How to Not Waste Sourdough Discard

Working with sourdough is extremely rewarding, but it can easily be somewhat wasteful. In case you aren’t familiar with the feeding process, I’ll quickly describe it. The word “feed” can sound daunting, but think of it as a refresh. To feed a sourdough starter, you take a portion of the current starter and add new flour and water to it. For me, this looks like pouring out some of the starter into a new glass jar and adding the corresponding amount of water and flour to it. That becomes the “new” starter that you use and feed after a day or up to a week depending on how you store it. The portion of the original starter that did not get fed (and for me is in the old jar) is now the discard. In terms of the sourdough process, you no longer need the discard, hence the name.

If your feeding schedule is different than mine and that first discard is still highly active, you could likely immediately use the discard to start a loaf of sourdough and have it rise properly. Personally, I keep my starter in the refrigerator, so even my initial discard lacks enough bubbles and activity for sourdough work. Discard can be thrown away in its truest sense OR you can get creative and use it in various types of recipes that don’t rely on the starter for its rise. Why throw out perfectly good flour and that sourdough taste when you can make something out of it? I’d hate to think of how much flour I would’ve thrown away at this point if I hadn’t repurposed my discard.

If after a feeding, you don’t have time or want to start working on a recipe, no worries. I often put my discard back into the fridge and use it within a week or so. After that point it starts to accumulate some liquid on the top and taste very sour. I’ve found sourdough discard recipes that call for as little as ¼ cup, so even a small amount can be used. Otherwise, you can accumulate additional discard from subsequent feedings and use it in recipes that require more. Discard from multiple feedings can certainly be mixed and used together in one recipe, and you can almost think of figuring out how to use all of your discard without wasting it as a puzzle. It’s an opportunity to get creative. There are also conversion ratios online for utilizing discard in your favorite recipes by replacing a portion of liquid and dry flour ingredients. That said, I have recently started experimenting with this, and unfortunately have not had success… yet! 

I’ve linked below my favorite sourdough discard recipes and added any notes that I have about them. I love searching for and experimenting with recipes, so I hope to keep this list evergreen and build upon it in the future.

The recipes are sorted by the amount of discard required, starting with ¼ cup and ending with a full cup. All pictures are ones that I’ve taken!

A quick note: In general, I don’t keep regular dairy milk in my home, so assume I use soy milk any time a recipe mentions milk. More often than not, I use vegan butter as well.

¼ cup (65g) Sourdough Discard

Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies

Author: Traci from Vanilla and Bean

The sourdough flavor adds an extra layer of brightness that brings the cookie to life. For the chocolate, I only used chocolate chips!

Recipe Link

Slightly less than ½ cup (100 g) Sourdough Discard

Chocolate Sourdough Discard Bread

Author: Kate from The Pantry Mama

Chocolate bread is my kind of treat, and boy is it delicious toasted with some peanut butter. I can’t recommend this recipe enough, and it only has 40 grams of sugar for the whole loaf. Because it uses half of a standard instant yeast packet, it bakes up quickly in an afternoon. 

Recipe Link

Sourdough Cornbread

Author: Emilie Raffa from The Clever Carrot

This cornbread pretty much tastes like yellow cake in cornbread form, and I’m not mad about that. As a side note: I made this recipe for the first time when my sourdough starter was acting up and not producing much rise, and that resulted in a super light-weight almost fluffy cornbread that fell apart when you cut it. Once my starter was properly active again, I didn’t have that issue. I did follow the substitution recommendations on the recipe to make it dairy-free.

Recipe Link

Sourdough Blueberry Scones with a Lemon Glaze

Author: Elien from Home Grown Happiness

Everyone in my family loved these, including my dad who doesn’t normally enjoy scones. They are soft and cake-like with a bright flavor that compliments sourdough well. They turned out perfectly with fresh blueberries, Country Crock vegan butter, and Ripple pea protein milk.

Recipe Link

½ cup (120 g) Sourdough Discard

Easy Sourdough Muffins

Author: Kristin “Baker Bettie” Hoffman

I’m fairly certain that I’ve made these simple muffins more than any other muffin in my lifetime. I don’t understand why the original author doesn’t have 5 stars on her recipe, as I think it is perfection. They taste like boxed yellow cake, a family favorite.

I’ve made this recipe multiple ways with success, albeit the recipe as written creates the best fluffy texture.

  1. As written with oil and an egg.
  2. Applesauce subbed out for an egg with oil
  3. Applesauce subbed out for oil with an egg

Recipe Link

Oatmeal Cookies

Author: Jenni from The Gingered Whisk

My dad said these are the oatmeal-iest oatmeal cookies that he’s had, and he meant that in a good way! The sourdough flavor peeps in and adds a slight twang that brings out the oatmeal flavor. I replaced the eggs with Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer and skipped the icing; they are good on their own!

Recipe Link

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins

Author: Carlee from Cooking with Carlee

These muffins are good for breakfast, as they are not very sweet, and the oatmeal in them makes them feel hearty like a baked oatmeal. My husband enjoys them toasted with butter, and I prefer them with peanut butter. I’ve always used dairy-free soy yogurt and soy milk. I’ve used both a traditional egg and a flax egg with success!

Recipe Link

¾ cup Sourdough Discard

Sourdough Discard Crackers 

Author: Amy Duska from Little Spoon Farm

The first time I made these crackers, I was highly skeptical of how they would turn out. The “batter” is a thin goo made only of discard, butter, salt, and seasoning – no additional flour. You simply spread it out on a baking sheet, score it with a pizza cutter after a quick bake in the oven, and return it to the oven until crispy. I’ve tried this recipe with fresh Thai basil, fresh dill, cinnamon, and Italian seasoning. They’ve all been delicious! It doesn’t get much easier than this one.

Recipe Link

1 cup Sourdough Discard

Sourdough Discard Blueberry Muffins

Author: Joanne from Fifteen Spatulas

These are super delicious and sweet without any refined sugar. I’ve used the zest of two clementines instead of an orange, and the flavor really comes through. I would almost add orange to the recipe title because they have as much orange as blueberry flavor in the best way possible.

Recipe Link

Pancakes

Author: Julie Clark from Tastes of Lizzy T

There is no denying these pancakes are made with sourdough discard, as the flavor comes through well. If you like the “sourness” of sourdough, you will love these!

Recipe Link

Vegan Sourdough Crackers [Cheesy Flavor]

Author: Kate from The Pantry Mama

These crackers are easy to make and great for dipping. Unlike some other cracker recipes that I’ve made in the past, these are easy to roll to a thickness that will crisp up in the oven. The only criticism I have is that the “cheese” flavor is fairly subtle.

Recipe Link

Cinnamon Muffins

Author: Leigh and Anne from “The Southern Lady Cooks” 

Three words: simple, cinnamony, delicious.

Recipe Link 

Let me know if you try any of these recipes out or if you have other discard recipes that you love!


In closing, if you are reading this blog the day it was published and you’re a mama like me, then Happy Mother’s Day! My mom is truly the most amazing woman, mother, and grandma in this world. I never realized what being a mother means until I was one myself, and I appreciate her so much more now than ever before! As I’m writing this post, I am looking forward to cookouts with family, spending time with my mama, and squeezing on my (not so baby) boy. 

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