8 Substitutes For Yogurt in Marinade 

Yogurt is a delicious creamy addition to many marinades. Often paired with garlic, lemon and or many other spices, it is a popular base for chicken marinade but it also goes great with lamb and even pork. 

There are many reasons why you may not be able to use yogurt in your marinade. Perhaps you have a lactose intolerance, maybe you hate yogurt, or maybe you just simply have no yogurt at home and are looking for a substitute. The best substitutes for yogurt in marinades are sour cream, buttermilk, milk, cream cheese, cottage cheese, heavy cream, mayo, coconut paste or even nut based “yogurts”. 

Is it possible to Substitute Yogurt in Marinades? 

Luckily, yogurt is very easy to substitute in marinades. You have to think about what yogurt is doing for the marinade itself. Yogurt tenderizes the meat without adding too much flavor. Yogurt helps add lots of moisture, making the meat nice and juicy. When you are looking for a substitute, you will want to look for something that has a similar consistency and that will create the same tenderizing effect on the meat, while keeping the flavor mild. 

Substitutes For Yogurt in Marinades 

1. Sour Cream

Sour cream is among the most popular substitutes for yogurt in both marinades and in baking. Sour cream has practically the same texture as yogurt, the only difference is that you will get a little bit stronger flavor. The flavor of sour cream usually goes great with vegetables and meats and works perfectly for marinades. 

  • When the recipe calls for 1 cup of yogurt, use 1 cup of sour cream
  • Follow the 1:1 ratio 
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2. Buttermilk

Buttermilk is a very popular meat marinade. It has the same exact effect as yogurt with lots of meats and vegetables by holding in that moisture and making the meat nice and juicy. The flavor will remain mild, your marinade just won’t be as thick as it would with yogurt, but in a lot of marinade cases that’s totally fine. 

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  • When a recipe calls for 1 cup of yogurt, use 1 cup of buttermilk 
  • Follow the 1:1 ratio

3. Full Fat Milk

Milk is another easy substitute that many people usually have already in their kitchens. Always try to use full fat milk, as skim milks are far too thin. The thing that is different with milk is that the flavor will be much different because milk lacks that slight tang that everything above has. However, this is easily fixable.

  • Add a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to every 1 cup of milk to create a buttermilk flavor and add that tang to your milk
  • Use about ¼ of a cup less of milk than it calls for yogurt 

4. Cream Cheese

Cream cheese, while it’s slightly thicker than yogurt, will still work perfectly in marinades as you can whip it down. While cream cheese works a little better for yogurt substitutes in baking, it will still work wonderfully for a marinade substitute as well. The is much debate whether cream cheese or sour cream is overall a better choice, they are so similar in so many ways, there’s no harm in trying both at some time. 

  • Use about ¼ of a cup less of cream cheese than it calls for yogurt 
  • Example (For every 1 cup of yogurt, use ¾ of a cup of cream cheese instead) 
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5. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is not the most popular go to for marinades, however in a pinch it will work fine. Cottage cheese lacks the acidity that yogurt has, so it won’t make the meat as juicy as you’d like. However, it will still create low levels of moisture and it won’t change the flavor much at all. 

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  • For every 1 cup of yogurt, use 1 cup of cottage cheese
  • Follow the 1:1 ratio

6. Mayo

Mayo is sort of like cottage cheese in that it won’t necessarily bind to your meat very well in marinade, so you may lose some of that moisture that you are looking for. However, it is still a great option if you have nothing else.

  • For every 1 cup of yogurt, use 1 cup of mayonnaise 
  • Follow the 1:1 ratio

7. Coconut Paste

Coconut paste is a great dairy free alternative. Make sure to use the paste rather than coconut milk because the milk is just a little too thin and you will lose some of the moisture. One thing you do want to think about when using coconut paste is that your dish will taste a lot like coconut. Try going a route that welcomes the coconut flavor, like doing an Indian or Asian style dish. 

  • You can use either ½ a cup of 1 cup for every 1 cup of yogurt. It really depends on the dish and the flavor you are going for.
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8. Cashew and Almond Yogurt

Another excellent dairy free option is cashew or almond yogurt. It has the same consistency as regular yogurt and it has a very similar taste to cheese or sour cream, which as we know now is one of the best substitutes for yogurt in marinades. 

  • For every 1 cup of yogurt, use 1 cup of cashew or almond yogurt 
  • Follow the 1:1 ratio
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In conclusion, you don’t necessarily need to use yogurt if the marinade recipe calls for it. There are a good number of substitutes that you can use to replace yogurt. Each substitute has its own unique addition to any marinade dish and you will be happily surprised with the results.