5 Tasty Ways to Use Sourdough Starter (That Aren't Bread)

You've tried your hand at baking a few loaves. Now try mixing things up.

You have a sourdough starter that bubbles, grows, and powers your sourdough bread, giving it levity and a nice mellow tang. One of the criticisms of sourdough starters is that they're wasteful. Before feeding your starter, you throw most of it away, but you don't have to.

Whether you've baked a few loaves or a few dozen, if you're ready to mix things up—to think beyond the loaf—well, the possibilities are many. Here are five great uses for starter discard (the starter portion you remove before feeding) or for calling on your starter at peak performance.

Savory Pancakes

Instead of discarding your sourdough starter, pour it into a hot pan with roughly 1 tablespoon olive oil sizzling at medium heat. Spread that starter thin, so it takes the shape of a disc, and then add some salt and pepper, garlic powder, and whatever additional flavorings you're feeling—fennel seeds, oregano, or maybe a spice blend like garam masala.

After 3 to 5 minutes on each side, you'll have a really nice—and very tangy—savory pancake. Hot and doughy out of the pan, it makes a hearty snack, especially after a dunking in chile oil, labneh, pesto, or whatever leftover sauces you have waiting in the fridge.


Using sourdough starter gives waffles deeper nuance and finer texture. The added flavor notes also open a door to other types of flours. Try using, say, 50 percent spelt flour and 50 percent white flour rather than strictly white. There's room to experiment here.

When making sourdough waffles, let the batter sit overnight so it's ready for the iron when you wake up. Unless you have a wildly productive starter, you'll probably want to include a small amount of baking powder in the batter for a fluffier waffle.


Consider using your sourdough bread dough recipe to make the base of a pizza or two. Instead of shaping it into a loaf, stretch it thin on an oiled baking sheet. When making pizza from a sourdough starter, you'll want to factor in the starter's tang. With too many tomatoes (which are also tangy), the collected tang might be a bit overpowering. The solution? Go light on the red sauce. This is also a sterling occasion to break out the cheese and bake a white pie.

Cinnamon Rolls

Think the sour nature of your starter is too much for sweets? Think again. Using some starter to trigger all or part of the rise of cinnamon rolls gives them more complexity. It fits right into the assertive flavor mixture of cinnamon rolls (as well as other baked goods), right alongside raisins, warm spices, and the creamy sweetness of icing.


Sourdough pretzels—the ones you've probably eaten from the grocery store snack bag—are often insanely crunchy. You can make the soft pretzel version at home using your starter rather than packaged yeast to spark the modest rise. Brush the tops of your dough rods or twists with butter. Sprinkle seeds, salt, and spices if you want and—just as with sourdough bread—they're best still warm from the oven.

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