how to use whey leftover from making yogurt
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If you make your own yogurt (Instant Pot or otherwise), here’s how to use the whey that will be left behind.

Yogurt whey is a byproduct of the homemade yogurt process. Technically, it’s waste, assuming you’re not making yogurt solely to make whey—but don’t pour it down the drain! Whey can be put to good use as a substitute for other liquids such as milk, buttermilk, and water. Read on to find out more about using whey produced from homemade yogurt.

What Is Yogurt Whey?

If you make yogurt at home, you might prefer to strain it. The yogurt straining process offers a thicker, creamier yogurt, separating solids from liquids. When you strain your yogurt, the yellowish liquid that’s left over is acidic yogurt whey. You’ll get about a cup of whey per pint of drained yogurt.

pomegranate yogurt trifle


Related Reading: Why We Love Yogurt for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner & Dessert

Why Should You Use Yogurt Whey?

Whey has vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and protein, all of which would be a waste to pour down the drain. If you’re already making yogurt, it doesn’t cost you anything extra to make whey. And if you use whey in place of other ingredients, it could save you money. It’s free food—use it.

How Can You Use Yogurt Whey?

There are many different ways to use up yogurt whey. It stays fresh for at least a few weeks in your refrigerator, so you can store it like milk and use as needed. If you have a lot of whey to use up, it can be frozen for several months.

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Related Reading: The Best Way to Store Everything in Your Freezer

Try these ideas for putting your yogurt whey to use:

  • Make more yogurt: When you make a new batch of yogurt, you normally need a couple tablespoons of yogurt to use as a starter. Instead of keeping yogurt to use for your new batch, you can just use whey instead. It has the same probiotics as yogurt.
  • Use it in drinks: You can add whey in place of milk in protein shakes or smoothies, or make a lacto-fermented drink.
  • Use as a buttermilk substitute: Use yogurt whey instead of buttermilk in biscuits, pancakes, dressings, and more.
  • Put it in a marinade: You can use yogurt whey as a marinade like you would with buttermilk, or even an acidic citrus- or vinegar-based marinade. The enzymes can break down the meat to add flavor. For example, use whey to marinate chicken before frying, or as the liquid in a turkey brine.
  • Use as a milk substitute: While you probably wouldn’t pour whey into your cold cereal, you could use it in recipes, like a quiche or bread, where the milk provides richness and moisture.
  • Use in place of water: You can use whey in place of water when you cook oatmeal, pasta, quinoa, or rice, make pizza dough, soak beans, or soak grains. Whey also works when you’re making chicken stock. It will add vitamins, minerals, protein, and probiotics that you wouldn’t get from water.
  • Make ricotta cheese: Ricotta cheese uses yogurt whey, but be warned: You won’t produce a lot of cheese, and you’ll make even more whey.
  • Kick-start fermentation: If you’re making sauerkraut or fermenting vegetables, the probiotics in yogurt whey can help start the lacto-fermentation process.
  • Fertilize your garden: Tomatoes and other plants can benefit from the calcium in leftover whey, though you should dilute it with water first. Or you can throw it on your compost pile.
  • Feed it to animals: Pets and livestock can benefit from drinking whey, or you can enrich their food by pouring whey on top.

Leftover Yogurt Whey Recipes

Need some more specific ideas to put your leftover whey into action? Try these recipes that you can swap in yogurt whey in place of buttermilk, milk, or water.

Biscuits and Cream Gravy


Add an extra tangy flavor to your buttermilk biscuit recipe and swap in whey for some of the milk in the gravy to go on top.



The acid in yogurt whey can make your pancakes more fluffy and tender while adding a bit of tang. Try it in place of buttermilk in our Blueberry Pancake recipe.

Lemon Chess Pie


This pie is already slightly acidic from lemon, but using whey instead of buttermilk adds even more zest to the flavor.



Use whey in your waffle batter and serve with your homemade yogurt and fresh fruit on top.

Fried Chicken


Have a whole quart of whey to use up? Marinate chicken with whey and spices overnight to add flavor. Or just replace some of the water with the amount of whey you have.

Mashed Potatoes


Add more depth of flavor and nutrients to mashed potatoes by swapping whey in for water when you cook the spuds.

Icing & Glaze


Whey might seem like a weird choice for icing, but the acidity can help balance out the sometimes-overpowering sweetness of powdered sugar!

Ricotta Cheese

Eugene Mymrin / Moment / Getty Images

Whip up fresh ricotta with leftover whey.



Traditional quiches use heavy cream, but yogurt whey can offer a lighter quiche with a slightly acidic bite.

Chicken Stock


Substitute whey for some of the water in your chicken stock for an even healthier soup base and cooking medium.

Dill Pickles


Instead of a salt and vinegar brine, use whey to make your own pickles; you only need four tablespoons for a one-quart jar. Get the Lacto-Fermented Garlic Dill Pickle recipe.

More Smart Ways to Reduce Waste

Easy Tips to Fight Food Waste in Your Kitchen

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Jessica Merritt is a writer and editor based in the Houston area. Co-owner of board game brewery Battlehops Brewing, Jessica loves beer, board games, and is addicted to grilled cheese sandwiches. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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