How to Fix a Runny Sourdough Starter

Share this page!

Help! My sourdough starter looks all runny! Don’t worry, we can fix that. Today, we look at how to fix a runny sourdough starter.

Please note that this page contains affiliate links. While we only recommend products that we believe in, we may benefit financially from any purchases you make.

A top shot of a jar of sourdough starter to show how to fix a runny starter

Bubbly sourdough starter, like the one in the picture above, is the stuff of dreams. And if you’ve never made one before, find our how to make one here

Well, hope, to be exact.

If your starter is bubbly, strong and doubling, there is no limit to the beautiful sourdough masterpieces you can create!

But what if it isn’t?

What if it’s runny, and not doing very much?

Well, fear not, we can fix that!

How to fix a runny Sourdough Starter – Method 1

The first method is simply to feed the starter a different flour.

If your starter needs a lift, the next time you feed your starter, give it some Rye flour, or some wholewheat flour.

These flours both absorb more water than white flour, and provide a slightly different bacteria and enzyme profile to your starter’s yeast and bacteria colony. This will give it a boost and thicken it right up.

How to fix a Runny Sourdough Starter – Method 2

If you don’t have any other flour on hand at all, method 2 is for you.

A sourdough starter tends to get runny when it’s hungry. Simply feed it more often.

  • If you feed your starter once a day, up it to twice a day, once in the morning and once again at night. You can always use the extra starter to make a yummy treat like Sourdough discard brownies, or whip up some pancakes. It doesn’t have to go to waste.
  • If your starter has been in the fridge for a while and comes out very runny, this is also the way to wake it back up. If it has black liquid on the top, simply pour it off and feed as below.

If your starter is bubbling well just not rising quite so well, you can try to give a little less water.

I feed my starter like this anyway but I have revived very runny sourdough discard with this method.

It just requires giving your starter slightly less water than the mostly recommended 1:1 ratio.


The picture above shows my runny starter in the jar on the right. I hadn’t fed it for 36 hrs and it was out on the counter top. It’s very runny and very pungent. It really needed a feed.

I started by placing 25g of starter in a new jar.

I used to measure with cups, as you can see with the pictures, until I weighed my usual measurements…

A cup of flour levelled off weighs 130 g, but 3/4 cup of water weighs 160g!

I’ve since started using my scales and have had MUCH better results. It doesn’t take much longer, and it gives much more predictable results. Well, as predictable as sourdough can be…

25g of starter, 100g flour and 100g water seems to be the sweet spot. Now of course you can up that if you need more starter; 50g:200g:200g

Mix thoroughly and firmly to get air into the mix and set it somewhere warm.

You can still feed it morning and night to really get it going and once it’s thick and bubbly, and doubling in size, swich back to once a day feeding.

This was my starter the next morning, after only one feed. Thick and bubbly, it had started to deflate, so I fed it again, and it was ready to bake with by lunchtime.

Don’t give up…

Sourdough is a skill to be learned. It takes time, and patience, (something I’m not famed for), but the main thing is, don’t give up!

Most things can be fixed, and if you bake a flat loaf, no worries! We all have. Make bread and butter pudding! If you burn the bread, take the crust off and make breadcrumbs. You’ll find that nothing is truly wasted, when it’s a lesson learned. Try again tomorrow.

What’s your biggest struggle with sourdough? let me know in the comments. Don’t forget to share this post. Thanks friend x

Other posts you may like:

What is Sourdough Discard and what do I do with it?

Making a Sourdough Starter from Scratch

How do I feed a Sourdough Starter?

Shop this post

Digital Scales

Kilner Jars

Fridge Water Filter

Kilner Clip Jar

2 thoughts on “How to Fix a Runny Sourdough Starter”

  1. Hi Kimberley, I work always the sourgdough with wolemeal rye flour – and add other flours when I choose what I want to bake. Yesterday I put together sourdough starter of wolemeal rye flour and addes wholemeal emmer flour – wonderful bread. I have lost my fear, when my starter gets runny or “sleepy” – and sometimes when it really did not work, I added a littletiny pinch of dry yeast to give it a boost… three days later it works, haha.


Leave a Comment

Seraphinite AcceleratorOptimized by Seraphinite Accelerator
Turns on site high speed to be attractive for people and search engines.