Kefir vs Yogurt: What’s the Difference?

The dairy aisle has made room for a lesser known product in recent years: kefir. In fact, it’s the on-the-go snacking trend that has inspired new options in yogurt, cheese packs, cottage cheese and more that has given kefir a larger audience as an on-the-go drink. But what is kefir? Often placed alongside yogurt, is it a specific kind of yogurt or something different? Below are the differences between kefir and yogurt. 

Kefir is often described as a sippable yogurt, so is it yogurt or an entirely different dairy product? No, yogurt and kefir are extremely similar in uses and variety, but they are different dairy products.  

Though both are made with real milk and are fermented foods, yogurt is made with cultured bacteria, while kefir is made with kefir grain that consists of everything needed to ferment the milk. (Kefir grain isn’t grown in a field. It’s called that because it looks like a grain.) Homemade yogurt requires heating the milk and bacteria, while the kefir grains do all the work for homemade kefir. Finally, kefir goes through multiple fermentation processes while yogurt only goes through one, fermenting for longer than yogurt. These differences impact more than texture, including what benefits each fermented dairy food contains. 

Do they taste the same? Yes, or close enough. The taste is similar, but kefir has a tangier, or sourer, taste than the more subtle tang of unsweetened yogurt. Of course, taste varies according to your favorite style. Greek yogurt has a different taste than traditional yogurt. 

So kefir is buttermilk? No. Both provide the same smooth, tangy taste which can be used in place of milk to enrich a recipe’s flavor, but they aren’t the same product. Kefir and buttermilk are both cultured products, but they are made through different processes, like how yogurt and kefir are made differently. 

So what’s the difference? While both dairy products have similar tastes and can come in thin or thick consistencies, even in offerings similar to cream cheese, how yogurt and kefir are made is what distinguishes them. 

Now that you know the difference, be sure to try lots of tasty recipes that use kefir and yogurt. Substitute ingredients with your favorite and let us know what great meals you make using dairy. 

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