Simple 3 Tbsp Method to Make Sourdough Starter

by Veronika B

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Making your own sourdough starter using the 3 tbsp method is a simple and straightforward process. The following steps will guide you through the process.

Disclaimer: I would highly recommend to buy a local mature starter, but if you really want to make your own, this 3 tbsp method is my favorite!

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Why use the 3 tbsp method to make your own sourdough starter?

  • Simplicity: The 3 tbsp method is straightforward and easy to remember. Very convenient and simple.
  • Small quantities: By using 3 tablespoons of flour,  you’re working with smaller amounts of ingredients. This can be beneficial if you’re starting out and don’t want to use large quantities of flour and a lot of discard.
  • Less Discard: This method will not have any discard for the first 3 days. After day 3, you might have discard. Once you start making bread like this Easy No Knead Sourdough Bread Recipe – Beginners Recipe I never have any extra discard that I have to dump out. I always mix enough for two loaves, make the bread, and feed the starter for my next loaves. 
  • Quick results: Working with smaller amounts in the beginning allows you to observe any changes and progress more easily. With a smaller starter, you may notice signs of fermentation and activity sooner, giving you quicker result on the success of your very own starter.



NOTE: I don’t add 3 tbsp of water every feed. I always add 3 tbsp of flour and if the mixture is super runny I wont add any water. If the mixture is more of a thicker consistency, I will add 1 tbsp at a time. The consistency should be like sour cream.

First Feed – Evening

sourdough starter in a glass jar

Initial start – 3 tbsp flour, 2 tbsp water

  1. 7 PM: In a clean bowl combine 3 tablespoons and 3 tablespoons of water.
  2. Mix well into a smooth, slightly thick mixture, consistency should be like sour cream.
  3. Place into the mason jar.
  4. Loosely cover the plastic wrap, allowing air to circulate but preventing any debris from entering.
  5. Place the jar in a warm location, ideally between 70°F to 85°F (21°C to 29°C). On your counter would work, on top of your fridge, or in your oven with the light on.
  6. Leave it overnight.

2nd Feed – Morning

sourdough starter in a jar

8 am the next morning. It has very little bubble.

  1. 8 am: Check the jar for any signs of activity. It’s normal if there aren’t any significant changes at this stage. I saw a little bit on bubble.
  2. In a clean bowl mix 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour and 3 tablespoons of water and the mixture from last night
  3. Stir the ingredients until well combined.
  4. Place everything back into the jar.
  5. Loosely cover the jar and return it to the warm location.

3rd Feed – Evening

9 PM It has more bubbles and more of a rise. Feed it once again.

  1. 9 PM: By this stage, you should start seeing lots of signs of fermentation, such as bubbles forming, little bit of a rise,  and a slightly sour smell.
  2. Add of 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour.
  3. Pour in 3 tablespoons of water.
  4. Stir well to incorporate the new ingredients.
  5. Add the rest of the fermented mixture and mix well.
  6. Loosely cover the jar with plastic and return it to the warm location.
  7. Repeat the feeding process every 12 hours (morning, evening, morning, evening). Your starter should become active, bubbly, and have a pleasant sour aroma.

Note: If you notice a layer of liquid on top (called “hooch”), it’s a sign that your starter needs to be fed more frequently. Pour off the hooch before feeding.

4th Feed – Morning (36 hours)

  1. 8 am: The sourdough starter should be very bubbly and have a full rise to the top of the jar. It has a very sour smell.
  2. Keep feeding it every 12 hours for about 3-5 days. (After day 3 and so forth, you might have some discard, but it’s a lot less waste and discard than the traditional way of growing your starter).
  3. After 1 week, the sourdough starter is ready to be used to make your first Easy No Knead Beginner Sourdough Bread.

5th Feed – Evening

  1. 9 PM: Discard half.
  2. Add of 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and no water (unless it’s really dry add 1 tbsp). It needs to be on the dryer/thicker side. Not runny, more like sour cream.
  3. Stir well to incorporate the new ingredients.
  4. Loosely cover the jar with plastic and return it to the warm location.
  5. Repeat the feeding process every 12 hours (morning, evening, morning, evening) for about a week 5-7 days. Your starter should become active, bubbly, and have a pleasant sour aroma.


  • It’s important to maintain your starter by using 100 grams for a loaf of bread and then feeding it.
  • If you are not planning to make sourdough bread in the next few days. Keep your starter in the fridge.
  • Check this Sourdough Starter Maintenance blog post to keep your new sourdough starter maintained.

You can store it in the refrigerator and feed it once a week, or you can leave it at room temperature and feed it daily if you plan to bake frequently.

Disclaimer: Remember, sourdough starters can vary in activity, so be patient and observe the progress. Once your starter is active, you can use it to bake delicious sourdough bread and other sourdough-based recipes.

If you try this 3 tbsp method for making sourdough starter, please leave a comment and tag me with your photos on IG @shakanranch

WATCH How I make it HERE

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Lara June 4, 2023 - 12:30 pm

Hi, I started with your sourdough starter and just did the third feed. When I read your fifth feed you say just add flour and then continue to feed for a week. Is that sixth feed and onward then including water again and is the week continuing to feed including those first 5 feeds or on top of those 5 feeds? So is sixth to 11th including water again?

Veronika B June 5, 2023 - 7:05 am

yes so you guys have to keep going with that same routine, if its too runny then don’t add the water. If it’s dry add one tbsp at a time. Keep feeding it total for a week or longer. Everyones starter will react differently. You will see and know for sure when it’s ready, usually around day 8-10. It will rise and smell pleasant.

Jomelyn June 7, 2023 - 11:07 am

Thank you so much for this recipe! Easy to follow and simple.

A. H. June 21, 2023 - 5:34 am

I love this so much!! I have recently gotten into making bread but I have been intimated to try sourdough! Maybe I will go for it now! Thanks for sharing!

Courtney June 21, 2023 - 6:25 am

I love sourdough and this sounds very doable! Thanks for sharing.

Karen Kasberg June 21, 2023 - 8:02 am

I am very intrigued by the sourdough starter trend. It seems to be somewhat easy, but maybe I’m not reading enough into it. Is it easy? I’d really like to find a gluten-free recipe for sourdough bread.

Veronika B June 21, 2023 - 10:20 am

It’s super easy once you get the hang of it. For me I went through tears, patients, and perseverance to get to where I am at today 🙂


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