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Difference between Yogurt and Kefir

Yogurt and Kefir both are cultured milk products which are rich in probiotics and proteins. Both start out as milk, both are fermented and both have a tart and slightly sour taste, yet they are completely different. Let us see how Yogurt differs from Kefir.


Yogurt is a cultured milk product made from the bacterial fermentation of milk. It can be of numerous types with varying fat content. According to the guidelines of FDA, yogurt must contain “live and active” bacterial cultures like Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophiles. Yogurt has transient beneficial bacteria that don not colonize the gut but helps clean the digestive system and provide food for the good bacteria present in the digestive system. It takes around four to six hours to produce yogurt by fermenting the milk at a temperature of around 43 degree centigrade.


Kefir is also a cultured milk product which is made by fermenting milk with bacteria and yeast at room temperature for around 15-20 hours. It has a thinner consistency than yogurt and is generally sold as a beverage. You can drink it or blend it with fruits to make smoothies or can substitute for yogurt in many dishes. Kefir is fermented for a longer period of time than yogurt and contains three times more probiotics than yogurt.

To produce Kefir, milk is fermented with kefir grains which comprise different types of bacteria and yeasts. Kefir contains several strains of good bacteria which are not commonly found in yogurt. It also contains beneficial yeasts like Saccharomyces kefir and Torula kefir which help control and eliminate bad pathogenic yeasts present in the body.

Furthermore, Kefir provides more nutrition than yogurt as it helps digest the foods that we eat. It is also easy to digest as compared to yogurt which makes it an ideal nutritious food for babies, the elderly and people with poor digestion or other digestive disorders.

Based on the above information, some of the key differences between Yogurt and Kefir are as follows:

Yogurt Kefir
It is produced by fermenting milk with bacteria. It is produced by fermenting milk with both bacteria and yeast.
It has a thick consistency and is less sour than kefir. It has a thinner consistency and is more sourer than yogurt.
Milk is fermented for around 4 to 6 hours to produce yogurt. Milk is fermented for a longer period of time to produce kefir, e.g. 14 to 18 hours.
It has fewer probiotics than kefir. It has more probiotics than yogurt.
It has less colony forming units (CFU) per gram. It has more colony forming units (CFU) per gram.
It is a thermophilic culture which means milk is cultured at around 43 degree centigrade to produce yogurt. It is a mesophilic culture which means milk cultured at room temperature to produce kefir.
It contains only 2-7 strains of good bacteria (probiotics) and lacks beneficial yeast. It contains around 25 strains of good bacteria (probiotics) and several strains of beneficial yeast.
The strains contained in yogurt do not colonize the intestinal tract. They just pass through after providing the benefits. The strains contained in the kefir colonize the intestinal tract.
It has transient bacteria which do not set up colonies but helps resident bacteria to flourish and digestive system to remain clean. It lacks the transient bacteria.
It is less nutritious than kefir as it contains only bacteria. Its combination of yeast and bacteria offers more nutritional value than yogurt.
It is not digested as easily as kefir. It is easy to digest as compared to yogurt.
Yogurt can be made by fermenting fresh milk with small amount of yogurt. Kefir cannot be produced like this; it is usually produced using kefir grains or powered kefir starter made of bacteria and yeast.
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