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Buttermilk vs Kefir (Everything You Need To Know)

Buttermilk vs Kefir (Everything You Need To Know)

Buttermilk and kefir have many similarities but also some key differences. In this article you will find everything you need to know about these two popular, cultured beverages.

Buttermilk and kefir are both regarded for containing probiotics and can be used in all types of recipes. I’ve been asked many times over the years if they can be used interchangeably and that largely depends on what you are making and your goals.

Read on for the complete kefir vs buttermilk guide.

Kefir and Buttermilk: Differences, Similarities and Uses

kefir being poured into a glass

Buttermilk is probably the more commonly used of the two, but kefir has been gaining in popularity in recent years.

And both of these cultured beverages have their place in the kitchen. In fact, I frequently use both kefir and buttermilk in my kitchen.

Related: Kefir Substitutes

What is Buttermilk and Kefir

top view of pitcher of kefir

Both buttermilk and kefir are cultured beverages made from milk.

Buttermilk, also known as cultured buttermilk, is produced by fermenting skim milk by using lactic acid, Steptococcus lactis to be exact.

Kefir on the other hand, is produced by adding yeast cultures and bacteria to milk leading to a fermented beverage.

Buttermilk and Kefir Uses

two glasses and a pitcher of buttermilk

Buttermilk and kefir are both versatile ingredients. In fact, they can both be incorporated in to all types of baked dishes that call for dairy.

I’ve used kefir and buttermilk in everything from cookies, cake, and even sweet breads. They are both popular for drinking straight or mixed into smoothies and ice cream.

The uses for buttermilk and kefir are so diverse I like to keep them stocked in my kitchen at all times.

Should You Use Kefir or Buttermilk

fruit smoothie made with kefir and fresh fruit

The answer to this largely depends on your personal tastes. Both kefir and buttermilk work in all types of recipes. They both can be used in place of milk in almost any baked or cooked recipe.

And while they do offer a similar flavor, many find they prefer the flavor of one over the other. And when you cook or bake with buttermilk or kefir, it’s flavor is imparted into the final dish.

For this reason I recommend you experiment with both ingredients to see which flavor you like the best. Drink each one straight to get an idea of which you prefer and feel free to bake with both of them until you see which you prefer.

Personally, I enjoy the flavor of both of them and use each often in my own baking. Though I have found I prefer one over the other in certain types of recipes.

When it comes to baking a cake that calls for dairy, I prefer buttermilk over kefir but when making a coconut based dessert, I love using kefir.

There are no hard and fast rules, it really comes down to which flavor you prefer in your particular recipe.

Buttermilk vs Kefir FAQ

glass of buttermilk with frozen berries

Can I replace buttermilk with kefir?

Yes, kefir can be used instead of buttermilk in any recipe. It works equally well in baked recipes, or in smoothies, or even drank straight.

Can I substitute buttermilk for kefir?

Absolutely, buttermilk can be used instead of kefir in any recipe. They offer a similar flavor and both are cultured dairy drinks that work interchangeably in any type of cooking.

Is buttermilk or kefir better for baking?

Both buttermilk and kefir are excellent for baking. They can be found in all types of baking and can be substituted in for milk in most types of recipes.