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Cheesy Sourdough Garlic Knots with Whole Wheat Flour

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These fresh sourdough garlic knots are cheesy, herby, and delicious! This whole wheat sourdough garlic knots recipe is a true crowd-pleaser stuffed with pesto and then topped with melted garlic butter and baked to a beautiful golden brown!

cheesy sourdough garlic knots in rows on a parchment-lined baking skeet

Making stuffed knots is kind of my thing now. From sweet recipes like my sourdough cherry knots to savory knots (like these!), knots are super fun to make but even more fun to eat. It’s also become one of my favorite sourdough discard recipes, though you can also use active starter to speed up the bulk fermentation if needed.

Looking for a quick and easy sourdough garlic bread recipe instead? Check out my Sourdough Garlic Toast recipe that’s perfect for pre-baked bread!

a chart showing the highlights from the recipe card. See recipe card for full info.

Why Mill Your Own Flour?

I have been milling my own flour since about 2020. It was a huge learning curve at first, but once you get your new rhythms and processes down, then it’s absolutely amazing!

There are so many benefits to freshly milled flour. Here are some of my favorites:

Taste

Just like I prefer the taste of freshly milled coffee beans, freshly grated cheese, fresh cut fruit & veggies, etc. I prefer the taste of fresh flour. The concept is quite foreign to us now because most people probably don’t think about how flour was not always sold in bags on a grocery store shelf. That is a product of the modern food industry, and while it can be convenient you are leaving some taste, freshness, and nutrients on the table.

Some of you might be realizing you don’t even know what fresh flour is supposed to taste like. It really is a treat! I’m not sure I noticed a huge difference going from bagged to fresh at first, but I now I definitely notice a huge difference when I need to use bagged flour for something. It’s very hard to go back!

Nutrition

While a full nutritional breakdown of freshly milled flour compared to commercial flour is beyond the scope of this recipe, you can find some great nutrition info on Unsifted’s website.

Most notably, freshly milled flour at home is less processed, meaning there is a higher level of intact proteins, much higher fiber content, more vitamins and minerals, and more antioxidants.

Of course, none of this means that bagged flour is junk food. If you go down the rabbit hole online, many people will try to make you feel bad for eating it, but that’s just silly. Bagged whole-grain flour still offers many benefits over refined white flour, and we can’t ignore that a decent grain mill is not a cheap investment, especially for those who don’t see themselves baking very often.

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good–if you can use freshly milled grains, I highly recommend it, but all of my recipes can be recreated with commercially milled whole grain flour if needed and that’s still a fine choice.

bowl of hard white wheat berries on gray background

What Type of Flour or Wheat Berries Do I Need?

I have made this with hard white wheat (or white whole wheat bagged flour) and hard red wheat (regular bagged whole wheat flour).

Red wheat is what I used in the video. Both types of wheat work just fine.

I recommend hard white wheat (white whole wheat) for those who want a lighter mouthfeel and color, or if you’re serving people who aren’t sure how they feel about whole grain flours. Red wheat is a great choice for more rustic and hearty sourdough garlic knots!

Sourdough Garlic Knots Ingredients

To make my cheesy pesto sourdough garlic knots, you need:

Whole wheat flour – see the section above if you’re not sure what kind.

Water

Sourdough Starter – You can use active sourdough starter or discard. Since I am doing an overnight bulk ferment for my timing, I like to make sourdough discard garlic knots. Despite using discard, they’re still fully fermented. Freshly milled flour ferments faster than bagged flour due to the enzymes, so having some tricks up your sleeves (like using cold, unfed starter instead of starter at its peak) can help you better time your bulk fermentation to be more convenient.

Salt – I used pink salt. Sea salt is also a great choice.

Softened Butter – Some butter will be used in the bread dough, and some will be used for spreading on top after they bake. I use salted butter, but unsalted is fine. If you use unsalted butter, you will need to add an additional pinch of salt to your melted garlic butter spread.

Maple Syrup or Honey – Just a small amount meant for softening the bread dough. You can’t taste it, and the dough isn’t sweet.

Pesto

Mozzarella – Freshly shredded

Italian Seasoning & Garlic Powder to enhance the garlic butter spread.

Ingredients for the sourdough garlic knots on a white-wood background, including flour, water, cheese, pesto, seasonings, butter, salt, starter, and maple syrup.

Homemade Sourdough Garlic Knots Instructions

Follow the step-by-step instructions below to make your own delicious, homemade sourdough garlic knots with whole wheat flour:

Suggested Timing: Evening the Day Before Baking

Kitchen aid mixing bowl with shaggy, crumbly dough.

1. Autolyze

Add the flour and water into the bowl of a stand mixer and stir to combine until all the flour has been absorbed. Cover the bowl and let sit 30-45 minutes to autolyse.

This is a mixer kneading the stiff dough.

2. Mix & Knead

Add the rest of the dough ingredients to the mixing bowl: sourdough starter, salt, softened butter, and maple syrup. Stir with the mixing paddle until everything comes together into a shaggy dough. Switch out the paddle for the dough hook and knead for about 15 minutes until the dough is supple, smooth, and strong.

This is the dough fermenting/rising in a straight-sided glass container.

3. Bulk Ferment

Place the dough in a clear, smooth-sided container, flattening the top of the dough to make it even. Calculate a 50% rise target and mark that target. Cover the dough and let it bulk ferment overnight until it has risen around 50%. 

This is a food scale with weighed out dough balls surrounding it.

4. Divide

The next day after the garlic knot dough has risen about 50%, scrape the dough out from the sides of the bowl onto a clean work surface. Use a bench scraper to divide it into 12 equal-sized pieces. I recommend using a kitchen scale to make sure they are evenly portioned.

5. Stuffing & Shaping

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Flatten each piece of dough into a rectangle. Spread 1 tsp of pesto across the middle of the rectangle–avoid the edges. Sprinkle some shredded mozzarella on top of the pesto.

Fold this rectangle in half and press the edges to seal. Roll it in half on top of itself the long way one more time so it looks like a tube shape. Use your hands to gently squeeze and pull the dough into a long rope until it’s at least 6 to 8 inches long. Be careful not to rip the dough.

Tie the dough tube into a knot and place on the baking sheet. Repeat this process for all 12 knots. See the diagram below for step-by-step shaping instructions:

These are the step by step photos showing how to stuff and shape a garlic knot.

Proofing & Baking

This is the sheet pan of sourdough garlic knots proofing.

6. Proof

Place the shaped knots on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Cover the knots with plastic wrap and let them sit for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours in a warm place for their second rise. Toward the end of the proof, turn on the oven to 400°F to preheat.

This is a sheet pan of sourdough garlic knots baking in the oven.

7. Bake

Remove the plastic wrap and place the knots into the oven to bake for 10 minutes. Remove when golden brown and the interior temperature of a knot reads 190°F.

Whisking seasonings into the butter.

8. Make Butter Mixture

Add the butter to a microwave-safe bowl. Melt in 15-second increments, stirring in between, until melted. Whisk 1 tsp Italian seasoning and 1/2 tsp garlic powder into the butter.

Spreading butter with a pastry brush on the baked garlic knots.

9. Brush Butter on the Knots

After the knots have come out of the oven and are cool enough to handle, brush the melted butter mixture on top of each one. Allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes before handling–the melted cheese can be very hot!

Just look at these delicious, cheesy sourdough garlic knots. They are perfection!

Hands pulling apart a sourdough garlic knot to show the cheese inside. In the background is the sheet pan of knots.

Tips, Tricks, & Storage

I aim for a 50% rise for the bulk fermentation. When I measure, if I notice my flattened dough is about 3 inches tall, then to mark my target rise mark, I just add half of that number to it. Ex: 3 + 1.5 = 4.5. So my dough has risen 50% when it is 4.5 inches tall.

If you’re a little under or over the 50% rise, that is fine. For best results, avoid completely overfermenting the dough or the gluten structure will break down making these garlic knots very hard to shape.

For a visual shaping demonstration, see the recipe video linked in my recipe card.

Store in an airtight container. These garlic knots are best the day they are baked, but are also good on day 2.

For long-term preservation of these sourdough garlic knots, I recommend freezing them. Remove them from freezer a couple of hours before you want to serve.

I recommend starting this dough in the evening the day before you want to bake it, however you can alter the timing of this recipe as needed. Look at my timing chart below for some ideas:

This is a timeline showing two possible baking timing scenarios.

Substituitions & Variations

If needed, you can skip the pesto. You can add fresh herbs like basil or chopped fresh parsley to the mozzarella cheese if desired.

You can sprinkle powdered parmesan cheese on top of the buttered garlic knots for a real treat.

Sourdough garlic knots on parchment paper with melty cheese coming out.

Other Sourdough Treats

Enjoy some of my other delicious whole grain sourdough treats!

Sourdough Discard Cherry Knots are a delicious sweet treat that is light on the sugar.

Sourdough Bagels are also a household favorite–my middle child asks for these all the time! Pretty easy to make and even more fun to eat.

Make these Sourdough Garlic Knots Today!

Nothing beats homemade garlic knots–you’re in for a real treat!

These delicious garlic knots are one of my favorite ways to enjoy sourdough bread. Your whole family is going to go crazy for them!

After you make these, I’d love to hear how it goes for you. Leave a comment and 5-star review below–it means the world!

cheesy sourdough garlic knots in rows on a parchment-lined baking skeet
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Sourdough Garlic Knots with Whole Wheat Flour

Savory, cheesy sourdough garlic knots stuffed with pesto & mozzarella make the perfect savory sourdough side for so many meals! This recipe is compatible with fresh milled flour.
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time15 minutes
Bulk Fermentation & Proofing15 hours
Total Time16 hours 15 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cheesy garlic knots, garlic knots, sourdough, sourdough garlic knots, whole wheat garlic knots
Servings: 12 knots
Calories: 224kcal
Author: Holly Lee
Cost: $8

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 400 grams whole wheat flour (white wheat or red wheat OK) about 3 cups, spooned & leveled
  • 240 grams water about 1 cup
  • 50 grams sourdough starter
  • 10 grams salt
  • 57 grams butter softened (4 tbsp)
  • 30 grams maple syrup or honey about 1 1/2 tbsp
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella freshly shredded

Garlic Butter Topping

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Instructions

Suggested Timing: Evening

  • Add the flour and water to the stand mixer bowl and stir to combine until all the flour has been absorbed. Cover the bowl and let sit 30-45 minutes to autolyse.
  • Add the sourdough starter, salt, softened butter, and maple syrup to the mixing bowl. Stir with the mixing paddle until everything comes together. Switch out the paddle for the dough hook and knead for about 15 minutes until the dough is supple, smooth, and strong.
  • Place the dough in a clear, smooth-sided container, flattening the top of the dough to make it even. Calculate a 50% rise target and mark that target. Cover the dough and let it bulk ferment until it has risen around 50%. See notes for more info.

The Next Morning

  • After the dough has risen about 50% (most likely the next day), scrape the dough out from its container and divide it into 12 equal pieces. I recommend using a kitchen scale.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Flatten each piece of dough into a rectangle. Spread 1 tsp of pesto across the middle of the rectangle–avoid the edges. Sprinkle some shredded mozzarella on top of the pesto. Fold this rectangle in half and press the edges to seal. Roll it in half on top of itself the long way one more time so it looks like a tube shape. Use your hands to gently squeeze and pull the tube until it's at least 6 to 8 inches long. Be careful not to rip the dough. Tie the dough tube into a knot and place on the baking sheet. Repeat this process for all 12 knots. See recipe video for a demonstration.
  • Cover the knots with plastic wrap and let them sit for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours to proof. Toward the end of the proof, turn on the oven to 400°F to preheat.
  • Remove the plastic wrap and place the knots into the oven to bake for 10 minutes. Remove when golden brown and the interior temperature of a knot reads 190°F.

Garlic Butter

  • Add the butter to a microwave-safe bowl. Melt in 15-second increments, stirring in between, until melted. Whisk 1 tsp Italian seasoning and 1/2 tsp garlic powder into the butter.
  • After the knots have come out of the oven and are cooled enough to handle, brush the garlic butter mixture on top of each one. Allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes before handling–the melted cheese can be very hot!

Video

YouTube video

Notes

I aim for a 50% rise for the bulk fermentation. When I measure, if I notice my flattened dough is about 3 inches tall, then to mark my target rise mark, I just add half of that number to it. Ex: 3 + 1.5 = 4.5. So my dough has risen 50% when it is 4.5 inches tall.
See recipe video for a shaping demonstration.
Store in an airtight container. These garlic knots are best the day they are baked, but are also good on day 2. If you cannot finish them by day 2, then they need to be frozen.
When frozen, remove from freezer a couple of hours before you want to enjoy them.

Nutrition

Calories: 224kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 24mg | Sodium: 466mg | Potassium: 54mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 371IU | Vitamin C: 0.01mg | Calcium: 72mg | Iron: 1mg

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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    What I love about these cheesy garlic knots is the mellow, savory flavor of the pesto combined with the gooey cheese pull. These are so delicious!

5 from 1 vote

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