Caramelized Onion, Sage, and White Cheddar Rolls

Over the weekend I ended up making a huge batch of rolls for my family–bigger than I meant to.  I realized I’d added double the yeast I needed to.  My brain was on other things and you know, it happens.  So there I was with too much dough.  I weighed out 2 pounds of dough and decided to save it for cinnamon rolls.  But then I thought about an idea I’d had last year and hadn’t experimented with yet.  In my original idea, I fancied using Gruyere instead of white cheddar (and I think that would still be even more fantastic), but I had Tillamook Special Reserve Extra Sharp White Cheddar on hand, so that’s what I used.  The sage is from my garden and the onions are from my CSA.  Such good onions, I tell you.  I love fresh onions.

Anyway, think of these cheddar rolls as sort of French Onion Soup without the broth.  Because that’s how they smelled when they were baking.

My hubby cut a few in half and turned them into sandwiches for lunch today.  Good thinking, eh?  I’m thinking of all sorts of other goodies to fill these with the next time around.  Because I’m pretty sure I’ll have to make these on a weekly basis for the next little bit.

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Caramelized Onion, Sage, and White Cheddar Rolls

A savory dinner or snack rolls made with sweet caramelized onions, sharp white cheddar, and sage.

  • Total Time: 1 hour 50 mins
  • Yield: 32 rolls 1x


Units Scale
  • For roll dough:
  • 4 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast (use 4 tsp. if using instant yeast)
  • 6 Tbsp. lukewarm water (about 100105 degrees F.)
  • 2 cups low-fat milk, heated to 105-110 degrees F.
  • 810 tablespoons canola oil or melted unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar or honey plus 1/4 teaspoon
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
  • 57 cups all-purpose or bread flour
  • For filling:
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 large onions, thinly sliced
  • good sprinkle of sea salt
  • 20 large sage leaves, minced (or about 1 Tbsp. dried crumbled sage)
  • 4 Tbsp. softened butter
  • 812 ounces finely shredded extra sharp white cheddar (I like Tillamook)


  1. For roll dough – Place warm water in a small bowl and sprinkle yeast and 1/4 teaspoon sugar over the top. Stir to dissolve the yeast. Let stand for 5-10 minutes, or until the yeast bubbles up.
  2. In electric mixer, beat eggs with 2 Tablespoons sugar. Add the warm milk and melted butter. Touch to make sure it’s not too hot–it should just barely be warm. Add the yeast mixture. Turn mixer onto low speed and add 4 cups of the flour 1 cup at a time. Add the salt. Continue adding flour, a few tablespoons at a time, until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. It should not be stiff at all, but also not too sticky. After the last tablespoon of flour has been added, let electric mixer knead the dough until smooth and elastic. (Test by pulling a little piece of the dough away from the rest. It should be long and stretch, and not break from the rest.)
  3. Transfer to a large, well-oiled bowl. Let rise in a warm place for at least an hour, or until doubled in volume. Punch down and let rise again for about 30 minutes.
  4. For filling – Heat a 8-10″ skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil and let heat for about 30 seconds. Add the onions. Let the onions cook down a bit and sprinkle well with salt. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally and lowering or raising heat as necessary so the onions get nicely brown. Add a little water to the skillet if they start to stick. Let the onions cook for about 45 minutes total, or until they have reduced a lot in size and are dark, golden brown. Add the sage leaves and cook a little longer, maybe 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
  5. Line two baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  6. To assemble rolls – Cut dough into half. Roll each half of the dough out on a floured work surface into about a 12″ by 18″ rectangle. Spread 2 Tablespoons softened butter over the entire surface of both dough rectangles. Sprinkle each one with half of the cheddar. Spread the caramelized onions over the cheese. (I used my fingers for this.) Starting on the long end of the dough, tightly roll the dough over itself and pinch the edge to seal it. Also seal the ends. Repeat with other dough rectangle.
  7. Cut each dough log into 16 equal rolls using a sharp knife. Arrange on the baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Let raise for about 30-45 minutes, depending on how warm your kitchen is, or as long as an hour.
  8. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. when dough has almost raised completely. (I do this about 20 minutes before I bake them.) Remove the plastic wrap and place in oven. Bake for about 15-20 minutes. The tops will be golden brown.
  9. Serve while very warm or at room temperature.
  • Author: Lindsey Johnson
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Category: bread
  • Cuisine: American


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