10 Sourdough Discard Recipes to Make with Your Extra Starter
Try these sourdough discard recipes the next time you feed your starter—so you don't have to waste the excess!
If you’re one of the thousands of people who has recently started baking sourdough bread, you know that feeding the starter—and discarding some of it—is part of the process. But caring for your sourdough starter doesn’t have to be wasteful. From cookies to pancakes, there are many sourdough discard recipes that can help you use up your extra starter.
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What Is Sourdough Discard?
Sourdough discard is the portion of sourdough starter that you remove during the feeding process. To feed your starter, you discard half of it and then add 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water for every 1/2 cup of remaining starter.
As our guide to making a sourdough starter explains, removing half of the starter keeps the flour and water to a minimum while keeping the yeast from competing for food. It also prevents you from ending up with a massive amount of starter!
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What to Do with Sourdough Discard
Just because you remove excess starter during feedings doesn’t mean you actually have to physically discard it. You can keep your sourdough discard in a covered jar in the refrigerator and incorporate it into other baked goods—try sourdough pizza crust, waffles, cinnamon rolls and the sourdough discard recipes listed below.
The discard will add a tangy, acidic flavor to your recipes. For a stronger flavor, mix in the liquid that forms on top of your starter. If you want a milder sourdough taste, pour off that liquid before using your starter or discard.
In its discard state, sourdough may not be lively enough to leaven bread. However, you can always feed it before use if you need some extra rise. To gauge whether your sourdough starter is ready for baking, remove it from the refrigerator 4 or 5 hours before use and measure its expansion. If it doubles in size, it’s ready to use with no additional yeast needed.
How Long Sourdough Discard Lasts
Sourdough starter can last for decades if you feed it regularly. But sourdough discard, which you typically don’t feed, has a shorter shelf life—even if you store it in the refrigerator. The discard’s flavor will get a little funkier over time, so we recommend tossing it in the compost or trash after about a month. Never flush it down the drain because it can clog your pipes.
10 Sourdough Discard Recipes
While there are many ways to use your extra starter, the following sourdough discard recipes are approved by our Test Kitchen.
You can also experiment with incorporating sourdough starter or discard into other recipes. You’ll need to reduce the amount of flour and liquid in the recipe accordingly, but the proportions will vary depending on the dish.
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This Sourdough Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe uses 2 cups of sourdough starter as the leavening agent—no additional yeast required! Just add sugar, butter, flour and baking soda—as well as vanilla, oats and chocolate chips—to get a delicious batch of homemade cookies.
These Golden Sourdough Biscuits get a boost of flavor by adding a cup of discard. Try our Test Kitchen-approved recipe, or play around with your own recipe. Just make sure to reduce the flour and buttermilk quantities if you’re experimenting.
Sourdough Crescent Rolls
You may never want to use store-bought crescent rolls again after you learn to make your own!
Sourdough English Muffins
This Sourdough English Muffin recipe requires a little bit of preparation, but it’s a great way to turn your sourdough discard into a winning dish. After feeding the discard and letting it rise overnight, you’ll mix the dough, form the muffins and let them double in size for about 45 minutes. Then griddle them to golden-brown perfection!
Sourdough French Bread
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You can use sourdough starter to make other types of bread besides the classic sourdough bread loaf that you think of. This Sourdough French Bread recipe uses 1/4 cup of sourdough starter, as well as one package of active dry yeast.
This recipe for sourdough starter hotcakes couldn’t be easier. Simply feed your discard the night before you plan to make the pancakes. Then add sugar, salt, eggs and baking soda, along with any extra flavorings like pumpkin pie spice, vanilla extract or berry-flavored yogurt.
Sourdough discard makes a fantastic addition to quick breads like banana bread and zucchini bread, as well as desserts like this Sourdough Applesauce Cake. This cake tastes incredible on its own, and it only gets better when it’s glazed with a sweet and buttery icing.
Give your favorite homemade crackers—like these Thyme-Sea Salt Crackers—a boost of tangy flavor by adding sourdough discard to the dough. Find a cracker recipe and add 120 grams of sourdough starter, or about 1/2 cup. To compensate for the added ingredient, reduce the recipe’s flour and water by 60 grams each, or about 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 cup water.
This recipe for Cranberry Sourdough Muffins with Streusel Topping calls for 1 cup of sourdough starter and no additional yeast. With chopped hazelnuts, fresh cranberries, dried apricots and orange zest, these muffins are bursting with sweet and tangy flavors.