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Authentic School Lunchroom Rolls. Authentic recipe prepared by school lunchroom ladies.
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3.67 from 53 votes

Authentic School Lunchroom Rolls

The rolls were a favorite of so many. Not only were they delicious, but you could smell the warm, yeasty aroma throughout the entire school.


  • 2 cups water warm tap water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/4 ounce envelopes yeast (NOTE: one envelope = 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 5 1/3 cups all-purpose flour I used White Lily
  • 3/4 cup dry milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup solid shortening melted and at room temperature (I used Crisc0)
  • melted butter


  • Add sugar to water. Stir until dissolved. Sprinkle yeast on top of water. Let the yeast dissolve. You’ll see bubbles and foam if it’s active. If the yeast isn’t active, throw it out and start over.
  • Sift together flour, dry milk and salt in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  • Once the yeast starts to bubble and foam, stir in baking powder. Add melted shortening cooled to room temperature.
  • Add liquids to flour mixture and stir with wooden spoon until mixed well.
  • Cover and let sit in a warm, draft-free place for one hour.
  • After one hour, uncover and punch down.
  • Put a good bit of flour on your work service. Turn out dough on to flour covered surface. Dough will be sticky. Cover the dough with enough flour that it’s no longer sticky. Knead 8 to 10 times.
  • Divide the dough into four parts. Roll each part into a rectangle that’s approximately 5 inches by 10 inches and 1/2 inches thick. Cut into 8 equal pieces. Make each piece rounded by tucking under edges and corners forming a ball.
  • Place rolls close together on a jelly roll pan that’s either well-greased or covered with a baking mat. The picture above shows 24 rolls on an 11×17 jelly roll pan. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes until golden brown.
  • Remove from oven when done and brush with melted butter. Lightly dust with flour.
  • For freezing
  • After the rolls are formed into balls, place them on a greased, freezer safe dish, and slip the whole thing into a freezer bag. Eight rolls fit nicely in a 9-inch disposable aluminum pan which slips into a gallon ziplock freezer bag. Freeze until ready to use.
  • Thaw them in the refrigerator overnight. Once thawed, let them rise at room temperature until doubled in size. Proceed with baking instructions above.
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