Soft Sandwich Rolls (NOLA-Style French Rolls)

How to make homemade yeast rolls with a soft but crispy crust and a soft interior crumb, perfect for extra-good sandwiches. If you're hankering a good po'boy, a good sub sandwich, a good hoagie, a good meatball sandwich, a good chicken salad sandwich (and so many more ...), this is your bread. If you like, make just a couple of rolls and even rolls of different shapes and sizes.

Soft Sandwich Rolls (NOLA-Style French Rolls) ♥ KitchenParade.com, soft insides with crispy crust perfect for sandwiches of all shapes and sizes, even from the same batch.

Homemade Bread, Fast & Flexible. Year-Round Sandwich Staple. Budget Friendly. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real.

The No-Plan Meal Plan.

Hate meal planning? Having trouble coming up with easy weeknight menus? Never know what to make for dinner?

How about this for a dinner rotation?

Homemade Pizza. Big Salad. Sandwiches. Another Big Salad.

That's become my four-day routine these past few months. And you know what? It's so simplified that five o'clock scramble. A dinner plan, who needs that?


  • Pizza? Pizza has become a no-stress weeknight cooking experience, thanks to a marvelous dough recipe I'll share in September. Life-changing, this.
  • Big Salads? Just greens, a bunch of veggies, some sort of already-made salad, some already-cooked meat, usually with a squirt of the house dressing for good measure. So good. So flexible. So summery.
  • Sandwiches? Again, life-changing. In 18 years of Kitchen Parade, I've shared only two sandwich recipes because ... well ... a good sandwich demands good bread and not just any good bread but a bread that's not only good but good for sandwiches.

While good sandwich bread can be found at bakeries and even some groceries, who wants to run to the store for a couple of rolls? or make a special stop? Not me. Now? Perfect sandwich rolls are just around the corner, you know, from my own kitchen.

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

Thank You, Robert!

Remember back in the spring when we were all baking bread and the stores completely ran out of both flour and yeast? An email popped up from a reader named Robert, asking if I had a recipe for "NOLA-style" bread.

Did I have that recipe? Nope. Had I ever even heard of New Orleans-style yeast bread? Nope again.

But a little research piqued my interest. Suddenly, good homemade bread for sandwiches seemed not only possible but practical and do-able: no special ingredients, no special equipment, no finicky timing.

I realized that a NOLA-style French roll might be really useful for home cooks who love sandwiches but don't make them often because good sandwich rolls aren't worth an extra trip to the store or come in too large a package or the rolls themselves are just too large.

Soft Sandwich Rolls (NOLA-Style French Rolls) ♥ KitchenParade.com, soft insides with crispy crust perfect for sandwiches of all shapes and sizes, even from the same batch.

So What, Exactly, Makes a Good Sandwich Roll?

Tastes differ, of course, but here's what I'm looking for in a sandwich roll. This list is different than for a slice of bread for toast or a dinner roll with a pat of butter. This is a roll expressly for sandwiches.

  • Good taste, fresh taste
  • Soft on the inside with a crisp but not hard crust
  • A nice proportion of surface area:height, allowing for sandwich fillings
  • The right size, not too big, not too small – and variable, some bigger, some smaller!
  • Sturdy enough to hold plenty of filling without being "hard" or "too crusty"
  • Soft enough to bite into without being marshmallow-y
  • Not too whole wheat-y
  • No preservatives

And Thank You, King Arthur Flour ... errr ... King Arthur Baking Company.

(Yes, King Arthur has a new name!)

Straight off, I found a recipe from King Arthur, what the flour and baking company calls NOLA-Style French Bread Rolls. And I was super-impressed by the descriptions of the rolls' texture from other home bakers.


  • "The crust is nice and crunchy"
  • "Soft and pillowy"
  • "Soft interior and slightly crispy crust"
  • "Beautifully soft interior and lightly crisp crust. Amazing flavor!"
  • "The outer crust is so ... crusty ... and the inside is soft and doughy."
  • "Great exterior chew and with a soft interior crumb."

Comments like those? I was up to my elbows in flour within minutes. Wouldn't you be?! I hope you have the same reaction today!

What the Heck Is NOLA?

NOLA stands for New Orleans, Louisiana. This recipe produces a French-style roll, similar to the texture and taste of long skinny French baguettes, though not the baguettes with an exterior crust that's so chewy you have to literally tear it with your teeth.

Soft Sandwich Rolls (NOLA-Style French Rolls) ♥ KitchenParade.com, soft insides with crispy crust perfect for sandwiches of all shapes and sizes, even from the same batch.

What's In These NOLA-Style Soft Sandwich Rolls? Pantry Ingredients!

In all my recipes and most well-written recipes, every ingredient serves a purpose. Each one matters. Each one contributes to the overall dish. It's not that an ingredient can't be substituted by something else but when choosing the substitute, it's important to understand why the original ingredient was present in the first place.


  • Yeast Yes, these sandwich rolls start with a yeast dough that calls for, duh, yeast. I've scaled the recipe for a single packet of either "active-dry" or "instant" yeast, that's 2-1/4 teaspoons or 7 grams but this dough has a relatively high proportion of yeast:flour, that's one of the reasons
  • Sugar Sugar is used twice, first to help activate the yeast by giving it "food" and then later to help the rolls brown in the oven. Please don't combine the two additions, they serve different purposes. A tad fussy?
  • Water Just POTW, plain ol' tap water. What's important here is the temperature of the water, it should be "tepid" – that means warm but not hot. I'm pretty sure it was in a home ec class I learned to test the water on the sensitive skin of the inner wrist, just like for a baby bottle. If the temperature feels warm (not hot, not cool) on your wrist, it's good to go.
  • Flour I've been using all-purpose flour because that's all that's been available. Some times, I add a small portion of whole wheat flour. But bread flour has a slightly higher protein content, it would be the choice, if you have it. And of course, the recipe originated with King Arthur so really, if you have King Arthur bread flour, all the better.
  • Olive Oil This dough includes a small measure of olive oil. If you forget the oil, the dough will taste fine but the color will be pale and pallid. #Ooops. #ExperienceTalkin'.
  • Salt Salt is so-so important to the flavor of bread. No skimping, no skipping!
  • Toppings Toppings are optional but I think they look pretty and add a bit of extra oomph to taste/texture of those sandwiches you'll soon be making ...

Soft Sandwich Rolls Step-by-Step.

The complete, detailed recipe is below but here are the highlights. You can do this! It's truly a simple bread dough, easy to manage, easy to work with.

bowl of activated yeast

Activate the Yeast Use a small bowl, just enough for the yeast, warm water and a touch of sugar. Stir it gently, then let it rest on the counter for 15 minutes while you gather the remaining ingredients – not that the yeast itself will be "resting". Nope! It'll change dramatically over the 15 minutes, turning into a poofy, yeasty mixture. That yeast is raring to go!


hand mix bread dough

Mix by Hand Just Until Shaggy While the yeast activates, collect the flour and other remaining ingredients in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Once the yeast is ready, stir it into the bowl, then stir it all by hand just until the flour is wet. This prevents flour from flying all over once you turn on the mixer! Ask me how I know?!


bread dough after being mixed

Mix and Knead the Dough with a Mixer Once the ingredients are collected, mixing and kneading the dough is a hands-off process with a stand mixer with a dough hook. Just set the mixer on low and let it knead for 7 minutes. The dough will pull away from the sides of the bowl and some times even up the dough hook. (If so, stop and scrape the dough back into the bowl.) The dough will be slightly sticky so after seven minutes, you'll scrape the dough out of the mixing bowl onto a floured surface and knead for just a minute or two, bringing the dough into a cohesive, manageable ball of dough.


bread dough after first rise

First Rise Yeast doughs typically (but not always) call for two rise sessions. The first rise can be done in the same mixing bowl (just wash it and rub the interior with a little oil) but I like to use a flat-ish glass bowl for rising, one where I can easily watch how the progress of the rising dough, the visual is extra important because this is a fast-rising dough.


divided dough

Divide the Dough, Let It Rest 15 Minutes This is an interim step that's new to me, kind of a midway point between the First Rise and the Second Rise. Honestly, I'm not sure of its purpose but do know that it works! Just cut the dough into pieces, however many rolls you're making (and of whatever size) and put them back into the same bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and let rest for just 15 minutes. Set the timer, you don't want this to get away from you!


shape and flatten the rolls

Shape the Rolls Shape each piece of dough into a roll and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment. (The photo doesn't show any parchment, I have a non-stick baking sheet that doesn't need any. But for regular baking sheets, definitely use parchment.) Use a round shape for round sandwich rolls, a rectangular shape for hoagies, etc. With the flat of your fingers, flatten the dough, this means the rolls will all be the same height and will bake evenly, even if some are larger and some are smaller. Very cool, this.


bread dough after second rise

Second Rise Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and let rise until full and poofy, about 30 minutes. During this time, heat the oven to 375F/190C. I start the oven as soon as the rolls are covered, giving the oven plenty of time to really heat up.


Soft Sandwich Rolls (NOLA-Style French Rolls) ♥ KitchenParade.com, soft insides with crispy crust perfect for sandwiches of all shapes and sizes, even from the same batch.

Bake I've fixed on a two-step baking time, 15 minutes at 375F, then another 5 minutes at 400F. It's a bit fiddly but I like the color of the rolls better when they're finished at the slightly higher temperature. Move the rolls straight to a cooling rack, this prevents the bottoms from getting soggy.

You Might Wonder Be Wondering ...

Why Does the Temperature of the Water Matter When Activating the Yeast? Warm water activates the yeast, kicks off the rising process that will make the bread dough expand into pillows of soft rolls. With cold water, the yeast will eventually rise, it'll just take longer. With hot water, yikes, you risk killing the yeast. If you kill the yeast, the bread won't rise.


Do You Have to Use a Stand Mixer? No. King Arthur's original recipe calls for kneading the dough with a stand mixer and after kneading dough by hand for many years (yikes) decades, I've become a fan, see Is a Stand Mixer Better for Kneading Bread Dough?, the case for and against. A regular mixer doesn't work since it doesn't have a dough hook. UPDATE! I stand corrected! Certain hand mixers come with dough hooks (affiliate link, My Disclosure Promise), very cool. My cousin Barb kneads bread dough in a bread machine (affiliate link). And of course, there's your God-given hands for kneading, I'd allow a good 10-12 minutes.


How Does This Dough Rise So Quickly? This dough has a higher-proportion of yeast than other breads, seven grams of yeast for 437 grams of flour. In contrast, My Easy Everyday Bread Recipe uses seven grams of yeast for 500 grams of flour plus another cup of oats, seeds, etc. Big difference! The amount of yeast definitely affects rise time!

But yeast:flour proportion isn't the only factor affecting rise time. Often, that first rise goes really fast, about an hour. There are several factors which affect rise time.

The first is the "oven" effect of the plastic wrap, a technique that can be replicated with other bread doughs in your repertoire. But there are other factors.

The fresher the yeast, the faster the rise.

The warmer the ingredients' temperatures, the faster the rise. (This one affects those of us who store yeast and whole-grain flours in the fridge.)

The warmer the room temperature, the faster the rise.

The point of all this? This dough may (though doesn't always) rise more quickly than even experienced bread bakers are accustomed to. Stay close!


How to Make His 'n' Hers Rolls This is perhaps my very favorite thing about this sandwich roll recipe, the ability to make larger rolls for larger appetites (or bigger sandwiches) and smaller rolls for smaller appetites (or smaller lunch-size sandwiches, say) at the same time. Here's how I do that. When cutting the dough into pieces, I start off with four roughly equal balls of dough, each one will be divided again to make two rolls, one larger, one smaller. Here I use 60% of the ball for the larger roll and 40% for the smaller roll, you could use different percentages but I really like that the larger roll is 50% larger than the smaller one.


What If You Only Want Two Rolls, Not Eight or Nine? No Problem. Shape as many rolls as you want or need, then use shape the remainder of the dough into a loaf and bake separately. It's that easy! It's one of the most flexible things about this recipe!

What Makes This Recipe Special ... Flexibility!

  • Make only as many rolls as you need, bake the rest of the dough in one or more loaves for slicing
  • Make any shape rolls you envision, burger, hotdog, hoagies, po'boys, submarines, bahn mi's, Italian sandwiches, French baguettes, grilled cheese, French dips, muffalettas, cubano, etc.
  • Make different size rolls, larger for "him" and smaller for "her" or giants for dagwoods and minis for sliders
  • Top the rolls differently: flaky salt, Everything Bagel seasoning, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, etc.
  • Quick to rise and bake with little hands-on time, easy to make one evening for dinner the next day or after lunch for tonight's dinner or after breakfast for today's lunch

  • Ready to get started? Here's your recipe!
Soft Sandwich Rolls (NOLA-Style French Rolls) ♥ KitchenParade.com, soft insides with crispy crust perfect for sandwiches of all shapes and sizes, even from the same batch.



SOFT ROLLS for SANDWICHES

Hands-on time: 15 minutes over
Time-to-table: 3-4 hours
Makes the equivalent of about nine medium-size rolls but easily makes more smaller rolls or fewer larger rolls, even at the same time

The first rise happens quickly! Stay close!
    SMALL BOWL
  • 1 packet (7g or 2-1/4 teaspoons) instant or active-dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons (8g) sugar
  • 1-1/4 cups (285g) tepid (warm, not hot) water
    STAND MIXER BOWL
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons (18g) olive oil
  • 3 cups (375g) bread flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (62g) extra bread or all-purpose flour (may use whole wheat)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (12g) table salt
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) additional sugar
  • Yeast Mixture
  • Extra olive oil for the rising bowl
  • Optional Toppings, for example, flaky salt, Everything Bagel seasoning, poppy seeds, sesame seeds

PROOF THE YEAST for 15 MINUTES Don't skip this step, even if using instant yeast. Gently stir together the yeast, 2 teaspoons sugar and water in a small bowl. Let rest at room temperature for 15 minutes, it should bubble and foam, that means the yeast is raring to go! If it's just a little bubbly after 15 minutes, wait a few minutes to give it a chance to activate. If it never really gets going, the bread will still work but just know, the first rise will take longer.

STIR UNTIL SHAGGY In the meantime, collect all the remaining ingredients (except Toppings) in the bowl of a stand mixer. When the proofed yeast is ready, slip it into the mixer bowl and use a spoon to gently combine, just until shaggy.

KNEAD for 7 MINUTES With the bread hook, set the stand mixer on low and knead the dough for 7 minutes, stopping to clean the sides as needed. The dough will be cohesive but wetter than many bread doughs, it should begin to rise up the dough hook and clean the sides of the bowl. If it seems too sticky after at least two minutes of kneading, add extra flour, a tablespoon at a time, to the bottom of the bowl.

KNEAD BY HAND Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Flour your hands and knead for a minute or two, just enough to bring the dough together. Shape the dough into a large ball.

FIRST RISE, GOES FAST! Put a few drops of oil in the bottom of a large bowl. Roll the dough ball in the oil, adding a thin film across the dough's surface, then place the ball in the center of the bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise.

Let rise until roughly doubled, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. But take care, you don't want to let this dough over-rise. If you start to see air bubbles just below the surface of the dough, that's a signal of over-rising. One way to test for a just-right rise: poke the dough with a finger, the indent should slowly spring back. If it doesn't spring back, let it rise for another 15 minutes and test again.

DEFLATE & REST 15 MINUTES Gently deflate the dough by pressing a fist into the dough ball a few times, no "punching," just gently pressing out the air. Reshape into a single large dough ball. Cut the dough into pieces (for example, for 9 rolls, cut into 9 pieces by dividing into three equal pieces, then cutting each of the pieces into 3 pieces; for 4 rolls, cut into 4 pieces) and shape each piece into a smaller dough ball and dust with a little flour to prevent sticking. Return the balls to the bowl, re-cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.

SHAPE & FLATTEN Finish shaping the rolls into round buns, rectangular rolls, longer sandwich baguettes, etc. and arrange on a parchment-covered baking sheet. (Nine smaller rolls easily fit on a single sheet, so do four larger rolls.) With the flat of your fingers, evenly flatten the dough, you want more surface area for sandwiches.

SECOND RISE Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and let rise for about 30 minutes until the rolls are full and plump but not forming air bubbles just below the surface of the dough.

PREPARE TO BAKE While the rolls are in their second rise, heat the oven to 375F/190C. For a slightly crispier crust, fill a small oven-safe saucepan or dish with hot water and let this heat up along with the oven; be sure there's room for both the baking sheet and the dish!

SPRINKLE WITH TOPPINGS Just before baking, sprinkle toppings across the top of the rolls, it's okay to use different toppings in the same batch! If you like, you can also use a sharp knife to slice across the top of the dough, forming a crack or indentation, just work fast and get those babies in the oven.

BAKE 15 MINUTES AT 375F + ANOTHER 5 MINUTES POSSIBLY AT 400F. Check the rolls after 15 minutes. If they're browning well, then continue at 375F for another five minutes. If the rolls are looking a little pale, increase the oven temperature to 400F/200C and bake until a deep, golden brown, about another 5 minutes.

COOL ON A TRAY Remove the rolls from the oven and right away, move onto a cooling rack to cool completely, this prevents moisture from forming on the bottom of the rolls. But once the rolls are cool, move to an airtight container to avoid drying out.

NOW GO MAKE THE BEST SANDWICHES OF YOUR LIFE! The rolls stay fresh and soft for the first three days, after that, will need to be grilled or toasted to be enjoyed.

Sandwiches move from good to great when the bread is toasted just a bit.

  • STOVETOP TOASTING Cut a roll in half, brush the cut sides with a little olive oil (not much, really) and toast cut-side down in a hot non-stick skillet until the edges turn crisp and golden. A grill works great too if it's already hot, we some times use the grill on the firepit! A cast iron skillet also works for toasting but honestly, just takes way too long.
  • OVEN TOASTING Cut a roll in half and brush with a little olive oil and toast cut-side up under a broiler.
  • TOASTER TOASTING Cut a roll in half and brush with a little olive oil. Toast in a toaster, preferably one with a bagel setting that browns only the cut-side.
ALANNA's TIPS Measuring by weight, not volume, really makes a difference with baking. If you want consistent results? Measure by weight. If you want to avoid washing a bunch of measuring cups? Measure by weight. If you want good kids and good grades? Measure by weight. Okay, scratch this last but really, do measure by weight. Here's my favorite kitchen scale (affiliate link). Keep it handy, you'll find yourself pulling it out for each and every meal! Because the rolls, whatever size they are, are flattened to the same height for the second rise, both smaller and larger rolls bake in the same amount of time. This means you can mix different size rolls on the same baking sheet. Handy, eh? I especially love an Everything Bagel topping but it does burn (not terribly but still) during the last 5 minutes of baking if the oven temp is increased to 400F to promote browning.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Roll, assumes 9 sandwich-sized rolls: 208 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 517mg Sodium; 39g Carb; 2g Fiber; 3g Sugar; 7g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 4 & PointsPlus 5 & SmartPoints 6 & Freestyle 6 & myWW green 6 & blue 6 & purple 6
Adapted from King Arthur Baking Company, a huge batch which I scaled down for fewer rolls made from a single packet of yeast, 2-1/4 teaspoons, 7 grams.

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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 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. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

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

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