There are a lot of ways to use your discarded sourdough starter, but these sourdough discard scallion pancakes are so easy to make that you might find yourself feeding your starter more often just so you have a reason to eat them.
Traditional scallion pancakes have more in common with your average cinnamon roll than they do a pancake.
First, you have to make the dough. Then it needs to rise. Next, it gets rolled out into a big rectangle. Then you layer on the scallions and roll it up into a log, only, instead of slicing it into rounds like you would to make cinnamon rolls (see, I told you they were similar!) you spiral that log into a flat coil, roll it flat again, and then pan fry it.
And that's just for one pancake! I'm exhausted just writing about it.
These sourdough discard scallion pancakes, on the other hand, are more like their flapjack cousins. Even better, they're so super easy to make — if you have a sourdough starter.
Note: While these sourdough discard scallion pancakes are delicious, I cannot, in good conscious recommend getting a sourdough starter just so you can make them. That is way too much work.
scallion pancakes are the most time-efficient use of your discard sourdough starter
As those of you dutifully maintaining your sourdough starters know, often when you feed them, you end up discarding a portion. And that kind of sucks!
I hate wasting food, so for the longest time I just never fed my starter unless I was going to use it — it would go a month or two between feedings. And yes, there's a whole world of sourdough discard recipes out there, but... they can still be a lot of work.
Sometimes I feed my starter while I'm making dinner, or in the morning before work, and I don't really want to get out a whole bunch of dishes or mess around with the mixer to make waffles or popovers or whatever.
Not only are these sourdough scallion pancakes a great way to put that discard starter to use, they're also a great way to use up a remaining nib of fresh ginger that you bought for one specific recipe or use the last few scallions that are starting to wilt.
They're so easy to make that I'm actually more likely feed my starter now because I want to make scallion pancakes than I am because I want to make sourdough bread. (For more on how I maintain my starter, click here.)
how to make sourdough scallion pancakes
Sourdough starter is a leavening agent made from a fermented mixture of flour, water, and natural yeast and bacteria from the air. You can literally pour your starter right onto a hot skillet, sprinkle some sliced scallions and sesame seeds (for crunch!) on it, and it will become a pancake.
But... while you can certainly stop there if you want, I like to take an extra 60 seconds to dress my scallion pancakes up just a bit more.
I use sesame oil, water, and a splash of soy sauce to transform the thick starter into a pancake batter-like consistency, and add some additional flavors — ginger, sesame oil, a pinch of salt and pepper — to offset the concentrated sourness of it all.
adjust the recipe to suit the flavor of your sourdough starter
Based on the flavor of your starter, you may want to adjust the recipe. I feed my starter with 50% AP flour and 50% whole wheat flour, so the sour flavor is moderately strong. If you have a 100% whole wheat or rye starter, yours will be even more sour, and if you use 100% AP flour, the sour flavor will be much less pronounced.
So think of the recipe below as guidelines, and definitely feel free to mess around with other toppings. One time I added some shredded leftover carnitas from taco night to my pancakes. Another time I added crumbled pieces of bacon. Sometimes I use fresh grated ginger instead of the powdered stuff if I have a piece leftover from another recipe that I don't want to waste.
And, fwiw, I eyeball pretty much everything while I'm making these. The whole point is to not make more dishes — don't bust out the measuring spoons unless you have to.
sourdough discard scallion pancakes vs. fried sourdough discard
The recipe below, while it could technically be called "fried sourdough discard" is basically just a pancake. These sourdough discard scallion pancakes are soft and flexible with a tender crumb. They're not flatbreads, and they're not going to be airy and crispy. They might have slightly crisp edges depending on how much oil you use, but they're much more similar to a breakfast pancake in texture than a flatbread.
other posts you might like
- soft sourdough discard beer pretzels
- 6 tips for feeding and discarding your sourdough starter
- how to maintain a small sourdough starter
- 9+ stylish, functional containers for your sourdough starter
sourdough discard scallion pancakes
- 1 cup sourdough starter discard
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil (some for the pancake, some for the skillet)
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger (or ½ teaspoon fresh ginger)
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- splash of water
- 3 tablespoon sesame seeds
- ½ cup scallions (thinly sliced)
- soy sauce (for dipping)
- Mix discard starter, sesame oil, salt, pepper, and ginger (basically everything except water) together in whatever bowl or container your discard starter is in.
- Add water a little splash at a time, mixing until thoroughly combined in between additions. Stop when the mixture is the consistency of a thick pancake batter. Note: This will work even if you don't add any water — but if you add too much water your pancakes will be pretty flat, so go slowly and err on the side of less water if you're not sure.
- Heat sesame oil a skillet just over medium heat.
- Pour ¼ of starter mixture into skillet. Top with thinly sliced scallions and sesame seeds. When the edges are dark and bubbles have formed around the edges and surface of the pancake (about 2-3 minutes) flip and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
- Transfer finished pancakes to a plate, cut them into wedges, and serve with a small bowl of soy sauce for dipping.
- For a little extra oompf in your pancakes add ⅛ teaspoon baking soda and ⅛ teaspoon baking powder and let the batter sit 30 minutes before cooking.
- Sesame oil has a low smoke point, so keep an eye on your burner as you heat it up. Every stove is a bit different, you may need to lower your temp if it starts to smoke.
Great recipe. However the ingredients list both 1 tsp of salt _AND_ 1/4 tsp salt.
Ah, thank you for catching! It should be 1/4 tsp, but of course adjust to taste if needed! I've adjusted the recipe.
This recipe is outstanding! Thank you so much.
Thank you so much!!! Enjoy your scallion pancakes!
absolutely delicious, thank you so much!
super delicious!! we only had a little bit of sesame oil so i only used it in the batter and we didn't have sesame seeds either but these still turned out great! i sprinkled with a little bit of salt when i added the scallions as well. thanks for the recipe!
Ooooh I love the idea of sprinkling salt with the scallions! Glad it worked out for you 🙂
A cup is 8 oz, and a cup of starter weighs significantly more than 3–4 oz. Could you clarify? Do you use a cup (volume) or 4 oz of weight?
Good question! So the whole recipe is meant to use however much starter you have left, and since starter can be quite bubbly and airy, it's hard to estimate how much a cup of starter weighs. A cup of airy, bubbly starter can weigh 4 oz. If it's not airy or bubbly at all, a cup might weigh closer to 8 oz. In this case I'm talking about weight measurements, not volume measurements. So a cup of starter, or approximately 3-4 oz by weight. But again, it's all meant to be approximate, so adjust accordingly!
Thank you! After I asked I figured that the weight/volume difference might be based on whether the starter was fresh or spent—and I agree that a cup of fresh starter has so much carbon dioxide in it that it is much lighter than the old starter sitting in the back of the fridge!
Point very well taken that the amounts are approximate, so I'll experiment. Excited to give this a try, and I can totally see myself making new starter just to have more of these pancakes. Now to see whether the local grocery store has sesame seeds... 🙂
So how old is this started. Did you just feed it or has it expanded to double after 6 hours type thing? I did this with 1 day old starter and it was AWEFUL!
I've used 1 or 2 day old starter without a problem. But that might just be personal preference! The older/less active the starter, the more intense the sour flavor will be. It's not for everyone. But you can play around with adding more of the flavors to your discard OR just use fresh, active starter. It's really up to you!
This looks delicious! Do I need to use a somewhat active starter or a dormant discard from fridge is okay?
It depends on how long it's been dormant. If I haven't fed mine in a month or so, I'll feed mine a few days in a row before using it to make bread — the first day of discard is useless, but any discard after that first day is good to use for these! You want a little bit of activity, but it doesn't have to be super bubbly.
Can you use cold started from the refrigerator or does it have to be recently fed and room temperature?
Cold starter from the refrigerator is fine! You do want it to be somewhat active, so if you're taking it out of the fridge for the first time in weeks, I wouldn't use that first batch of discard. But if you fed it a day or two before and put it back in the fridge and want to use it from there, that'll be fine. This is a very imprecise recipe — it'll "work" no matter how old your starter is. The fresher and more active the starter the less sour and less dense the pancake will be. So the best kind of starter discard to use is room temp & bubbly, but if it was fed within the past 42 hours and has been in the fridge, that's okay too. I def encourage you to play around with it and see how the timing and temperature affect the taste and texture of the pancakes! You might have a different preference than me. 🙂
Hi, I’ve tried a few versions of this and mine are always raw in the middle? Any suggestions on why this is?
It's possible your stove is too hot or not hot enough — if the exterior of your pancakes are very dark and the insides are raw, reduce the burner temp so the insides can cook without burning the outsides. If the exterior of your pancakes are pale, you probably have your burners too low and can either increase the heat or let them cook longer. One other tip: Wait to flip the pancake until the surface has lots of visible bubbles and you can see a border around the outside that is almost fully cooked. You'll want to make sure your burners aren't runnning too hot or you'll burn the bottom of the pancake, but if you can wait for the pancake to be maybe 3/4 of the way cooked before flipping you won't run the risk of rawness inside! I hope this helps!
Doesn’t sesame oil have a low smoke point? This filled my kitchen with smoke and my pancakes were raw in the middle.
I'm sorry to hear that! Sesame oil does have a low smoke point. Every stove is a little bit different — I have an electric stove and have never had an issue with my burner being at a medium-high/high-medium heat. You may need to just adjust your burner and use a lower temperature so that the pancake has time to cook all the way through. I've adjusted the recipe & added a note about the smoke point to help others avoid running into this issue. Thanks for the feedback!
Awesome! Do you think it will work taste wise with a rye and pineapple juice start?
I honestly don't know! My starter is just flour + water, and I've never worked with a rye and fruit based one. It can't hurt to try though! Start by making one plain+scallions without any of the added flavors, just a small amount like a silver-dollar pancake. Then experiment with adding in some of the other flavors to see how they turn out! Let me know how it goes — I'm so curious! Good luck!
These were delicious! I fry them in a regular neutral flavored oil (light olive oil is what I had) because I’ve never had success frying with sesame oil - it can get bitter as well as the low smoke point. Other than that I love the improv nature of this recipe - I’ve made them 3 times since I discovered this recipe a week ago - each time it came out a little different but always yummy.
So glad to hear this!! <3
Hello, I would like to know if we can freeze these scallion pancakes? If possible, I suppose that we should cook them through first on the pan (but not too much) before cooling them and then we bag them into a freezer bag?
I haven’t tried this with these pancakes so can’t say for sure but I would treat them like I do when I freeze regular pancakes. Cook them all the way through, then freeze them on a parchment or silicone mat lined baking sheet. Once frozen, take them off the mat/parchment and store them in an airtight bag or container in the freezer. To reheat, pop them in the oven at 350F for 10-15 mins or until warmed through. Let me know if this works for you!
So yummy. Question? Do you think if I can bake this pancake batter in the muffin tray in oven? Thanks
You know what? I don’t know. But it’s such a fast batter to make — literally just mixing stuff into your starter — that I don’t see why it wouldn’t hurt to try it! I would treat it almost like a Yorkshire pudding. Put maybe 1 tsp oil in the bottom of a cup in your muffin in and heat it to 375 or 400 so the oil is hot. Then scoop some of the batter in and immediately bake it for maybe 15-20 minutes. This might not work! Bare minimum you can just scoop some plain discard starter into a greased muffin cup and see what happens! But I think the Yorkshire pudding method might give you more volume and crispness...
If you try any of these let me know!
Thanks for your suggestion. I will try one day😊
I might start making sourdough starter just to make these discard pancakes. I added some ponzu, garlic powder, MSG (look it up, MSG is not bad for you), citric acid crystals to make it more sour and the scallions. My family wants more.
I LOVE MSG! I’m so glad you do too! This sounds so good — never occurred to me to use citric acid though. Such a good idea to amp up that sour flavor!
What did i do wrong? I got some sourdough starter from my sis-in-law because this recipe sounded like such an easy way to use the discard (i hate the idea of food waste).
My pancake turned out gummy, although it was cooked through. The texture (kind of mochi like) was so unpleasant i threw it out. Now I'm rethinking if I'm really up for taking care of a starter.
hmmm without more info it’s hard to say! Did you try the version with baking soda and baking powder? That will help you get a little bit of a rise to them. It might also be that you used starter that was a little less active (I recommend using starter that’s been fed within the past week), or it might be that the starter you have isnt 100% hydration or you feed it different flours, and you need to play around with the amount of things you add to it to make it work for this. As I said in the post several times this is not a very precise recipe and the level of sourness and the texture will change based on your specific sourdough starter. It can take a few tries to find the right ratios that work for you, or it might just be that you don’t like this type of pancake. I have some other beginner’s guide to sourdough posts on the blog which will help you with the feeding/discarding of it — I wouldn’t let this dishearten you from taking care of a starter! This is just one way to use the discard. If you bake with your starter often, you’ll use the discard for bread! If you don’t bake with your starter often you will need to use or toss it, which I know can be hard when you don’t like food waste. Check out my tips for feeding and discarding sourdough and my blog post on maintaining a small sourdough starter — the small starter tips are great for people who want to minimize food waste!