Japanese Milk Bread Rolls

These Japanese Milk Bread Rolls are made with a classic enriched white bread recipe. They’re soft and slightly sweet and perfect for serving with soups and stews, at Thanksgiving dinner, or as a sandwich bread.

Read on for all the tips and tricks for making Japanese milk bread. Or grab your bread flour, hit that Jump to Recipe button, and let’s make these Japanese milk bread dinner rolls.

hand holding a bread roll over the remaining seven other bread rolls in the pan.
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flour, sugar, yeast, salt, eggs, butter, and milk on a countertop.

Japanese Milk Bread is an enriched bread just like brioche, challah, or Portuguese sweet bread. That means that these dinner rolls have not only flour, yeast, and salt, but that this bread dough also has eggs, butter, and milk.


Please see the recipe card below for complete information on ingredients and quantities.

Variations and substitutions

sliced white sandwich bread loaf on a multi-colored wood cutting board.

Recipe tips and tricks

The first step to making Japanese milk bread is the starter, called a tangzhong. This starter improves the texture and keeps the white bread fresher for longer. I move the cooked tangzhong to a measuring cup to stop cooking, but I’ll often use it while still a little warm.

thick white roux in a metal pan with a path scraped away by a blue spatula.
one cup glass measuring jar filled with the thick white mixture.

Combine the remaining flour and sugar, yeast, and salt in your mixing bowl, then add the tangzhong and eggs. Mix until you have a shaggy dough, then switch to the dough hook of your mixer.

dry ingredient mixture in a mixing bowl.
shaggy pale dough in a mixing bowl.

Add the butter cubes one at a time, until they are all incorporated in the dough. Then knead the dough until it is soft and smooth. Shape the dough into a ball, and let it rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about and hour and half or so.

bread dough boule in a mixing bowl.
risen bread dough boule in a metal mixing bowl.

Tip from the wise quacker: The best ambient temperature for making bread is in the high 70s. If your home is cool, you can create a warm, place in two ways: 1) Turn on your oven (use the proofing function if it has one) and turn it off when it reaches 80 degrees or 2) Heat a microwave-safe cup of water in your microwave for a minute or two. Remove the water and quickly add your bread dough.

Divide the dough into eight equal pieces. If you use a scale, each should weigh about 70 grams.

Roll them into balls, like in this video how to shape dinner rolls. Place them in a greased cake pan so they are equally spaced apart, and let them rise until about doubled again.

eight round balls of dough in a greased round cake pan.
eight balls of dough now touching each other and filling the round cake pan.

Brush your Japanese milk bread dinner rolls with melted butter if you like, and bake until golden brown, about 18 to 20 minutes.

hand holding a golden brown dinner roll about a round cake pan with seven remaining dinner rolls and a gap where the other one was.

Recipe FAQs

How should I store these bread rolls?

Leftover Japanese milk bread rolls can be kept in an air-tight container at room temperature for about one week. You can also freeze the bread rolls either before or after baking. Defrost before baking.

What should I serve with these dinner rolls?

Milk bread rolls go perfectly with a soup like garbanzo bean soup or my Thanksgiving dinner. These dinner rolls can be used as the bread for sandwiches.

Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-heart 💜💜💜💜💜 rating in the recipe card below. Let me know how much you loved it, or any problems you had, in the comments section further down.

Are you an adventurous home cook looking for inspiration in your weeknight meals and weekend baking? Get inspiration here:


Japanese Milk Bread Rolls

5 from 1 vote
Category: Bread
Cuisine: Unspecified
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour
3 hours
Total Time: 5 hours
Servings: 16 rolls
Calories: 222kcal
These Japanese Milk Bread Rolls are made with an enriched white bread recipe. They're soft and slightly sweet and perfect for serving with soups and stews, at Thanksgiving dinner, or as a sandwich bread.
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  • 1 Stand mixer
  • 2 9 inch round cake pan


Tangzhong (roux starter)

  • cup (45 grams) bread flour
  • ½ cup (120mL) whole milk plus more as needed
  • ½ cup (120mL) water


  • 4 ⅔ cup (600 grams) bread flour plus more as needed
  • ¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • roux starter
  • 8 tablespoons (113 grams) unsalted butter softened and cut into small cubes, plus more for greasing the pan and brushing, if desired


Tangzhong (roux starter)

  • In a small pot, combine the flour, milk, and water. Over low heat, whisk until smooth and continue stirring until the whisk leaves a clear, thick track at the bottom of the pot.
    ⅓ cup (45 grams) bread flour, ½ cup (120mL) whole milk, ½ cup (120mL) water
  • Remove the roux from the heat and scrape it into a glass measuring cup to stop the cooking. If you are not using it right away, cover the starter with plastic wrap, pressing down the wrap onto the surface of the roux to prevent a skin from forming and let cool.


  • In the bowl of a mixer, use the paddle to combine the flour, sugar, and yeast and mix on low speed briefly. Add the salt and mix for about 10 seconds.
    4 ⅔ cup (600 grams) bread flour, ¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar, 2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast, 2 teaspoons salt
  • Add the egg and the starter. Mix on low speed. When the dough starts to come together, switch to the dough hook. (If the dough doesn't come together, add an additional tablespoon of milk at a time).
    2 large eggs, roux starter
  • Increase the speed to medium and add the butter, one or two small cubes at a time. It should take a few minutes to finish adding the butter. Knead for about five to seven minutes more, adding flour as necessary if the dough sticks to the bottom of the mixer. At the end of kneading, the dough should be soft and tacky but not sticky.
    8 tablespoons (113 grams) unsalted butter
  • Shape the dough into a boule, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about one and a half to two hours.
  • Lightly grease two 9 inch round cake pans.
  • Divide the dough in half, and place one half into a bowl and cover it with plastic.
  • Divide the remaining dough into eighths, and roll each portion into a ball (see the link below and in the main post for how to shape dinner rolls). Place the bread rolls in one cake pan so they are equally spaced and not touching. Repeat with the second half of the dough and second cake pan.
  • Cover the cake pans with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise again in a warm, draft-free location until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  • Thirty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Brush with a tablespoon of melted butter, if you like, then bake for about 18 to 20 minutes until lightly browned and the internal temperature is 190°F.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.


This recipe will make 16 dinner rolls or one loaf of Japanese milk bread and 8 dinner rolls.
This video is a great example of how to shape dinner rolls.
To make a sandwich loaf, grease a 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan, and increase the baking time to 30 minutes.


Calories: 222kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 37mg | Sodium: 304mg | Potassium: 76mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 220IU | Vitamin C: 0.01mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 0.5mg
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