Parker House Rolls | Recipe and History

New England’s classic Parker House Rolls are crisp and buttery on the outside, tender and light on the inside, and always delicious.

By Aimee Tucker

Nov 13 2020


Fresh from the oven Parker House Rolls.

Photo Credit : Aimee Tucker

A warm basket of Parker House Rolls is one of my favorite New England food traditions. Soft and buttery, they pair well with any dish, from roasted turkey to hearty soup, to spaghetti with marinara.

In fact, I’d argue these rolls are the perfect “classic” dinner roll, thanks to a crisp, buttery exterior that makes way for a soft and tender inside that steams when broken apart. In addition to their dinner table pedigree, they’re also delicious sweetened with butter and jam at the breakfast table.

Parker House Rolls
Parker House Rolls: Part of this complete breakfast!
Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey

Curious about their history? Parker House rolls are named after the Boston Parker House Hotel where they first originated during the 1870s. Legend has it that a disgruntled hotel baker threw a batch of unfinished rolls into the oven after an altercation with a hotel guest.

The Omni Parker House Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts.
The Omni Parker House Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts.
Photo Credit : Aimee Tucker

When the rolls emerged from the oven, they had a distinct folded “pocketbook” shape that made them light and puffy on the inside, while staying crisp and buttery on the outside.

Parker House Rolls
Crisp and buttery on the outside, tender and light on the inside.
Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey

The oldest printed Parker House Rolls recipe on file is from an April 1874 issue of the New Hampshire Sentinel, and they have been a favorite in homes and restaurants ever since. You can also find them, along with Anadama Bread and fellow Parker House invention Boston Cream Pie on our list of 75 Classic New England Foods.

Make a large batch this fall for a family dinner, or freeze the rolls for a warm, toasted, buttery addition to any meal, at any time.

Are you a fan of Parker House rolls?

This post was first published in 2011 and has been updated.

Parker House Rolls Recipe