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Sweet Molasses Brown Bread Rolls Recipe (with yeast)

Imagine a basket of golden-brown, sweet molasses brown bread rolls, fresh out of the oven. They’re soft, tender, and oh-so-delicious. Dive into this easy recipe, your kitchen will smell heavenly!

Sideview of a baked bread roll sitting on top of several rolls - Hostess At Heart
Grab your own roll today!

Update: This recipe was originally shared in September 2015. I have updated this recipe to include more details and tips, as well as new photos. I hope you love these Molasses Brown Bread Rolls!

Molasses Brown Bread Rolls recipe is an easy bread roll to make. Molasses and a bit of honey give this easy brown bread recipe a mild sweetness. Topped with our special butter makes them unforgettable!

What does Molasses Bread Taste Like?

The combination of molasses and honey adds just a hint of sweetness to these brown bread rolls. A touch of cocoa gives this bread a depth of flavor but by no means a chocolate flavor.

This Homemade Brown Bread has been compared to the bread served at Outback Steakhouse and Cheesecake Factory restaurants.

There’s a reason that we go to those restaurants, and the memory of their Brown Bread Rolls with honey butter is a big one! This recipe, in my humble opinion, resembles that bread that we gorge on.

Sideview of a beautifully baked Molasses Brown Bread Roll - Hostess At Heart

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Molasses Brown Bread Recipe Ingredients

The dark color of these sweet molasses dinner rolls comes from the cocoa powder, brown sugar, and molasses. It can vary from light to deep brown depending on the varieties that you use. The color and flavor will vary but one is no better than another. 

Ingredients needed to make molasses bread rolls including flour, honey, molasses, yeast, salt, brown sugar, water, cocoa, and an egg.
Molasses Brown Bread Roll recipe Ingredients
  • Active Dry Yeast – You can substitute for Instant, or Rapid Rise yeast as well. If you need help in knowing the difference, see our Basic Baking article.
  • Lukewarm Water – Using warm water will aid your yeast in activating. We shoot for bath water warm. Hotter than that can destroy your yeast.
  • Egg – Makes this bread richer and acts as a binder for the ingredients
  • Honey – Adds sweetness to this brown bread recipe. We use local but use what you have available to you.
  • Molasses – Adds sweetness to these rolls and also aids in keeping the bread moist. The varieties are explained below.
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder – Adds a deep richness to the flavor without the actual taste of chocolate.
  • Brown Sugar – Either light or dark varieties will work just fine.
  • Flour – We used whole wheat and all-purpose white flour in this recipe. Using just whole wheat would have made these rolls dense. The combination of the two flours kept our Molasses Brown Bread soft and tender.
  • Salt – We like using fine sea salt in our bread recipes. The granules are small and will not sink to the bottom of our dry ingredients like the coarser varieties.
  • Garnish – The tops of these rolls can be dusted with a light sprinkle of cornmeal or oats. It can be skipped altogether as well

What’s the best variety of molasses to use?

Molasses is a liquid and will add moisture and a darker hue to Brown Bread. There are basically three varieties of molasses. You can use what you prefer. Here are the differences.

  1. Light molasses – lighter in flavor and hue. Perfect for baking and candies.
  2. Dark molasses – stronger in flavor and darker hue. Can be used interchangeably with light molasses. Often used for gingersnap recipes.
  3. Blackstrap molasses – very dark in hue and has a strong flavor with a bitterness to it. Often used in barbecue or baked bean recipes. (source)

How to make Brown Bread

Bowl of granulated yeast - Hostess At Heart
  1. Combine dry yeast with warm water and let it rest until it blooms in the bowl of an electric stand mixer, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Note: if you use instant yeast, rapid rise, or active yeast, you don’t have to wait.

Add the egg, honey, molasses, whole wheat flour, cocoa, brown sugar, and salt, to the yeast mixture. Mix together using the paddle attachment.

Ingredients added to a mixer fitted with a paddle including cocoa, flour, yeast, brown sugar, and salt. Hostess At Heart

Change the paddle attachment to the dough hook attachment on the mixer.

With the mixer on low, gradually add 1 cup of all-purpose flour and mix until combined. Gradually add the other half cup of flour until the dough starts to ball and leaves the sides of the bowl. Beat on low for 7 minutes, adding additional flour if necessary.

This is a stiff dough but it will bake up soft and tender.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until it’s tight and smooth 4 to 5 times.

Brown Bread Dough rising in a bowl - Hostess At Heart

Place the dough in a lightly oiled large bowl, turning once to oil both sides of the dough ball. Cover and allow the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 90 minutes.

Punch down the dough and break it into 16 equal pieces. Roll them into dough balls. Place them on a lightly greased 9X13 inch baking dish and allow them to rise again for 1 hour.

Top down view of shaped bread rolls brushed with butter - Hostess At Heart

Brush the tops with melted butter and dust with cornmeal or oats. (optional)

Bake until golden brown or until an instant-read thermometer reads that the internal temperature reaches 190ºF.

A pan of baked brown bread rolls - Hostess At Heart

If you’re going to use the Brown Sugar Honey Butter, you can make it before or while you’re making your rolls.

Bread can be stored at room temperature for 2 to 3 days or frozen wrapped with plastic wrap and placed in a freezer bag for up to 3 months.

How to make Brown Sugar Honey Butter

  1. Whip a stick of butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the brown sugar and honey. Continue beating until well blended.
  3. Store covered in a small bowl or jar in the refrigerator. Brown sugar honey butter can also be frozen. We like to roll ours in a piece of plastic wrap in the shape of a tube and freeze it so it can be sliced for serving.

Oh, and that butter would be delicious on pancakes or waffles too. I’m just drooling thinking about it.

A baked brown bread rolls torn in half showing a soft fluffy interior - Hostess At Heart

Hostess Tips for Making Sweet Molasses Brown Bread

  • If you don’t have an electric mixer, we use a wooden spoon or Danish dough whisk to mix sticky dough.
  • After adding the last cup of flour, only add additional flour if the dough is sticky and will not leave the sides of the mixing bowl. Adding too much flour can make your rolls dense and tough instead of the fluffy dinner rolls that we strive for.
  • If you want perfectly sized rolls, you can use a kitchen scale to weigh the bread into 16 equal-sized pieces. We just approximated ours. Rustic can be beautiful, right?
  • The time it takes your dough to rise is dependent on so many things including temperature, humidity, and elevation. The time we give is approximated. 
  • Preheat your oven thoroughly. We turn our oven on 30 to 45 minutes before the end of the rising time.
  • Instead of relying on color to tell us when our bread is baked, the best way is to use an instant-read thermometer and bake until the internal temperature reaches 190º F.
Top down view of baked brown bread rolls on a cooling rack - Hostess At Heart

Serving Suggestions

When it comes to pairing those sweet molasses brown bread rolls, you’re in for a treat! They’re incredibly versatile. Try them alongside hearty soups like a steaming bowl of 13 Bean soup or Vegetable Lamb soup for a comforting meal.

Just like our Irish Brown Bread recipe, we love serving Molasses Brown Bread rolls with our St. Patrick’s Day meal. I’ll make them the day before and they’re still amazing the next day.

They also make a great companion to Chicken Garlic Parmesan Pasta or Turkey ala King, adding a touch of sweetness to your savory dishes.

And, don’t forget to slather them with butter or spread some cream cheese for a delightful snack. The possibilities are endless, and your taste buds are in for a real adventure!

We LOVE baking bread! You can find all of our bread recipes here!

Half of a brown bread roll slathered with melted butter. Hostess At Heart

We really enjoyed these rolls, and even though I bake a lot of bread it reminded me that I need to make these brown bread dinner rolls more often.

I hope you enjoyed this delicious recipe as much as we do. Drop me a comment below, and don’t forget to give it a star rating. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐. Your comments and ratings help others decide if this recipe is for them too.

Sideview of a beautifully baked Molasses Brown Bread Roll - Hostess At Heart

Sweet Molasses Brown Bread Rolls Recipe

Author: Hostess At Heart
Molasses Brown Bread Rolls are soft and tender. Molasses and a bit of honey give this easy brown bread recipe a mild sweetness. Topped with our special butter makes them unforgettable.
4.65 from 17 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 22 minutes
Proofing time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 7 minutes
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Keyword: Brown Bread Rolls, Sweet Molasses Brown Bread Rolls
Servings: 16


Bread Dough

  • 4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water 110 degrees F
  • 1 egg room temperature
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tbsp cocoa I used dutch processed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • cups all-purpose flour plus ½ if needed
  • cups whole wheat flour
  • Cornmeal optional

Brown sugar butter

  • 8 tbsp salted butter 1 stick
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar light or dark
  • 1 tbsp honey


Molasses Brown Bread

  • Combine warm water and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer and let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Add the egg, honey, molasses, whole wheat flour, cocoa, brown sugar, and salt, to the yeast mixture. Mix together using the paddle attachment until combined.
  • Change the paddle attachment to the dough hook. Add one cup of the all-purpose flour and mix on low until combined. Gradually add another ½ to ¾ cup of all-purpose flour until dough starts to ball and leaves the sides of the bowl. Beat on low for 7 minutes, adding additional flour if necessary.
  • Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until tight and smooth, 4 to 5 times.
    Place the dough in a large lightly oiled bowl, turning once to oil both sides of the dough ball.
    Cover the dough and allow it to rise until doubled in size, 90 minutes.
  • Punch down dough and form 16 rolls. Place in a greased 9X13 inch pan and allow to rise again for 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350 °F.
  • Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cornflour or oats (optional)
  • Bake for 22 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 190 °F.

Brown Sugar Honey Butter

  • Add the stick of butter to the bowl of an electric mixer and mix until the butter is light and fluffy.
  • Add the brown sugar and honey to the butter. Continue beating until smooth.


Adapted from
Nutritional value doesn’t include brown sugar butter.


Calories: 163kcalCarbohydrates: 35gProtein: 5gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 155mgPotassium: 175mgFiber: 3gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 16IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 22mgIron: 2mg

Nutritional Disclaimer

This recipe was calculated using the exact brands and measurements I used to make this recipe. If you are following a strict diet please note changing anything will cause the nutritional info to change. My calculations are intended as a guide only.

Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!

If you love making a St. Patrick’s Day dinner, these bread rolls are perfect just like these homemade bread recipes. Try making your own Molasses Brown Bread Rolls, Simple Waterford Blaa Rolls, or Irish soda bread recipe. If you love sourdough bread, our Sourdough Pumpernickel and Rye Sourdough make amazing leftover corned beef sandwiches!

Did you enjoy this recipe? Don’t forget to pin it for later and follow me on Pinterest for more delicious recipes like this one!

Image for Pinterest of a baked Molasses roll - Hostess At Heart

2015 Molasses Brown Bread Rolls

Sweet Molasses Brown Bread Rolls
Recipe Rating


Friday 9th of February 2024

This page has so many pop up adds i couldn't find the recipe.

Julie Menghini

Saturday 10th of February 2024

You might want to try the "Jump to Recipe" at the to to see your free recipe?


Saturday 21st of October 2023

So sweet and tasty! They were so easy to make since I put ingredients in my bread machine on the dough setting! All I had was ap flour and they still turned out great! Fantastic recipe thanks so much!

Julie Menghini

Saturday 21st of October 2023

Thank you, Sharon! We've been munching on this bread for the week with that honey butter. It's so good.


Friday 23rd of December 2022

Flavor was good but the texture was a bit dense. The dough was extremely sticky and didn’t really come together so I had to add much more AP flour than the recipe called for. What did I do wrong!?

Julie Menghini

Friday 23rd of December 2022

Hi Mellie! I haven't had that experience and no one else has stated this. The texture of the dough is stiff but not extremely so. I do add a little flour during the mixing if it needs it. Did you do this?


Friday 27th of August 2021

Yum made today! Instead of rolls I made a round loaf. As my husband said "deliciousness"! Thanks for sharing!

Julie Menghini

Saturday 28th of August 2021

Thanks for letting me know, Colleen! I've got to give that a try!


Saturday 10th of July 2021

Ugh - I made these last night and I couldn't get my dough to rise at all. I was using brand new yeast. And advice about what I might have done wrong? The flavor was nice but they were as hard as a rock.

Alberta Ashley

Saturday 6th of January 2024

Make sure your egg, molasses and honey are at room temperature so they don’t make the dough cold, cold dough won’t rise.

Julie Menghini

Saturday 10th of July 2021

Did you let it rise twice, Katherine? I've never had that issue myself or heard of others either. You may want to use less flour. I just made a couple of tweaks to the recipe based on your comment. It makes sense to use less flour sometimes because of humidity and temperature. Add the wheat flour first and start with a smaller amount and then the all-purpose flour and only add additional if your dough isn't releasing from the sides. I hope you will give it another try Katherine. These rolls are delicious.

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