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Pocketbook Rolls

Pocketbook Rolls have a tender crumb and a golden crust. With a hint of sweetness, this old-fashioned homemade roll recipe is perfect for a holiday meal.

Pocketbook Rolls piled up on a wooden cutting board.

I love these Pocketbook Rolls! Everyone does. They will literally disappear right before your eyes.

My family growing up was a little different than most southern families in that we rarely had biscuits with meals. But whenever we had meals at my grandparents house, we had little rolls that  these pocketbook rolls remind me of. They are so delicious and buttery and have a little hint of sweetness. With a light and feathery texture, you’ll be able to eat a whole basket of them.

Southern Pocketbook Rolls

Make Ahead and Freeze

Also called icebox rolls, these little yeasted rolls are perfect for freezing and the dough can be made up to a week in advance and kept in the refrigerator. So convenient for the holidays when there is so much to get done.

Pocketbook Rolls are the southern version of Parker House Rolls and are made by rolling the dough out and cutting it with a biscuit cutter. You then fold each one in half into half-moon shapes.

Cutting the dough

I just made this recipe for the first time in about 10 years. I don’t bake a whole lot of bread/roll recipes. Yeast isn’t always my friend 🙁 .

But this is a super easy recipe for those nonbakers out there. It’s from one of my favorite southern cookbooks, My Mother’s Southern Kitchen: Recipes and Reminiscences by James Villas and his mother Martha Villas who has since passed away. It’s an oldie, but a goldie. Martha was from my home town, Charlotte NC, and her cookbooks are full of traditional, homestyle southern recipes.

Use Fresh Yeast and Don’t Kill It

To ensure your dough rises, make sure you are using fresh (not expired) yeast and that the temperature of the water you proof it in is no hotter than 115 degrees F. The yeast mixture should form bubbles on top after sitting for a few minutes. If it does not, the yeast is no good.

Southern Pocketbook Rolls

The biscuit cutter that I used was slightly smaller than the recommended 2 to 2 ½-inches so mine came out almost bite-sized and I made at least 3 dozen of them. I thought there would be plenty leftover to reheat the next day, but my kids and husband ate every single one of them. Ok, maybe I had 4 or 5 myself.

Pro Tip

These rolls are best eaten the day they are made.

How To Freeze

They freeze really well. Just undercook them slightly so that when you defrost and reheat them, they don’t get too brown. They can be frozen in feezer bags for up to 2 months.

How Do You Refresh Old Rolls?

To refresh old rolls, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Place the rolls on a baking sheet or in a cake pan abd brush with melted butter. Cover with foil and bake for 5 minutes.

Pocketbook Rolls

More Roll Recipes

Pocketbook Rolls

Pocketbook Rolls

Super buttery and slightly sweet bite-sized rolls. Also called icebox rolls, these little yeasted rolls are perfect for freezing and the dough can be made up to a week in advance and kept in the refrigerator.
PREP: 15 minutes
COOK: 7 minutes
Rising Time: 2 hours 30 minutes


  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • ½ cup warm water
  • ¼ cup vegetable shortening
  • ¼ butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ cup butter, melted


  • Combine the yeast and water in a small bowl. Stir together and set aside.
  • Using an electric mixer, cream the shortening, ¼ cup butter, and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Gradually beat in boiling water. Note: I used the paddle attachment.
  • Add yeast mixture and beat until well blended. Add the egg and mix well.
  • Add the flour and salt and mix together well. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. (Can be kept up to a week in the refrigerator.)
  • Three hours before ready to use, roll dough out on a floured surface so that it is ½-inch thickness. Using a small round biscuit or cookie cutter (2 to 2 ½-inches) cut dough into circles and fold each circle in half. Place on large greased baking sheets and brush with melted butter. Cover baking sheets with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for 2 ½ hours.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake rolls for 5 to 7 minutes, until golden brown.


It may not take quite 2 1/2 hours for the rolls to rise, depending on how warm your house is. Give them a peek every now and then because if they rise too much, they loose their shape.
These rolls are best warm from the oven and do not keep all that well.
Nutritional info is provided as an estimate only and will vary based on brands of products used.


Calories: 121kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 179mg | Potassium: 21mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 128IU | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Bread
Cuisine: Southern
Keyword: homemade rolls

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Yield: about 2 dozen rolls

Southern Pocketbook Rolls

Disclosure: This post contains an amazon.com affiliate link.

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24 thoughts on “Pocketbook Rolls”

  1. Do you need to put in refrigerator? If you want to bake them right away, what do you do? My grandmother made these when I was little. Want to try making them myself. Never made bread or rolls before. Thank you for your help!

  2. Shelia Buba

    I have been making these since I bought James Villas’ cookbook. My family absolutely loves them. I find they are even good the next day. So easy to make.

  3. Caroline Natvig

    Do you roll the dough out to 1/4″ or 1/2″? The print is so small on my computer that I can’t read it! Thanks

    1. Candy F Cole

      Hi Caroline Natvig,
      It reads ONE HALF INCH THICKNESS. (I typed it in all caps in hopes that helps on your computer screen.) I am not Christin. I am just a recipe searcher like you.

  4. These are Parker House rolls. According to Yankee Magazine, they are the signature buttery dinner roll recipe of the Parker House Hotel in Boston and the oldest printed Parker House Rolls recipe on file is from an April 1874 issue of the New Hampshire Sentinel. Famous diners at the Parker House Hotel were Charles Dickens, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and most of the Kennedy clan.


    1. Candy F Cole

      Hi Deborah,

      It looks like she is using 1/4 cup of butter in the recipe, and then 1/2 cup melted to spread on the top. This is of the single batch.

    2. Candy F Cole

      Hi Deborah,

      It looks like she is using 1/4 cup in the recipe and then 1/2 cup melted to spread on top. All on the single batch.

  5. Sara Silvers

    My Mom used to get these at school when she was a little girl. They would put butter inside. My Mom is 71 years old. She said it was a treat for them to recieve these for lunch. She still talks about them but didn’t lnow the recipe. I think I will make some and suprise her. Thanks.

    1. Christin
      Christin Mahrlig

      What a wonderful memory and how sweet of you to make some for her! Hope they turn out well.

  6. Kathy Gallagher

    I want to take these to work, so if I baked them the night before, would they still be good to take into work in the morning?

    1. Christin
      Christin Mahrlig

      Like most rolls and breads, they are best warm from the oven, but are still good the next day, especially if you can rewarm them.

  7. Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl

    Oh goodness, I would eat so many of these rolls, you don’t even know! They look delicious and so soft! SWOON.

  8. honeywhatscooking

    so yummy… love that it’s not crazy amount of fat and this results in 2 dozen biscuits. yum!

  9. Consuelo @ Honey & Figs

    These look fantastic, so buttery and soft!! Pinning so I can make the soon, I do love to work with yeast ;—)
    I love the pictures as well!! x

    1. Christin
      Christin Mahrlig

      Thanks Consuelo! I really need to start baking more breads so I’m not so intimidated by yeast. Always afraid I’m going to kill it!

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