18 Ways to Use Whey– a By-Product of Greek Yogurt

whey in glass jar on vintage towel red

Glass canning jars make good storage containers for whey.

Recently, I made some punch for a party resulting in leftover lemonade. I offered my husband a glass which he gladly accepted. A few hours later, he went looking in the fridge for more lemonade. He spotted some yellowish liquid in a quart-size mason jar and poured himself a big glass– over ice for maximum enjoyment.

You guessed it. He was mortified when the liquid hit his tongue and he could barely get to the sink fast enough to spit it out. It was actually whey from some homemade yogurt I had recently drained. He claimed it was the most vile stuff he had ever tasted. I promptly informed him it was supposed to be healthy but he was unimpressed.

whey and strainer

Whey is the by-product produced when straining yogurt to make Greek yogurt.

Up until now, I felt the same way about the yellow liquid called whey. I threw it away, just like the majority of you who participated in my survey on Facebook. (If you aren’t a fan yet, click the button in the right sidebar so you can see all the latest happenings in my kitchen and/or participate in the occasional survey.) But after a little research and experimentation, I won’t be doing that any more.

In preparation for writing this article, I browsed through the comment section of my post about making Greek yogurt at home and collected all your great ideas. Except for the last two, I’m not endorsing or recommending any of these ideas . . . just putting them out there because one of you said it worked.

Flaky Honey Butter Biscuits-close up old pan red

Flaky Honey Butter Biscuits made with whey-- recipe coming soon

  1. Substitute for other liquids when baking — gives breads and pancakes a nice sourdough-ish taste.
  2. Add to protein shakes.
  3. Lacto-fermented veggies and fruits
  4. Use for soaking whole wheat flours.
  5. Keep feta cheese fresh by submerging it in whey like they often do in Greek delis.
  6. Makes great sauerkraut, fermented bean dip, beets, etc and the whey helps the fermentation along with some salt.
  7. Use whey for boiling noodles or cooking rice.
  8. Feed it to outdoor plants, tomatoes particularly need and benefit from the extra calcium.
  9. Mix it half and half with iced tea — sort of an “Arnold Palmer without the lemon-aid.”
  10. Grab some whey any time a recipe calls for chicken broth, or even as a replacement for wine in some cases. (I’m not recommending this one for all soup. I tried it with potato soup. BLECH! We had egg sandwiches for dinner that night.)
  11. Use it to thin out a batch of homemade hummus or pesto.
  12. Use it to cook quinoa.
  13. Boil your oatmeal in whey. Top with dried Montmorency cherries reconstituted in (you guessed it!) whey.
  14. You can use it as the liquid in pizza dough, and it adds a wonderful flavor to the crust.
  15. You can use some of the whey to make lacto-fermented pickles. The cookbook Nourishing Traditions explains how to use whey along with a brine.
  16. Some have mentioned using it in skin care products. Sorry, I have no idea how to do that!!
  17. Someone suggested thinking of whey as clear buttermilk. This idea resonated with me so I started envisioning how I could substitute whey for buttermilk. I marinated chicken breasts in whey, drained and then rolled them in seasoned flour for fabulous fried chicken.
  18. Based on the principle in #17, I made the flakiest, lightest and most tender biscuits to ever come out of my kitchen last week. Very soon, I’ll share the recipe for the biscuits you see here and a variation for Flaky Cinnamon Biscuits substituting whey for buttermilk so be sure to save the whey from your next batch of yogurt.

In case you landed on this post from Mars and don’t know much about Greek yogurt, you can see the process from beginning to end here.

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{ 77 comments… read them below or add one }

Mimi September 14, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Interesting! I’m looking forward to your whey recipes.


Betty @ scrambled hen fruit September 14, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Yet another reason why I should make my own yogurt. Those biscuits sound wonderful! 🙂


Kris September 15, 2011 at 6:59 am

I feel like such a slacker! I give each of the dogs a scoop of yogurt, along with a splash of whey, every morning. The love it so – I don’t know if I could deprive them to divert some of it into those lovely-looking biscuits.


Paula September 15, 2011 at 10:29 am

Kris, Slacker? No way! If your dogs like it– fantastic! I was the slacker for throwing it away all these years. Thanks for stopping by.


Piper @ gotitcookit September 15, 2011 at 10:21 am

I’ve been using my whey in my 5 minute artisan bread and smoothies to great success. I can’t wait for the biscuit recipe!


Anne May 3, 2013 at 1:22 pm

I’d like to hear about your 5 minute artisan bread! (Is it on this page somewhere?)


Piper May 3, 2013 at 5:36 pm
Rhiannon July 20, 2013 at 7:30 am

Wait do you substitute whey for all of the water, or just a portion? I’ve made the bread before but getting rid of some whey in the process would be amazing.


JD April 18, 2015 at 3:32 pm

This bread looks fantastic!


Andie February 15, 2016 at 9:05 am

Can I the recipe for your five minute artisan bread as well? It would be lovely if you could email me or facebook me. I’m not sure if I will get it if you reply to me.


Bette September 16, 2011 at 4:53 am

Please, hurry with the recipe for the Flaky Cinnamon Biscuits! I love your blog and EVERY recipe that I’ve used of yours is absolutely fantastic. Make a batch of Greek Yogurt every week and LOVE it! Thank you so much for bringing the ‘joy’ back to cooking for me! And I will be using the whey as a buttermilk substitute!


carolyn September 16, 2011 at 4:55 am

Can’t wait try it in something .It hurts my heart to just pour it down the drain. My yogurt seems to get better each time I make a new batch .


Suzanne September 16, 2011 at 8:24 am

ok more reasons for me to start the yogurt making, don’t know why it intimidates me but I guess try to keep the temp at a certain level for so long. I finally got over the candy thermometer so it, time to cross that bridge and “get over it”.


Susan February 6, 2013 at 5:22 am

I use my oven which has a digital temperature and timer to keep the constant temperature…. 110F or 43C for 6 hours, maybe a bit longer if you like the yoghurt thicker.

Put your yoghurt in containers, sit the containers in a large baking dish and warm (not hot) water to about 3/4 up the side of your containers. I also put a cloth in the bottom of the baking dish.


Janet April 20, 2014 at 5:17 pm

I put my filled jars with lids on the baking sheet and wrap them entirely in kitchen towels, then into a 100-ish degree oven TURNED OFF (cooled down from when I sterilized the jars at 250 for 20 minutes), and then leave them there for 6-8 hours. Hasn’t failed me yet.


Beth E August 31, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Using the microwave, I bring the milk to 165 degrees in a porcelain casserole with lid. I let the milk cool to about 110 degrees and then add the yogurt culture. I put the entire casserole into the oven with just the oven light on. Presto – 6 hours later, the yogurt is perfect. No need to turn on the oven. Just use the oven light.


Heather September 12, 2015 at 6:17 pm

I make yogurt in my crock pot:
1. put 1/2 gallon of milk (i use organic) in a crock pot and heat on low for 2 1/2 hours.
2. unplug and let sit for 3 hours
3. mix 1/2 cup of room temp live yogurt with some of the warm milk to temper and then mix into the milk in the crock pot.
4. wrap with towels and let sit for 8-10 hours
5. refrigerate-I put cheesecloth in a strainer and strain out the whey to make greek yogurt


Paula September 13, 2015 at 3:38 pm

Sounds like you have your system worked out well, Heather. You might find the following posts interesting regarding how much starter you have to use and a really fuss-free way to strain yogurt.


Vicki July 5, 2016 at 12:36 am

I use an electric heating pad on low under the blanket I wrap my containers in. Once everything is to temperature I shut it off and only turn it on if I feel the yogurt is cooling too much. No fuss and works great every time.


Megan's Cookin' September 20, 2011 at 8:21 am

Great article Paula! I had no clue you could do so mush with whey,


anh September 21, 2011 at 6:20 am

Such an informative post!! I never really think of using whey, but you have broadened my horizon!


Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen September 28, 2011 at 2:57 am

Nice tips, the one about using it to keep feta in is really great! I need to try that.


steph (whisk/spoon) October 30, 2011 at 2:56 pm

your whey biscuits look awesome!! that’s a funny story about your husband…there is actually a dairy here in ny that is making a whey drink (they call it “tonic”), and i’ve seem it sold at some pretty posh markets….


Marianne November 4, 2011 at 2:42 pm

I love using whey in breads and biscuits! I just freeze in ice cube trays, then pop the whey cubes into a freezer bag until needed.

I’ve had a blast reading your blog – great pics, information, recipes. If it’s okay, I’d like to add your link to my ‘ways with whey’ page on my blog.

Keep up the good work!


melissa May 23, 2013 at 5:09 pm

That is one of the best ideas I’ve heard for storing whey! I used frozen cubes of lots of things but that never occurred to me. Thank you, I have been ensmartened!


Margaret February 28, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Thanks for all the great tips and tricks! I followed overly simplified directions on my first attempt to make yogurt and to make matters worse I thought I could simplify those even further. Doh! Reading though your blog has set me straight and I am making attempt #2 tonight. If all goes well I will certainly be saving the whey for those fantastic looking biscuits!


Lorraine April 18, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Will try in with soaking steel cut oats, making homemade coconut oil mayo, and in place of milk in my pancakes/crepes. Keep the ideas coming! I can’t wait to try home made kraut and pickles! Now off to ferment something else in my kitchen…just started making water kefir last week, with lots of success!


Paula April 18, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Homemade coconut mayo? Sounds so interesting.


melissa May 23, 2013 at 5:12 pm

My grandmother used whey in stirabout (steel cut oats or cornmeal) and she added bacon to it and a poached egg (just the yolk for me because I was little and she loved me ) on top. You’re right, it’s delicious.


Paula May 24, 2013 at 6:38 am

Thanks for writing Melissa. What a great use of whey! And what a special grandmother you had, too.


Lorraine April 19, 2012 at 7:18 am

To Paula: Go to “free coconut recipies.com” and they have recipes, also in “Eat Fat/Lose Fat”, and “The Coconut Oil Miracle” they have a recipe. I have found that I prefer to use the “unflavored” organic coconut oil for this, I did not care for it with the regular coconut-flavored oil. Also make extra sure that if you are going to use olive oil in part, that it smells and tastes fresh, or it will ruin the whole thing!! I bought the oil I use on Amazon.com – Wilderness Family Naturals brand. Look for it to say “expeller pressed, ultra clean supreme”. It smells and tastes completely neutral but is still very healthy and full of the good stuff that makes coconut oil so great! I use an immersion hand (stick) blender and it only takes a few minutes. (There are sites on You Tube that show you how to do it!) It really, truly tastes just like regular mayo, no one in my family can tell the difference.


Paula April 20, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Thanks so much Lorraine. I’ll check it out. pr


barbara May 5, 2012 at 2:09 pm

just made raw milk greek yogurt with your receipt, it was great! can i make ricotta with the whey instead of using whole raw milk?


Paula May 6, 2012 at 9:32 pm

I have tried—without success. If I figure it out, you can be sure I will blog about it. pr


helen mucciolo June 19, 2012 at 1:22 pm

I have been making ricotta and yogurt, I use the yogurt whey in Italian feather bread, very good. The ricotta whey is used in soups, freezes well for future use. I’m going to use it in other ways, as you suggested. Why throw anything out, I freeze everything!


Paula June 19, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Helen, Love that you make ricotta too. I can only imagine how much whey you must produce. Happy yogurt-eating.


helen mucciolo June 19, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Question, have you tried to make whey cheese? I’ve heard it can be done, using rennet, any thoughts?


Paula June 19, 2012 at 5:33 pm

I have not tried whey cheese. Seems like a great idea though.


helen mucciolo June 20, 2012 at 11:28 am

Hi, I appreciate your answering me! Some people don’t. Anyway, since I have so much yogurt and lots of greens in the garden, I’m looking for salad dressing recipes. like maybe a ranch type using yogurt. Also have lots of herbs and onions. Thanks.


Paula June 21, 2012 at 5:09 am

I’ll have to work on that one. Thanks for the challenge.


Jennifer June 22, 2012 at 4:28 pm

How long does the whey stay good once drained from the yogurt? This is awesome! I just started making yogurt and have already tossed one big bowl of whey.


Paula June 24, 2012 at 5:48 am


That is a good question, and I don’t know the answer. It is so acidic that I would think a long time but I’m not for sure.


Renee Muller April 13, 2013 at 12:33 pm

up to 6 months


Jennifer June 22, 2012 at 4:31 pm

helen mucciolo – I found a recipe for homemade ranch dressing mix, using milk and mayo. I have made it with that, but also with milk and sour cream. I will definitely try it with homemade yogurt next! Here’s the link (if I’m allowed to post a link on here) to the recipe….



helen mucciolo June 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Thank you to Jennifer, I did find recipes and ended up mixing some mayo in with yogurt and herbs and garlic and white pepper, little lemon, came out good, hubby didn’t complain!!


JD April 18, 2015 at 3:34 pm

I also thinking the acid whey itself would make an excellent salad dressing when mixed with oil, herbs, and perhaps some buttermilk powder….


darla June 30, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Thank you, I had no idea what to do with the whey!! I am excited!!


Wronknee July 18, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Just made my third batch of Greek yogurt and I used frozen whey from the last batch for the starter, worked great. Next experiment will be to see what happens when I combine yogurt and tapioca. Any suggestions?


Paula July 20, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Frozen whey? Really? Who knew! I will try it myself. I’m not a tapioca fan (childhood memories) but it will probably be good. Blueberry yogurt and ice cream is awesome so maybe it will be kinda like that.


JD April 18, 2015 at 3:36 pm

Freezing and reusing the infused whey for my next batch of cheese could work Wronknee! I’ll give it a shot! Thank you!


Candace July 29, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Hello! Thank you for all the lovely tips on how to use whey! Am so excited to start baking again! My mate says my cookies could be used for the army – they’ve come out so hard! Now i can treat him to some “Flaky, light, and most tender” cinnamon cookies! (He’s been hinting for Apple Pie!) And we’ve thought of giving Renee’ Loux Apple Cobler a go – perhaps with a hint of whey!!

Oh there are dozens of delicious Indian Vegetarian (Ayuverdic) recipes that require whey in their stews etc…. And boy what a difference it makes to accommodate those subtle spice flavors!

Off to start menu planning for the week! So excited with all the new whey ideas! Thanks a bunch!


Paula July 30, 2012 at 9:23 am

Happy cooking, Candace. Hope your recipes please everybody.


Ahalyah July 31, 2012 at 10:57 am

I just drink Whey by the glass full. It cools you down in the summer heat. It has so many health benefits. If you don’t like the taste try adding a little honey or sugar. If you like the taste of lemon give that a try. It makes your bones strong, your nails and hair grow. As far as using it for beauty products you can use it instead of gel, style as usual, the heat will remove the smell. You can rinse your hair with it (massage in to stimulate growth) rinse it out afterwards if you don’t like the smell, but it will dissipate after a little while. This will leave your hair looking like you just got out of the shower unless you style it. If you have problems with you gums rinse your mouth with it. It heals the skin if you get a cut or bruise rub it with whey. It will help in healing, no matter how sever the wound the cultures in whey are an awesome helping hand. Whey has endless health benefits. If you have ever taken anything that didn’t taste so great to heal your body, whey is something worth using. If you drink it long enough you will start to want to taste it.


Paula July 31, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Wow! I’m impressed that you can drink whey straight. I guess it’s an acquired taste. I don’t know about all the other benefits you mention but it sure sounds good. Thanks so much for sharing.


Tejasa August 7, 2015 at 12:02 pm

Love your blog! I came looking for info on how much starter to use, I thought I was using too much and I was right, so now I get to eat more from each batch. WooHoo! – and then I just kept clicking . . . Anyway I drink my whey, I just pour it off every little while during straining and toss it down. Since I started that my digestive system has been Much Healthier, I feel like I have more energy etc. But I never thought of rinsing my gums with it or using it in my hair. Curious to know if anyone else tried that!


Paula August 9, 2015 at 1:35 pm

Hi Tejasa,
I’m impressed that you can just drink whey straight. Wow! Haven’t tried rinsing my gums or using it in my hair, either.


Jasmine October 3, 2012 at 4:30 pm


My Mother-in-law makes cheese quite often and yogurt, too. She saves her whey and gardens with it. She also adds it to her laying hens’ water, as do I. Makes for some tasty eggs!


Paula October 4, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Hi Jasmine,
I have watered my plants with whey but never the chickens. Not that I have any chickens. 🙂


Jane October 13, 2012 at 12:20 pm

I love your suggestions. I used the whey in biscuits and they were so fluffy. I cannot wait for the buscuit recipe(s) you mentioned.

Question: Is there a shelf life for whey in the refrigerator. I’ve made the yogurt three times, so the whey is stacking up a bit in the refrigerator. I will definitely try freezing it in smaller containers in the future, but was wondering if I need to pitch it?


Paula October 13, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Hi Jane,
The biscuit recipe is here. I also like to make them with cheese.

I can’t answer your question about the shelf life of whey but if its anything like buttermilk, it should be good for at least a month. If you decide to pitch it, throw it over your shrubs. I hear plants really like the stuff.


Ian October 25, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Paula – you can pitch whey into the garden, but you need to be careful. It is acidic – so plants such as blueberries will do well with it. But plants that do not like an acidic environment, you will want to make sure you also mix with water and not pour it straight in.


Paula October 26, 2012 at 9:24 am

Hi Ian,
Thanks for pointing this out. Most of our soils are quite alkaline here in North Texas so any acid is welcome. But this is definitely something to consider.


Joyce October 25, 2012 at 3:15 pm

whey cool!


Paula October 26, 2012 at 9:17 am

Joyce, you made me smile.


Rosanne October 31, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Cannot remember where I read it..but whey is good for up to 6 months refrigerated. It is somewhere out in cyberspace.


Paula November 2, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Thanks for writing. Good to know.


Christina December 1, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I’m a new mom & looking at all the benefits of this stuff would it be ok to mix my son’s formula with it instead of water or do you know?


Paula December 1, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Whey is very acidic and would sour the milk instantly. Doesn’t seem like a good idea to me but I’m not a doctor, so I would ask your doctor first.


vbos December 11, 2012 at 8:21 pm

I had some (well, a lot of) leftover whey from last time I made paneer cheese. I used it to make more paneer (it is softer that way) but I didn’t feel like making it lately and so it was just sitting in my fridge. I thought of the uses 1), 14), and 17) myself–whey turned out to be a great way to boost flavor of biscuits, bread, croissants, quiche, and whatever I was baking. I think it retains some milk fat (obviously much less than buttermilk), which makes everything softer. I will definitely try to use it for sauerkraut and as a marinade for chicken breasts. Thanks for the tips!


Jennifer Nauck December 28, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Thanks for the ideas! Have you posted that whey biscuit recipe yet? I looked in the recipe index but didn’t see it. I have TOO MUCH whey on my hands!


Jennifer Nauck December 28, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Oops… just saw that it was the cinnamon biscuit recipe. Will definately try!


Alison December 30, 2012 at 7:42 am

Some very useful suggestions here. New ones for me are watering my blueberries here – not yet though. My garden here in the UK is flooded at the moment – lol. Also to store feta – my family love baked feta.
I use the whey for bread but also in my homemade facial moisturiser – upto the same amount as honey (this acts as a preservative – it will not kill bacteria but stops new bacteria forming) exactly what I want.

Also I have a bath with whey (I have an old liquid soap container filled with sunflower oil and essential oils) and add the whey and the oils for moisturising and to remove the whey smell.

I can’t wait to try your biscuit recipe. Thank you so much.


Alison January 1, 2013 at 10:40 am

Just in case anyone was interested in the whey bath I thought I had better mention that only a little oil is required. You do NOT want the bath to be slipperly when getting out.


Isela Muñoz January 26, 2013 at 10:40 pm

I have been using it in pancakes .
Now I have other uses thanks to your post.



Christopher Tuckrer January 29, 2013 at 12:59 am

Was wondering if using the whey works just as well for use as a Starter?? I forgot to save some from my first batch for the next one before flavoring it with honey and vanilla. Could I use my flavored yogurt as a starter??


Paula January 29, 2013 at 9:42 am

Hi Christopher,
I have not tried whey as a starter. Doesn’t sound appealing. BUT, yes I think you could use your flavored yogurt as a starter. You only need a teaspoon or two so no big deal. I just wouldn’t use starter with fruit in it. I use my flavored yogurt all the time–but all I use is Torani syrup (splenda) and vanilla bean paste. Haven’t tried it with honey.


Christopher Tucker January 29, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Thanks Paula!! For responding so quickly, for your website, and everything you do on here!! Just add honey to taste and a bit of vanilla, it’s delicious!!


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