Sourdough Pancakes

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Ever since Michael Pollan’s four-part series Cooked debuted on Netflix in February, my sourdough bread post gets more traffic than anything else on here, followed closely by this post on Eleanor, my sourdough starter. If you too have caught the sourdough bug, you have probably become familiar with The Sourdough Baker’s Dilemma: what do you do with all that discarded starter?

When you feed your sourdough starter, you remove 80 percent of it from its jar and feed the remaining 20 percent fresh water and flour. Because your starter requires regular feedings—but only if you want to keep it alive—the discard piles up quickly. Don’t toss it! In fact, we probably shouldn’t call this stuff discard. You can make all kinds of delicious food with it, including these pancakes.

Eleanor (right) wearing the new sweater I knit her for her 2nd birthday, celebrating with Betty Buttermilk (center) and Mary-Ann (ginger bug, left)

I make these pancakes at least a couple of mornings a week. Aggie of the blog Aggie’s Farm first gave me her recipe and I’m so glad she did. Of all the recipes I’ve made with discarded starter, pancakes both use up the most discard and require the least amount of work. Most importantly, they taste good.

My daughter prefers fluffy pancakes. I like them thin and crêpe-like. If you prefer fluffy, add a bit of flour to the batter. For thin, omit it. I top my pancakes with maple syrup or fruit and yogurt. Because they contain no added sugar, they go well with savory toppings as well.

A thin pancake
fluffy pancake
Add a bit of flour to the batter for a fluffy pancake


Yields two pancakes

  • 1/2 cup unfed sourdough starter, straight from the refrigerator (recently fed also works)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon flour of any kind (optional—for fluffier pancakes)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda


1. If using additional flour for fluffy pancakes, combine it with the starter in a small bowl. Whisk in the egg.

2. Melt the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and swirl it around to coat the pan. Pour the oil into the sourdough-egg mixture, leaving enough in the pan so that your pancake won’t stick to it.

3. Add the salt and baking soda. Wait a couple of minutes for the batter to puff up a bit.

4. Pour half of the batter into the pan. Flip after bubbles have formed on the pancake. Remove from the pan once the pancake is golden-brown.

5. Grease the pan and repeat.

6. Top as desired before scarfing down.

Thin pancakes topped with fresh fruit, yogurt, nuts, seeds and shredded coconut

40 Replies to “Sourdough Pancakes”

  1. You make starters look adorable. This all looks yummy and guilt-free.

    1. Thank you! I love my starters. They are my babies 😉

  2. I asked my partner, who has been making sourdough for months now, if he discards part of his starter, and he says no, he is just using it every day. But we will definitely try these pancakes, they sound yum.

    1. Your partner must bake every day (lucky you!). I hope you like these. They taste delicious and require little effort. (I love easy…)

  3. This is one of my favourite uses for the excess starter! I feel it legitimizes my pancake + maple syrup eating. I’ve made pancakes probably 1000s of times in my life and sourdough are some of the best, with the most complex flavours, and also very tender. I will try out your recipe – I like that you don’t add that much extra flour to make the batter. I actually just finished making your cracker recipe 🙂

    1. It’s my favorite too. If we didn’t eat so many pancakes, I think we would have drowned in starter long ago. I hope you liked the crackers 🙂

  4. I’ve never understood the throwing out the starter. The only time I remove starter from my batch is when I bake with it. I bake 1-2 times a week and the starter lives in the fridge. I feed it when I’ve used it and there is never so much that I need to discard any. I only feed it 1-2 tablespoons of flour and equal water.

    1. Hi Jo. Well that’s just how I learned to do it. I know there are different ways to make sourdough. When mine lives in the fridge, it doesn’t seem as perky. Even out on the counter, I wish she was perkier, but she does make good bread so I shouldn’t complain.

  5. I love your site and have been trying many of your creations! I’ve discovered a nice combination that I thought you might appreciate in pursuit of zero waste: I put a tablespoon of the ginger from my ginger bug into my sourdough starter pancake batter. It adds nice flavor and texture, and keeps the ginger bug at steady state. I hope you try it and like it!

    1. OMG Mark. I’m going to try that. On the weekend, while I made ginger beer I tried simmering my discarded ginger for it, in the hopes I could use that in addition to the plain ginger I was simmering at the same time. It tasted revolting! Luckily I tasted it BEFORE doing anything rash…ginger beer saved. I think the ginger bug might give my starter the kick I’ve been looking for. Thanks so much! ~ Anne Marie

  6. I love that this only makes 2, every time my BF makes me pancakes he makes way too many and they are so filling we end up feeding all the flatmates & some for dinner haha! Going to try these now 🙂

  7. I just made these and am eating them right now. I added a bit of flour, as suggested, but I could see how this could be more crepe-like without it. Delicious! Thanks so much for this recipe. Now I won’t feel so wasteful with my sourdough starter.

    1. I’m glad you like them Becca. I love to make the pancakes because they use up the discarded starter quickly and they are SO easy to make. As you know it’s a constant battle to keep the discard pile at bay!

  8. […] so you’re not making too much, or there are plenty of recipes for using the extra — pancakes and crumpets are good starting […]

  9. tried this a few days back. Worked very, very well, but I think I’d like it best as crepes. Tried it half way inbetween: used 1/2 TBSP of flour, butter, a 9″ iron skillet, and got 4 thinner pancakes.

  10. […] used this recipe from the ZeroWasteChef for the pancakes, and then added a dollop of yoghurt and some stewed […]

  11. Margaret Lester says: Reply

    Made these for dinner last night – I added chopped walnuts and cinnamon. My bf and I loved them! Thanks so much for the recipe (we also love the sourdough crackers). I think I’ll try them with blueberries and pecans next time. Or add a mashed banana. Your blog is so so great. Keep up the good work 😉

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Hi Margaret. Mmmm, that all sounds so good! I’m glad you liked the pancakes. I eat them several mornings a week. Thanks for reading my blog 🙂 ~ Anne Marie

  12. I was able to make these vegan by using banana in place of the egg. I don’t always like banana taste in my baked goods, but I had some bananas that were past my preferred ripeness for eating, but perfect for smashing. I added some pumpkin pie spice as well. They did want to stick a bit in my cast iron, so I might add a little extra oil next time, in place of the almond milk I used to thin out the batter.
    Thanks for the recipe! I’m a new sourdough mom, and these are a great way to use up discard on a Saturday morning!

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Hi Andria,
      Thanks for the info. Those sound delicious. I have some very mushy bananas I think I’ll try this with tomorrow morning. Enjoy your new motherhood! I love being a sourdough mom 🙂
      ~ Anne Marie

  13. Fantastic recipe thank you, I made these this morning and they were delicious! I doubled the recipe and all four came out prefect. Definitely bookmarked for next time 🙂

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Great! I’m glad you liked them, Lulu 🙂 ~ Anne Marie

  14. I just finished my first batch of sourdough pancakes from my first sourdough start. Thanks for the recipe. Turned out great!

  15. A friend gave me a starter last week so I tried these pancakes this morning. FANTASTIC! I like how it makes 2. I ate both and can’t wait to teach my grandson how to make these. I watch 3 of my grands during summer break and this summer I are focusing on teaching them to cook breakfast meals. This recipe was quick and easy and sooooo good. I’m happy I stumbled upon your website. I’ve already pinned a few of your recipes to try.

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Hi Connie, I’m glad you like the pancakes. I eat them a few times a week. They are SO easy and delicious. What a great idea to teach your grandkids to make these. They are very simple. Oooh, you might like this post for an activity also, although you already have a starter: Enjoy your time with your grands 🙂 ~ Anne Marie

  16. Josephine Trafford says: Reply

    Can anyone tell me how much 1/2 cup of discard is in grams please?

    1. Around 150 grams. I measured my starter in a liquid measuring cup and feed it 50/50 white and wheat flours so your may be lighter or denser depending on your blend.

  17. Picture me in the morning, it’s time to feed the starter and I see I have too much in the jar I start to sweat I get nervous and I start doing pirouettes in the middle of the kitchen. I start talking to myself. Should I dump it out, should I save it and try to find someone that wants it or should I bake bread today…
    It’s stressful to me. To much anxiety.
    But now, I can make some quick and easy pancakes. Today I chose the fluffy recipe. I didn’t know what to expect. Of course I had to sacrifice the first pancake for the very important taste test. They are awesome. My wife and I both loved them and I will continue to use my extra starter for pancakes. Thank you, great web page.

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Hahaha! I’m glad you liked them Steve. I had that same what-am-I-going-to-do-with-all-this-starter panic. Now I use it up quickly with these. That was good of you to sacrifice the first one like that :p ~ Anne Marie

  18. Yasemin Sevimli says: Reply

    I am making these pancakes over a 3 months almost every weekend. Such a great recipe and sometimes I put different things either! Thanks for the recipe and for saving my discard sourdough 🙂

  19. Can I store my discarded starter in a jar in the fridge and continue to add more discarded starter to that until I have enough to make pancakes? If so, would I need it to come to room temperature before using? Thanks!

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Hi Jen,
      Absolutely you can keep adding starter to your jar in the refrigerator and you can use it straight out of there for your pancakes. You don’t need to let it warm up first.
      Anne Marie

  20. […] Recipe from The Zero Waste Chef: pancake recipe […]

    1. Can fresh blueberries be added to these pancakes before cooking, and if so, what measure of berries to the recipe

  21. These turned out great! Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  22. Gergana Shkodrova says: Reply

    Dostoyevskiy… nice touch:) is this recipe inspired by blinichki?

    1. Hi Gergana,

      Thank you. I love Russian literature. Am sort of obsessed with it. I have never tried blinichki but I just looked it up and now much try to make those! I have tried to make kvass with leftover sourdough bread though 🙂 Thank you for the idea.

      ~ Anne Marie

  23. Gergana Shkodrova says: Reply

    it is I who should thank you: very explicit article, answered most of my questions:)

  24. Gergana Shkodrova says: Reply

    🙂 and so you know Master and Margarita by Bulgakov and 12 chairs etc. of Ilf and Petrov:) the very best:) Glad to share the pleasure of it

  25. Rinko Hutchins says: Reply

    I can’t thank you enough for this recipe! What a great way to use up all the starter! I make einkorn flour sourdough, so I expected that I probably have to moderate the ingredients/ratios, but it came out so light and fluffy with a perfect chewiness. My family likes them, too. It’s a win win pancake recipe!

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