clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Sourdough Starter Discard Sugar Cookies

Sourdough Starter Discard Sugar Cookies

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star No reviews
  • Author: Rebecca Firkser
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 13 minutes
  • Total Time: 43 minutes
  • Yield: 32 cookies
  • Category: Dessert, Snack
  • Cuisine: American


The platonic ideal soft sugar cookie, made with a small portion of sourdough starter discard.


  • 226 grams (1 cup, 2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 330 grams (2 ⅔ cups) all-purpose flour
  • 6 grams (1 ½ teaspoons) baking powder
  • 4 grams (1 ½ teaspoons Diamond Crystal or ¾ teaspoon Morton) kosher salt
  • 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
  • 50 grams (¼ cup) light brown sugar
  • 28 grams (2 large) egg yolks, cold from the refrigerator
  • 9 grams (2 teaspoons) vanilla extract
  • 160 grams (scant ¾ cup) sourdough starter discard (unfed, 100% hydration), preferably cold from the refrigerator


  1. Place the butter in a small saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter until it starts to foam and sputter, 3-5 minutes. Whisking often, continue to cook the butter until it starts to quiet down, smells nutty, and turns deeply golden brown, 7-10 minutes. As you whisk, try to lift any browning milk solids that are stuck to the pot. Remove from the heat and immediately pour into a large heatsafe bowl placed over a digital scale, making sure to scrape in as many browned bits stuck to the pan as possible. You should have about 180-190 grams butter remaining. Let the butter cool slightly, about 5 minutes, while you prep the dry ingredients.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. When the butter has cooled slightly, add the sugars and use a whisk to beat until well-combined, about 1 minute (the sugar won’t dissolve completely and may look separated). Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla until well-combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and beat in the discard until just combined, about 30 seconds (the dough should be emulsified now). Scrape down the bowl and fold in the flour mixture until just combined. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  4. While the dough rests, preheat the oven to 350ºF (177ºC) with a rack in the center, and line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
  5. Fill a small bowl with more granulated sugar. Use a #40 (2-tablespoon) cookie scoop to portion out 12 mounds of dough (each should weigh about 30 grams) onto one of the sheet pans. Roll each mound into a ball and then place in the bowl of granulated sugar and toss to coat.
  6. Evenly divide the 12 cookie balls on one prepared sheet pan, leaving about 2 inches of space between each ball. Bake the cookies, rotating the sheet pan from back to front halfway through baking, until the cookies are golden at the edges and just set in the center, 13-16 minutes. While the first batch is baking, scoop, roll out, and sugar the next batch and arrange on the second sheet pan.
  7. Pop the second tray of cookies into the oven. Let the first batch of baked cookies cool on the sheet pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Scoop, roll, and sugar the remaining dough. When the second tray of cookies comes out of the oven, bake off the third tray of cookies (reuse the sheet pan and parchment from the first batch).
  8. Let the cookies cool completely, then store in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 3 months.