Sourdough Discard Scones

Sourdough Scones
Photography by Art Meripol / Recipe Development by Stacey Ballis

In our March/April issue, author Stacey Ballis reveals the tangy secret to her baked goods: sourdough discard. Instead of tossing the discard, Stacey shows you how to incorporate your discard in everything from biscuits to loaf cake to these Cherry Walnut Sourdough Scones. 

Sourdough Scones
Photography by Art Meripol / Recipe Development by Stacey Ballis

These scones are a wonderful and flexible recipe made from sourdough discard that is simple enough for everyday breakfast and elegant enough for your next brunch or high tea. Barely sweet, they are a great foil for cream and jam or honey butter. You can add any dried fruit, nut, and/or chocolate chip or chunk combination you like. We love them with dried cherries or with walnuts and white chocolate chips. If you like a bit of spice, try adding a pinch of cinnamon and some chopped candied ginger. 

Cherry Walnut Sourdough Scones
Photography by Art Meripol / Recipe Development by Stacey Ballis
4.7 from 28 reviews
Sourdough Discard Scones
Makes 8
  • 1½ cups (188 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons (36 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (1.5 grams) kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons (70 grams) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • ½ cup mix-ins of your choice (57 grams chopped nuts, 64 grams dried fruit, or 85 grams chocolate morsels)
  • 1 cup (275 grams) sourdough starter discard
  • ½ cup (120 grams) heavy whipping cream, plus more for brushing
  • 1 tablespoon (12 grams) Demerara or turbinado sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In the work bowl of a food processor, place flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt; pulse until combined, about 3 times. Add cold butter, and pulse until mixture is crumbly with some larger pieces of butter remaining, 10 to 12 quick pulses. Turn out dough into a large bowl, and stir in desired mix-ins.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together sourdough discard and cream until combined. Add discard mixture to flour mixture, stirring with a fork just until dough comes together. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few times until a slightly sticky dough is formed.
  4. Gently pat dough into an 8-inch circle, about 1 inch thick. Cut into 8 wedges. (You can also shape dough into a square, and cut into 9 square scones, if you like.) Place scones on prepared pan. Brush top of scones with cream, and sprinkle with Demerara sugar.
  5. Bake until tops and edges are lightly golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on pan for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.



  1. I have been looking for discard recipes and couldn’t be happier to find this. I made chocolate chip scones. So delicious!! Light and tender with a hint of that sourdough tang. Will be making these regularly from now on!!

  2. No way these are cooked in 10-12 minutes! I made 2 small circles of dough and even in my convection oven, they took 15-20 minutes. BUT they are crunchy on the outside, tender inside and flaky and not too sweet—I skipped brushing with cream and sprinkling with sugar. I also used whole milk and they were awesome!

  3. Absolutely delicious & easy to make! I hate to throw discard out & this is the best recipe I’ve tried so far. Thank you for sharing

    *I did have to bake longer than called for

  4. These are tasty! Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge. I did bake in convection oven at 400 for closer to 18 min. I used frozen organic blueberries. Thought I would eat just one, but having a second one right now!

  5. This recipe is solid. I made them with dried cranberries and orange zest. I needed a little less liquid than called for, but that can depend on the day. They were crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, just as a scone should be. They need more salt, though. Next time, I’ll use a little more salt in the dry mixture and salted butter. Thanks for sharing!

    • I made the same recipe (zest of one orange – next time I’ll do two – and dried cranberries) and completely agree with all your comments. I used salted butter and the 1/2 tsp salt, but next time I’m trying a full tsp salt with the salted butter. Also the dough was wet, so I had to add more dustings of flour. The scones were crisp on the outside and light and flaky on the inside. I baked 20 minutes instead of 12-15.

  6. These are the best scones I’ve ever had/made! My two boys (3 & 5) were able to help with the simple recipe. We used soy milk because we didn’t have any heavy whipping cream, and they still came out delicious. Added 1 tsp vanilla, 2 tsp cinnamon, and dried cranberries. My three year old took one bite and declared he wants to eat them all day, every day.

    As a side note, they took a bit longer to cook – more like 15-18 minutes. We will absolutely be making them again!

  7. I tried these today and they were delicious ! I made them.with gluten free discard and gf flour !! Took a little longer than 20 mins ,but surely yummy !! Thank u

    • Hello! This scone recipe looks great! Just curious if I would be able to ferment the dough before baking since my husband is gluten sensitive. Have you ever done a long ferment on these scones before?

  8. Some of the best scones ever – quick to make and a fantastic way to use up discard! Didn’t bother with using food processor; used a pastry blender instead. Turned oven down to 410 and baked for 16-19 minutes. Great!

  9. I baked these for my Mother’s Day breakfast and was very pleased. My add-ins were; sweet ginger bits, dried cranberries and toasted pecans. I froze them unbaked the day before and defrosted briefly before baking. We didn’t need any embellishments like butter or jam. They were perfect.

  10. Made today with dried cherries, walnuts and half’n half instead of cream. They are wonderful! Can’t wait to try more combinations. I also had to bake them a bit longer.

  11. I baked these today with blueberries. Loved them, but they were more biscuitty tasting than scone. Still very light, fluffy and definitely delicious.

  12. These are a perfect use for discard! So quick and easy, and absolutely delicious! Light and fluffy with a pleasant crunch; very slightly sweet, perfect with coffee. I’ve made them with ginger and chocolate and ginger and cherries. I also baked them longer than prescribed, about 18 minutes.

  13. Great recipe. I didn’t have whipping cream for the scones so thinned out my no fat Greek yogurt and brushed tops with 1% milk and they taste great.
    hope they freeze well as it made 8 large scones and only two at home to eat them since we can’t share with friends right now.

  14. Great recipe, great results! I put some white chocolate chips and orange zest, vanilla in my sourdough discard…. Cooked nearly 30 minutes at 375. Excellent!

  15. Just made these but worth whole wheat flour, salted butter, and 10% cream, as that’s what I have. Added raisins and poppy seeds. Cooked 20 minutes. They were so delicious! BUT: maybe because of the flour I used, they were too sticky and needed a bit extra flour to knead. They were also more doughy than a scone usually is.
    I enjoyed every bite.

  16. Ok: this was just AWESOME! I have tried many discard recipes, and this recipe, hands down, was the best. Quick, not fussy, and love the versatility of adding whatever mix-ins one has available. My mix-in (this time around): a very generous cup of diced dried pineapple, diced crystallized ginger and chocolate chips.
    Did I mention how much I lOVE this recipe??? 🙂

  17. 3:52 pm
    Your comment is awaiting moderation
    These are so good and easy! This was my first time baking scones of any kind, the ingredients are simple and I generally have them on hand so that’s an automatic win. I brushed with coconut oil and a couple sprinkles of sugar, and mixed with mini chocolate chips.

    Delicious! The next batch will be blueberry with lemon zest…!!

  18. This recipe for scones is absolutely delicious! I’m new to using a sourdough starter and hate to throw away the discard. I didn’t mix in any add-ins, used buttermilk instead of cream, and they were incredibly buttery, light, and flaky! This is a definite keeper recipe. Thank you so much for sharing it!

  19. Just made a batch with Italian seasoning, dried tomatoes, and shredded blend of Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago. Smell heavenly!

  20. I make these all the time. In a convection oven they take longer…15-20 minutes. I ‘ve added…dried blueberries…dried cranberries…rosemary…nuts, and I switch out cream for buttermilk to reduced the calories. Today, I’m trying thyme with lemon rind. EVERYONE loves them no matter what I put in them. Great recipe

  21. As like previous comments, it took a little longer to bake. I added dried cranberries and walnuts, cashew milk instead of cream, turned out great – delicious!

  22. I used buttermilk instead of cream, adding 3/4 tsp of baking soda.
    Rehydrated dried cherries And added choc chips.
    Needed more baking time.
    Amazingly delicious,

  23. These are wonderful! I tried another sourdough scone recipe, and was disappointing. But I had a cup of (ripe) started I did not want to go to waste, so I gave this recipe a try. So glad I did!! I made mine vegan with miyokos butter and freshly made almond milk instead of the cream, along with raisins and pecans. Like others, they took a little longer in the oven then listed, but once out, they are a little crisp on the outside and nice and fluffy inside. Will be making these again!

  24. I made these with chocolate chips. I’m not a baker and they came out very good. I did have a problem with the parchment paper sticking to the bottom of the scones. Any advise on why that might have happened?

  25. So good and simple!! First time scone baker here and they came out really lovely. Used dark choc chips and almond slivers, needed a little more cream that was was called for and baking time was ~20 mins at least?? House smells heavenly!! Super light taste, beautiful texture, WILL MAKE AGAIN!!

    • Hi Meredith!

      Thanks so much for reaching out! If you are using frozen or fresh fruit, there is a risk that the excess moisture will make the scones soggy–or soggy in parts. If you do decide to try it, pat any moisture off of the fruit with a paper towel. Then, toss the fruit in flour to coat it before adding to the mix. (Shake off excess flour). Happy baking!

  26. Delicious…I’ve made a few varities- dark chocolate chunks, dried mixed fruit, also with blueberries. Next, I’m going to try pumpkin. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe.

  27. My go-to recipe! I make these on a weekly basis! Current favorite add ins – orange zest, cranberries, and white chocolate chips. So yummm!!

  28. When is sourdough starter discard best to use, at the beginning (day 3 ) of the starter process or later (day 6-7) when it would be more concentrated with probiotics? Also, how and where do I store each day’s discard for later use? In a closed jar in the fridge? Thank you!

    • Hi Amaronee,
      What an interesting question! I will try to dig deep into my food science background, but to be honest, you would need a laboratory to accurately measure probiotic activity. Just speaking from general knowledge, the culture grows logarithmically in the presence of nutrients– that’s when you see your starter bubbling and growing in volume. The culture then reaches a stationary period once the nutrients in the medium are depleted, so the cultures would be more plentiful and active between the logarithmic and the stationary phase. Also, something to keep in mind– once you bake the scones, you are deactivating the probiotics, so depending who you speak to, they may not provide the same benefit as if you were to eat active cultures, say as in yogurt or kefir. As for the sourdough discard storage, store in the refrigerator in a jar with a loose-fitted lid. Happy baking!

  29. i’ve made these so many times i love them. made pumpkin spice this week and was worried about the stickiness of the dough but i just added more flour and they were PERFECT 10/10

  30. Like many others I hate to waste sourdough starter so have been looking for recipes using discard. I made these scones for the first time today and I have to say they are without a doubt the best scones I have ever tasted. I used glace Morello cherries for the fruit and the scones were perfect, golden and slightly crunchy on the outside, tender and soft on the inside, not too sweet and with just a hint of sourdough tang. Mine cooked perfectly in 14 minutes at 200c fan. Suffice it to say that from now on I shall be keeping a significantly larger sourdough starter to make sure I have enough discard for making these scones!

    • Hi Karen!

      Thanks so much for reaching out. That is a tough one to say without testing the recipe, but you may want to reduce the cream only slightly and try adding perhaps a tablespoon or two of flour to counteract the “wetness” of the puree.

  31. Excellent recipe. I followed directions exactly, used butterscotch chips, cooked at the instructed temp. I checked at 13 minutes and added another 2. At 15 minutes they were perfect.

    They are light and a bit flaky, sweet, and still taste of the sourdough. I will absolutely be making this again.

  32. I must have done something wrong, because mine were very tough. I’m an experienced Baker and I’m really not sure where I went wrong. (Scratching head)

    • Hi Miriam!

      Thanks for reaching out! I apologize that your scones were tough. We recommend pulling the wet and dry ingredients together with a fork just until moistened, so that the scone dough does not get overworked. If the dough is mixed too rigorously, the gluten will develop and toughen the scones. Once you get to the stage of kneading the dough, you will only want to knead it enough to get a cohesive mass, maybe two to four times, so that the gluten does not develop here either. You also want very cold ingredients (butter, cream, discard, etc), which will slow gluten development as well. We would love to hear your thoughts and continue to troubleshoot with you, so please feel free to reach back out!

  33. Great way to use my discard. I made the scones as directed; just added some vanilla and mini chocolate chips. I also drizzled a glaze of powdered sugar & milk. Can’t wait to experiment with other variations of these scones.

  34. Wow! I am so impressed with these. They were simple, versatile and delicious. Not to mention helped prevent food waste. Mine took about 20 min to bake.

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