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05 Sep Gluten Free Sourdough Starter

Update: I’ve changed this recipe several times so if you’re using one of the older versions and like it, please feel free to do that. My sourdough starter is currently made with 1 part brown rice flour, 1 part light buckwheat flour and 2 parts water (measured in weight) since I’ve found that it makes great bread.

I was in Zell am See(a village in the Alps) in Austria this weekend and therefore I haven’t had time to make a new post until now. Last time I was in Zell am See was 10 years ago and it was during the winter so I was surprised to see how beautiful it was in the summer. It was so green and you could see the massive mountains everywhere, some mountain tops was even covered in snow! There are also some photos from Zell am See at the end of this post.

Lately I’ve been experimenting with gluten free sourdough starters/bread and the results are amazing. Today I’m posting a recipe/instructions for a “Gluten free buckwheat sourdough starter” and I’m planning on posting a recipe for sourdough bread in the near future.

When you’re making a sourdough starter I’d really recommend using organic ingredients. Usually I don’t write for example “organic apples” in my recipes but for a sourdough starter I think it’s essential. For this starter I’ve used organic dark buckwheat flour but you could try with other flours as well. Please let me know how your sourdough starter turned out if you used another gluten free flour/flour blend.

Some of you may be intimidated by kefir water. Kefir water?!? What is that? Where can I find it? What do I do? I’m gonna die… No, you wont. You can read all about it HERE and if you think it still sounds to intimidating you can replace the kefir water with 2 tbsp from a “ready” sourdough starter(gluten free of course) or just skip it, both the kefir water and the “ready” sourdough. It will take longer to grow that healthy and wonderful bacteria but it will work just as fine in the end.

(I finally made a video so that it’ll be easier to follow the instructions!)

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Gluten Free Sourdough Starter

Gluten Free Sourdough Starter


  • 30 g organic buckwheat flour
  • 30 g organic brown rice flour
  • 60 g filtered water
  • 20 g grated organic apple
  • 2 tbsp kefir water or "ready" sourdough starter (optional)


  1. Mix all of the ingredients in a glass jar and cover with a muslin cloth and seal it with a rubber band/hair tie.
  2. Let sit in a non drafty place.
  3. Feed the dough 2-3 times a day with 15 g buckwheat flour, 15 g brown rice flour and 30 g water for a week. When the jar gets full just throw away some of the starter or transfer to a bigger jar and continue feeding it.
  4. After a week(7 days) store the sourdough starter in the fridge with the lid on and feed it once a week. Remember to feed the dough every time you've used it for baking.
  5. Leave it in room temperature 12 hours before baking if the recipe calls for an active sourdough starter.
  6. If the sourdough starter separates and liquid starts to form at the top of the starter, pour out the liquid and some of the starter and continue feeding it.


It can be tricky to make a sourdough starter but don't give up! It's so worth it in the end.

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  • Lauren @sweetdashofsavory
    Posted at 21:32h, 05 September Reply

    I literally love your blog so much, its beautiful and your pictures are gorgeous:)

    • Thea
      Posted at 21:34h, 05 September Reply

      Oh, thanks so much! I’m heading over to your blog now. 🙂

  • Anne
    Posted at 17:33h, 06 September Reply

    Omg… LOVE sourdough!!! So glad you were able to make it gluten free!

    • Thea
      Posted at 17:48h, 06 September Reply

      I know! Don’t miss my gluten free sourdough bread that I’ll be posting in the near future!

  • josefinetm
    Posted at 18:29h, 07 September Reply

    Oh, how wonderful with a gluten free sour dough starter 🙂 And the photos from Austria are amazing!

    • Thea
      Posted at 18:31h, 07 September Reply


  • liztiptopshape
    Posted at 05:14h, 08 September Reply

    I have a friend who’s experimenting with gluten free baking for her husband. I’ll have to share this recipe with her!!

    • Thea
      Posted at 14:31h, 08 September Reply

      Please tell me if she liked it! 🙂

  • Monet
    Posted at 06:12h, 08 September Reply

    One of my goals this fall is to make my own starter! What a lovely post! I’m sending this to all my gluten free friends!

    • Thea
      Posted at 14:31h, 08 September Reply

      Thanks! Please tell me how your starter turned out!

  • Elizabeth @ SugarHero.com
    Posted at 08:07h, 08 September Reply

    Wow, these pictures are incredible! I’ve never made a sourdough starter, but you make it sound totally do-able!

    • Thea
      Posted at 14:31h, 08 September Reply

      Thanks! It’s super easy and I’m sure you’re able to do it. 🙂

  • Martyna @ Wholesome Cook
    Posted at 04:38h, 09 September Reply

    This is so wonderful Thea. I adore buckwheat and I can just imagine how beautiful these would be in pancakes!

    • Thea
      Posted at 07:03h, 09 September Reply

      Thanks Martyna! I haven’t try sourdough in pancakes but I’ve heard about. Will definitely try it soon.

  • indigomoon3
    Posted at 00:53h, 25 September Reply

    Thank you so much for this recipe…I can’t wait to try it! I’d like to ask a couple of questions if that is ok. First, why the apple? Could I use something else if I don’t have an apple to spare? And do you have a bread recipe to use with the starter? I have never had success so far on my own – would like to make a gluten free sourdough rice bread, and /or a sourdough buckwheat bread. Thank you so much for your help.

    • Thea
      Posted at 22:21h, 25 September Reply

      The yeast need the sugar from the apple to make carbon dioxide which will make it rise. If you don’t have apple you can add a tbsp of sugar or try making it without. Here’s the recipe for my courdough bread: http://www.bakingmagique.com/2014/09/gluten-free-sourdough-bread/ Thanks for your comment! Wish you all the best luck with your sourdough starter and bread. 🙂

      • indigomoon3
        Posted at 23:14h, 25 September Reply

        Thanks so much for your reply ….I’ll try the sugar…and thanks for the link for the bread!
        Can’t wait to try it!

        • Thea
          Posted at 16:58h, 26 September Reply

          You’re welcome! 🙂

  • avishag abuhatzira
    Posted at 21:29h, 03 February Reply

    hi thea
    it took me a long time to find a good recipe for a gluten free sourdough and i’v finlly find one
    so thank u
    i have some question:
    1. at the beginning (first day) the dough looks semi dry is this sopposed to be like that?
    shuold i feed the dough 2-3 times a day? for 7 days or 5 days?
    and what shuold be the right texture for the dough?
    thank u

    • Thea Tillberg
      Posted at 23:37h, 03 February Reply

      If you follow the recipe and measure by weight you should get the right texture. It’s a 100% hydration which means that it’s half flour and half water, in weight. It shouldn’t be too runny but it shouldn’t be like a dough either, more like a batter in texture. Feed the dough 2-3 times a day depending on how you think it’s growing. Do it for a week, 7 days. Hope this answered some of your questions!

      • avishag abuhatzira
        Posted at 19:35h, 04 February Reply

        thank u for a quick response
        the dough looks like wet sand (i’m on my second day) and im using scale to measure the ingredient but i didnt have kefir water… shuld i add more water?

        • Thea Tillberg
          Posted at 19:41h, 04 February Reply

          No, it should be okay! It should actually look a little bit like wet sand but you should still be able to stir it easily with the back of a spoon. Make sure you use fine/superfine brown rice flour. 🙂

          • avishag abuhatzira
            Posted at 22:49h, 04 February

            wow!!! u r so nice thank u
            one last question…..
            what is the ratio sourdough/flour to make brad ?
            and what is the amount of feeding every week (considering i am making brad ?

          • Thea Tillberg
            Posted at 07:37h, 05 February

            After feeding it constantly for a week you store it in the fridge and feed it once a week, preferably when you’re baking. If you want to bake bread you can follow my recipe for gluten free sourdough bread which you’ll find in the archives!

  • Serena
    Posted at 22:59h, 14 February Reply

    You have such a beautiful blog! I think you have the most beautiful photos and videos, and the most gorgeous gluten-free goods on the internet. <3
    I need to ask a question; I live in a tropical climate, do you think I can successfully ferment the starter? Temperatures where I live range from 30 to 24 degrees Celsius. Please help? Thank you 🙂

    • Thea Tillberg
      Posted at 15:25h, 15 February Reply

      Thanks for your comment! <3 Doughs actually ferment very well at higher temperatures so I don't think that would be a problem 🙂 I love baking during the summer when it's warmer because my doughs rise so good.

  • Serena
    Posted at 03:15h, 17 February Reply

    That’s assuring to know, thanks! 🙂 I was just worried that I might lose control of the fermenting or something and then it would become unusable. I’ll get to work on the starter soon!

  • indigomoon3
    Posted at 19:47h, 17 February Reply

    Just a questions about the water before I get started. Isn’t liquid in millilitres? So would it be 60mls or do I put a cup on the scale and weigh out the water? Once I hear back I absolutely must get started as I am soooo tired of rice cakes!
    (Please delete the message I sent a minute ago – I forgot to check the boxes underneath for notification…thanks!)

    • Thea Tillberg
      Posted at 09:38h, 18 February Reply

      100 g of water weighs as much as 100 ml of water. I think it’s easier to just use grams instead om both grams and ml. I place the glass jar on the scale and then add the flours and the water and reset the scale between the additions. Hope this helped! 🙂

  • Gabriella
    Posted at 14:59h, 18 February Reply

    Hey! In unfortunately epi pen allergic to apples (and most fruit that grows on trees) is there a substitute option for the apple portion or can I just remove it altogether?

    Hope to hear back soon I’m dying for good gluten free bread!


    • Thea Tillberg
      Posted at 17:01h, 18 February Reply

      You could skip the apple, it’s just to give the starter a boost. Let me know how it worked!

  • Ellie
    Posted at 10:14h, 15 April Reply

    My starter is not rising!? It smells ok and I have it in a warm place and I tried giving it a bit of extra sugar but its not nice and frothy?? Its just a flat pasty thing haha…. any suggestions? Its 7 days old…. I want to use it tomorrow!

    • Thea Tillberg
      Posted at 20:26h, 15 April Reply

      DOn’t give it too much sugar because it’ll create too much stress on the yeast cells. Maybe your flour is old? Is starter is best made with fresh flour. If it doesn’t rise very well feed it 3 times a day. My tip is to throw some away and just save a couple of tablespoons of the starter, then feed it with a little humid water and fresh flour. Hope this helps!

  • Gluten Free Sourdough Bread! | Getting Back 2 Eden
    Posted at 12:37h, 26 November Reply

    […] here for a link to Thea’s Starter. Follow her instructions for one week and start to gather your […]

  • Iryna
    Posted at 20:51h, 08 March Reply

    When you say “kefir water” do you mean “water kefir”? What is it supposed to do exactly? Could I substitute it with milk kefir or whey? Thanks!

    • Thea Tillberg
      Posted at 08:01h, 09 March Reply

      It’s just to boost the starter but you could skip it. It will just take a little bit longer for the starter to become active. And I don’t really know what the difference between kefir water or water kefir is. We probably think about the same thing! 🙂

  • Xavi
    Posted at 13:24h, 07 May Reply

    Congratulations for your blog Thea,
    I made few months ago a starter with gluten (wheat flour), and I have been using it and refreshing it to bake “normal” bread (with gluten). Few weeks ago I took some of that starter and I am trying to covert it into a gluten free starter feeding it only with gluten free flours (rice and tapioca). It seems is working…. So far I have baked few loafs and they are great…
    I am not intolerant or allergic to gluten, I am doing just because I read that gluten free flours are healthier than gluten flours.
    What do you think about this “conversion”? Can the new starter be considered to be gluten free? Or because it started from a gluten stater will always have some gluten in it?

    • Thea Tillberg
      Posted at 21:56h, 21 May Reply

      Hi, and thanks! 🙂 You can never be sure that it’s 100% gluten free so I would not recommend serving gluten free bread made from this starter to a person with celiak disease.

  • Mya Burgoon
    Posted at 18:25h, 03 July Reply

    So I have dehydrated sourdough starter, have you ever tried starting out to make this with dehydrated sourdough? I know it won’t be 100% gf to start with but I’m not going for that right now 🙂

    • Thea Tillberg
      Posted at 19:41h, 03 July Reply

      I’ve never used dehydrated sourdough starter before but i guess it should work if you activate it and feed it for a couple of days before baking 🙂

  • meaghan muller
    Posted at 00:10h, 10 July Reply

    i don’t really know where to get water kefir and don’t want to make it, is it possible to make this with komucha instead? where would i buy a sour dough starter otherwise?

  • trish moon
    Posted at 22:18h, 07 August Reply

    I am on day 6 of making my starter and there is no bubbling/activity at all- just an increase in mass. Is this normal? One day I noticed 2 bubbles but since then there are none. I realllllly wanted to make bread tomorrow so am unsure if I should throw this out or is there a way to make it more active (used sugar since no apple or kefir available). Thanks for your help.

  • trish moon
    Posted at 19:26h, 10 August Reply

    Hi again Thea I haven’t heard back and since something more has transpired. I used the starter to begin the recipe but even after adding the flour and letting it sit overnight it didn’t rise – and has a very strong smell – verging on ammonia in strength though the smell is slightly different. I’m keeping the leftover starter in the fridge as per your instructions and will keep feeding it unless you advise otherwise. I’ve tried a few times before with no luck (didn’t post) and with the cost of ingredients and them being hard to get…if there is a chance to salvage the starter I’d like to 🙂 I followed the instructions, and the flours are fresh…so don’t know why it isn’t working for me…and I know you can help 🙂

    • Thea Tillberg
      Posted at 18:11h, 10 September Reply

      Hi! It sounds like your starter isn’t activated yet. Discard most of the starter and keep feeding it. Use filtered water and some honey maybe instead of sugar. What climate is it where you live?

  • Julie Bouchard
    Posted at 19:20h, 01 September Reply

    I am trying your sourdough starter recipe and I am really looking forward to the results!!! Quick question : I began the process yesterday and the starter was already bubbly and foamy this morning, after only 3 feedings. I was expecting it to take much longer to become “active”! Is this typical? Should I still feed it 3 times per day for a whole 7 days? I followed your recipe exactly, but I didn’t add a booster because I didn’t have water kefir or active sourdough starter on hand.

    • Thea Tillberg
      Posted at 18:15h, 10 September Reply

      It sounds like you’re on the right track! Just keep feeding 🙂

  • Alice
    Posted at 01:59h, 09 September Reply

    Hi there, Thanks for your amazing recipes. I made your GF sourdough starter a couple of weeks ago and have so far baked two loaves, both of which were delicious, I’ve never baked bread before, let alone sourdough, and was surprised how easy it was and how wonderfully they worked out! I have a question though. Ever since I moved my starter to the fridge, it’s started smelling like acetone. I’ve looked this up and seen that it can be due to a lack of food, so I’ve then fed the starter and it’s gone away. However, it won’t last more than a day in the fridge without being fed before it smells again. I didn’t have this problem in the first week of making it when it was on the bench, however I was of course feeding it twice daily. According to your recipe above, I should only have to feed it once a week once in the fridge. What could be going wrong? I have a lid on it in the fridge too.

    • Thea Tillberg
      Posted at 18:18h, 10 September Reply

      Starters are really mysterious creatures i’m afraid… I would suggest you keep feeding it more often if that seems to make your starter happier!

  • Mariah Fowler
    Posted at 19:04h, 02 November Reply

    Hi why pour off the water and some of the starter if it separates? Why can’t I just add extra flour next time I feed it?

    • Thea Tillberg
      Posted at 15:39h, 05 November Reply

      The liquid that’s created on top is not good for your starter, that’s why you want to get rid of it. But you still want to keep some of the starter so you don’t have to start from the beginning again! If this makes any sense 😉

  • trish moon
    Posted at 20:25h, 15 November Reply

    Try as I may I cannot keep the starter warm enough – one day I used the oven turning it off and on every hour – the starter began to bubble but I can’t keep doing that for a week! Any suggestions? A lightbulb didn’t work – slow cooker too hot – no electric blanket allowed in house – on top of fridge cold….I’m at my wits end! Finally I’ve had a started last the 7-8 days without going bad but I need it to bubble …and I am reallllyy looking forward to some bread. I need your help! 🙂

    • Thea Tillberg
      Posted at 19:14h, 17 November Reply

      Hi! In what climate do you live? The starter should be kept in even temperature so maybe the variations in temperature when you put it in the oven is causing the problem..?

      • trish moon
        Posted at 20:18h, 17 November Reply

        Yes I realize the temp should stay even – I was just seeing what I could do to provide warm – but it is unsustainable as I can’t keep a stove on for a week! The house is cool and damp weather outside- BC Canada.

        • Thea Tillberg
          Posted at 09:57h, 18 November Reply

          Maybe it’s a little bit too cold inside your house. Try keeping the starter in a switched off oven, then it wont be exposed to draft. 🙂

  • Leide Galhardo
    Posted at 14:58h, 03 February Reply

    Hi Thea, I made de sourdough and now it is time to bake. Do I need to feed the sourdough with the same amount I use in your recipe or keep feeding with 15g of each flour and 30 g of water? Thanks.

    • Thea Tillberg
      Posted at 13:19h, 07 March Reply

      Keep feeding like before, 1 part of each flour and 2 parts water. 🙂

  • Jeanine
    Posted at 21:46h, 05 July Reply

    Exactly what I was looking for. Will follow you on YouTube from now on :

  • Franca Alterman
    Posted at 03:37h, 21 October Reply

    I was very pleasantly surprised with this bread. The crust and the crumb are great! It toasts beautifully also. Next time I won’t add any sweetener and will increase the amount of salt. I also would love it to be more sour… Any advise on that?

  • Sam
    Posted at 23:20h, 24 October Reply

    Thank you for posting this–I can’t wait to try it! After the first week, is it ready to be used to bake a loaf? Also, why the apple?

  • Franca Alterman (office)
    Posted at 20:23h, 03 November Reply

    Hi thanks for all your posts. They are great. I made the GF starter with buckwheat and brown rice flour as you advised. My question is if I absolutely need to continue to use those two flours to feed it weekly or can I use millet flour? (I ask because I found a package of millet flour in my pantry that I’d like to use somehow) Or can I use it to replace one of the flours when making the bread?

    • Thea Tillberg
      Posted at 18:34h, 22 November Reply

      I’ve actually used only millet flour as well to feed it and it works! 🙂

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