Chocolate chip cookies are the quintessential afternoon snack. They’re delicious, portable, convenient, and loved by all. The only way chocolate chip cookies could be better is if they were more nutritious! Enter… sourdough.
In this post, we will talk about the benefits of adding sourdough starter discard, how to collect and store discard, high-altitude adjustments, how to freeze the extra cookie dough, and more!
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
Sourdough is a nutritious add-in for any recipe, especially sourdough chocolate chip cookies. The flours in sourdough discard are basically pre-digested, making it easier to digest. It is chock full of prebiotics which are so incredibly good for gut health, and it also adds a subtle flavor profile to the cookies. The longer you let your discard sit, the more sour they will taste! I recommend two to five days. If you leave the discard any longer, the sour flavor may overpower the cookie flavor, but if you love the sour taste, then by all means!
Now, I’m not the type of mom who looks for every single opportunity to make her kids’ food nutritious (I believe kids should learn to enjoy simple treats just like we do!) but there definitely is a part of me that feels good about watching my kids eat sourdough chocolate chip cookies! Sourdough starter is full of nutrition, including a wonderful little microbiome that’s so great for their little bellies.
Plus, with less sugar than the average chocolate chip cookie recipe, I don’t have to worry about them having “just one more”!
Kiddos also love to help in the kitchen, so invite them in! It will be messier, and slower, and more frustrating… But they will develop so many positive food memories as a result, and they do become more purposeful and less messy with time and practice. My older two kids, ages 3 and 2, like to help me measure and stir, and then they wait patiently until I open the chocolate chips! Then it’s snack time 🙂
What is Sourdough Discard?
Sourdough discard is the sourdough starter you have left over after you’re done feeding, and it’s the discard that you’ll be using in these sourdough chocolate chip cookies. 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 or compost, then wash 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!
Check out The Web’s Largest List of Sourdough Discard Recipes for more discard inspiration!
By the way, 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. PRO TIP: keep an emergency backup of dried starter for the rare case that yours gets destroyed. I highly recommend this; you never know when it’s going to happen!
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. Sourdough chocolate chip cookies are a great excuse to use up your discard!
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!
If you’re curious about starter feeding ratios, microfeeding, or adjusting your feeding schedule, check out my Starter Feeding Ratios & Microfeeds video here!
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 to get a mild sour tastes in your discard recipes. A mild taste is best, especially for these sourdough chocolate chip cookies.
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!
That said, you can also feed your discard. This may sound weird, but hear me out: feeding your discard will neutralize the sour flavor that’s building in an older discard jar, and will make it fresh to use in discard recipes.
So if you have a jar that’s been in the fridge for seven or more days, simply feed it with 1-2 tablespoons of equal parts AP and WW flours, and 1-2 tablespoons of water. Stir well. If you want to use the discard within 24 hours, leave it on the counter. If you’re going to bake in a few days, you can pop it back in the fridge. Either way, allow for gas to escape and expansion of the discard!
If you’re a follower of Leavenly you’ll know that I live at elevation. Golden Colorado is home, and we are at 5,700 feet. Baking at altitude can be a serious struggle. Water boils at about 202°F / 95°C (instead of 212°F / 100°C), fermentation happens faster, the air is drier, and this can make for some frustrating moments in the kitchen.
Luckily, you have me to make mistakes FOR you! 🙂
I struggled my way to a perfect High-Altitude Sourdough Bread recipe, and I also struggled to make this Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe modified for high-altitude. When I baked them here, they spread out very thin as they cooled. However, test bakers at sea level didn’t have this problem! So if you live above 2,000 feet, add ¾ teaspoon of baking powder to the dry ingredients. This will help the cookies maintain some of the height they achieve while in the oven.
What Kitchen Tools are Necessary
Baking cookies is one of the easiest things to do in the kitchen! All you need is an oven, a cookie sheet, mixing bowls, a spatula, and measuring cups and spoons. If you want to get fancy, you can use a stand mixer, a flour sifter, and a Silpat to line your cookie sheets.
Once the sourdough chocolate chip cookies are done, you’ll need a cookie spatula, a cooling rack, and a way to store your cookies – if they last that long! Gallon-sized Ziploc bags are great, and cookie jars are also an adorable and practical addition to your kitchen.
When making this recipe, I tend to get over two dozen cookies, somewhere around 30. Instead of doing three rounds of baking 12 cookies, I just bake 24, and freeze the rest of the dough!
I lay out some plastic wrap on the counter and dump the remaining dough onto it. Then I roll the dough into a cylinder and wrap it tightly. It will last about a month like this. Then, when I’m craving cookies, I simply open the plastic wrap, slice small discs of dough, and bake them as normal!
I also LOVE a sweet treat, so sometimes I’ll chop up some of the frozen sourdough chocolate chip cookie dough and sprinkle it onto ice cream. Yum!!
And now, let’s get to it… Your sourdough chocolate chip cookies await!
Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (310g)
- 1 tsp baking soda (6g)
- 1/2 tsp salt (4g)
- 3/4 cup butter (170g) melted
- 3/4 cup sugar (160g)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar (120g)
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup sourdough starter discard (160g) 2-5 days old
- 1 tsp vanilla (5g)
- 2 cups chocolate chips (340g)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Stir flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium mixing bowl; set aside. *If at high-altitude, also add 3/4 tsp baking powder. See high-altitude modifications in post above.*
- In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
- Mix in eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Add vanilla and sourdough starter discard; mix well. Some separation is normal at this stage.
- Slowly add flour mixture to wet ingredients, and mix until just incorporated. Add chocolate chips and stir in by hand using a spatula.
- Prepare a cookie sheet by greasing with oil or butter, or lining with silpat or parchment paper.
- Drop 12 teaspoonfuls of dough onto the cookie sheet, maintaining a consistent size and spacing evenly apart.
- Bake 9-12 minutes, until starting to turn golden on edges. Remove from oven and allow to sit on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack with a lifter.
- Repeat for remaining cookies.
- Freeze any uncooked dough as instructed above in post.