Sourdough butter biscuits are the pièce de résistance in any breakfast or brunch. Butter biscuits are a favorite among Southerners, and adding sourdough discard in the mix makes them extra flavorful and even more delicious. Plus, you get a boost of nutrition from the microbes in your starter. They come out light and crispy, fluffy on the inside, perfect for melted butter. Hungry yet? Let’s get started!
What is sourdough discard?
Sourdough discard is the sourdough starter you have left over after you’re done feeding. Feeding a starter just means you take a small amount of your existing starter and add water and flour. (Don’t have a starter? Learn How to Make Sourdough Starter in Six Easy Steps!)
But what happens to the rest of the starter that’s left behind – your discard?
You can discard it, as the name implies. Scrape it into the garbage, then rinse your container in hot soapy water.
You can add it to other recipes! This adds a boost of nutrition from your starter, and makes regular recipes more flavorful. For example, Belgian waffles are good, but sourdough Belgian waffles are amazing! Ditto for butter biscuits: regular butter biscuits are good, but sourdough butter biscuits are great.
If you’re growing tired of feeding your starter, or if you’re planning a long vacation, consider drying your starter and storing it in the pantry. Check out How to Dry (and Revive) Your Sourdough Starter for Long-Term Storage for step-by-step instructions on both drying and reviving your starter.
The best way to use sourdough discard: Collect it!
Sourdough starter needs to be fed daily, which means you’ll have discard every day. If it works for you to use it in a different baking recipe every day, go right ahead!
But for most of us, we don’t have that time to dedicate in the kitchen. The best way is to scrape your discard into one collective jar in your fridge, making sure to use it once a week.
This is a great strategy for two reasons:
- It’s a better use of your time, rather than having to bake something new every day
- Some recipes call for a whole cup of discard, and it can take several days to accumulate that much discard
For us busy mamas, collecting sourdough discard through the week is a much more realistic option. This way, we can plan a baking day in the upcoming week (like a Saturday) and collect the discard until then! Sourdough butter biscuits like discard that’s less than five days old.
Why store sourdough discard in the refrigerator?
You must store your sourdough discard in the refrigerator if you’re collecting it more than two days.
A sourdough starter will do fine for a couple days on the counter without feeding, but soon it will grow a layer of liquid on the top (hooch) and it will keep fermenting to develop a super sour taste that’s much too overpowering to use in recipes.
It’s best to store your discard in the fridge to slow down fermentation and get a mild sour tastes in your discard recipes.
My rule of thumb is this: collect discard for a week, and if you don’t use it, throw it away and start collecting again. I once made my favorite sourdough waffles with discard I collected over ten days or so, and they weren’t even edible. Despite being in the fridge, the discard continued to ferment and it developed that overly-sour flavor, which ruined the waffles. Learn from my mistakes!
These sourdough butter biscuits do best with discard that’s less than five days old.
How do I use sourdough discard?
If you’re anything like me, you’re constantly looking for new ways to use that precious discard. Because of this, I made a recipe round-up so it’s easy to find exactly what kind of recipe you’re craving. The recipes are divided by sweet and savory, so if you already know you want pretzels instead of cookies, that will help narrow it down.
Click here to check out The Internet’s Largest List of Sourdough Discard Recipes!
Leavenly is a site for all things sourdough, so check out the resource page and my most popular post to date, List of the Best Sourdough Cookbooks.Also check out this FREE resource guide: 10 Essential Tools for Baking Sourdough!
Why butter biscuits?
Ummm, because… BUTTER BISCUITS! Butter biscuits are a delicious treat for guests, or a wonderful Sunday morning routine. They can be served in so many ways: toasted with jam, made into an egg sandwich, fried chicken biscuit sandwiches, biscuits and gravy… the list goes on!
My husband lived in New Orleans for a few years and Southern food has a sweet spot in his heart. He is forever pestering me to make biscuits and gravy, and he was blown away by these sourdough butter biscuits.
If you’re looking for a biscuit recipe that offers more flavor than your typical biscuit, you’re in luck!
Just because you don’t have one ingredient doesn’t mean you can’t make a recipe! There are so many ways to be sneaky in the kitchen. Many ingredients can be swapped for others with little to no change in the final result. Some substitutions may even improve the flavor! Have fun playing around with different ingredients if you’re short on something.
Check out the table below for ideas on substitutions for ingredients and equipment!
If you don’t have…
A biscuit cutter
You can use…
Buttermilk, almond milk, or soy milk
Honey, agave, maple syrup
Lard, margarine (less ideal)
A drinking glass, the outer rim of a jar lid
If you give these sourdough butter biscuits a try, I’d love to hear how it went! Leave me a review or comment below. Happy baking!
Oh, and by the way, if you’re looking for some more help understanding hydration, click here to check out The Beginner’s Guide to Sourdough Hydration.
And don’t forget I have a whole page of resources available to help you in your sourdough journey – click here to find it!
Sourdough Butter Biscuits
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 6 tbsp butter frozen if you don't have a pastry cutter
- 1/2 cup sourdough discard
- 1/4 cup whole milk (plus 1-2 tbsp if needed)
- Put butter in freezer for 15 minutes before using. If you have a pastry cutter, cut butter into cubes. If you don't have a pastry cutter, freeze it whole and use a grater to shred it into slivers. Cold butter is the key for flaky biscuits!
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat; set aside.
- In a large bowl mix flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
- Remove butter from freezer. If you have a pastry cutter, add cubes of butter to dry ingredients and cut butter in until well blended. If you don't have a pastry cutter, carefully shred the frozen butter using a grater and add to dry ingredients, stirring well to combine.
- Add the sourdough discard and milk, and stir until just combined. The dough will seem dry; this is normal. If it's overly dry, add 1-2 tbsp of additional milk.
- Lightly flour your counter and dump your dough onto it. Using your hands, work the dough together into a flat circle. Once it's cohesive, fold it in half and flatten. Rotate the dough a quarter turn and fold in half again. Repeat this process 4-5 more times.
- Using your hands, flatten the dough to about an inch thick.
- Dust a 2 3/4" biscuit cutter with flour and press down into the dough to cut the biscuits. Do not twist; this will affect the final shape of the biscuit. Place cut biscuits onto prepared baking sheet, no closer than 1/2".
- Recombine the dough scraps and repeat the above until most or all dough is used. I typically get six biscuits.
- Bake at 425°F for 12-14 minutes, or until tops are lightly golden. Brush with melted butter if desired, and serve warm.