Italian Sandwich Rolls

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Italian Rolls

A five-pound bag of flour costs $2.99 at Trader Joe’s. It’s unbleached, all-purpose. If I want to take my baking up a notch, I can buy the white whole wheat flour for $3.99.

This, my friends, plus a little oil, water, and yeast, can bring you many meals of utter enjoyment. Of course there’s pizza, but there’s also homemade baguette, and of course sweet little Italian sandwich rolls.

For the unschooled, please know that there are “about” 16 cups of flour per bag. Since the average bread, pizza dough, or roll recipe calls for about 4 cups of flour, this means that for a buck plus the oil and yeast, you can make yourself a load of deliciousness.

Case in point: these rolls. They were NOT difficult to prepare. The aforementioned ingredients have a party in the bread machine. I walk away. They don’t need me. Once they’ve danced the night away, I cover the pan and slip it into the fridge overnight.

In the morning, I form the sticky dough into rolls and again, walk away. An hour later I slide them into a hot oven. Mere minutes later, piping hot rolls appear.

Magic? No. Delicious? Absolutely.

Italian Sandwich rolls

I served these as sandwich rolls, but you could easily just pass them in the bread basket as a side to tonight’s dinner. The batch makes 16 rolls. That means the normal family will have leftovers.

We, of course, are not normal. They were gone in one sitting. But, they are easy enough to make again.

And again.

They’re good cheap eats! Here’s my price break-down for these rolls:

  • oil $0.35
  • flours $1.00
  • allowance for leavening $0.25

Per batch: $1.60, or about 10 cents per roll.

Fill these rolls with:

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Maureen says

    In this case, forget the cost. If I made these my family would fall over dead in shock. Thank you for your clear and concise instructions. I am going to give it a try!

  2. Roberta says

    Does this recipe really call for one Tablespoon of yeast? That’s a lot of yeast. 🙂 Most of the bread recipes I use call for just a couple of teaspoons, but I’m no expert.

    • Most yeast packets are 2 1/4 teaspoons. A tablespoon is only 3 teaspoons. So, it’s a little bit more than normal, but not by much.

      • Roberta says

        Thanks! I buy my yeast in bulk and never knew how much those little packets contained (now I can finally use recipes that call for those packets–yea!).

        I’m looking forward to trying these. They look delicious!


      • Elisabeth says

        Is it the active yeast packets?

  3. Looks delicious!! In step 4, it says to “divide it into eight equal parts” and then to “form each part into a long, thin oval”, but no additional instructions are included on how to get from the 8 parts to 16 servings. I assume you divide the long, thin ovals in half once they have risen again…?

    • It should read 16 parts. I copied the directions from a similar recipe and didn’t proof as carefully as I should have. Sorry.

  4. Stephanie M. says

    Hi Jessica: I printed this recipe but here are my questions: Can you use “bread flour” because that’s what I typically make bread with. Also, I’m not quite sure about rolling the dough into eight equal parts and then having 16 rolls. Do you cut them after they’re baked?

  5. ~allison says

    Have you ever tried making these without a bread maker? or gluten free?
    Thank you!

    • I don’t bake gluten-free so I can’t help with that. You can mix these up by hand, though I haven’t tried it myself. The bread machine makes everything easier.

  6. cherie says

    What a helpful post

    I live in the midst of a very italian area – and breads/rolls are plentiful and relatively cheap [I’d say .35 for bigger rolls than these – big as my 11yo’s face we always say LOL] and it’s easy

    But there are plenty of times I am not interested in yet another stop just for lunch making materials! Or dinner!

    Thanks for bringing this recipe up – will be posting it in my kitchen for when I’m planning on sandwiches and I’ll save a couple dollars and some junk ingredients from our plates

  7. LizA says

    No sugar to feed the yeast? A good 2 TBSP of dark honey would go a long way to darken the crust when baked — just a thought.

    • I considered it, but I really wanted it to be a bare bones recipe, especially for those days when you don’t have much to work with or the budget is really tight. You could certainly add as little as a tablespoon of sugar to increase browning and change the flavor a bit.

  8. Jessie says

    Can you use ALL white whole wheat flour, or just 3 of the 4 cups?

    • I didn’t test it with white whole wheat, just the unbleached, all-purpose because I was looking to make the least expensive. However, I use 1/2 or 3/4 white whole wheat all the time in other recipes. I usually stand by the machine during the initial mixing phase to make sure there’s enough moisture. Sometimes I add 1 to 2 tablespoons water if it looks dry. This is a pretty sticky dough made with ub, ap flour, so you should be fine using the wwwf.

  9. Ana says

    Sorry for the silly question…..but can I freeze this rolls? …..thanks

  10. Heather M says

    Another silly question: What other ways can you form this dough for it to still turn out well, besides rolls? This dough sounds like something I could handle…

    • This is very similar to a pizza dough, so you could use it for pizza or bread sticks as well.

  11. Nicole Barron says

    I made these last night and they were wonderful! Used half wheat flour and served them alongside chicken soup. Thank you for such an easy recipe. My family loved it, and I hardly did a thing. Who knew fresh rolls could be so simple?!

  12. Diana says

    I love bread that sits in the fridge for a while before baking–makes it almost sourdough without the work of feeding a starter 🙂

    Do you know if the bread machine would handle a double batch of this dough? I haven’t experimented much with how much my machine will hold–guess it probably depends on the size? Have a single batch in this morning and looking forward to bbq from the freezer on them for supper!

    • My bread machine could not handle a double batch, but when I make lots, I simply move the dough ball to a greased bowl and start over again.

  13. Karin Martinez says

    Hello! I am a new comer to your site and I am so excited to try some of your posts!

    As a newbie to proper freezing, once the dough is frozen, how do I proceed to make them? Do I have to thaw them out or just bake them differently?

    • I would bake and cool them. Then place in a ziptop freezer bag and remove as much air as possible. A straw is helpful for that. Alternatively, you could wrap each roll in foil or plastic wrap to insulate it against the air in the bag.

      • Karin Martinez says

        So I just made these…and clearly I need more working in the bread making dept.

        They doubled fine in the first rising. I stashed in the fridge overnight. The next evening, I took them out, sectioned them and left them to rise. They seemed to have doubled fine (though I ended up leaving them at room temp for an hour or so because I had to leave the house). But when in the oven, their size didn’t change at all. Is this what’s supposed to happen?

        Also, I plan to make your white whole wheat sub rolls next. How would you describe the difference in flavor and texture?

  14. This is similar to a recipe I stirred up tonight. I rolled the dough out into a rectangle and topped it with pepperoni and cheese, then rolled up like a cinnamon roll and cut into pinwheels and baked. They were really good along side potato soup.

  15. Made these and they were a huge HIT!! I made the dough on Friday night after we ate dinner, and put it in the fridge. Saturday, I got the dough back out and baked the rolls. My guys kept walking through the kitchen to grab one! They even said, ‘These would be really good for sandwiches.” WOO HOO!!!!!!!

  16. Claire says

    Looking forward to making these! My 7 love bread as much as I do. I have 2 bread machines & use them all the time. Just made you recipe for pita bread twice last week. They loved it!

  17. Cheri A says

    I made these last night to use with the pulled BBQ chicken in the new menu plan. They were delicious, they did not rise quite as big as I would have liked, but it was a cold day here yesterday. I may make them again and put in a preheated oven on the lowest heat and tut nit of to see if that helps.

  18. This was amazingly easy and tasty! I could eat the whole batch straight out of the oven. 🙂 Thanks for the recipe and how-to! Can you explain how you get those fancy artisan looking tops? Do you slice them with a knife at some point during the rise period?

  19. Lauren says

    OH boy, oh boy, oh boy!! I’m going to make a sourdough starter and (fingers crossed)if things go well, I want to try these with your recipe. They look amazing and so yummy!

    Thank you for all the really easy, frugal recipes. I can’t wait now!

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