The Crescent Roll-odex of Easy Weeknight Suppers
Stop, drop, and crescent roll! These simple dinner recipes are fire!
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Italian Crescent Casserole; photograph by Olga Ivanova
I’ve been nicknamed the Crescent Roll Queen by close family and friends. It’s an appropriate moniker, since I am constantly singing the praises of a can of crescent rolls and serving my kids easy weeknight dinners that feature the versatile ingredient. At any given time, my fridge has 1 to 2 packages ready to go so I’m never in last minute dinner crisis mode. On occasion, I’ll buy the bulk box that contains a whopping 5 cans of crescent rolls — because I know they’ll never go to waste.
What can’t a can of crescent rolls do? I’ve lined pie dishes to make an instant crust, covered pot pie fillings, wrapped cocktail hot dogs for fun appetizers, stuffed the dough with cheese and marinara sauce for pizza pockets, and even made sweet treats like a coffee cake crescent ring.
I have a feeling you’ll be joining me in Crescent Roll Royalty soon. The Crescent Roll Queen has spoken.
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The 3 most important rules of crescent rolls
I’ve got three tips to get you to think anew about crescent rolls
Throw away any pre-conceived notion of what a crescent roll is supposed to be. It’s transformable into sweet and savory concoctions, and it’s nearly impossible to mess up.
Ignore the dotted line perforations in the unrolled sheet of dough and think of crescent rolls as a blank canvas that you can reshape and use in endless forms, from square, rectangle, and triangle, to the tiniest noodly strips of dough. You can stretch the dough to cover more area, patch holes with extra scraps, and pinch seams together to seal.
A simple egg wash brushed on top of the dough just before baking will give any crescent roll recipe a glorious golden color. Just because the baking instructions on the tube, or in whatever recipe you’re following, doesn’t call for an egg wash doesn’t mean the egg wash isn’t a powerful enhancement that’s worth the minor effort. Simply crack an egg into a small bowl, add a teaspoon or two of water, whisk together, and use a pastry brush to coat the top of the dough right before popping in the oven. Plus, this is how you get sesame seeds, sprinkles, or other toppings to stick.
Appetizers and side dishes made with crescent rolls
Crescent rolls are the ultimate shortcut ingredient for appetizers. Any time you're in a bind and need crust or dough done fast, grab a can from the fridge.
This fun savory ring features a filling of cream cheese, shredded cheddar, and jalapeños for an appetizer that could just as easily be served with eggs for brunch. Control the spice level by including or tossing the jalapeño seeds.
The appeal of crescent rolls for busy parents can’t be more in-your-face than a simple crescent roll-up recipe like this. Three ingredients are all you need to get lunch or a snack on the table for your kids. You simply top each crescent roll triangle with cheese and turkey and roll them up. This is the kind of recipe that parents (aka superheroes) can do in their sleep, or while multi-tasking. And picky eaters will scarf them right up.
These cute little pockets are stuffed with a slice of brie and some raspberry preserves for one of the quickest hors d’hoeuvres you can throw together when unexpected company shows up at your door. Though the recipe doesn’t call for an egg wash, I’d highly recommend it so you get that beautiful golden brown color.
This classic appetizer has a creative twist: Slit each hot dog length-wise and stuff with melt-friendly cheese before wrapping each dog in crescent roll dough! Pro tip: If you wrap the hot dogs in thin, long strips of dough rather than using the default triangle shape, you can easily pull off a yummy “mummy” for your Halloween party.
I always associate crescent rolls with pizza because the dough is an obvious alternative to pizza crust. In this case, fill the dough with pepperoni, mozzarella, and tomato sauce, and sprinkle the top with Parmesan. But why stop there? Use all your favorite pizza toppings in this, and get the kids involved in the prep.
These pizza pinwheels have a similar flavor profile to the calzones mentioned above. But the shaping method is completely different. For the pinwheels, patch the triangles together into one large rectangle of dough, top with fillings, and roll the entire thing up together. Slice that cylinder of filled dough just as you would cinnamon rolls, and bake each slice face up in the oven. The spiral design is awesome.
Change up Taco Tuesday with these muffin cup-shaped tacos. The muffin pan helps them keep their shape, so the prep is even faster than free-form crescent roll shaping — which was already not that laborious.
These bacon-packed roll-ups have a pinwheel design. But unlike the cinnamon roll method used on the pizza pinwheels, you arrive at the spiral shape for these roll-ups differently. Fill two very long rectangles of dough with all the fixings, and then slice each rectangle into several thin strips. Each of those strips gets rolled up individually and placed on the baking pan. My favorite thing about this recipe is the amazing suggestion to brush the tops with honey mustard after they’ve come out of the oven and cooled a bit.
Crescent roll suppers and casseroles
These dinner recipes will make you happy. Especially if your kids are happy.
This Yummly original recipe is an easy solution for weeknight dinner ennui, and it has a pretty design on the top. The crescent roll dough is stretched to form a crust on the bottom of a pie dish. But be sure to leave some overhang; once you’ve layered in the cheese and ground beef, you stretch the overhanging dough back over the filling and toward the center of the dish, and pinch all the ends together.
Lasagna is not usually something you make on a whim, nor is it typical weeknight fare. (Though you really should check out this clever article about weeknight lasagnas from Debbie Koenig.) This crescent roll lasagna uses two tubes of dough, one for the bottom layer, and one for the top. In between, you stack all the lasagna fillings. Hooray for weeknight lasagna!
The name of this masterpiece is a bit of a mouthful, but move past that; it’s what’s inside that counts. Imagine a BBQ bacon cheeseburger stuffed into crescent roll dough for a behemoth dinner pocket.
Frozen broccoli, ground beef, cream cheese, and shredded Jack cheese make this hearty casserole sing. Just tell your kids they’re eating pie for dinner. Lucky them!
I am an enchilada girl. It’s my go-to menu item at Mexican restaurants. So I’m always looking for ways to use a jar of enchilada sauce in my dinner plans at home, and this recipe checks the box for that, while being easy to pull together when I’m short on time. A ground beef, salsa, and cheese filling is rolled into crescent rolls, then topped with enchilada sauce and cheese.
The concept behind this recipe is gold. Follow the instructions for the chili, or make your own favorite chili, and cover with a simple crescent roll crust. Now you have meat, veggies, and bread all in one dish.
Any crescent ring is fun to shape and fun to present to company, but a taco crescent ring one-ups the rest because you make use of the space in the middle of the ring for taco garnishes. Fill that emptiness with a heap of shredded lettuce, chopped fresh tomatoes, and sliced black olives.
Chicken pot pie is one of those dishes that was destined to be made with crescent roll dough. But the reason I chose this particular version was that the chicken and veggie filling is made from scratch. Don’t be intimidated by the lengthy list of ingredients, as many of them are aromatics. Store-bought, pre-chopped veggies will also cut down on prep time.
Pesto is one of the few sauces I can get both of my kids to eat regularly, which shocks me, since it’s as green as "evil" broccoli. Rotisserie chicken is another key ingredient in my household. And who knew my four-year-old would be addicted to cherry tomatoes? This attractive wreath uses all three of those winning ingredients: pesto, pre-cooked chicken, and cherry tomatoes, for a dinner that I’m confident I can get my kids to eat consistently.
This is a simple two-part recipe. Prepare a filling of chicken, cream cheese, cheese, and spices to be stuffed inside a crescent roll, then prepare a cream of chicken-based sauce. Bake the two together, taking care not to cover the top of the dough with the sauce. This dish has a robust chicken flavor, thanks to the presence of chicken in both the filling and the sauce — so if you love chicken, make this tonight.
I love how crescent rolls can be shaped into a braid, whether or not braiding dough is something you’ve done before. The technique is actually a mock braid, where you roll the dough into a long rectangle, and cut slits down each side that you overlap toward the center, covering the filling as you go. Aside from that, there are no special skills needed; every single ingredient is tossed into a bowl and stirred together.
Growing up, my mom always served us a tuna casserole made with crescent rolls. Her version had a cream of mushroom sauce. This recipe reminds me a lot of that childhood favorite, and I’m sure you could add a cream of mushroom sauce if you’d like!
Spinach, artichoke hearts, feta, olives, roasted red bell pepper, and pine nuts. So many wonderful flavors combine in this Mediterranean Crescent Ring. To get the shape right, blogger Erica has wonderful instructional photos.
Eat your veggies inside your entree with this zucchini-studded casserole. The zucchini is first sauteed with onions and seasonings, then layered into a crescent roll-lined baking dish alternately with sliced tomatoes and an eggy cheese sauce. This vegetarian dish could be the vegetable side at your dinner, but it would also make a great entree.
Quiche is one of those dishes that works for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. This classic take combines bacon, cheddar, heavy cream, and eggs for a creamy filling atop a blind-baked crescent roll crust.
Desserty crescent rolls
Pecan pie bars, apple dumplings, and churros. Who knew crescent rolls were such a versatile dessert ingredient?
Any time a crescent roll recipe calls for cinnamon sugar, my ears perk. The flaky dough lends itself to both savory and sweet things. In fact, if you ever have leftover scraps of dough from making dinner, brush with egg wash or melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, pop them in the oven, and you have instant churro-like crescent chips. This apple dumpling recipe is not only compelling because of the cinnamon sugar; it also has a very unique approach: The apple-filled crescent rolls are set in a baking dish with sugar-water. Somehow, that sugar syrup is the secret to perfect dumplings. And apparently Sprite or Mountain Dew will also work.
Need a fall treat? Or even Thanksgiving dessert buffet options? These pumpkin pie crescent rolls are a much faster way to arrive at pumpkin pie than the actual thing. Whip up a sweet pumpkin filling, stuff the crescent rolls, and sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice just before baking. As I’ve mentioned before, I’d include an egg wash on the tops before sprinkling with the spice.
Brunch or dessert? Both. This fancy-looking crescent ring celebrates one of the most beloved flavor combos: chocolate and raspberry. But there’s nothing fancy about the way this easy treat is made. Chocolate chips and frozen raspberries get you there.
Cinnamon rolls can be intimidating to make when you’re starting from scratch. They're a yeast dough, require rising, and take time. This crescent roll version cuts the time way back. You could actually wake up one Sunday morning and decide you want to eat cinnamon rolls for breakfast — within the hour.
Picture a cheesecake-filled churro, because that’s essentially what this is. Spread sheets of crescent roll dough with sweetened cream cheese, roll them up and pinch at the seams to seal. Fry for a minute on each side, then immediately toss in cinnamon sugar. These are best eaten the day they are made, but that shouldn’t be a problem when they can be made so quickly.
We’ve seen pies, dumplings, roll-ups, pinwheels, braids, rings, and churros. But here’s a new use for crescent rolls: dessert bars! These pecan pie bars use crescent dough as a bottom crust, and then a traditional pecan pie filling is poured on top and baked. Serve these bars at Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any Monday night.
As a peanut butter lover, I couldn’t leave the nutty ingredient out of this recipe roundup. Peanut Butter Nutella Crescent Rolls have plenty of surprises inside. In addition to the peanut butter and Nutella, you’ll find sliced bananas and mini marshmallows when you take your first bite.
Just when you thought you had already learned all of the ways to shape crescent rolls, here comes another to shake you out of complacency. This lemony cream cheese danish ring has you roll the dough into a large rectangle, spread the filling on top, and roll it into a long log. But instead of shaping the entire log into a ring, you slice the log into individual 1-inch pieces, then overlap them in a circular shape in the baking dish. As they bake, they attach to each other and form a beautiful wreath. But they barely stay attached, since everyone is eager to pull off a slice to enjoy.
Such an adorable dessert to serve during the holiday season! If you can shape crescent rolls into a ring, you can just as easily shape them into a candy cane. Don’t be misled by the candy cane in the name; there’s no mint in this recipe. The red peeking through the pastry comes from cherry-pie filling.
Want more dinner ideas?
In case the grocery store is out of crescent rolls, look for another dinner option in the related Yummly articles below.