Herb and Parmesan Pull-Apart Rolls

Herb and Parmesan Pull-Apart Rolls

Prep: 30 mins

Cook: 26 mins

Proofing Time: 3 hrs 30 mins

Total: 4 hrs 26 mins

Servings: 12 servings

Yield: 12 rolls

When I was little my favorite treat for any occasion came in the form of these magical “Parmie Puffs” from a local pizza shop my friend’s family owned in Tampa. I took those same intoxicating flavors of rich yeasted dough coated in buttery Parmesan and herbs to create a dinner roll that’s anything but ordinary.

The glory of this simple recipe lies in its fluffy (so SO fluffy) texture thanks to the tangzhong method, but you’ll be shimmying in your seat from the blanket of dreamy compound butter enrobing every bite. I use a savory combination of fresh and dried herbs along with garlic, cheese, and flaky sea salt. You can easily manipulate this to your liking (see variations, below).

Make Ahead for Easier Hosting

Once you mix your ingredients together, the bulk of the recipe time is spent hands-off as the rolls proof. This makes it a great side for holiday meals, so you can set them aside as you prep your mains, appetizers, cocktails, and more. These keep well over a couple days, so you can make them ahead, warm them up, and slather on the butter topping once ready to serve.  

What is Tangzhong?

A crucial (and fascinating) part of this recipe is centered around the Asian technique called tangzhong where you cook a small portion of the flour and liquid (milk, here) in yeast breads before combining it with the remaining ingredients. It has origins in Japan's yukone (or yudane).

Scientifically speaking, this pregelatinizes the starch in the flour, so it is able to absorb more water—flour absorbs twice as much hot liquid than lukewarm/cold liquid. Real talk, this makes all proceeding steps way easier on you and your hands. The dough will be less sticky to knead. It will rise higher because there is more liquid to create steam. And, you’ll enjoy softer buns which stay fresher longer due to the moisture content.

“These herb and Parmesan rolls came out soft, fluffy, and delicious! The recipe worked perfectly and they baked in just 20 minutes. The savory rolls are an excellent choice for a Sunday dinner or holiday meal.” —Diana Rattray

Herb and Parmesan Pull-Apart Rolls

A Note From Our Recipe Tester


For the Tangzhong

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) all purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup whole milk

For the Dough

  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon cold whole milk, divided

  • 1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon fine salt

  • 3 large room temperature eggs, divided

  • 3 1/2 cups (15 3/4 ounces) all purpose flour, more for the work surface

  • 3 tablespoons room temperature unsalted butter

  • Cooking spray

For the Topping

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • 2 teaspoons dried herbs, such as oregano, sage, parsley, or thyme

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • Flaky sea salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Herb and Parmesan Pull-Apart Rolls

  2. To make the tangzhong, whisk together the water and flour in a medium saucepan until smooth. Whisk in the milk. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens into a paste, about 1 minute.

    Herb and Parmesan Pull-Apart Rolls

  3. To make the dough, transfer the tangzhong to the bowl of an electric stand mixer, then add 1/2 cup of the cold milk and mix with a spatula to combine (this will help cool the mixture slightly before adding the remaining ingredients).

    Herb and Parmesan Pull-Apart Rolls

  4. Add the yeast, sugar, salt, 2 of the eggs, and flour to the mixture. With the hook attachment, mix the dough on medium speed until it is smooth, elastic, and pulling away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.

    Herb and Parmesan Pull-Apart Rolls

  5. Add the butter to the bowl and mix until fully incorporated and the dough is smooth, about 8 minutes. The dough should be slightly sticky.

    Herb and Parmesan Pull-Apart Rolls

  6. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Spray hands lightly with cooking spray to help you transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot to proof until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

    Herb and Parmesan Pull-Apart Rolls

  7. If using a 10 to 12-inch cast-iron skillet that is already seasoned, you can skip greasing. Alternatively, you can spray a 9-x 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray, then line with parchment paper, allowing it to overhang about an inch.

    Herb and Parmesan Pull-Apart Rolls

  8. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions.

    Herb and Parmesan Pull-Apart Rolls

  9. Working with one ball of dough at a time, flatten out the dough, then pull the corners of the dough into the center to make a ball.

    Herb and Parmesan Pull-Apart Rolls

  10. Turn the ball seam-side down and roll tight, using the tension from the counter to roll tightly. (Avoid over flouring the surface because it makes shaping difficult and if too much flour is incorporated into the dough it will make the buns dry.)

    Herb and Parmesan Pull-Apart Rolls

  11. Transfer the balls to the prepared baking pan or skillet. It’s OK if there is space between the dough balls as they will expand on the second rise.

    Herb and Parmesan Pull-Apart Rolls

  12. Cover the buns with plastic wrap that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Let the dough rise once more until puffy and doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours. When there is about 10 minutes left, position two racks in the upper and lower third of the oven and heat to 350 F.

    Herb and Parmesan Pull-Apart Rolls

  13. Once the dough is proofed, make the egg wash by whisking together the remaining egg and remaining 1 tablespoon milk.

    Herb and Parmesan Pull-Apart Rolls

  14. Gently brush the buns all over with the egg wash.

    Herb and Parmesan Pull-Apart Rolls

  15. Bake the buns until they are golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Make the herbed garlic butter in the meantime.

    Herb and Parmesan Pull-Apart Rolls

  16. Stir together the melted butter, dried herbs, parsley, garlic powder, and Parmesan in a small bowl.

    Herb and Parmesan Pull-Apart Rolls

  17. If serving immediately, remove the buns from the oven and brush the herbed garlic butter all over the top using a pastry brush, then sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Let the buns cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and enjoy.

    If serving later, reheat the rolls covered in foil in a 350 F oven for 10 minutes. Brush with the butter mixture, sprinkle with flaky sea salt, and serve.

    Herb and Parmesan Pull-Apart Rolls

Recipe Tips

  • Make sure your eggs and butter are at room temperature otherwise cold ingredients can cause the dough to seize up and not come together as well. 
  • Avoid over-flouring your work surface when shaping the buns as this will add more flour to the dough and make them denser rather than soft. It will also make rolling them harder.

Make Ahead

You can freeze the portioned and shaped dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet, then transfer to a resealable bag or airtight container once frozen solid. Store for up to 2 months. Note, the second proofing will take longer.

Recipe Variations

  • You can use non-dairy milk in place of the regular milk.
  • You can use a 50/50 combination of whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour for this recipe, but the buns will be a bit denser.
  • It’s extremely easy to create endless flavor variations for these rolls by simply incorporating different seasonings into your compound butter. See some of our favorite options below:
  • Cool Ranch: 1 (1 ounce) packet ranch powder + 1/4 cup grated Parmesan + 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • Pizza: 1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes + 1/4 cup grated Parmesan + 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • Umami: 1 tablespoon white miso + 1 teaspoon garlic powder + 1 teaspoon nori or furikake
  • Cilantro-Ginger: 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro + 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder + 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • Chipotle-Lime: 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder + 1/2 teaspoon lime zest
  • Sticky Sweet: 2 teaspoons honey + 2 teaspoons toasted chopped nuts
  • Cinnamon Sugar: 2 teaspoons granulated sugar + 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • PSL: 2 teaspoons granulated sugar + 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice + 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

How to Store

  • Store the fully baked buns in a resealable bag or airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
  • You can freeze the fully baked buns in a resealable bag or airtight container for up to 2 months. Defrost in the fridge, then reheat in a 300 F oven.
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 252
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 4g 21%
Cholesterol 63mg 21%
Sodium 292mg 13%
Total Carbohydrate 37g 14%
Dietary Fiber 2g 5%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 8g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 62mg 5%
Iron 2mg 13%
Potassium 114mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *