Making sourdough dinner rolls requires very little effort and yields superior results. Learn how to make sourdough dinner rolls in this detailed step-by-step photo guide.
- Sourdough FAQs
- What is sourdough starter?
- Why is sourdough so good for you?
- Why do you use dry active yeast in this recipe?
- Sourdough Dinner Rolls Prep Tips
- Why are these sourdough rolls so soft?
- Ingredient Notes
- How to make sourdough rolls (step by step images)
- How to make sourdough dinner rolls in advance
- How to freeze the dough before baking
- How to keep baked rolls warm
There's something comforting about unwrapping a warm dinner roll from a towel, cutting it open and spreading it with butter to complete a Thanksgiving meal (or any meal for that matter!).
What is sourdough starter?
Making sourdough is a slow process that begins with a natural starter of water and flour that is left to ferment. Yeast from the air reacts with the flour, feeding the starches and eventually gut-healthy bacteria grows (without any instant yeast).
Why is sourdough so good for you?
Because it takes longer to make, it's fermented and it includes healthy bacteria, sourdough bread is often much easier on the gut and easier to digest for those with gluten sensitivities.
Note: we are speeding up the process in this recipe by using some active yeast with the starter so note that if you are gluten-sensitive.
Why do you use dry active yeast in this recipe?
The dry active yeast is used in this recipe to speed up the process, make it easier and ensure the dough rises. If you're looking for a slow rise dough recipe check out my sourdough buns (and replace the bread flour with all-purpose flour).
Sourdough Dinner Rolls Prep Tips
- Create a baker's schedule so you know when to start making the rolls. I recommend working backwards from the time you want the rolls done and ready until you feed your sourdough.
- Measure everything in grams. It's much more precise and yields better results. Because of that, I recommend a food scale.
Why are these sourdough rolls so soft?
When it comes to baking bread, the more fat in the bread, the softer and richer the texture and flavor. A bread dough that starts with fats and sugar is called an enriched dough. Unlike a crusty artisan sourdough, these rolls are soft and buttery because of the fat from the eggs, butter and milk.
- Milk (dairy free or whole milk)
- Warm water: around 113°F
- Coconut sugar (or granulated sugar): this helps activate the yeast
- Active dry yeast: I like the brand Red Star.
- Grass-fed butter (or vegan butter): unsalted!
- Active sourdough starter (room temp and active if possible but inactive would work)
- All purpose flour: don't use bread flour because it will make the rolls too tough.
How to make sourdough rolls (step by step images)
Make the dough
- Activate the yeast: Start by adding the milk, water and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle with yeast and allow to sit for 2-3 minutes. Add the egg, melted butter and sourdough starter then use the paddle attachment to mix until incorporated.
- Mix in the ingredients: With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour and salt, mixing well after each addition until the dough comes together. It will be wet and lumpy but not super sticky.
- Knead: Switch to the dough hook and knead for approximately 7 minutes, until the dough is smooth. It will not pull away from the sides of the bowl.
- Cover and proof: Transfer the dough to a large, greased glass bowl. Cover with a towel and place in a warm spot to rise (proof) for 1 hour or until it's doubled in size. If you're using instant dry yeast, start checking sooner than one hour.
Shape sourdough rolls
- Divide the dough: Remove the dough to a gently floured surface and use floured fingertips to gently push the dough out into a rectangle. Use a knife or bench scraper to divide the dough into 12 even balls (I like to use a food scale for consistency and they ended up being about 70-75g each).
- Shape: To shape the dough, pull all 4 sides of the dough into the center and pinch it together to seal.
- Smooth: Flip the dough over and pull the dough towards you to shape into a ball and tighten the top.
- Arrange: Transfer shaped rolls into a greased 9x13 inch baking dish/pan.
- 2nd proof: Cover the dough with a damp towel and allow to rise again for another 30-45 minutes or until doubled in size.
- Egg wash: While they’re rising, preheat the oven to 400°F. Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl. Brush the egg wash on top of the dough.
- Bake: Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until the dough roll are baked and golden brown.
How to make sourdough dinner rolls in advance
- During the first rise: Transfer the dough to a greased bowl, cover tightly, and allow to rise in the fridge overnight for up to 16 hours.
- After shaping (my preferred method): After rising and shaping, place in a greased baking dish, cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 16 hours.
For both options, remove the dough from the fridge at least 2 hours prior to baking to warm up on the counter then preheat and bake.
Example timeline: The Wednesday before Thanksgiving make and shape the dough, cover and place in the fridge overnight. Remove the dough in the morning and bake.
How to freeze the dough before baking
Follow the recipe to shape and place in a baking pan. Cover tightly and freeze right away. Prior to baking, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw and rise for 5 hours in a warm place then brush them with egg wash and bake for 30 minutes.
How to keep baked rolls warm
Ball up 4-5 pieces of foil and place in the oven with the rolls as they bake. When the rolls are done, remove the foil and place in the bottom of a bread basket. Place a towel on top, then add the rolls to the towel and wrap the sides of the towel around the rolls.
To reheat the rolls: wrap them in foil and bake at 350°F for 10-15 minutes.
If you love this recipe as much as I do, don't forget to follow me on Instagram and tag me with @what_mollymade so I can see it and feature you.
More sourdough recipes:
More Thanksgiving sides you'll love:
- 1/4 cup (60 g) dairy free milk (or whole milk),
- 1/2 cup (120g) warm water
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 1 package 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (instant is ok* see notes)
- 2 tablespoons (28 g) grass-fed or vegan butter, melted
- 1 egg room temperature
- 1 cup (200g) sourdough starter (doesn’t have to be active), room temperature
- 3 1/2 cups (420 g) all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Egg wash: 1 egg and 1 tablespoon water
Make the dough
- Add the milk to a bowl then add the warm water. Check the temperature the mixture to see if it’s warm enough (about 110-115°F). If it’s not warm, microwave on high in 15 second increments until it’s warm enough. Add to the bowl of a stand mixer then add the sugar and whisk quickly to combine. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the mixture and allow to rest fo 2-3 minutes. Some yeast will sink while some bubbles a bit, but won’t be super bubbly.
- Add the egg, melted butter and sourdough starter. Use the paddle attachment to mix until everything is incorporated.
- While the mixer is on low, slowly add the flour and salt, mixing well after each addition. When all the flour is mixed in the dough should be wet, but not super sticky.
- Switch to the dough hook then knead the dough for about 7 minutes, until the dough becomes smooth. It shouldn’t pull away from the bowl, that’s ok. Grease a large glass bowl with non-stick spray or butter then scrape down the sides of the dough and transfer to the prepared bowl.
First Rise (1 Hour)
- Cover with a towel and rest at in a warm spot for one hour until the dough has doubled in size. A proofing drawer is ideal. You can also set your oven to 250°F then turn the oven off and place the dough inside once the oven is off to proof and stay warm.
Shape the Dough
- Remove the dough to a gently floured surface and use floured fingertips to gently push the dough out into a rectangle. Use a knife or bench scraper to divide the dough into 12 even balls (I like to use a food scale and they end up being about 70-75g each).
- To shape the dough, pull all 4 sides of the dough into the center and pinch it together to seal. Flip the dough over and pull the dough towards you to shape into a ball and tighten the top. Transfer to a greased 9x13 inch baking pan and repeat until all the dough is rolled. There should be 3 rows and 4 columns in the pan.
2nd Rise (30 Mins)
- Cover the dough with a damp towel and allow to rise again for 30-45 minutes, until they’ve almost doubled in size.
- While they’re rising, preheat the oven to 400°F. Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl. Brush the egg wash on top of the dough and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until the dough roll are baked and golden brown.