These Sourdough Discard Pumpkin Dinner Rolls are a great fall side dish to serve with soup or a main meal (thinking about you, Thanksgiving!). They're light and fluffy savory rolls and the browned butter with sage topping adds great earthy fall flavors. They're sure to be a hit with everyone at your table!
And if you really want to lean into the pumpkin theme, this is a great recipe to tie the rolls with kitchen twine to make them look like pumpkins once baked. Feels like a weekend project coming up: I'll post pictures once I make those!
Why you'll love this recipe
- This easy recipe comes together in about 30 minutes of hands-on time; most of the time to make this recipe is spent with the dough rising.
- These savory dinner rolls are packed with pumpkin flavor and the browned butter sage topping gives a wonderful finish to the rolls.
- This recipe makes 9 dinner rolls, so hopefully you can enjoy them right away! And if needed, you can always double the recipe!
- Sourdough Discard Pumpkin Dinner Rolls are a great way to use up some of your sourdough discard. You can also make these with active sourdough starter if you prefer.
There are only a few key ingredients you'll need to make these Sourdough Discard Pumpkin Dinner Rolls.
- Non-dairy milk: I like to use almond milk, but you can use any unflavored, non-dairy milk. You can also use regular dairy milk if you prefer.
- Instant yeast: This recipe uses sourdough discard (not active sourdough starter), so we still need to use a leavening agent (in this case, yeast) to make the dough rise predictably.
- Granulated sugar: There is only a little sugar in these rolls, which is to feed the yeast in the recipe.
- All-purpose flour: Using all-purpose flour gives you light and fluffy dinner rolls. If you used bread flour, the rolls would be more crusty.
- Sourdough discard: The sourdough discard should be unfed and at room temperature for this recipe. This recipe is designed for a starter with a 1:1:1 ratio (when you feed your starter, it's with 1 part starter, 1 part flour, 1 part water). If your starter uses a different ratio, you may need to adjust some of the ingredients in this recipe.
- Pumpkin purée: The pumpkin purée should also be at room temperature for this recipe. I like to use Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin, but you can also make your own homemade pumpkin purée.
- Unsalted butter: You will brush melted butter on the rolls before baking, and then brown some butter with the chopped sage to finish the rolls (after baking).
- Fresh sage: I recommend using fresh sage, if possible. If needed, you could use dried sage (substitute 1 ½ teaspoons fresh sage with ½ teaspoon dried sage).
- Flaky sea salt: The flaky sea salt really finishes the rolls! I like to use Maldon Sea Salt.
See full recipe below for detailed instructions.
Substitutions & Variations
This is a very adaptable recipe and below are a few easy substitutions and variations you can try.
- Use active sourdough starter - If you'd like to use active sourdough starter instead of sourdough discard, you can! To do so, omit the yeast and replace the sourdough discard with sourdough starter. You may need to adjust the rise times of the recipe.
- Use different herbs - Instead of sage, try fresh chopped rosemary or thyme - they'll all be delicious!
- Use regular dairy milk - I use almond milk (or other unflavored, non-dairy milks) to make this recipe, but you could also make this recipe using regular dairy milk.
- Make Sourdough Discard Pumpkin Garlic Rolls - Want to make Sourdough Discard Pumpkin Garlic Rolls? Add ½ teaspoon garlic powder to the browned butter and herb mixture before you brush the finished rolls.
I have not tested this recipe with other variations, but if you do, let us know how it turns out in the comments! I always love to hear how you're adapting these recipes and use those as ideas for future recipes as well!
How to make Sourdough Discard Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
As long as you're patient with the rise time, there are only a few steps to making these Sourdough Discard Pumpkin Dinner Rolls.
Add all ingredients through the pumpkin pie spice to the bowl of a stand mixer.
With the mixer on low, pour in 1 Tablespoon melted butter. Mix until a shaggy dough forms.
Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead for 3-4 minutes until a smooth dough forms. The dough should be smooth and slightly tacky, but not sticky. Transfer the dough to a large, oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 90 minutes, or until doubled in size.
After the rise, divide the dough into 9 equal pieces. This doesn't have to be exact, but you can use a scale if you want your rolls to be perfectly sized. Weigh the dough all together, then divide by 9 to determine how much each roll should weigh.
Using the palm of your hand for friction, roll each dough piece into a dinner roll.
Add the rolls to a greased 9x9-inch baking pan. There will be room in the pan for the rolls to expand. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 60 minutes until puffed and filling the pan. Brush the rolls with 1 Tablespoon melted butter, then bake for 20-25 minutes.
While the rolls bake, brown the butter with the chopped sage.
Brush the baked rolls with the butter and sage mixture, then sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Then serve!
Expert Baking Tips
- Make sure to knead the dough long enough. You should knead the dough for 3-4 minutes. If you're kneading less than that, the ingredients may not come together and the gluten may not activate in the way that you need it to for a fluffy rise.
- Every sourdough starter (and therefore discard) is different. If needed, add more non-dairy milk or flour to the dough to reach your desired consistency.
- Be patient with the rise times. Rise times will vary based on the temperature of your room. Rise times will be shorter in a warmer room, and longer in a colder room.
- Brush the dinner rolls with the browned butter and sage mixture while they're still warm. The smell is incredible!
What is sourdough discard?
Sourdough discard is what is left over after you feed your sourdough starter. Sourdough discard is not active, so we still need to use a leavening agent (in this case, yeast), to make the dough rise predictably. Don't worry - you'll still get some of that sourdough flavor and even some extra lift from the discard!
This recipe is designed to be made with sourdough starter that uses a 1:1:1 ratio (when you feed your starter, it's with 1 part starter, 1 part flour, 1 part water). If your starter uses a different ratio, you may need to adjust some of the ingredients.
Interested in making this recipe with active sourdough starter rather than discard? You can! Check out the "substitutions & variations" section above.
Room Temperature Storage: Once the rolls have cooled, store them in an airtight container for 1-2 days. You can always reheat them in the microwave for about 30 seconds to make them warm and soft again.
Freezer Storage: These Sourdough Discard Pumpkin Dinner Rolls freeze well, also. Once the rolls have cooled fully, store them in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag and freeze for up to 3 months. When you're ready to serve, reheat the rolls in the microwave for 30-60 seconds until warm and soft again.
Yes, you can. To do so, omit the yeast and use active sourdough starter in place of the sourdough discard. You may need to adjust the rise times.
Yes! This would be delicious with fresh, chopped rosemary or thyme in place of the sage.
Sourdough discard is inactive (not like active sourdough starter) and therefore needs a leavening agent in order for the dough to rise predictably. In this recipe, we use yeast as the leavening agent.
No, if it works for you, you can use regular dairy milk instead of non-dairy milk!
Sourdough Discard Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
- 2 Tablespoons non-dairy milk warmed
- 1 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 2 ½ cups + 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 200 grams (about ¾ cup) sourdough discard unfed, at room temperature
- ⅔ cup pumpkin purée room temperature
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter melted
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons fresh sage chopped
- Flaky sea salt
- Combine all ingredients (non-dairy milk through pumpkin pie spice) in the bowl of a stand mixer*. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add 1 Tablespoon melted butter. Increase speed to medium and mix until a shaggy dough forms.
- Transfer the dough to a smooth work surface and knead until a smooth dough forms, about 3-4 minutes. The dough should be smooth and slightly tacky (but not sticky). If needed, add more flour or non-dairy milk (1 Tablespoon at a time) to reach your desired consistency.
- Transfer the dough to a large, oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 90 mniutes, or until doubled in size.
- Grease a 9x9-inch baking pan and set aside.
- Turn the dough onto a smooth work surface and divide into 9 equal-sized pieces. This doesn't have to be exact, but if you do want perfectly identical rolls, weigh the dough and divide that number by 9 to determine how much the dough for each roll should weigh. Roll each piece of dough into a ball in the palm of your hand, then place the rolls into the prepared baking pan. Repeat until you have 9 rolls.
- Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and let rise for 60 minutes, until puffed and doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 375℉. Brush the rolls with 1 Tablespoon melted butter. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
- While the rolls bake, melt 2 Tablespoons butter for the topping in a small saucepan over low heat. Increase heat to medium-low and add the chopped sage. Let the butter simmer, swirling the pan occassionally, until the butter starts to brown (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat.
- Remove the rolls from the oven and immediately brush with the browned butter and sage mixture. Serve while warm.