Homemade Butterhorns
My Iowa Grandmother’s Recipe

My Iowa grandmother's recipe for Homemade Butterhorns – some people call them Thanksgiving Crescent Rolls, yes? – made with a rich yeast dough shaped in the familiar "cornucopia" shapes that so suit a Thanksgiving table. I like baking a mix of "mini" Homemade Butterhorns for Thanksgiving dinner and larger rolls for after-dinner turkey sandwiches!

Plus, my thoughts on the book "Bread Matters" – it's up-ended many of my"truths" about bread-baking.

Homemade Butterhorns (aka Thanksgiving Crescent Rolls), my Iowa grandmother's recipe, a rich yeast dough shaped in the familiar 'cornucopia' shapes that so suit a Thanksgiving table. From Kitchen Parade.

So here’s my Big Question: What is Truth, anyway? (A Small but Pertinent Question: What in heck does truth have to do with Homemade Butterhorns? Read on.)

Once upon a time, I minored in Economics. I even considered graduate school – until someone said I would “re-learn” four years of hard slogging. In Economics, there was no Truth, you see.

And then my book club read the wonderful The Sparrow by author Maria Doria Russell. Oh! we were so certain we understood the “truth” of the story – until we read the second book, Children of God. In literature, there was more than one truth, you see.

And now to Truth & Butterhorns.

For a couple of years now, the book Bread Matters by Andrew Whitley has hammered away at my bread-baking “truths” – up-ending much of what I felt certain was, well, certain. For example, my “truth” is that bread dough is best mixed and kneaded by hand. (It’s only natural, really, given my family history, see the story in Best-Ever Oatmeal Bread.) But Whitley makes the case that a bread dough’s glutens develop better when dough is kneaded more quickly, a job for a standing mixer.

Bread Matters has me re-thinking the “truths” of bread-baking. It’s a book for experienced bread bakers, as it won’t really teach anyone “how” to make bread, and while there are recipes, its importance, I think, is in its early chapters.

GRAMMA’s BUTTERNHORNS This is my Grandmother Kellogg’s recipe, passed along by my cousin LeAnne who remembers that Gramma’s recipe came from someone else in the family. “Probably Great-grandmother Grove,” my 86-year old father says, “She was always working in the kitchen.”

Butterhorns are a “celebration” bread – that’s one made just once or twice a year for a special occasion, like Hot Cross Buns for Good Friday and Armenian Easter Bread for Easter and Pan de Muerto for Day of the Dead.

Homemade Butterhorns' cornucopia shape just suits Thanksgiving! The dough is rich and easy-easy to knead and roll out. I like to make a mix of mini rolls for dinner and some larger rolls for after-dinner sandwiches. If you can, gather people round for a roll or two as soon as they’re out of the oven, so lovely!

ALANNA’s TIPS Keep the dough a bit wet and sticky, it makes for more tender rolls. I have skipped the first rise entirely and the rolls turn out fine. This means you can mix the rolls right before bed! I do like to bake Butterhorns as close to dinnertime as possible. For Thanksgiving, that means they’re baked in that small window before the side dishes go into the oven. But hmm, since Homemade Butterhorns only bake for 10 minutes, surely it should be possible to serve them hot from the oven? I’m going to work on that this year! New Truth!


See below for step-by-step photos
Hands-on time: 25 minutes to mix, 25 minutes to roll plus occasional attention throughout
Time to table: 24 hours
Makes 24 large rolls, 32 medium rolls or 48 mini rolls
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter
  • 3 large eggs, whisked well
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 4 cups all-purpose or bread flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring or 500g plus ½ - 1 cup more
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons table salt
  • Vegetable oil for bowl
  • Additional flour for rolling
  • Melted butter for brushing


MIX DOUGH In a saucepan, scald the milk (to “scald” milk means to gently heat it just to the boiling point, without allowing it to boil). Remove from heat, stir in butter and let cool to lukewarm.

By hand or with an electric mixer, whisk eggs until well broken up, then add sugar and yeast. Gently blend in cooled milk mixture. A cupful at a time, add 4 cups flour and salt and blend in well. A quarter cup at a time, add more flour until a workable dough begins to form, drawing away from sides of bowl. Either in the mixer or by hand, knead for 5 minutes.

FIRST RISE Set dough aside to clean and lightly oil the bowl with vegetable oil. Put dough back in, roll inside bowl to cover the outer surface with oil (this prevents cracking as the ball of dough expands as it rises). Cover the bowl with a clean towel and place in a warm spot to rise. Let dough rise until double in size.

SECOND COLD RISE With a fist, gently deflate the dough until compact. Transfer to a refrigerator container large enough for the dough to double in size again and refrigerate overnight.


FORM ROLLS With a fist, gently deflate the dough until compact. Cut dough into three (for large rolls) or four (for medium rolls) or eight (for mini rolls) pieces weighing roughly the same. With your hands, shape each piece into a flat round.

Lightly sprinkle flour over a work surface. With a rolling pin, roll a piece into a large thin round. With a pizza cutter or a knife, cut into eight triangles. Starting at the wider end, roll each triangle. Arrange on an ungreased baking sheet, tip-side down, leaving room for rolls to rise.

LAST RISE When the baking sheet is full, cover with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place until rolls are slightly puffy.

BAKE Heat oven to 400F. Bake rolls for 10 minutes or until golden.

BRUSH Brush the center section of each roll with butter.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE Per Mini/Medium/Large Butterhorn: 78/118/157 Calories; 3/4/5g Tot Fat; 2/2/3g Sat Fat; 19/28/38mg Cholesterol; 93/140/187mg Sodium; 11/17/23g Carb; 0/1/1g Fiber; 2/4/5g Sugar; 2/3/4g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 2/2.5/3.5 & WW Points Plus 2/3/4.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite family bread recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

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Step-by-Step, Forming Homemade Butterhorns

(hover for a detailed description)
Dust counter with flour Deflate dough Cut dough into pieces
Shape dough pieces into flat rounds Roll into a round Cut into 8 pieces
Roll butterhorns Arrange on baking sheet, tip-side down Cover for the last rise

Uh Oh!

Homemade Butterhorns, mis-shapen, easy to prevent by placing tip-side down on the baking sheet.

Uh Oh! Always place the Butterhorns tip-side down on the baking sheet, otherwise, oops, this is what happens!

The Bread of Life: More Recipe Ideas for Thanksgiving Breads

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Skillet Cornbread Light 'n' Fluffy Homemade Whole-Grain Bread Homemade Yeast Rolls: Ice Cream Pail Buns

© Copyright 2013 Kitchen Parade

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Bread is a natural thing to do if something is upsetting you. Machines have their limits. When we taught breadmaking to 10-year-olds, we had them start with the rolly pin as their small hands didn't yet get a grip. After the gluten got going, they could knead and set aside the rolly pin. I used a Betty Crocker sweet dough that kept in the fridge for several days and it was very easy to mix. It was in very early BC's cookbook. My gnarley hands are coming up on FFF with rolls; they get uglier by the year.

    PS Butterhorns is what my Mum called them too.

  2. I'm going to try these for Thanksgiving!

  3. I really hope she's referring to her hands and not the buns as ugly.

  4. Anonymous11/17/2013

    Just read a news story on the pioneer cook and am looking forward to her blog; never expecting to see one of her recipes on Kitchen Parade. Thank you Alanna I now have a new side dish to try.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna