Sourdough Dinner Rolls Recipe: Achieve Soft & Fluffy Perfection

Perfectly tangy and irresistibly soft, these sourdough dinner rolls are the ultimate addition to any meal. Discover how to make them with our detailed guide.

Introduction to Sourdough Baking

Sourdough baking is not just a culinary technique; it’s an art form. Rooted in ancient traditions, sourdough uses natural fermentation to create bread with distinctive flavor and texture. This introduction will explore the fundamentals of sourdough and its benefits.

What is Sourdough?

Understanding the Basics Sourdough is made from a simple mixture of flour and water, which naturally captures yeast and bacteria from the environment. This mixture, known as a ‘starter,’ is the heart of all sourdough breads and imparts a characteristic tang and chewiness.

Benefits of Sourdough Bread

Health Benefits Sourdough fermentation not only enhances flavor but also improves digestibility, reduces phytates, and increases the availability of nutrients, making it a healthier option than commercially yeasted breads.

Essential Ingredients for Sourdough Dinner Rolls

Creating perfect sourdough dinner rolls begins with using the right ingredients, each essential for flavor, texture, and baking success. Here’s what you need:

Flour: The foundation of any sourdough bread, the type of flour affects your rolls’ texture and flavor. High-protein bread flour is best for light, airy rolls with a chewy texture. Mixing in a bit of whole wheat or rye flour adds depth to the flavor.

Water: Essential for hydration, lukewarm water activates the yeast in the sourdough starter, aiding fermentation and gluten development.

Sourdough Starter: The natural leavening agent that contains yeast and bacteria, a mature and active starter is crucial for the dough’s rise and enhances both the flavor and texture of the rolls.

Salt: Adds flavor and strengthens the gluten network, regulating yeast activity to ensure proper fermentation.

Sugar: Optional, but a small amount can balance the sourdough’s tanginess with subtle sweetness and help brown the crust.

Fats: A little unsalted butter or olive oil in the dough improves texture and softness while managing stickiness.

Optional Add-ins: Incorporate herbs like rosemary or thyme, grated cheese, or minced garlic for additional flavor and texture. Add these during the mixing stage to distribute evenly.

Understanding and combining these ingredients correctly is key to achieving the best results in your sourdough dinner rolls, making them as delightful as they are delicious.

Step-by-Step Recipe Guide for Sourdough Dinner Rolls

Making sourdough dinner rolls can seem daunting, but with this step-by-step guide, you’ll be able to create delicious, fluffy rolls that are perfect for any meal. Here’s how to make sourdough dinner rolls from scratch:

Preparing the Sourdough Starter

  1. Activation: Ensure your sourdough starter is active and bubbly. If stored in the refrigerator, take it out 12-24 hours before you plan to bake, and feed it with equal parts flour and water.
  2. Consistency: The starter should have a thick, but pourable consistency and should double in size after feeding, indicating it’s ready to use.

Mixing the Ingredients

  1. Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, combine:
    • 500 grams of bread flour
    • 300 grams of water (adjust based on your starter’s hydration)
    • 150 grams of active sourdough starter
    • 10 grams of salt
    • 15 grams of sugar (optional)
    • 50 grams of unsalted butter or olive oil
  2. Mixing: Start by mixing flour, water, and starter until just combined. Let the mixture rest for about 20 minutes (autolyse). This resting period helps the flour absorb the water and begins gluten development.
  3. Kneading: Add salt, sugar, and butter. Knead the dough either by hand on a floured surface or in a stand mixer with a dough hook for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.

The First Rise (Bulk Fermentation)

  1. Fermenting: Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Let it rise at room temperature until it roughly doubles in size. This can take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours depending on the temperature and the activity of your starter.

Shaping the Dinner Rolls

  1. Dividing: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 12 equal pieces.
  2. Shaping: Shape each piece into a tight ball by pulling the dough from the sides and tucking the ends underneath.

The Second Rise

  1. Proofing: Arrange the shaped rolls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover them with a lightly greased plastic wrap or a damp cloth. Let them rise for another 1-2 hours, or until puffy and nearly doubled in size.

Baking the Dinner Rolls

  1. Preheating: Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C).
  2. Baking: Right before baking, you can brush the rolls with an egg wash (one beaten egg with a tablespoon of water) for a shiny, golden crust. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown on top and sound hollow when tapped.
  3. Cooling: Remove the rolls from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes before serving.

These sourdough dinner rolls are best enjoyed fresh but can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days or frozen for longer storage. Enjoy your homemade sourdough dinner rolls with butter, soups, stews, or just on their own!

Tips and Tricks for Perfect Sourdough Dinner Rolls

Creating perfect sourdough dinner rolls is an art that combines precision with a touch of creativity. Below are expert insights and strategies to assist you in attaining optimal outcomes.

1. Optimal Dough Hydration

  • Adjust Water Content: Depending on the flour type and the humidity in your environment, you might need to adjust the amount of water in your recipe. The dough ought to be slightly adhesive but not excessively so. Start with less water, gradually adding more until you reach the desired consistency.

2. Maintain a Healthy Starter

  • Regular Feeding: Keep your sourdough starter active and healthy by feeding it regularly. A well-maintained starter is the key to lively and flavorful rolls.
  • Peak Activity: Use the starter at its peak activity, which is usually a few hours after feeding when it’s bubbly and has doubled in size.

3. Autolyse the Flour

  • Rest the Dough: Before adding salt and other ingredients, mix just the flour and water and let it rest for at least 20 minutes. This process helps the gluten develop naturally, resulting in a more extensible dough, which is easier to shape.

4. Gentle Dough Handling

  • Avoid Over-kneading: Over-kneading the dough can lead to tough rolls. Only knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic.
  • Shape Gently: When shaping the rolls, handle the dough gently to keep as much air in the dough as possible. This will help achieve lighter and airier rolls.

5. Proper Proofing

  • Temperature Matters: Dough fermentation is highly temperature-dependent. Warmer temperatures accelerate fermentation, whereas cooler temperatures decelerate it. Find a spot in your kitchen that maintains a consistent temperature for the most reliable rise.
  • Volume Check: Instead of proofing for a set time, let the dough rise until it has visibly doubled in size. This can vary depending on many factors, so use the dough’s volume as your guide rather than the clock.

6. Steam During Baking

  • Add Steam: Introduce steam during the first few minutes of baking to keep the crust soft initially, allowing the rolls to expand fully before the crust hardens. You can achieve this by placing a pan of hot water at the bottom of the oven during baking.

7. Right Baking Temperature

  • High Heat: Start with a high oven temperature to get a good oven spring, and then you can lower it slightly if the rolls are browning too quickly. This helps in developing a nice crust without overcooking the inside.

8. Test for Doneness

  • Use a Thermometer: An instant-read thermometer is a foolproof way to check if the rolls are done. The temperature inside should range from 190°F to 210°F.
  • Tap Test: Tap the bottom of a roll. It should sound hollow if it’s fully baked.

9. Cooling

  • Cool on a Wire Rack: Allow the rolls to cool on a wire rack to prevent the bottoms from becoming soggy. Cooling also sets the crust, improving the texture of the rolls.

10. Experiment with Flavors

  • Add Ins: Experiment with adding different flavors to your rolls, such as cheese, herbs, or garlic. These ingredients can be folded into the dough during the final kneading stage to distribute them evenly.

By following these tips and being mindful of the details, you can master the craft of making sourdough dinner rolls and impress your family and friends with your baking skills.

Common Challenges and Solutions for Sourdough Dinner Rolls

Sourdough baking can be unpredictable, and even seasoned bakers face challenges along the way. Here are some common issues you might encounter when making sourdough dinner rolls and their solutions:

1. Sourdough Not Rising

Challenge: Your dough isn’t rising, or it’s rising very slowly. Solutions:

  • Check Starter Activity: Make sure your sourdough starter is active. If it’s not doubling in size between feedings, continue to feed it until it becomes more vigorous.
  • Adjust Temperature: Dough rises best in a warm environment. Try placing your dough in a slightly warmer spot or use a proofing box if your kitchen is cool.
  • Review Water Temperature: If the water added to your mix is too cold, it can slow down fermentation. Use lukewarm water to encourage yeast activity.

2. Dough Is Too Sticky or Too Dry

Challenge: Dough consistency isn’t manageable—either too sticky to handle or too dry and tough. Solutions:

  • Adjust Hydration: If the dough is too sticky, add flour a tablespoon at a time until manageable. If it’s too dry, add water in small increments until the dough becomes pliable.
  • Flour the Work Surface: Use a light dusting of flour on your work surface and your hands when shaping the dough to prevent sticking without adding too much extra flour to the dough.

3. Overproofed Dough

Challenge: The dough has risen too much and collapses either when touched or during baking. Solutions:

  • Watch the Dough, Not the Clock: Start checking the dough at least an hour before the recipe’s suggested proofing time ends. If it’s doubled in size and leaves a dent when poked gently, it’s ready to shape.
  • Cold Proofing: To prevent overproofing, consider letting the dough rise in the refrigerator. This slows down the yeast activity and gives you more control.

4. Underproofed Dough

Challenge: The rolls are dense and haven’t expanded much during baking. Solutions:

  • Longer Proofing Time: Allow more time for the second rise, especially if baking in a cooler environment.
  • Ensure Proper First Rise: Make sure the first rise is successful (the dough should double in size) before shaping the rolls.

5. Rolls Are Not Browning

Challenge: The rolls bake through but don’t develop a golden-brown crust. Solutions:

  • Egg Wash: Before baking, brush the tops of the rolls with an egg wash (a beaten egg mixed with a little water) to promote browning.
  • Oven Temperature: Ensure your oven is properly calibrated. Sometimes ovens run cooler than the set temperature, affecting the browning. Consider using an oven thermometer to check.

6. Uneven Baking

Challenge: Rolls are baking unevenly—some are browning too quickly while others are not. Solutions:

  • Rotate the Baking Sheet: Halfway through baking, rotate the baking sheet to encourage even browning and baking.
  • Check Oven Hot Spots: Use an oven thermometer to find and avoid hot spots within your oven.

7. Crust Is Too Hard

Challenge: The crust of the rolls is too thick or hard, making them difficult to enjoy. Solutions:

  • Steam: Add steam during the first few minutes of baking by placing a tray of boiling water in the bottom of the oven. This helps keep the crust softer during the initial baking phase.
  • Butter Brush: Brush the rolls with melted butter right after baking. This not only adds flavor but also softens the crust.

By understanding these common challenges and knowing how to address them, you can greatly improve your sourdough dinner roll baking results and enjoy consistently delicious outcomes.

You can also read: Rhodes Dinner Rolls Recipes

Serving and Storing

How to best serve and store your sourdough dinner rolls to maintain their freshness and flavor.

Best Practices for Serving

How to Serve Sourdough Dinner Rolls Warm, buttery sourdough dinner rolls are irresistible. Here’s how to serve them at their best.

Storage Tips

Preserving Freshness Proper storage is key to keeping your sourdough dinner rolls fresh. Learn the best ways to store your rolls, both short-term and long-term.

Advanced Techniques

Take your sourdough dinner rolls to the next level with these advanced baking techniques.

Incorporating Whole Grains

Enhancing Nutritional Value Adding whole grains can enhance the nutritional value and flavor of your rolls. We’ll discuss how to incorporate them effectively without compromising the texture.

Experimenting with Flavors

Adding Herbs, Spices, and Other Ingredients Sourdough is adaptable to many flavors. We’ll explore how to add herbs, spices, and other ingredients to create unique and delicious rolls.


Answers to frequently asked questions about making sourdough dinner rolls.

How to Revive a Dormant Sourdough Starter?

Reviving a dormant starter is easier than you might think. This guide will show you how to bring your starter back to life.

Can Sourdough Dinner Rolls Be Made Gluten-Free?

Explore options for making gluten-free sourdough dinner rolls without compromising on taste or texture.

Best Flour for Sourdough Rolls?

Discover which types of flour give the best results for sourdough dinner rolls.

How Long Can Sourdough Rolls Be Stored?

Learn the best practices for storing sourdough rolls to extend their freshness.

Can I Freeze Sourdough Rolls?

Freezing is a great way to preserve the freshness of sourdough rolls. Here’s how to do it right.


Summary and Final Thoughts We’ll wrap up with a summary of what we’ve covered and final thoughts on mastering the art of sourdough dinner rolls.

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