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.

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!

A bowl of sourdough starter with liquid on top.Taste of Home

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.

Sourdough Cookies

A plate of homemade sourdough oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.Taste of Home

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.

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Sourdough Biscuits

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.

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Sourdough Crescent Rolls

You may never want to use store-bought crescent rolls again after you learn to make your own! This Sourdough Ham Crescent Rolls recipe uses both yeast and sourdough starter to make the rolls fluffy and flavorful. We stuff them with ham and hard-boiled eggs, but feel free to get creative with other fillings.

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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!

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Sourdough French Bread

sourdough french breadTaste of Home

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.

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Sourdough Pancakes

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.

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Sourdough Cake

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.

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Sourdough Crackers

Thyme-Sea Salt CrackersTaste of Home

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.

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Sourdough Muffins

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.

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Sourdough Coffee Cake

This Cranberry Sourdough Coffee Cake is an adaptation of Amish friendship bread, which also uses a starter. The coffee cake recipe calls for 1 cup of sourdough starter and no additional yeast.

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Recipes That Start with Sourdough Bread
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Research contributed by Josh Rink, Taste of Home food stylist and Catherine Ward, Taste of Home Prep Kitchen Manager

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Lindsay D. Mattison
After years of working in professional kitchens, Lindsay traded her knives in for the pen. While she spends most of her time writing these days, she still exercises her culinary muscles on the regular, taking any opportunity to turn local, seasonal ingredients into beautiful meals for her family.
Teddy Nykiel
Teddy is an associate digital editor at Taste of Home specializing in SEO strategy. As a home cook herself, she loves finding inspiration at the farmer's market. She also enjoys doing any sport that involves water and taking long walks with her black lab mix, Berkeley.