The Best Thanksgiving Dinner Rolls I’ve Ever Made Have One Special Ingredient

published Nov 15, 2023
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There’s something magical about bread-making. It makes us slow down, grounds us deeply in the present moment, and brings us into that liminal space where our minds wander and our hearts make sense of things. 

Plus, there’s something so satisfying about working with yeast and waiting for dough to rise. When the bread is done, well, this is the ultimate form of expressing love through food. Nothing conveys care like freshly baked, homemade bread! Even before it’s out of the oven, your whole house smells like comfort. 

Andrea Nguyen’s sweetened condensed milk rolls are perfect for lazy holidays at home. You have to be around for a few rises of the dough, and in-between times are just the time slots for prepping other food or piecing together a puzzle by the fire. Fair warning, though, if you make them as a side dish (and you should, they’re amazing), you’ll have to fight everyone off when they come out of the oven!

How to Make Andrea Nguyen’s Sweetened Condensed Milk Rolls

This recipe doesn’t contain eggs or butter, so if you use sweetened condensed coconut milk, they are vegan. I went with regular sweetened condensed milk. 

The rolls aren’t hard to make, but they do take time, although most of it isn’t hands-on time. I know some people are intimidated by working with yeast or having to knead dough and both of these are part of this recipe. However, the instructions are really clear and there’s even a very informative video about how to shape the rolls. 

Basically, you mix together warm water, sugar, and yeast, and then add some coconut oil, salt, bread flour, and of course the sweetened condensed milk to the mixture. Mix it by hand or in a mixer. Allow it to rise in a greased bowl, covered, and then punch it down, turn it, and allow it to rise again. 

Then it’s time to shape rolls. Cut the large dough mound in half, and then roll each half into a rope that’s about two inches in diameter. Divide the rope into six pieces, and shape each of those into a tight ball. Place in a greased or parchment-lined baking dish, allow to rise, covered, one more time, and then brush with a sweetened condensed milk wash before putting them in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees. 

Get the recipe: Andrea Nguyen’s Easy Sweetened Condensed Milk Rolls

My Honest Review

Guys, this bread is so good. They may look like homemade Hawaiian rolls, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure they were going to be worth it to make when you can easily just pick up a pack of Hawaiian rolls (which are so good themselves). But one bite and you realize these sweetened condensed milk rolls are in a league all their own and, yes, totally worth the effort. 

These rolls are soft but flavor-dense. They’re chewier than a fluffy dinner roll, and the sweetness of the condensed milk, both in the rolls and on top of them, makes them truly decadent, almost like dessert. You can eat them alone or as a side, and, either way, their humble looks belie how show-stoppingly delicious they are. They would be great with your morning coffee too.

4 Tips for Making Andrea Nguyen’s Sweetened Condensed Milk Rolls

1) Don’t be intimidated by yeast. I get it, yeast can feel mysterious and temperamental. But don’t let that stop you from making these delicious rolls. There is a step in the recipe that has you put your yeast into warm sugar water. If you see bubbles forming during this stage, you know that your yeast is alive. Remember to stick to warm water, not water that’s too hot, because that can kill the yeast. 

2) Allow enough time. The recipe has three rises that are each about an hour long, plus cook time. I had visions of pulling warm buns out of the oven just in time for read-aloud time with my older kids, but I didn’t plan ahead well enough and had to enjoy them piping hot with just my husband. (The kids got theirs in the morning.) If you’re making these as a side, count back at least four hours and start then. 

3) You may need a pan bigger than 9×9. The recipe mentions using a 9×9 square pan, but my buns didn’t fit. I had to use a slightly bigger one. Starting with a bigger one means you won’t dirty two pans. (Just don’t use one that’s too big or you won’t get that beautiful “set of buns” look!)

4) Make sure to watch the video about how to roll the buns. The best instruction in this case is visual. Learning from the video that shows how to roll your buns ensures you get that nice, taught top on your rolls. 

Get the recipe: Andrea Nguyen’s Easy Sweetened Condensed Milk Rolls 

This article was originally published in November 2021.