Learn how to make a gluten free sourdough starter to bake up delicious sourdough goodies!
Some of you have been asking me for a gluten free sourdough starter recipe, so here it is.
You know I love to bake with sourdough and although I've largely cut gluten out of my diet because of my struggle with hypothyroidism, I do continue to consume foods with sourdough because I think their benefits outweighs the risks. (While I do not have celiac disease and therefore am not gluten-insensitive, recent research shows that sourdough made with wheat flour can actually be tolerated by some with gluten insensitivity.)
But I do love baking gluten-free too, and that's why I decided it was time to take the plunge and try a gluten-free sourdough starter.
Besides, if you eat gluten-free yourself, all the time or occasionally, I'm sure you'll agree that it's worth making your own gluten-free goodies. That is because storebought gluten-free foods present two big problems: sticker shock and carb overload.
The good news with sourdough is, it reduces carb overload in any food -- the probiotic bacteria digest the starches and reduce the glycemic index of the baked food. And although gluten-free flours tend to be much more expensive than wheat flours, making your bread or other gf goodies at home is definitely way more economical than buying them pre-made.
Besides, I don't really see gluten-free sourdough breads available at any of the stores I go to.
You can use any gluten-free flour for the starter -- preferably an all-purpose flour. I went with the King Arthur Measure for Measure GF flour, because that's what I had. But as I fed my starter, I used up all kinds of all purpose gluten-free flours I had on hand, including one from Trader Joe's, and another that had sat in my pantry, probably for years. It all worked.
For this sourdough starter, I am including -- as I did with my wheat sourdough starter recipe-- photos of how it looked over time. Here are a couple of things I noticed, and you probably will too.
The gluten-free starter appeared to start developing almost immediately. It began to bubble and rise after the first day of sitting, and that could be for two reasons -- it was really warm here when I started it, and also my kitchen is probably full of wild yeast, because I use sourdough just so much. But it started to cool down by day 3 or 4 and at that time the starter appeared to slow down, with little evidence of any activity other than the sourdough scent and a few bubbles.
One piece of good news for those of you who, like me, think frugally, I found ways to use up my sourdough discard -- the portion you remove from your new sourdough starter to "feed" it -- from day one. I used the discard from the first couple of days to make a sourdough flatbread, and then collected and used the discard from days four and five for these buckwheat oat waffles that were out of this world.
Tips for making a gluten free sourdough starter:
- Use any kind of all purpose gluten-free flour. I haven't tried using flours like buckwheat or millet or oat to make the starter and I can't attest if these will work, but what I do know is that an all purpose gluten-free flour will.
- Keep your sourdough starter warm. When it's cold here, I put the starter in the oven with the pilot on. In warmer weather, leave it on your countertop.
- Make sure you feed your gluten free sourdough starter every day for at least a week to make it strong so it can work for you.
- Gluten free flour tends to be thirsty, so I used a 1:0.75 flour to water ratio. For one cup of flour, use ¾ths cup of water.
- Always use filtered or distilled water for your sourdough starter and baked goods, for the best results.
And now for the recipe. Happy gf sourdough starter making! And I'll be back with the photos of the final starter in a day or two, and recipes.
Recipes to make with the gluten-free sourdough starter:
- Gluten Free Multigrain Sourdough Sandwich Bread
- Gluten-Free Sourdough Boule
- Vegan Gluten Free Sourdough Waffles
- Vegan Gluten-Free Sourdough Pancakes
Gluten Free Sourdough Starter recipe:
Gluten Free Sourdough Starter
- 1 cup gluten-free all purpose flour
- ¾ cup distilled or filtered water
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and water. Cover with a kitchen towel or cling wrap and place in a warm spot in your kitchen.
- The next day, your starter may or may not look a little bubbly. Discard half a cup of the starter, and feed the starter with ½ cup of flour and ⅜ths of a cup of water.
- Repeat the process for a week. Your starter will gradually take on the typical, tangy fragrance of sourdough and you should see some bubbling. Depending on how frequently you bake, you might find that this happens sooner.
- Once your sourdough starts to visibly rise about three to four hours after feeding, it's strong and ready. At this point you can use it to make your favorite baked goods. Store the starter in the refrigerator in a jar with a lid, and feed at least weekly to keep it going.
Here's the GF sourdough starter on day 8. You can see the bubbling in the side shot of the bowl below, and also how puffy it has become after eight days of feeding. The unexpectedly cool weather hereabouts has slowed me down a bit, so I'll probably keep this going with feedings for another couple of days, before I can refrigerate it and feed it once a week.
I made an amazing glutenfree sourdough multigrain bread with the starter yesterday, after day 7. It had amazing flavor and texture, and I couldn't be happier with how this starter has shaped up. I'll share the bread recipe with you soon too, so stay tuned.
Hey all, I’m 8 days in and ready to start baking bread! I don’t have access to all the ingredients in these awesome sourdough bread recipes. If I were to replace dry yeast in a gluten free recipe, how much starter do I need.
This is the recipe I am referencing from my bread machine: (1.5lb loaf)
- 1 c water
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 3 1/4 c all purpose gluten free flour
- 3 Tbsp psyllium husk powder
- 2 Tbsp yeast, active dry, instant or bread machine
I'd use a cup of the gf sourdough starter. Make sure it's strong and bubbly.
Hi, I've started making the starter and all was going well until day 4 when the mixture started to look too runny (compared to your photos). It has the consistency of runny pancake batter. Can I just feed it with flour to try and restore the consistency? How thick should it be? It smells sour and was producing bubbles on day 3. Thanks. (Hope this works as I've never made bread before, nevermind sourdough).
Hi Anna, the sourdough can sometimes get runny, especially if you are in a warm place. Just continue feeding it according to directions and it should be fine. Also try and keep it in a spot that's around 75 degrees Fahrenheit, not too hot but not cold either. Hope that helps.
Do you have a vegan and gf sourdough ciabatta recipe to use from the sourdough starter?
Can you use parchment paper in the pan rather than oiling the pan?
When you say, “the next day” in your instructions, are you talking 12 or 24 hours? I make normal sourdough and usually let it sit for 12 hours. But that is with a very mature starter. I have to switch to GF permanently so I am trying out your starter - first attempt at making a starter - My wheat starter was passed down to me. I started my starter on day one in the evening and let it sit overnight. So should I feed it day two that next morning, or again at night? Meaning feeding every 12 hours/ twice a day or every 24 hours? It is not bubbling yet or really doing anything at the first 14 hour mark. I am using King Arthur Measure for Measure flour with filtered spring water - purchased water, not home filtered.
Also, when storing the sourdough starter in the refrigerator, how should I be covering it? Tightly covered o lightly covered? Thanks!
I'm making my sourdough starter (for the very first time) with oat flour. Can I feed my starter with AP flour, with the VERY first feeding? And from then on?
what should be the consistency of the gf starter ? Mine doesn't appear to rise after 5 days and is spongie.
Hi Vaishali, could you please share your gluten-free multigrain bread recipe. I am going to try your gluten-free starter recipe. It is my first time to make a starter. I am looking for the adventure. Thanks
I bought a gluten free sourdough starter 2 weeks ago at a market and am trying to learn how to care for it and use it. I think that I might have taken too long to use it. Do you think it should be tossed? Its been in the fridge. Id love to keep it going if I can have just been confused about how to care for it
I am on day 7 and still no bubbles and it looks dry, almost like cement. It's spongy though. I am using an all purpose gluten free flour.. It looks like your day 1. Am I doing anything wrong?
Hi Barbara, gf sourdough starter does tend to get rather thick because gf flours are so thirsty. If you feed it regularly it should be fine. You can add more water, but that would affect the hydration of your starter in the long term and you'd have to make adjustments each time you make a recipe. It does sound odd that you have no bubbling on day 7. Are you keeping it in a warm spot?
I'm keeping it on top of stove with light from fan on 24/7.
At first I was covering it with a clear plate not a cloth, could that be the problem?
I switched to the cloth after about 4 days.
I was running out of all purpose flour so I mixed it with buckwheat flour.
Should I keep feeding it?
This morning the top has crust, very dry on top.
Thanks for walking me through this
We have been feeding our starter for 6 days and it has gone mouldy on the top. How does one avoid this. Should we have put it in the fridge before the sixth day? We think we will have to discard the lot ??
We still have some of the discard in the fridge from last week. Can we use that to start another one and please let us know if there is any way to avoid the mould. A few days last week it was very hot here but we thought that would be a good thing.
Thanks and love your recipes.
Can I begin the starter with 1/4 cup of flour instead of 1/2 cup to minimize the waste?
Yes, absolutely. Adjust water proportionately, and you can feed more when you have a recipe planned. Good luck!
During the first seven days, can you use the discards?
Is there anything I can make with the discarded starter during those first 7 or so days?
Pancakes and waffles are my favorites to make with discard — the recipes should be linked in the post above.
Thank you for sharing this I’ve been looking for something like this for a while. I had a hard time finding it. I can’t wait to try it!
Hi! I’m on day 4 - it started bubbling day 2 and is regularly puffing up. It’s quite a thick, spongey consistency. It smells sour and yeasty but today I noticed a nail polish remover-type smell. Is that normal? Also, given how much it’s been bubbling since day 2 I’m wondering if it may be ready sooner. I’m using Cup4Cup flour, and find it requires a closer to 1:1 ratio of flour:water.
Hi, the acetone smell usually happens when your yeast have not been fed enough. You should continue discarding a portion and feeding it, probably a little more frequently than you're doing now.
Fab - just fed it 6 hours before I normally would. Thanks!
So excited to try and bake GF Vegan Sour dough bread. When you are creating the starter do you keep the starter in the frig or out on the counter? ( for daily feedings) Once you get an amount of starter your comfortable with does it go in the frig? and then feed it weekly? if you dont feed for a couple weeks( leaving in frig) and then want to bake again, do you have to feed it first for a couple days, and then use? Thank you
I keep it on the counter during the seven-day feeding at the beginning. And yes, in the fridge after that. Also always best to feed the starter before baking if you haven't done so in a few days, but there are some recipes like waffles and pancakes you can make with starter that hasn't been fed for a week.
Thanks for this great recipe. Can one use just one flour (ie, rice flour, or oat flour) to make the starter? If not, do you know what gf flours need to be in the blend to get the best results? I sometimes make my own flour mix with rice, tapioca, sorghum and a bean flour.
Thank you for your tremendous website. It's become my go-to source, above all others!