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Sweet Molasses Brown Bread Rolls

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Soft and chewy, these Sweet Molasses Brown Bread Rolls are simple and scrumptious. A touch of molasses and honey, healthy whole wheat flour give these rolls amazing texture and great flavor, similar to Outback or Cheesecake Factory Brown Bread.

Long basket of sweet brown bread molasses rolls topped with oats in a parchment lined wire basket.

Welcome to Freaky Friday created by the talented Michaela of An Affair from the Heart; plus she’s fun and the bonus; great recipes! Go and check her blog out.

Freaky Friday is a blog hop that a bunch of my blogger buddies and I do once per season, this being the “Winter Edition“. The theme of this blog hop is all things we love to eat in the winter, and for me that means, bring on the bread!

Pinterest image of sweet molasses brown bread rolls on a white plate with a basket of rolls in the background, butter and butter knife included.

Secretly assigned to another blogger; this round we were able to choose from any of their recipes!

Then today, all at the same time, we reveal our recipe and assigned blogger. It’s a great way for us to get a fantastic new recipe and for you to meet some new food bloggers you may not have otherwise ever met! Scroll down to the bottom for a list of all of the bloggers, but go slow; you do not want to miss this!

My assigned blogger is Julie who blogs at Hostess at Heart! She and I have a lot in common; our passion for hostessing, inviting people into our homes and enjoying great food, our love of bread, oh and the overuse of exclamation points!! 🙂

Close up image of a sweet molasses brown bread roll with butter and honey dripping onto the roll

Julie doesn’t shy away from from anything, she has great “how-to’s” like this How to Spatchcok and Carve a Turkey, or these AMAZING Double Chocolate Muffins.

But I am always envious of all of Julie’s incredible bread recipes, and so I knew that one of her bread recipes was what I needed to make.

I actually made two recipes and let my family decide, I made the Dark Chocolate Banana Bread (picture below) along with these Sweet Molasses Brown Bread Rolls.

We had a taste test, they loved both recipes, but being the children of a food blogger, said, “Mom we love them both, but the rolls go great with so many recipes, people need this recipe.”

Use them for sandwiches, soups, stews, chicken, or just about anything! It didn’t hurt that they love Cheesecake Factory brown bread and these are a great copycat recipe!

Dark chocolate quick bread image sitting on a cooling rack

Ingredients for Sweet Molasses Brown Bread Rolls

  • 4 teaspoons active dry yeast (make sure it’s not expired)
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
  • 1 egg (see below*)
  • ¼ cup honey (I love using local honey)
  • 3 tablespoons molasses (I used organic)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (I used organic Dutch processed)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I use unbleached)
  • 1-2 cups whole wheat flour
  • cornmeal or rolled oats (optional)
Process shot for brown bread rolls. 1. all purpose flour, wheat flour, baking cocoa, molasses, honey, salt, sugar, egg and yeast. 2. Yeast and water in mixing bowl. 3. adding honey. 4. adding molasses

How to bring eggs to room temperature

I often forget to bring my eggs to room temperature, and we keep our house kind of chilly in the winter time, so I often resort to this method. Submerge eggs in warm (not hot) water and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Room temp eggs!

Process shots for molasses brown bread. 1. adding flour to mixer. 2. mixing in cocoa. 3. bread on dough hook. 4. dough ready for first rise.

High Altitude Adjustments for Easy Brown Bread Rolls

A few notes for those of us living at high altitude.

  • When adding the whole wheat flour, add one cup a bit at a time, then slowly add only enough of the second cup until the dough starts to ball and leaves the sides of the mixing bowl.
  • While adding the first cup of whole wheat flour, I also added 2 teaspoons of water.

Note that the dough will be very stiff, but work with it! It will be amazing!

Process shots, dough in bowl ready for first rise. 2. bench scraper after dividing dough into roll sized wedges 3. pinching bottoms together to form round shape. 4. rolls in 9x13 inch pan ready for second rise.

How Do You Make Easy Brown Bread

I adore brown breads, like this Russian Black Bread, which isn’t really black, but brown and oh so warm and yummy!

But what makes them brown? Typical brown bread recipes have one or more the following to make them brown: molasses, honey, cocoa powder or espresso powder, rye flour and/or whole wheat flour.

Process shots. 1. Brushing butter on baked rolls. 2. sprinkling a little dry oats on top of brown bread rolls. 3. baked brown bread rolls in pan. 4. A drizzle of honey on a buttered brown bread roll

Copycat Cheesecake Factory Brown Bread

What does Outback and Cheesecake Factory use to make their bread brown?

With a little googling, they use cocoa powder, molasses, and caramel or brown food coloring (ew for the last two), I like to use all-natural products, which we have done here!

Basket lined with striped napkin with a brown roll sitting inside.

Brown Sugar Butter for Homemade Brown Bread rolls

We devoured these homemade brown bread rolls so quickly and the rest I froze that I didn’t make the Brown Sugar Butter like Julie did, but the recipe is included in the printable recipe card below. Looks and sounds mouth-watering!

They are just as delicious with simple butter and honey!

image of roll sliced in half on a white plate with a honey stick oozing onto the plate.

Can I Freeze these Easy Brown Bread Rolls Recipe?

All breads freeze well, just make sure that they are completely cooled before wrapping tightly in parchment or plastic wrap and then seal in a freezer baggie.

How to Re-Heat Yeast Rolls

  • Remove desired number of rolls from freezer, allow to thaw on counter while preheating oven.
  • Preheat oven to 300-325 F degrees
  • Wrap rolls in aluminum foil or place on quarter sheet pan and cover with foil.
  • Heat until warm, about 15 minutes

Don’t forget to PIN to your Favorite Bread Board!

Pinterest image for delicious copycat cheesecake factory brown bread rolls

Take a look at all of our 2020 Freaky Friday Winter Edition Recipes:

  1. An Affair from the Heart – Braised Beef Short Ribs with Red-Eye Gravy
  2. Aunt Bee’s Recipes – Slow Cooker Ranch Chicken Tacos
  3. Bowl Me Over –  Honey Sriracha Chicken
  4. Hostess at Heart – Chicken Marsala
  5. House of Nash Eats – Broccoli Cheese Soup
  6. Lemoine Family Kitchen – Vegetarian Pot Pie Soup
  7. Life Currents – Pepper Jelly Cheese Balls
  8. Soulfully Made – Alice Springs Chicken (Outback Copy Cat Recipe)
  9. Take Two Tapas – Chocolate Spoons
  10. The Fresh Cooky – Sweet Molasses Brown Bread Rolls
  11. The Speckled Palate – Valentine’s Day Dessert Board
  12. West Via Midwest – Grasshopper Pie
  13. Who Needs a Cape? – Air Fryer Loaded Mini Meatloaf

Tell me how you enjoy these rolls!?

Goes great with! Savory Beer Beef Stew, Easy Jambalaya of course with your holiday turkey and wash it all down with this easy and delicious 4 ingredient Margarita.

Like this recipe?
Don’t forget to give it a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ star rating and comment below the recipe!

Sweet Molasses Brown Bread Rolls

Author: Kathleen Pope
4.83 from 17 votes
Soft and chewy, these Sweet Molasses Brown Bread Rolls are simple and scrumptious. A touch of molasses and honey, healthy whole wheat flour give these rolls amazing texture and great flavor, similar to Outback or Cheesecake Factory Brown Bread.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Rise Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 5 minutes
Course Bread
Cuisine American
Servings 16 rolls
Calories 194 kcal


  • 4 teaspoons active dry yeast, make sure it’s not expired
  • 1 cup warm water, 110 degrees F
  • 1 egg, room temp – see below*
  • ¼ cup honey, I love using local honey
  • 3 tablespoons molasses, I used organic
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, I used organic Dutch processed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, I use unbleached
  • 1-2 cups whole wheat flour
  • cornmeal or rolled oats, optional
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Brown Sugar Butter

  • 1 stick, 8 tablespoons salted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey


  • Rolls
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer combine warm water and yeast until dissolved and let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Once yeast smells yeasty and frothy, add the rest of the ingredients up until the whole wheat flour. Mix on low, scraping down sides until just combined. Change paddle beater to the "J" hook (see notes if you do not have a J hook), add one cup of whole wheat flour a little at a time with mixer on low, until combined. Gradually add whole wheat flour until dough starts to come together, starts to ball and pulls away from the bowl. If needed add a couple of teaspoons of water. Knead on low for 5-7 minutes, if needed add additional flour. Dough will be very stiff.
  • Transfer dough to floured surface and knead until tight and smooth, about 4-5 times. Spray or spread oil in a large ceramic bowl, form dough into ball, turning to cover both sides with oil. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, about 60-90 minutes. If you need a warm place, preheat your oven to 100 degrees then TURN OFF.
  • Punch down dough and using a bench scraper, cut into 16 even dough balls, pinch bottoms into a round ball shape and lay in a sprayed or parchment lined 13×9 inch pan. Place in warm place to rise for 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350° F. and brush tops of muffins with melted butter sprinkling with a little cornmeal or rolled oats (optional)
  • Bake for 18-22 minutes
  • Brown Sugar ButterIn a bowl, mixer or food processor, mix the brown sugar, softened butter and honey. Refrigerate until ready to use, the bring to room temperature.

✱ Kathleen’s Tips

If you do not have a mixer with a J hook, combine using regular paddle attachment until combined, adding whole wheat flour with wooden spoon or kneading in with hands until tight and smooth.
This recipe is from Hostess at Heart.


Serving: 1 Calories: 194 kcal Carbohydrates: 41 g Protein: 5 g Fat: 1 g Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g Cholesterol: 12 mg Sodium: 144 mg Fiber: 3 g Sugar: 10 g

Nutrition Disclaimer

The Fresh Cooky is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Kathleen Pope, The Fresh Cooky.

About Kathleen Pope

Recipe Innovator | Food Photographer | Food Writer

Hi, I’m Kathleen Pope. Here at The Fresh Cooky you will find easy, mostly from-scratch, trusted recipes for all occasions. From speedy dinners to tasty desserts, with easy step-by-step instructions. I am here to help teach you how to make mouthwatering recipes without spending hours in the kitchen. Read more about Kathleen here.

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    1. I haven’t tried it Susan, but you should be able to substitute it. Decrease the amount slightly and you shouldn’t have to let it sit, you can add directly with dry ingredients. Let me know how it goes!

  1. 5 stars
    I baked these rolls to go along with our Valentine’s dinner last night, and I am so glad they did. They were delicious and GONE so quickly, haha. Awesome tip about getting the eggs to room temperature, too, because I always forget about that. We’ll definitely be making these again soon!

      1. I havent made these yet but was wondering if you could omit all purpose flour and just use whole wheat flour instead? Also I only have packets of yeast that are 2 1/4 tsp each, would I measure it out or just use two packets? Thank you, cant wait to try this recipe!

        1. Hi Chelsea, You can use only whole wheat flour, however; it is a dryer flour, so you might need to add more liquid, add enough so that tit’s not sticky, but a bit tacky if that makes sense. And yes, you should be fine with that yeast, using two packets, though that might be a touch too much. It might help since you are making it all with whole wheat flour. Let me know how they turn out. Happy baking! Kathleen

  2. Molasses is my husband’s jam, not to mention bread in general, and when I made these last night he ate them all! I was hoping to keep some for sandwiches the next day, and now I have to make a second batch! These are so amazing!

  3. 5 stars
    Wow, you are definitely an over achiever and I knew you and I were foodie soul sisters! So glad you found recipes that work for your family and you did an amazing job! Thank you Kathleen!

  4. I’ve made a ton of homemade bread and roll recipes lately. This one just went on the list! You had me at the honey photo – sold! I have everything I need and these will be wonderful for sandwiches next week!!

  5. Oh my word!! These are getting baked this weekend!! It’s freezing here, and we have been eating so much soup. These are going to be perfect with the next batch!! Just amazing, Kathleen!