Enjoy the freshness of homemade sourdough dinner rolls with my tried and tested recipe. These sourdough bread rolls feature a soft crust, a tender and light interior, and a distinct tanginess from the sourdough starter.
Enjoy them as a side for soups, stews, or holiday feasts. From their soft and inviting texture to their delightful aroma, they are sure to be a hit at your dinner table.
About this recipe
Sourdough dinner rolls are a type of bread roll made using a sourdough starter. They offer a delightful twist on traditional dinner rolls. The sourdough starter gives the rolls a distinct tangy flavor and helps them rise. These delectable bread rolls are cherished for their unique tangy flavor and soft, fluffy texture.
Soft sourdough dinner rolls are incredibly versatile and can complement a wide variety of meals. Whether served alongside soups, stews, roasted meats, or enjoyed on their own, they elevate the dining experience and add a touch of sophistication to any meal. They are equally suited for casual Sunday dinners and special occasions.
Sourdough rolls are often served warm and are a popular accompaniment to meals such as Thanksgiving dinner, holiday feasts, or any other occasion where freshly baked bread is appreciated. Their tangy flavor and soft, fluffy texture make them a delicious addition to the dinner table.
Why you will love this recipe?
- Tried and tested recipe: My sourdough rolls recipe here has been tried and tested to ensure that you will enjoy the most delicious dinner rolls. They have a delightful tangy flavor and a soft and fluffy texture.
- Unique tangy flavor: The standout characteristic of sourdough bread rolls is their distinctive tangy flavor. This comes from the fermentation process using the sourdough starter, which adds depth and complexity to the taste profile of the rolls. The tanginess sets them apart from regular dinner rolls and adds a delightful twist to your meal.
- Soft and fluffy texture: Sourdough bread rolls have a soft and fluffy texture that is highly desirable. The combination of the sourdough starter and the fermentation process contributes to the development of air pockets in the dough, resulting in a light and tender crumb.
- Healthier: Sourdough bread rolls are considered to be healthier when compared to regular bread rolls. The fermentation process involved in sourdough baking breaks down some of the complex carbohydrates and proteins, making them easier to digest.
To get perfectly soft dinner rolls, it is important that the dough has a good amount of fat in it. The rich dough will give you soft and light dinner rolls. There are six ingredients that go into making this dough.
Active sourdough starter: This is the key ingredient to making sourdough bread rolls. Make sure the sourdough starter is active and bubbly.
Flour: Make them with all-purpose flour. Bread flour may also be used but low-protein flour works best here. Bread flour may make these rolls a bit chewier than what you would get when plain flour is used.
Milk: For the best-tasting dinner rolls, use whole milk. This will make the rolls soft and fluffy. Light milk works well too for his recipe. I have not tried them with non-dairy milk.
Butter: Butter not only adds a great flavor to them, but it also makes dinner rolls soft.
Sugar: Sugar is food for the wild yeast in your starter.
Salt: Salt is a key ingredient in making these rolls tasty. Don't skip it!
Step 1: Combine milk and butter in a saucepan and warm it up. The milk should be just lukewarm, around 90-100 F, which is sufficient to melt the butter. Don’t overheat the milk (image 1).
Step 2: Transfer the milk-butter mixture to a large mixing bowl and add the active sourdough starter, salt, and sugar. Mix well using a dough whisk or wooden spoon (images 2 and 3).
Step 3: Slowly add the flour and combine well making sure there are no dry flour bits. Knead it gently for 4-5 minutes. Add 1-2 tablespoons of flour if needed (images 4 and 5).
Step 4: Let the dough sit at room temperature for 30 minutes (step 6).
Step 5: Perform 3-4 sets of stretch and fold at an interval of 30 minutes. With wet hands, grab a portion of the dough and slowly stretch it taking care not to break it, and fold it towards the center over the dough. Keep turning the bowl and repeat the process until all parts of the dough is covered. Carefully flip the dough and round it up. This completes one set of stretch and fold (images 7 and 8).
Step 6: Repeat this process 3-4 times at an interval of 30 minutes. The dough should develop strength and structure at the end of the stretch and fold cycle (images 9 and 10).
Step 7: Cover the dough with a tea towel and let it sit for bulk fermentation until it is almost double and has bubbles on the top. This may take 3-4 hours depending on the ambient temperature (images 11 and 12).
Step 8: Once the bulk fermentation is done, shape the dough. Pinch out a lemon-sized ball of dough and roll it into smooth balls. Tuck the dough into a tight ball and place it in the baking tray or oven-safe iron skillet (images 13 and 14). With this recipe, you can divide the dough into 24 equal pieces.
Step 9: Repeat with the rest of the dough (image 15). Cover the shaped rolls with plastic wrap and place them in the refrigerator overnight. At this stage, you can choose to bake directly without placing the dough in the fridge. If you are planning to bake the rolls on the same day, let them sit in a warm place for the dough rise in the second proofing.
Step 10: Next morning, remove the shaped dough from the fridge and let it sit in a warm spot for 1-2 hours. Preheat the oven to 360 F (180 C) for 15 minutes. As an optional step, you can brush the rolls with egg wash using a pastry brush, however, I have skipped it. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden brown (images 16 and 17).
Step 11: Brush the sourdough bread rolls with some melted butter while they are still hot (image 18). Cool it in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to let them cool down slightly before serving.
Can I skip cold-proofing the dinner rolls?
While I highly recommend cold proofing for sourdough bread rolls, you can skip this step if are running out of time. Cold proofing helps develop flavor and improves the texture of the rolls, but if you are short on time or prefer not to refrigerate the dough, you can proceed with the regular proofing and baking process.
However, it is important that you do not skip the second proofing after the first rise. Place the shaped dough in a warm spot for 1-2 hours for the second rise before baking. Keep in mind that the flavor and texture might differ slightly from the traditional method, but you can still achieve tasty dinner rolls without the cold-proofing step.
Shaping sourdough bread rolls
Shaping these pull-apart rolls can be a bit trickier compared to shaping regular rolls because sourdough dough tends to be more elastic and sticky due to the fermentation process. The higher hydration of the dough can make it a bit more challenging to handle. Here are a few tricks I use to make the shaping easier:
- Use lightly floured hands and lightly floured work surface: Dusting your hands and work surface with some flour can help prevent the dough from sticking excessively while shaping the rolls.
- Handle the dough gently: The dough of sourdough is more delicate than dough made with commercial yeast, so it is important to handle it with care. Avoid excessive handling, as it can deflate the dough and affect the texture of the finished rolls.
- Try the technique of pre-shaping: Pre-shaping the dough into rounds before final shaping can help develop surface tension and make it easier to shape the rolls. This involves pulling the edges of the dough towards the center, creating a smooth ball.
- Use a light touch: When shaping the rolls, apply gentle pressure with your hands while rolling them. This will help create tension in the dough, giving the rolls a better shape and rise.
- Practice and patience: Shaping a sourdough dinner roll may require a bit of practice to achieve the desired results. Don't get discouraged if your first attempts are not perfect. With time, you will become more comfortable with the dough and develop your own techniques.
Get the milk to the right temperature: Make sure the milk is just lukewarm - not cold and definitely not hot. If the milk is too hot, it will kill the yeast in the starter.
Active and bubbly sourdough starter: Ensure that your sourdough starter is active and healthy before using it for your rolls. A vigorous starter will contribute to better fermentation and a more pronounced tangy flavor. Feed your starter regularly, following my recommended feeding schedule, and make sure it is active and bubbly before incorporating it into the dough.
Bulk fermentation: Allow the dough to rise until it has visibly increased in volume and has a bubbly appearance. But keep an eye on the bulk fermentation time as it highly depends on the temperature of your kitchen. Once the dough is almost double and has bubbles, shape it for second proofing or put it in the fridge. As the amount of starter is high in this bread, remember that it may ferment more quickly when compared to regular sourdough.
Do not skip second proofing: Second proofing is important and cannot be skipped even if you choose to bake the dinner rolls on the same day. The best way to second-proof is to shape it and place it in the refrigerator overnight. If you prefer not to do it, let them rest in a warm spot for 1-2 hours.
Optional cold proofing: You can choose to bake the bread on the same day if you like. But I always prefer to keep the dough in the fridge overnight and bake the next day. If you choose to bake on the same day, activate your starter the previous night and start the dough early in the morning. That way, you will be able to do the second proofing in the afternoon and bake in the evening.
Adequate surface tension: When shaping the rolls, aim to create proper surface tension by rolling them with your hands or against the work surface. This tension helps the rolls maintain their shape and rise evenly during baking.
Cooling for optimal texture: Allow the sourdough bread rolls to cool completely on a wire rack before serving. This allows the flavors to settle and the crumb to set, resulting in a better texture. The rolls might seem tempting straight out of the oven, but patience will be rewarded with the best eating experience.
While this basic sourdough dinner rolls recipe is our absolute favorite, there are some variations that I like to make to add different flavors and textures. Keep in mind that handling the dough with add-ins needs a bit of practice. Here are a few of my favorites:
Herb and cheese rolls: Add dried herbs or chopped fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme, along with grated cheese such as cheddar or Gruyère to the dough.
Garlic and parmesan rolls: Mix minced garlic and grated parmesan cheese into the dough for a deliciously garlicky and cheesy flavor. You can also brush the rolls with garlic-infused butter and sprinkle them with extra parmesan before baking the sourdough dinner rolls.
Spiced rolls: Enhance the flavor with warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or cardamom. You can also mix in dried fruits or chopped nuts for extra indulgence.
Olive and rosemary rolls: Fold pitted and chopped olives and fresh rosemary into the dough for a Mediterranean twist. The briny olives and fragrant rosemary add a burst of savory flavor to the rolls.
Seeded dinner rolls: Roll the shaped dough in a mixture of various seeds, such as poppy seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds, before baking. You can also sprinkle the seeds on top of the dough just before baking.
Pumpkin bread rolls: Add pumpkin puree to the dough to make delicious pumpkin bread rolls that are perfect for the Thanksgiving dinner. Use this pumpkin sourdough bread recipe for measurements.
How to serve sourdough dinner rolls?
Sourdough dinner rolls are incredibly versatile and can be served in various ways. They pair with a variety of dishes and accompaniments. Here are some suggestions:
Holiday feasts: Sourdough bread rolls are a wonderful addition to holiday feasts, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners. They provide a tangy and artisanal touch to the table, and you can use them to make mini turkey or ham sandwiches with leftover holiday meats. Check out this cranberry sauce recipe that is a perfect addition to your holiday table.
Bread basket: Place a basket filled with warm sourdough bread rolls at the center of the table, allowing everyone to help themselves. This is a classic and inviting way to serve rolls during a family meal or a gathering.
Accompaniment to soups and stews: Sourdough dinner rolls make an excellent companion to hearty soups, stews, and chilis. Serve them on the side to soak up the flavorful broth.
Sandwiches and sliders: Slice the dinner rolls in half and use them as a base for delicious sandwiches and sliders. Load them with your favorite fillings like roasted turkey, ham, chicken, cheese, lettuce, and condiments for a satisfying handheld meal.
Dipping with flavored oils: Serve sourdough bread rolls alongside a selection of flavored oils, such as extra virgin olive oil infused with herbs or garlic-infused oil. Other options that are perfect with these rolls are hummus, tzatziki, artichoke dip, roasted red pepper dip, or flavored butter.
The Indian Feast: Last but not least, sourdough dinner rolls can be enjoyed with a variety of Indian dishes, adding a unique twist to the traditional flavors. Pair them with curries like butter chicken, chicken vindaloo, or paneer butter masala. Use them instead of ladi pav in street foods like pav bhaji or vada pav.
How to store sourdough dinner rolls?
Proper storage is essential to maintain the freshness and quality of sourdough dinner rolls. Remember to always store sourdough bread rolls in airtight containers or bags.
Room temperature: Soft sourdough rolls can be stored at room temperature for a day or two, especially if you plan to consume them relatively quickly. Place the cooled rolls in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag to protect them from drying out.
Freezing: Sourdough dinner rolls freeze well and can be stored for a longer period.
- Once the leftover rolls have cooled completely, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet or tray.
- Place the tray in the freezer and allow the rolls to freeze individually. This prevents them from sticking together.
- Once frozen, transfer the rolls to airtight freezer-safe bags or containers. Label and date the bags for easy identification.
- Return the rolls to the freezer and use them within 2-3 months for the best quality.
Thawing and reheating: When you're ready to enjoy the frozen sourdough bread rolls, remove the desired number of rolls from the freezer and thaw them at room temperature. You can also reheat them for a few minutes in a preheated oven at a low temperature (around 300 F) to revive their freshness. Avoid overheating, as it can make the rolls dry.
More sourdough recipes
Click here to browse through my sourdough recipe collection.
Yes, you can make the dough for sourdough dinner rolls ahead of time and refrigerate it. After the initial rise, shape the dough, cover it, and keep the dough in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. When you're ready to bake the rolls, let the dough sit at room temperature, allow them to rise, and then bake according to this recipe. This method allows you to plan ahead and have freshly baked rolls at your convenience.
For gluten-free rolls, substitute the regular flour with a gluten-free flour blend that is suitable for bread baking. Make sure to use a gluten-free sourdough starter or create one from gluten-free grains. Please note that I have not tested this recipe for gluten-free options.
To make vegan sourdough bread rolls replace milk and butter with plant-based alternatives such as almond milk and vegan butter. Please note that I have not tested this recipe for vegan alternatives.
While the traditional sourdough roll recipe is typically made by using the stretch and fold technique, using a stand mixer can offer convenience and ease. For this, use the dough hook attachment and combine the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Start the mixer on low speed to mix the ingredients together, then increase it to medium speed and knead the dough as mentioned in the recipe.
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Sourdough Dinner Rolls
Make the initial dough:
- Make sure your sourdough starter is active and bubbly.
- Combine milk and butter in a saucepan and warm it up. The milk should be just lukewarm, around 90-100 F, which is sufficient to melt the butter. Don’t overheat the milk.
- To the warm milk, add the active sourdough starter, salt, and sugar.
- Slowly add the flour and combine well making sure there are no dry flour bits. Knead it gently for 4-5 minutes. Add 1-2 tablespoon flour if needed.
- Let the dough sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Perform 3-4 sets of stretch and fold at an interval of 30 minutes. With wet hands, grab a portion of the dough and slowly stretch it taking care not to break it, and fold it towards the center over the dough. Keep turning the bowl and repeat the process until all parts of the dough is covered. Carefully flip the dough and round it up. This completes one set of stretch and fold.
- Repeat this process 3-4 times at an interval of 30 minutes. The dough should develop strength and structure at the end of the stretch and fold cycle.
- Let the dough sit for bulk fermentation until it is almost double and has bubbles on the top. This may take 3-4 hours depending on the ambient temperature.
Shaping and second proof:
- Once the bulk fermentation is done, shape the dough.
- Pinch out a lemon-sized ball of dough, roll it into smooth balls, and place it in the baking tray. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
- Place the dough in the refrigerator overnight. At this stage, you can choose to bake directly without placing the dough in the fridge.
- If you are planning to bake the rolls on the same day, let them sit in a warm spot for second proofing.
Bake sourdough dinner rolls:
- Next morning, remove the shaped dough from the fridge and let it sit in a warm spot for 1-2 hours (until it comes to room temperature).
- Preheat the oven to 360 F (180 C) for 15 minutes.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden
- Cool it in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to let them cool down slightly before serving.