Sourdough No Knead Crescent Rolls

Rolls are one of my favorite, easy ways to make a dinner go from good to memorable. If you’re looking for the perfect little roll to go with a special weekend meal, an ordinary dinner or even Thanksgiving dinner these sourdough no knead crescent rolls are amazing. Buttery, super soft and just delicious: they will be the star of your night. Sourdough no knead crescent rolls are made with 100% sourdough — no instant yeast — and are the easiest, most delicious little rolls, rolled in a crescent roll style.

For more favorite roll recipes check out: Sourdough Discard Soft White Rolls, Easy White Dinner Rolls, Parmesan Herb Rolls, One-Hour Yeast Rolls, or these Cloverleaf Dinner Rolls.

Sample Sourdough Schedule for Sourdough No Knead Crescent Rolls

A sample baking schedule helps me when baking with sourdough. Sourdough takes much longer to rise than traditional bread. This schedule helps me plan my bake.

Note: This schedule assumes the dough temperature is 78 degrees F unless it is in the refrigerator to cold ferment.

Day 1
8:00 AM- 11:30 AMMix levain, let rise until bubbly and active about 3-4 hours
11:30 AM –
3:30 PM
Mix Dough, cover and keep at 78 degrees F for 4 hours to begin fermentation.
3:30 PM –
8:00 AM
Cover dough and refrigerate at least 12 hours or up to 3 days
Day 2
8:00 AMSeparate, shape and roll crescent rolls. Let rise about 4-6 hours until puffy
12:00 PM -2:00 PM Bake rolls

Mix Levain

For this sourdough crescent roll recipe, I make a levain that is 1:1:1 (equal parts starter/flour/water). This levain will bubble and double in size in about 3-4 hours if it’s an active starter and kept at the right temperature, right around 75 degrees. You can also mix the levain overnight at a 1:5:5 ratio (20 grams starter/100 grams flour/100 grams water) and let it ferment longer before using. All that to say, making the levain is very adaptable to your schedule. You want to end up with 200 grams of bubbly, active levain that has doubled or tripled in size. I mix my levain in a liquid measuring cup, cover it with plastic wrap and then watch until it’s ready to use. The liquid measuring cup makes it easy to read and know when my levain has doubled in size. Alternatively you can just mark your jar and eyeball it. Once the levain has fermented, it is ready to use in the recipe.

If you prefer to make these rolls with sourdough discard instead of bubbly/active sourdough, you can substitute discard for bubbly active starter and add 1 Tablespoon (10 grams) of instant yeast to the roll dough. Stick the dough immediately in the fridge after mixing. Shape the rolls the next day. They will only need an hour or two to rise before being baked.

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Mix Crescent Roll Dough

Sourdough no knead crescent rolls are SO easy to make. “No-knead” takes a lot of the guesswork out of them. Whisk together the bubbly levain, evaporated milk, water, egg, melted butter, sugar, salt and 140 grams of the flour. When it’s all whisked/mixed together it will look like a wet batter. I love saving myself some dishes, so you can do this next part right in the same bowl–or if you don’t mind washing an extra bowl, pull out a new one. Right on top of the wet batter, add the flour, but DON’T MIX. Grate the cold butter on top of the flour and using your hands, gently mix the cold butter into the flour until it’s fairly evenly dispersed. Try not to mix the flour into the batter that’s underneath during this part (remember you can do this in a separate bowl if it makes you nervous, but I’m all about one-bowl recipes). After the butter is evenly distributed in the flour, use a kitchen spoon and mix all the ingredients in the bowl together. Your dough should have little chunks of grated butter in it. Those are good and when melted eventually will form flaky pockets of delicious crescent roll. This mixing will form a ball of dough.

Bulk Fermentation

Sourdough recipes need a bulk fermentation to properly rise/ferment. Bulk fermentation begins when the levain or active starter is mixed with flour (and other ingredients). The wild yeast have fresh “food” from the flour and they need time to begin the fermentation process. Bulk fermentation is best at 78-80 degrees F because that is the temperature the wild yeast are most active. Do your best to keep your dough in the78-80 degree F temperature range for about 4 hours of bulk fermentation before putting the dough in the refrigerator. I use a bread proofer or the oven with my kitchen light on and a thermometer to maintain temperature. Cover the dough and let it sit. By the end of bulk fermentation the dough should be a little puffy but you won’t notice a significant rise. If your dough is colder, leave it to ferment for longer. Don’t let it get too much warmer than the 78-80 degree range because you don’t want the butter chunks to melt.

The first photo is just mixed dough. The second photo is after a 4 hour bulk fermentation. Not a huge rise, but puffed up a bit and spread out about a 20% rise.

Long Refrigeration

A long, typically overnight refrigeration, is not only good for your time management (these no-knead sourdough crescent rolls are SO easy!) but that overnight refrigeration is where all the magic happens:

  • Enzymes break down the long protein strands of gluten in the dough, eliminating the need for a typical “kneading.”
  • Butter chunks are solidified making flaky layers in the dough.
  • Increased amount of time in the refrigerator improves the bread’s flavor.

After 12 hours, or up to 3 days, it’s time to take the dough out of the refrigerator and start shaping your crescent rolls.

Shaping Sourdough Crescent Rolls

Sourdough crescent rolls are shaped the same way you would a regular crescent roll.

  1. Prepare two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Separate dough into 4 equal pieces.
  2. Lightly flour a surface and roll one piece of dough out about 10-11 inches round. I like to use a pastry mat for easier rolling. Turn the dough 30-45 degrees like you would for pie crust to get a circle shape.
  3. Spread melted butter on the circle of dough. Use a pizza cutter to slice the dough into 8 pieces.
  4. Starting with the edge, roll the dough up to the center in a crescent roll shape and place the roll on the baking sheet. Repeat with the other balls of dough until you have 32 rolls.

Longer Sourdough Rise

Sourdough takes a longer time to rise than rolls made with instant yeast. Plan for 2-3 hours for these rolls to rise in a 75-80 degree F environment. Cover the rolls and let them sit. Don’t bake the rolls until they have puffed up and are aerated. If you picked a roll up off the sheet pan, they should not be at all cold and will feel light and airy. Don’t bake the rolls until they have risen!

Baking Sourdough Crescent Rolls

Baking sourdough crescent rolls is straightforward and easy! Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place a baking stone or baking sheet on bottom rack of your oven. This helps prevent the bottom of the rolls from burning. Take a handful of ice cubes and put them in a pan. Place the pan on the bottom rack of the oven right before adding the baking sheet of crescent rolls. Ice creates a little steam that gives the crescent rolls a beautiful rise. Immediately after adding the ice, pop crescent rolls in the oven for 12-15 minutes. Pull them out and spread some melted butter over the top of the rolls. Serve immediately! These rolls are so delicious warm out of the oven and make the best little side for a weekend dinner or Thanksgiving meal. We love these rolls anytime, but especially for those special occasion meals. They are the perfect size that I don’t even mind when the kids grab two…or three.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I substitute milk for evaporated milk?

This recipe has been tested using evaporated milk. If you’d like to substitute milk, I recommend scalding or boiling whole milk (or 1%-2%) and letting it reduce by about half. Let it cool before using in the recipe.

How do I store leftover sourdough crescent rolls?

Store leftovers in a ziplock bag at room temperature for 24 hours. Then freeze the leftovers for up to 3 months. To eat (even from room temperature), re-heat for just a few seconds in the microwave–they are delicious warm!

My sourdough crescent rolls didn’t rise. Help!

If your rolls didn’t rise when baking, you may not have let them proof long enough at room temperature. The rolls should be left for 2-3 hours to rise at 78-80 degrees F. Colder temperatures are not very friendly to yeast growing/producing a rise. You may need to warm up your environment for your rolls to rise. Also check that your sourdough starter is active, doubling in size and very bubbly before using it. Sometimes a sourdough starter needs a few feeds before becoming active if it’s been sitting in the refrigerator for awhile. Consistent feeding will give you better results.

The point of my crescent roll keeps popping up when baking. How do I fix that?

Sometimes that will happen with these rolls. To help, I make sure to place the point side down on the baking sheet so it’s underneath the roll. This works most of the time, but sometimes you’ll have a few that pop. That’s okay! It’s just part of working with yeast bread…they still taste delicious!

Sourdough No Knead Crescent Rolls

Buttery, no-knead, crescent rolls made with 100% active sourdough–no instant yeast! These are the easiest and most delicious little rolls that are perfect for a special meal or weekend dinner.
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Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Fermentation Time 18 hours
Total Time 18 hours 40 minutes
Course Bread, rolls, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 32 rolls


Levain (1:1:1, ready in 3-4 hours at 78 degrees F)

  • 75 grams sourdough starter
  • 75 grams water
  • 75 grams flour

Sourdough No Knead Crescent Rolls

  • 200 grams levain 3/4 cup, see recipe notes
  • 190 grams evaporated milk 3/4 cup, see recipe notes
  • 140 grams warm water a little less than 2/3 cup
  • 1 large egg about 50 grams
  • 71 grams granulated sugar about 1/3 cup
  • 16 grams salt about 2 teaspoons
  • 60 grams melted unsalted butter about 1/4 cup
  • 710 grams all purpose flour (140 grams plus 570 grams separated) 5 cups (1 cup plus 4 cups separated)
  • 113 grams unsalted butter, chilled and grated 1/2 cup
  • 60 grams melted butter reserved for shaping rolls about 1/4 cup


  • Day 1

Levain (1:1:1, about 3-4 hours at 78 degrees F)

  • About 4 hours before mixing the roll dough, make the levain. Mix together 75 grams of ripe sourdough starter with 75 grams room temperature water and 75 grams flour. Stir together, mark your jar so you can watch the levain double in size and put it in a warm (78 degree) place to ferment.
  • Once the levain has doubled in size and is bubbly, active and starting to round at the top (this should take about 3-4 hours), you are ready to mix the roll dough.

No Knead Sourdough Crescent Rolls

  • To a bowl, mix together the levain, evaporated milk, water, egg, sugar, salt, melted butter and 140 grams of the flour. Whisk together until completely combined.
  • Add the rest of the flour on top of the liquid mixture but DON'T MIX (alternatively you can do this in a separate bowl but I don't like washing dishes). Grate the cold butter on top of the flour and use your hands to mix it in with the flour on top of the liquid mixture. If a little liquid gets into the flour, don't worry, just continue spreading it throughout the flour as best you can. Once the butter chunks are evenly spread throughout the flour, use a spoon to mix the flour/butter mixture in with the liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Mix until you form a ball of dough.
  • Cover the dough and set at 78-80 degrees F, warm room temperature for about 4 hours until the dough looks just a little bit puffy. It won't rise much, but the fermentation process will be starting and activating throughout the dough.
  • Cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator overnight. This dough can be left in the refrigerator for up to 3 days to ferment before rolling out and shaping. It needs to sit in the refrigerator for a minimum of 8 hours.

Day 2

  • Pull the dough out of the refrigerator. Separate the dough into 4 pieces and roll each piece out into a 10 inch circle. Spread melted butter over each circle and then slice each circle into 8 pieces with a pizza cutter. Starting at the edge, tightly roll each piece of dough all the way in until you have a crescent roll shape. Repeat with the other 7 rolls.
  • Place each roll on a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with the other 3 pieces of dough, rolling them into circles, spreading melted butter and then rolling up each roll. You should have a total of 32 rolls or about 16 rolls per baking sheet.
  • Cover the rolls and set them in a warm place (about 75 degrees) to rise. This rise should take about 5-6 hours depending on the temperature. Once the rolls have puffed up a bit and it has been over 5 hours (in the winter you'll most likely need closer to 6 or 7 hours), preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place a baking stone or baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven.
  • Once the oven has preheated, place a pan with a handful of ice cubes on the bottom rack of the oven. Immediately place a pan of rolls into the oven and bake crescent rolls for about 12-15 minutes until baked through. Brush with melted butter as they come out of the oven. Enjoy warm!


Levain: If you prefer to make these rolls with sourdough discard, you can add 1 Tablespoon (10 grams) of instant yeast to the roll dough and follow the recipe as written. After shaping the rolls, they will only need an hour or two to rise before being baked.
Evaporated Milk: This recipe has been tested using evaporated milk. If you’d like to substitute milk, I recommend scalding or boiling whole milk (or 1%-2%) and letting it reduce by about half. Then let it cool before using in the recipe.
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  1. Deliciousness! Looking forward to these this week! ๐Ÿฅ๐Ÿฅ๐Ÿฅ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿฆƒ

  2. Could I use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment to mix the dough and then mix the liquid and flour/butter mixture together?