How I use homemade kefir in recipes (and a kefir ice cream recipe!)

Homemade kefir
Some of my homemade kefir

Kefir is expensive if you buy it already made, but it's super, super easy to make.

And if you're making your own at home, it's the same cost as buying milk from the store! For us, milk is one of the most affordable foods we can buy, so making it into kefir gives an added health boost without any additional costs.

I did buy my kefir grains to get started, but I have made so much kefir since then -- probably 64 GALLONS of kefir, and still going strong! I've also given grains to many friends and any interested family members and in comparison to all that I've done with my kefir, the cost to get started has been well worth it. :)

I use my homemade kefir in a lot of different recipes. I've found that using kefir often makes for an even BETTER end result than using the "original" ingredient. My yeast breads rise higher and my pancakes are fluffier when I've used kefir!

Use kefir as a buttermilk substitute in:

Pancakes (or try my "Fluffy Kefir Pancakes"!)
Yeast breads (bread, dinner rolls, etc.)
Quick breads (muffins, cakes, etc.)
...and probably most anything else that calls for buttermilk! I've never had a flop substituting kefir for buttermilk!

Use kefir as a milk substitute in:

Yeast breads (bread, dinner rolls, etc.)
Quick breads (muffins, cakes, etc.)
Ice cream
...and probably more ways I haven't tried yet!

Note: When using kefir in place of milk, you may need to increase the measurement by 10-25%, depending on how thick your kefir is. My kefir is thick, so if a recipe calls for 1 cup milk, I would use 1 1/4 cups kefir.

I've also used successfully kefir as a substitute for:

Plain yogurt (nearly always successful in my experience!)
Sour cream
Mayonnaise (depends on the recipe)
Cream (again, this depends on how important the fat content is to the recipe)

A couple weeks ago I included a picture of some homemade kefir ice cream we had made along with my soup, salad, and rolls. This morning I finally found a few minutes to get the ice cream recipe typed up and posted! :)

Joshua got an ice cream maker recently and we've had so much fun experimenting! Kefir works great as a substitute for milk or yogurt in ice cream or frozen yogurt.

I was surprised that (at least so far), while the just-made kefir ice cream is soft and creamy, when it's frozen hard, kefir ice cream is, well, hard! I made some with nearly all kefir (i.e. a lot less cream!) and it was great fresh, but froze too hard.

The tricky part about ice creams is that they're really scientific and all kinds of things affect how quickly or how hard it freezes. It's really a new science to me, but thankfully Joshua has done a lot of study on it and when he's ready to share his recipes, trust me, they're killer! :)

The other tricky part about ice cream is that since we'd never made ice cream before, I've had ZERO experience with photographing it. And it's not the easiest thing for me! I'm starting to wonder if a few more props and a slightly better setup might save my sanity if not improve the quality of photographs of the more difficult stuff!

For example, this ice cream was put into a measuring cup for the picture! :) Here's the bigger picture:

This was on my kitchen counter using salad bowls, with a towel thrown over the dishes in the background, and the handle of the measuring cup pointing towards the wall so it's not visible! :)

But photo woes aside, this Vanilla Kefir Ice Cream is really delicious! It's also super quick to make! I think it takes me about 5 minutes to prepare the mixture, and then our ice cream maker churns it for 15-20 minutes and it's done!

I'm a soft serve gal, so I LOVE the ice cream fresh out of the maker! (Otherwise, I just let it warm up a little and stir it in my bowl until it's soft and smooth.) Joshua has wanted an ice cream maker for a long time, and now I know why! :)

Note: If you make your own yogurt, you can use your homemade yogurt instead of kefir in this Vanilla Kefir Ice Cream recipe! :)

More about kefir

Why I make kefir instead of yogurt


What kind of an ice cream maker do you use?

We got a Cuisinart automatic one. Joshua decided on that (and it got good reviews on so... :)
My brothers have similar ice cream makers (where the bowl part is frozen) but with a manual crank. So convenient to have that frozen bowl! :)

Thanks Tammy. Ours is automatic too but you have to put ice and salt around the outside so it's not very convenient. We got it as a wedding present 19 years ago so I guess it's a good one and it's probably a good thing that it takes some forethought to make ice cream. :)

That ice cream looks incredible!! Yum!


Thank you, Mercedes! :)

I finally found someone who had some around here, and just brought home some grains today!! Can't wait to try it, I've never had it, so have no idea if I'll like it, but wanted to at least try it, cause I get really tired of having to buy a yogurt starter...or new yogurt to use as a starter. Having our own cow who supplies us with milk, will make Kefir really I'll have to try using it in things too. :)

Thanks for the ideas on what to use it in, I'm sure I'll be looking for more ideas, when I get into making it, so feel free to post more of them if you come up with any! LOL

Deb, that's exciting! :) I hope you enjoy your kefir... and if you have any questions, there's a whole lot of Q&A on my main kefir posts (where I write about how to make it)! :)

Does anyone have an opinion regarding kefir vs. probiotics? Or am I mixing apples with oranges? Which would be considered more beneficial? Should you take one or both? I've been reading about candida overgrowth, leaky gut syndrome, etc., and my head is spinning. Lots of questions, but haven't found the answers.

Thanks for the sharing / online ice cream

So, I made this yesterday and added pureed strawberries. It's YUMMY! However, I did have a problem with it getting really hard when it was in the freezer. It still gets soft if I let it sit out a bit, but I like to scoop it straight from the freezer.
I made it with half-and-half instead of cream and used sucanat. I think that maybe I needed the extra fat with the cream instead of half-and-half. I will try that next time. I didn't have any cream at home and didn't want to run out just for that. :-) Will update with my next batch.
Thanks Tammy!

~Stacy from Stacy Makes Cents

Hi Stacy, yes, homemade ice cream freezes very hard. Allowing it to sit for 10 minutes is usually recommended. As you noted the more fat, the easier it is to scoop. Or more air. You could beat your ice cream in a bowl (or in a blender) until frothy and then add to your maker. Gelatin also can help stabilize and make it softer. But yes, our kefir ice cream was also quite hard once it was frozen. It was quite creamy right out of the maker though. - Joshua

The same grains that are used with kefir should be able to be used with whole cream to make creme fraiche. I wonder if it would go well in the ice cream, to make it softer?

Thank you! I stopped making kefir for a while, just because I was not using it! I guess I had been mainly drinking it plain (love it!), and not really thinking of other ways to use it!

The closest location I can purchase Kefir from is about 30 minutes away so I am thrilled to make it myself! But being a cultured dairy product like yogurt and buttermilk, can I make kefir from store bought kefir? Do I have to purchase the kefir grains to get started?

I've made sourdough bread before with milk kefir starter and I was wanting to try my hand at making English Muffins using milk kefir as the starter 3 cups to 3 cups flour. The recipe calls for 1 packet of yeast when actually making the muffins. Would you know how to substitute milk kefir for the yeast in this part or is it okay to use 1 packet of yeast at this point in the recipe, having made the starter with milk kefir?
Thanks in advance,
Leslie Morantine

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