Soft and fluffy homemade crescent rolls stuffed with ham and melty cheese is a delicious easy lunch, appetizer or showstopper side dish.
Warm, fluffy, pillowy bread filled with smoked ham and gooey, melted cheese. There is not a single thing wrong with that sentence. Not only because homemade bread is always a good idea, but because stuffing that bread with ham and cheese? Uh, yes please!
I made these crescent rolls recently thinking they would be a great easy lunch recipe. I mean, they are, but they are also so much more? Easy snack when you have a crowd of people over? Yup. Perfect casual appetizer with drinks? Indeedio. Side dish to beat all side dishes at Thanksgiving or Christmas? Right again. There is nothing these rolls can’t do. Topped with herby salt and baked until golden, they are the cheesy, hammy, bready recipe of your dreams.
How to make crescent rolls
This is a very simple bread dough recipe enriched with butter and egg to make it soft and fluffy. Using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook makes easy work of kneading the dough but you can absolutely do it by hand too. Start by whisking instant yeast into warm water and sugar. The water needs to be just warm enough so that when you put your finger in it, it feels like nothing. That is blood temperature and the perfect temperature for the yeast to start doing its thing. Water that is too hot will kill the yeast. Allow this mixture to stand for 5 minutes until it looks frothy and milky. This means the yeast is alive and is starting to eat the sugar.
Combine flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer then pour in the yeast mixture. Add the beaten egg and turn the mixer on. Allow the dough to come together then add the softened butter. If the butter is too firm it won’t incorporate into the dough properly. Knead the dough for 5 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth and just ever so slightly tacky. If the dough is too sticky, add a tablespoon or two of flour until it starts coming away from the side of the bowl.
Transfer the dough to a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for an hour in a warm spot. Roll the dough out onto a floured surface into a large rectangle. Cut the dough into long triangles, similar to how you would cut croissant dough. Place a piece of ham and mozzarella onto the wide side of the dough then roll up to the pointy side of the dough. Tuck the point in and place the rolls onto a sheetpan lined with parchment paper. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30 minutes. Brush with egg then sprinkle with dried herbs and salt. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the rolls are golden brown and baked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Freezing and making ahead
- Freezing: Make the dough and wrap in plastic wrap before placing in a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, remove from the wrapping and place in a large, greased bowl. Cover with plastic and allow to thaw and rise at room temperature for 2-3 hours.
- Make ahead: Assemble the rolls completely then cover tightly with plastic and place in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Bake until golden brown before serving.
Homemade bread recipes
Homemade ham and cheese crescent rolls
Homemade crescent dough recipe
- 1 cup warm water (you can use milk for a richer dough)
- 4 cups flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 10 g (2tsp) instant yeast
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp softened butter
For the rolls
- 12-16 slices smoked ham (gypsy ham or Black Forest ham works well)
- 200 g (7oz) mozzarella cut into 5cm/2in long sticks (low moisture mozzarella works best)
- 1 egg beaten
- dried mixed herbs (Italian or Herbs de Provence)
- sea salt
- To make the dough, whisk together the water (or milk if using), yeast and sugar. Allow to stand for 5 minutes until frothy.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour and salt and mix.
- Pour the yeast mixture into the flour and mix until the dough starts to come together. Add the egg and butter then knead for 5 minutes until the dough is soft and smooth. The dough should come away from the sides of the bowl while kneading.
- If the dough is too sticky, add 2-3 tablespoons flour, one tbsp at a time and allow to knead until the dough is smooth.
- Transfer the dough to a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot and allow to rise for 60-90 minutes until doubled in size.
- Tip the dough out onto a floured surface. Roll into a large rectangle approximately 1cm/0.4in thick.
- With a pizza cutter or large knife, cut the dough into long triangles, similar to how you would cut croissants.
- Place the ham and a piece of cheese onto the thicker side of the dough then roll into a tight roll. Tuck the point under and place on 2 sheet pans lined with parchment paper.
- Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damn tea towel and allow to rise for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
- When the rolls have risen, brush them with beaten egg then season with salt and herbs.
- Place in the oven and allow to bake for 15-20 minutes until the rolls are golden brown, puffed and baked through.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.