Blog Post Page

Welcome To Our Kitchen

Holiday Pumpkin-Thyme Dinner Rolls | Makes 16 muffins

  • Dec 10, 2019
  • David Wilhelm
White and Orange Pumpkins shot from above White and Orange Pumpkins shot from above

Dinner rolls are truly an American icon. Growing up in the Midwest, every holiday meal included warm, yeasty dinner rolls served with plenty of butter. Given the southern California aversion to carbs, I think it’s sad that more people don’t have the opportunity to appreciate and enjoy homemade dinner rolls. 

I have childhood memories of my parents occasionally treating us to Sunday lunch after church at Bill Knapp’s. Knapp’s was a Michigan based chain restaurant whose slogan was ‘Good Things to Eat’ with everything made from scratch, including their wonderful biscuits and dinner rolls.

As a family of 8, we rarely dined out but when we did, it was Bill Knapp’s and it was truly a treat for us.

Probably the most famous and well known version of American dinner rolls is the Parker House roll, which is made by flattening the center of a ball of dough with a rolling pin so that it becomes an oval shape and then folding the oval in half and baked in muffin tins. They are made with milk and are quite buttery, soft, and slightly sweet with a crispy exterior. It is well documented that they were invented at the Parker House Hotel in Boston, during the 1870’s.

During its heyday, the Chart House chain in California was well known for its squaw bread, which was the closest thing I had ever seen to a dinner roll served in a California chain restaurant and it was damn good. It came to the table in a linen wrapped basket and it was hot, moist and sweetened with honey that, when spread with the soft butter, all but melted in your mouth. 

I’m not much of a baker. I don’t have a lot of patience for the required following of recipes but, in addition to a handful of really good ‘go to’ desserts that I make, I have one savory baked item that I always make for holiday meals…my Pumpkin, Thyme and Caramelized Onion dinner rolls.

Yeast and I have never had a great relationship. She’s a temperamental mistress and, if not warmed to the proper degree, refuses to share her magical warmth. However, armed with an accurate instant read thermometer, you can make these amazing rolls that are worth the extra effort. When proofing, they release a ‘Siren’s Song’ aroma that even Odysseus could not have resisted. 

They can, and probably should, be made earlier in the day, held covered at room temp, and then heated slightly in the oven prior to serving. Note that they are very moist so when I reheat them I pull them apart first so they get a crispy crust on all sides. Give them a try…I think you’ll thank me later.

Pumpkin, Thyme and Caramelized Onions Dinner Rolls

  • 3 TBS Clarified butter or olive oil
  • 2 each Large onions, chopped 1/8” dice
  • ¼ cup Granulated sugar
  • As needed Kosher salt
  • 2 each Packages of yeast
  • 2 each Eggs
  • 6 TBS Unsalted butter, melted
  • 6 cups All-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Pumpkin pie filling
  • 1 TBS Fresh thyme leaves, chopped


Lightly browned chopped onions

Heat clarified butter in large saute pan. Add onions, 1 teaspoon sugar and ½ teaspoon salt and sauté, stirring frequently, until light golden brown. Place 2 cups warm water (105-115 degrees) in large bowl. Sprinkle with the yeast and let stand in warm location until starts to foam (5 minutes). Whisk in the eggs, 4 tablespoons of the butter, pumpkin filling, thyme, and the remaining ¼ cup of the sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Add the flour, ¾ of the onions and mix un til a stick dough forms. Brush top of dough with remaining butter or oil, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.

Holiday Pumpkin-Thyme Dinner Rolls ready for final proof

Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking pan, Punch down the dough and form into 16 balls, then place into baking pan. Sprinkle with the remaining onions, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise again in a warm place until doubled in bulk.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove plastic wrap, brush the dough lightly with the remaining butter and bake until rolls are lightly browned, approximately 20 minutes. Removed and allow to cool at room temperature. If not using immediately, wrap tightly with plastic, hold at room temp, and heat in 350 oven for 10 minutes before serving.

Holiday Pumpkin-Thyme Dinner Rolls right out of the oven


Leave a Comment

Security Question

Tavern House Launches New Summer Menu and Is Now Open For Lunch Thursday-Saturday Starting June 1!

  •   2023-05-18   /
  •   Mysti   /
Open For Lunch
All summer long, we are bringing to you our brand new summer menu filled with new brunch, lunch and dinner menu items.
Read More

Comfort Food Mondays at Tavern House

  •   2023-05-02   /
  •   Mysti   /
The Blues Sliders Tavern House Newport Beach
On Monday, we serve dinners with an updated twist to add to your list of top comfort meals. For instance, D's Famous Fried Chicken will transport you to Mama's table where simpler times were enjoyed.
Read More

Ways to Make Your Rehearsal Dinner Memorable

  •   2023-04-06   /
  •   Mysti   /
Rehearsal Dinner Newport Beach
Whether you host an intimate affair or a larger shindig, the possibilities are endless. Surrounded by breathtaking views of Newport Harbor, Tavern House is the perfect place to host your rehearsal dinner.
Read More

Come Enjoy Tavern House's Happy Hour with Friends or Co-Workers

  •   2023-03-24   /
  •   Mysti   /
Happy Hour at Tavern House Newport Beach
Tavern House is known for creative dishes prepared with the highest quality ingredients including organically grown produce, sustainable and properly harvested seafood, and humanely raised poultry and livestock.
Read More

Grilled Santa Fe Caesar

  •   2021-09-09   /
  •   David Wilhelm   /
Grilled Santa Fe Caesar
There is probably no more iconic a dish that I have created over the years than my grilled version of the classic Caesar, but my version is anything but classic. When I was enamored with the contemporary Southwestern cuisine craze back in the 80’s, I was constantly taking tr
Read More

Become a VIP EClub member for special perks