With this easy Sourdough Starter Recipe, you can make delicious sourdough bread, pancakes, waffles, pizza, pretzels, and more right at home. It’s easier than you think, and with just two ingredients—water and flour—it’s inexpensive to make Sourdough Starter from scratch.

sourdough starter rising in a weck jar

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While you may have heard that making sourdough is a complex process that requires time, money, and an inherited starter—I’m here to tell you not to be intimidated. People have been doing this for thousands of years without fancy techniques or tools, and I’m going to teach you how to do it, too.

What is a Sourdough Starter?

It’s basically a fun at-home science experiment with a delicious result. Sourdough starter is wild yeast that is cultivated using water and flour and then used to make baked goods rise, like sourdough bread. It’s been around since before the Ancient Egyptians, and it was the only way to make leavened bread until active dried yeast became available in the 1800s.

While commercial yeast is faster to use since you don’t have to wait for the yeast to ferment, it won’t give you the great benefits of sourdough, the distinctive sour taste, or the same feeling of achievement!

Sourdough Starter Recipe Video

See Natasha create her own sourdough starter with just flour and water. With patience and consistency, it’s simple and fun. It’s so easy, so let’s start your sourdough journey now!

How to Make a Sourdough Starter

While the process sounds mysterious, it’s so simple. Watch our video tutorial to see our simple process in action. Ready? Let’s start growing some wild bacteria on our kitchen counter–err–let’s make sourdough starter!

The 3 Stages of Creating a Sourdough Starter

There are 3 basic steps to making your own sourdough starter. In this sourdough starter recipe, I don’t overcomplicate it because it’s truly a simple, forgiving process. 

  • Create – a medium for yeast and bacteria to thrive (water + yeast)
  • Grow – Strengthen and build up population of yeast and bacteria with regular feedings
  • Maintain a healthy starter with consistent daily feeding of flour 

How long does it take to create a sourdough starter?

This sourdough starter recipe takes about one week of consistent feeding to nourish and strengthen the yeast, but these are a few of the factors that can change how fast your starter grows, so patience is also important (but so worth it):

  • Room Temperature – 70 to 75˚F is ideal
  • Flour type – start with whole wheat or rye flour and use all-purpose for feeding
  • Water quality – use spring water, filtered or dechlorinated water
  • Feeding schedule – be consistent

Tools for Making a Sourdough Starter

It’s simple to make a sourdough starter with just two tools.

  • Clear Glass Jar – use a quart mason jar or 3/4 qt Weck Jar with loose-fitting lid. Thoroughly wash and rinse. A Weck Jar is my favorite because it weighs exactly 400 grams without the lid so the math is easy, and it has a loose-fitting lid which is important to prevent pressure build-up. You can also set a lid loosely over a mason jar.
  • Digital kitchen scale – you can make a starter without a scale (I’ve included cup measurements) but your process and later bread-making will be so much faster, easier, and more precise with a scale that measures in grams. It’s worth the small investment now.
Weck jars with matching lids

Pro Tip:

A rubber band or dry-erase marker makes it easier to track the starter’s starting point and feeding times. And a silicone spatula makes for the easiest cleanup.

Ingredients

There are only two ingredients for creating a sourdough starter: Flour and water. We use two different flours here, one to establish the starter and one to maintain it (see the explanation of flours above).

  • Whole Grain Rye Flour or Whole Wheat Flour – organic is best, but regular Rye or Wheat will work as well. These sturdy, less processed grains create a stronger starter more quickly, but you don’t have to continue to bake with these flours.
  • All-purpose flour – I prefer organic here as well and avoid bleached flour. After the wild yeast is established, this flour is used to maintain and feed the starter since is cheaper and what most people stock in their pantry
  • Water – use room temperature filtered water, spring bottled water or dechlorinated water is needed since chlorine hinders yeast growth. To dechlorinate your water – boil and cool tap water, or leave a jug of water on the counter for a day to dechlorinate. If your house is cooler, use lukewarm water (not more than 85˚F). Avoid cold water which will slow the growth.
bags of flour for making sourdough starter at home

What is the best flour to create a sourdough starter?

To begin and establish a starter, use wholegrain rye flour and whole wheat flour – preferably organic. I have created starters with both and they grew equally well. See a photo of the difference below. In rye flour, the germ and bran haven’t been processed away as in all-purpose refined flour, so it gives more food for the wild yeast to eat.

I have tested creating a starter with all-purpose flour and it took 3 times as long to show bubbling activity. All-purpose is best used to grow and maintain your starter but you should initially start with rye or whole wheat flour.

the difference between rye flour and whole wheat flour when making sourdough starter

How to Make a Sourdough Starter

It’s simple to make sourdough bread starter in just a few minutes each day. In most cases, you’ll be making bread in just a week!

Day 1: Make your Starter (Stage 1 – Create)

  • Stop! Before you do anything, record the weight of your jar on a kitchen scale in grams on the jar with a permanent marker.
  • Mix 100g (3/4 cup) Rye or whole wheat with 100g (1/2 cup) room temperature water into the glass jar. Once combined the mixture should be thick (rye flour is especially thick, like a sandy paste), but it will become thinner as the yeast breaks down the gluten. Scrape the sides of the jar.
  • Cover the jar with a loose-fitting lid at room temperature for 24 hours. Mark the height of your starter with a rubber band or dry-erase marker and record the date.

Pro Tip:

The ideal room temp for growing sourdough starter is 70-75 degrees. Don’t be tempted to put your starter in a warm oven to speed it up. I tried that, and it grew too fast and exhausted my yeast so it stopped growing and I had to start over. Allowing the yeast to grow and develop slowly in the environment it will be used in is best.

Day 2: Check your Starter

  • No Change – You probably won’t see anything changed. You may see some small bubbles, but leave it to rest for another 24 hours.
Sourdough Starter on day 2 in jar

Day 3: Visible Bubbles (Stage 2 – Grow) and First Feeding

  • Discard: Remove and throw away half of the starter (discard in the trash so it won’t clog your plumbing). You should have 100 grams or 1/2 cup remaining in the jar.
  • Feed: Add 100g (3/4c) ALL PURPOSE FLOUR and 100g (1/2c) room temperature water.
  • Mix the starter with the added flour/water until completely mixed. Use a silicone spatula to scrape down the sides, then loosely cover and rest for another 24 hours.
Day 3 sourdough starter in jar

Pro Tip:

If you don’t see visible bubbles it may be due to your environment, flour, or just plain luck. Discard and feed anyway to continue with the schedule. You may need to add a few extra days at the end to strengthen your starter, but that’s ok! Patience is key, so keep on the plan.

Day 4: Lots of bubbles

  • Discard all but 100g of the starter.
  • Feed: mix in 100g all-purpose flour and 100g room temperature water
  • Stir, scrape the sides, cover, and rest again

Pro Tip:

Some starters seem to slow down growth at this stage (called a false start) for seemingly no reason. This is normal, so just keep with the schedule.

Day 5: More bubbles and some growth

  • Discard all but 100g of the starter
  • Feed: Mix in 100g all-purpose flour and 100g room temperature water
  • Stir, scrape the sides, cover, and rest again

Day 6-7: Nearly doubling in size!

  • Discard all but 100g of the starter
  • Feed: Mix in 100g all-purpose flour and 100g room temperature water
  • Stir, scrape, cover, and rest until the starter has doubled in size. Continue this routine until the starter doubles in size in 4-6 hours, and then begins to recede after 12 hours. This means it’s probably ready to use!

Testing Sourdough Starter for Readiness

  • Growth Rate: The Starter grows to more than double in size within 4 to 6 hours and recedes after 12 hours.
  • Smell: The starter should smell good—like sourdough bread or like brewing yeast, have bubbles and a dome-shaped top
  • Floats: Drop a bit of starter into a bowl of water. If it floats, it’s ready to bake bread. Hooray!

Maintaining a Sourdough Starter (Stage 3: Maintain)

Once it passes the float test and your starter is established, you can feed it daily or weekly depending on how often you want to bake. See our detailed Tutorial on how to Feed and Maintain Sourdough Starter. You can even dry it out to take a months-long pause. This is great news because you can travel or pause without ruining your starter.

  • Frequent baking: Store at room temperature. Begin daily discard and feeding schedule to keep the starter healthy and continue strengthening it (Discard all but 100g of the starter and Feed by mixing in 100g all-purpose flour and 100g room temperature water)
  • Less frequent baking: Store in the refrigerator. Once a week, discard and feed then let it rest at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours before refrigerating. If baking, remove the starter from the fridge and bring to room temperature overnight. Discard and feed. When the starter reaches its peak, remove the portion needed for the recipe, then feed and refrigerate.
Homemade Sourdough starter recipe in a weck jar

Naming Your Sourdough Starter

Many people choose to name their sourdough starters. I loved my sister-in-law’s idea and copied it—Doughseph. After two years of making the dreamiest sourdough, he’s a part of the family.

Why Won’t my Sourdough Starter Rise?

It’s common to have a starter that isn’t ready by day 6 or 7. Keep feeding it for another week until you see it double and the texture is spongy and puffy with large and small bubbles. It should also smell sour and pleasant.

Sourdough is very forgiving so long as you don’t add hot water which kills the yeast. Just keep feeding it and discarding and it usually bounces back.

Natasha from Natashas Kitchen with jars of homemade sourdough in different growth stages

It’s easy to make sourdough bread at home using this simple sourdough starter recipe. Start today and you can enjoy a loaf of homemade bread in about a week!

More Bread Recipes

While your starter is growing, try these easy, beginner-friendly recipes to enjoy delicious bread made right at home.

Natasha's Kitchen Cookbook

Sourdough Starter Recipe (VIDEO)

5 from 12 votes
Author: Natasha Kravchuk
Bubbly sourdough bread starter recipe
It’s easy to make your own sourdough starter in just 6 to 7 days using just 2 ingredients – flour and water. My simple recipe is easy for beginners and advanced bakers alike. I highly recommend using a digital kitchen scale and a 3/4 quart weck jar or a quart mason jar.
Rising Time: 7 days
Total Time: 7 days

Ingredients 

Servings: 7 days
  • 100 g Whole Grain Rye Flour or Whole Wheat Flour, preferably organic
  • 500 g All-purpose flour – preferably organic and avoiding bleached flour, used to maintain and feed the starter
  • 1 qt filtered water or spring water is even better*, room temperature

Instructions

Day 1 Make your Starter

  • Record the weight of your jar in grams before you add anything and label the jar with your starting date for easier tracking.
  • Add 100 grams (3/4 cup) whole wheat or rye flour and 100 grams (1/2 cup) water. Stir together thoroughly with a fork (it will be very thick), scrape down the sides with a spatula. Cover with a loose-fitting lid and let it rest at room temperature for 24 hours*. Put a rubber band around your jar to mark the growth of your starter. Label the jar with a date to track.

Day 2: No Changes Noted

  • Likely nothing is happening. You might see some tiny bubbles or it will look exactly the same. Let it rest for another 24 hours

Day 3 (stage 2) Visible Growth and Bubbles in Jar

  • Remove and discard half of the starter in the trash so it does not affect the plumbing. You should have 100 grams (1/2 cup) of starter left. Add 100 grams (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour and 100 grams (1/2 cup) room temp water. Stir thoroughly, scrape down the sides of the jar, cover loosely, and rest at room temperature for 24 hours

Day 4 (72 Hours into the process): See a lot of bubbles

  • Remove and discard all but 100 grams of starter. Add 100 grams (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour and 100 grams (1/2 cup) room-temperature water. Stir thoroughly, scrape down the sides of the jar, cover loosely, and rest 24 hours.
    Note: In a couple of my many tests, my starter seemed to slow down its growth on day 4 for no apparent reason. If that happens, just keep feeding it – it will turn back around.

Day 5: Visible growth and bubbles.

  • Remove and discard all but 100 grams of starter. Add 100 grams (3/4 cup) All-purpose flour and 100 grams (1/2 cup) room-temperature water. Stir thoroughly, scrape down the sides of the jar, cover loosely, and rest 24 hours.

Day 6-7: Your starter may double or more

  • Remove and discard all but 100 grams of starter. Add 100 grams (3/4 cup) All-purpose flour and 100 grams (1/2 cup) room-temperature water. Stir thoroughly, scrape down the sides of the jar, cover loosely, and rest until more than doubled in volume.

Testing Your Starter

  • When your starter is ready, it should peak between 4-6 hours and start to recede after 12 hours. It should smell sour and pleasant, drop a dollop of your starter into a bowl of water. If it floats, it’s healthy enough to use in recipes. If your starter isn’t ready by day 7, continue feeding it following this schedule. It may take a bit longer depending on many factors—such as the flour use and the environment.

How to Maintain your starter

  • For frequent bakers: store at room temperature. Discard and feed every 24 hours. To use the starter, feed and wait for the starter to reach its peak, 4-6 hours then remove the portion needed for the recipe.
  • For casual bakers (weekly): store in the fridge. Once a week, discard and feed the starter, then let it rest at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours before returning it to the fridge. If baking, remove the starter from the fridge and bring to room temperature overnight. Discard and feed. When the starter reaches its peak, remove the portion needed for the recipe, then feed and refrigerate.

Notes

  • Temperature is key: The room temperature will affect how quickly the starter develops. The ideal growing temperature is 68-75 degrees. a cold kitchen may take longer. For colder kitchens, consider storing in a warmer location or start with lukewarm 85˚F water.
  • Use non-chlorinated water: Chlorine can hinder the growth of yeast and bacteria. Use filtered water or spring water for best results. To dechlorinate your water, you can boil and cool or set your water into a vessel and leave it on the counter for 1 day to naturally dechlorinate and come to room temperature.
  • Consistency: try to feed your starter consistently at the same time each day.
  • Patience is essential: Starters can vary in how quickly they develop, so don’t worry if yours takes a little longer. Don’t try to speed it along in too warm of an environment or you can exhaust your yeast.
Course: Bread, How to
Cuisine: American
Keyword: sourdough starter, sourdough starter recipe
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $

Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

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Comments

  • Ann Campbell
    April 16, 2024

    Hello Natasha,
    You mentioned in your video that you can use the discarded starter in other recipes? What would those recipes be?

    Reply

    • Natasha
      April 17, 2024

      HI Ann, I will have to create a separate post for that! Currently my favorite is to fry up the risen starter discard into a flatbread seasoned with salt and sauteed in lots of extra virgin olive oil.

      Reply

  • Tina K
    April 15, 2024

    Hi Natasha !
    What if the starter doubled the second day? I live in a tropical climate. ? Thank you

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      April 15, 2024

      Hi Tina! That’s great! That is a promising sign that your starter is active! Living in a tropical/ warmer climate can definitely impact the fermentation timeline and process. Since it is doubling quickly, I would keep a close eye on its behavior and continue observing its activity as you feed it. If it continues to rise rapidly, you may need to adjust your feeding schedule to maintain its health and possibly even feed it more frequently. You’re off to a great start!

      Reply

  • Udeen Pierce
    April 15, 2024

    Hello dear, I followed this recipe and on day 2 it was very bubbly and smell kinda bad, is it still good.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      April 15, 2024

      Hi Udeen, it’s great that your starter has bubbles – that’s a sign of an active starter If it smells bad however, that is not a good sign of a healthy starter I would caution you to watch for mold or bacteria growth. Trust your senses if the odor is strong I would start fresh. check for mold as well. Overall, trust your instinct and start fresh if it feels its not safe.

      Reply

  • Irina
    April 4, 2024

    Hi!
    I’ve been following this recipe for 3 weeks now but not having much luck. My starter has tons of bubbles each time but only grows a little over 100ml. I started off by using the whole wheat flour you have pictured. Then I have been using King Arthur Unbleached Organic All purpose flour with room temperature water 1:1:1 ratio. I keep it at 70-72 degrees all day and night. Do you have any tips or suggestions for me?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      April 6, 2024

      Hi Irina, it sounds like you’re well into your sourdough journey – that’s so exciting! Since you are seeing a lot of bubbles in your started, that is a good sign, but it sounds like it may need a little more time to mature. A few tips I can share – ensure you are maintaining consistency. it is crucial when feeding your starter you’re doing it around the same time each day and you are sticking to the proper ratio. If your starter is active but not bubbling, you may want to try increasing the frequency or adjusting your ratio to see if that will help kick start it. You also want to consider your flour selection, just ensure what you’re using is high-quality, unbleached and is organic. More than anything, patience is key. Sometimes, and due to the starters environment, it can take a bit longer for it to become more active and mature. Keep feeding it regularly.

      Reply

  • Jennifer
    April 1, 2024

    Hi Natasha,
    I started with a dark rye flour/water mixture. On the evening of Day 3, the starter had risen to the top but when I woke up the next morning which would have been Day 4 it sunk and smelled terrible. Is it possible it was ready on Day 3? I started another one today using whole wheat flour and a different location.
    Thanks.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      April 2, 2024

      HI Jennifer, 3 days is not enough time for it to develop properly. It’s more likely that the environment was too warm. You have to be careful with temperatures or you can exhaust your yeast. I’ve done that and had to start over. If you continue feeding that one (which I would), and yo see some growth, just keep feeding it daily until it more than doubles.

      Reply

  • Pam
    March 28, 2024

    My starter rose on day 3 and after that, it has not risen or doubled. I started with Rye flour and have been feeding with all-purpose. There are bubbles and it doesn’t have a bad smell. Today is day 6. My house is about 68 degrees. Do I just keep on feeding? Can I feed with Rye for a couple of days and then go back to all-purpose?

    Reply

    • Natasha
      March 28, 2024

      HI Pam, It sounds like your home is slightly on the cooler side. When you feed it, try lukewarm water (make sure it’s non-chlorinated – see the notes above). You can add a little more rye flour which might give it a boost next time. You should be seeing some growth by now.

      Reply

  • Sara
    March 26, 2024

    Hi Natasha, can I use distilled water for this instead of regular water?

    Thanks so much!

    Thanks

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      March 27, 2024

      Hi Sara! Using spring water, bottled water, or filtered purified water is best. In my research, there seem to be mixed opinions about distilled water because of it’s lack of minerals.

      Reply

  • Danielle McQueen
    March 26, 2024

    Hey there! I have a starter but I’m not sure if it’s ready or not. I tried the float test but it only floated for a few seconds before it sunk. Does that mean it needs another day to be fed?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      March 27, 2024

      Hi Danielle, since it sunk a few minutes in, it’s not quite ready yet. That indicated it hasn’t reached its peak. give it another day or two with regular feedings and test again. I hope this helps.

      Reply

  • Mary
    March 20, 2024

    Hi Natasha, I am on day 9 and my starter hasn’t doubled in size since day 3. My house is cooler so I have been using water around 85 degrees and keeping it in a cabinet. It looks healthy as it has bubbles and it will rise slightly. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    Reply

    • Natasha
      March 21, 2024

      Hi Mary, since not all homes are equal in temperature and humidity, I would just give it a little more time. Yours may just be taking longer. Did you start with a whole grain flour like rye or whole wheat?

      Reply

  • Marina
    March 19, 2024

    Hi Natasha, I don’t see any mention of light or dark environment.. my day 4 and 5 were chilly but lots of sunlight, and I kept it in sunlight thinking that it would be warmer and be good for it, but the starter stopped growing completely and had a strong smell.. im staring it over and have seen another video where it was kept in pantry with towel over it. Will try to keep it in dark place now and see if that will help.

    Reply

  • Stanley
    March 17, 2024

    What to do around day 4 if a layer of water developed half way up in the starter?

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      March 17, 2024

      Hi Stanley. It’s likely that your starter is hungry and needs to be fed. See my troubleshooting tips in my other blog post titled, How to feed sourdough starter.

      Reply

  • Cathy
    March 12, 2024

    Looking forward to starting sourdough. Is it OK to make it in a pottery big bowl?

    Reply

    • Natasha
      March 13, 2024

      Hi Cathy, I’m not sure what you mean by ‘pottery big bowl’ but you can use a bowl and line it with a lint-free tea clean kitchen towel such as a tea towel. The Banneton bowl just makes the process much more convenient.

      Reply

  • Gina
    March 7, 2024

    Hi thank you for all your wonderful tips and recipes. Is it ok to continue to feed my started with rye flour instead of all purpose flour?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      March 7, 2024

      Hi Gina, you can continue to feed it with rye, you can also experiment with a rye and all purpose flour ratio. I hope this helps.

      Reply

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