Kefir and yogurt are both dairy foods made from fermenting milk to create healthy living bacteria cultures. Kefir is higher in nutritional value, has a runnier texture, and more prevalent "good bacteria." Yogurt has a much thicker consistency than kefir does and has more transient bacteria. Both these dairy products contain different bacteria cultures and have ancient origins in different parts of the world.

Comparison chart

Kefir versus Yogurt comparison chart
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Introduction Kefir, keefir, or kephir, alternatively kewra, talai, mudu kekiya, milk kefir, or búlgaros, is a fermented milk drink made with kefir "grains" (a yeast/bacterial fermentation starter) and has its origins in the north Caucasus Mountains. Yogurt or yoghurt or yoghourt is a fermented milk product produced by bacterial fermentation of milk. The bacteria used to make yogurt are known as "yogurt cultures".
Origin North Caucus region Indian subcontinent, Iran, Turkey
Main ingredients Milk, kefir grains (bacteria, salt, yeast, lipids, sugar) Milk, bacteria
Etymology From Russian or Turkish, “to foam” From Turkish, “to thicken”
Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, D, K2, folic acid, nicotinic acid Riboflavin, B6, B12
Calories per 1 cup (low fat) 110 130
Fat per 1 cup (low fat) 2.0 grams 2.5 grams
Bacteria types Acidophilus, bulgaricus, Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter species, and Streptococcus species Acidophilus, bulgaricus
Common preparations Drink, smoothie mix, milkshakes Breakfast food, snack, frozen alternative to ice cream


Kefir and yogurt both provide essential nutrients such as protein, calcium, B vitamins, and bacteria that aid in digestion. Both foods are available in full flavor or non-fat versions, depending on what type of milk is used during incubation.

The helpful bacteria found in each product are known as “probiotics.” These living organisms stave off harmful bacteria, some of which have been linked to cancer. These bacteria also help boost the immune system.

Experts say that kefir contains at least three times as many probiotics as yogurt because of the variety of bacteria that is used in creating it.

One other nutritional difference is that kefir contains tryptophan, the sleep-inducing substance found in turkey. Though not as powerful as in turkey, some believe that consuming kefir calms the body.

Make Your Own

The video below shows how to make your own Kefir at home:

And this video explains how to make yogurt easily at home:


Generally, yogurt is more popular and used in a wider variety of cuisine than kefir. Because kefir is a drink, it is often served as such, or mixed together with fruit, candy, or supplement powders to create a smoothie. It is also used often to enhance milkshakes.

Yogurt is used as both a sweet or tart breakfast meal, or as a snack on its own or mixed with fruit. Yogurt spans Eastern and Western cuisines, used as a mix with grains or granola as parfait, as a healthy alternative to mayonnaise in potato salad, and in savory Indian and Middle Eastern dishes.

In America and other Western countries, yogurt usually occupies a large section of the supermarket, with many varieties offered by many different food producers. Though kefir is often available in local supermarkets, it does not enjoy the popularity among consumers that yogurt does.


Products like kefir and yogurt need to be incubated in order to allow bacteria to grow and form stable cultures. There are two types of incubation. Mesophilic incubation occurs at room temperature, and thermophilic requires gradual warming.

Kefir makers use a mesophilic process to create the proper culture. Usually, kefir is left to incubate in a bag at room temperature inside a home. On the other hand, yogurt cultures need the gradual warming of thermophilic incubation to form properly.


Aside from milk, the main ingredient used in creating either kefir or yogurt are bacteria. These “good” bacteria multiply inside the food to create flavor, texture, and nutrition. Yogurt and kefir use different types of culture starter.

Usually, yogurt is made by combining a bit of old yogurt with fresh milk. That old yogurt is the starter. There are also dried cultures available that work just as well.

The starter culture in traditional kefir is a kefir grain, which is a combination of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts that resemble cauliflower. The kefir grains multiply during incubation and are simply removed when the kefir is ready.


One of the main nutritional components of yogurt and kefir is the bacteria. This “good” bacteria keeps the digestive tract, particularly the intestines, healthy. The type of bacteria found in yogurt take care of your intestines, but do not stick around. For this reason yogurt bacteria is referred to as “transient bacteria.”

Kefir bacteria, however, does stay in the gut, and can actually multiply inside the intestinal tract. In yogurt, there are generally two main types of bacteria, acidophilus and bulgaricus. Kefir may contain those and many other types of beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter species, and Streptococcus species.


Unlike yogurt, a main component of kefir is yeast. The presences of yeast can result in bacteria creating ethanol, enlivening kefir batches with alcohol. Aside from creating alcohol content, the yeast can create a bubbly slightly carbonated texture. However, fermenting kefir over a shorter period of time produces very low ethanol content. Even at the high end, kefir may only contain 1% to 2% alcohol.

Taste and texture

Both yogurt and kefir have a tart, sourish taste. As mentioned above, kefir may sometimes have a slightly alcoholic taste. But, the consistency of each food item is very different. You can drink kefir much like a milkshake, out of a glass and through a straw. Meanwhile, yogurt is best consumed with a spoon either frozen, right out of the refrigerator, or at room temperature. If exposed to heat, yogurt may lose some of its thick consistency.


Yogurt and kefir can be consumed in different ways than in their traditional milky or viscous forms.

Unlike yogurt, kefir grains can incubate in water, which means individuals with dairy sensitivity can enjoy kefir without consuming any dairy product.

Yogurt can also be made frozen. Though not as hard as standard ice cream, frozen yogurt is often sold alongside the sweet treat at shops and supermarkets. Frozen yogurt is a low-fat, low-sugar alternative to regular ice cream.


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