have kept the recipe just as Granny wrote it, including the shortening. I am sure that butter would work well also.  I use it in all of the other types of rolls that I make and it works great.  However, I wanted to be true to this recipe, so I kept the shortening.


Potato Rolls

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours

With mashed potatoes incorporated into the dough, these rolls are light and tender.


  • 1 pkg. or 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mashed potatoes (cook and mash about 2 medium-sized potatoes, do not add milk or butter)
  • 1 cup potato water (use the water in which the potatoes were cooked)
  • 5-6 cups white flour


  1. Dissolve yeast in the 1/2 cup warm water. Add a pinch of sugar to help activate the yeast.
  2. While the yeast is proofing, in the bowl of a heavy duty electric mixer, mix together the hot potato water and the shortening until the shortening has melted.
  3. Add the sugar, salt, and mashed potatoes and mix until everything is well blended. Allow the mixture to cool before adding the yeast and eggs, otherwise you will have dead yeast and cooked eggs. Not a pretty site.
  4. Add the proofed yeast and the eggs to the above cooled mixture and mix until well blended.
  5. Add 3 cups of flour and mix on medium speed until smooth.
  6. With the mixer running, add 2-3 more cups flour, 1/2 cup at a time just until the dough leaves the side of the bowl. The dough should be soft, but not sticky. Mix on high speed until smooth and elastic.
  7. Gather into a ball and place in a large oiled bowl. Turn the dough over once in the bowl so that the oiled side of dough is facing up. Place plastic wrap tightly over the bowl and put in the refrigerator for 2-24 hours. (I had my dough in the fridge for almost 24 hours.)
  8. Remove dough from refrigerator and punch down. Knead the dough by hand for a minute or two to work out the large gas bubbles. Return the dough to the bowl, cover, and allow to warm for about 30 minutes.
  9. Shape rolls and place in well oiled pan. Put in a warm place and allow to rise until about double in bulk. Bake in a 375-degree oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes.


The mashed potatoes are simply cooked potatoes that have been mashed without milk or butter. It takes about 2 medium potatoes to get 1 cup of mashed potatoes.

Make sure that you reserve 1 cup of the potato cooking water. This will be added to the rolls. It really does make a difference in the taste of the rolls. If, however, the potato water gets tossed, just use regular water.

I used a heavy duty mixer (Bosch) to make the dough. Of course, you can make the dough by hand.

This dough is best when it is allowed to sit overnight in the refrigerator. I let mine sit for almost 24 hours before I got around to making the rolls and it was great. If the dough rises too much in the fridge, punch it down, cover it back up tightly, and leave it in in the fridge until you are ready to make rolls.

Recipe by Terri @ that's some good cookin'



First mix together the hot potato water and the shortening until the shortening has melted.  Add the mashed potatoes, sugar, and salt and mix well.  After the hot mixture has cooled, add the proofed yeast and eggs…
Potato Rolls
…and mix well.
Potato Rolls
Add 3 cups of flour and mix until the flour is well incorporated.
Potato Rolls
Start adding additional flour 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.  As flour is added, the dough will begin to gather around the dough hook, but will still cling to the sides of the bowl.Potato Rolls
Watch carefully as you add the last of the flour.  Somewhere between 5 and 6 cups total of flour, the dough will leave the sides of the bowl.  Stop adding flour.  The dough will be soft, but not sticky when touched.  Continue to allow the machine to knead the dough until smooth and elastic.  Or, if you are kneading by hand, continue to knead until dough is smooth and elastic, incorporating as little flour as possible; only enough to keep the dough from sticking to your hands.  Tricky, I know.
Potato Rolls
Potato Rolls
Just a quick side note:  This dough was beautiful.  Look at how the gluten was developed and how light and stretchy it is.  This kind of dough will make tender rolls.
Potato Rolls
Remove dough from mixing and gather into a ball.  Put the dough into a large, well oiled bowl.  Turn over once, so that the top of the dough gets a film of oil on it. This will help keep the dough from drying out and will also keep it from sticking to the cover of the bowl as the dough rises.
Potato Rolls
Put a piece of plastic wrap tightly over the bowl.  This will keep the dough from drying out as it rises.
Potato Rolls
This is how my dough looked after almost 24 hours.  If your dough gets really happy in the refrigerator and starts to rise above the bowl before you are ready to make rolls, punch it down, cover it tightly. and return it to the refrigerator.
Potato Rolls
This is the fun part.  When you are ready to make your rolls, give the dough a good punch with your first.  One word of caution, however…don’t miss the dough when you punch it.  It could be mildly on the painful side.  Okay, a lot on the painful side.
Potato Rolls
Potato Rolls
Punching the dough helps to release the lovely bubbles which have built up from the active yeast.  Continue to work the bubbles out of the dough.  I usually do this while the dough is still in the bowl.  I simply take the edge of the dough, lift it, and then push it down towards the middle.  I repeat this process several times, pulling and pushing until the dough feels as though it is pretty well deflated.  Let the dough rest for about 30 minutes to warm up.
Potato Rolls
Shape the dough into whatever type of rolls you want to have.  My personal favorite is a clover leaf.  This is made by making three small balls of dough and putting them together in a muffin cup.  My grandmother used to make these rolls by shaping them into single balls, putting one ball per muffin cup.  You can make other shapes, or even put the put rolls side by side in a baking pan as I do with my Sunday Best Rolls.
Potato Rolls
Potato Rolls
Brush the rolls with melted butter, cover the pans with plastic wrap, and then put the pans in a warm place and let the dough rise until about double in bulk.
Potato Rolls
Bake for 20-30 minutes in a 375-degree oven until the rolls are golden brown.
Potato Rolls
Just look at how tender and light these rolls are.  And the flavor is so wonderful!
Potato Rolls


  1. Crystal H says

    I made the dough for these last night, only sub was butter instead of shortening. I baked 12 of the rolls last night. Perfect is the only way to describe them. My daughter has swollen tonsils and hasn’t been able to eat ANYTHING but Sprite & milkshakes. She had 5. I made 12 more rolls at lunch, dissapeared. My dd nabbed 4 before my FIL & hubby surrounded the cookie sheet. I have enough to make 12 more for supper tomorrow but they disappear between the cookie sheet & the kitchen table. Thanks for a great tasty recipe!

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