The Best-Ever Crusty Sourdough Rolls (Easy Recipe!)

Learn how to make these reader-favorite crusty and chewy 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.

sourdough rolls on baking sheet.

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

Ingredients 

  • 7 ounces active sourdough starter 1 1/4 cups/ 200 grams
  • 13 ounces bread flour 2 1/2 cups to 3 cups/ 370 grams
  • 6.5 oz water 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon/ 185 grams
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon yeast

Instructions 

  • 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 minuts, 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.

Notes

Start with the lesser amount of flour and increase it if the dough is too wet.  (If you are using all purpose flour, you will need the greater amount of flour, or even a little more.)
Divide into 12 pieces for smaller dinner roll sized servings. Bake 17-19 minutes. 
 

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

This is an overview of the ingredients. You’ll find the full measurements and instructions in the printable recipe at the bottom of the page.

You’ll need the following for these crusty, chewy rolls:

bread flour, water, sugar, and sourdough starter on counter
  • active sourdough starter 
  • bread flour 
  • water 
  • sugar
  • salt
  • yeast
  • A kitchen scale: I highly recommend weighing the ingredients if you have a digital scale. If you don’t, I’ve included volume measurements as well. This is especially important with sourdough recipes since the volume can vary wildly depending on how much air is in your starter.
  • Bread flour: Bread flour is important to get a crusty, chewy texture. If you are using all-purpose flour, the texture won’t be quite the same, and you’ll need to use a little more flour. (I recommend King Arthur bread flour for all my bread recipes.)
  • A bread machine. Not necessary, but will make this recipe a breeze. You only need a basic one, since all it will do is knead and rise the dough.
  • Instant yeast. It’s the best for home bakers.
  • Parchment paper that lays flat on the baking sheet. Much easier to deal with!

🍴Instructions

Step One: prep your starter

bubbly sourdough starter in mixing bowl

Make sure your sourdough starter is active, bubbly, and recently fed. The better your starter, the better your rolls. Even though these use a small amount of yeast, they still rely on the starter.

Most sourdough starter is a thick, pourable liquid 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.

Step Two: mix the dough

slightly dry dough for sourdough rolls in mixing bowl
After mixing the flour, sugar, starter, salt, and water, the dough will take brief rest, known as autolyze. Cover it with a towel and let it sit on the counter for about thirty minutes.

If you are used to baking artisan sourdough, the dough will probably seem very dry to you. Since we are forming it into rolls, it needs to keep its shape. So the texture is more like traditional bread dough. If you add too much water, you will have flat rolls.

After the autolyze period, we will knead in the salt and yeast. I like to put the salt and yeast in a little dish on top of the towel so I don’t forget about them.

Step three: knead

3 images showing the hand kneading process for sourdough rolls

You can knead this dough by hand, with a stand mixer, or using a bread machine on the dough cycle.

To knead by hand

Fold the dough in the 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 in 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.

Step Four: shape

image showing sourdough divided and shaped into rolls

You’ll want a sharp knife to divide the dough into eight equal pieces. If you want the rolls exactly equal, use a digital scale and measure in grams.

Make sure you do not smash the dough down to try to smooth it out. Pinch the bottom of the dough until the top has a smooth, round top. Don’t handle it too much, just pinch and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

After shaping, dust flour on top and slash with a lame or a serrated knife.

Step Five: the second rise

These rolls will complete their second rise in about forty-five minutes to one hour. They will not double in size but will look quite puffy. If you’re looking for a warm place for the dough to rise, try turning your oven on for a minute, then turning it off and tucking the rolls in there. Just be sure to remove them before you preheat!

Step six: bake 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 nice 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 cool 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.

🔍 FAQs

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.

👩🏻‍🍳 Expert 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!

📘 Related Recipes

🍽 Serve it with

These are great with Sunday dinner. Try these too:

The Best-Ever Crusty Sourdough Rolls (Easy Recipe!)The Best-Ever Crusty Sourdough Rolls (Easy Recipe!)

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235 Comments

  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!