The Easiest GF Sourdough Starter began as an experiment, I’ll explain in the post. This recipe includes a video, new instructions and a printable 1-pager to help you create a smaller portion. Nothing goes to waste in the process! All you need is GF brown rice flour, water, fresh lemon juice, a small bowl, a cover and a chopstick. Within 7 days, you should have a lively bubbly starter to use in a recipe.
The Easiest GF Sourdough Starter
I’ve never been too fond of discarding when creating a GF starter. When making a new sourdough starter, you need to remove a little at some point in the process. Doing so helps to strengthen and increase the wild yeast activity. Once you have an established starter, you shouldn’t have to discard if you plan your baking schedule accordingly. Maintaining your starter by refreshing it regularly, if you don’t bake with it often, is essential.
This smaller portion includes a zero-waste process. The few times you need to remove a little, keep it to make something else such as pancakes, crackers, discard chips, pizza crusts, flatbreads, etc. If you can’t use it right away, keep it in the fridge for a few days until you’re ready.
How-To YouTube Video
Watch this video to see how straightforward it is to make the Easiest GF Sourdough Starter.
Why Lemon Juice
This starter was an experiment. I was trying to see if I could create a mock sourdough starter by adding fresh lemon juice to sour a flour and water mixture. I wanted to bake sourdough crackers without an actual fermented wild yeast mixture to compare.
The mixture was gritty; for that reason, I didn’t feel like baking with it. I left it on my counter for a couple of days, and to my surprise, it was transforming beautifully into a new starter. At this point, I continued with the process, fed it smaller amounts trying not to remove too much. Within a week, I had the most pleasant sweet smelling GF sourdough starter.
The lemon juice helps to set the right acidity in the sourdough starter without making it smell or taste like vinegar, which can happen when creating and maintaining a sourdough starter.
Cultures for Health has an article about manipulating the sourness of sourdough, read it here.
The 7-Day Process
Please note that both starters with or without lemon juice will transform into wild yeast. The difference is the smell and taste of the starters. My favourite was the one with lemon juice. It gave the mixture such a pleasant aroma!
Ready to Use on Days 7 or 8
Your GF sourdough starter should be lively and ready to use on Days 7 or 8. If yours looks bubbly and active on Day 7, go ahead and add some to a recipe, but please, whatever you do, don’t forget to save a little to continue the process if that is what you plan to do.
All the details are in the recipe’s instructions below and this condensed printable 1-pager!
Tested Until Perfect
When experimenting while testing new recipes, I take a lot of notes. I encourage you to do the same, especially for any GF sourdough recipes.
For the Easiest GF Sourdough Starter, I even got a few amazing ladies to test my new instructions. Thank you, Kathy, Kelly and Silvia for helping me out!
Kelly graciously shared her experience and pictures of her 8-day progress.
I am pretty new to sourdough starters. I decided about four months ago to make one and came across Fresh is Real on YouTube, so I gave the brown rice starter a try. It took me a couple of attempts and a few bags of brown rice flour, but I finally had a decent starter and made a delicious loaf of the wild yeast bread. A couple of weeks later, my starter molded for some reason, so I had to throw it out. The thought of starting over seemed a little daunting, but when I heard about making a smaller batch, I decided to give it a go. This method was much easier with not having to feed it so often in the beginning. There were a couple of days in the process that I wasn’t sure if it was going to work or not, but by day 5, things starting looking great. Day 6, I questioned myself again. On day 7, it was nice, bubbly and active. This method gave me my confidence back, and I can’t wait to get baking! ~ Kelly Price, Southern California
Step-by-Step Printable 1-Pager
All the instructions are in the recipe card below. To make things easier, I also created a condensed step-by-step Printable 1-Pager that’s easier to follow.
Click the 1-Pager graphic above or use this link to get a printable copy
Previously on FiR
The last few recipes on Fresh is Real included gluten-free sourdough starter. If you’re reading this post to help you make your first homemade starter, don’t forget to come back and try more sourdough recipes!
Sourdough Discard Crackers
| Sourdough Treats:|
Gluten-Free Sourdough Brownies
If you have additional questions you can watch these two other helpful videos on gluten-free sourdough starters.
- Easy Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter Guide – Part 1
- Maintaining a Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter – Part 2
50 Best Vegan & Plant-Based Blogs
Fresh is Real makes Vegan Liftz’s top 2020 list for favourite Plant-Based & Vegan Recipe Blogs!
Did You Make This Recipe?
Once you try this recipe, remember to take a picture and share it with us on Instagram Tag it @Freshisreal_ #freshisreal
|⭐ RATE & COMMENT 📝|
|Lastly, don’t forget to rate this recipe and include a comment! Sharing your feedback helps others to find the recipe! Thank you!|
Easiest GF Sourdough Starter
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 7 days
- Yield: 3/4–1 cup (+/-200g) 1x
- Category: Bread, Sourdough
- Method: Fermentation
- Cuisine: Gluten-Free, Vegan, Plant-Based
- Diet: Gluten Free
A smaller portion recipe to help you to create the Easiest GF Sourdough Starter—in only 7 days! If you’ve already made one in the past, but it got mouldy or dry, this zero-waste method will be perfect for trying! One cup of GF brown rice flour, fresh lemon juice, water and a little patience are all you’ll need to get it going!
Don’t forget to print out the step-by-step 1-pager to help you along the way!
- 1 cup GF brown rice flour (120g)*
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- Water (spring or filtered), room temperature
- Cover (bowl/plate, plastic/fabric wrap)
- Small soup bowl (1-2 cups)
- Chopstick (wood or plastic)
- Small silicone spatula
Before you begin, please watch the how-to YouTube video!
DAY 1 –
To a small bowl, combine and mix 6 tablespoons of brown rice flour (50g), 1/4 cup of water (60g/60ml) and 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice. Cover the bowl and place it in a warm spot in your kitchen.
DAY 2 –
During the day, uncover the starter, smell it and stir the mixture. Use a soft spatula to keep the sides of the bowl clean. Cover it and keep it in its warm spot.
DAY 3 –
Repeat Day 2. Uncover the starter, smell and stir it. Clean the sides of the bowl with a spatula to prevent mould. Cover the starter and place it somewhere warm.
DAY 4 –
In the morning, uncover and smell your starter. Add 1/2 tablespoon of brown rice flour and mix. Adding more water might not be necessary. If your mixture is too thick, add a touch of water, mix and cover. Check on it later in the evening and stir it.
DAY 5 –
Early in the day, remove half the starter**, feed it 1/4 cup of brown rice flour (or heaping spoonful), and enough water to stir. At this point, the mixture might be thin, that’s ok. Cover the bowl and let it ferment/rise.
A few hours later, you can add a spoonful of brown rice flour and mix if the starter is too thin. Don’t add more water if you don’t need it. Later in the evening, you can expect your starter to be fluffy, bubbly and lighter in texture.
DAY 6 –
First thing in the morning, uncover and smell your starter. Remove a spoonful of starter**, feed it a heaping spoonful of brown rice flour with enough water to stir and cover.
DAY 6 – 2nd feeding (pm): Don’t remove any starter, add a spoonful of flour, a little water, mix and cover. A few hours later, check on the starter and stir it if you wish.
DAY 7 –
What to expect: Today, your starter might be ready. Smell it! Does it have a yeasty aroma? A little sweet? Can you hear popping bubbles when you gently stir it? Ultimately the goal is to make the starter very active by feeding it one more time and build it up to create enough starter for whichever recipe you plan to bake. This smaller portion creates about 3/4 to 1 cup (+/-200g), which is enough for some recipes.
- TIP 1: If you need more than 1 cup of starter for a recipe, consider transferring your GF sourdough starter in progress to a bigger bowl or clear glass jar before the next feeding. Doing so will give the starter extra space to grow.
- TIP 2: If you want to bake on Day 8, feed your starter later on Day 7, before your bedtime is great! Doing so will hopefully make the starter lively by the morning.
- TIP 3: You will need to keep a heaping spoonful of starter to continue the starter process. To reduce waste, save the Day 7 discard (instructions below) as the start of the next sourdough starter batch.
DAY 7 –
Instructions: Before you go to bed, remove a heaping spoonful of your starter and put it in a new bowl to make a fresh batch of starter***.
To the first bowl, add a heaping spoonful (or more) of fresh brown rice flour with enough water to stir, cover and let it ferment overnight. Remember: You want to feed it enough flour and water to transform the mixture into a full bowl of wild yeast for the recipe you’re making. If you need to create more than 1 cup of active GF sourdough starter, the feeding will require more flour and water.
DAY 8 – First thing in the morning:
Today, the starter should hold its rise and be active. You will hear bubbles popping if you stir it gently. Now is the perfect time to add some to a GF sourdough bread recipe.
You can make the Gluten-Free BBQ Sourdough or continue to feed and build up the new starter to create even more for a bigger loaf like the Wild Yeast Bread.
*You’ll need approximately 1 cup of flour to create a small bowl of GF sourdough starter. Use organic flour when possible. Depending on the GF sourdough bread recipe you are baking, you might need extra flour to make more starter.
**You can keep what you remove to make pancakes, crackers, or quick flatbreads.
***Saving the discard from Day 7 will help you continue the process. With this new bowl, feed it a generous amount of flour and water, mix and ferment. Once active, you can use it or refrigerate it until you’re ready to bake again. Ready to bake? Take it out of the refrigerator and feed it more fresh flour and water and give it time to get active. You might not need to discard. But if your starter was left in the fridge for 1-2 weeks without refreshing, it might work faster to remove a little before you feed it. If you refresh it regularly and bake with it often, you shouldn’t have to discard any. Remember to feed your starter the amount of flour and water it needs to create enough starter for the recipe you want to bake. If you don’t use it often, it will be important to refresh it once in a while, every 1-2 weeks will be best for this smaller portion, if not it might dry up.
Additional Notes: If you see mould, don’t take a chance, throw it out and start over. Make sure to use clean tools. Scraping the side of the bowl with a soft spatula helps to keep bowl tidy and clean. If your cover gets too messy, switch it for a new one. Lastly, have fun with the process and watch out for fruit flies—they love starter!
Keywords: Bread, Gluten-Free Bread, Gluten-Free Sourdough, Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter, Fermented, Fermentation, Wild Yeast, Sourdough Bread
Can you use a different flour besides brown rice flour ?View Comment
I’ve never tried making bread before but want to learn
Hi Sarah! Of course, you can! Other GF flours that work well for GF sourdough starters are sorghum flour, light buckwheat flour (or freshly milled buckwheat groats), millet, GF oat, and grain-free cassava flour. I’ve tried with many other GF flours, such as teff (great for Injera), dark buckwheat, green banana flour, etc., but those flours tend to require more attention to maintain.View Comment
Hi Chantal! Just wondering at which point we put the starter in the fridge? I saw at one point you mention day 7 when it’s ready… but my starter is at day 4 and since last night (3) it was popping and seemed ready!? Not sure if I should continue through the 7 days in my pantry or put it in the fridge. Thanks in advance, I’ve been loving all your lovely videos! 🥰View Comment
Hi Moriah! After the 7 days, if you feel that you’ve achieved a good level of activity and your starter seems ready, you can store it in the fridge. Ideally, baking with some would be great but if you can’t just yet, remember to take it out of the fridge to refresh it with some flour and water at least once per week to keep it thriving. If your starter is very new, I feel it would be best to remove some starter from the jar first and then feed it. When refreshing a starter, you can leave it out at room temperature for a few hours and once you see the bubbles forming again and you know you can’t use some in a bread recipe just yet, return it to the fridge. I hope this helps.View Comment
So, theoretically if someone were to misread “2 teaspoons of lemon” and put 2 tablespoons of lemon in on day one, would that mean I—err, THEY should dump the starter and start over? Asking for myself… 🤦🏻♀️View Comment
Hi! No, no. Don’t worry, it’s ok! You could also increase the flour and water to a little more too if you want. I would keep going, I wouldn’t start over. See how it’s doing in a couple of days.View Comment
Excited to start baking with your starter recipe. I’m at the end of day 7 and it seems to be going well. Thinking I will attempt to bake something tomorrow.
When you’re feeding it after day 8 (every 1 to 2 weeks like you’ve mentioned) does it simply go back in the fridge or do you leave it on the counter for a day?View Comment
Hi Andrew! I’m a little late in replying. Did you decide to try baking a loaf? I keep my starter in the fridge and try to bake with it once per week. If I can’t bake for whatever reason, I will take it out feed it to keep it happy, wait a few hours until I see some activity then return it to the fridge. When I do take it out of the fridge to bake, I will try and feed it a couple of times to increase the activity before I use some in a bread recipe. So feed it once and wait for it to get active and then feed it again and wait a few hours then use some when it’s at its peak of activity. I hope this makes sense.View Comment
I started my sourdough 2 days ago. I saw bubbles this morning and got excited. But when I opened it at dinner time to feed it, I did not like the smell at all. It has a horrible foul wet rice smell. I guess, dump it and start again. Strange because it was a new jar that I washed and bottled water. I did use metal spoon to add flour and stir. I read the recipe somewhere here but did not see the lemon juice. Will try it next round. Any suggestions?
Hi! Did you use brown rice flour? I’ve had a strange smell with a GF millet starter once but kept at it and within a few days it smelled wonderful and a little sweet but mild with a pleasant yeasty aroma. Adding lemon juice does improve the smell if you’re not loving how the starter is smelling during the process. Was your flour fresh? Was your water spring water?View Comment
Hi.. What breads can I make with this recipe? I see one has oat flour, which we are allergic. What are the other options? I saw you mentioned something about pancakes. Do you have a recipe?View Comment
Hi Jill! Here’s a link to the oat-free bread recipes on Fresh is Real: https://www.freshisreal.com/category/bread/oat-free-bread/.
Although in many of my GF bread recipes, GF oat flour can usually be substituted with another light-textured flour.
This is the top GF sourdough recipe on my site. Not as starch-heavy as other recipes, and it’s a good beginner recipe: https://www.freshisreal.com/buckwheat-sourdough-loaf-gluten-free-vegan/ You can easily sub the oat flour in this recipe. Let me know if you want some more guidance.
The Simple Sorghum Sourdough is another popular and gorgeous sourdough recipe. https://www.freshisreal.com/simple-sorghum-sourdough/ It calls for a GF sorghum starter, but I think many have made it with a brown rice starter. This recipe is oat-free.
Another great GF oat-free sourdough is the Wild Yeast Bread recipe: https://www.freshisreal.com/wild-yeast-bread-gf-v/
For a quick sourdough naan bread recipe that is also oat-free, check out: https://www.freshisreal.com/quick-sourdough-naan-bread-gf-v/
You can find the recipe for amazingly tasty GF sourdough rolls in this post, right above the directions for the yeasted version. https://www.freshisreal.com/soft-gluten-free-dinner-rolls/
As for a sourdough pancake recipe, I don’t have one on my site yet, but I make them all the time. Once you have a starter, let me know, and I can help you with some suggestions.
Oops just saw the previous comment.. got my reply.. Thanks..View Comment
Can I use Sorghum flour instead of brown rice ?
Hi there, If I want to use Sorghum flour instead of rice flour, should I start with rice flour then switch to sorghum or can this recipe be done with all sorghum? Thanks!View Comment
Hi Carla! You can do it with all sorghum! It should work very well!View Comment
HI Chantal, Thank you for this very easy recipe. It is so well written and very easy to follow. This is my very first starter it did well for about a week and now does not seem to be progressing much. It may have something to do with the fact that the temperature (which was very hot) has cooled off and perhaps it does not like it very much in comparison. We are on about Day 12 and the portion removed on Day 7 that was transferred to a bowl seems to be doing well.
I appreciate so much the help that you have given. I also appreciate that in these difficult financial times we are not feeding huge quantities and discarding big quantities of flour and discard.
I hop when everything is ready I can try some of your recipes and also find something to make with the portion that i discarded..
Michelle! Thank you so much for taking the time to rate and share your feedback with us! It’s been a few days since you wrote this so please let us know if you tried baking with it yet! ChantalView Comment
Hi Chantal… we’re late to the ‘learn how to bake bread in quarantine’ party… but just found your instructions and are excited to try it! Quick question… it is important to NOT use metal utensils when mixing and discarding from your starter? You mention using a chopstick, wooden spoon and spatula, so I was just curious if metal would react badly or ruin the starter? And if so, does that preclude me from baking in a stainless steel (All-Clad) dutch oven when I am ready to bake? Would and enamel dutch oven be best? Thank you!View Comment
Hi Ellen! I’m so happy that you’ve found my recipes! You’re never too late to the bread baking party! So happy to have you! It might be better not to use metal spoons or utensils to mix your starter. Some say that it can have a reactive effect on the wild natural yeast. I can’t say that I’ve experimenting much in this department, I simply use plastic or wood chopsticks or spoons when I mix my starter. I do use a regular spoon to add flour to my starter, and that’s fine. I just don’t use it to mix. As for the bread, I’ve never baked with a stainless steel (All-Clad) Dutch oven, if you do try it, let us know how it goes. Just make sure that your pot is ok in a very hot 450° F oven. And use unbleached parchment paper under your loaf (and to transfer your loaf) to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of your pot.View Comment
Thank you so much Chantal! I will avoid metal utensils and I will try it in the stainless dutch oven, since that is what I have. If I get good at this, I will invest in an enamel dutch oven. Fingers crossed…. Thanks again!!!View Comment
Hi Chantal I started a brown rice starter 6 days ago feeding once or twice a day with a spoon of flour and once a tsp of honey. It’s not doing much yet, so today I’m going to discard half and feed it flour. Do you think it might be useful to add some lemon juice at this stage or is it too late? I get a very small rise when I feed it, it’s not completely flat, but nowhere near doubling. Thanks for all your encouraging videos XView Comment
Hi Tamara! If you’re on Instagram or Facebook feel free to send me a picture so I can help you. It sounds like it’s doing well. I wouldn’t necessarily add lemon juice at the end. How did it go after your discard half and fed it yesterday? It won’t necessarily double in size. As long as it grows, smells good, you can hear bubbling activity when you stir it a few hours after a feeding, it’s probably ready.View Comment
Hi, Chantal. I am Nita from Indonesia. This is my fifth day with my brown rice flour. But my starter has some white spot with little patch in my starter surface, the smell is a little strong alcohol and yeasty. Is it oke or my starter has a mold? Thanks
Hi Nita! Is it possible that we chatted on Instagram? If you have little white spots, it’s most likely mould. I’m afraid that you will have to start over. It’s not worth taking a chance if your starter is affected by bad bacteria.View Comment