Turn Your Sourdough Starter Into Drool-Worthy Cookies

When you step into the world of sourdough bread baking, you learn quickly how much sourdough discard you have on hand at any given time. This is because, as you continue to feed your starter with fresh flour and water, you must remove some to ensure it doesn't grow to an unmanageable size.

Some Reddit users try to avoid dealing with discard entirely by building up their starter and using most of it for what they had intended to bake. Interestingly, many comments oppose this sentiment and note all the amazing recipes sourdough discard can enhance. While sourdough pancake or waffle batter is a popular way to use the extra starter, other commenters mention bagels and croissants as possibilities. Even sourdough coffee cake twists the classic recipe!  

While these are all delicious options, it's hard to beat the flavor and texture of sourdough starter in freshly baked cookies. Pairing the tangy, sour notes of the discard with the buttery sweetness of the cookie dough gives you a richer dessert — and offers the versatility of choosing your flavor. To elevate these cookies even further, browning your butter adds deep notes of butterscotch. Specifically, brown butter chocolate chip cookies work incredibly well with the flavors of sourdough because the tang from the starter and slightly bitter semi-sweet chocolate chips perfectly balance the nutty, toffee-like flavors butter and brown sugar provide. 

The sourdough cookie options are endless

The extra water from the sourdough discard also helps to keep the moisture in the cookies while they're baking, leaving you with crispy edges while the center of the cookie stays soft and gooey. Talk about decadent! Sourdough starter can also be added to other classic recipes like sugar, peanut butter, snickerdoodle, or even oatmeal raisin cookies. Incorporating your sourdough starter into your cookie batter is quite simple, but there are some important technical things to note. 

Since your starter was created by fermenting flour and water, it will be a wet mixture that adds hydration to your dough. Therefore, before making your cookie dough, weigh out how much starter you plan on using. Then, divide this number in half and take that amount away from the flower and liquid amount you would typically add to your cookie recipe. This will ensure your cookies are moist — but your dough isn't too wet. If your dough is over-hydrated, your cookies may bake unevenly or become thin and crunchy in the oven.

Of course, the flavor will likely still be delicious, and like with any baking endeavor, there's some trial and error. Plus, utilizing sourdough discard also helps reduce food waste while allowing you to experiment in the kitchen. Once you've tasted sourdough desserts, you're unlikely to go back. So, if you need a reason not to throw out your leftover sourdough starter, we think cookies are your answer.