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Sourdough Starter

in quick and easy whole grain dairy free gluten free overnight guaranteed classic

Author: PJ Hamel

Sourdough Starter Recipe Sourdough Starter Recipe

Whether it conjures up a crusty, flavorful loaf of bread or a bubbling crock of flour/water starter, sourdough is a treasured part of many bakers' kitchens. But where does the path to sourdough bread begin? Right in your own kitchen, with your own homemade sourdough starter.

Sourdough baking is as much art as science. The method you'll read here for making sourdough starter isn't an exact match for the one you read on another site, or in a cookbook, or in your great-grandma's diary. But it's the tried-and-true method we use for making starter here at King Arthur Flour, and we feel you'll have success with it.

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At a glance

sufficient sourdough for ongoing baking
Nutrition information


Choose your measure:

To begin your starter

  • 1 cup whole rye (pumpernickel) or whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup cool water*
  • *See "tips," below

To feed your starter


  1. Day 1: Combine the pumpernickel or whole wheat flour with the cool water in a non-reactive container. Glass, crockery, stainless steel, or food-grade plastic all work fine for this.
  2. Stir everything together thoroughly; make sure there's no dry flour anywhere. Cover the container loosely and let the mixture sit at warm room temperature (about 70°F) for 24 hours. See "tips," below, for advice about growing starters in a cold house.
  3. Day 2: You may see no activity at all in the first 24 hours, or you may see a bit of growth or bubbling. Either way, discard half the starter (4 ounces, about 1/2 cup), and add to the remainder a scant 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, and 1/2 cup cool water (if your house is warm); or lukewarm water (if it's cold).
  4. Mix well, cover, and let the mixture rest at room temperature for 24 hours.
  5. Day 3: By the third day, you'll likely see some activity — bubbling; a fresh, fruity aroma, and some evidence of expansion. It's now time to begin two feedings daily, as evenly spaced as your schedule allows. For each feeding, weigh out 4 ounces starter; this will be a generous 1/2 cup, once it's thoroughly stirred down. Discard any remaining starter.
  6. Add a scant 1 cup (4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, and 1/2 cup water to the 4 ounces starter. Mix the starter, flour, and water, cover, and let the mixture rest at room temperature for approximately 12 hours before repeating.
  7. Day 4: Weigh out 4 ounces starter, and discard any remaining starter. Repeat step #6.
  8. Day 5: Weigh out 4 ounces starter, and discard any remaining starter. Repeat step #6. By the end of day #5, the starter should have at least doubled in volume. You'll see lots of bubbles; there may be some little "rivulets" on the surface, full of finer bubbles. Also, the starter should have a tangy aroma — pleasingly acidic, but not overpowering. If your starter hasn't risen much and isn't showing lots of bubbles, repeat discarding and feeding every 12 hours on day 6, and day 7, if necessary — as long as it takes to create a vigorous (risen, bubbly) starter. Note: see "tips," below.
  9. Once the starter is ready, give it one last feeding. Discard all but 4 ounces (a generous 1/2 cup). Feed as usual. Let the starter rest at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours; it should be active, with bubbles breaking the surface. Hate discarding so much starter? See "tips," below.
  10. Remove however much starter you need for your recipe (no more than 8 ounces, about 1 cup); and transfer the remaining 4 ounces of starter to its permanent home: a crock, jar, or whatever you'd like to store it in long-term. Feed this reserved starter with 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup water, and let it rest at room temperature for several hours, to get going, before refrigerating it.
  11. Store this starter in the refrigerator, and feed it regularly; we recommend feeding it with a scant 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup water once a week.

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size 234g (1 cup)
  • Servings Per Batch varies
Amount Per Serving:
  • Calories 440
  • Calories from Fat 9
  • Total Fat 1g
  • Saturated Fat 0g
  • Trans Fat 0g
  • Cholesterol 0mg
  • Sodium 5mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 92g
  • Dietary Fiber 3g
  • Sugars 0g
  • Protein 15g

* The nutrition information provided for this recipe is determined by the ESHA Genesis R&D software program. Substituting any ingredients may change the posted nutrition information.