Family Recipe

Easy Sourdough Chocolate-Chip Cookies and Happy Kids

A recipe for making joy filled memories.

My friend bakes with her granddaughters. Photo by Charlie Stroud. Used with permission.
My friend bakes with her granddaughters. Photo by Charlie Stroud. Used with permission.

When I was a kid, my mother handed me her giant cookbook ‘bible’ opened to a page where she had written down a “Thumbprint Cookie” recipe. I made this recipe many times because I enjoyed my success in measuring, mixing, and baking these cookies.

As a teen, I picked up the Nestle Toll House cookie recipe and easily made it, since I already knew how to read a recipe. The best kitchen memories I have is when I worked side-by-side with my grandma making cakes, pies, cookies and breads.

This easy sourdough chocolate chip cookie recipe uses up sourdough discard you might otherwise waste. If you make it with your children or grandchildren, they will learn important cooking skills while you make wonderful memories together.

If you don’t have a sourdough starter, you can begin one here.

Why this recipe works.

To make this recipe, you will need to use completely depleted sourdough discard. This means you do not want any activity or bubbling occurring, so take out the portion of the starter you need before you give it a regular feeding. Let it sit on the counter until all bubbling has stopped.

Because the discard is depleted, it will not cause lift in the cookies. Active yeast creates air pockets within dough, or lift. Depleted yeast does not, so your cookies will spread out and become crisp instead.

Sourdough discard is made up of water and flour, so you must use less flour than in a non-sourdough recipe. A lower baking temperature allows the moisture to dry out of the cookies without burning them. It creates a fluffy inside and crispy outside. The best part is the added flavor you get from the discard.

The extra moisture from the discard makes the batter less stiff, and easier to mix for small arms. You can let small children flatten the dough into disks to bake or roll it into a log for older children to carefully cut into slices with a knife.

Kids love making cookies, and they will love making these. If you have more than one child, assign each one a part of the mixing to complete. Then work together to cut, shape, and bake. There’s nothing better than eating a hot, chewy, chocolate chip cookie, fresh from the oven.

Ingredients for sourdough chocolate chip cookies

  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick or 122 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 Tbsp (½ c. or 96 g.) of all-purpose shortening like Crisco
  • ⅓ c. (67 g.) granulated sugar
  • ½ c. (100 g.) packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp (5 g.) pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 c. (225 g.) sourdough discard
  • 1 ½ c. (336 g.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 c. (112 g.) chopped pecans (optional)
  • 2 c. (284 g.) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp (5 g.) Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp (2 g.) baking soda
  • ¾ tsp (3 g.) baking powder

If you prefer, you can use all butter, or all shortening when making these cookies. In addition, if you want macadamia nuts, walnuts, peanuts, or any other kind you like, you can substitute them or use none at all.

Get a printable copy of this recipe here.

Mixing your sourdough chocolate chip cookies.

Step 1

Cream together the softened butter and shortening in a bowl. Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar. Whisk vigorously for one minute and let rest for 10 minutes. Repeat the whisking and resting four times in total. This dissolves the sugar completely, allowing you to use less.

Step 2

In a small bowl or measuring cup, beat the eggs slightly with a fork before adding the vanilla and sourdough discard. Mix thoroughly. Add this mixture to your butter and sugar mixture, stirring gently until smooth. Add in the chocolate chips and pecans.

Step 3

In a large bowl, add the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Whisk together to combine. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and fold together until it forms a ball. Be careful not to overmix, as this will make the cookies tough.

Step 4

Roll the dough into logs that are a about 1½-inch to 2-inches in diameter. If necessary, divide into two or more lengths. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. This allows the dough to become firm and easier to handle.

Note: If you have very small children who should not use a knife, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. You will scoop out balls of dough that they can flatten into appropriately sized disks for baking.

Baking your sourdough chocolate chip cookies.

Position two of your oven racks in the two most center positions of your oven. Preheat your oven to 325℉. This temperature is slightly lower than most cookie recipes, but allows you to cook them longer.

While your oven is preheating, line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. Remove your chilled dough from the refrigerator and remove the plastic wrap.

If you made your dough into logs, slice ½-inch slices and lay them 1-inch apart on the parchment lined cookie sheet. If you didn’t form logs, scoop out 2-inch balls of dough and flatten them into ½-inch disks that are about 2-inches in diameter.

You can bake two cookie sheets at a time. When your oven is preheated, place one cookie sheet on your upper middle rack and the other on the lower one. How long they bake depends on your preferred results. For a slightly chewier cookie, bake for 6–8 minutes. A crisper, cake-like cookie bakes 8–10 minutes.

To promote even browning, halfway through your bake (usually 4 to 5 minutes) switch the position of each baking sheet. Move the top sheet to the bottom rack and the bottom sheet to the top one. Also, rotate each cookie sheet 180 degrees so that the front of each sheet is at the back of the oven.

The cookie may appear undercooked, even at the maximum time. If you cook them until they appear done, they will be overbaked. However, the cookies will continue to ‘cook’ for a few minutes while they cool.

If you find that your oven does not cook them to your desired brownness at this temperature, increase it to 350℉ and pay close attention to their doneness levels. Slide the parchment paper from the cookie sheet onto a wire cooling rack and cool completely before storing the cookies.

Variations on my sourdough chocolate chip cookies.

Peppermint Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies

A few years ago, my husband found a recipe for mint chocolate chip cookies that added mint extract to the dough. Before baking them you sprinkle crushed candy canes over the top. When I couldn’t find mint extract anywhere, I resorted to putting crushed candy canes in the dough.

I did the same thing to my sourdough chocolate chip cookies. A box of 12 candy canes gave me six to crush for the dough. Then I crushed the other six and put the bits into a small bowl. As I sliced each cookie, I pressed one side into the crushed candy and placed that side up on the cookie sheet, then baked as usual.

Sourdough Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Instead of using shortening in the dough, try using 8 tablespoons (½ cup) of smooth peanut butter. Then substitute chopped peanuts for the nuts. You can put half into the dough and dip each disk of dough into a bowl of chopped peanuts before baking it.

Sourdough Butterscotch Macadamia Nut Cookies

Instead of semi-sweet chocolate chips, substitute 1 ½ cups of butterscotch morsels and 1 cup chopped macadamia nuts for the pecans.

Sourdough Fudge Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Whisk 2 tablespoons of baker’s chocolate powder (unsweetened) to the flour mixture. Substitute an equal amount of mint chocolate chips for the semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Go make memories!

No matter how you make these, your family will love them and you will make wonderful memories with all the children in your life. The warm memories last a lifetime.

Bon Appetit!

If you loved this recipe, try making my sourdough coconut oatmeal cookies.

Click here to get a printable copy of this recipe.

Pat Davis, a retired teacher and editor of Simply Living and Living Simply, lives with her husband and neurotic cat, Neko. She loves to read, write, travel, bake, garden, sew, and craft.