How to Make Soy Milk Kefir

soy milk kefirHow much do you spend on those little snack containers of soy yogurt/probiotic every month?

Why not pay a small fraction of that amount for a far superior probiotic food? In today’s blog post, you will find 2 simple and clever ways to make your own soy milk kefir. The first method will contain trace amounts of dairy, and the second method is 100% vegan.

Before we move onto the steps and instructions, I’d like to step back and address a few things that might help you be more successful in making your own soy milk kefir.

What is milk kefir?

Milk kefir is a probiotic drink that contains a variety of beneficial bacteria such as lactobacillus acidophilus, bifidobacterium bifidum, et al, and strains of yeast. It is made with either milk kefir grains or a kefir starter culture.

I personally like the hydrated kefir grains method because the grains can be reused and will multiply over time. I have read that milk kefir made from kefir grains contains significantly more bacteria and yeast than that made from the kefir starter (see link here).

Live milk kefir grains are a combination of micro-organisms, such as lactic acid bacteria and yeast in a matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars that looks like cauliflower. During the fermentation process, kefir grains consume the lactose present in milk and break it down to lactic acid, ethanol, carbon dioxide, and other substances that contribute to the unique flavor of milk kefir. The fermentation process also breaks down the dairy protein into amino acids, which is believed to be easier to digest.

In short, milk kefir grains will continue to grow when they consume lactose, the sugar found mainly in mammals’ milk. People who have lactose intolerance will find milk kefir to be a great dairy, lactose free probiotic drink that they can make at home.

However, for those of you who want to reduce your intake of animal protein, here are 2 ways to make a vegetarian/vegan plant based protein probiotic drink

Method 1. Use (Dairy) Milk Kefir Grains

soy milk kefir

After straining the milk kefir to remove the kefir grains, I gently rinse the milk kefir grains with filtered water (chlorine in tap water is not friendly to kefir grains). Place the rinsed milk kefir grains in a glass jar and pour in some sweetened soy milk. I leave the jar on the kitchen counter for approximately 18-24 hours to let the soy milk ferment. When it thickens and has a moderately sour taste, it is ready to be strained. At this point, if you gently shake the jar, you should see a delta rivers type of coating on the wall of the glass jar.

soy milk kefir

a delta rivers type of coating on the wall of the glass jar

I use the Silk Original soy milk, and it works great. I haven’t tested other brands, but I believe other brands will work too. Be sure to use the sweetened ones because the kefir grains need to consume sugar to survive. After one or two batches, I switch the kefir grains back to dairy milk to revitalize the grains.

Because the milk kefir grains may contain some dairy milk, this method is not guaranteed to be 100% dairy-free.

Method 2. Use Water Kefir (Grain Free Method and 100% Vegan)

soy milk kefir

I don’t mean to brag, but this is a method I came up with myself. You don’t use any kefir grain, so no straining after fermentation is needed! It is vegan soy milk kefir.   I found that someone else had made their own cultured coconut kefir milk at home using water kefir. Yes, the water kefir, the ready-to-drink water kefir but not the water kefir grain. So I decided to try the method out on soy milk. It works! Cheers!

Using my chemistry background I performed a controlled experiment on growing this soy kefir as follows: I mixed ¼ cup water kefir with 2 cups sweetened soy milk in a glass jar. I left this on the kitchen counter and let it ferment for 24 hours. For the control group, I simultaneously set out another jar of 2 cups soy milk, without any water kefir, to compare. This will ensure that the formation of soy curd at the end of fermentation is from the real fermentation process but not the soy milk going bad as a result from sitting out at room temperature for so long.

Here is the fantastic result.

After 24 hours of fermentation, soy milk in the jar with water kefir became slightly thicker and has a hint of sour taste. This is the best time to enjoy the soy milk kefir as a beverage. It will continue to ferment even after being refrigerated. Eventually all the soy curd will be floating on top with the liquid (soy whey and water) on the bottom. I found it’s hard to stir it up into a homogenous beverage at this point, but you can carefully scoop out the top without any liquid and use it as soy cream cheese. Did I say this is a genius idea?

As for the control specimen (soy milk without any water kefir), nothing happened. It didn’t go bad. It tasted the same at the time when I first set it out as it did at the end of the 24 hours.

Now you have two convenient and economical ways to make your own soy milk kefir at home. Do any of you have any other ways to do it such as different methods or growing it from different cultures? I’m always interested in hearing about different things others have tried.

soy milk kefir

4.1 from 11 votes
How to Make Soy Milk Kefir

2 simple and clever ways to make your own soy milk kefir 

Keyword: kefir, probiotics, soy kefir, soy milk
  • Milk Kefir Grains Method
  • 1 tbs hydrated milk kefir grains
  • 2 cups sweetened soy milk Silk Original Soy Milk
  • Water Kefir Method
  • ¼ cup water kefir
  • 2 cups sweetened soy milk Silk Original Soy Milk
Milk Kefir Grains Method
  1. Place hydrated milk kefir grains in a glass jar, then add soy milk. After a gentle stirring, cover the jar with plastic lid, paper filter, or cheesecloth and keep the jar at room temperature (between 72-78 °F) to ferment for 24 hours. At some point, you will see some clear liquid (soy kefir whey) showing at the bottom of the jar with thickened curd floating on top. Gently stir to mix the floating curd back in the whey and let it continue to ferment until the soy kefir achieves a moderate sour taste. If the jar is kept at room temperature for a longer period of time, the soy milk kefir will be more tangy due to the longer fermentation process which produces more acid.
  2. After this time, the soy milk kefir is ready to be filtered. Place the mesh type strainer over a large bowl. Use spatula gently working the kefir through the strainer. Save the kefir grains and repeat step 1 for the next batch of soy milk kefir. If the fermentation was too long, and a large amount of kefir whey was formed, use spatula to stir gently before this straining step.
  3. After a few batches, transfer the kefir grains back to dairy milk to revitalize.
Water Kefir Method
  1. Place water kefir and soy milk in a clean glass jar. Cover with lid and keep the jar at room temperature (between 72-78 °F) to ferment for 24 hours. Serve as it is.
  2. The leftover soy milk kefir can be refrigerated. However, it will continue to ferment even at low temperature. Separation of soy curd from the liquid soy whey is normal. The soy curd on top can be scooped out and used as soy cream

How to Make  Soy Milk Kefir


  1. Rhoda says:

    Hi, I was googling soy milk kefir today and found your blog! This summer I added my milk kefir grains to soy milk and left it in the fridge so it would slowly ferment. I think there was 1 or 2 cups of regular milk in the jar when I did this.
    Today I noticed that the kefir had separated so I shook it up.
    I took the grains out and began pouring the kefir through a coffee filter and it appears to be straining just like regular milk kefir.
    I sure hope that it makes yogurt cheese! I haven’t heard of anyone trying it so I was glad to find your blog today!

    • Joyce says:

      The milk kefir grain method works pretty well. I haven’t try to make cheese. I’m thinking if you make your soy milk really concentrate or maybe add cornstarch to thicken it before the fermentation step. This may give you a thicker, yogurt-like result. Anyway, let me know how your yogurt cheese turns out! 🙂

  2. Alina says:

    Hi Joyce,
    What is the maximum number of batches of soy milk I can make from one set of milk kefir grains?
    Once I put them in regular milk then will just one batch be enough to revitalize the grains?
    Thank you.

    • Joyce says:

      I’d say for each 2 batches of soy milk kefir, you should put the grain back to the dairy milk to revitalize. Otherwise, the grain won’t be very “healthy” and effective for more batches of soy milk kefir.

  3. deborah says:

    I’m anxious to try the kefir with the water grains. Been making milk kefir a couple years & read a book that said pasteurized milk contains blood, pus & animal focus. I haven’t been able to make it since. Do you think the kefir grains will eat that horrible stuff from the milk? Thanks.

    • Joyce says:

      Wow, I haven’t heard this before so I really can’t answer your question. It sounds interesting so I’ll definitely look it up. Thanks for sharing this information.

  4. murl says:

    I’ve been making soya milk kefir for the past week. I just used a small amount of milk kefir as a starter and do like this each day. Just leaving a small amount of left over kefir to start the new batch.
    Been working well so far

        • Joyce says:

          Sorry! I didn’t realize you left a comment until now. I’m not very sure if the kefir grain will be formed after a while.

        • Jay says:

          No, you will not create the kefir grains from kefir soy milk. Better to find a free source of kefir grains on the Internet. There could be someone near you who would share.

  5. Clifford says:

    I am inspired to try this recipe and was led here after reading about the benefits of sour milk by an extraordinary man by the name of Gurdjieff. I will return with a report on the results. Thank you.

  6. Jake says:

    Have you tried/do you think that this method would work with other milk substitutes? I was thinking of using rice milk since I’m allergic to soy.

    • Joyce says:

      I haven’t tried using this method for rice milk. However, I did grew rice milk probiotic by combining sugar, rice milk, and probiotic powder together and let them stand at room temperature. If you are interested, try it. Or if you’re interested, you can search my post titled “how to make fermented sweet rice” Let me know if you have any further questions.

  7. Helen Yow says:

    Hi Joyce, Thank you for your great post. I have been doing soy kefir for only three times, but I used non-sweetened soy milk. So my poor grains must be starving by now.

    I did add milk though. I have tried one part milk one part soy. I have also tried one part milk three parts soy. Is that alright? Do I still need add sugar for the grains? If yes, what kind of sugar? I have some maple syrup. Would it be a great waste to add if the grains consume sugar indiscriminately?

    Thank you very much.

    • Joyce says:

      If you use milk, I think it’s not necessary to add sugar. You could add granulate sugar if you’d like to. I never tried maple syrup but I do know honey will not work and will “kill” the grains.

      • Chantal says:

        I use 1 tsp of honey per 1/2 liter of soy milk and I haven’t had any problems during the past 6 months. I make soy kefir 2 days in a row, then goat milk on the third day to revitalize them.

  8. Kimberley says:

    I always make my kefir milk with 1/2 skim milk & 1/2 soy milk. The grains seem to survive & multiply and the end result is always great for my berry & banana smoothies.

  9. dennis says:

    Hi, why do you need to use sweetened soy milk? I tried using non sweetened soy milk, it also works. However, I am unsure of the nutritional difference between using sweetened vs non-sweetened soy for kefir.

    • Joyce says:

      That’s great! I tried a few times of unsweetened homemade soy milk, the fermentation just went very very slow. I think adding extra sugar helps speeding up the fermentation process.

  10. Vahram says:

    Hi Joyce,

    I have been reluctant to share this – due to any possible health risks to someone – but I am, since you mentioned you have a chemistry background.

    I used to love milk kefir in my pre-vegan days and its one of the tastes I really miss. I had a bottle of fresh pure soy milk that sat in the fridge or over a week.

    Upon inspection, I noticed that it has turned quite thick like heavy whipping cream and was about to throw it out, thinking it has gone bad. I smelled it and it has no offensive oder so I took a change and tasted it, expecting a spoiled milk like flavor, but was pleasantly surprised to find no such offensive taste.

    I used it instead of regular soy milk for making vegan cheese, bypassing the fermentation phase with rejuvelac. It was a definite success.

    Another couple of says and there is full separation of whey and thick soy milk “curd” – the texture being thicker that heavy whipping cream – with a plesant mild milk kefir taste.

    I intend to do further experimentation and am assuming that if the soy milk had spoiled, it would have an offensive taste.

    I would love to know you thoughts on the subject.


    • Joyce says:

      That’s great, Vahram. I think your soy milk slowly fermented in your refrigerator. Chinese do ferment tofu, as you know it’s soy product, and it taste very good. One thing I know for sure is soy milk will spoil quickly if there is grease, even a trace amount. So make sure your storage bottles, jars, or even the cheesecloth or utensils you are using to make soy milk are very clean and no grease.


    HI all, reading these posts is very interesting. I have been making kefir very successfully on soy milk for months now. I even put the grains back into dairy milk to grow them and they went really smelly. The kefir I get from them in the soy milk is really lovely. The grains havent grown very much but are very active. The soy milk has a higher protein content to most and has no sugar added. Only the naturally occurring sugars from the soy milk making.

  12. oscar says:

    Dear Joyce:
    I follow your vegan recipe ahout soy kefir
    and it doesn’t work.

    The soy milk kefir is the same, it is not thick at all. The soy milk is jot homemade, it’s from the market with brown cane sugar included. The other ingredient is kefir water (without grain). After 24 hours I see that nothing happens so I add a spoon of brown sugar. Let’s see if whith this sweet help, the soy milk start to ferment.

    Thank you, it is not so easy…

  13. Clive says:

    I make Soy kefir with Lidl unsweetened soy milk. The kefir grains came from my wife’s milk kefir.
    I put the grains in a 1litre kilner jar and fill with a whole 1 litre carton of soy milk (cover too but don’t seal). Keep on warm shelk in kitchen.
    Next day strain through fine mesh sieve onto lage jug ( no utensils, just tap sieve on jug to sieve).
    Immediately replace grains into kilner jar and top up with another 1 Litre soy milk. Use this carton to funnel in the soy kefir from jug, seal and kepp in fridge.
    Worths very well and is a very easy process.

  14. Sylvia says:

    I have 13 months old son who has milk allergy, so he is dairy free. Doctor said he doesn’t have enough probiotics so i thought making him soya kefir. Would you recommend your method for 13 months old?

  15. Nadine says:

    Hi Joyce, thank you for the recipe. My question is about making dairy free version of soy legit (for my allergic son). Do I really need to revitalise the grains in dairy milk after every 2 batches? Could I try to probably do it after 4-5 batches ? And is there any sign the grains are not healthy and/or starting to die?

    • Joyce says:

      It may work. However, you also can use store bought probiotics (such as culturelle probiotic) as starter. Break open the capsule, add the powder and 2 teaspoons of corn sugar into 2 cups of homemade soy milk. Let it stand at room temperature for 1 day, you should have dairy free probiotic drink to enjoy.

  16. Davilyn Eversz says:

    This is not fermented, it is cultured. The difference is that fermented food does not have anything added to it, except perhaps salt. It is more appropriately called “wild fermenting”. Sourdough starter would be an example. Fermented foods do not use starters.
    A culture is when you add a starter.

  17. Cuniah says:

    I am Jude. I have been making soy kefir from un sweetened Goodhope soy milk for more than 2 months now from an original milk kefir without renewing the milk ferment and it still works. Does soy kefir contains vitamin B12? if so, can it be used to supplement a vegan diet? Thank you for your reply.

  18. Joyce Veres says:

    A friend gave me some of her milk kefir grains and being vegan i used unsweetened soy milk to make more. The water and soy separated. The soy part became very thick and settled underneath the liquid. Do I drink the water part or the thickened part or stir it all together before drinking? The liquid tasted very sharp and was a bit fizzy.

    • Joyce says:

      We stir it up and drink it. I add stevia or blend with some fresh berries to make a “smoothie”. Because there is no xanthum gum, guar gum, or cellulose gum in your homemade kefir, it will be much more liquidy than store bought ones.

  19. Costanza says:

    Hi Joyce!!

    This is great. I wonder where you got the water kefir from? I am now trying to convert milk kefir in water, just put some grains in one jar with filtered water and brown sugar. I read somewhere that this conversion is also possible, what do you think?

    • Joyce says:

      I bought my water kefir grains on eBay many years ago. I think I tried to convert the milk kefir grains for water kefir but it didn’t work. Milk kefir grains need lactose, which is the sugar form in diary, to survive.

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