Thursday 18 April 2024
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How to Use Sourdough Discard

Sourdough starter in a jar

Baking sourdough bread has been around for thousands of years, but in 2020, the practice seemed to take off. While it’s a few years later, the bread-baking trend hasn’t subsided. That’s why most people now know about starters and the fermentation process. But what some don’t know is how to use sourdough discard.

Thankfully, there are plenty of sourdough discard recipes that will keep you from tossing out so much of your starter each time you feed it.

Table of Contents

What Is Sourdough Discard?
Sourdough Pancakes
Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies
Discard Crackers

What Is Sourdough Discard?

Covered sourdough discard/starter in a jar

Sourdough starter discard is nothing more than a portion of your sourdough starter that gets removed before you feed it again. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s not “old” and it’s just as good as the rest of your starter.

But it is still necessary to discard some of your starter with each feeding. If you don’t, your starter will become unmanageable. It would just keep growing and growing with every feeding, and you probably wouldn’t want to deal with it.

The discard is a mixture of fermented flour and water. While you might not be baking bread with it, you don’t need to throw it in the trash or pour it down the drain. It can actually be used.

Sourdough Pancakes

Stack of pancakes with berries and maple syrup

King Arthur Flour is royalty in the baking world. You can find tons of sourdough tips and tricks on their website, and their flour is great for getting your starter going.

But, they also have plenty of sourdough starter discard ideas—including delicious tangy pancakes (or waffles!)

The King Arthur recipe calls for creating an overnight sponge by combining:

  • 2 cups (240g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup (227g) sourdough starter, unfed/discard
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) granulated sugar
  • 2 cups (454g) buttermilk

Mix the ingredients together and let sit at room temperature overnight. The next morning when you’re ready for pancakes, make the batter by mixing two large eggs and 50g vegetable oil or melted butter with all of your overnight sponge. Then, carefully add in your dry ingredients:

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Stir until everything is just combined—it’s okay if there are lumps! Drop 1/4 cupfuls onto a greased griddle, and flip when they bubble.

Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies

A stack of chocolate chip cookies sit on a table.

If you’ve never tried a fermented chocolate chip cookie before, you’re missing out. Adding sourdough discard to this cookie dough gives it a unique depth of flavor, and the cookies stay soft and chewy for days!

This recipe by Little Spoon Farm calls for:

  • ¾ cup + 1 teaspoon (95 g) all-purpose flour
  • cup + 1 teaspoon (125 g) bread flour (all-purpose can be substituted, see notes)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder


  • 1 large (1) egg
  • ½ cup (125 g) sourdough starter discard
  • 1 teaspoon (5 g) vanilla extract


  • 8 tablespoons (113 g) unsalted butter (cold, cubed)
  • ½ cup (100 g) light brown sugar
  • ½ cup (100 g) white granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ cups (340 g) chocolate chips (semi-sweet or milk chocolate)

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, and mix wet ingredients (1) in a smaller bowl. Add wet ingredients (2) to a stand mixer and cream together. Add in the chocolate chips and mix. Add dry ingredients and mix for 20-30 seconds, then the egg mixture and mix for 20-30 more seconds. The key is not to overmix. If you do, your cookies will be tough!

Shape the cookies into twelve balls, chill in the fridge for at least two hours, and bake in a 375-degree oven for 15-17 minutes.

Discard Crackers

Rosemary and sea salt crackers on a baking sheet

Okay, we’ve offered up a couple of sweet sourdough discard recipes, but what if you’re in the mood for something savory? Sourdough discard crackers are incredibly popular, they can be adjusted to fit your personal tastes, and they’re super easy to make. This recipe from Farmhouse on Boone calls for:

  • 1 cup sourdough discard
  • 3/4 cup AP flour
  • 1/4 cup butter—room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon dried herbs (use your favorites!)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Simply mix all of the ingredients together and roll the dough out between two sheets of parchment paper to prevent sticking. Try to get it as thin as possible! Place the rolled dough (still on a parchment sheet) onto a baking tray, brush with melted butter and sea salt, and bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes or until crispy. Then, you can cut or break the crackers apart with your hands for a rustic look. They make a perfect snack or gift for friends and neighbors.

These recipes barely scratch the surface when it comes to everything you can do with sourdough discard. So, the next time you feed your sourdough, don’t toss the discard in the trash! Try one of these recipes or do your own research to see how you can add discard into your favorite baked goods for a deeper fermented flavor.

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