Gluten-Free | Grain-Free Sourdough Starter

If you love sourdough like I do, but you've gone on a gluten-free diet, I have some great news for you. Yes, you can make gluten-free sourdough from this Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter and there are no special ingredients to buy!

And that's not all--you can make a grain-free sourdough starter too. Read on for to get all of the sourdough loving life changing info you've been waiting for.

Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter in a Glass Bowl

I'm convinced that gluten is a big health concern for many, but I still love good bread. And while this flax bread is super tasty, there's just nothing like a good sourdough.

We LOVE the tangy flavor of sourdough and since there are so many people who can't tolerate gluten, I've been meaning to try my hand at making gluten-free sourdough bread. I am now that much closer to my goal :)!}

In order to prepare myself for this post, I wanted to put myself into the shoes of someone who is gluten-free.

When most people think "gluten-free," they think that bread is no longer an option--particularly breads like sourdough.

So in order to be able to empathize with them in their struggle to balance nutrition with their allergies or intolerance... I did some "research."

Basically, I wanted to think about what it would be like to be gluten-free.

And bread-free.

So I ate bread.

Homemade bread.

Two pieces, actually.

With a lot of butter.

And I realized how much I would miss it if I weren't able to eat bread like this on a regular basis.

I'm not trying to rub it in anyone's face - quite the contrary! I know how fortunate my family is to be able to eat whatever we want without breaking out in hives or keeling over in digestive pain.

It saddens me to imagine what it would be like to:

- not be able to walk into my kitchen and slice off a piece of bread whenever I want
- request the waiter to remove the basket of bread instead of refilling it
- worry about being sick for days because someone accidentally contaminated a cooking spoon!

I think I can understand your pain.

That's why it truly brings me joy to share with you a way to have your cake--er, bread--and eat it too.

Gluten-free sourdough, baby. Oh yeah.

Imagine capturing wild yeast out of thin air and cultivating it over a period of several days so that without any help at all, it will magically make the dough rise and become a beautiful (and relatively inexpensive--) gluten-free loaf of bread.

It really isn't as hard as it sounds!

But it is incredibly healthy! Quite possibly the healthiest bread you can make!

Benefits of Sourdough

There are many benefits to sourdough including:


Sourdough is easier to digest than regular bread (preventing issues like indigestion, etc.)

Beneficial Bacteria

Sourdough contains the healthy gut bacteria lactobacillus (the same major player in yogurt and kefir)

Fewer Nutrient-Binding Qualities

Most of the phytic acid in sourdough is broken down, reducing the effects of nutrient-binders on other foods in your diet.

Lower Glycemic Load

Since sourdough takes longer to digest, it doesn't cause as much of a spike in blood sugar as traditional bread does.

Prebiotic Benefits

Since sourdough functions as a prebiotic, it helps support healthy digestion.

Reduced Acrylamide

Souring the dough reduces the amount of the amino acid asparagine that is a precursor of acrylamide formation, and acrylamide is a cancer-causing ingredient found in toasted grains, including bread crusts. So with sourdough, you can enjoy your bread crust with less acrylamide.

sourdough bread and gluten-free sourdough starter collage with text overlay

Gluten-Free vs. Regular Sourdough

Making a gluten-free sourdough starter isn't any different than making a regular sourdough starter.

- Both start with flour and water.
- Both take a few days and both get bubbly.
- The only real difference comes when you're ready to make sourdough bread and you have to pull out all the various types of gluten-free flour.

Gluten-free sourdough starter can be made in as little as seven days using gluten-free flour, water and a medium-sized bowl. I personally have successfully made gluten-free sourdough starter with brown rice flour, but I've read others have had success with white rice flour, teff flour, sorghum flour, or even a gluten-free all-purpose blend.

Typically, in the same way that using a blend of alternative sweeteners will work best when substituting for sugar, using a variety of flours will work best for your gluten-free sourdough.

Is Sourdough Gluten-free?

While many think that sourdough is already gluten-free, here are the facts.

I have seen this argument many times. People claim that white flour has no gluten in it since all of the gluten is in the hull, and that whole grain flour sourdough bread is gluten-free since the enzymes break down the gluten.

Sadly, that is not the case.

White flour has between 8-11% gluten so all the gluten is not in the outer hull that is sifted away.

Not enough of the gluten is broken down by the fermentation process. The definition of gluten-free is 20ppm or less. Sourdough is known to have 2000 ppm of gluten. Regular bread has 80000 in many instances, so 2000 is less, but it's not gf.

Please take care that if you need to avoid gluten that avoid traditional sourdough.

Grain-Free & Paleo Options

Since this post was published, several readers have asked if you can make sourdough starters without grains. Well, the good news, is--YES YOU CAN! There are 2 schools of thought on this, however.

Some say that you need at least 1/3 of your flours to be starch like tapioca, arrowroot, or maybe cassava flour. Starch is what feeds the yeast so that is the reason behind this requirement. If using coconut flour, however, you will need to add more water to the starter. Instead of a close to 1:1 ratio, for every cup of coconut flour that you use, you will need to use about 1 2/3 cups water.

Others say that you can do this with coconut flour alone. I personally haven't tried it but it should work.

Sourdough Recipes

Gluten-Free Sourdough Recipes

Following are a variety of gluten-free sourdough bread recipes for you to experiment with. Because in all honesty, all sourdough breads - with or without gluten - are an experiment. A tasty experiment you can top with butter.

Keep in mind that every recipe will be different, calling for different types of flour and possibly using yeast. I've included several sources so that you can find something that suits you!

Any of these recipes would be great topped with butter or Homemade Nut Butter. Mmmmmm.

Grain-free Sourdough Recipes

Here is a grain-free sourdough recipe for you to try after you have your sourdough starter ready to go:

Grain-free Sourdough by It Takes Time

There are other grain-free sourdough recipes out there but most call for a nut base. I hope to have some additional recipes for you in the future.

How to Make the Starter

Following are some images and some brief info about how to do this. Full instructions are below :).

gluten free sourdough starter process with flour and water in a jar

Combine flour (whatever gluten-free or grain-free flour or gluten-free flour blend you like) and water.

gluten free sourdough starter process Day 1 and 2 in jar
feeding the sourdough starter process Day 3 and 4

Feed the Starter for several days.

gluten free sourdough starter process Day 5 and 6 showing air pockets

When your sponge looks like photo #8, you're ready to make sourdough bread!

Recipe Notes and Substitutions

  • Ingredient Amounts: The amounts we give in the ingredient list are the amounts you will need if you only feed the starter twice a day, which is the least number of times you should feed it.  So if you feed it more often, you will of course need more flour and water.
  • Flour: Gluten-free flour blends (just like with alternative sweeteners like stevia) tend to work best when used in conjunction with others. So it's best not to try to make this sourdough starter or sourdough with only 1 GF flour. Personally, I recommend using a blend of flours. As you can read in this gluten-free baking tips post, using a blend of flours tends to make baked goods turn out better when using alternative flours.
  • Grain-Free: For a Paleo Sourdough Starter or AIP Sourdough Starter, just use organic cassava flour or organic tiger nut flour in place of the gluten-free grain flours.
  • THM: This recipe is an "E" for those on the Trim Healthy Mama plan.

Troubleshooting Your Starter

Here are three of the most common things that you might notice while watching your starter and what they mean:

Too Much Starter 

If after a few days the starter begins to outgrow the bowl, pour some off to make a batch of sourdough pancakes. Leave at least 1/2 cup of starter in the bowl to continue feeding.

Liquid At the Top

Liquid may or may not collect at the surface of the starter. Either case is normal. (FYI: the liquid contains more lactobacillus and gives the bread its sourdough taste.)

No Bubbles - If you do not see bubbles at the top or at the sides of the starter, add a third feeding. Try to keep the feeding intervals equal. For example, 6am, 2pm and 10pm are all equally apart at 8 hours.

Boost Your Starter

One thing you can do is to add one to two tablespoons of water kefir, dairy kefir, kefir whey or kombucha in place of the water for just one feeding. Since you are adding more bacteria "goodies" to the mix, you are boosting fermentation action.


How Long Should You Feed Your Starter?

After the initial period of making the sponge, etc., your starter is officially in maintenance mode. Then you can feed it as often or as little as you like.

  1. At the very minimum, you can keep it in the fridge and feed it weekly. However it's not recommended to have it in the fridge until after it's 4 weeks old.
  2. You can keep it on the counter and feed it daily and use anything you don't need for recipes.
  3. You could feed it daily with as little as 1 tablespoon water and flour to keep it fed but not produce a lot of starter.

How Long Can You Store Your Starter?

You can keep it for quite awhile provided you feed it daily. You will, however, need to revive it when you want to use it again.

  • Three and a half days before baking, remove the starter from the fridge and bring it to room temperature (let it rest for about 1/2 a day.
  • Feed with equal parts flour and water.
  • About 1/3 of a day later, feed the starter again.
  • Once you have foam and liquid rising to the top of the starter, you are use the starter for bread. If you don't have that after 4-6 hours, keep feeding daily until you do.

Printable Recipe Card

gluten-free sourdough starter in a jar

Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter

Love sourdough but you're gluten free? This Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter is so easy - you can have tasty sourdough bread ready right away.
5 from 7 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Breads
Cuisine: AIP, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Paleo, THM:S, Vegan
Keyword: gluten free sourdough starter



  • Combine 1/2 cup flour (whatever gluten-free flour or gluten-free flour blend you like) and a scant 1/2 cup filtered water in a medium to large bowl.
    Whisk until smooth and cover the gluten free sourdough starter with a cheesecloth or clean dishtowel to allow air to circulate but prevent particles from falling in.
    Set the bowl in a warm area where it will not be disturbed. A kitchen counter, pantry cabinet, or patio will all work.
  • Wait 12-24 hours.
  • At least twice a day for the next six days, at regular intervals, add 1/2 cup of flour and a scant 1/2 cup of filtered water to the existing starter.  Mix until smooth, and cover.
    This is called feeding the starter.
    Make sure to watch your starter carefully.
  • When your gluten-free sourdough starter is very bubbly and creates a dome on top 2-3 hours after each feeding (like the above picture), you are ready to make bread. This is often called the sponge and typically it takes 5-7 days for this to happen.
  • Use your starter for making the sourdough bread of choice. See above this recipe card in the post for some great options!

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is merely an approximation. Optional ingredients are not included and when there is an alternative, the primary ingredient is typically used. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site. Erythritol carbs are not included in carb counts since they have been shown not to impact blood sugar. Net carbs are the total carbs minus fiber.

A Great Gluten-free Sourdough Starter You Can Buy

I know how it goes. It's exciting to think about doing everything yourself, but then you just might not get around to it.

If that's how you're feeling after reading this post, you can just buy this Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter and have it all done for you. Or, it would make a great backup to have in your pantry too!

Gluten-free sourdough starter

This is a fabulous jumping off point for tons of healthy creativity in the kitchen. So many options from breads to biscuits and more.

Meet Tiffany 250px

Tiffany is a frugal foodie, balancing the desire to feed her family healthy food while being a good steward of her finances. She realized it was possible to eat nourishing, traditional food on a budget if she made baby-sized changes in the kitchen. She continues to work hard at mastering real foods without going broke and shares her journey at Don’t Waste the Crumbs.

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Recipe Rating



    1. You can store it in several ways - dried, in the fridge or even frozen. In the fridge, about 2 months, but typically you would feed it weekly. Dried, for a long time - many years. Frozen, I didn't find any good source on this but I would think it will work for a long time.

  1. I made this with Bobs Red Mill 1 to 1 flour. I used Bread srsly recipe. It didnt work 🙁 too gummy. Suggestions?

    1. I'm so sorry I haven't tried that recipe but here are some questions to hopefully help out:

      How long have you let cool for before cutting ? Are you baking by weight ? Are you using gum or husk powder? I assume "no" to the final question, but let me know and thanks.

        1. I'm researching for you. I'm hearing overhydration / overproofing is the most likely culprit - thoughts?

          Other possibilities are:

          The age of your starter, amount of psyllium/other “gluten replacement”, and lack of scoring.

          1. I am thinking overproofing. I did try again with another starter a friend gave me and that worked better.

    1. Thanks! There are articles on the internet about how to convert regular recipes to bread machine recipes. I would try that. I don't have a bread machine recipe personally but I just put a link in the post that looks good. Hope that helps!

  2. My first time trying a starter. Many recipes I’ve seen they have you discard some before feeding. Curious why you do not do this step? Thanks for the help!

    1. Mostly that is to keep the starter at a manageable size and not have to add too much flour to each feeding. It's up to you but not necessary. It can help a little, perhaps, with even distribution of the flour into the starter, but again, not necessary. Hope it goes well for you!

  3. I'd love to try this - but your post says look for recipes below the starter recipe - and there are no recipes. Could you please make it clearer where to go?

    1. Hi there - I moved things around in the post--let me know if that's more clear now. Sorry about that! We moved things around and missed that incorrect wording.

  4. Fyi. On mobile it says see below for recipes, which aren't there. I did see the bread recipes up top though.

  5. First time trying a starter here, wondering why you don’t discard any starter. I’ve read a few other recipes that discard some before feeding it starting on day 3. Thanks for the help!

    1. Hi there. Discarding is mostly to make the amount of starter more manageable and perhaps to allow for more even distribution of the flour, etc., but it's not necessary. Hope it goes well for you and sorry for the delay!

  6. Good Morning. Do you keep feeding the starter the same way after the sixth day and you make bread or is it different?

    1. Hi there. So do you mean how do you store it? Some freeze it, store in the fridge, or dry until ready to start feeding again. Does that help?

      1. on the sixth day, when you make bread, do you keep feeding the starter every day the 1/2 cup of flour and water?

        1. You do if you want to make more soon. Otherwise you store it in the fridge, freezer, or you dry it.

          1. Fate starter is going and you want to keep it alive on counter, is it still twice daily feedings or, or just once at this point?
            Also, do you let baguette molds rise for 4-6 hours and then bake?

            1. Hi there - sorry what is the first word in your first sentence? is that supposed to be "once"?

              I have never made baguettes, but I read that 45 min to an hour should be good - until they are risen to where you would typically want them to be.

  7. Could you please email the full recipe and directions for the GF version. For some reason it is not showing fully on the website or printing. Tks!

  8. Could you please email me the full recipe and directions. For some reason it is not reading or printing correctly.

    1. Oh no- are you on mobile or desktop or tablet? I can help but please let me know what you are seeing so I can fix whatever I need to on my end. Thanks!

  9. 5 stars
    Your link for the premade sourdough starter actually links to their whole grain starter not the gf.

    Otherwise, great read and I'll try it!

    1. Hi there - thanks for the alert! Should be working right now. I actually got a link that went nowhere....LMK if it's fixed for you now and thanks again! Hope it goes well for you!

  10. You mention grain-free flour as a possible ingredient. Do you know if this recipe would work with any combination of nut/seed/ and/or root flours? I have a lot of flours I work with in different combinations, but didn't know if there was something specific they might be lacking in order for the starter to work. Right now my diet is even more restricted than usual so I could only use tiger nut, coconut, cassava, tapioca, arrowroot, etc - no nuts, seeds, or grains.

    1. Hi there! This recipe is just for the starter. There are links in the post to bread recipes. I just updated the recipe card to make that a little more clear. Does that help?

      1. The liquid was clear. I did read about regular sourdough. It was suggested that I pour it off and that helped.

        However, using any regular recipe failed as I think we need adjustments for gf.

        I've noticed the other comment about the links going to a regular recipe. That is what failed.

        I tried a few others and then threw out my starter. I would like to try again sometime.


        1. Hi again. I'm not sure which recipe link isn't to a GF recipe. I just checked the ones in the post and they all seem to be correct. There was a comment about the link to the premade starter going to a gluten-containing starter, but I just fixed that--it was going to a dead link. Can you tell me which link you see that is incorrect please? Thanks!

          1. I'm sorry, I think it is my bad. I didn't have the adjustments in the recipe so I used my bread flour gf mix. I think I would have to use all the individual flours that you had listed.

            I think the only bad link before was the one that was corrected in another comment. I think I just need to practice making other bread before tackling sourdough again.


  11. Hi, my kids can't have wheat, and me and my husband are keto, and vegan. I'm looking for a bread that would suit our new lifestyle that we are fairly new to. Would this gluten free bread fit all of our criteria?

    1. Hi there. This might be a bit hard. I don't know that there is a "regular" bread like that but possibly? I can try to make one. However, this flax bread done with chia eggs or gelatin eggs would work. It's a flat bread. I have done it w/ chia. It's not as good as the egg replacer option but it works. Haven't done it w/ gelatin yet. Hope that helps. It does taste great!

    2. Anna if you did this with your own blend of coconut flour and almond flour it would work for the gluten free and the keto diet. (Gluten free blends generally have rice flour which you do not want on a keto diet)

  12. This looks great! I have a large family so we would probably bake bread pretty frequently. After I use the starter the first time, do I leave 1/2 cup and start over feeding it twice a day? How often can I use it to bake something with after that? I’m new to starters!

    1. Yes, you would start over with the starter that you have left over. Potentially, your starter could last forever but you will need to change things up depending on how often you want to use it and discarding some of the starter will become inevitable at some point. I personally would use it for something else rather than tossing it!

    1. Hi there. I typically make my own. I'm having a hard time with some too for cookies, etc. I have tried some that other bloggers use and they were terrible!! I am working on it! I would LOVE to hear what you try and how it goes for you!

  13. Just an FYI that much of the problem is not gluten but Glyphosate or Roundup used on wheat to help dry it after harvest. It is poison and can be avoided by eating organic.

    1. Yes, there are a lot of factors. Some can't tolerate gluten no matter what but that glyphosate is a HUGE problem. Thanks for reading!

  14. Just wondering how often you feed the starter after the 7 days? If I were to make bread every week. Do I just keep the same starter and keep feeding it?? And then keep making bread?

    1. If you are thinking about making bread about once a week you can try keeping it in the fridge and just feeding it weekly. I would try that and see how it goes.