Are you looking for a kefir substitute because you cannot just find it in stores? Your recipe calls for a cup of kefir but you do not know how to make one at home and you are looking for what you can use instead of kefir? Here is a list of kefir substitutes that you can use in baking sweet and sour pastry. It will make your search so much easier.

What Can You Use Instead of Kefir?

You can use many dairy and non-dairy options in baking recipes instead of kefir. You can even make several of the kefir alternatives at home and they will be ready in no time. However, there are several principles that I like to follow when I need to use kefir substitutes and alternatives in the recipe. I highly recommend you to keep them in mind until making your final decision:

  • Compare the consistency before using any kefir substitute. If you are using, for example, a thinner version then you need to add some extra flour to thicken the dough.
  • The flavor. If you are baking a sweet pastry then you had better use a softer version of fermented milk product (where fermented baked milk will be the perfect option as it has a naturally sweet flavor. On the other hand, for sourdough, for example, you choose dairy products with a stronger sour taste.
  • My last tip is to use kefir substitutes with a more pronounced sour taste for yeast-based pastry, as it increases the leavening power and helps the expansion of the dough.

Here is the list of recipes that use kefir for dough or batter that I am sure you will appreciate:

I will share with you several basic products that you can find at any store or make yourself with the only two ingredients that you for sure have in the fridge right now. The last three options are the rare ones; however, maybe, they will come in handy, too.


I consider yogurt to be the best kefir substitute for baking, as this product is very common and you can find it on the shelves at almost any store. When you use it for sourdough bread or any other pastry, you cannot tell the difference in the taste of the baked item.

However, there are several peculiarities to be considered. You have to choose unsweetened plain variety without any additives. If you have a drinkable version of the yogurt then you should use a 1-to-1 ratio. However, with a thicker version use milk to thin it out. Combine the ingredients using the following ratio: 3 parts of yogurt for 1 part of milk. For example, if your recipe requires a cup of kefir you should use ¾ cup of yogurt mixed with ¼ cup of milk.

Sour cream

While browsing the internet, I saw that many posts recommend using sour cream with a 1-to-1 ratio. Well, I do not know what type of sour cream they have but mine is thicker than the consistency of your average kefir and has a higher fat percentage. Therefore, I would highly recommend you to thin it out by adding some milk or half-and-half cream (with the last option the texture will be creamier). The texture of the final product will be different from the one with kefir as sour cream is less acidic.


Perhaps at this point, you are wondering why I did not put buttermilk on top of the list. Well, I have a good reason for this. This product is sometimes difficult to find at my local stores. I know that not all of you will face the problem but for some of us, a limited selection of products in local stores is real. Buttermilk is perfect to use as a kefir substitute as it has the same effect on the batter. With this type of added fermented milk, your batter becomes tender and light. However, do not confuse with acidified buttermilk.

Homemade Buttermilk, aka Acidified buttermilk

This recipe has been a real lifesaver for me on many occasions. When the recipe calls for any fermented milk product and you have no time or opportunity to buy it, you can make it yourself. There are only two ingredients: whole milk and an acidic liquid (lemon juice or white vinegar). Combine 1 metric tablespoon of lemon juice with 1 metric cup of milk in a bowl and set it aside. In about 10 minutes, the mixture will curdle. The consistency will be not so thick and creamy if you compare it to the store-bought buttermilk. However, it will do the trick for baking. In the end, you won’t see the difference.

Nondairy substitute for kefir

You can make your kefir at home using any plant-based milk. The non-dairy kefir recipe that I am sharing is very basic and easy to repeat at home. You do not need to have kefir grains for this one. I have already used it twice and both times it turned out good. Once with almond milk and the second time with coconut milk. So, here it goes: you need to combine 1 part of apple cider vinegar with 10 parts of non-dairy milk. In other words, for every 10 tablespoons of milk, use 1 tablespoon of acid. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to ferment. Use in the recipe with a 1-to-1 ratio instead of dairy kefir.

Clabbered milk

Clabber is a type of sour milk that is made by leaving unpasteurized milk to ferment (turn sour) at a certain temperature and level of humidity. The consistency of clabbered milk resembles yogurt but the product has a more pronounced sour taste. It is perfect for homemade pancake batter and can be used in both yeast-based dough and dough without yeast.

Fermented Baked Milk, aka Ryazhenka

If you have managed to get ahold of this type of cultured milk, you are one of the lucky ones, for sure. Ryazhenka is the best alternative to kefir when used with sweet pastry. You will get the tastiest muffins, cottage cheese casseroles, cookies, and pies with ryazhenka. The ratio should be 1 to 1, as they have somewhat the same consistency, but ryazhenka is sweeter and has a more delicate taste.

Matsoni, aka Caspian Sea Yogurt

You can find this dairy product in stores under the following names: Matzoon, Matsoni, and Caspian Sea Yogurt. I have this one at the end of the list, as it is much more difficult to find in stores. It has a thick and slimy texture with a mildly acidic flavor, which makes it perfect to use in making pastry at home.

If you have Pinterest, fill free to pin the following chart!

Kefir Substitutes List

I hope that you found the information that you were looking for and your recipe turned out great. Please, do not forget to share your experience in the comment section below. What substitute of kefir have you chosen to use in the end?

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