If you’re new to Lifeway Kefir, or any probiotic beverage in general, you might be wondering what you can do with it. After all, if you’re not used to drinking it straight, it can take some getting used to since it’s a potent, tart beverage that you’ll soon grow to love. Until then, however, why not incorporate kefir into some of the day-to-day recipes you already love and use?
Our Favorite Ways to Use Kefir in the Kitchen
Kefir is one of our favorite “jack of all trades” in the kitchen because it can literally be used in nearly anything you can imagine. Sure, drinking it out of a glass is great, we think, but why not get a bit creative with it too while you’re at it? Slightly thicker than milk but not as thick as yogurt, kefir is a pourable probiotic cultured milk much higher in probiotics and live cultures than regular yogurt (we use 5 times the amount found in most commercial probiotic yogurts!). You can use it in smoothies just like any liquid, along with smoothie bowls. Many of us love to do that here at Lifeway, but we also wanted to share some of our other favorite ways to use kefir you might not have thought of and share some of our favorite recipes with you so you can try them.
1. In Place of Buttermilk in Any Recipe: Waffles, Muffins, Pancakes, Cornbread, and More
Do you bake with buttermilk? Use it in pancakes? Buttermilk’s unique culturing properties lend a soft, more tender crumb to anything. That’s why pancakes, cornbread, muffins, waffles, and other similar recipes are so much better with buttermilk rather than milk, however, kefir is cultured too! You can use it just like buttermilk, and best of all, it tastes much better (if you’ve ever made the mistake of drinking buttermilk straight up, you’ll totally understand what we mean here!). Kefir is also higher in probiotic cultures than even the best, highest-quality buttermilk, so it retains greater softening, tenderizing, and flavor-enhancing qualities. Try it in your next batch of muffins in place of any liquid milk (even if the recipe doesn’t call for buttermilk). Or waffles, or pancakes, or cornbread—the sky’s the limit!
Try these delicious Toasted Peach Cobbler Waffles as a greater starter recipe. We love these with some real, pure maple syrup on top. Yum!
2. Frozen Kefir
Love Fro-Yo? Us too, that’s why you gotta try frozen kefir as your next frozen treat. Freeze any flavor of Lifeway Kefir into ice cube trays, then blend down the mixture with any fruits, flavors, powders, or whatever you want, and add a smidge more kefir to get the blender going, but not enough to turn it into a smoothie. Serve instantly in a dish and enjoy! Or, you can also blend everything together first, then freeze it in an ice cream maker if you have one with no ice cube tray needed. This dessert is such a good way to use up that last little bit of kefir you might be nearing the date on in the fridge, or even just to use as a quick dessert option. It’s also much more frugal and budget-friendly than going out for fro-yo every time you need a fix. Plus, the probiotic benefits in kefir aren’t destroyed by freezing as in the case of most commercial or shop-ready frozen yogurt. All those live bacteria in the latter varieties are pasteurized after culturing, but with Lifeway Kefir, we culture after pasteurization, so after you freeze and eat kefir, all those good bacteria (probiotics) get active again once they are eaten and consumed. Nice, right? Try our favorite frozen kefir recipes here.
Here’s one of our favorite frozen kefir recipes to get you started: Raspberry Chocolate Chunk Frozen Kefir
3. Salad Dressing
One of the best ways to use our plain flavors of kefir are in salad dressings in place of any cream, milk, or buttermilk (once again). Kefir is a great ranch-flavored dressing base, but it also can be used as a base for other similar creamy types as well. Or, just make your own! An easy starter recipe is to mix some of our kefir (try 1/3 cup to start), with some of your favorite fresh herbs (tarragon, oregano, dill, basil, and parsley are nice) with a squeeze of fresh lemon, a tsp. or so of your favorite mustard, and a bit of balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Yum! It’s a creamy, herb-infused dressing that’s much better for you than the bottled stuff. You can create any dressing recipe you want by using kefir as the base—the sky is the limit. Here are some of our favorite kefir recipes with dressing to start with!
Or, try this one that’s perfect for the cooler or warmer months of the year: Fig and Arugula Salad With Maple Kefir Dressing. Or, try this Green Goddess Salad using kefir: healthy, easy, and delicious all at the same time!
4. Better for You Mac and Cheese
Yep, you read that right. Your beloved mac and cheese can also be transformed with kefir. Use it as the creamy base in any mac and cheese recipe and fill your belly and bowl with the goodness of Lifeway Kefir’s probiotics. To prove it, here one of our favorite recipes using Lifeway Kefir in a mac and cheese recipe, plus our cultured Farmer Cheese as well:
Creamy Spinach Mac and Cheese, or see more Mac and Cheese recipes here.
5. French Toast (and Any Other Toast Recipe)
Love French Toast? Or just regular dressed-up toast? Great news: kefir works there, too! We have a huge love for toasts here at Lifeway so much so, that we’ve devoted Tuesdays as Toast Tuesday where we share a new recipe with you for toast every single Tuesday. So check out all our tasty toast recipes here. You can use kefir as the base you dredge French toast in with eggs instead of milk, and it works like a dream. But you can also use kefir in other types of toast recipes.
Here’s a great French Toast recipe using kefir we shared that’s a favorite in our kitchens: PB and J Banana French Toast Sandwiches.
Any dip you want can be transformed with Lifeway Kefir, too. In fact, dips are more delicious with kefir because they lend the slight taste of tart, acid, and sweet all at one time. Since kefir is creamier than milk, but not as thick as say, sour cream, it works great to combine the other ingredients without being too stiff. Plus, you’ll get all those good gut bugs (probiotics) in your dip recipes that you won’t get with most yogurts, sour cream, and the like. Here’s one of our favorite most creative recipes we recently shared with kefir in a dip: Probiotic Pink Dip!
Want more dip recipes? Get those here.
7. Desserts: Pies, Cakes, Cupcakes, And More!
You can sneak kefir into any dessert recipe you want and likely, it will work beautifully. We have created everything from Rainbow Cupcakes to a Chantilly Cake, to a Creamy Caramel Mocha Coffee Milkshake. Feeling the urge for a piece of pie? We got you: try these Mini Pumpkin Pies as an easy single-serving option.
See cupcakes, pies, cakes, milkshakes, and more dessert recipes, too.
8. As a Face Mask
Want an even more creative way to use kefir? Use it in a detox face mask. Kefir is a dream for the skin when applied externally, along with taken internally. It’s lactic acid helps improve skin tone, texture, and may reduce redness and breakouts, but its probiotic content also acts as an anti-inflammatory, so you get more than just one benefit. The amino acids in kefir also work great on the skin and help improve tone and texture. Plus, the calcium is anti-inflammatory to the skin and is a great cooling agent as a bonus. You can whip up any face mask you want, but to get you started, here’s a post that gives several different options depending on your skin care needs that we love to share with others: 5 DIY Easy Kefir Face Mask Recipes.
9. Post-Workout Smoothies
Having a smoothie for breakfast is one of the best ways to hydrate your body and get in a variety of nutrients since you pack nearly anything into the blender. Kefir makes a great base for any smoothie recipe, which you might already know, but it also works as an excellent post-workout smoothie base. If you haven’t tried this yet, put aside the protein bars full of processed ingredients and try our most recent Post-Workout Smoothie. It will replenish your glucose stores, help get protein to your muscles to repair and revitalize your body, and the amino acids and potassium combined, along with the calcium, will help break down excess lactic acid in the muscles giving you just what you need to feel your best post-workout. And yes, if you’re wondering: kefir is a source of complete protein. Pretty great, right?
See more of our favorite smoothie recipes here!
10. Sandwiches and Soups
Nothing beats a bowl of warming soup and a hot sandwich on a chilly day, and kefir works great in nearly any soup or sandwich recipe. Here’s a great recipe that’s a good option for the cooler days: Fire-Roasted Tomato Soup, which, if we have to say, goes great with this Grilled Farmer Cheese sandwich as a side option.
You can also try this with cooler soups and sandwiches in the warmer months. For example, this Cucumber Avocado Soup is a terrific choice for the warmer months. Or, browse through all of our soup recipes here, and all our sandwich recipes here.
These are just 10 ideas to get you started using kefir in multiple types of recipes. Food wastes are one of the largest household costs in the United States and beyond, so however we can do to help you utilize healthier ingredients in the kitchen (along with some indulgent, yet better-for-you choices, too), we try our best to do so. Plus, getting creative with ingredients you already have is always a win-win. Who knows? You might just discover your new favorite recipe in doing so.
Want more recipes with Lifeway Kefir, Lifeway Farmer Cheese, or our vegan and organic Lifeway Oat? We have every type of recipe you can imagine here. Be sure to follow us on Instagram to get the latest updates with even more recipe ideas. See you there!