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!

Homemade Butterhorns (Thanksgiving Crescent Rolls) ♥ KitchenParade.com, my Iowa grandmother's recipe for butterhorns, the 'crescent rolls' so often served at Thanksgiving. Easy dough to work with. Recipe, tips, step-by-step photos, nutrition and Weight Watchers points included.

An Old Family Recipe, Updated for Contemporary Tastes. Nothing Quite Like Homemade Bread Made from Scratch. An Easy Dough to Work With, Easy to Roll the Distinctive Butterhorn Shape. A Thanksgiving Essential.

On My Mind: Up-Ending the Truths of Bread-Baking

On My Mind ♥ KitchenParade.com, thinking about better techniques for making bread.

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 undergrad hard slogging. In Economics, you see, there is no Truth, just perspective.

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 – that is, until we read the second book, Children of God.

In literature, you see, Truth is personal, yours and mine may not match.

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.


And Now for My Grandmother's Butterhorns

This is my Gramma 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!

How to Make Homemade Butterhorns

It's a two-day process to make Butterhorns, including three rises instead of the usual two. For big meals like Thanksgiving, that's a plus! It means doing some of the work the day before the big meal.

  • Mix the dough
  • Let the dough rise for the first time on the counter
  • Let the dough rise the second time overnight and in the fridge

  • Roll out and shape the dough
  • Let the rolls rise the third and last time on the counter
  • Bake the rolls
  • Devour!

Step-by-Step, Forming Homemade Butterhorns

[left/top] [center] [right/bottom]

After the dough rises the first time, it's time to shape the Butterhorns. This is where you'll be thinking, "Wow, this dough is a dream to work with."

  • [left/top] Dust the counter with flour, just a bit, you may need just a little. The less flour, the more tender the Homemade Butterhorns.
  • [center] Gently deflate the dough, use a fist to press it to release air, it's not a punch, although that's how it's often characterized, more a gentle deflation.
  • [right/bottom] With your hands, shape the dough into a flat round, this makes it easier to roll out into a near-perfect round.
[left/top] [center] [right/bottom]

And then it's time to cut the dough into the separate pieces, each one will become a Butterhorn.

  • [left/top] With a knife, cut the dough into 3 (for large butterhorns), 4 (for medium butterhorns) or 8 (for mini butterhorns) pieces each weighing roughly same amount. The number is up to you, it depends on what size and how many rolls you're making.
  • [center] With a rolling pin, roll dough piece into a thin round of even thickness throughout.
  • [right/bottom] With a pizza cutter or a knife, cut each round into 8 triangles. Now can you see where we're headed?
[left/top] [center] [right/bottom]

Now let's roll these Butterhorns!

  • [left/top] Starting with wide end, roll each triangle toward the tip.
  • [center] Leaving room for rolls to rise again, arrange the Butterhorns on the baking sheet, tip-side down.
  • [right/bottom] Cover the Butterhorns with a clean towel and place it in a warm place for the last rise.

Uh Oh!

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

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

Bookmark! PIN! Share!

How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this recipe for a special bread for Thanksgiving hits the mark, go ahead, save and share! I'd be honored ...

Homemade Butterhorns (Thanksgiving Crescent Rolls) ♥ KitchenParade.com, my grandmother's recipe for butterhorns, the 'crescent rolls' so often served at Thanksgiving.


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/112g) salted butter
  • 3 large eggs, whisked well
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons active-dry 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 the butter and let it all cool to lukewarm.

By hand or with an electric mixer, whisk the eggs until well broken up, then add the sugar and yeast. Gently blend in the 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.

KNEAD Either in the mixer using the dough hook or by hand, knead for 5 minutes.

FIRST RISE Set the dough aside to clean and lightly oil the bowl with vegetable oil. Put the dough back in, roll the dough 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 the dough rise until about double in size, how long this takes depends on many factors, especially the temperature of the room.

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 Here's how to roll out the dough to form the distinctive cornucopia shapes.

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

Lightly sprinkle flour over a clean 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, lightweight towel and let rise in a warm place until rolls are slightly puffy.

BAKE Heat oven to 400F/200C. Bake the rolls until golden, about 10 minutes.

BRUSH While still warm, brush the center section (not the entire top) of each roll with butter, this gives the butterhorns a golden glossy appearance without making the entire roll too soft.

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?!

FOR MORE INFO If you "skipped straight to the recipe," please scroll back to the top of this page for ingredient information, ingredient substitutions, tips and more. If you print this recipe, you'll want to check the recipe online for even more tips and extra information about ingredient substitutions, best results and more. See https://www.kitchenparade.com/2013/11/homemade-butterhorns-recipe.html .
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Mini/Medium/Large Butterhorn: 79/105/158 Calories; 3/3/5g Tot Fat; 2/2/3g Sat Fat; 19/25/38mg Cholesterol; 93/124/187mg Sodium; 11/15/22g Carb; 0/1/1g Fiber; 3/4/6g Sugar; 2/3/4g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 2/2/3 & PointsPlus 2/2/4 & SmartPoints 3/3/6 & Freestyle 3/4/6 & MyWW green 3/4/6 & blue 3/4/6 & purple 3/4/6 & future WW points.

The Bread of Life: More Recipe Ideas for Thanksgiving Breads

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~ Six Thanksgiving Menus ~
~ more Thanksgiving Recipes, Menus & More ~
~ My Very Best Thanksgiving Vegetable Recipes ~
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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 recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail, you'll find my current address in the FAQs. 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, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
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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