Milk Kefir Recipe

Milk kefir grains have been cultivated for hundreds if not thousands of years in the mountainous region of the Balkans, and the milk kefir recipe has been handed down for generations. Rich in beneficial bacteria, yeast and healthy acids, this tangy treat is held in high esteem for its unique “feel good” qualities. “Keif,” the root of the word kefir means “to feel good” in Turkish and it is little wonder that generation after generation of families were known to hand down these cauliflower shaped grains as part of the woman’s dowry. No home would be complete without its pet beneficial “bugs”! The more science continues uncovering the vast ecosystem of bacteria and yeast that play a crucial role in our digestive and immune systems, the more obvious it becomes that our ancestors were “Trusting their guts” all along! Fermentation isn’t simply a means of preserving food for leaner times, it is a crucial nutritional strategy to diversify gut bacteria. As bactosapiens with over 500 organisms living inside of and on our bodies, we really are “bacteria powered!”Milk Kefir Recipe and Tips from Kombucha Kamp The milk kefir recipe for most commercial versions are full of sweeteners and thickening agents in order to create a uniform product. Commercially mass produced kefirs and yogurts often have less diversity of microbial culture than homemade due to manufacturing limitations, so convenience comes at a cost. High quality commercial brands may be accessible to you in the form of small or local brands. But why not just make it yourself? At home, it is easy to make a fresh pint of milk kefir a day – more or less – with kefir grains and your favorite dairy or non-diary milk. Perfecting your personal milk kefir recipe not only ensures the best nutrition for you and your family but also connects you to our deeper human heritage.

What does milk kefir taste like?

As with all fermented foods, it has a pleasant tang. Many say it has a cheesy or yogurty flavor but neither of these totally captures the dynamic, lightly effervescent savoriness of kefir. So much depends on how your milk kefir recipe matches with the brewing environment, type of milk and so much more. Also called the champagne of milk, it has myriad uses beyond just a morning smoothie. Milk Kefir also serves as a good substitute for buttermilk. It will naturally separate into protein-rich whey (like whey powder, except in living liquid form!) and kefir cheese. From this, we can make out own versions of sour cream, yogurt and cream cheese. Many enjoy their milk kefir recipe by the cup with or without a spot of honey or other sweetener. We like to flavor it and use it in smoothies with other nutrient dense foods to whip up energizing concoctions.

What are Milk Kefir Grains?

Milk kefir grains are not technically grains at all! Like many fermentation starters, the name is suggestive of another food that is similar in shape. In this case, the cauliflower shape of the polysaccharide is created by the symbiosis of bacteria and yeast and was thought to resemble grains of wheat. Many stories say the grains were a gift from Allah, others think they might be the manna referred to in the Bible. With such divine mystery surrounding them determining from whence they came is difficult to pinpoint, but we have our own theory of their origin (see more below).
Milk Kefir Recipe Tips from The Kombucha Mamma!A Grain by any other name…
Milk kefir doesn’t have as many different names as water kefir rather different spellings.

kephir, kiaphur, kefyr, knapon, kepi and kippe

What do you know Milk Kefir as? Drop us an email! ~ Hannah

Bonus fact: Kefir likely first came into being when milk was stored in “leather” bags made from sheep stomachs. The bacteria naturally present in the stomach walls populated the milk and turned it into a delicious drink.

Easy Milk Kefir Recipe Instructions

Fresh Milk Kefir Grains from KKamp *Click Here for a Coconut Milk Kefir Recipe This milk kefir recipe is as easy to make as placing the grains in milk and simply waiting 12-36 hours (depending on taste preference and brewing conditions), strain & repeat! Mellow the tangy flavor by adding fruit, honey and spices, whatever you decide your flavored milk kefir recipe should be. Plus it whips into a satisfying smoothie – check out the recipes below but first, here’s how to make milk kefir at home. The following kefir recipe is for a ratio of 1 tablespoon of grains per 2 cups of milk. Scale up or down as needed. 1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (16 votes, average: 3.69 out of 5)
Loading… – Yield: about 1 Pint – Calories per 8oz Serving: about 90 – Prep Time: 5 minutes – Cook Time: 24 hours – Total Time: 24 hours 5 minutes


  • 1 Tablespoon hydrated Milk Kefir Grains
  • 2 cups dairy milk (non dairy milks covered below)



  1. Add 2 cups of fresh milk to the jar.
  2. Add 1 TB of kefir grains to the milk.
  3. Cover with a plastic lid, cloth cover or Fermentation Cap.
  4. Let sit for 24-48 hours – no longer than 72 hours or the grains will begin to disintegrate.
The texture of milk kefir varies from thin to thick depending on cream content, type of milk, brewing conditions and the like. Taste frequently throughout the process to determine the flavor you prefer best, then strain the kefir through a strainer or cheesecloth to recapture the grains. Agitate the jar from time to time to ensure even fermentation of the the milk. If a clear layer appears at the bottom of the jar, that is whey. Most prefer to harvest milk kefir prior to this separation, or you can simply give it a stir and then flavor. After removing the grains, you may add flavors for a second fermentation or drink straight. Repeat & enjoy!

Milk Kefir vs Water Kefir

  • Nutrient dense! Milk kefir has more nutritional value than water kefir due to the quality of the substrate – in this case milk. The fermentation process makes the calcium, magnesium and other elements easier to absorb and digest, plus its a great source of protein.
  • Its diverse! Milk kefir may have 40+ types of organisms that repopulate the gut and boost immunity.
  • Its filling! Kefir smoothies are a terrific meal replacement especially when enhanced with boosters such as raw cacao, raw honey or bee pollen, maca root powder, green powder and the like.
  • Its a low-cost substitute for other highly processed dairy products! When strained through cheesecloth, the resulting kefir “cheese” serves as great replacement for yogurt, sour cream and cream cheese.

Water Kefir Recipe

————————————– Free Milk Kefir Recipe Guide and Tips with all KKamp Milk Kefir Grains

Receive a FREE COPY of the Lacto-Fermented Sodas Guide when you purchase Milk or Water Kefir grains from KKamp!


Milk Kefir Recipe Brewing Tips

Living Grains Need to Micro-Adapt to New Substrate Fresh Milk Kefir Grains from KKampMilk kefir grains are more delicate organisms than the hardier Kombucha and Jun cultures so they may need a brief period of re-nurturing from their trip before they fully adjust to their new home. If the first batch or two doesn’t taste as good or immediately reproduce, don’t worry! Keep changing the milk and after a few batches they will micro-adapt to their new environment. Re-nurturing instructions When they first arrive, the grains might need some nurturing before they are ready to ferment a pint of milk. Here’s how we gently bring them back to their robust state. For the nurturing process, it is best to use whole pasteurized milk. Raw milk bacteria will compete with the bacteria in the kefir. Save it for after the grains are at full strength again:
  • Place the grains into a shallow glass or ceramic dish.
  • Add just enough milk to completely cover the grains, about 1/4-1/2 cup.
  • Cover with a cloth and set in a warm spot (75-82°F).
  • Check on them after 12 hours to see if you observe any signs of fermentation. This will be evident in the appearance of small bubbles around the edges and a change in texture. If you see a clear layer formed beneath the milk, that is a good sign.
Once signs of fermentation can be seen, the grains are now ready to brew your first batch of 2 cups (1 pint) as normal following the directions. Keeping the vessel in a warm location will speed up the fermentation process. **If no fermentation is present, add a 1/4 cup of milk and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and gently stir. Check again in 12-24 hours. If no signs of fermentation such as those above appear after a week or so of refreshing the milk, then drop us an email. Raw Milk/Goat’s Milk If you have access to raw milk and its expensive, save it to enjoy as is. The bacteria naturally present in raw milk break down the lactose making it easier to digest – in fact, most people are pasteurization intolerant rather than lactose intolerant. Pasteurized milk is devoid of these healthy bacteria, so culturing it with milk kefir grains will put the good bugs back in the milk so that it will be easier on the digestive system. This is why many are able to consume fermented dairy – i.e. cheese and yogurt – better than drinking straight pasteurized milk. If you have access to raw milk and its affordable, use it to make milk kefir. The living bacteria in raw milk will cause the grains to change shape as the bacteria compete with each other before they totally adapt. Be gentle with these grains as they will need a few cycles to stabilize and reproduce and you may develop your own specific raw milk kefir recipe over time.  Soy Milk, Coconut Milk, Almond Milk (THRIVEAMZ) and other non dairy “milks” It is possible to develop a nut milk kefir recipe for your particular brand of nut or other non-dairy milks. Since the bacteria thrive on lactose (milk sugar), you may need to refresh them in cow’s milk every few batches, especially if you notice the grains are getting smaller or not fermenting the nut milk as before. The benefit to culturing non-dairy milks is that the fermentation process enhances nutrition and bio-availability. They are great for folks who are allergic to dairy or who prefer a non-dairy substitute.
  • Recharge the grains by resting them in milk for 24 hours. Use 1-2 cups of milk to refresh them.
  • Rinse the grains gently in nut milk to remove any traces of dairy before use.
How Do I Know When the Kefir is Ready?
  • The kefir is done fermenting when a layer of whey (clear liquid) is visible in the curds (thick milky part).
  • Based on your taste preference, quantity of milk/grains & brewing conditions (temperature) that can be anywhere from 24-72 hours.
  • Taste is king, so harvest the kefir when it has the tangy flavor you enjoy best, and adjust your milk kefir recipe as needed.
How Long Can Kefir Be Stored in the Fridge?
  • Store kefir indefinitely, but remember that the flavor will continue to sour as it is a living ferment.
  • Sour kefir is great for chickens, pets, or to make sour cream (see above).
Storing Milk Kefir Grains Between Uses
  • Kefir grains will eat themselves if left in milk for too long.
  • To store milk kefir grains in the short term, pour milk on them until they are just covered.
  • Store in the fridge up to a week.
  • For longer term storage, dehydrate the grains, when dry, coat grains with powdered milk, then store in an airtight container.


  • Grains do NOT need to be rinsed between uses. If rinsing is desired, do so in milk.
  • Leaving kefir grains in milk for longer than 72 hours run the risk of starvation. Move to the fridge for longer term storage. (see above)
  • The correct temperature range for fermenting milk kefir is 65-75°F (18-24°C), with 72°F (22°C) as ideal. Warmer temps result in faster fermentation whereas cooler temps will slow it down.
  • If you notice the kefir is separating before 24 hours, add more milk to the next batch, shorten the fermentation cycle or reduce the amount of grains to 1 Tablespoon.


Milk Kefir Health Benefits

Milk kefir is a rich source of calcium, magnesium, vitamin K2, biotin, lactic acid as well as numerous probiotic bacteria and beneficial yeast. With 30-40 different strains, the diversity of kefir greatly impacts the digestive system aiding in not only breaking down food but assisting with the absorption of nutrients. Numerous studies demonstrate milk kefir’s ability to improve gut health and the overall immunity of those who consume it regularly. Here are some of the studies that highlight its benefits.
  1. Prevents mutations and cell damage“Milk-kefir and soymilk-kefir possess significant antimutagenic and antioxidant activity and suggest that milk-kefir and soymilk-kefir may be considered among the more promising food components in terms of preventing mutagenic and oxidative damage.” Liu, Chen & Lin 2005
  2. Prevents cardiovascular disease & lowers cholesterol. “These findings demonstrate that soyamilk-kefir may be considered to be among the more promising food components in terms of preventing CVD (cardovascular disease) through its hypocholesterolaemic action.” Liu, Wang, Chen, Chen, Yueh & Lin 2006
  3. Antibacterial and antifungal properties means that it kills harmful organisms such as Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli, Listeria as well as Candida albicans making it a good choice for those suffering from candida overgrowth.


Milk Kefir Recipe Flavoring Suggestions

Many people enjoy kefir straight from the fermenting jar. If you find the flavor is too tangy, try blending it in a smoothie. Fresh fruit, honey or herbs all enhance the flavor and benefits of the milk keir. Let it sit in the fridge for a day or two so the flavor will absorb into the kefir. Give these flavor ideas a try until you find the best milk kefir recipe for you and let us know which ones are your favorite!

*All recipes are intended to flavor 16oz of Milk Kefir – adjust quantities accordingly

Fruit Collage

  • Pina Colada Milk Kefir Recipe
    • 1/4 cup pineapple
    • 2 tablespoons shredded coconut (AMZ )
  • Strawberry Mint Milk Kefir
    • 4 whole strawberries, diced
    • 2 mint leaves (AMZ), chiffonade
  • Orangesicle Dream Milk KefirFresh Milk Kefir Grains from KKamp
    • 2 tablespoons orange juice
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract  or 1/4 of vanilla bean pod
  • Horchata Milk Kefir Recipe
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (AMZ
    • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (AMZ)

Superfood flavors

Grab the Flavor Saver – Mix & Match


Long Term Storage & Renutrification of Milk Kefir Grains

Milk kefir grains are more delicate than SCOBYs or jun cultures which create bacteria cellulose to house their inhabitants. By contrast, MKG are more susceptible to fluctuations in temperature and adverse conditions including starvation! If we don’t feed the grains on a regular basis, they will literally eat themselves. So, how do you ever take a break? Here are our tips for storage and revival.

Long Term Storage

1-7 days: Place the grains in a glass and cover with milk. Store in the refrigerator. Grains may plump noticeably during this process. 7-14 days: Place the grains in a glass. Leave them dry (no liquid) with 1/4 tsp sugar sprinkled over them. Store in the refrigerator. 14+ days: Lay kefir grains out on a cookie sheet or dehydrator sheet. Dehydrate at 98-105F until dry. Store dehydrated grains in a dry, cool location out of direct sunlight. The longer the grains starve or sleep, the longer it may take to revive them. The revived grains will also not have the same bacterial diversity but it will regain diversity as they are woken up and used again. As such, you may need to re-nutrify them again prior to fermenting the first batch. If you notice slow fermentation or if you have been using them with another substrate, follow these steps to reactivate the grains and make them more lively.

Re-nutrify Milk Kefir Grains

  • Place the grains into a dish.
  • Add just enough milk to completely cover the grains.
  • Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sugar into the milk.
  • Cover with a cloth and set in a warm spot (75-82°F).
  • Check on them after 12 hours to see if you observe any signs of fermentation – this will be manifested in the appearance of small bubbles around the edges and a change in smell and viscosity. If you see whey forming at the bottom, that is a good sign. You may now use the grains to brew your first half batch of 1 cup of milk – keeping the vessel in a warm location will speed up the fermentation process. Continue checking every 12 hours for up to 3 days.
  • Once that is successful, then scale recipe based on qty of grains that has revived.
**If no fermentation is observed, add a 1/4 cup of milk and gently stir. Check again in 12-24 hours. If no signs of fermentation such as those listed above are exhibited after a week or so, fresh grains may be required.


Milk Kefir Quick FAQ

  • What is milk kefir?

    • Milk Kefir is a probioitic beverage made from sugar and water. It has numerous organisms that repopulate the gut to improve digestion and boost immunity.
  • How much kefir I should be drinking each day?

    • Trust YOUR gut! Humans evolved consuming fermented drinks on a daily basis. Listen to how your body responds. If you experience any adverse symptoms, you may be experiencing a Herxheimer reaction. Otherwise, drink as much as you crave!
  • What is the difference between milk kefir grains and powdered kefir starter culture?

    • Living or hydrated milk kefir grains maintain a greater diversity of living organisms than dehydrated versions do. This is due to the large number of organisms that thrive in the living substrate. While many of them may be retained through the dehydration process, it can take several batches before they attain the same level of diversity. Hydrated grains are quick to propagate and reproduce quickly so that you will have extras to share! Powdered milk kefir starter culture can be handy for those who do not have the time or wish to maintain the level of attention required by living grains.
  • Does water kefir have the same benefits as milk kefir?

    • Water Kefir & Milk Kefir are two completely different colonies of organisms. Water Kefir is best for those seeking increased numbers of organisms in their gut and its a vegan, dairy-free option. Milk Kefir has the benefit of fermenting milk which has protein, different vitamin and mineral content as well as different types of organisms specifically adapted to consume lactose. However, it is neither vegan nor dairy free. Both cultures can be used to ferment other types of substrates with different nutritional components such as nut milks, coconut water and fruit juice.
  • Water kefir vs Milk kefir – which is better?

    • Water kefir and milk kefir are 2 distinct ferments. Each has its own host of beneficial bacteria, yeast and healthy properties. As to which is better for you, there are a couple of factors to consider.
      • Dairy
        • Milk kefir requires milk. If you are lactose intolerant, you may still enjoy milk kefir because the living bacteria in the kefir breaks down the lactose for you.
        • Those who don’t consume dairy may prefer water kefir.
      • Tangy flavor
        • Milk kefir or any soured milk product will have a different type of tanginess. Water kefir is very mild in flavor and has a sweeter profile.
        • If you don’t like tang, go for the water kefir.
      • Ferment other substrates
        • Milk kefir grains may be used to ferment cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or other nut milks including coconut milk.
        • Water kefir grains may be used to ferment sugar water, juice or coconut water.
  • Are milk kefir grains reusable?

    • Yes! They will also reproduce over time. Strain the grains prior to flavoring to recapture and start the next batch. It may take a few cycles for the grains to fully integrate into their environment or adapt to raw milk as the bacteria compete before stabilizing. Over time, the grains will plump and increase in mass.
  • How long do milk kefir grains (MKG) last?

    • MKG will last indefinitely if properly maintained. They require fresh milk (cow, goat, camel) in order to thrive. Grains may be reused several times and will also replicate leading to infinite abundance!
  • How long does it take to make milk kefir?

    • Milk Kefir is fermented in small batches due to the short fermentation time. In warmer temps it can be ready in 24 hours, though your milk kefir recipe may vary. Cooler climates may need 48-72 hours for a pint size batch to be ready. As soon as you notice whey (clear liquid) forming, then it is probably ready – unless you like it really tangy!
  • How will I know if I’ve successfully made milk kefir? How do I know if I shouldn’t drink it?

    • Milk Kefir has a pleasant cheesy flavor that can retain some sweetness if fermented for a shorter time but gets tangier the longer it ferments. As a lactic acid ferment with a higher pH than Kombucha, it does not have the same type of acid profile. Those who are not able to tolerate dairy may be able to enjoy milk kefir which is naturally higher in minerals and vitamins than milk alone. Do not drink milk kefir if it smells like acetone or if it has obvious signs of mold. Some yellowing may occur which is normal – any other color is best thrown away.
  • How long can I store the milk kefir in the refrigerator?

    • Milk Kefir Grains can survive in the fridge for brief periods of time up to a month. Milk kefir itself is fine in the fridge or out of the fridge indefinitely, but the flavor will continue to change and may not be appealing after a few days or weeks. Using it in smoothies with fruit or natural sweeteners can mellow the flavor while still delivering benefits .
  • Do kefir grains go bad considering they are not stored in the refrigerator?

    • Refrigeration is required for foods that may spoil or rot if exposed to warmer temperatures, pests or other airborne contaminants. Kefir contain many healthy bacteria that prevent pathogenic bacteria from making a home in the milk, therefore it may be (and does best when) fermented at room temperature. We do recommend moving fully fermented milk kefir to the fridge because many find the longer it ferments, the more sour and unpleasant tasting it becomes. What is too sour? Only your taste buds know!
  • Do I need to rinse the milk kefir grains off between batches?

    • Contrary to some schools of thought, milk kefir grains do not need to be rinsed between uses. In fact, some of the back slop (yes, that’s a technical term) may be used as “starter” especially when the weather is cooler or there are a fewer amount of grains. The same bacteria and yeast that comprise the grains are also present in the liquid.
  • May I store the grains in a mesh bag for easy removal?

    • Yes! Place the kefir grains into a roomy mesh bag or cheesecloth. Tie a knot or secure the grains so they stay in the bag. When the kefir reaches the flavor you prefer, pull on the mesh bag to remove the grains. You may still have to remove coagulated kefir from the mesh using a spatula or the back of a spoon. Just keep in mind that limiting the surface area of the grains based on the size of the bag will impact the fermentation time. A roomier bag that will give them enough space to be in contact with as much milk as possible.
  • What type of milk is best for kefir?

    • The best milk is dairy. Since raw milk can be expensive to source, if it is less expensive to use organic whole pasteurized milk, that would be our recommendation. Raw milk already contains bacteria that digest the lactose making it easier on the system. Then, if you prefer goat, sheep, camel or any other animal milk, use that! Each milk will contribute its own unique flavor profile. If you’d rather use nut milk, check out the Coconut Milk Kefir recipe below!


Coconut Milk Kefir Recipe

Fresh Milk Kefir Grains from KKampCoconut milk kefir is a terrific way to repopulate the gut with healthy bacteria to improve digestion, boost immunity and heal from candida overgrowth. It is rich in lauric acid and high in vitamins and minerals. Fermentation naturally enhances the nutritional value of the substrate thereby making it even better than when consumed unfermented. Coconut milk is made by shredding the meat of the coconut and soaking it in water. The “cream” then rises to the top and may be skimmed off to use for making coconut kefir yogurt or other creamy dishes. The “milk” remains, which we can culture using milk kefir grains or water kefir. This coconut milk kefir recipe is just a jumping off point, so as always adjust for your brand of coconut milk, brewing environment, and taste preference.


  • 2 tablespoons of hydrated milk kefir grains
  • 2 cups of coconut milk, organic preferred



  1. Pour 2 cups of coconut milk (THRIVEAMZ )into a glass jar. 
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of milk kefir grains. If you use less grains, then increase the fermentation time for this milk kefir recipe.
  3. Cover with a plastic lid, cloth cover or Fermentation Cap.
  4. Let sit for at least 24 hours, after which time it will have a lightly sweet flavor. For a tangier flavor allow to ferment for up to 5 days, then rest the grains in dairy milk. *If using less grains, ferment 48 hours, but no longer than 72 hours.
The coconut milk kefir can be slightly fizzy with a slightly tangy flavor depending on how long it ferments. Strain the coconut milk kefir through a strainer or cheesecloth to recapture the grains. The grains will need to rest in dairy milk for a few days (see renurturing instructions above) in order to regain their strength. Store the coconut milk kefir in the fridge. You can also flavor it if desired; see flavoring suggestions above for more details. Repeat & enjoy!
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