Savory Breakfast Rolls

Savory Breakfast Rolls - Brioche dough rolled around savory pork sausage, zesty pesto sauce, and mozzarella cheese and topped with gravy! Perfection!


Savory Breakfast Rolls

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This whole week I’m posting five recipes from long ago that are my wife’s favorite recipe requests. These recipes got buried in the archives so I’m taking this week to bring them back to life! 

Sometimes. In the Winter. You need something comforting. Something that makes you feel at home. I had a need for something like that a week ago and so I came up with these Savory Breakfast Rolls.

I call it the savory roll. It is a brioche dough which is rolled around pork sausage, pesto sauce, and mozzarella. Oh and there is gravy obviously. This dish was a little bit of work, but my goodness was it delicious. Betsy and I ate them for an entire week and we never got sick of them. Let’s make them.

Savory Breakfast Rolls

8 large rolls
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cast iron skillet

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Brioche dough rolled around savory pork sausage, zesty pesto sauce, and mozzarella cheese and topped with gravy! Perfection!


Brioche Dough (from Artisan Bread in 5 minutes):

3/4 Cups warm water
3/4 Tablespoon yeast (3/4 packets)
2 Teaspoons salt
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 Cup honey
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
3 3/4 Cups all-purpose flour


2 cups fresh basil
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic
Pinch of salt and pepper

Pork Filling:

1 pound ground pork sausage
1/2 white onion,diced
2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
Pinch of salt and pepper
6-8 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated


1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
Drippings from sausage filling


1) To make the dough, combine all ingredients except flour and mix well. Then slowly mix in flour. Dough will be very moist.

2) Cover dough loosely and let rise at room temperature for 2 hours. Then store in fridge overnight if possible, but at least chill it for a few hours.

3) The night before you can also make your pesto by pulsing all the pesto ingredients together in a food processor.

4) The morning of baking, add pork sausage to a large cast iron skillet over medium heat long with onion, sage, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until sausage is browned nicely, about 10 minutes. Then remove but don’t wash pan as it will be used for gravy also.

5) Remove dough from fridge and roll it into a large rectangle (about 20×16) on a well-floured surface.

6) Spread pesto evenly over rolled out dough. Then top with sausage and cheese.

7) Carefully roll dough into an even roll. Once the dough is rolled, slice it into eight even, large pieces.

8) Add rolls to a buttered baking dish (9×13 works well) and let them rise for about an hour. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

9) Bake rolls for about an hour at 375.

10) To make gravy, add flour to drippings from sausage in the cast iron skillet over medium heat. Whisk together to form a roux in the pan.

11) Slowly whisk in milk until roux thickens into a gravy. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm for serving.

12) Serve finished rolls with a good amount of gravy!

Savory Breakfast Rolls

The Dough

Step one is making the dough, which you need to start at least the day before, but could do a few days before whenever you have time.

Combine every ingredient except flour and mix well. Then mix in the flour. The dough will be very moist – gooey even. Let this dough sit and rise at room temperature for 2 hours and then into the fridge for at least a few hours, but ideally overnight. You will not be able to use this dough unless it is cold.

Dough. No kneading neccessary. Savory Breakfast Rolls
Dough. No kneading necessary.

The Pesto

One more thing you can do the night before is make the pesto. You can, of course, make this the day of also.

A confession: I don’t have a set recipe for pesto. Everytime I make it, it is a bit different. It usually involves a handful or two of basil leaves, a Tablespoon or two of pine nuts, a clove of garlic, salt and pepper, and enough olive oil to bring it all together into a pesto like paste.

Quick pesto is easy. Savory Breakfast Rolls
Quick pesto is easy.

The Filling

The morning of you are going to need to make the pork filling. You could, of course, use beef or turkey but I really think pork gives it a nice flavor. I started with a little over a pound. I also added about 1/2 of a chopped onion, some chopped fresh sage, and salt and pepper. I added the sage just because I had it. You could also add dry spices like tarragon, basil, oregano, etc.

When you are done with the pork, don’t wash this pan. We are going use the drippings for gravy.

This will produce the smell of breakfast. Savory Breakfast Rolls
This will produce the smell of breakfast.

Take your dough out of the fridge and on a well floured surface roll it into a long rectangle. As you can see, mine was probably 20 inches by 16 inches.

A pretty big rectangle. Savory Breakfast Rolls
A pretty big rectangle.

Then layer on your toppings. Put down all of your pesto, then your ground pork, and finally your cheese.

Go crazy. Savory Breakfast Rolls
Go crazy.

Rolling this thing is a bit of a trick. Roll it from left to right or right to left, whatever is easiest for you. If your dough is sticking to the table, go slowly, and use a dough scraper or butter knife to release the dough from the table.

A bit tricky. Go slow. Patience is a virtue. Savory Breakfast Rolls
A bit tricky. Go slow. Patience is a virtue.

Eventually, you will end up, hopefully, with a tube of rolled awesomeness. Cut this with a serrated knife into eight even sections.

Eight is a good number. Savory Breakfast Rolls
Eight is a good number.

Turn these guys upright in a buttered dish and let them rise for about an hour. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375.

Awesome. Savory Breakfast Rolls

These Savory Breakfast Rolls need to bake for a long time. About an hour. I baked mine for 45 minutes and the outer buns were done, but the interior ones were still a bit soggy in the middle.

The Gravy

While those are cooking, let’s talk gravy. You should have a decent amount of fat left over from the pork and probably even some leftover ground pork. Get all of that in your pan and put it on medium heat. One tablespoon at a time you want to add flour in an equal proportion of fat.

It doesn’t have to be exact. I guessed that I had about 5 Tablespoons of fat from the pork, so I added 5 Tablespoons flour. Stir this together and the flour will start to cook slowly and brown. This, my friends, is a roux.

After about 5 minutes, you will end up with this:

A dark roux. Savory Breakfast Rolls
A dark roux.

Then, very slowly, whisk in about 2 cups of milk. There will be steam. Whisk furiously. Try to whisk out any clumps that form. I added about 1/4 of a cup at a time and eventually ended up with this lovely, creamy gravy. Salt and pepper to taste.

Gravy is my favorite thing in the world. Officially. Savory Breakfast Rolls
Gravy is my favorite thing in the world. Officially.

After an hour, pull out those buns. They will look like, well, breakfast perfection.

After a long bake. Savory Breakfast Rolls
After a long bake.

Serve up one of these and ladle plenty of gravy over the top.

Savory Breakfast Rolls from Macheesmo

This is some of the best breakfast I can imagine. The roll is flaky and light and a bit sweet. It holds up nicely though to the spiced pork and pesto. The cheese holds everything together and the gravy is well, gravy.

This is real comfort food in my opinion.

Everyone should have this recipe. I would love it if you used the icons on the left side to share it with the rest of the Internet.

26 Responses to “Savory Breakfast Rolls” Leave a comment

  1. Dear lord that breakfast turns me on. I too cant eat that stuff, but i want to be around it..a lot

  2. It's brunch ladies! Sometimes you have to go crazy. :)

    Also, these aren't actually as heavy as they look. The dough is really light and fluffy. Not saying it is the healthiest, but it's not as heavy as it looks and it is darn good!

  3. I like the recipe, I am quite comfortable with Pesto, Pork bit and the Sauce, my baking seem to always have a strong aroma of yeast and so I don't venture much into baking, (any recommendations are welcome) however, I have to try this.

    I have one small query on Brioche Dough recipe you mentioned.

    How much is 1/2 sticks unsalted butter? (weight in grams could help):->


  4. @AM

    Definitely don't worry about the aroma of yeast with this dough… the honey and everything in it give a real sweet flavor. You can't taste yeastiness at all.

    Sorry about the 1/2 stick thing… I try to avoid doing that but sometimes I mess up. 1/2 stick is 4 Tablespoons or about 56 grams of butter.

  5. Nick, if I weren't married and you weren't attached, I would propose to you right here and now. Hey, I wonder if anyone's ever gotten proposed to on his/her blog for real? That would be an interesting factoid (not to mention a cool human-interest story in People magazine).

    Anyway. Excellent recipe. Wish I lived next door to you.

  6. if i made that dish, my jeans couldn't even exist in the same room as me. which would be ok, because i would just buy new ones so i could keep eating those rolls. seriously, those look a-mazing.

  7. I just bought that cookbook & was having difficulty deciding what to do 1st.. until your post. These look soooo great. Thanks for sharing your recipe & photos. ;o}

  8. these look so good. maybe i'll try to healthy them up a bit by using turkey sausage and maybe some wilted spinach- but the gravy must remain the same.

    what a great idea- savory rolls, and gravy instead of glaze.


    I know this because I made them yesterday, and they rocked my world.

    I did use turkey sausage. Still Great. I cut mine a bit smaller, and got more than 8 out of my batch. So HA! I GOTS MO!

    I don't have a digital camera, (i know, i know, how 1998 of me) but I did take a picture with the my trusty camera phone. Is that lame? Wait, don't answer that. They were picture perfect- possibly prettier than yours, FYI.

    Thanks for the recipe- and also- did you hear your shout out on The Soup? Well it wasn't a direct shout out to Macheesmo Food Blog, but Joel McHale did use the word machismo as an adjective- it was pretty neat- I thought to myself, surely Nick heard this…

  10. we made these this afternoon and they were one of the most delicious things i've ever eaten. we also made individual rolls in ramekins, which were the cutest individual meals and such a great idea for part of a hearty winter dinner–a salad, soup and one of these! thanks for the recipe–you've inspired us to try others. we even tried making one with a curry cheese stuffing based on your brioche recipe. everything was delicious.

  11. I made these for a mother’s day brunch on Sunday, and they were awesome. I don’t really get to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so I’m not very proficient or confident at cooking. Your instructions, however, were so clear and thorough that I didn’t feel intimidated by this recipe at all. Thanks for sharing this deliciousness in a way that is accessible to someone as inept in the kitchen as I am. I am looking forward to trying more of your recipes.

  12. I made these this morning for our traditional Dec 1st breakfast. It was fantastic. My family loved it. I got somany kisses and hugs from my boys.The recepe is v ery well presented and easy to follow. thanks a bunch.

  13. This recipe was so easy to make and a complete success for a women's event I went to this morning. I was guessing that the traditional bread item everyone was going to bring might be on the sweet side so I decided to search for a savory one. Your delicious photos drew me in and the easy instructions kept me here. Your URL was passed around to a few ladies who will be so excited to make these up for the holidays. Thanks!

    (I'm wondering if the yeast measurement is simply 2 1/4 teaspoons…at least that is what I came up with on my calculations between the back of a packet of yeast and my mathematician hubby.)

  14. Thank goodness this has re-appeared. I looked for it last week on your website and it had disappeared.

  15. Nick, just discovered your blog… this looks like a winner for me.. homemade dough + pork never goes too far wrong. Look forward to reading more, and good to meet you!

  16. Hey Man…have you tried making this the night before, refrigerating it, then cooking it in the morning (gravy included). If so, let me know…I love to sleep in, so I frequently don’t have time to make decent breakfast in the morning (or mourning, as I call it).
    Other than that, cool blog man…rock out!

    1. Heya, I haven’t personally tried it but I don’t see why you couldn’t make the rolls and gravy the day before and then just bake them in the morning and reheat the gravy. Should work like a charm!

  17. I made this coming home from a night out with some coworkers a few years ago. The day after we met for a hangover brunch and spent a couple of hours eating our way through these in front of the entrance to our lab while drinking Pastis and offering anyone who came by a piece. The director of the lab sat down for an hour with us, just talking and eating and drinking. It’s still one of my favorite memories of grad school. Thanks, mate.

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