Gluten-free sourdough starter is a great way to use natural yeast in baked goods! You can also enjoy the probiotic benefits in lots of other foods that don’t require yeast with the discard from feedings.
While I share my FAVORITE base, there are multiple options that work for making your own wild yeasts starter. Then you can get going with making the best sourdough gluten-free bread!
Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter
We started this experience or experiment, as it was a bit of both, over on our Instagram page. There we share our entire journey (it was my first starter experience) as we made THREE different gluten-free sourdough starters. Each was very different in consistency and yielded similar but different end products.
One thing is for sure, I definitely have a favorite and I’m going to share it with you here. However, there are multiple options for creating a GF starter perfect for making goodies suitable for a gluten-free diet.
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We found that one of our starters was extra tangy and sour always. I now know it was because in that one, the hooch collected at the bottom and rarely got dumped out but rather, stirred in.
The other two starters made excellent gluten-free sourdough rolls and gluten-free sourdough bread perfect for making gluten-free sandwiches. Neither even tasted sour! Which is what my family likes. Our sourdough muffins and sourdough French toast are also great.
There are lots of options for gluten-free flour when starting your GF sourdough starter: brown rice, sorghum flour, buckwheat flour, or a blend of our gluten-free flour, and there’s even the option of using a commercial gluten-free cup for cup type of flour, but I don’t personally recommend it. So let’s talk about why you need your own gluten-free sourdough starter…
Why do you need a gluten-free sourdough starter?
If like me, you have celiac disease or maybe you have a very severe gluten allergy or gluten intolerance and cannot tolerate it in any amount, even sourdough with its ability to reduce gluten significantly, is still not an option for you.
That’s why we use a TRULY gluten-free sourdough starter recipe. It begins with gluten-free flour and never has anything else added.
I also personally wanted the benefits of sourdough like my friend Kelsey from Simple Life by Kels shares about HERE. For me with celiac disease though, I knew I needed an entirely gluten-free starter.
The thing that caught my attention most with what Kelsey said was how it has the ability to not only decrease the glycemic index of the food you are putting your GF sourdough starter in but also, everything else you eat for hours AFTER eating something with sourdough in it! Amazing!
Wild yeast or sourdough starter is created by fermenting gluten-free flour and water. This fermentation process happens when the natural bacteria floating in the air of your home combine with the GF flour and water to create this cultured beauty! It’s a natural starter culture made right in your own home.
As I learned from my friend Laura Lives the Good Life, just one teaspoon of sourdough starter contains 5 billion lactobacilli bacteria or active cultures! Like you can also find in yogurt or kefir, this strain of probiotic is great for the body.
It is seriously so much better than commercial yeast you get at the grocery store. I am so obsessed with it’s health benefits now that I even add a bit to morning smoothies per Laura’s suggestion but we will talk more about that later.
So now the BIG question…
How to make a gluten-free sourdough starter
Starting one is very simple. The biggest hurdle is embracing the slow and patient life as you give it the time and attention it needs to get strong and active for you.
I recommend embracing a daily feeding schedule that you can stick to. This will give you consistent results.
Start by getting a clean quart size glass jar. I recommend boiling everything to ensure a truly clean jar.
Fill the jar with 1/2 cup gluten-free flour and 1/4-1/2 cup water (not chlorinated tap water)
Start with 1/4 cup flour then add a little as needed to get a consistency of pancake batter. Depending on the flour you choose, it will need more or less water.
We’ve tried this with brown rice only, sorghum flour, my gluten-free flour and Bob’s Red Mill 1-1 gluten-free flour blends and all worked but we definitely had a favorite…I tell you more about that below.
Place a life UPSIDE down on top and GENTLY PLACE the ring on top. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT screw the lid on or it will explode as it does it’s thing over the next week.
We DO NOT want an airtight seal which is why we put the lid upside down. It gives it some air but not as much as leaving it completely open. You can also put a coffee filter or plastic wrap on top and secure it with a rubber band or a linen cloth.
Now, just let it sit out at room temperature (being in a warm place definitely helps) until tomorrow when you will go onto the next step…
The next day, remove your lid and discard half of the starter. Feed it another 1/2 cup gluten-free flour and 1/4-1/2 C filtered water and stir
Pro Tip: Chlorinated top water will kill your starter. If you don’t know if yours is chlorinated simply leave a glass of water out on the counter overnight and the gas or chlorine will dissipate and then you can use that.
Scrape down the inside of the jar, the best way is with a spatula, to reduce the chance of mold growing. Then put your lid back on (not airtight) and let it sit on the counter again for another 24 hours.
Repeat this process of discarding half and then feeding it everyday for seven days. When your starter doubles in size within a few hours after a feeding, it is ready to bake with!
*Remember that you have to feed your starter AT LEAST what you have in the jar. So if you have 1/2 C, you need to at least feed it 1/2 cup.
Can I make one with gluten-free all-purpose flour?
The best results are made by using single flours like brown rice, teff flour, white rice flour or sorghum flour or our blend of our gluten-free flour. Similar to other great recipes on our site like gluten-free pop tarts and gluten-free cinnamon rolls, following the recipe exactly yields a more “spot on” end result. However, we’ve also used a commercial GF all-purpose flour and it works ok, not great.
Make sure if you use commercial GF all-purpose flour, you avoid ones with bean flour. Also, check if it has Xanthan gum or guar gum because you would not use it if so.
Starches like tapioca starch, potato starch, corn starch or even cassia flour and nut flours like almond also won’t work on their own.
What is the BEST gluten-free flour for making a sourdough starter with?
Ok, are you ready for it? My family’s favorite was the brown rice starter for sure! It has great consistency and makes the most amazing gluten-free recipes. Our next favorite is the one we made using sorghum flour. The one I made with our blend of our gluten-free flour was also great good but not as good as the other two.
I didn’t personally like the one I made with commercial gf flour blend. It didn’t taste as good nor did it work as well in recipes.
What water to use
Chlorinated top water will kill your starter. If you don’t know if yours is chlorinated, simply leave a glass of water out on the counter overnight and the gas or chlorine will dissipate and then you can use that.
Warm water or room temperature gives you the best results but cold will work as well.
How long does it take to get a mature starter ready to use as a leaven?
When your starter doubles in size and you see large bubbles within a few hours after a feeding, it is ready to bake with! Bubbly starter lets you know it is live and active.
Why do you have to discard during the first week?
It may seem wasteful but if you don’t discard, your starter would get to large. You have to feed your starter AT LEAST what you have in the jar so if you never discard, it would get huge really fast.
How often do you feed and store your starter to maintain it?
“Feed” your starter every 24 hours for the first seven days. After that, if you plan on baking often, keep it on the counter and feed it daily.
If you’d like a bit less maintenance, store it in the refrigerator and feed it once a week at least. You can also take it out and feed it anytime you are ready to use it.
How do I make sourdough more mild or stronger in flavor?
To make sourdough baked goods stronger in sour taste and flavor, stir in the hooch or liquid that has collected on top of your starter. When you go to feed it you will see this on top.
Most consider this the waste product but the more often you stir in the hooch each time you feed your starter, the stronger sourdough flavor you will get.
If you want a more mild sourdough flavor that you can hardly taste, pour out the hooch before feeding and using the starter. The more you pour it off before feeding, the more mild tasting your sourdough starter will be.
How to use a gluten-free sourdough starter
When you are ready to use your gluten-free sourdough starter, simply feed it 1/2- 1 cup of flour and 1/2-1 cup of water depending on how much you need. Then leave it out on the counter for at least thirty minutes to get live (active starter) and happy before using it.
Then you will use 1 cup of gluten-free sourdough starter in most recipes that call for dry yeast with 1 C warm milk or water.
I love using my sourdough starter in everything from our homemade sourdough bread recipe and gluten-free pancakes to gluten-free stuffing with our leftover gluten-free bread. The bread dough can be made in a loaf pan or in a dutch oven or cast iron skillet lined with parchment paper for a more rustic loaf.
Like I mentioned before, I love adding a tiny teaspoon of sourdough starter to my morning smoothies. To each his own…
How do you increase your starter for a large recipe?
To increase your starter for larger recipes, simply feed your starter the wet and dry ingredients you need for the recipe plus a bit extra to have something left.
As long as you have at least a tablespoon of your starter left, you can start a new starter or build yours back up. You can also do a bulk fermentation by using larger doll and 2-3x quantities of ingredients as you follow the directions.
If you love this recipe, please let us know below. Consider leaving a comment, a rating or sharing on social media. We are so grateful for wonderful readers like YOU! Here are some other great recipes perfect for using your sourdough starter and discard in…
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Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter
- 3 1/2 C brown rice flour, sorghum flour or our gluten-free flour
- 3 C filtered water
- Day 1:Start by getting a clean quart size jar. I recommend boiling it and the lid and ring to ensure cleanliness.
- Fill the jar with 1/2 cup gluten-free flour and 1/4-1/2 C water
- Start with 1/4 C then add a little as needed to get a thick pancake batter like consistency. Depending on the flour you choose, it will need more or less water.
- Days 2-7:Remove your lid and discard half of the starter. Feed it another 1/2 cup gluten-free flour and 1/4-1/2 C filtered water and stir
- Place a life UPSIDE down on top and GENTLY PLACE the ring on top. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT screw the lid on or it will explode as it does it's thing over the next week.We DO NOT want an airtight seal which is why we put the lid upside down. It gives it some air but not as much as leaving it completely open. You can also put a coffee filter on with an elastic band or a linen cloth. Now, just let it sit out at room temperature until tomorrow when you will go onto the next step...
- Scrape down the inside of the jar with your spatula to reduce the chance of mold growing, then put your lid back on (not airtight) and let it sit on the counter again for another 24 hours
- Repeat this process of discarding half and then feeding it everyday for seven days. When your starter doubles in size within a few hours after a feeding, it is ready to bake with!