Because milk kefir has many of the components of sourdough, you can make a type of sourdough starter directly from milk kefir! The bacteria and yeasts in the sourdough starter will be the same as in the milk kefir.


  1. Combine 1 cup each flour and milk kefir in a quart jar.
  2. Stir well to combine.
  3. Place a breathable lid such as a towel or coffee filter over the jar and secure it tightly.
  4. Culture 2 to 3 days at room temperature or until it is bubbling and active.
  5. Use in your favorite sourdough recipes.


To keep using this starter, feed it like a normal sourdough starter with flour and water. If you ever find it lacks oomph you can always give it another milk kefir boost.


Milk kefir can be a direct stand-in for a sourdough starter whether you don’t have a sourdough starter going, or you lack the time to create the kefir sourdough starter above.

Simply replace the liquid in your favorite sourdough bread recipe with milk kefir.

Use the amount of flour indicated in the recipe plus the amount of starter given. If a recipe calls for 2 cups of starter, 3 cups of flour, and 1 cup of water, use 5 cups of flour and 1 cup of milk kefir. You may need to adjust the amount of milk kefir to get the right consistency to the dough.

Mix and knead as usual. Ferment in an oiled bowl for about 24 hours, or until doubled in size. Punch down and place in a buttered loaf pan. Allow to rise until it reaches the top of the pan, then bake as usual.

Benefits of Using Kefir as Leavening

Keeping it Simple

If you are already making milk kefir on a daily basis, you’ve got leavening on hand. If you can use something you’re already making as a sourdough starter then you don’t have to create and maintain a separate sourdough culture.

Starting with a Reliable Culture

If you have ever tried to create a sourdough starter by catching wild yeasts then you know that it can be hit or miss. Some wild yeasts produce great bread, others do not. Starting with kefir can give you the peace of mind that only truly established cultures can bring.

Longer Shelf Life

Because of the acids and bacteria naturally present in kefir, many find that kefir-leavened breads, much like sourdough, tend to keep longer than their commercial yeast-based counterparts.

Give milk kefir-leavened bread a try. You can create truly great bread with three simple ingredients: flour, salt, and kefir.

Try Some of Our Favorite Bread Recipes Using Milk Kefir!