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Kefir Substitutes (And How To Use Them)

Kefir Substitutes (And How To Use Them)

Are you all out of kefir, or can’t find it at the store? No need to worry, there are multiple substitutes for kefir you can use that are easy to find, and you may even have some of them at home already.

Kefir has grown in popularity in recent years and it can be found in all types of recipes. It is used for baking sweet desserts like cake and ice cream, to making breakfast and savory dinner dishes.

The key to replacing kefir in a recipe is finding a similar flavor and texture in a common ingredient. And that is exactly what you will find here. We will also discuss how to best use each of these kefir alternatives in your recipe.

So what are the best substitutes for kefir?

The top kefir substitutes are yogurt, buttermilk, sour cream, brine, and kombucha.

Make sure to read on for how to use each of these substitutes. Then it’s as simple as using the ingredient you have on hand, and finish your recipe.

Kefir Alternatives

top view of kefir in pitcher

Kefir is a fermented milk that is produced from cow, sheep, or goat milk. It is a creamy white color and has a sour flavor that is both creamy and tart.

Each of the following replacement ingredients will provide a similar flavor and/or texture that will work in all types of recipes.


buttermilk in glasses

Buttermilk is the best overall substitute for kefir. It is also a fermented milk product and it offers the same consistency and a similar flavor.

Buttermilk can be used in any recipe that calls for kefir so if you have buttermilk it is the replacement to use.

Related: Buttermilk Powder Substitutes


1 cup of buttermilk equals 1 cup of kefir


yogurt in wooden bowl

Plain (unflavored) yogurt is an excellent substitute for kefir. It provides a similar flavor and works well in almost any recipe that uses kefir.

Yogurt is thicker than kefir, so I recommend thinning it with some regular milk. Start with about 3/4 cup of kefir and stir in milk until the desired consistency is achieved.

Note: I’ve found the best results from using unflavored Greek yogurt.

Related: How to fix grainy homemade yogurt


1 cup of yogurt equals 1 cup of kefir

Sour Cream

bowl of sour cream on table with spoon

This kitchen staple is a great kefir alternative if you do not have any buttermilk or Greek yogurt on hand.

This fermented dairy product offers a flavor fairly similar to kefir, but it is thicker and has a higher fat content.

Thin your sour cream by adding some milk before mixing it into your recipe.

Related Recipe: Sour Cream Dessert Crepes


3/4 cup sour cream with 1/4 cup milk equals 1 cup of kefir


homemade pickles in brine

Because kefir is fermented, we can substitute in brine and achieve similar results. Some brines that can work in many kefir recipes include kimchee and any pickled vegetable.

While I prefer to use one of the options above, a brine can be used in a pinch.


1/2 cup of brine equals 1 cup of kefir


Kombucha with ingredients on table

Another non-dairy fermented substitute for kefir is kombucha. This popular beverage offers the culture and bacteria similar to kefir and can be used in many recipes that call for kefir.

Kombucha is not as thick as kefir and will be similar to using a brine. So use less than a 1:1 ratio to prevent thinning your final recipe too much.


1/2 cup kombucha equals 1 cup kefir

Kefir Replacements FAQ

pitcher of kefir

Can yogurt replace kefir?

Yes, yogurt is an excellent substitute for kefir. Use Greek unflavored yogurt in any recipe that calls for kefir. It offers a similar flavor and you can achieve a similar texture by thinning your yogurt with milk.

Can I use milk instead of kefir?

While milk can be used instead of kefir, it will not offer the same tart flavor. If you use milk, go with a 1:1 ratio. But you can achieve a better flavor result by using buttermilk, Greek yogurt or sour cream with milk instead.

Is Greek yogurt the same as kefir?

No, kefir and Greek yogurt are not the same thing. Greek yogurt tends to be thicker than kefir and kefir has a larger variety of bacteria than Greek yogurt. They can both be used in similar recipes and often can be substituted for one another.

Can I use sour cream instead of kefir?

Yes, sour cream can be used in place of kefir in many recipes. They are both fermented dairy products and offer a similar flavor. Because sour cream is thicker than kefir, it is recommended that your thin your sour cream with milk before adding it to your recipe. Use 3/4 cup sour cream mixed with 1/4 cup milk for each 1 cup of kefir.

Is kefir the same as sour milk?

Kefir and sour milk are quite similar. They are both produced using raw milk and are fermented. Kefir does contain kefir grain while sour milk does not. Kefir and sour milk can be used in place of each other in most recipes.

What is a good non dairy substitute for kefir?

There are a number of dairy free kefir varieties that you can use. Some can be found at the local grocery store, or they are readily available at specialty stores and online. Here are the most popular dairy free kefir alternatives.

  • Nut milk kefir
  • Lactose free milk kefir
  • Water kefir
  • Coconut water kefir
  • Soy milk kefir
  • Rice milk kefir
  • Oat milk kefir
  • Juice water kefir