Sourdough Snickerdoodles

Sourdough snickerdoodles are a delicious treat that just might be my new favorite cookie recipe (although I have several favorite discard cookie recipes like these pumpkin cookies). I tested several different ways  of making these cookies and finally created what I believe are the perfect sourdough snickerdoodle cookies.

These sourdough cookies have crisp edges, a soft, slightly fluffy center, and soft, chewy texture. They have a subtle tang from both the cream of tartar and the sourdough starter, which is complemented by the cinnamon sugar coating and a hint of vanilla. You probably already have the simple ingredients to make these cookies and they are a great way to use up your excess sourdough starter. 

There are several sourdough snickerdoodle on a small baking sheet lined with parchment paper. There are also a few cookies and cinnamon sticks scattered around the tray. There is also a wooden spoon and a bowl of cinnamon sugar next to the tray.

What is a Snickerdoodle?

Snickerdoodles are very similar to sugar cookies but differ in a few key ways. First, they contain cream of tartar, which adds tanginess and softness to the cookies. Second they are coated in a cinnamon sugar mixture that gives them a warm flavor profile that goes well with the tanginess from the cream of tartar. 

Why is Cream of Tartar Used In Snickerdoodles?

Most snickerdoodle recipes contain cream of tartar and many people believe this ingredient is essential to be a true snickerdoodle. The cream of tartar contributes a slight tang, a softer cookie, and a boost in leavening.

Where Does the Name Snickerdoodle Come From?

There is a lot of speculation about the origin of the name snickerdoodle. Some claim that it is German in origin. Here is a great article that talks about the history of the origin of snickerdoodles that is great to read if you are interested. 

Why Didn’t My Snickerdoodles Flatten Out?

There are two main reasons your snickerdoodle didn’t flatten out. 

  1. You added too much flour. Make sure you are measuring the flour correctly and do not pack in the flour. The most accurate way to measure flour is to use a spoon to scoop the flour into the measuring cup and then leveling it off. 
  2. You over-baked them. Snickerdoodles get stiff and dry if they are over-baked so it is very important not to over-bake them. I would lean towards the lower end of the bake time to prevent them from drying out. 

Why Don’t My Snickerdoodles Crack?

Most of the time, snickerdoodles will crack when they are baking, resulting in their signature crinkled appearance. Here is a great resource that goes into the science of the cracked appearance. It occurs as because the sugar coating on the snickerdoodles dries out the surface of the cookies. Since the surface is drier than the rest of the cookie, it cracks when baked. 

If your snickerdoodles did not crack, it is likely because your cookie dough is too wet and the sugar cannot adequately draw out enough water for them to crack when baked. 

Fortunately, this recipe yields beautifully crinkled snickerdoodles so you shouldn’t have to worry about that here!

Sourdough snickerdoodle ingredients layer out on a wooden cutting board.


Flour: Use all purpose flour for this recipe. If you want to substitute some whole wheat flour, I wouldn’t substitute any more than 1/4 cup. If you use too much whole wheat flour, your cookies will end up dry and tough. Ideally, use whole wheat pastry flour if you do plan to make this substitution. It works better because it is very finely ground and doesn’t affect the texture as much. 

Cinnamon: This adds so much delicious flavor and when combined with the sugar, it is reminiscent of a churro or a biscochito cookie. Although similar, biscochitos are crunchier cookies and are made with anise. Snickerdoodles are typically soft and chewy cookies. 

Cream of Tartar: This is the secret ingredient that really sets snickerdoodles apart from other cookies. It really isn’t a snickerdoodle without cream of tartar. 

Baking Soda: The combination of the baking soda and the cream of tartar is what makes these cookies fluffy. In fact, these are the two main ingredients in baking powder. We just use a much higher proportion of cream of tartar in this recipe than is found in baking powder.

Salt: You can use any type of unflavored salt in this recipe such as iodized salt or sea salt. 

Butter: This recipe calls for one half cup butter. I use unsalted butter in my recipes because it allows me to control the salt content. It will also work with salted butter but I would reduce the salt by 1/4 tsp. 

Make sure you let your butter sit out at room temperature before using it in this recipe. This allows you to easily cream together the sugars and butter. This is especially important if you do not have a stand mixer and plan to mix these cookies by hand. 

Sugar: We use white sugar (aka granulated sugar) in this recipe and add brown sugar for a little more moisture and depth of flavor. If you would like to substitute coconut sugar, you can substitute it for the white sugar in a 1:1 ratio. 

Egg: You only need one egg for this recipe. If you like your cookies a bit softer, you can add an extra egg yolk. 

Vanilla Extract: For best results, use pure vanilla extract rather than imitation vanilla flavoring. 

Sourdough Discard: You can use either unfed sourdough starter discard or active starter for this recipe. Either will work but you might notice a more tangy flavor with older, unfed starter. 

Extra Cinnamon and Sugar for Rolling: These cookies are finished by rolling them in a sugar and cinnamon mixture. This adds a delightful crunch when the cookies are baked. 

How to Make Sourdough Discard Snickerdoodle Cookies

Step 1: In a small to medium bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients and set aside. 

Bowl with a fork whisking the dry ingredients.

Step 2: Prepare the wet ingredients: In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. You don’t have to this in a stand mixer if you don’t have one. You can just use a rubber spatula and a large bowl or use an electric mixer. 

Butter and sugar that have been creamed together in a stand mixer bowl with paddle attachment.
Wet ingredients in a bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment.

Step 3: Add the vanilla, egg, and finally the sourdough starter. Mix until smooth. I like to add the sourdough starter last so it doesn’t get over-mixed and result in tough cookies.

Step 4: Add the flour mixture and mix until just starting to pull away from the sides of the bowl. 

Step 5: Chill the dough. This isn’t essential but if you don’t chill the dough, your cookies will spread out when baking and they won’t have that thick, fluffy appearance many people want in their snickerdoodles. 

I usually chill the dough for at least 1 hour but you can chill for up to 24 hours. I suspect that the dough is fine to chill for even longer than this but I have not tried it.

Step 6: Once you’re ready to bake your cookies, preheat the oven temperature to 350oF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Step 7: Roll the cookie dough into approximate 1 tablespoon sized balls (about 1 inch). This should result in about 24 cookie dough balls. 

Step 8: Whisk together the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl and roll each cookie dough ball into the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Make sure you coat the balls thoroughly. 

Step 9: Place the cookie doughs on your prepared baking sheet several inches apart so they have room to expand. This is especially important if you did not chill the dough. 

Step 10: Bake the cookies. Ovens vary but I found they are usually done in 12-14 minutes. You really don’t want to over-bake these cookies or they will be dry. The snickerdoodles will flatten out some once they are baked which will result in tender, soft cookies. 

Step 11: Allow the cookies to partially cool on the sheet pan, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. 

There are several sourdough snickerdoodle on a small baking sheet lined with parchment paper. There are also a few cookies and cinnamon sticks scattered around the tray. There is also a wooden spoon and a bowl of cinnamon sugar next to the tray.

How to Store

Store these cookies in an airtight container, a large ziploc bag or on a plate wrapped with plastic wrap. They are best if eaten in 3-4 days, but can be consumed beyond this point. They just might start to get stale and dry the older they are. 

I hope you enjoyed this snickerdoodle cookie recipe. For more sourdough discard recipes, check out these posts: 

Vegan Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin Blondies with Sourdough Discard

Rich and Chewy Sourdough Brownies

There are several sourdough snickerdoodle on a small baking sheet lined with parchment paper. There are also a few cookies and cinnamon sticks scattered around the tray. There is also a wooden spoon and a bowl of cinnamon sugar next to the tray.

Sourdough Snickerdoodles

These sourdough snickerdoodle are soft, fluffy, and have the perfect balance of cinnamon and sugar. This take on the classic snickerdoodle is even better with the extra tang from the sourdough starter.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Chill Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 27 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 24


  • 1 Whisk
  • 1 Small mixing bowl
  • 1 Rubber Spatula
  • 1 Stand Mixer
  • 1 baking sheet
  • Measuring cups and spoons


  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • cup sourdough discard
  • cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

For Rolling the Cookie Dough Balls

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until thoroughly mixed and slightly fluffy. If you do not have a stand mixer, you can mix by hand with a rubber spatula.
  • Add the egg and vanilla extract and continue to mix until well combined.
  • Pour in the sourdough discard and mix on low speed until just combined.
  • Slowly, add the dry ingredients and mix until the dough is well combined and starting to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour, up to 24 hours.

When Ready to Bake

  • Preheat the oven to 350℉.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the cinnamon and sugar.
  • Roll the cookie dough into approximate tablespoon sized balls.
  • Roll each ball in the cinnamon sugar until it is well coated. Place on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet at least 2 inches apart.
  • Bake for 12-14 minutes. The cookies should be puffy and soft when done. They will deflate when they come out of the oven. Do not over-bake or they will be dry.
  • Allow to cool 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Keyword Cookies, Sourdough, Sourdough Discard
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