I never thought I’d be that dog owner. You know, the one whose furry friend has an outfit for every holiday, who totes her pup around in her purse à la Legally Blonde. The good news is, I’m still not that kind of dog mom. I do, however, now make homemade sourdough dog treats. As anyone who has a sourdough starter at home will tell you, the supply of discard from regular feedings is endless, as is the guilt that comes with tossing it. The good news is, this stuff is both edible (it’s just fermented flour and water, after all!) and delicious. I’ve stirred it into brownies, my morning pancakes, and banana bread for a tangy upgrade. But it wasn’t until browsing the pet store for yet another bag of treats that I thought to share the discard-bounty with my dog. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “There’s no way I’m going to make dog treats from scratch. I barely have time to feed myself!” But hear me out. These snacks have a short ingredient list (in fact, you probably have everything you need in the kitchen right now), they prevent food waste, and the recipe makes a ton. Leave some of the treats out for now (stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days) and pack away the rest in the freezer for months, thawing as needed. These treats may not taste all that great to us humans (though you can certainly eat them if you want!), but my pup gives them two paws up.
This dough comes together quickly in a stand mixer; while it’s too stiff to be made with a handheld electric mixer, everything can be done by hand. Use a whisk for steps 1 and 2, switching to a wooden spoon or a clean hand and a little elbow grease to incorporate the flour in step 4.
Note: While all of the ingredients are considered safe for dogs—I checked with my vet to confirm—monitor your pet for any food sensitivities. Though salted or sweetened peanut butter should be okay if that’s all you have, they're simply not ingredients that dogs need in their diet (and peanut butters containing xylitol, a sweetener used in some nut butters, should be avoided), so it's best to use a natural, unseasoned brand. These are treats, and they should not be used as a meal replacement.
- Prep time 1 hour
- Cook time 20 minutes
- makes 140 (1-inch) dog treats
(180 grams) sourdough discard, 100% hydration
(160 grams) pumpkin or sweet potato purée
(64 grams) natural creamy peanut butter, preferably unsalted and unsweetened
(90 grams) quick-cooking oats
1 1/2 to 2 cups
(180 to 240 grams) whole-wheat flour, plus more for dusting
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (see headnote if you don’t have one), mix together the eggs, sourdough discard, pumpkin purée, and peanut butter until combined.
- Mix in the oats and leave to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes, allowing the oats to absorb some of the liquid, or until the mixture resembles a loose cake batter.
- Heat the oven to 350°F.
- Add 1½ cups of the whole-wheat flour to the wet ingredients, mixing on low speed until incorporated. If the mixture is still very sticky, add the remaining flour in ¼-cup increments until you have a lightly tacky dough that clears the side of the bowl.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead a few times just to bring everything together.
- Divide the dough in half. Dusting with flour as needed to prevent sticking, roll out the dough into a ¼-inch-thick sheet. Cut the treats into your desired shape using a 1- to 2-inch cookie cutter. Alternatively, use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut the dough into 1- to 2-inch squares. Transfer the treats to a parchment-lined baking sheet. The treats will not expand during baking, so you can place them pretty close together. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Bake the treats for 20 minutes, until puffed and slightly browned. These treats are on the chewy side; if your dog prefers something crunchier, bake for an additional 10 minutes. Let cool, then go find your dog to see how popular you are.