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different types of sourdough cookies.

Sourdough Discard Cookies

Cookie season is fast approaching and its time to pull out the best recipes for those holiday cookie line ups. Sourdough discard cookies are the perfect way to use up extra sourdough discard. From classic cut-out Christmas cookies to Italian inspired biscotti, this list of 10 sourdough cookie recipes has just the one you are looking for.

What is Sourdough Discard?

Sourdough discard refers to a portion of starter that is removed or discarded during the regular feeding and maintenance of a sourdough starter. The term “discard” doesn’t mean that the removed portion needs to be wasted though. Many bakers save this discard and use it in various recipes, like sourdough discard cookies, instead of throwing it away. Sourdough discard can add a tangy flavor to recipes and is often used in pancakes, waffles, muffins, crackers, or other baked goods. It’s a way to minimize waste and make use of the excess starter that would otherwise be discarded during the feeding process.

Why Use Sourdough Discard in Cookies?

Why would you use sourdough discard in cookies? There isn’t one good reason for it, but many!

To Add Flavor

Sourdough discard can add depth and so much flavor to your cookies. The tanginess from the sourdough discard adds to the overall taste, giving you a cookie with a interesting sweet yet tangy flavor profile. Tangy sourdough notes pair perfectly with the sweetness of a cookie, balancing the flavor and making the cookies not too sweet or sour. I find the flavor of sourdough discard cookies so much more appealing than just regular cookies.

To Reduce Waste

Incorporating sourdough discard into cookie recipes is a sustainable practice that helps reduce food waste. Rather than discarding the excess starter during the regular feeding process, you can repurpose it in various recipes, such as cookies, to make delicious treats without wasting the flour used to make sourdough starter.

For the Health Benefits

Sourdough has many health benefits and can be a great alternative for those with mild gluten sensitivities. The long fermentation and beneficial bacteria break down much of the gluten a phytic acid. This makes sourdough much easier to digest and more nutrient and antioxidant rich. Sourdough also acts as a prebiotic and can be great for improving digestive issues and overall gut health. Using it to make cookies could potentially make them easier to digest and increase the availability of certain nutrients.

Natural Leavening

Sourdough discard is acidic and helps with leavening discard cookies by reacting with any baking soda called for in a recipe. The wild yeast present in sourdough starter may also contribute to some leavening in your cookies. While it won’t replace baking powder or baking soda entirely, it can add a subtle lift to the cookies.

Can I use Sourdough Discard in any Cookie Recipe

Using sourdough discard in cookies can be a fun way to explore new flavors and textures in your baking. Keep in mind that using sourdough discard in cookies may require adjusting the overall recipe, as the discard adds both moisture and acidity to the mix. Experimenting with small batches and tweaking the ratios can help you achieve the desired texture and flavor in your cookies. Or try using a recipe that has already been formulated to accommodate discard, like any of the 10 recipes below.

10 Sourdough Discard Cookie Recipes

    • Sourdough Thumbprint cookies.

      Sourdough Thumbprint Cookies

      These sourdough thumbprint cookies are a buttery shortbread cookie filled with your favorite jam. They are easy to make and sure to be a hit during the holidays.

      • Sourdough Thumbprint cookies.

        Sourdough Thumbprint Cookies

        These sourdough thumbprint cookies are a buttery shortbread cookie filled with your favorite jam. They are easy to make and sure to be a hit during the holidays.

      • Sourdough Thumbprint cookies.

        Sourdough Thumbprint Cookies

        These sourdough thumbprint cookies are a buttery shortbread cookie filled with your favorite jam. They are easy to make and sure to be a hit during the holidays.

      • Sourdough sugar cookies decorated to look like Christmas trees.

        Cut-Out Sourdough Sugar Cookies

        Cooks in 40 minutes

        These no-chill cut-out sourdough sugar cookies blend the tangy notes of sourdough discard with the sweet flavor of traditional sugar cookies. They bake perfectly with crisp, clean edges, yet have a soft tender bite.

      • Sourdough oatmeal cookies stacked on top of each other, with one broken in half.

        Sourdough Oatmeal Cookies

        Cooks in 45 minutes

        This recipe gives a sourdough twist to classic oatmeal raisin cookies. Sourdough oatmeal cookies are perfectly chewy and sweet, with a dash of spice that is perfect for colder months. Made with sourdough discard, these cookies have a slight tang and the benefits of long fermented grains.

      • Sourdough Thumbprint cookies.

        Sourdough Thumbprint Cookies

        These sourdough thumbprint cookies are a buttery shortbread cookie filled with your favorite jam. They are easy to make and sure to be a hit during the holidays.

      • Sourdough Thumbprint cookies.

        Sourdough Thumbprint Cookies

        These sourdough thumbprint cookies are a buttery shortbread cookie filled with your favorite jam. They are easy to make and sure to be a hit during the holidays.

      • sourdough chocolate chip cookies lined up across parchment paper.

        The BEST Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies

        Cooks in 145 minutes

        Soft, chewy, sweet and slightly tangy —these really are the best sourdough chocolate chip cookies. This simple recipe can be made using either sourdough discard or active sourdough starter. With bits of chocolate in every bite and the added benefit of long-fermented grains, they are sure to be a crowd pleaser.

      • Sourdough Snowball Cookie Recipe (Melt In Your Mouth)

        Melt-in-your-mouth, buttery, and sweetened with powdered sugar, these Sourdough Snowball Cookies are a must on anyone's Christmas cookie tray. Adding sourdough discard gives this beloved holiday cookie a slight sourdough tang, while chopped nuts add delicious crunch and texture to these buttery shortbread cookies. 

      • Sourdough Snickerdoodle Cookies

        You just found your new favorite sourdough discard cookie recipe! Sourdough snickerdoodle cookies are remarkably soft, chewy, and sweet. Added sourdough discard makes these cookies oh so chewy, and adds a slight tang that makes them irresistible.

      • Chocolate Raspberry Sourdough Biscotti

        Use sourdough discard to make these easy Chocolate Raspberry Sourdough Biscotti. These twice-baked Italian cookies are chocolatey and perfect for dunking in your favorite warm drink.

      • Sourdough Gingerbread Cookies

        A classic cookie during the holidays, these Sourdough Gingerbread Cookies are the perfect cookie for cookie cutters. It's also a great use for the sourdough starter you have left in the refrigerator!

      • Sourdough Monster Cookies

        These sourdough monster cookies are such a fun way to use your discard! Sourdough bakers will appreciate the slight tang the sourdough gives these cookies.

      Sourdough Thumbprint cookies.

      Sourdough Thumbprint Cookies Recipe

      These buttery shortbread cookies are pressed in the center with your thumb to create a small indent that is perfect to hold your favorite jam. I wanted to create a recipe for sourdough thumbprint cookies using sourdough discard to create a perfect variation of the classic cookie. 

      Sourdough Discard Cookie FAQ

      Can I use active sourdough starter?

      In most sourdough cookie recipes you should be able to substitute active sourdough starter for sourdough discard. Since active starter has more aeration so it will measure differently. Weigh your active starter for best results.

      Do I need to chill the cookie dough?

      The need to chill the cookie dough will depend on the recipe being used. For some recipes chilling might be necessary, while for others it might not be needed at all. Be sure to read the recipe being used thoroughly.

      Can I save the cookie dough and bake it later?

      For most sourdough discard cookie recipes the cookie dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days, and baked directly from being chilled. To freeze your cookies, wrap the cookie dough tightly and store it in the freezer for up to three months. Then when you’re ready to bake, transfer the wrapped dough to the refrigerator and let it thaw overnight. Be sure to read the specific storage suggestions for the recipe you are using, as they may vary.

      How do I store baked sourdough cookies to keep them fresh?

      Once the cookies have cooled completely, transfer them to an airtight container. Store the cookies at room temperature for up to three days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.

      2 Comments

      1. Sourdough Brandon

        Thank you for including my biscotti on your list! I can’t wait to try your cut-out sugar cookies. They look PERFECT!

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