Sourdough Discard Apple Muffins

Sourdough Discard Apple Muffins

These sourdough discard apple muffins were requested by someone who asked me to create an apple muffin recipe packed with apples. Because fruit is an afterthought in too many recipes.

Not true for these sourdough apple muffins, with 1 1/2 cups of apple in eight muffins. And, as a bonus, they are quick and easy, coming together in under 30 minutes if you are without distractions.

a green cutting board with small cubes of apple

I again used Michael Ruhlman’s ratios to create this recipe. According to Ruhlman, the standard formula for muffins and quick breads should be 2 parts flour: 2 parts liquid: 1 part egg: 1 part butter (by weight). If you are interested in how ratios can be applied in practice, check out some of my other ratio-based recipes here, including my lemon-lavender shortbread cookies and various waffle recipes.

Tips and tricks for this recipe

  • Sourdough discard can be used in any recipe that uses flour and water or other liquid like milk or buttermilk. The discard will just give it a slightly more sour or tangy taste, which is particularly great in any recipe where you’d use buttermilk. You just need to calculate the amount of flour and water in your starter and reduce the amount of flour and liquid in your recipe by that amount.
  • Browning butter adds a deeper, caramel and nutty flavor to these muffins. If you prefer, you can just melt the butter and stop before the browning stage.
  • Disclosure: I was recently given two boxes of HunnyZ apples by the folks at Gee Whiz. About a month ago, I wrote a post about late season apples and discovered how much I loved this new apple, which is a cross between a Honeycrisp and Crimson Crisp apple.
a small pot with browned butter

FAQs about this sourdough discard apple muffin recipe

Do I really have to weigh my ingredients?

No, you don’t have to do anything, but you will get better/more consistent results if you weigh your ingredients, especially for baking. I’m offering to buy a basic kitchen scale for the first 10 U.S. readers to sign up for my newsletter (see below) and comment that they would like to use a kitchen scale.

What apple should I use in these muffins?

I used a HunnyZ apple because it 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.

What can I substitute for buttermilk in these sourdough discard apple muffins?

I would reach first for yogurt, but you could also use milk or an unsweetened non-dairy milk.

I don’t have a sourdough starter. Is there something else I can use?

A 100% hydration starter is equal amounts of water and flour. If you don’t have a starter, just add an additional 2oz (57g) of flour to the dry ingredients and an additional 2oz (1/4 cup) of buttermilk or other liquid.

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

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

Can I prepare sourdough discard muffin batter ahead of time?

Muffins, pancakes, and waffles should be made soon after the batter is put together. Better to bake the muffins and then freeze them.

Can I freeze these sourdough discard muffins?

Yes! Muffins freeze very well. After they have cooled, place them in 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.

Can I decorate these apple muffins?

If you want to add a bit of decoration, I would add just a simple layer of coarse (decorating) sugar on top about 10 minutes into baking.

a batter with apple chunks inside a glass bowl

Sourdough discard apple muffins

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 28 minutes
Servings 8 muffins
Author uglyducklingbakery


  • butter for greasing or muffin liners
  • 4 tbsp (2oz) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup (57g) bleached all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup + 1 teaspoon (57g) granulated sugar
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 4 oz (113g) 100% hydration sourdough discard
  • ¼ cup (2 oz) buttermilk, shaken
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 medium apple, cored, peeled, and chopped into 1/4" cubes


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Butter eight cups in a twelve-cup muffin tin or line it with 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. This is right about when the bubbling sounds stop. Let cool slightly.
  • Combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda) in a medium-large bowl.
  • 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.
  • Stir just enough to wet the dry ingredients, and then add the apple and mix to stir.
  • Use a large cookie scoop or large spoon to fill the muffin cups about two-thirds of the way full.
  • Bake for ~18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the muffin comes out clean.
  • Cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

What’s next?

If you make these sourdough discard apple muffins, please comment here or share a pic with me on Instagram!

Check out other apple recipes from the archives. Or make another muffin recipe like these spinach and feta muffins, orange poppy seed muffins, or oatmeal blackberry muffins.

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a plate with two halves of a muffin and a bowl of sourdough discard apple muffins alongside a red napkin

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