Open containers of yogurt on blue table

Creative Ways to Use Leftover Yogurt: Transforming Greek Yogurt into Flavorful Salad Dressing with Chobani

In a world where food waste is a growing concern, it’s not uncommon to find yourself staring at that container of leftover yogurt in your fridge, wondering if it’s destined for the trash. Or maybe you’ve experienced those moments when you’re tempted to finish every last spoonful of yogurt even when your stomach has reached its breaking point. But what if we told you that there’s a more exciting and delicious path for those creamy remnants?

Leftover yogurt, often overlooked and underestimated, can be transformed into a wide array of delectable treats and savory wonders. Imagine creamy cocktails, refreshing yogurt popsicles, and healthier salad dressings, all crafted from the contents of that humble container once destined for the trash. If you’re ready to make the most of every last spoonful, then read on. We’re serving up 26 tasty ways to use leftover yogurt, and you’ll want to try them all.

Stir it into a cocktail

Frozen cocktail garnished with cherry

Oil and vinegar, lemon and chocolate, peanut butter and pickles — because of chemistry or competing flavors, some food pairings just don’t work. With their differing compositions and the potential for curdling, you might be inclined to add yogurt and alcohol to this list … but not so fast.

Adding yogurt to a cocktail may sound crazy, but it’s a great way to give your tipple body without the foaminess that egg whites bring. When incorporating yogurt into cocktails, stick with unaged spirits like gin. You can also combine yogurt with sparkling wine. Whichever alcohol you choose, make sure to use only plain yogurt, preferably of the Greek variety.

Create a yogurt sauce

Yogurt sauce with ingredients

There’s no end to the number of ways you can transform leftover yogurt into a delectable sauce. Unsure where to begin? Then consider the sauce Claire Saffitz eats with everything. The chef and food writer’s recipe is a blend of yogurt, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and freshly grated garlic. Not only is it simple to make, but it pairs with everything from salad to chicken.

For those seeking a more independent path, start with plain Greek yogurt, introduce an acid, and incorporate herbs and spices. As far as ingredients are concerned, we recommend drawing inspiration from Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and Indian cuisines, where yogurt-based sauces often take center stage.

Freeze yogurt into popsicles

Yogurt popsicles with berries

Rather than throwing out extra yogurt, try freezing it into a healthy popsicle. One approach involves blending yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit, then pouring the mixture into popsicle molds for freezing.

In a similar fashion, you can elevate the visual appeal of popsicles by layering yogurt on top of a medley of fruity ingredients, creating an ombré effect that looks way fancier than it has any right to. Alternatively, you can fashion a frozen yogurt parfait by filling a mold with yogurt, incorporating a layer of fruit, and crowning it with a generous helping of granola.

Spoon it into salad dressing

Corn salad with yogurt dressing

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If you’re as busy as we are, then you probably don’t think twice about purchasing salad dressing from the store. After all, it’s quick, inexpensive, and super tasty. But for all of its advantages, it can also be full of sugar, sodium, and fat.

For a healthier way to enhance your salads, consider crafting your own yogurt-based salad dressing. Take, for instance, Bobby Flay’s tangy twist on Russian dressing, which blends Greek yogurt with sun-dried tomatoes and ancho chili powder. Or check out our blue cheese dressing recipe, using plain yogurt, mayonnaise, garlic, and blue cheese crumbles to provide a lighter twist on this familiar classic.

Use leftover yogurt to keep baked goods moist

Coffee cake on white plate

Surprising though it may seem, yogurt is the secret ingredient your baked goods have been longing for. There are a number of reasons why. The first is that yogurt’s creamy texture helps keep baked goods from drying out in the oven. Secondly, its subtle acidity imparts a mildly tangy flavor to whatever it touches. Lastly, this acidity encourages leavening, resulting in light, fluffy treats.

Depending on the occasion, you might find us repurposing leftover plain yogurt into our rhubarb cinnamon crumble cake, blending Greek yogurt into a luscious pound cake, or substituting it for butter to craft an indulgent chocolate cake.

Marinate meat with extra yogurt

Raw chicken covered with yogurt in cast iron pan

As a fermented dairy product with a pH of about 4.3, yogurt provides a perfect way to marinate a cut of meat. The naturally occurring lactic acid helps break down meat’s proteins, which softens the flesh. Another advantage of using yogurt as a marinade is that the sugars in yogurt caramelize during cooking. This adds a subtle sweetness to the finished dish and creates a crispy crust.

When making a yogurt marinade, use ½ cup of yogurt per pound of meat. Combine it with a liquid such as olive oil or broth to make spreading easier. Let the meat sit for up to 12 hours for the best results.

Lighten up homemade whipped cream

Whipped cream on black background

Whip up a lighter and healthier version of whipped cream by substituting some heavy cream with leftover plain yogurt. You’ll need a stand mixer to make the magic happen. Mix a cup of Greek yogurt with ¾ of a cup of heavy cream. Add 3 tablespoons of your preferred liquid sweetener, a quarter teaspoon of vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt.

Mix on low speed, gradually increasing to high, for about five minutes. You’ll be left with a softer alternative to traditional whipped cream that’s perfect for topping desserts like strawberry sponge cake. If you’re not ready to indulge right away, store it in the refrigerator for up to one day.

Yogurt brightens up soups

Carrot soup topped with yogurt in white bowl

When it comes to elevating the flavor and creaminess of your soups, yogurt is a healthy alternative to calorie-laden options like sour cream or crème fraîche. A dollop of yogurt, whether plain or Greek, can infuse your homemade soup with a delightful tang and velvety texture.

To get creative, consider adding a pinch of salt and a sprinkle of fresh herbs — like chives or dill — for a burst of freshness and complexity. This simple yogurt swap not only reduces the soup’s calorie count, but also adds a bright, refreshing note to your soup, making it a satisfying choice for any meal.

Mash it into tuna or chicken salad

Tuna salad with celery and onions

Instead of mayonnaise, look no further than yogurt to lighten up your tuna salad while keeping it creamy; it’s good for chicken salad, too. The swap works like a charm because yogurt and mayo have a similar texture and consistency. By replacing some or all of the mayo with yogurt, you reduce the richness while keeping the mouthwatering flavor.

Speaking of flavor, yogurt provides slightly acidic notes. But for all of its tanginess, yogurt is still mild. That means it complements, rather than overpowers, other ingredients like celery, capers, or red onions. And nutrition-wise, yogurt has more protein than mayo, which will keep you full long after the last bite. 

Whip up a batch of shakriyeh

Meat in yogurt sauce on gray plate

When you’ve got more yogurt than you know what to do with and a yearning for comfort food, look no further than shakriyeh. Hailing from Syria, this lamb and yogurt stew is as delicious as it is comforting. Fortunately, our Instant Pot shakriyeh recipe brings this culinary delight within easy reach.

Make it by sautéeing lamb in a pressure cooker. While that’s cooking, blend yogurt and cornstarch, then transfer the mixture to a saucepan. Heat it until it reaches a simmer. The key is to ensure that the cornstarch flavor vanishes, leaving behind a velvety yogurt sauce that perfectly complements succulent lamb.

Ferment some veggies

Assorted jars of fermented vegetables

Yogurt is made by allowing starter cultures — aka probiotic bacteria — to ferment milk sugars in a process that produces lactic acid. In addition to helping digestion, this good bacteria can be used to ferment your favorite veggies.

Executing the lacto-fermentation process is straightforward. Simply place vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, or carrots into an airtight container, then cover them with non-iodized salt and water before sealing the container. To speed up the process, add a touch of whey — which is nothing more than the watery substance found on top of yogurt. The whey kick-starts fermentation, a process that can take anywhere from hours to weeks.

Make some labneh

Labneh garnished with olive oil and mint leaves

This dish may sound exotic, but homemade labneh requires only two ingredients — and one of them is yogurt. To make this Middle Eastern staple, mix plain full-fat yogurt with salt. Wrap the mixture in cheesecloth and place the bundle in a colander. Position the colander over a bowl, add weight on top, and let it sit in the refrigerator for up to two days.

During this time, most of the moisture will drain into the bowl, leaving you with a cheesecloth full of creamy labneh. Serve it with olive oil and za’atar seasoning, and you’ll have a wonderfully tangy dipping sauce that pairs perfectly with pita bread and vegetables. 

Add it to your scrambled eggs

Scrambled eggs on white plate

Bring two classic breakfast items together by stirring leftover yogurt into your eggs before scrambling. Like sour cream and milk, Greek yogurt gives eggs a creamy, fluffy texture that’s impossible to resist.

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Not only does yogurt enhance the texture of eggs, but it also contributes to the overall flavor, bringing a subtle tanginess that complements the richness of the eggs without overpowering them. Beyond taste and texture, yogurt introduces an extra dose of protein to your breakfast while keeping the calorie content low. In the end, you’ll have a meal that’s as delicious as it is nutritious.

Leftover yogurt enhances boxed mac and cheese

Spoon digging in to macaroni and cheese

We’ve got nothing against the usual milk and butter mix-ins, but to take your instant mac and cheese to the next level, consider incorporating some leftover yogurt. All you’ve got to do is swap the milk and butter for full-fat Greek yogurt.

You have the flexibility to adjust the quantity of yogurt to your liking, but starting with half a cup works well. Blend the powdered cheese packet into the yogurt, then pour the creamy mixture over the cooked pasta and stir thoroughly. With this straightforward substitution, you’ll savor an exceptionally creamy, tangy dinner that will make your taste buds take notice.

Yogurt is raita’s best friend

White sauce in bowl

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Raita is a yogurt-based sauce commonly served alongside spicy Indian dishes like pork vindaloo and chicken 65. Besides cooling the palate, raita adds a delightful flavor to saucy meals and complements the pillowy texture of naan. Beyond Indian cuisine, raita effortlessly enhances the taste of fried foods and roasted vegetables.

There are all kinds of raita variations, but the basic recipe calls for Greek yogurt or dahi (a type of Indian curd), cucumbers, coriander, ginger, garlic, and mint. To prepare it, simply combine all of the ingredients and chill until it’s time to eat.

Transform it into froyo

Frozen yogurt with blueberries

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News flash — you don’t need any special ingredients or fancy kitchen gadgets to craft extra creamy homemade froyo (aka frozen yogurt). On the ingredients front, all you’ll need is some leftover Greek yogurt, frozen fruit, a sweetener (agave or honey works well), and some lemon juice. As for equipment, a blender or food processor and a freezable airtight container are the only tools you’ll need.

Here’s how it’s done: blend ¼ cup of yogurt with 2 cups of frozen fruit. Incorporate the sweetener and ½ of a tablespoon of lemon juice, then blend for a couple of minutes. Freeze in a container overnight and you’ll have a delicious, healthy dessert by morning.

Blend it into a lassi

Two glasses of mango lassi on wooden coasters

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Shake up your morning smoothie routine and venture into the lassi realm instead. Hailing from India, this recipe brings together leftover plain yogurt, whole milk, honey, and a touch of cardamom powder to create a healthy, refreshing, and satisfying drink. While you can stick with the basic version, mango lassi will always be our favorite.

Prepare it by blending partially thawed frozen mango chunks with the other lassi ingredients and some lime until it thickens. Enjoy it as a stand-alone breakfast option, pair it with your preferred Indian dishes for a mid-meal break, or save it for a dessert that functions as a digestive aid.

Cook it into a flatbread

Flatbread on wooden board

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Greek yogurt may not look like much, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. For instance, did you know that this creamy ingredient is the unassuming addition for tastier homemade flatbread?

Creating this delectable staple is a breeze. Combine self-rising flour and full-fat plain Greek yogurt in a bowl until a dough forms. If you want to add herbs and spices, mix them into the flour before adding the yogurt. Allow the dough to rest before dividing it into smaller balls and rolling them into circles. Brush both sides of the circles with oil or melted butter, then cook them on a hot pan until golden brown. 

Top instant ramen with a dollop

Ramen noodles with yogurt and vegetables

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From spicing things up with Sriracha to garnishing with scallions, there are numerous ways to upgrade your instant ramen. While these enhancements might not shock you, we bet that you’ve never considered topping noodles with leftover yogurt before.

The combination of yogurt and ramen may appear unconventional, but introducing dairy to your noodles gives them a light, creamy texture. Moreover, yogurt’s tanginess pops against umami-heavy ramen. It also provides welcome relief from the heat of the spice mix. To take advantage of this unconventional hack, prepare ramen as you normally would, then add a dollop of full-fat yogurt before serving.

Dress your bean salads with it

Cannellini bean salad in white dish

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Ditch calorie-laden mayonnaise or oil in your bean salad for leftover yogurt. Similar to mayonnaise, Greek yogurt contributes a creamy texture, but its tangy flavor profile pairs even better with the earthy notes of various types of beans.

Moreover, yogurt’s versatility shines through in dressing options. For instance, substitute two-thirds of the oil in an oil-and-vinegar dressing with Greek yogurt. Alternatively, you can give your beloved honey mustard dressing a makeover by adding 1 cup of nonfat Greek yogurt for every quarter cup of mustard and honey. This switch may seem simple, but it’s guaranteed to elevate the flavor and nutrition factor.

Soak overnight oats in leftover yogurt

Overnight oats garnished with green apple

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Overnight oats are a godsend for everyone who wakes up before the sun. Not only are they the perfect grab-and-go option, but they’re also infinitely customizable, allowing you to experiment with varied spices, fruits, and seeds.

While these embellishments are the surefire way to a tasty breakfast, consider incorporating yogurt into your standard overnight oats recipe. This addition not only enhances creaminess but also introduces protein, keeping you fuller for longer. Make yogurt-infused overnight oats by mixing your yogurt of choice with vanilla extract, milk, and a sweetener. Combine with oats, then transfer to jars and refrigerate overnight.

Give your potatoes something to be glad about

Mashed potatoes on white plate

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From soups and dips to tacos and baked goods, Greek yogurt steps in as a sour cream substitute again and again, providing a healthy, equally tasty alternative. But one place this substitute really shines is with potatoes. That’s because it boasts the same creamy texture and zesty tang as sour cream, just without the heaviness.

There are all kinds of ways to incorporate leftover yogurt into spuds. For instance, you can combine yogurt with salt, pepper, and chives before adding it to mashed potatoes. Alternatively, a dollop of yogurt mixed with smoked paprika, lemon juice, or fresh herbs brings baked potatoes to life.

Swap it for butter in frosting

Vanilla frosting in bowl with spoon

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It may sound ridiculous to swap yogurt for a tried and true frosting ingredient. After all, the ingredient is right there in the name — buttercream. However, yogurt’s a surprisingly feasible butter alternative. By blending half a cup of Greek yogurt with 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar, you’re on your way to creating a sumptuous topping for cupcakes and beyond.

Once you’ve mastered the basic recipe, take your frosting to the next level by incorporating vanilla extract, lemon zest, or cocoa powder. For a simpler upgrade, start with flavored yogurt, such as strawberry or coffee.

Spread leftover yogurt on toast

Yogurt on toast with berries

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When TikTok decides something is delicious, it’s worth taking note. That’s certainly true for yogurt toast, a trend that took the social media world by storm in early 2022. While the initial buzz may have subsided, this breakfast-dessert hybrid remains scrumptious.

To make yogurt toast (also called custard toast), whisk together Greek yogurt, an egg, and a touch of maple syrup. Spread the mixture onto your bread of choice, then top with ingredients like fruit, chocolate chips, or nuts. Bake in the oven or an air fryer for five to 10 minutes, or until the custard sets. 

Yogurt bark is definitely the way to go

Stacked yogurt bark next to strawberries

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Frozen yogurt bark is a beautiful treat that requires just a handful of ingredients: leftover yogurt, honey, and your favorite toppings, like fruit, granola, nuts, and chocolate chips. Combine the yogurt, honey, and half of your chosen toppings. Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then sprinkle the remaining toppings across the surface.

Freeze it overnight. Let it sit out for about five minutes the next morning, then break it into bite-sized pieces and eat it right away. This is not only a healthy and refreshing treat, but it’s also incredibly versatile, good for using freshly picked berries in the summer, while maple syrup and cacao nibs give it an autumnal feel.

Dress your deviled eggs with leftover yogurt

Deviled eggs on wooden board

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When it comes to timeless appetizers like deviled eggs, it’s challenging to envision anything beyond the classic yolk-mustard-mayo filling. However, the potential for deliciousness expands when you trade mayonnaise for leftover yogurt.

Not only will your snack become lighter, but it will also gain the advantages of additional protein, calcium, and vitamin B12. If you’re eager for a change, blend plain Greek yogurt with white vinegar, pickle relish, mustard, and a blend of spices. Mash this mixture with cooked egg yolks, then generously spoon it onto the egg whites, finishing with a sprinkling of paprika.

Static Media owns and operates Look and Mashed. 

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