Sourdough Discard Waffles

June 22, 2021
11 Ratings
Photo by Maurizio Leo
Author Notes

In the fervent heat of summer, turning on the kitchen oven might be the last thing you had planned this week. And for some (not me!), the thought of baking a full-on loaf of sourdough bread feels like an even further stretch. But fear not, there are many other outlets for your sourdough starter, and these sourdough starter waffles come together so effortlessly you might find yourself making them just as often for dinner as for breakfast.

Adding a bit of your ripe sourdough starter—“ripe” meaning when it’s well-fermented and you’d normally give it a refreshment—to this waffle batter brings with it all the flavor built up through lengthy natural fermentation. In fact, this is one of the tenets of bread baking: Use a pre-ferment (in this case, our starter) to bring flavor into your bread dough right out of the gate. With waffles, this addition brings a subtle tangy kick that balances all the sweet syrup, fruit, and cream you can throw at them.

I make these sourdough waffles almost every weekend. Sometimes I’ll use half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour, sometimes a mix of einkorn and spelt, and sometimes a mix of cornmeal and wheat—there are endless possibilities, all equally delicious. To make these weekly waffles easier, I keep a jar in my fridge where I collect my sourdough starter discard throughout the week. On the weekend, I’ll empty the jar and use all the discard with this recipe. Most of the time, I’ll double the quantity of waffles, too. This way, I can freeze a batch of waffles in a bag and pop them into the toaster throughout the week, when mornings are short and hectic.

What’s also wonderful about these is they work equally well for brunch or dinner as they do for breakfast. If you want to go the savory route, leave out the called-for sugar and top the waffles with any combination of thinly sliced green onions, feta cheese, sunny-side up eggs, bacon, fried chicken, avocado, and the list goes on.

This recipe will work well in any waffle iron or waffle maker. The one I use (and used for the images you see here) is a NordicWare Stovetop Belgian Waffler that’s cast aluminum—similar to this one. It gets ultra hot and gives these waffles a thin but crunchy crust. —Maurizio Leo

Test Kitchen Notes

The Perfect Loaf is a column from software engineer-turned-bread expert (and Food52's Resident Bread Baker), Maurizio Leo. Maurizio is here to show us all things naturally leavened, enriched, yeast-risen, you name it—basically, every vehicle to slather on a lot of butter. Today, a guide to making magic—and an excellent breakfast—with your sourdough discard. —The Editors

  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 4
  • 460 grams (2 cups) lowfat buttermilk
  • 113 grams (1/2 cup or 1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
  • 100 grams (1/2 cup, stirred down) ripe sourdough starter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 55 grams water, used to thin the batter if needed
  • 250 grams all-purpose flour
  • 14 grams (2 teaspoons) sugar
  • 5 grams (1 teaspoon) sea salt
  • 3 grams (1/2 teaspoon) baking soda
In This Recipe
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, sugar (if making a savory waffle, omit this), sea salt, and baking soda. Whisk everything together.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, add the buttermilk, melted and cooled butter, sourdough starter, and the eggs. Whisk everything together until homogenous.
  3. Preheat your waffle iron or waffle maker. If using a cast iron or aluminum waffle maker, be sure to lightly grease it with oil to ensure the waffles do not stick.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and whisk everything together until only a few small lumps remain (it’s OK if the mixture isn’t completely smooth). Use some of the reserved water to thin the batter if necessary; if you maintain a liquid starter you might not need any of the water. However, if you maintain a stiff starter or your flour is especially “thirsty,” add some water, a little at a time while mixing until the batter loosens up. In the end, it should pour from a spoon but not be runny or soupy, somewhere around loose honey rather than cold milk.
  5. Cook the batter in your hot waffle iron until done to your liking.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Cecille Woodworth Porter
    Cecille Woodworth Porter
  • Laura Kay Lijoi
    Laura Kay Lijoi
  • Maurizio Leo
    Maurizio Leo
  • watsonpb
Maurizio is the software engineer-turned-baker behind the award-winning sourdough website, The Perfect Loaf. He grew up in an Italian household and spent many summers in the back kitchen of his family's Italian restaurant, learning the beauty of San Marzano tomatoes and the importance of well-proofed pizza dough. He went on to get a master's degree in computer science and co-create the stargazing app, SkyView, before eventually circling back to food and discovering the deep craft of baking sourdough bread. Since that first loaf of bread, he's been obsessed with adjusting the balance between yeast and bacteria, tinkering with dough strength and hydration, and exploring everything sourdough.

18 Reviews

watsonpb June 20, 2021
This is the BEST recipe for waffles!! I didn't have buttermilk so I replaced it with Sourcream + Water.

[To replace 1 cup (237 ml) of buttermilk in a recipe, combine 3/4 cup (172 grams) of sour cream with 1/4 cup (59 ml) of water or milk and whisk the mixture until smooth]

I loved how incredibly fluffy the waffles turned out. I had a leftover which I tossed in the fridge and air fried the next day -- was crispier but still delicious. My favorite part about these waffles though, are how they smell. INCREDIBLE.

Thank you for sharing your sourdough starter waffle recipe!
Author Comment
Maurizio L. June 21, 2021
So glad to hear you like them! Thanks for including your substitution, I've done this in the past, and I think others will follow suit. Enjoy!
Cecille W. June 6, 2021
These waffles are fabulous! I will be making extra to keep in the freezer. Soft, light, and buttery, just amazing!
Author Comment
Maurizio L. June 7, 2021
So glad to hear you like them, Cecille!
Ira1977 February 27, 2021
My 9 year old and I made it this morning and they turned out very delicious! One of the best we ever had. Thanks
Author Comment
Maurizio L. February 27, 2021
I make these with my kiddos all the time as well, always a winner (and they love helping!). So glad to hear that and enjoy!
Joanne January 26, 2021
Made these this morning as belgian-type waffles. Used a little over 1/4 cup of water but I’m at approx 5400 ft and my flour gets really dry, so not surprised. They were stellar! Thin, crackly/crispy outside — tender and flavorful on the inside. And easy enough to whip up before at-home work/school. Love your website - I’ve learned a ton studying the articles and recipes. Thank you!!
Author Comment
Maurizio L. January 26, 2021
Glad to hear they turned out great, Joanne! Yes, a super easy batter to throw together and they even make awesome savory waffles (leave out the sugar). Happy to help and happy baking (and cooking) 🙂
Beesterbee January 24, 2021
These were wonderful! Some of the best waffles I've ever had, especially with sourdough, and a great way to use up discard.
Author Comment
Maurizio L. January 26, 2021
So happy to hear you enjoyed them!
sy_sussman January 1, 2021
I didn’t have buttermilk so I swapped in a mix of oat milk and vanilla yogurt. Turned out great.
Author Comment
Maurizio L. January 1, 2021
Excellent! Yes, I sometimes use up whatever yogurt I have in the fridge and thin it with some milk—works well every time. Haven't tried oat yet!
Laura K. December 4, 2020
I used 2 cups of flour and the batter was too thin, I added another 1/2 cup oh flour. They were delicious.
Author Comment
Maurizio L. December 4, 2020
Right on, Laura. The batter always needs a little adjustment, even here in my kitchen. Glad you enjoyed them!
jazmin September 29, 2020
Can the batter for these be made ahead and stored in the fridge? I’d like to bake some today and store the rest of the batter for future. Wondering about timing of baking soda addition.
Author Comment
Maurizio L. September 30, 2020
I've not tried this, but I imagine it would work just fine. I would wait to add the baking soda until just before making the waffles to ensure proper rise during cooking. Sprinkle the baking soda over the top, then gently mix it through to activate.
margaret July 25, 2020
Made these this morning and they were really lovely! Started with the recipe as-is to try them "plain", then separated about half the batter to try some variations-added some cornmeal for texture and then mixed in shaved Parmesan and green onions-these were spectacular. Light, flavorful, crispy..
Author Comment
Maurizio L. July 26, 2020
Glad to hear that, Margaret! I often use cornmeal as well, adds a nice subtle flavor and texture to them. Love the savory idea -- I haven't tried using Parm!