Kefir isn’t just for drinking! This probiotic-rich beverage can be used in a variety of ways. Learn 11 ways to use milk kefir, including baking and adding to salad dressings, dessert recipes, breakfast dishes and more.
If you’re making kefir on a daily basis, sometimes you can easily become overwhelmed by the amount it produces. When I first began making kefir at home, I could quickly accumulate nearly half dozen pint size jars of kefir in my fridge. I primarily drank kefir straight from the jar and didn’t know of many ways to use milk kefir.
Once I began understanding the ins and outs of this creamy cultured beverage, I realized that drinking it was only one way to get it into my diet.
Mixing kefir into dips, dressings and smoothies was only the beginning. Along the way I learned how to add it to cookies (a great way to get nutrition into those who are suspicious of fermented foods), soups, sodas and even use it as a quick sourdough starter.
Today’s post is all about sharing inspired recipes and ideas so that you can enjoy milk kefir to its fullest.
What is the Purpose of Drinking Kefir?
Most people drink milk kefir for its numerous digestive health benefits. I am one such person that drinks kefir on a daily basis to improve and maintain my gut health. In addition to digestion, there are many who use kefir to:
- Maintain blood sugar levels
- Improve bone health
- Replenish gut bacteria after use of antibiotics
- Increase energy
- Relieve constipation
- Lose weight
- Support healthy blood pressure levels
How Do You Consume Kefir?
Drinking a glass of kefir every day is a great way to add milk kefir into your diet. However, if you’re looking for more creative ways to consume kefir or need to use up an excess of it, there are countless delicious kefir recipes. Smoothies are just the beginning. This pourable cultured milk can be used in baking, in place of buttermilk and even in kefir popsicles. Continue reading to learn how to use your homemade kefir.
How to Use Kefir in Your Diet
Potent and tart is what many think of when they first drink kefir. For some, the sour taste can take a bit of time to get used to. Especially for those who do not regularly consume fermented foods. But don’t let the initial taste of this amazing probiotic drink keep you from partaking. Let’s talk about 11 different ways you can incorporate kefir into your favorite recipes.
1. Salad Dressing or Vegetable Dip
Kefir makes a great creamy addition to dressing and homemade veggie dip. Does your salad dressing recipe call for yogurt? Swap it out for milk kefir. Can I use kefir instead of milk? Sure! Replace the milk in your dressing or dip recipe for equal parts of milk kefir. Try out some of these recipes using kefir milk:
Cultured Veggie Dip (my absolute favorite!)
2. Frozen Desserts
Who doesn’t love a frozen treat? Come summer I love making everything from popsicles and granitas to ice cream and milkshakes. Milk kefir can easily be added into many chilled desserts, including kefir icebox cheesecake and peppermint kefir ice cream. The awesome thing about frozen kefir is that the cold doesn’t destroy the beneficial bacteria. The probiotics simply go dormant and become active again once eaten. My family’s two favorite kefir dessert recipes include:
Adding kefir into a smoothie is probably one of those most common ways to use milk kefir. It is an easy way to boost your nutrition! Simply sub out the yogurt base in a smoothie recipe for kefir. Fresh or frozen fruit, oats, cocoa powder, peanut butter, collagen or protein powder, cinnamon or vanilla extract all pair well with homemade kefir.
Tropical paradise and Pumpkin pie smoothies are just two terrific smoothie recipes to get you started. Strawberries and a banana, blueberries and raspberries or peaches with cream and oats make for some delicious fruit combinations.
4. In Cooking
Can kefir be used in cooking? Yes! While it may not be peoples first choice when using kefir, there are many delicious ways to use milk kefir in cooking. Try adding kefir to a warm bowl of soup. I love to substitute the heavy cream in tomato soup for kefir. Milk kefir also works wonderfully in cold soup recipes.
Add milk kefir to mac and cheese or mix into a pot of mashed potatoes. Stir into coleslaw. Use as a marinade. Or batter fried chicken.
Does Cooking Kefir Kill Probiotics?
Yes, temperatures over approximately 110° F will begin to destroy some of the probiotics in milk kefir. With that being said, keep in mind there are many other healthy nutrients in kefir that will still be available even when heated or cooked in a soup.
5. In Baking
Kefir can easily be substituted for buttermilk or even regular milk in nearly any baking recipe. You can also use it to soak flour overnight then bake with the saturated grains the following day. When it comes to milk kefir uses in baking think cake recipe, muffins, waffles or even bread.
Kefir Sourdough Starter
Speaking of bread, did you know you can use kefir to make a sourdough starter? An equal combination of flour and milk kefir will create a quick-start kefir sourdough starter. Utilize it to leaven and ferment your favorite bread recipe or as a sourdough discard in a variety of sourdough recipes. My preferred way to use milk kefir in baking is in my recipe for:
6. Kefir Cheese
A soft, spreadable kefir cheese can be made simply by straining the whey out of milk kefir. To do so, line a fine mesh strainer with a cheesecloth or coffee filter. Set the strainer over a bowl and pour your milk kefir through. Place the bowl in the fridge and allow the whey to drip out for 12-24 hours. The longer it sits, the firmer the kefir cheese will be.
Use kefir cheese to make dips, ice cream, cheese balls, top a salad or mix into a pie filling.
7. Kefir Sour Cream
Kefir sour cream is a wonderful addition to taco night or a baked potato. Besides being a healthy fat, it is absolutely delicious! I may have been known, a time or two for eating it straight from the jar.
Making cultured sour cream couldn’t be easier. Simply replace the milk that you normally use to make kefir, with heavy cream instead. I love using the fresh raw cream that we get from a local dairy farmer.
Learn how to make kefir sour cream here.
8. Kefir Soda
Whey soda, also known as kefir soda can easily be made using the whey strained from milk kefir. The whey is full of live cultures that can then be paired with a sugar water mixture or juice to create a tasty fermented drink full of probiotics and nutrition.
I have an entire eBook full of kefir soda recipes including fruit punch, blueberry lemonade, pumpkin cider and more. You can download a copy for FREE here.
Fermented Drinks for Gut Health
9. Flavored Drinks
If a bubbly soda isn’t your thing, you can mix milk kefir directly with other ingredients to create an array of probiotic drinks. For example, swap out a cup of whole milk for kefir within a homemade chocolate milk recipe.
Add kefir into your favorite whipped cream recipe and top off a cup of hot chocolate or a cold latte.
Healthy Recipes With Kefir
10. For Breakfast
If you ferment milk kefir, consider adding into your morning breakfast routine. Use kefir in place of milk in waffles, pancakes or biscuits. Kefir milk can be used to soak oats overnight or make muesli. A mixture of yogurt and kefir paired with fruit and granola can result in a delicious and probiotic-rich breakfast parfait. Kefir is an excellent way to start off the day — I always have a glass of it with my eggs and toast.
11. To Make Soap
Weird, right? Kefir in soap? How can that be? Yes, kefir is typically drank for its tremendous probiotic qualities but did you know it is also an excellent choice for skin care? It has been known to rid the skin of toxins, treat skin irritations and reduce redness, making it a great addition to homemade soap.
Well there you have it, 11 ways to use milk kefir in your daily life. This is just the beginning. There are many other creative ideas to add kefir to your diet. Tell me in the comments below what is your favorite way to use milk kefir?