These soft sourdough breadsticks are a special treat—buttery with coarse salt and garlic on the outside and perfectly tender on the inside. They are easy to make, and there is nothing like these sourdough breadsticks when they are fresh out of the oven.
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My husband always asks for these homemade breadsticks…
And I have to cut him off after three or four.
Let’s just say they really are worth making from scratch!
We usually serve them alongside spaghetti or linguine with shrimp scampi. I make the dough early in the week so I can easily bake them off for dinner another night.
Why Make Breadsticks with Sourdough Starter Instead of Yeast?
Traditionally, bread was always made from a wild yeast (or sourdough) starter.
The long ferment time improves the digestibility of the bread, reduces the gluten content, and increases the nutritive properties.
Commercial yeast, then, is more like the “fast food” of the bread world. For most people, sourdough is the healthiest way to enjoy eating bread.
I would still consider these breadsticks as more of a treat than a health food, but I’m happy that they are probably more nourishing for my family than the same breadsticks would be made with commercial yeast.
This recipe calls for starter at 100% hydration. This just means it’s been fed with equal parts flour and water for a consistency similar to pancake batter.
If you don’t have your own starter yet, you might find these instructions from King Arthur Flour helpful!
Tips for Making Soft Sourdough Breadsticks
- Don’t add too much flour to your dough, or your breadsticks will turn out tough instead of tender. Start with less flour than you think you’ll need. If your dough is still too sticky to work with, add more flour in small amounts just until your dough starts to pull away from the bottom and sides of your mixing bowl.
- Make sure to knead your dough properly. It takes 6-8 minutes on low speed in a stand mixer. Your dough should be smooth and elastic if you stretch it with your fingers. The knead will develop strength in the dough to help it rise properly.
- Finally, don’t skimp on time. Allow the proper time for the dough to ferment and later proof before baking. If your house is chilly, try proofing in the oven (not headed) with the oven light on for more warmth.
- 1/2 cup active, bubbly sourdough starter (100% hydration)
- 3/4 cup water
- 1½ tablespoons sugar or honey
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 2½-3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1½ tablespoons butter, melted (for brushing)
- coarse salt and garlic powder for sprinkling
*My original recipe included vital wheat gluten, but I have found it works just as well without it.
- stand mixer
- large lidded glass bowl
- kitchen scale (optional)
- half sheet baking pan
- parchment paper
- rolling pin
- cutting board
- pizza cutter
- pastry brush
How to Make Soft Sourdough Breadsticks
Step 1- Making and Fermenting the Dough
Add sourdough starter, water, sugar, salt, softened butter, and 2½ cups flour to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix until a smooth dough forms.
Continue adding flour, 1/8 cup at a time as needed, until your dough begins to pull away from the bottom and sides of the mixer.
Don’t add too much flour.
Continue kneading on low speed for 8 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic.
Lightly oil a large lidded glass bowl and transfer your dough to the bowl. Cover loosely with the lid. Now you have two options:
1. Allow the dough to ferment at room temperature for 8-12 hours.
2. Let the dough ferment at room temperature for 4 hours, then cover tightly and refrigerate for 24 hours and up to 3 days before forming your rolls. Remove your dough from the fridge about one hour before cutting your breadsticks to allow it to come back to room temperature.
Depending on how warm you house is, your breadsticks will probably end up less sour if you choose the long ferment time in the refrigerator rather than fermenting at room temperature for 8-12 hours.
Step 2 – Cutting and Proofing the Breadsticks
When you’re ready to form your breadsticks, turn out your dough onto a large, lightly floured cutting board.
Roll the dough to a 12×7-inch rectangle.
Use a pizza cutter to slice the rectangle into 12 even breadsticks. I like to cut it in half first, then into quarters…
And then it’s easier to cut them evenly. Cutting the bread sticks is so much quicker than hand rolling the dough into logs.
Transfer the breadsticks to a parchment-lined half sheet pan, leaving space between each one.
Then cover the pan with plastic wrap and allow the breadsticks to proof in a warm place for 1-2 hours, or until they look “poofy.”
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400°F.
Step 3 – Baking and Seasoning the Breadsticks
Remove the plastic wrap from pan, and bake breadsticks on the center rack of your oven for 10 minutes or until they are lightly golden.
Perfectly imperfect, right?
Use a pastry brush to brush the hot breadsticks with the 1½ tablespoons of melted butter. Immediately sprinkle them with coarse salt and a bit of garlic powder to taste.
And that’s all there is to it! I guarantee you they won’t last very long!
Do These Breadsticks Freeze Well?
Yes! Leftover breadsticks will keep better in the freezer, in fact, than if you store them on the counter.
Allow them to cool completely before freezing them in an airtight container. Simply microwave them to thaw and warm them for another meal later.
If you make this recipe and love it, I would greatly appreciate a rating and review! Tag me on Instagram @aberlehome to show me what you made!