Recipes with kefir for baked goods and meals

Delicious ideas to use your kefir when you have too much of it or if it didn’t turned out so great to drink it
[Attention: MOUTHWATERING – don’t read this post with an empty stomach]

Marble cake with kefir

Wether you make your own kefir or you just have some of this fermented drink in the fridge, there are times you can’t drink it all up (because let’s be honest: kefir is an acquired taste).
So, what can you do with kefir beyond drinking it?

The good news is, there are plenty of tasty answers!
In this blog post, you’ll find some cooking and baking recipes with kefir as an ingredient.
We’ve got you covered with some delicious breakfast ideas, light lunch ideas and fluffy dessert ideas.
So let’s get baking (or cooking) with these recipes!
After realizing all the delicious recipes you can make with kefir, you’ll never have too much kefir again!

Some basics about kefir

What is kefir?

Kefir is a fermented milk drink.
It has a sour taste similar to yogurt, but the consistency is thinner and it’s slightly fizzy. You can buy pre-made kefir in most supermarkets (usually near the dairy or yogurt section) or you can make your own at home.

How do you make kefir?

The way to prepare kefir is by adding a small amount of live kefir grains to milk, and wait for them to ferment the sugars in the milk into lactic acid.
The fermentation process takes around 12-24 hours. After that, you can strain out the grains.
To see detailed instructions and a video on how to make kefir with grains, check our post “How to make kefir (vegan or with dairy)”.

Is there alcohol in kefir?

Yes, a little. The fermentation process produces a small amount of alcohol, around 0.5–2%.

What to do when you have too much kefir

If you’ve been making kefir for a while, you probably already know that homemade kefir has great perks, like kefir grains living infinitely or being able to make an inexpensive probiotic drink out of any kind of milk.

But at the same time, this brings some inconveniences, as:

1- More kefir that you can drink

Living kefir grains need to be kept in milk, which means, after straining your finished kefir, you add new, fresh milk to the grains and start the next batch right away.

In addition of that, kefir grains keep growing, specially when keeping them in dairy milk, so you will get more and more kefir until you divide some grains (which you should do regularly).

All this makes it very easy to end up having too much kefir: you just have to forget drinking your daily glass or someone in your family is away for a few days and before you know it, you’ll find a gallon of kefir your fridge.

That’s where having recipes for cooking with kefir come in handy!

Related question:

How long is the shelf life of kefir?

Once you’ve strained the kefir grains from the kefir, you can keep the resulting drink in the fridge, in an airtight container, for 2-3 weeks.
However, consider that the longer you store the kefir, the more sour gets.

2- Batches don’t always turn out as expected

Most people find out quite quickly how much milk to use and how long to let homemade kefir ferment to get the desired level of sourness.
But sometimes, finding the right consistency might be trickier.
Specially if you make kefir with plant-based milk alternatives, the resulting kefir liquid vary A LOT depending on the milk you use.

So, it may take a couple of tries to find the brand or vegan milk recipe that works best to reach a kefir with the desired results.

Also, since kefir grains are a alive, environmental changes (like change of temperature) might affect the fermentation process, giving different results even when you did the same as other times.

But even in the cases your kefir doesn’t become so palatable as a drink, most of the time you can still use it for cooking.

Related question:

Why does my kefir keep separating?

Kefir separates into milk curd and whey when it over-cultures.
Most frequently this happens when the ratio of milk to grains is not balanced.
To prevent this, you can shorten the time you culture the grains or add more milk for the same amount of grains.
The milk you use may also contribute to this separation, so you may switch to a different brand of milk.

If your kefir separates, you can just re-mix it before drinking.
But if it’s still too chunky for your taste, using it to bake or cook is a good alternative.

How to cook and bake with kefir

No matter if you have too much kefir or if it didn’t turn out as you wanted to drink it: it’s great to have some recipes that use kefir as an ingredient.
Baking and cooking with kefir can be a way to use up this fermented drink and also turn it into something delicious!

In many recipes, you can substitute milk, buttermilk, sour crème or water for kefir; it adds a great texture.

So, while heating the kefir kill its probiotic cultures, using kefir for baking and cooking is still a great way to make good use of it.
Here are some ideas for leftover kefir:

Baking with kefir

Kefir works wonderfully as a baking ingredient because the fermented nature of kefir makes your baked goods fluffy.
It also adds moisture without the need of adding so much fat.
And while in most baking recipes you won’t taste the kefir, in recipes that are tangy, its tartness makes a great contribution.

The recipes below are mostly links to other baking and cooking sites, but the first recipe is our adaptation of a recipe we got from the package of a silicone mold we bought in Germany:

Cakes

  • Kefir sponge cake:
Ingredients
  • 80 gr. of butter or vegetal oil
  • 80 gr. of sugar (or preferred alternative)
  • 2 eggs
  • 200 ml. kefir
  • 250 gr. flour
  • 2 tsp. backing powder
  • Vanilla essence
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 175 °C (347 °F)
  2. In a bowl, mix the eggs with the sugar
  3. Add the oil, the kefir and vanilla. Whisk all these wet ingredients together
  4. Mix the flour with the backing powder
  5. Add the powder of step 4. to the bowl of step 3.
  6. Pour into mold and bake for 25 minutes

Pancakes

Muffins

Bread

Cookies and biscuits

Ice cream and popsicles

Cooking with kefir

You can use kefir in most savory dishes that use yogurt, sour cream and similar dairy products.
So, if you are looking for a vegan replacement for any of these dairy products, homemade vegan kefir is a good option: easy to get and as cheap as it gets.

Kefir also adds zing to soups, sauces, dressings and dips.

And thanks to the lactic acid and the active cultures, kefir is great to marinade meat: it will make the meat tender and juicy.

Like we mentioned before, if you heat the kefir for your dishes, the living cultures will die but it will add moisture to your dish without tasting like kefir (which can be a good thing if your family doesn’t like the taste of kefir).

Here are some examples to use kefir in your meals:

Meat

Fish

Soups

Dressing

Dips

What to substitute kefir with

Now that we’ve seen some greats ideas to consume kefir, let’s see some alternatives if on the contrary, you come upon a recipe that uses kefir and you don’t have any.

Understanding how some dairy products are interchangeable may also help you convert your recipes in both directions, from other dairy products to kefir or the other way around:

  • YOGURT – replace 1 cup of kefir with 3/4 cup plain yogurt and 1/4 cup of water or milk
  • BUTTERMILK – You can use buttermilk to replace kefir in a one-to-one ratio
  • SOUR CREAM – replace 1 cup of kefir with 2/3 cup sour cream and 1/3 cup of water

These are some recipes where you can easily substitute the sour cream, yogurt or buttermilk for kefir:


As we’ve seen, there are plenty of dishes you can do with kefir aside from drinking it.
I hope these recipes with kefir give you some ideas on how to use up that extra kefir and put it to good use.
Baked goods and savory dishes alike, will benefit from the addition of this fermented drink.

Don’t forget to tell me what’s your favorite way to use kefir!

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2 Comments

  1. So wonderful recipes with kefir!
    The cakes look yummy and I guess they are also quite healthy using kefir. This made me want to have kefir!
    Thank you very much.

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