Recipes

sour cream and chive fantails

It would not be the Smitten Kitchen if I wasn’t popping in here, chaotic as ever, 24 hours before the cooking- and eating-est day of most of our years, to suggest a new recipe for your menus, that, judging by my DMs, you settled weeks ago. Good news, however, there’s no timestamp on dinner rolls, especially ones as wonderful as these. If anything, I don’t think we eat them often enough — you know, just because it’s Wednesday.


what you'll needassistancedividecut into strips

One of my favorite recipe concepts from late Gourmet years is Ruth Cousineau’s buttermilk fantail rolls. It’s a startling simple recipe — a buttery, yeast-raised roll — with a brilliant twist: rolling it thin, brushing it with butter, stacking it in little piles of squares, turning each into the cup of a muffin tin. In the oven, the rolls spring open like a fantail, just the loveliest thing. Why make ordinary rolls if you could make rolls that evoke a highly agile bird known for taking intricate looping flights through the air, entrapping prey in their fanned tails? Or if that’s not the energy you want on your holiday table, Gourmet described them at the time as a “blooming flower, with each petal forming a perfect pull-apart bite.”

stack stripsdivide into segmentsproof againbrush with butter after baking

Over the years I’ve tweaked them quite a bit, though, using a smaller amount of sour cream for the buttermilk, an egg for a little stretchy tenderness, dropped the butter slightly, bumped up the salt, and then this year, because I want what I want and nobody talked me out of it, gave it a most blissful sour cream and chives vibe. I hope you bring the same energy — only the foods you love the most, made exactly the way you like them — to your quieter holiday table this year.

sour cream and chive fantails

Previously

6 months ago: Beach Bean Salad
1 year ago: Dry-Brined Turkey with Roasted Onions
2 years ago: Drop Cornbread Biscuits
3 years ago: Endive Salad with Toasted Breadcrumbs and Walnuts
4 years ago: Cheesecake-Marbled Pumpkin Slab Pie
5 years ago: Apple Cider Sangria and Date, Feta, and Cabbage Salad
6 years ago: Pickled Cabbage Salad and Pretzel Parker House Rolls
7 years ago: Cranberry-Orange Breakfast Buns and Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Onion
8 years ago: Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
9 years ago: Gingersnaps
10 years ago: Upside-Down Cranberry Cake and Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Goat Cheese
11 years ago: Swiss Chard and Sweet Potato Gratin and Sweet Potato and Buttermilk Pie
12 years ago: Pepita Brittle and Chickpea Salad with Roasted Red Peppers
13 years ago: Roasted Stuffed Onions and Simplest Apple Tart
14 years ago: Chocolate Stout Cake

Sour Cream and Chive Fantails

  • Servings: 12
  • Source: Recipe by Smitten Kitchen; concept inspired by Gourmet
  • Print

Note: You can watch an Instagram Story demo of this recipe over here.

    Dough
  • 6 tablespoons (90 grams) warm water (about 115°F)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast (from a 1/4-ounce or 7-gram packet)
  • 1/2 cup (120 grams) sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tablespoons (60 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 cups (390 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • Assembly
  • 4 tablespoons (60 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Two pinches fine sea salt
  • Flour for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives, plus 1 teaspoon for garnish

    In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together water, sugar, and yeast and let rest for 5 minutes; it will get foamy. (While this is not absolutely necessary with instant yeast, I find that it can move along faster when I start it with warm water.)

    Whisk in sour cream, egg, and butter until smooth. Add flour and salt.

  • In a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and let it bring the mixture together into a messy mass, about 1 to 2 minutes. If it doesn’t come together, add additional 1 tablespoon water, mixing thoroughly before adding a second, if needed. Reduce the speed to low and knead for 5 minutes.
  • By hand, stir the flour and salt into the yeast mixture as best as possible and transfer it to a lightly floured counter. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Both methods: Lightly oil a bowl and transfer dough to it. Cover with a towel or plastic and set aside in a warmish spot for 90 minutes, or until just about doubled. (It sometimes takes up to 2 hours.)
  • Brush the 12 cups of a standard muffin pan lightly with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Combine onion powder, garlic powder, and a couple pinches of salt in a small dish.

    Turn dough out onto a floured counter. Divide in half. Sprinkle with flour and roll first half to a 12-inch square. Brush with 1/2 tablespoon of the melted butter and sprinkle with half of onion powder mixture, and half of chives. Cut the square into 6 equal strips. Stack strips, buttered sides up, and cut crosswise into 6 equal pieces. Turn each piece on a side and put into a muffin cup (I put the ruffliest-looking side up). Repeat with remaining half of dough, another 1/2 tablespoon of the melted butter, remaining spices and 1 tablespoon chives. Separate outer layers of each roll slightly to fan outward. Let rise in another warm spot for 1 hour, or until dough mostly fills out cups.

    Shortly before the hour is up, heat oven to 375°F.

    Bake rolls until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, or until the center of each is 200°F. As soon as you remove the pan from the oven, brush rolls with remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and scatter with remaining chives (and a pinch of flaky sea salt, if you wish) then transfer rolls to a rack and cool 10 minutes before tearing in.

    Do ahead: You can pause this recipe for an overnight chill in the fridge either after you mix the dough and before it doubles or after you put the squares into your tins. Remove from the fridge and let them come back to room temperature (and finish rising, if necessary) before continuing. If rolls are already baked, rewarm for 5 to 10 minutes in the oven (any temperature from 300°F to 400°F will be fine.)

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95 comments on sour cream and chive fantails

  1. Sallyt

    Saving these for Christmas dinner! For tomorrow, we’re going rogue – this year is wacky so why conform – and making chicken and steak tacos with salsa verde and guacamole, and pies. Three pies for 4 people should do it.

    1. Meghan

      Going rogue over here as well. It’ll just be me, my non-Thanksgiving food loving husband (“It’s all brown!”), and our 7 month old. I’ve made the whole feast before and was tempted to celebrate the only year the bird will be bigger thannour son by going all out, but I just don’t have the heart to do it for such a small crowd. (Or the freezer space for leftovers; who left all this breast milk and baby food in here?!) I’m saving the turkey for Chanukah and serving your new turkey chili, your chili lime acorn squash, sweet potato steak fries, and corn bread for our own casual Thanksgiving. Your baked pumpkin pudding and a mini version of Ina’s apple crisp for dessert (no pie crusts allowed this year).
      Still making my much beloved stuffing for a festive little supper with cranberry champagne cocktails for the grown ups after the baby is in bed.

      1. Heather Oppenheimer

        Just read your interview in the New Yorker. Smitten Kitchen is my go to if I don’t already have a recipe I love. I like that you often start with a recipe from somewhere else (and give credit!!) then tweak it until it works for you in a small, unfussy kitchen. Your taste and skills seem to be similar to mine, and I can trust that anything I find will work for me. Happy Thanksgiving! I have everything prepped or completely ready for tomorrow, except the annual challah-shaped-like-a-turkey that I’ll make in the morning. I think I might try adapting your fantails recipe and use 1/3 of the challah dough for them. We are fortunate that our son’s family lives down the street and it will be warm enough to eat together outside and distanced. Thanks so much for what you do!!

    2. JOANNE

      Stayed home (*sigh*), husband and I had corned beef and cabbage. And for some reason he couldn’t stand the flavor of the eensy amount of almond extract I put into the cherry gallette, so I had to eat it all by myself. I’ll have to remember that trick!

  2. Sarah in NF CT

    Just wanted to say that with all the trials we are experiencing this year, it is more important than ever to be grateful for those things that bring us joy. You are one of the things I am grateful for. Thanks for all you do. May you and your family make it through the holiday season in good health.

    1. Carol

      Sarah, thank you for expressing what I’m sure is in so many of our hearts. Deb, your recipes are wonderful, I always learn something (thank you for the great links!), and you make me laugh…sometimes a big belly laugh. Thank you so much.

  3. Erin

    I came here today not to look for a previous recipe so much as to see the new one that I was certain you would post today. Thanks for never letting me down, Deb. You’re the best.

    Off to deliver the 2 Thanksgiving dinners I’ve already cooked to our parents. Weird year but I’m incredibly grateful to be here and still have them to cook for.

  4. Wiktoria

    Hi,
    can the sugar amount be reduced? I understand that it’s for the yeast to feed on and possibly to add flavour but I try to minimise the sugar intake wherever possible.

    1. Maggie

      One tablespoon of sugar is approximately eleven grams, or one gram of added sugar (not including the natural sugars in milk products) per roll. If that’s still too much for you, usually yeast bread does just fine without any added sugar, but you might want to let it rise a little longer.

  5. Jean

    This looks lovely. Wondering if I can just put my onion/garlic/salt into the butter that is melted for the brushing on and use half on each?

    1. Susan

      I’m wondering a related question. I have regular onion and garlic, but no powders. I would love to make these for tomorrow but don’t want to go to the store. Could I infuse my butter with some garlic and onion to get the same flavor?

      And, as others have said, thank you Deb, for all that you do. Checking in to see what new recipes you have created and to read your engaging text is a highlight of my week.

  6. Laura

    I logged on to get the recipe for the pretzel parker house rolls, but these look fantastic! Lucky me, my partner was still at the market when I called to add chives to the shopping list. The dough is rising as we speak!

    These, my grandmother’s cranberry sauce, and a pecan pie are the only things I’m cooking this year. With only two adults and a toddler to feed, I decided to order the Thanksgiving spread from a local restaurant instead.

    1. Alita

      I too was looking up the recipe for the Parker house rolls when I saw these and switched plans. Thank you so much Deb for sharing these with us! They were a lot of fun to make and so delicious. Happy Thanksgiving!

    2. Laura

      I came back to say that I added twice s much chive as called for and I thought they were great. Paused the recipe after tucking each book into its muffin cup, then took them out of the fridge about 3 hours before dinner for the last rise and bake.

      My husband says they’re too yeasty, but I have no idea how to remedy that. I enjoyed them and miraculously, some actually made it to the dinner table and were not gobbled up completely beforehand.

    1. Wendy

      I nominate your daughter as recipient of Best Quarantine Hair. If that’s not a real thing, it should be, and she should be crowned winner.

  7. Penelope

    Don’t have sour cream or yogurt and afraid to brave the crowds at the grocery store. What will happen if I make it without either?

  8. Shirley Boulay

    This comment is about your recent, excellent interview in The New Yorker with Hannah Goldfield. Actually, my comment is about the drawing of you that accompanies the article: it looks NOTHING like you. You are a very pretty woman.

  9. ctm

    Congratulations on the New Yorker piece! It amplified what I already adore about your blog and recipes. Happy Thanksgiving to you and all the smitten.

  10. TinaD

    Showstopping. Pinning this for a day and a meal when I’m in the proper frame of mind. Today is not that day, so I’m thinking bellinis at breakfast tomorrow (and probably a goodly number of hours thereafter, on the fake-it-til-you-make-it principle) and cornbread to go with the ham and the cauli-cheese. Cornbread I can do in my sleep. Thanks!

  11. Jill

    I already have roll dough (from Joy of Cooking) in the fridge for overnight, no sour cream, but still….going to try the fantail instead of the ol’ cloverleaf three- balls- in- muffin- cup. No powders, but I’ll figure out something. You have the BEST recipes!! 💕

  12. Marcia

    Saving these beauties for Christmas, but I have both adult kids home, so we are not going minimal. But they are doing a lot.
    “I never knew that that these onions were so much work” said one. Well yeah, says I. But both guys can cook. Thanksgiving proceeds apace. New Yorker article is great, picture is awful, not you at all.

  13. Debby

    Deb, first, thanks for the two zoom-style programs you did last week. I enjoyed them both enormously. Next, OMG, I can’t believe how big and lovely your daughter is. It seems like forever since I have seen a photo, and I remember when she was born. Next, I made the potato-leek gratin today, and it smells like heaven; can’t wait to eat it tomorrow. Last, thank you for all you do to help make us all better home cooks, and I hope your day tomorrow is lovely.

  14. Elizabeth

    As always you inspire. Thank you for all that you share and give us. I’m grateful for you and for your recipes…for green beans, stuffing and pie crust, which will grace our Thanksgiving and Shabbat tables this week.
    Do you think I could sub parve yoghurt and margarine to serve these with a meat meal?

  15. celesta birnbaum

    Dear Deb, Big thanks for all you do. I made the best spinach and roasted potatoes last night to jumpstart our holidays — absolutely smashing. And I enjoy both your recipes and your words all year long. Have a wonderful, if unique, Thanksgiving, Celesta

  16. Gail

    Well, drat! I just used up my sour cream in another recipe and was feeling great about that and now I want to make these. You said that it replaced buttermilk in a previous version. Could I use buttermilk? If so, how much? Thanks!

  17. Heather

    If I want to try and get these in the oven along with my other sides that are baking at 350, would that work? How much should I tweak the bake time? Or is that asking for trouble and I should find a way to prebake? Thanks!

  18. Amanda

    I love *all* your recipes and use then frequently. These look super amazing and I will definitely try them, maybe even today. Do you have any thoughts about how they could be made w a sourdough starter rise? I have a kid who is allergic to commercial yeast but does fine w sourdough….I try to convert risen recipes w moderate success. Any tips welcome.

  19. Buzz Dean

    great timing with this recipe—it will get made within the hour(or so) for todays Thanksgiving meal–fantans were already scheduled but this dough sounds tastier then the old standard ‘soft roll’ recipe! Have no doubt it will be a winner-thanks

    Buzz

    1. Julie

      Dearest Deb..you save the day!! We made rolls from a different recipe..did not rise at all. I remembered your post and the rolls are in oven now. Many, many thanks for the years of delicious recipes and for your wonderful self. You have saved the day more than once!

  20. Silvia

    We’re going to have a very Smitten Kitchen Thanksgiving – making roasted Delicata squash with chili lime vinaigrette (for the 3rd time in 2 months!) and your apple stuffing. Add seared Brussels sprouts, cranberry relish, apple cranberry crisp, my husband, son and a bunch of relatives on Zoom, and we’ve got the perfect pandemic Thanksgiving.

  21. Shaar

    How easy this recipe is. Started at 9:30 and enjoying them at lunch time with a bowl of soup. Made half with butter melted with lots of cloves minced garlic, herbs & seasoning, then quarter of dough plain with just salted butter, last quarter melted butter, sugar & cinnamon, delicious spread with sweetened cream cheese. Pure bliss, thank you X

  22. Christine

    My first go at this recipe is just out of the oven after resting overnight (in the square/tin phase) in the refrigerator. Haven’t tried one one yet but they look adorable and I’m sure I’m going to have to fend off the teenage vultures until turkey time.

    Couple of notes:

    – I do a lot of bread baking and was a little concerned when mixing everything that the dough was going to be too dry to come together. I ended up adding a splash of whole milk and a couple additional tablespoons of water to end up with a silky, but not sticky, dough.

    – Kneading for 6-8 minutes by hand didn’t quite develop as much gluten as I’m used to but I went with it especially since I was going to have to roll out the dough after rising! Rolling out worked like a charm.

    – I didn’t use chives (teenagers are suspicious of green flecks in bread), but made the garlic/onion butter with Trader Joe’s “everyday spice mix” since that has dried garlic/onion/red pepper and other goodies.

    – Baking time to “golden brown” was more like 25 minutes for me, with the last 3-4 on convection at 400.

    – Next time I’ll probably do an egg wash or brush with milk to get a shinier top or … gulp! … pretzel-ize these maybe? Would that work with so much butter?

  23. Brooke

    Thank you Deb for being the awesome go to for amazing recipes with a side of funny abs relatable as well as so generous with your time and energy to your community.

    Recipe Q- has anyone tried these with a sourdough starter yeast instead of instant? I know they will need to rise longer but was curious!

    1. Christine

      I did! Came out great, but needed a bit more liquid than the recipe calls for (not sure if it was the flour that made the difference, but plausible?). See above.

  24. Jennifer Michaels

    These were delicious! They tasted life a fluffy warm potato chip. Thank you for the recipe.

    If anyone has tried to veganize it, what did you replace the egg with?

  25. Kaylee

    Made these yesterday for Thanksgiving – they were a hit! Delicious, pretty, and easy. I didn’t quite have enough chives, so I used some parsley too. Thank you!

  26. Elizabeth

    So good and looked beautiful! We felt it could benefit from butter in the dough, versus just brushed on top. Or maybe both? We’ll have to experiment.
    Made this and your apple pie — both were delicious!!

    1. Sandra K

      The recipe calls for 4TBS butter in the dough, and another 4TBS for layering and brushed on top. I almost missed that when prepping my ingredients and thought it was a total of 4TBS, not 8. Hope that helps!

      1. kojak

        Yeah, this stumped me as well. I wish it said 8T melted butter (divided). Then I wouldn’t have to break out the abacus to figure it out.

  27. Breanne

    I made these for Thanksgiving dinner sans chives, since I didn’t want to go back to the store for just chives. Excellent rolls! They came together very easily and were a huge confidence booster after my pie crust disaster earlier in the day. :)

  28. Rachel Lei

    Batch is in its second rise — half of them with cinnamon sugar and half with Parmesan and cracked pepper, all sour dough because Covid quarantine prairie woman life. Can’t wait to try them!! I have loved your blog and recipes for many years — thank you for all the cooking and baking joy!

    1. Bree

      Rachel, how did you adapt/sub for sourdough? I am a #covid sourdough novice and am looking for ways to use my starter besides the standard loaf.

  29. Colleen

    Something ate my chives plant this summer (rabbits? They seemed to be everywhere). I made them with just butter and sprinkled them with fleur de sel just before serving. We are have unseasonably warm weather here in Boston, so I served them directly out of the pan to guest sitting around a fire pit. There were six of us, so each person got two. If I had pulled a second batch out of the oven, they would have gone just as quickly. So good. So, so good, but I am guessing that now having had them still hot out of the oven, they would be disappointing on the second day.

  30. LitProf

    Deb, thanks from your Smittenistas — our Thanksgiving table was beautiful and delicious because of you. A huge congrats on the NEW YORKER interview!

  31. Eliza

    These are really great rolls but we realized that we’re just not a “roll” family. We would rather have a slice of really good bread with dinner than a roll. I might try these again with extra garlic and serve them with spaghetti and meatballs as they remind me of garlic knots. That said, they were easy to make and fun to eat.

  32. Elemjay

    Just made these for Sunday lunch. I make horrible bread normally, I seem to kill yeast, but amazingly enough, this recipe worked brilliantly. Very tender texture, excellent flavour. Used creme fraiche instead or sour cream as that is what I already had. My one amendment would be the end sections after rolling and cutting the dough were a bit smaller than the middle sections when i cut into sixths, so would consider making them slightly larger to compensate for the straggly end pieces. Thanks SK – I just astonished myself!!

  33. Molly G.

    I just read the piece about you in the New Yorker. It was a great interview. I keep thinking about this quote that you said and it really resonates with me. “I feel like cooking well and eating well is very good revenge for a hard time.” This is my ethos right now! As always, thank you for the work that you do. It really does buoy so many in these hard times. Happy Thanksgiving. I’m very grateful for you!

  34. Loved the New Yorker profile on you. Delightful !
    Thanks for all your hard work over the years, and your creative, delicious recipes. You have a great sense of what people really like to eat :-)

  35. Matt

    Just read your New Yorker interview. Thanks for being so authentically you for all these years. It’s crazy to think that I’ve been reading for more than 12 years, but it’s a testament to how great you are on the page and in the kitchen!

  36. Hillary

    These were absolutely fantastic. I made the dough in my bread machine on the dough cycle and then assembled them as described. A big hit for our small Thanksgiving!

  37. I saw these rolls pop up on IG on Thanksgiving morning and I instantly dropped what I was doing and went into the kitchen to make them for our turkey dinner. And they were FANTASTIC. Easy to make, adaptable (I used dried thyme in place of chives), and so delicious. The only thing I wanted to note for others is that the dough was really soft and almost sticky after kneading and proofing. Don’t add extra flour after kneading even if you think the dough needs it. It doesn’t. Flour your work surface well before rolling after the proof and be gentle with the dough as it can tear easily (though it can be easily patched too). This is a recipe I will undoubtedly make again and again as my whole family loved these darling fantails! Thanks for another winner, Deb!!

  38. D

    These were prefect as written! However, more chives wouldn’t have hurt and next time I’ll just use all the chives I have on hand.

  39. Julia Mantey

    I made these on Thanksgiving (couldn’t resist) substituting seasonings we had around the house between the layers. Since it was just my husband and me and there were plenty of other carbs to go around, needless to say a week later we still had quite a few fantails left. I just wanted to let others know that if they end up in a similar situation, these can be recycled into delicious croutons! I tore apart the layers, chopped them up, oiled, seasoned, and baked – we’re now quickly going through them on salads (and whenever passing through the kitchen).

  40. Anna

    I made it for the second time today! The first time I did everything as written, and this time I did half with garlic and the other half with onions chopped small and fried until golden at the edges. Both times, all versions were absolutely excellent. A fantastic recipe that I’ll use again and again. It seemed very fussy to me at first, bot to be hones, the dough is so easy to work with, the whole process is relatively painless. Definitely make them if you are on the fence whether or not to :-)

  41. Shannon

    These are fantastic! Love the subtle flavours. I made the dough and then put it overnight in the fridge and shaped and baked the next day. They are lovely looking but actually pretty simple to make because of the easy to follow instructions! Thanks for another great recipe. 💕

  42. Amanda

    Thank you for making our quarantine holiday. Between these rolls and the gingerbread Yule log, there were some delicious new traditions added. Thanks for inspiring the home cooks even at the end of this long year!

  43. Leah

    Made these Christmas Day for dinner and they were amazing. I’m not experienced with breads/rolls so was a bit nervous about achieving the correct texture while kneading but they turned out incredible (followed the recipe but used DF sour cream and couldn’t tell the difference except in my happy GI tract). My husband and I ate our share long before the Christmas food exchange (woohoo Christmas in code red). I will be making them for every gathering that needs rolls from now on. 15/10, as per usual with SK.

  44. Alyssa

    Delicious! I made a half recipe and used greek yogurt in place of the sour cream. My dough didn’t rise too much after the first sitting, but they did rise nicely once formed and in the pan. Will definitely make again!!

  45. Maggie

    I’ve just made some of your rich ricotta and was wondering whether it would be reasonable to substitute the water and sour cream (or at least some of the sour cream) in this recipe with some of the whey left over from the ricotta?

  46. Jean

    Hi Deb
    Thanks so much for the recipe! Since there’s only two of us here, I did half with chives and the other with cinnamon and brown sugar. Now I’ve got dinner and breakfast covered. Happy New Year to you and your family