Sourdough Discard Hamburger Buns

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Updated 1-29-2024

There’s nothing like being able to not only reduce food waste by putting your sourdough starter discard to use, but also being able to become more self-sufficient with everyday food items. Burger buns is something my family consumes a lot. Pulled pork, sloppy joes, brisket burgers, and of course, the classic cheeseburger. I quickly realized that homemade burger buns was actually a walk in the park, especially when I started making them using my sourdough discard. It became a great way to use my discard, and make healthy buns for my family! Now I’m hooked on sourdough discard hamburger buns.

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When I first set out to find a sourdough discard burger bun recipe, I kept finding recipes that also incorporated yeast as a must use ingredient. To me personally, having a sourdough starter on hand, plus putting in the time and effort it takes to maintain it, was trade for being more self-sufficient by having my own homemade yeast to use whenever. So the recipes using yeast didn’t really work for me.

It took me a bit of trail and error but I finally came up with a no yeast, sourdough discard burger bun recipe. They do take some time to prepare, so it’s definitely not a last minute food. However, the time is well worth the delicious taste and amazing texture you get from a sourdough discard bun.

The Difference: Yeast vs. Sourdough

sourdough discard hamburger buns

Store-bought buns often rely on commercial yeast for their rise. However, sourdough discard hamburger buns, made with a natural sourdough starter, offer a distinct advantage in terms of flavor, texture, and nutritional content.

Taste: Sourdough buns have a unique, tangy flavor profile that sets them apart from the blandness of commercial or yeast buns. The lactic acid produced during fermentation not only adds a delightful zest but also makes the flavors more complex and satisfying.

Texture: Sourdough buns tend to be softer and moister due to the natural acidity of the starter, which promotes a finer crumb structure. This results in a chewier and more satisfying texture compared to the often dry and crumbly nature of store-bought or yeast alternatives.

Preparation Time: Sourdough buns do require some extra time due to the sourdough fermentation process. However, the hands-on time is minimal, and the results are well worth the patience. Your sourdough starter acts as both a leavening agent and a flavor enhancer.

Ingredients and Their Roles

  1. Unbleached All-Purpose Flour: This forms the base of your dough, providing structure and the bulk of the bun’s volume.
  2. Milk or Water: Adds moisture to the dough, ensuring a soft and tender crumb.
  3. Sourdough Starter: Your sourdough discard not only contributes leavening power but also infuses the buns with a delightful tangy flavor. You’ll want your starter to be fairly active, so show it some love the night before with a quick feed. If you use the 2-week-old hoochy discard in the back of your fridge, it might take quiet AWHILE to get a rise.
  4. Egg: This acts as a binding agent and contributes to the buns’ tenderness and color.
  5. Salt: Enhances the flavor and helps control the fermentation process.
  6. Sugar: Provides sweetness and encourages the yeast activity in the starter.
  7. Unsalted Butter: Adds richness and contributes to the buns’ tenderness and flavor.

The Perfect Sourdough Discard Hamburger Buns Recipe

If you haven’t gotten started in your sourdough journey yet, check out how to make your very own sourdough starter from scratch to get baking!

hamburger buns with sourdough discard
Print Recipe

No Yeast, Sourdough Discard Hamburger Buns

Use your excess sourdough discard to make these delicious and soft hamburger buns!
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Dough Resting and Proofing Time4 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 6 Buns

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Sourdough Starter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk or water
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into cubes
  • 1 egg (optional for brushing)

Instructions

  • In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sourdough discard, egg, milk (or water), salt, sugar, and add them to the mixer with the hook attachment. 2 1/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, 1 cup Sourdough Starter, 1 egg, 1/4 cup milk or water, 1 teaspoons salt, 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Mix all the ingredients for about 5 minutes until the dough is sticky and cohesive.
  • Gradually add the cubed butter and increase the mixer speed to achieve a smooth and shiny dough. Test the dough with the windowpane test, where you stretch a piece of dough until you can see through it.3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • After mixing, dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Gently stretch and fold until a smooth round ball forms that is able to keep its shape.
  • Cover the dough in a bowl and let it rest in a warm place for approximately 3 hours, allowing it to ferment and rise at least 50%.
  • After it's risen by at least half, degas the dough by punching the center or slowly allowing it to fall out of the bowl. Dump it out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 6-8 equal balls.
  • Be sure there are no gas bubbles in each ball as you begin to shape them. Use some traditional sourdough techniques to build tension within each ball. Gently pushing the dough up from the side and then towards you from the top is a great way to build tension and produce a fluffy texture.
  • Place them on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet or a hamburger bun pan.
  • Cover the buns with plastic and let them rise until they double in size, which should take about 90 minutes.
  • Preheat your oven to 190°C or 375°F, approximately 30 minutes before baking.
  • Once the buns have proofed, brush the tops with the beaten egg and sprinkle with toppings like sesame or poppy seeds if desired.
  • Bake the buns for 18-20 minutes or until they achieve a light golden brown color.
  • Remove the buns from the oven and cool them on a rack before serving.
  • Store your sourdough hamburger buns in a bag for up to 5 days, or freeze them for up to 30 days, ensuring you can enjoy homemade buns whenever you desire.

Storing and Freezing Your Sourdough Hamburger Buns

Once you’ve baked your delicious sourdough discard hamburger buns, it’s important to know how to store them properly to maintain their freshness and flavor. Here’s how to store, freeze, and reheat your buns:

Storing Fresh Buns

  1. Allow your freshly baked buns to cool completely on a wire rack. This helps prevent condensation inside the storage container, which can make the buns soggy.
  2. Once cooled, place the buns in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag. Ensure the container is well-sealed to keep the buns from drying out.
  3. Store your buns at room temperature for up to 5 days. The airtight container will help maintain their softness and prevent them from becoming stale.

Freezing Sourdough Buns

sourdough discard burger buns

If you’ve baked more buns than you can consume in a few days or want to have a stash for future use, freezing is a great option:

  1. Allow the buns to cool completely as you would for storing them.
  2. Individually wrap each bun tightly in plastic wrap. Wrapping them separately prevents them from sticking together and makes it easier to thaw as many as you need at a time.
  3. Place the individually wrapped buns in a resealable freezer bag or an airtight container suitable for the freezer.
  4. Be sure to label the bag or container with the date to keep track of freshness.
  5. Store the buns in the freezer for up to 30 days. Beyond this period, they may still be safe to eat, but the quality might degrade over time.

Reheating Frozen Sourdough Buns

When you’re ready to enjoy your frozen sourdough hamburger buns, follow these steps for reheating:

  1. Remove the desired number of buns from the freezer and let them thaw in their plastic wrap at room temperature. This usually takes 1-2 hours.
  2. Preheat your oven to 175°C (350°F).
  3. Once thawed, unwrap the buns and place them directly on your oven rack or on a baking sheet.
  4. Heat the buns in the preheated oven for 5-7 minutes or until they are warm throughout and have regained their freshness.
  5. Alternatively, you can lightly toast the buns in a toaster or toaster oven. Be careful not to over-toast, as they can quickly become too crispy.
  6. Once heated, your sourdough buns are ready to use for your favorite burger or sandwich, just as if they were freshly baked.

Craving some more sourdough discard recipes? Check out our easy sourdough discard tortillas, pumpkin bread, or delicious brownies!

Hey Beautiful! I’m Tara, garden enthusiasts, keeper of chickens, herbal homesteader and stay at home mom of 3 tiny humans and a sourdough starter named Ma. I love teaching others how to live a self-sufficient and sustainable life through homesteading, scratch cooking, and remembering to live barefoot, wild and free!

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28 thoughts on “Sourdough Discard Hamburger Buns”

    1. Can I place in fridge to put a pause on the process at any point? I’m waiting on initial rise and have not shaped buns. I started today and would like to pick up tomorrow and finish and bake.

  1. Hello! Looking forward to making these this week. Wondering if it’s possible to allow the raised, uncooked buns to set in the fridge overnight before baking? Thanks for your help.

    1. Wild N Free Farms

      absolutely! You can do after the rise or before and just take them out in enough time for them to come to temp and finish rising.

  2. I’m really confused. Your recipe title says ‘sourdough discard’. The ingredient list says ‘sourdough starter’. Step 1 of the Instructions says ‘sourdough discard’. Which is it? It can’t be both. And don’t all discard recipes have to include yeast since discard is unfed starter? I’m so confused by your recipe.

    1. Wild N Free Farms

      Hey AJ, Sorry for the confusion!

      A sourdough discard is essentially an inactive sourdough starter. However, it can easily become active when given flour and water.
      If you look above in the article, under “ingredients and their roles” I go over the most ideal state of your starter in reference to this particular recipe. I do recommend an active starter, which you can do with discard, but it’s also possible with a nonactive starter, just needs A LOT more time to bulk ferment. I’ve tried it with both and prefer the faster time of a semi-active starter.

      And as for the yeast question, most discard recipes either include yeast, baking powder, baking soda, or a longer fermenting time. I have recipes for everything but yeast, because I hate the taste of it. 🤮

  3. Is says to add an egg to the dough but then says to use the egg brushing the tops of the buns, but only lists one egg. Do I add one to the dough?

    1. Wild N Free Farms

      It’ll be a little sticky when the butter is added, but not too much that you can’t easily handle it. You should be able to shape the rolls without it sticky to you or the counter.

  4. I see this was already asked but to clarify, after the first rise or after the shaped and second rise put in fridge- or either?

    1. Wild N Free Farms

      You can refrigerate at any point! Also make sourdough work for you!

      I like to mix it all the night before and then leave it on my counter to bulk ferment overnight. In the morning I wake up and it’s perfect and ready to shape!

  5. Could you clarify step 5? Do I stretch and fold after 1st hour of initial rise then let it rise then shape after 3 hours is up?

    1. Wild N Free Farms

      I apologize, some of those instructions got out of order when I added the amounts to the instructions. I’ve fixed it now.

      I like to mix my dough and let it sit out overnight. In the morning I have a nice jiggling ball to divide and shape.

  6. I made the other day as I need burger buns. They were quick and easy. My family loved them and I’ll be making them again. It reminded me how much I like making bread from scratch. Plus I know all the ingredients going in. Enjoyed your recipe. Thank you🌺🤙🏽

  7. 5 stars
    This was a great recipe! It made six perfect sized buns. The texture was amazing. Not time demanding at all so I could make it in the later morning/afternoon and have them ready by dinner.

    1. Wild N Free Farms

      absolutely, or you can omit it completely! It’s really just to help give the yeast a little boost, so if you find they come out a little flat or too dense just add a bit of honey next time. If you are going to omit the sugar source I would opt for a more active starter, instead of a true discard

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