This study explores the preparation of antioxidant starch food packaging materials by the incorporation of valuable phenolic compounds extracted from sunflower hulls, which are an abundant by-product from food industry. The phenolic compounds were extracted with aqueous methanol and embedded into starch films. Their effect on starch films was investigated in terms of antioxidant activity, optical, thermal, mechanical, barrier properties and changes in starch molecular structure. The starch molecular structure was affected during thermal processing resulting in a decrease in molar mass, smaller amylopectin molecules and shorter amylose branches. Already 1-2% of extracts were sufficient to produce starch films with high antioxidant capacity. Higher amounts (4-6%) of extract showed the highest antioxidant activity, the lowest oxygen permeability and high stiffness and poor extensibility. The phenolic extracts affected predominantly the mechanical properties, whereas other changes could mainly be correlated to the lower glycerol content which was partially substituted by the extract.