soft sourdough honey butter rolls

Sourdough discard honey butter rolls

These sourdough discard honey butter rolls are the perfect way to repurpose your leftover sourdough discard. The recipe uses sourdough discard and tangzhong to create the softest, pillowy rolls that are delicious with any meal!

As an avid sourdough baker, I’ll usually have some leftover sourdough discard on my hand. I love using the discard to make non-leavened recipes like sourdough biscotti, or sourdough hand pies, but I also love adding sourdough discard into instant yeast recipe for extra tang and flavor. Adding discard into my favorite milk bread recipe creates a super soft and tender crumb, without the need for an extended proof like my fully sourdough-leavened milk bread.

Personally I think these bread rolls are a great addition to any holiday dinner – perfect for pairing with Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing! They’ve been my go-to potluck recipe and have been a big hit.

Why add sourdough discard to commercial-yeast leavened bread?

There are a few reasons why I love adding sourdough discard to any kind of bread recipe! First, it reduces waste and uses up my excess discard. Second, it adds a subtle sourdough flavor. Finally, discard provides some of the same probiotic benefits of natural yeast-leavened bread!

How active does the starter discard need to be?

This recipe is leavened using commercial yeast, so the starter does not need to be super active. However, depending on how active the starter is, you may have some varying results in your final product.

For a more mild sourdough flavor, I recommend using starter discard that has been fed recently. For a more sour and tangy flavor, you can use discard that has not been fed for a while. The longer starter goes without feeding, the more acidic it will become.

I would not recommend using starter discard that has not been fed in several weeks and has started developing hooch. At this point, I find that the acidity of the discard can affect the gluten development of the bread and make it more difficult to knead and leaven.

sourdough discard honey butter rolls

Can you use discard from your first feeding of your brand new starter?

Yes! Because the discard is not responsible for any leavening, discard from your first few feedings of your brand new starter will work great.

How to make sourdough discard rolls

These sourdough discard rolls come together much more quickly than traditional sourdough bread!

  1. Make the tangzhong by cooking flour, water, and milk together on the stove until it is a thick paste. Tangzhong helps make the bread super soft and helps it retain moisture over time.
  2. Bloom your instant yeast in warm milk and sugar. This helps make sure that your yeast is active
  3. Mix together bread flour, salt, tangzhong, sourdough discard, plus the yeast and milk mixture. Add the butter in pieces until its fully incorporated
  4. Knead the dough thoroughly, until it reaches window pane stage. I like to use my stand mixer during this stage, but you can also use the slap and fold method if you’re mixing by hand. It’s important to fully develop the gluten, as it helps create a bouncy, fluffy roll.
  5. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour
  6. Punch down and shape into rolls. Cover and let rise for another 45 min – 1 hour until doubled in size. I use the poke test to determine if the bread is done rising – I poke with my finger, and if the dent fills in partly, but not all the way it’s ready to bake. If it springs back quickly then the rolls need more proofing time.
  7. Bake for 18 minutes at 350F
  8. Brush with honey butter
single sourdough bread roll

What makes these the best sourdough discard rolls?

I brush these rolls with a citrus honey butter to really take them to the next level. The butter is easy to make – simply mix together melted butter, salt, honey, and orange zest. It’s the perfect sweet and salty combination, enhanced by the fragrance from the citrus zest.

For a savory version, you can heat up the butter on the stove and add chopped rosemary or garlic instead of the citrus zest.

Other sourdough discard recipes to love:

soft sourdough honey butter rolls

Sourdough discard honey butter rolls

These sourdough discard honey butter rolls are the perfect way to repurpose your leftover sourdough discard. The recipe uses sourdough discard and tangzhong to create the softest, pillowy rolls that are delicious with any meal!
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 18 mins
Rest Time 2 hrs
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 16 rolls


  • 9 inch x 9 inch baking tin
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Skillet



  • 3 tbsp (23g) bread flour
  • 1/4 cup (60g) water
  • 1/4 cup (60g) milk


  • 1/4 cup (60g) milk, lukewarm
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp (7g) active dry or instant yeast
  • 2 cups (265g) bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup tangzhong (see above)
  • 1/2 cup (120g) sourdough discard (100% hydration)
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tbsp (60g) unsalted butter, softened


  • 2 tbsp milk, for brushing before baking
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • zest of 1 orange


Make tangzhong

  • In small skillet or pot, whisk together flour, milk, and water until smooth. Bring to simmer over medium-low heat, whisking frequently, until mixture has thickened but is still pourable. It should take 5 – 10 minutes. Your whisk should leave a mark when dragged along the bottom of the pan.
  • Pour into a bowl and cover surface with plastic wrap to prevent a film from forming, and allow to cool to room temperature.

Make dough

  • In a small bowl, combine the warm milk, 1 tsp of sugar, and yeast. Stir and set aside for a few minutes until the yeast is frothy and active
  • In a large bowl, mix together the bread flour, remaining sugar, and salt. Add the sourdough discard, egg, and milk and yeast mixture, and tangzhong. Using a stand mixer with a dough hook attach, mix on low speed until just combined
  • While the stand mixer is running on low, add the softened butter piece by piece, until fully incorporated. Knead on medium – high speed for 10 – 15 minutes until the dough is smooth and passes the window pane test
  • Shape the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour
  • Grease or line a 9in x 9in baking tin. Punch down the dough and turn out onto a floured countertop. Divide into 16 equal pieces (about 43g each, if you want to be very precise). Shape each piece into a roll by gently pinching together the ends of the dough and rolling on the countertop into a ball. Place the rolls in the baking tin and cover. Let rise until puffy and doubled in size, about 45 minutes
  • Towards the end of the second proof, preheat the oven to 350F. Brush the tops of the rolls with milk, then place in the preheated oven on the middle rack and bake for 18 minutes until the tops are golden brown and make a hollow noise when tapped

Make the honey butter

  • While the rolls are baking, mix together melted butter, salt, honey, and citrus zest. Brush on top of the warm rolls and serve


  1. If you have a food scale, I strongly recommend using the weight measurements for this recipe as sourdough discard volume can vary depending on its activity
  2. Some other flavor ideas for the honey butter, if you don’t want to add citrus zest:
    1. For honey garlic rolls, add 1 clove of minced garlic plus 1/2 tsp of italian seasoning. I like to cook this in the butter over the stove to help release flavor
    2. For honey rosemary rolls, add 1 tsp of chopped rosemary
  3. If you want to make a version without sourdough discard, please use my Japanese milk bread dough as a base and then add the honey butter
Keyword bread rolls, honey, sourdough discard

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