Excess Sourdough: Five Tasty Ways To Use It Up

It’s that time again. Your precious sourdough starter is hungry. Sad-looking and perhaps a little weepy, it’s in need of a tasty meal.
sad-sourdoughSourdough can be stored on the counter – a good choice if you’re an avid baker, since it will be very active. But then, your pet will need to be fed at least once a day, perhaps even twice, depending on how warm the air is.

Starter can also live quite happily in the refrigerator, where the cold air will suppress its appetite and make it sluggish. Here, it will only need to be fed once a week – a better choice for those who bake less frequently. Our test-kitchen pet lives in the fridge until a few days before we need it. Then it comes out and is fed twice a day for a few days to get it back in tiptop shape.

add-flour-and-waterA little room in the belly needs to be made before it’s time for the next meal (not unlike Fluffy and Fido, but undoubtedly less gross… you can use your imagination). So out goes all but 4 ounces of the refrigerated and lethargic starter, and in goes the restorative meal of 4 ounces each of both flour and water.

angry-sourdoughBut what to do with the cup or so of discarded starter? You could certainly throw it away…but why would you? It’s a delicious gift from your bubbly pet, and deserves to be enjoyed. It’s probably best not to anger it…

happy-sourdough2Luckily, there are so many delicious ways to incorporate that unfed starter into baked goods. Delicious, and very righteous of you to not waste. A win-win, in our book. We’d love to share with you our favorites.

sourdough-pizzaAdding your discard sourdough starter to pizza dough will add a slight tang and richness that will have your grateful eaters inhaling slice after slice. When eating homemade pizza, the best part should be the crust. Done and done when you add sourdough to the mix.

sourdough-pretzelSoft, vendor-style pretzels are easy to make, and make a unique and unexpected afternoon snack. Serve with mustard, if you’re craving savory; or sprinkle with sparkling sugar and dip into this addictive cider-cinnamon spread for a sweet treat.

sourdough-carrot-cakeThis one doesn’t seem like it would work, but mixing sourdough and cake is a recipe for success. Unless you don’t like rich, moist, and unbelievably flavorful carrot cake… but we think this recipe might have you singing a different sweet, sweet tune.

sourdough-wafflesTo quote PJ, because she describes them so deliciously, “These sourdough waffles are ultra-light and crisp, with a lovely moist interior. They’re pleasingly (but not overwhelmingly) tangy.”

Need we say more? We don’t, but we will. Waffles require a bit more work than pancakes, but ohmyaretheyworthit. Guaranteed to start your day off on a cheerful note.

sourdough-crackerEverything tastes better when it’s homemade, doesn’t it? We certainly think so, and these sourdough crackers are no exception! The slight tang pairs perfectly with the added herbs and salt, leaving the eater helplessly sucked into the “I’ll have just one more” vortex.

Did this blog fill you with tangy sourdough envy? Looking to adopt a sourdough starter of your own so you, too, can experience waste-anxiety? Check out our sourdough page! It includes tools to get you started, care instructions, and even more delicious recipes.

Once your bubbly pet is fed and happy, there are so, so many recipes to bake. Check out the sourdough section of our recipe site to find out for yourself. And, as always, happy baking!

Gwen Adams

Gwen Adams grew up in northern New Hampshire, on top of a mountain, surrounded by nature and not much else. After graduating from Lyndon State College in 2010, Gwen sought a career that combined her passion for writing with her love of baking. She found ...


  1. Catherine Morris

    I wanted to ‘gift’ my discard to a friend. As far as my instructions to them, do I tell them to follow the daily routine, (4/4/4) or should then start at the beinging, as in the pamphlet you supplied (Feeding for the first time)?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You’re a good friend, Catherine! I’d point them towards the Sourdough Guide and the “Maintain” page. They aren’t having to start from scratch but they’ll want to feed it as soon as they get it. They can choose to follow the “keep in the fridge and feed once a week” instructions or the “keep on the counter and feed every 12 hours” instructions — whichever works better for them. Annabelle@KAF

  2. Liz Kinney

    I read in the pamphlet that came with the KA starter that discarded starter will keep for a week in the fridge, but the answer to one of the comments above states that it will keep for “a day or two.” Which is it? Thank you.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Liz, it will keep for a week in the fridge, but it will be tastier when fresher. Hope that clarifies! Kat@KAF

  3. William Mitchel

    So I’m going to feed my starter & watch it grow, then maybe feed it again – question is, how long after a meal is it considered “unfed”? Or what characterizes “unfed” starter? How about that jar that’s been sitting in the fridge for a week or more – is that too unfed?

    Meanwhile, thanks to all of you for your help over the years and I hope you have a happy New Year !


    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Mitch! Starters are usually unfed after about 12 hours, once it’s started to deflate back down. Annabelle@KAF

  4. Martha Pickett

    I am working up the courage to make my own sourdough starter and begin baking at home.
    Your information is quite timely

  5. Rebecca

    The sourdough waffles recipe . I was wondering if it would be possible to mix the dough and then freeze it for later use (for when I’m just making breakfast for myself). I was thinking of freezing it in a large ice cube tray (so each cube was enough for a single waffle or pancake), storing in the freezer and then thawing overnight before tossing them on my waffle maker. Would this work? Would I freeze before or after adding baking soda and salt?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      It’s a super cool idea, we’re just worried that the results would be disappointing, Rebecca. Sourdough can be frozen for about a week before it starts to die, and once baking soda has been mixed with liquid it’s pretty much done all it’s going to do so it’s ideal to cook the pancakes right away. However, you could totally cook up a big batch of pancakes, allow them to cool, and then freeze them for up to 3 months. Annabelle@KAF

    2. Katherine

      Best to cook your waffles slightly less than you prefer and freeze the cooked waffles then take out what you need and toast to reheat.

  6. Priscilla

    I’ve just begun my sourdough starter–it’s on day 4 and looking quite well. I store the discard in a glass mixing bowl in the fridge. Is this alright? If I’m going to use it, should I let it sit out a while before incorporating it into a recipe? Thank you!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Priscilla. Your discarded sourdough starter will keep in the fridge for a day or two, and storing it in a covered bowl is just fine. There’s no need to let it warm up before adding it to your recipe, unless the recipe specifically calls for your ingredients to be room temperature. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

  7. Evie

    I have my first sourdough in the fridge resting. 🙂 I have never baked using sourdough starter before. I understand that I will have to feed it a couple of times at room temp before using it. My question is when I use a “fed” starter, do I stir it down first to measure it or do I just pour it out of the container into a measuring cup?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Evie! When a recipe is calling for your ripe bubbly starter, you’ll want to either measure it by weight or stir it down and then use your measuring cup. It’s usually at this stage between 2 to 12 hours after a feeding. Annabelle@KAF

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