The Zero-Waste Chef

Sourdough Pancakes

Click here to jump to the recipe

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


Yields two pancakes


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
What should we rename sourdough starter discard?