These chocolate chip sourdough cookies are soft, have chewy centers, crisp edges, and taste amazing. It's one of my favorite ways to use up sourdough starter discard. Made only with egg yolk, I think you can imagine how rich and delicious these sourdough cookies are! They're perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack.
By the way, if you are looking for perfect breakfast cookies, I can't recommend my oatmeal cookies enough!
How to bake cookies with sourdough discard
The cookie dough is pretty much the same as regular chocolate chip cookie dough just without chemical leavening agents but with sourdough discard. So, the process of making them is the same and will be familiar to you from other chocolate chip cookie recipes. You can use a sourdough starter that has reached or exceeded peak activity and doesn't need to pass the float test.
Tip: If you have more sourdough discard and don't know what to do with it you can also bake sourdough banana bread.
Ingredient notes and substitutions
- Egg yolk - if you plan to bake a double batch, you can use either two large egg yolks or one large whole egg. The cookies with a whole egg spread a tad more and are less rich. By the way, my air fryer chocolate chip cookies also contain only egg yolk and are a huge hit with my family! Don't know what to do with the egg white? How about angel food cake?
- Butter - I use unsalted European-style butter with 82% fat content. I tried this recipe using brown butter following the method of my brown butter cookies and loved the results.
- Flour - use all-purpose plain flour rather than bread flour, or your cookies will end up tough and dry.
- Sugar - a 50/50 ratio of light brown and white sugar combines the best of two worlds. Brown sugar adds moisture and a more complex taste, and white sugar makes them spread more. Any swaps will affect the taste and texture of the cookies.
- Baking soda - this recipe doesn't use any chemical leavening agents such as baking soda or baking powder. If you like, you can add ½ teaspoon of baking soda to make them spread more and make thinner, crispier cookies. I don't recommend adding baking powder.
Chocolate bars vs. Chocolate Chips
I very much prefer high-quality chocolate bars that I chop and add to the dough. For my taste, milk chocolate fits the taste of the sourdough just perfectly. You can use either chocolate bars from the baking or candy aisle.
However, this recipe also works well with semi-sweet chocolate and chocolate chips. My general advice is to choose chocolate for your cookies that you love the taste of and would eat as a treat. This makes for the best sourdough chocolate chip cookies.
The taste of sourdough goes perfectly with a variety of add-ins. Here's what I tested and stood the taste test of my picky family.
- Peanut butter chips
- Toasted pecans
- Crushed pretzels
- Soft caramels (such as Kraft)
Feel free to experiment with different mix-ins to your liking. No matter what you choose, I recommend adding no more than ½ - 1 cup of your favorite mix-ins.
How long do they last
Sourdough discard cookies stay soft and fresh for 4 days when stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
Make-ahead and freezing instructions
You can prepare the dough in advance, refrigerate as directed, roll into balls, and freeze the balls in freezer bags for up to 3 months. Before baking, let them thaw at room temperature for about 1 hour. Otherwise, they won't spread as desired and become dry.
Baked sourdough cookies can be frozen in freezer bags for up to 3 months.
Do they taste sour?
No, the sourdough taste is light, and it adds a deep and delicious flavor profile to the cookies, but the amount of sourdough discard used in the dough isn't enough to make them sour.
- I strongly recommend chilling the dough as the taste will develop as it chills.
- European-style butter makes them richer because it contains more fat compared to American-style butter.
- For the most accurate results, use a kitchen scale to measure the dough ingredients. If you don't have a kitchen scale, fluff up the flour, then spoon loosely into the measuring cup and level with the back of a knife.
- Bake a test cookie to see how much the cookie spreads. If you find that it isn't spreading enough to your liking, you can let the dough come to room temperature before baking or flatten the balls a little before baking.
Note: In my chocolate chip cookies post, I show how to spoon and level flour accurately and also give more insights into how chilling, freezing, ingredient swaps or oven hot spots affect the final product. You will also find a comprehensive FAQ section on why cookies are spreading too much or too little and what you can do about it.
Beat the butter, sugar, and brown sugar on medium-high speed until creamy.
Add the egg yolk and vanilla and mix until well combined and creamy. Mix in the sourdough starter until combined.
Then add the flour and salt and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Fold in the chocolate until it is well distributed.
Then chill the dough for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
Scoop 12 equal-sized balls of cookie dough, roll into even balls, and place on paper-lined baking sheets.
Bake one sheet at a time until the edges are set and lightly browned and the centers look pale, puffy, and dry, with tiny cracks all over the surface.
Remove from the oven and let cool.
More cookie recipes to try
If you love sweet treats, you've come to the right place. Here are some of my favorite recipes.
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies
- Pistachio Cookies
- Brownie Cookies
- Double Chocolate Cookies
- Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
- White Chocolate Macadamia Cookies
Chocolate Chip Sourdough Cookies (Made with Sourdough Discard)
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ⅓ cup sugar
- ⅓ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup sourdough starter discard
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 oz milk chocolate bars, chopped
- In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar on medium-high speed for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the egg yolk and vanilla and mix for about 1 minute, until well combined and creamy. Mix in the sourdough starter for about 1 minute until combined.
- Then add the flour and salt and mix on low speed just until incorporated, about 30-60 seconds. Fold in the chocolate until it is well distributed.
- Cover and chill for 2 hours or up to 2 days.*
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
- Scoop 12 equal-sized balls (about 2 tablespoons [45g]) of cookie dough, roll into even balls, and place them, 4 inches (10 cm) apart, on the prepared baking sheets.
- Bake one sheet at a time for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are set and lightly browned and the centers look pale, puffy, and dry, with tiny cracks all over the surface.
- Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, or until firm enough to move. Then, transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. The cookies will stay fresh in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
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