Give Your Dinner Rolls a Heating Pad

If you have some rice, pie weights, or a flowerpot saucer, you have all you need to keep rolls warm at the dinner table. 

Published Nov. 17, 2022.

My family would tell you that I tend to rush them to the dinner table. That’s especially true if I’ve fussed over something that should be eaten immediately, lest the food lose its crunch, loft, or gooeyness. I want everyone to taste it at its best—even if that means they need to hustle! (Hospitality is hard. I’m working on it.)

This comes up a lot when I make dinner rolls, because is there anything more ephemeral than their piping-hot fluffiness? I try to time it so that I’m pulling a batch out of the oven just as everyone gets to their seats because that moment when you pull apart the feathery crumb and steam puffs out is pure joy. And then it’s gone in a flash. 

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There are all kinds of tabletop bread-warming devices out there, including this terra-cotta slab that you heat and nestle in the bottom of your bread basket like a heating pad. But Deputy Food Editor Andrea Geary, whose dinner roll recipe repertoire includes the aforementioned ultra-fluffy kind, as well as a lovely oatmeal batch sweetened with molasses, moist and tender potato rolls, and her latest make-way-ahead version, pointed out that you might have a few alternatives around the house that can work equally well. 

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Here are five items that can be warmed in either the microwave or the oven. Use a potholder to handle the heated items.

How to Keep Rolls Warm at the Table 

Choose one of the following as a warmer: rice, ceramic pie weights, a small terra-cotta flowerpot saucer, a small cast-iron skillet, a heavy stoneware plate

If using rice, microwave it: Add 2 cups rice to a small paper bag, fold over the top of the bag, and microwave until warm, about 2 minutes. 

Warm other items in oven: Wrap pie weights in aluminum foil to form a flat, well-sealed pouch. Place wrapped weights or other items, uncovered, in a turned off oven that’s still warm from baking the rolls. Heat for 10–15 minutes. 

Place warmed heat source in bread basket:  If using rice or pie weights, lay them as flat as possible in their paper or foil wrapper at the bottom of the bread basket. Cover the heat source with a clean cloth napkin or dish towel. Add the rolls and then fold the corners of the fabric over the rolls to cover.

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