What are the Best Alternatives for Kefir?

Rohit Panwar

You are here looking for kefir substitutes because either you don’t like the taste of kefir or are allergic to dairy or kefir/ kefir grains are not available in your region. 

If you fall into any of these categories, don’t worry – there are plenty of alternatives to kefir that offer similar benefits. In this post, I will help you explore some of the best kefir substitutes you can try today.

12 Best Nutritionist-Approved Kefir Substitutes 

To make your selection easier, I am listing out the kefir substitutes under two main sections – dairy based and non-dairy kefir alternatives – 

Dairy Based Kefir Substitutes 

Kefir is made by fermenting diary based milk derived from goat, sheep or cow and fermenting them using kefir grains. Kefir grains are a colony of good bacteria and yeast and work by breaking down the lactose in the milk. 

Here are some of the best kefir substitutes that work in a similar fashion. Since these are derived from dairy, these products are rich in calcium, protein and other milk nutrients. Most of these can also be used to replace kefir in cooking 

1. Yogurt

Yogurt is a popular kefir substitute that is readily available in most grocery stores. Like kefir, yogurt is rich in probiotics that help to improve digestion and boost the immune system. 

Also, since yogurt is made using milk, it  also contains calcium, proteins and good fats. You can enjoy yogurt on its own or mix it with fruits and nuts for added flavour and nutrients.

2. Buttermilk

Buttermilk is a tangy, fermented dairy product that is similar to kefir. It is rich in probiotics and nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin B12. 

Buttermilk is of two types – cultured and traditional. While traditional buttermilk is a by-product of the butter making process, the cultured one is obtained by fermenting milk with lactic acid. 

3. Amasi 

Amasi is a fermented milk product that is popular in Southern Africa. It is made from cow’s milk and has a thick, creamy texture with a sour taste. Apart from vitamins and minerals, it is a great source of probiotics and is thus good for digestive health. 

The milk is allowed to ferment naturally, which creates lactic acid bacteria that give Amasi its distinctive flavour and texture. It is often consumed as a drink or used in cooking and baking.

4. Laban

Another dairy product that isn’t very popular but a great substitute for milk is laban or leben. Laban is made by fermenting milk with lactic acid bacteria, which gives it a tangy flavour and a thick, creamy texture. 

Laban can be made from cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or sheep’s milk. You can serve it as a drink or use it in cooking and baking. Laban is a refreshing beverage, especially in hot weather, and is also used as a dip for vegetables or a marinade for meat. 

5. Sour Cream

Sour cream is made by fermenting heavy cream with lactic acid bacteria. This fermentation process gives the cream a tangy, slightly sour taste and a thick, creamy texture. 

Sour cream is commonly used as a condiment or ingredient in cooking and baking, and is often used as a topping for baked potatoes, tacos, and chili. It can also be used as a base for dips and dressings, or added to baked goods for richness and flavour.

6. Curd or Dahi

Curd or dahi is popular in South Asia and other parts of the world. It is made by fermenting milk with lactic acid bacteria, which gives it a tangy flavour and a thick, creamy texture. 

Curd or dahi can be made from cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or buffalo milk, and is often used as a base for dips, marinades, and dressings, or eaten as a snack or accompaniment to meals. It is also used in cooking, particularly in curries and other South Asian dishes. 

7. Skyr

Skyr  originated in Iceland and is similar to yogurt. It is made by fermenting skim milk with live cultures, which gives it a thick, creamy texture and a tangy taste. Skyr is high in protein and low in fat, making it a popular choice for those looking for a nutritious yet satisfying snack. 

Skyr is often eaten for breakfast, as a dessert, or as a snack throughout the day. Skyr can be enjoyed plain, or mixed with fruit, granola, or honey for added flavor and texture. 

Dairy-Free Kefir Substitutes

For people who are avoiding dairy but would like to enjoy the benefits of kefir, there are some amazing options. Here are some drinks and foods that are probiotic rich like kefir –

8. Non Dairy Kefir 

If you’re looking for a dairy-free alternative to kefir, there are a few options. Kefir can be made with water, fruit juices, coconut water and plant based milk. 

However, kefir made from these bases may not be nutritionally similar to dairy kefir but still have a good amount of good bacteria. 

9. Kombucha

Kombucha is a fermented tea that has become increasingly popular in recent years. It is packed with probiotics and antioxidants, making it an excellent alternative to kefir. 

Kombucha has a slightly sour taste, but you can add fruits or honey to sweeten it up. You can also make kombucha at home by using a kombucha starter (called scooby) or buy it from a supermarket or restaurant.

10. Kvass

Kvass is a traditional fermented beverage from Russia and parts of Eastern Europe. It is made by fermenting  rye bread or other grains. It It is a good source of B vitamins and other nutrients, and is known for its probiotic benefits, which aid a healthy gut.

Kvass can also be made from beets or fruit, which can give it a sweeter taste. It is often consumed as a refreshing drink, particularly in hot weather, and is sometimes used in cooking and baking as a substitute for yeast.

11. Fermented Vegetables

Fermented vegetables like sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles are excellent sources of probiotics as well and a good kefir substitute. 

Fermented vegetables are made by fermenting vegetables with salt and bacteria, which produce lactic acid that preserves the vegetables and gives them a tangy flavour.

12. Fermented Soy Products 

Fermented soy products are made from soybeans that have been fermented with beneficial bacteria and/or yeast. Fermented soy products are known for their probiotic benefits, which can aid in digestion. They are also rich in protein, fibre, and other nutrients.

Some popular fermented soy products are:

  • Tempeh
  • Miso
  • Natto

Kefir is a nutritious and delicious drink that offers numerous health benefits. However, if you’re looking for alternatives to kefir, there are plenty of options to choose from. Try the kefir substitutes I listed above and see which one you like best!

Frequently Asked Questions About Kefir Substitutes 

1. What can I use as a substitute for kefir?

Ans.  There are several options for kefir substitutes, including buttermilk, yogurt, sour cream, kvass, etc.

2. What can I use instead of kefir in smoothies?

Ans. You can use buttermilk or yogurt as a base for smoothies instead of kefir.

3. Can I use yogurt instead of kefir?

Ans. Yes, yogurt can be used as a substitute for kefir in most recipes. However, keep in mind that yogurt has a thicker texture and milder flavour compared to kefir, so the end result may not be the same.

4. Can I use buttermilk instead of kefir?

Ans. Yes, buttermilk can be used as a substitute for kefir in most recipes. However, like yogurt, it has a different texture and flavor compared to kefir.

5. What can I use as a vegan alternative to kefir?

Ans. Coconut milk kefir is a popular vegan alternative to kefir. It is made by fermenting coconut milk with kefir grains or a starter culture, and has a similar tangy taste and probiotic benefits as dairy kefir.

6. How do I substitute kefir in a recipe?

Ans. To substitute kefir in a recipe, use an equal amount of the substitute (such as buttermilk or yogurt) as you would have used for kefir. 

Rohit Panwar

Hi! I'm Integrated Nutrition Coach Rohit Panwar. I hold twin Certifications from IIN, New York & SAFM, Massachusetts. I am a passionate vocalist of holistic lifestyle and have fully committed the past several years to educate & empower people towards their wellbeing. Despite a successful yet hectic corporate stint of 21+ years, I have prioritised nutriment in my life. I truly hope my personal journey from illness to wellness helps everybody reading this forge their own path.