Sourdough Discard Apple Muffins

These Sourdough Apple Muffins were requested by a reader who asked for an apple muffin recipe packed with apples. They are quick and easy, coming together in under 30 minutes.

The fruit seems to be an afterthought in too many apple muffin recipes. That’s not true for these sourdough discard muffins with over one cup of apple in eight muffins.

sourdough apple muffins on a cooling rack with glaze and fresh apples.
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Baking with apples

Unfortunately, there’s no single apple varietal that works best in every apple recipe. Sometimes you want an apple that falls apart easily, like in this strawberry applesauce. And sometimes you want an apple that remains firm when you cook it, like in this pork tenderloin with bourbon apples.


The best apple for these sourdough muffins is one that remains firm when cooked and has a strong apple flavor. Using a tart apple like a Granny Smith or Pink Lady will increase the tang even more.

chopped apples on a cutting board.

Baking with sourdough discard

Sourdough discard is what you are left with after you feed a sourdough starter. Instead of throwing it away, you can use sourdough discard in any recipe with flour and liquid. The discard will give it a slightly sour or tangy taste, which is particularly great in recipes with buttermilk.

You can obviously use your sourdough discard to add flavor to yeast breads like this sourdough discard bread. But you can use sourdough discard in pancakes, waffles, and cakes like this sourdough apple cake.

To use your discard in any recipe, just calculate the amount of flour and water in your starter and reduce the amount of flour and liquid in your recipe by that weight. It’s easy if you have a 100% starter that’s equal amounts of flour and water.

Tip from the wise quacker: If you don’t have sourdough starter, you can still make this recipe. Use an additional 2 ounces (57 grams or one-third cup) of flour and an additional 2 ounces (one quarter cup) of buttermilk or other liquid.

Please see the recipe card below for complete information on ingredients and quantities.

Variations and substitutions

  • Substitute yogurt, milk, or an unsweetened non-dairy milk for the buttermilk.
  • Decorate your muffins by adding coarse decorating sugar to the top about 10 minutes into baking. Or make a cinnamon glaze with a cup of confectioners’ sugar, teaspoon of cinnamon, and a tablespoon or two of buttermilk, cream, or milk.

Baking ratios

The base of this sourdough discard apple muffin recipe is from Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio. According to Ruhlman, the standard formula for muffins and quick breads is 2 parts flour to 2 parts liquid to 1 part egg to 1 part butter by weight.

If you are interested in how baking ratios can be applied in practice, check out other ratio-based recipes, including my lemon lavender cookies and blackberry lemon bread. Or look at other muffin recipes like my blueberry chocolate chip muffins, orange poppy seed muffins, or even savory spinach and feta muffins!

Step by step

Brown butter adds a deeper, caramel and nutty flavor to your baking. If you prefer, you can melt the butter and stop before the browning stage.

browned butter in a pan.

Muffins are typically made using the “muffin method.” Using this method, you first whisk the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Then combine the buttermilk, brown butter, egg, and vanilla in a large measuring cup and add them to the dry ingredients.

the sourdough apple muffin batter in a glass bowl.

Like with other muffins, waffles, and pancakes, mix only until the dry ingredients are completely moistened. Then add the chopped apples and scoop into your prepared muffin tin.

Recipe FAQs

Do I really have to weigh my ingredients?

No, you don’t have to do anything, but you will get more consistent results if you weigh your ingredients, especially for baking. Plus you dirty fewer measuring cups!

My sourdough starter has a different hydration level, can I still use it?

Yes, you’ll need to calculate the amount of water and flour in your starter. And add flour and liquid to get to 4 ounces of each.

Can I prepare the sourdough discard muffin batter ahead of time?

You should always make muffins, pancakes, and waffles soon after you make the batter. It’s always better to bake muffins and then freeze them if you want to make them in advance.

Can I freeze these sourdough discard muffins?

Yes! Muffins freeze well. Put cooled muffins into a freezer bag and remove all of the air. You can let them warm at room temperature, or pop them in a warm oven to defrost.

Got apples? Check out other sweet and savory apple recipes from the Ugly Duckling Bakery archives like:

Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-heart 💜💜💜💜💜 rating in the recipe card below. Let me know how much you loved it, or any problems you had, in the comments section further down.


Sourdough Discard Apple Muffins

5 from 2 votes
Category: Breakfast
Cuisine: Unspecified
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 28 minutes
Servings: 8 muffins
Calories: 128kcal
These sourdough discard muffins are packed with over one cup of apple in eight muffins. And, as a bonus, they are quick and easy, coming together in under 30 minutes.
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  • butter for greasing or muffin liners
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup (57 grams) bleached all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup + 1 teaspoon (57grams) granulated sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 ounces (113 grams) 100% hydration sourdough discard
  • ¼ cup (2 ounces) buttermilk, shaken
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 medium apple, cored, peeled, and chopped into ¼ inch cubes


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Butter eight cups in a twelve-cup muffin tin or line it with muffin liners.
    butter for greasing or muffin liners
  • Brown the butter by melting and cooking it over a medium-low heat until it starts to leave brown bits at the bottom of the pan, swirling or stirring occasionally. This is right about when the bubbling sounds stop. Let cool slightly.
    4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
  • Combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda) in a medium-large bowl.
    ½ cup (57 grams) bleached all purpose flour, ¼ cup + 1 teaspoon (57grams) granulated sugar, ¾ teaspoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • Combine the sourdough starter, buttermilk, egg, and vanilla in a small bowl. Add the cooled butter, and then add this mixture to the dry ingredients.
    4 ounces (113 grams) 100% hydration sourdough discard, ¼ cup (2 ounces) buttermilk, shaken, 1 egg, slightly beaten, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Stir just enough to wet the dry ingredients, and then add the apple and mix to stir.
    1 medium apple, cored, peeled, and chopped into ¼ inch cubes
  • Use a large cookie scoop or large spoon to fill the muffin cups about two-thirds of the way full.
  • Bake for about 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the muffin comes out clean.
  • Cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature.


Use an apple that remains firm when cooked and has a strong apple flavor. You could use a tart apple (e.g. Granny Smith, Pink Lady) to increase the tang in these sourdough discard muffins, or any sweet, crisp apple.
If  you don’t have sourdough discard, add 2 ounces (57 grams or one-third cup, for a total of 114 grams) of flour to the dry ingredients and an additional 2 ounces (one quarter cup, for a total of 4 ounces or one-half cup) of buttermilk or other liquid.


Calories: 128kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 36mg | Sodium: 280mg | Potassium: 53mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 230IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 1mg
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  1. 5 stars
    Just made these muffins – they came out scrumptious! I used yogurt instead of buttermilk (it’s what I had on hand) and added 1/8 tsp allspice, just to warm things up a bit. So yummy! Thanks for the great recipe!

5 from 2 votes

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