A Fluffy Flock of Turkey-Shaped Rolls for Thanksgiving

No Thanksgiving dinner is complete without dinner rolls—and these adorable turkeys are the perfect vibrant addition.

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Image Credit: Bianca Fernandez

When it comes to dinner appetizers, steamed buns and dinner rolls are easy to adore. Boasting a soft and fluffy texture, they pair well with so many main dishes and accompaniments, from meats to custard to honey butter and beyond. Naturally, rolls make a yummy addition to any Thanksgiving dinner spread. And while simple bun and roll varieties are fantastic, we decided to take things up a notch by creating turkey-shaped bread rolls that are as cute as they are tasty.


Image Credit: Bianca Fernandez

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If this is your first time making homemade bread, don't worry! Our recipe includes step-by-step instructions to walk you through making easy, cute and fantastically fluffy buns. You can make them by hand or with a stand mixer and dough hook.


After dividing and dyeing dough, the "turkeys" are assembled on squares of parchment paper. Finally, you'll steam your bread in a basket instead of baking them in the oven. This helps create bright and white yeast bread instead of the usual golden brown color created by baking, which allows for vibrant, colorful turkeys to dress up your table.


Ready to make a flock of adorable Thanksgiving eats? Read on for the full dinner roll recipe!

Video: A Fluffy Flock of Turkey-Shaped Rolls for Thanksgiving

Quick Recipe Overview

SERVINGS‌:‌ ‌6 large turkey buns

‌‌‌‌‌PREP TIME‌: ‌‌30 minutes

RISE TIME: ‌60 minutes

‌‌‌COOK TIME: ‌‌‌20 minutes

‌‌‌‌TOTAL TIME:‌ ‌‌1 hour 50 minutes‌

Things You'll Need

  • Kitchen scale

  • Large bowl or bowl of stand mixer

  • Whisk or stand mixer fitted with dough hook

  • Rubber spatula or wooden spoon

  • Bench scraper

  • Plastic wrap or kitchen towel

  • 6 3x3 in. parchment paper squares

  • Steamer (we used a bamboo steamer basket over a wok)

  • 140 g whole milk, warmed

  • 40 g granulated sugar

  • 3 g instant yeast or active dry yeast

  • 10 g neutral cooking oil or unsalted butter, melted

  • 250 g all-purpose flour

  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • Gel food coloring (red, orange and green)

  • Edible markers (black, pink)


This recipe uses a kitchen scale, which is really helpful when making dough! Measuring cups of flour by volume isn't accurate enough to give reliable, consistent results. By using a scale, you'll ensure soft, fluffy buns.

1. Combine wet ingredients

Image Credit: Bianca Fernandez

In a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer, mix together 140 g warm whole milk, 40 g granulated sugar, 3 g yeast and 10 g oil or melted butter until yeast dissolves.


2. Stir in dry ingredients

Image Credit: Bianca Fernandez

To same bowl, add 250 g all-purpose flour, 1 Tbsp. cornstarch and 1/2 tsp. salt. Using rubber spatula, wooden spoon or dough hook, mix on low speed until you get a shaggy dough. Make sure to scrape bottom and sides of bowl to get all bits of flour.


3. Knead dough

Image Credit: Bianca Fernandez

Knead dough using dough hook on medium speed. Alternatively, knead by hand on a lightly floured surface until you get a very smooth ball of dough, about 10 minutes. This will help build gluten in dough, allowing it to rise more for a very fluffy texture.



4. Divide dough

Image Credit: Bianca Fernandez

Using bench scraper, divide dough by weight before dyeing it different colors for the feathers: 318 g white, 35 g green, 45 g red and 45 g orange. If you want to eyeball colors, they're each around size of a cherry tomato.


Divide white dough into 12 3-g balls (for turkey wings) and 6 47-g balls (for bodies). Cover all dough pieces with plastic wrap or kitchen towel to keep from drying out.

5. Dye dough

Image Credit: Bianca Fernandez

Dye dough pieces using gel food coloring. Divide green into 6 equal pieces and then shape into balls. Divide red and orange doughs into 7 equal balls each.


Note that each turkey will have one red, one green and one orange feather. The extra red and orange balls will be used to make turkey beaks and wattles.


If you want to keep your hands clean, wear food-safe gloves!

6. Assemble turkey buns

Image Credit: Bianca Fernandez

Place 1 47-g white dough ball on top of parchment paper square. Add 3-g balls on each side for turkey wings.


Place red, orange and green balls on top of turkey head for feathers. Lastly, use some of red and orange doughs to shape turkey beak and wattle. Repeat with remaining dough, loosely covering each turkey in plastic wrap or kitchen towel so they don't dry out.


If dough isn’t sticking together, you can use water as glue!

7. Proof buns

Image Credit: Bianca Fernandez

Let dough rise in a warm place for about 60 minutes or until buns have risen by 50%.

8. Steam

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Transfer shaped rolls to steamer. Steam for 20 minutes and then turn off heat and leave on lid. Let buns sit in closed basket for 2 minutes so cold air doesn't shock them. Remove lid and yeast rolls.


Do not open lid to peek at the buns or they’ll end up wrinkled!

9. Decorate faces

Image Credit: Bianca Fernandez

Use edible markers to decorate bread rolls.

Store homemade dinner rolls in an airtight container at room temperature for about 3 days. To reheat, place them on a microwave-safe plate and lightly cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave for 15-20 seconds. The buns should be soft, refreshed and ready to be covered in buttery goodness (or whichever topping your taste buds desire).

If you ask us, this bread recipe is just as adorable as it is delicious—and you just might want to keep making it year round. Happy baking and happy Thanksgiving!

Looking for a sweet version of this recipe? Check out our chocolate-filled Thanksgiving buns!