How to Make Easy + Irresistible Crusty Sourdough Rolls

Learn how to make these reader-favorite chewy and crusty sourdough rolls using a small amount of yeast and a special steam technique in your oven. Easy to make, with a great crust and soft interior. Double the recipe if you want; they freeze beautifully.

This is the most popular of all my sourdough bread recipes. They’re delicious and versatile.

Crusty Sourdough Rolls

These simple sourdough rolls are perfect for dinner or making sandwiches. If you are not ready for artisan loaves, give these a try! They freeze well too.
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
rising time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 58 minutes
Serving Size 8 rolls


  • 7 ounces active sourdough starter 1 ¼ cups / 200 grams
  • 13 ounces bread flour 2 ½ cups to 3 cups / 370 grams
  • 6.5 oz water ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon / 185 grams
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon yeast


  • Mix all ingredients except salt and yeast. Combine the starter, flour, water, and sugar in a large bowl. Stir well, using your hands if needed to incorporate all ingredients. The mixture may look dry but will feel slightly sticky to the touch. Cover and allow to rest at room temperature for thirty minutes.
    sourdough dough in mixing bowl
  • Knead in the salt and yeast. Add the salt and yeast on top of the dough, and knead until smooth, stretchy, and elastic. (If using a bread machine, set it on the dough cycle. For a stand mixer, set it on low about 5 minutes. If kneading by hand, knead for about 10 minutes.) Check the consistency of the dough after a few minutes of kneading. It may seem sticky, but should clear the sides of the bowl and should not be too difficult to work with. If it seems very wet, add more flour a few tablespoons at a time.
  • The first rise. When the dough is kneaded, cover it and put in in a warm place to rise between 60-90 minutes, until nearly doubled in size.
    dough after first rise in bread machine
  • Shape the rolls. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter or a cutting board. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or oil and flour. Dust the top of the parchment with cornmeal. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, either by dividing into half, then quarters, then eighths, or by. using a kitchen scale. Shape the pieces into rolls by pinching the bottoms. Place on the cornmeal dusted parchment. Rub the tops with flour. Slash, if desired, using a lame or sharp knife.
  • The second rise. Cover the rolls with heavily greased plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes, until puffy. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Place one rack in the center, and one in the lower middle area. Place an empty baking sheet on the lower rack to get hot while the oven preheats.
  • Bake with steam. When the oven has heated and the rolls have risen, pour one cup of water on the hot baking sheet to create steam. (It may buckle, this is ok.). Place the rolls inside and bake for 17-21 minutes, until browned outside. Cool rolls on wire rack for at least 30 minutes before serving.


Start with a lesser amount of flour and increase it if the dough is too wet. (If you are using all-purpose flour, you will need a greater amount of flour, or even a little more.)
Divide into 12 pieces for smaller dinner roll-sized servings. Bake for 17-19 minutes. 
Calories: 170kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 438mg | Potassium: 53mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 1mg

It only took me a million different tries to get this recipe right. I really hope you like them.

Let’s break down some essential tools and ingredients for making this recipe:

bread flour, water, sugar, and sourdough starter on counter
  • Digital Kitchen Scale: While not strictly essential, a kitchen scale helps ensure accurate measurements, especially when working with bread dough. It takes the guesswork out of portioning the dough for evenly sized rolls.
  • Active Sourdough Starter: This is the heart of sourdough baking, providing the signature tangy flavor and airy texture. Make sure your starter is bubbly and active before using it in this recipe. If you don’t have a starter, you can find plenty of online resources for creating your own.
  • Bread Flour: Bread flour has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour, which helps develop the gluten structure necessary for a chewy crumb and a good rise. While you can use all-purpose flour in a pinch, bread flour yields the best results.
  • Instant Yeast: A small amount of instant yeast is added to this recipe to give the dough a little boost. If you don’t have instant yeast, you can substitute active dry yeast, but be sure to activate it in warm water with a pinch of sugar before adding it to the dough.
  • Parchment Paper and Cornmeal: Parchment paper prevents the rolls from sticking to the baking sheet, while cornmeal adds a bit of texture and crunch to the bottom of the rolls. If you don’t have parchment paper, you can lightly grease the baking sheet with oil or butter

Most sourdough starter is a thick, pourable liquid with the consistency of pancake batter. If yours is thicker or thinner, you will need to adjust the amount of water, so start with a lesser amount and add more slowly if needed.

Crusty Sourdough Rolls Tips

  • Always shape rolls by pinching the bottoms: Smashing them down will make them dense and ugly.
  • Don’t skip the steam: It’s the magic that makes these so good!
  • Using a Razor Blade for Slashing: For a clean, precise cut on top of the rolls, use a razor blade instead of a knife. This helps control the expansion during baking and gives your rolls a professional look.
  • Incorporating Olive Oil: For a slightly different texture and flavor, you can add a tablespoon of olive oil to the dough during mixing. This will make the rolls softer and add a subtle richness.
  • Dealing with a Cold Kitchen: If your kitchen is cold, the dough may take longer to rise. Try placing the covered bowl in the oven with just the light on to create a slightly warmer environment.
  • Using Whole Wheat Flour: You can substitute part of the bread flour with whole wheat flour for a more wholesome roll. Start by substituting 25% of the bread flour and see how you like the texture.
  • Phytic Acid Reduction: Letting the dough rest for a minute before kneading helps reduce phytic acid, making the bread easier to digest and nutrients more absorbable.

Kneading Options

To knead by hand

Fold the dough in half, then punch it down. Stretch it out again, fold, and punch. Repeat this process for at least five minutes, until the dough is stretchy and smooth. You should be able to pull it flat without tearing it.

Kneading with a stand mixer

Place the dough in your mixer bowl with the dough hook and let it run on low for five to ten minutes.

Bread machine method

Simply add everything to the bucket and select the dough cycle. When the machine beeps, you’ll have a risen dough that’s ready to shape. I use this method the most.

Baking With Steam

This is one of the keys to a great oven spring. Don’t be afraid of this process.

Set up your oven like this, with a metal-rimmed baking sheet on a lower rack. (Do not use glass, or it will shatter!)

Let the oven preheat with the baking sheet on the lower rack. You’ll pour water on just before you place the rolls inside, which will create steam. This will make the rolls rise nicely and high with a beautiful crust.

Storage Instructions

This recipe will keep well at room temperature for three days, tightly wrapped and just hanging out on the counter.

They also freeze very well. After they’ve cooled to room temperature, pack them up in a freezer bag and they will keep fine for at least a month.

To reheat rolls without drying them out, defrost for a minute or so in the microwave at the defrost setting. Then wrap them in foil and place them in a warm (not hot!) oven for 5-10 minutes.

Once the rolls have cooled to room temperature, store them in beeswax wraps or a freezer bag. They will stay fresh for up to a month.

To enjoy your fresh bread again, defrost it in the microwave at the defrost setting for a minute. Then wrap them in foil and place them in a warm (not hot) oven for 5-10 minutes.

Serving Suggestions

These are great with Sunday dinner. Try these too: cast iron skillet roasted chicken with butter and herbs, cheddar scalloped potatoes, broccoli salad, brown sugar apple pie.


Can I make these without yeast?

Yes! I rarely do, because I find they’re a little fluffier with it. But it will work perfectly fine. Your rising times will be more like 4 hours each.

What if I don’t have bread flour?

You can reduce the water a bit and use all-purpose. They won’t be as chewy though.

Why does my dough look so wet?

You probably used a different brand of flour or measured it differently. Add some more flour.

Can I use my own sourdough starter?

Yes, using your own active starter is a great way to ensure the best flavor and rise. Just make sure it is bubbly and recently fed.

What if I want to make sourdough sandwich rolls?

To make sourdough sandwich rolls, shape the dough into larger rolls and flatten them slightly. Bake for the same time as specified, and you’ll have perfect rolls for sandwiches.

How does the fermentation process affect the flavor?

The longer fermentation process with natural yeast gives sourdough its unique tangy flavor and chewy texture. Allowing the dough to rise overnight or for a bulk fermentation period enhances these qualities.

Why should I use a baking stone?

A baking stone helps distribute heat evenly and retain a high temperature, leading to a better rise and a crispier crust. If you don’t have one, a hot Dutch oven also works well.

Can I prepare the dough the night before?

Yes, an overnight rise in the refrigerator is a perfect way to manage your time and improve the flavor of the rolls. Just shape them the next day, let them rise again, and bake.

Suggestions and Substitutions

  • Warm Water vs. Cold Water: Using warm water can help kickstart the fermentation process, especially in a cold kitchen. If the water is too hot, it might kill the yeast, so aim for slightly warm to the touch.
  • Using Rice Flour: For a gluten-free option, substitute part of the bread flour with rice flour. Note that the texture will be different, but it can be a good alternative for those with gluten sensitivities.
  • Adding Whole Wheat Flour: To add more fiber and nutrients, substitute up to half of the bread flour with whole wheat flour. The rolls will be denser and more flavorful.
  • Different Rising Techniques: If you’re in a hurry, using commercial yeast in addition to the sourdough starter can speed up the rising times. This doesn’t affect the flavor much but helps the dough rise faster.


These sourdough rolls might seem like a simple recipe, but they’re a delicious testament to the magic of sourdough baking. With a little patience and practice, you’ll be rewarded with soft, airy rolls that are perfect for any meal. So, dust off your kitchen scale, feed your starter, and give this recipe a try.

sourdough rolls on checkered cloth
How to Make Easy + Irresistible Crusty Sourdough Rolls

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Recipe Rating


  1. Hi there! I’m excited to try these, but I can’t have yeast. How much more starter would I need to make them rise the same?

  2. 5 stars
    I love these rolls! I have been looking for a roll that tastes like the Mexican bolillos (Mexican French roll) we used to get in Mexicali. And, these rolls are it! And I can use my sourdough starter! My husband thought the same thing. Thank you!

  3. 5 stars
    Love these rolls! I made them to eat with soup. They were a hit. My children love them with honey butter. I’ve also cut the rolls in slices and put them on a board with olive oil seasoning dip. Delicious. I was wondering in the pic yours have a golden color. Do you use a egg wash? Thank you again for sharing the recipe!

    1. hey nancy, i don’t use an egg wash. they will brown usually after a few extra minutes in the oven. an egg wash would work even better for browning but you’ll have a slightly softer crust 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    These are freaking delicious. My 6yr old dips hers in honey and I have no self control with them whatsoever. My husband has since discovered he loves sourdough because of these rolls. I make 10 from this recipe for perfect sized dinner rolls. Or hamburger buns. Or egg McMuffins. Pretty much anything needed with bread I use this recipe for lol they’re that good. And I soo appreciate the weighted measurements!!

  5. hi! this looks awesome! if I wanted to add rosemary to them, how would you suggest doing that? can I incorporate them before the second rise and just let them rise longer?

  6. 4 stars
    K these crusty rolls were very nice. I really wanted burger buns and that other recipe was a total fail unfortunately BUT I made a new batch using the crusty roll proportions and added 1.5 T Sugar and they are lovely buns. Will make again using this one….PS i mixed the salt in with the dry ingredients and it worked fine for me and I left out the yeast and let rise over night and 4 hour second rise. Nice moist buns and soft inside. My family will love these

  7. 5 stars
    These were soooo delicious!! I decided I should probably follow a recipe for my sourdough discard and I’m soooo glad I chose this one!! I’m excited to make them again, as this will be my go-to recipe for rolls!!

  8. Question: do you remove the plastic wrap at the end? I know one can braise with plastic wrap but, never have use it in baking.

  9. Can the recipe be doubled or should I make two separate batches? I have a large family and a dozen is not enough.
    Thank you

  10. Would like to make these for a dinner party that will require an hour and half drive. Plus, probably won’t eat right away. Can they be baked and then heated again in the oven. Or should they be served room temp? Suggestions for this.

    1. 5 stars
      My family loves these and it is now my favorite sourdough recipe! We lost power during the first rise, so I wasn’t able to bake right away. After that rise was finished decided to wrap the dough with plastic wrap before shaping and refrigerate until I was ready to bake. 4 hours later, pulled it out and shaped right away and let stand for the second rise. They turned out perfect as always! Thank you for sharing your recipe with us!

  11. 5 stars
    Quick, uncomplicated recipe with delicious results. The exterior, of the rolls, was crisp, the inside chewy and fluffy, with unmistakable sourdough flavor. I will be making these for Thanksgiving Dinner!

  12. 5 stars
    So yummy! Thanks so much for the recipe. I made a double bath today. Soon as they are cool I am putting in the freezer for thanksgiving. Thank you for sharing.

  13. 5 stars
    I’ve made this wonderful recipe so many times, I have it memorized. It’s a fantastic recipe that turns out every time.
    The only thing I do differently is raise 3-5 hours once shaped into rolls. They get bigger and fluffier then the first time I made them.

  14. 5 stars
    What a fantastic roll! I am not a keen recipe follower but I did with this because my rolls never turn out crusty and chewy in the middle. THESE DID and they are amazing! Thank you for the recipe which is now in my sourdough folder! Thanks again. Delicious!

  15. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for this fantastic recipe! It’s so easy and my rolls turned out perfectly delicious, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. They went so well with crab legs that I felt like I was on Pier 30 in San Francisco. It’s a keeper!!!

  16. 5 stars
    Very good! My husband’s favorite. Nice & crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside. The only thing I did differently was to cut the dough into 10 pieces to make smaller rolls. This will be my rolls recipe from now own. Thanks for sharing, Katie!