These sourdough pull apart rolls are soft and airy with a wonderful hint of tang.
When I started baking with sourdough, I made a wonderful discovery: sourdough takes your favorite recipes to the next level. It enhances the flavors and textures of most baked goods. For example, sourdough pie crust is so flaky and delightfully tangy. Sourdough sandwich bread has a depth of flavor that just isn’t there with regular yeast bread. Sourdough waffles are simply sublime.
The same is true for these sourdough pull apart rolls. They’re super soft and fluffy, and that hint of tang just adds an extra something special. These are perfect for all of your holiday needs (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, you name it!).
Okay, now let me show you how to make these rolls!
How to Make Sourdough Pull Apart Rolls
Firstly, you want to ensure that your sourdough starter is ready to go. About 8 hours before you plan on mixing together the dough for these rolls, feed your sourdough starter. I keep mine at 100% hydration, which means that I feed it with equal weights, not volumes, of flour and water. If you’re new to sourdough baking, you can always purchase a starter online, or refer to my How to Make a Sourdough Starter From Scratch post.
You know when your starter is ready when it doubles in volume and passes the float test. Drop a small amount of your starter into a cup of water. So if it floats, you’re good to go!
Now it’s time to mix up the dough for these sourdough pull apart rolls!
Place all of the ingredients for the dough in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix until a shaggy dough forms.
Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium-low speed until the dough is quite elastic, about 10-15 minutes.
Transfer to a buttered bowl and allow to rise at room temperature for 8-12 hours. You want it to double in bulk. But how long this takes will vary depending on how active your starter is and how warm your kitchen is.
Plop the dough out onto a work surface.
Forming the Dough Into Rolls
Divide into 16 equal pieces. I find it handy to weigh all of the dough first, divide that by 16, and portion out the pieces that way. For example, each of these pieces weighed about 64 grams.
To shape these sourdough pull apart rolls, grab the corners of a piece of dough. Pull them towards the center.
Flip the ball over so it’s seam side down. Roll the dough on an ungreased work surface, creating surface tension.
Next, place the formed balls into a buttered 13×9-inch baking dish. As you can see, I decided to squish one of the balls in between 4 others. If you want them to fit in the pan perfectly, you can form them into 15 instead of 16 rolls. Then you can arrange them in the pan with 3 buns going the short way and 5 buns going the long way.
After that, cover them with a tea towel and let rise for 6-8 hours.
You want the buns to be quite puffy and fill the pan.
Baking/Serving Sourdough Pull Apart Rolls
Bake in a preheated 375° F oven for 20-25 minutes, or until deep golden brown. One challenge with sourdough is ensuring that it gets baked enough. I like to insert an instant-read thermometer into the center of one of the buns. It should register 200° F.
After that, remove the sourdough pull apart rolls from the oven and brush the tops with melted butter.
Serve warm with MORE butter spread on the inside.
It’s so fluffy I’m going to diiiiieee! Sorry, it had to be said.
Since these sourdough pull apart rolls are naturally leavened, they take quite a bit longer to rise than rolls made with commercial yeast. Plan to start making them around 24 hours before you want to serve them.
Here’s a couple of sample baking schedules:
If you want to serve these rolls at noon (this works best in a cool kitchen):
- 2 nights before you plan on serving the rolls, feed your sourdough starter right before you go to bed.
- The next morning at around 10:00, mix together the dough. Let rise 12 hours.
- That evening, before going to bed, form the dough into rolls. Let rise overnight.
- The next morning, bake the rolls once they rise to fill the pan.
If you want to serve these rolls in the evening (this could also work for serving at noon if your kitchen is really warm):
- The afternoon before you want to serve the rolls, feed your sourdough starter.
- That evening, just before bed, mix together the dough. Let rise overnight until doubled.
- The next morning, form the dough into rolls. Let rise 6-8 hours.
- Bake once the rolls fill the pan.
NOTE: If you’re squeamish about letting dough sit out at room temperature because contains milk and eggs, you can always let the dough rise in the refrigerator instead. You’ll need to add several hours to the rise time if you choose that method.
Here’s a Step-by-Step Video for You:
P.S. I have joined up with a bunch of blogger friends for a Friendsgiving Virtual Potluck!
My friend Julie from The Little Kitchen invited me to her virtual Friendsgiving Potluck, and of course I wanted to join in the fun! Be sure to check the recipes below out for wonderful Friendsgiving and Thanksgiving recipe and craft ideas – you might find a new favorite!
Baked Brie with Honey & Walnuts from Kelley of Mountain Mama Cooks
Bacon Ranch Cheese Ball Bites from Nicole of I am a Honey Bee
Reindeer Bacon Cheddar Cheese Ball from Julie of Julie Blanner
Sauteed Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad with Cranberries and Walnuts from Shashi of Savory Spin
Creamy Brussels Sprouts Salad from Faith of An Edible Mosaic
Savory Vegetable Crisp from Bree of Baked Bree
Rosemary Lamb Steaks from Danyelle of The Cubicle Chick
Turkey Pot Pie from Kelly of Eat Picks
Fried Brussels Sprouts from Erin of The Almond Eater
Cheesy Horseradish Mashed Potato Casserole from Renee of Kudos Kitchen by Renee
Cranberry Cream Cheese Dip from April of April Golightly
Sauteed Garlic-Butter Mushrooms from Linda of Simply Healthyish Recipes
Easy Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole Recipe from Mel of Adventures of Mel
Cornbread Stuffing with Chorizo from Isabel of Isabel Eats
Bacon Brussels Sprouts from Kara of Kara J. Miller
Crockpot Sweet Potato Casserole from Jennifer of Show Me the Yummy
Amazing Gluten Free Thanksgiving Stuffing from Sommer of A Spicy Perspective
Pumpkin Caramelized Onion Gratin from Denise of Chez Us
Crockpot Mac & Cheese from Leanette Fernandez of Funtastic Life
Cheesy Brussels Sprouts au Gratin from Rachel Gurk of Rachel Cooks
Spiced Pumpkin Margarita from Sharon of Cupcakes and Cutlery
Sourdough Pull Apart Rolls from Erica of Buttered Side Up
How to Make Homemade Butterhorn Rolls from Mel of Flour on My Fingers
Sweet Dinner Rolls from Jocelyn of Grandbaby Cakes
Parker House Rolls from Irvin of Eat the Love
Sugar Pie from Julie of The Little Kitchen
Oatmeal Apple Crisp from Julie of Peanut Butter Fingers
Pumpkin Pie Milkshake from Eden of Sugar and Charm
Strudel Pastry from Justine of The Typical Mom
Tahini Hawaij Pumpkin Pie from Amy of What Jew Wanna Eat
Turkey Cookies from Meaghan of The Decorated Cookie
Mini Apple Pie Bites from Lynsey of MoscatoMom
Kabocha squash pie from Hilah of hilahcooking
Pecan Pie Cupcakes from Courtney of Pizzazzerie
Coconut Cream Pie from Schnelle of Brooklyn Active Mama
Chocolate chip cheesecake from Jeannette of Hispana Global
Chocolate Pecan Pie from Kate of I Heart Eating
Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes from Chelsea of Someday I’ll Learn
Cinnamon Apple Crisp from Erica of The Crumby Kitchen
Turkey Donut Race Cars For Thanksgiving Treats from Theresa of Chewable Structures
Crafts and Centerpieces
Cinnamon Stick Holiday Candle Place Setting from Alli of Made with HAPPY
Metallic Pumpkin Luminaries from Amy of As The Bunny Hops
Easy centerpiece that will stun + party favor from Noelle of Oh Happy Play
Sourdough Pull Apart Rolls
Pull apart rolls get an upgrade with sourdough starter!
- 3/4 cup whole milk, warm (105°F)
- 1 cup active sourdough starter (220 grams) - see note
- 3 1/2 cups organic all-purpose flour (465 grams)
- 1/4 cup grass-fed butter, melted
- 1/4 cup raw honey
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 tsp unrefined sea salt
- 1 tbsp grass-fed butter, melted (for brushing tops of buns)
Place all dough ingredients in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until a rough dough forms. Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium-low speed until the dough is quite elastic, about 10-15 minutes. Resist the urge to add more flour - you want the dough to be very soft.
Transfer the dough to a large, buttered bowl. Cover and allow to rise at room temperature for 8-12 hours, or until doubled.
Gently deflate the dough and divide it into 16 equal pieces. Grab the corners of one of the pieces and pull it towards the middle. Roll the ball, seam side down, on your work surface to create surface tension. Place in a buttered 13x9-inch baking dish. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Cover the pan and allow to rise at room temperature for 6-8 hours, or until the rolls are quite puffy and fill the pan.
30 minutes before you plan on baking the rolls, preheat your oven to 375° F. Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes, or until they're deep golden brown and register 200° F when an instant read thermometer is inserted into the center of a roll.
Remove from oven and brush the tops of the rolls with the melted butter. Serve warm with grass-fed butter.
An active sourdough starter means that it has been fed 8-12 hours beforehand and is bubbly and passes the float test.
Friday 7th of April 2023
Just wanted you to know that I’ve now made these three times and doubled the recipe! They’ve been perfect every time. I’m making them today for Easter and will be refrigerating them overnight tomorrow night to bake on Sunday. Will let you know how it goes :). I also froze 5 after the last time I made them and will be pulling them out to see if they do! Everyone asks for the recipe and loves them! (I’ve been making sourdough for about three years now and will never go back to yeasted or store bought!)
Saturday 8th of April 2023
Thank you so much for letting me know! I'm curious how the overnight rise will work out!
Saturday 5th of November 2022
I pretty much never leave reviews or comments on recipes, but this one is worth it. It is an all time favorite and always a crowd pleaser! The only change I do is skip the first rise. I just mix, shape, and bake 8-12hrs later and they have turned out perfect every time!
Wednesday 10th of August 2022
Hello!! I love this recipe and have made it about 8 times. I am currently making two batches and need to know if I can freeze after shaping into balls. And if so, would you freeze before the second rise? Any tips for freezing before baking would be greatly appreciated!! Thank you!!
Thursday 11th of August 2022
Hi Nina! Unfortunately, I have not personally had very good luck with freezing unbaked sourdough bread. It doesn't seem to survive the freezer very well for me. But I think I have heard other people have success! If you want to give it a go, you could form the dough into rolls and put them in a stainless steel 13x9 pan, wrap really well in plastic wrap and aluminum foil, freeze, and then thaw and allow to rise before baking. Or you could experiment with putting them on a parchment lined baking sheet an inch apart, freeze until solid, then transfer to freezer safe Ziploc bags. Hope that helps! Good luck!
Sunday 8th of May 2022
I’ve had my sourdough starter for years now, but this is my first time making soft pull-apart rolls. These were the BOMB!! SOO good! I will definitely be making these again and again. I’m also thinking this dough would make amazing cinnamon rolls!
Friday 25th of February 2022
The best rolls I have ever made, yeast or sour dough. So light and fluffy. I never dreamed sour dough could produce such beautiful and tasty rolls. Get them while their hot, the disappear fast.