Kaiser Rolls

Kaiser Rolls

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Vickie Parks


In Austria, they're called Semmel (or Emperor's Rolls). It's a light and fluffy roll with a crispy crust, and they're a mainstay nearly everywhere throughout Austria.They were created in honor of the Habsburg Emperor of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, which the shape of these rolls is said to resemble the Emperor's crown.

To make the "bumps" on top of these rolls, most Austrians use a cookie cutter-like tool with blades that's pressed into the rolls, and a quick twist sets the slits into the dough. But don't worry if you don't have that gadget, because a sharp knife will work just fine.


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12 (most of the prep time is rising time)
3 Hr
25 Min



  • 2 (1/4-oz) pkg
    active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups
    warm water
  • 1 Tbsp
    granulated sugar
  • 5 cups
    all-purpose flour (plus more for kneading)
  • 1 tsp
  • 1 large
  • 1 large
    egg white (save the yolk, as it'll be used in a later step)
  • 1/2 cup
    unsalted butter
  • a bit of
    warm milk (as needed for dough consistency)

  • 1 large
    egg yolk
  • 2 Tbsp
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp
    poppy seeds or sesame seeds (optional)

How to Make Kaiser Rolls


  1. In a small bowl, add sugar and yeast to the warm water, and stir just until well blended. Let stand 10 minutes or until it becomes foamy.
  2. Sift together the flour and salt. Add the watery yeast mixture, and use a stand mixer to mix until well combined. With the mixer still operating, gradually add the egg, egg white and butter, and mix until incorporated into the dough. Add milk (if needed) to make a soft, workable dough.
  3. Transfer dough to lightly floured surface and knead for 5 to 6 minutes. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover bowl and set aside for 1 hour or until doubled. Turn dough onto floured surface and knead another 2 to 3 minutes, then return dough to bowl to rise again (about 1 hour more).
  4. Lightly grease a large cookie/baking sheet; set aside.
  5. Shape dough into 12 balls, flatten slightly and place on prepared baking sheet. To get the characteristic "bumps" in the rolls, use a knife to cut a + (one vertical slit and one horizontal slit) on top of each roll, about 1/4-inch deep. (Most Austrians use a kitchen tool shaped like a cookie cutter with curved blades that's pressed over each roll, and a quick twist will set the slits into the dough. But knife works equally well if you don't have that gadget.) Let stand 20 to 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 400°F.
    Place a pan of water on bottom rack of oven (it helps to create steam which is what gives the rolls the crunchy or crispy exterior).
  7. With a fork, beat together the egg yolk and water, and brush a little of the egg wash on top of each roll. Sprinkle a few poppy seeds or sesame seeds on each roll, if desired.
  8. Place baking sheet on middle rack in oven, and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until rolls are lightly browned.

Printable Recipe Card

About Kaiser Rolls

Course/Dish: Biscuits
Main Ingredient: Flour
Regional Style: Hungarian
Dietary Needs: Low Sodium
Hashtag: #AUSTRIAN

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