Wondering how to use whey from making cheese or strained yogurt? Don’t pour it down the drain! Here are 28 different recipes and ideas for using whey.
Types of whey
Whey is comprised of water, lactose, and whey proteins. The flavor and sourness varies depending on how it was made.
There are essentially three types:
- Acid whey comes from cheese made with citric acid or vinegar. It is very in high lactose (milk sugar) and is quite sour. It is not probiotic and cannot be used to make fermented foods.
- Sweet whey is a by-product of making firm cheese. Basically, any cheese that is cultured for less than 3 hours, will have sweet-tasting whey right after draining. After that, it becomes more acidic as the lactose is consumed by the Lacto-bacteria. Storing sweet whey in the fridge will slow the acidification, but only for about 12 hours. It is probiotic and lower in lactose.
- Sour whey is sweet whey that is older than 12 hours or drained from cheeses that have a long culturing period. This includes Greek yogurt, kefir cheese, and cottage cheese. It is very acidic and low in lactose.
Here is how to use up leftover whey. I’ve divided it up by type since they each have their own unique properties.
Recipes and ideas for All types of whey
Soups and Stews
One of the best ways to use up leftover whey is as a broth. Replace up to 1/4 of the broth or water in a recipe with whey. It adds richness, protein, and tanginess that really brings out the flavors of the other ingredients.
Here are three soups that are specifically designed to use up leftover whey:
- Homemade cheese sauce
- Mashed potatoes
- Scalloped potatoes
- Polenta or grits
- Corn tortillas
Whey is perfect for any recipe that calls for buttermilk. It’s not as thick as buttermilk, so stick to recipes where the exact amount of liquid doesn’t matter. (It’s why I don’t recommend it for pancakes or biscuits).
Here are a few baked goods to try:
- Oatmeal muffins
- Apple coffee cake
- Soda bread
- Flax seed crackers
- You can also use it instead of water in any quick-rise yeasted bread recipe. It adds a delicious sourdough-like flavor to the bread.
Whey can be used instead of water for all sorts of treats and desserts. Here are a few examples:
How to use cultured whey (Sweet or Sour)
Sweet or sour whey from making cultured cheese is full of Lacto bacteria. It is perfect for fermenting all sorts of things. Most grains, legumes, nuts, and vegetables will ferment faster with a starter.
Around the house
The probiotic culture is also useful around the house:
- Water your acid-loving plants (in particular, rhododendrons and blueberries).
- Presoak beans and grains to soften them before cooking. The acidity prevents the skin of the bean from breaking down, so it’s perfect for dishes like my black bean korma, but not recommended for hummus.
- Feed it to your dogs/pigs/chickens.
- Make a bubble bath. Add it when you fill your tub and it will bubble up! The probiotics are great for your skin.
- Add it to your compost pile (though only in limited amounts as too much acid or liquid isn’t recommended).
How to use sweet whey
As a drink
Fresh sweet whey from cheesemaking is actually quite sweet. My kids like to drink it straight or mix it into a yummy beverage.
It is really only sweet for the first few hours, so take a break from cleaning the kitchen and enjoy a beverage while your cheese finishes draining.
Here are a few drinks to enjoy!
- Hot chocolate
- Chai tea latte
There are a few kinds of cheese that can be made from fresh sweet whey. So you need to make them right after finishing your first batch of cheese.