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Worried that making your homemade yogurt is gonna be too much work? It’s actually whey easier than you think — and it can be more delicious and less expensive than the store-bought stuff, too.
So, yogurt lovers, what are you waiting for? Let’s get cultured!
This recipe makes about 4 cups of plain, unsweetened yogurt.
What you’ll need
- A lidded pot
- A large stirring spoon
- A mixing bowl
- Candy thermometer (optional)
- 4 cups of whole or 2% milk
- 1/4 cup premade plain yogurt
Steps for making homemade yogurt
- In your pot, slowly bring milk to a low boil at 180°F (82°C), stirring regularly to keep it from scalding.
- Remove it from heat and allow it to cool until it’s very warm. If you have a thermometer handy, you want the milk to be around 110°F (43°C).
- In a mixing bowl, combine all of the premade plain yogurt with 1 cup of milk from the pot.
- Stir this mixture back in with the rest of the milk in the pot, and cover it with a lid.
- Incubate it (let it chill, undisturbed) in a warm spot in your home (or in a turned-off oven with the light on) in the covered pot for about 5 hours. To keep it warm, wrap it in towels.
- Transfer the yogurt to an airtight container and chill it in the fridge for a few hours. Then, it’s ready to eat!
Using a yogurt maker
If you have a yogurt maker, it’s only used for the incubation — so you’ll still need to complete steps 1 through 4. After that, you can siphon the mixture into the yogurt maker containers and let ‘er rip.
A yogurt maker might be a worthwhile investment for you if you fall in love with homemade yogurt. It’s a ready-to-go, perfectly temp-controlled incubation environment, and it usually comes with several yogurt cup-size containers that are great for work lunches.
They’re not super expensive and available on Amazon.
Using an Instant Pot or slow cooker
Using an Instant Pot for making yogurt is pretty handy because it serves as a one-stop shop for boiling the milk, cooling it, and incubating it. Some Instant Pots even have a yogurt button. Yogurta be kidding me.
Between Instant Pot models and other pressure cooker brands, how to make yogurt using the yogurt function can vary drastically. It’s best to consult your user manual (or the handy-dandy Internet) for instructions on making yogurt with your model.
You can also use a slow cooker for incubation. The key with the slow cooker is to allow it to get warm, then turn it off completely while keeping the lid on. That way you can incubate without slow cooking.
Your homemade yogurt should be stored in airtight containers in the fridge. Some separation may happen, but it’s no biggie — just mix it all back up before you eat it.
And hey, we know that making yogurt or anything that has to sit out for a while unrefrigerated can be a bit nerve-wracking (especially as a newbie), so here are a few guidelines to help you ensure that your yogurt is safe:
- Don’t let your yogurt incubate outside of the fridge for longer than 8 to 10 hours. In fact, smaller batches (like the recipe above) really should go in the fridge after 6 hours of incubation, tops.
- Make it in small batches that you know you can eat within a week.
- Throw out your yogurt if it smells weird, tastes sus, or has any visible growth on it.
Plain is great and the most versatile (it can be used in cooking as well as jazzed up for eating), but what about adding a little something extra? Here are all the deets:
How to make Greek and sweetened yogurts
- Greek yogurt. To make super-thick and creamy Greek yogurt, you’ll need your basic homemade yogurt and a cheesecloth. Secure cheesecloth over a bowl with a rubber band or place it over a mesh strainer. Scoop in the yogurt and allow it to sit. After an hour or 2, you’ll have thick, rich, creamy, Greek AF yogurt. This works with plant-based yogurt too!
- Sweetened yogurt. Making sweetened yogurt is as simple as adding a sweetener of choice to your yogurt after it incubates. Liquid sweeteners (like honey) and finely textured sweeteners (like powdered sugar or a zero-cal powdered sugar sub) do better than granulated sugar or sweeteners because they won’t be gritty.
- Vanilla yogurt. Add the vanilla (beans, extract, or vanilla bean paste) when you combine the yogurt or starter with the milk. Let your heart be your guide when it comes to how much vanilla, although one pod or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract is a fair bet for most people.
- Yogurt with fruit. Finely chopped fruit or fruit preserves can be folded into the yogurt after it’s finished incubating. Note: with the exception of preserves, adding fruit will decrease your yogurt’s shelf life bc the fruit will go bad faster than the yogurt will.
Like many things, the homemade version takes a bit more effort, but is super worth it.
The taste and quality are *chef’s kiss*
Homemade yogurt aficionados say the taste and texture are way better, with an end result that’s thicker, smoother, creamier, and richer tasting.
It saves you some moo-la
If you like to yogurt it up on the reg, making homemade yogurt is probably gonna work out to be cheaper for you. For the price of 1 gallon of milk and 1 cup of premade yogurt (so, let’s say about $5), you can make A GALLON of yogurt — that’s 16 cups!
Even if you caught a killer sale and paid $0.50 per cup of store-bought yogurt, you’re still coming out ahead by making your own at home.
But then again, time is $$$. The only one who can decide if the time investment is worth the cost savings is you.
Can you make yogurt with plant-based milk?
Of course!! Just replace the milk with your fave plant-based version, and replace the yogurt with a plant-based yogurt. You’ll also need to add a little bit of sugar to feed the bacteria, since there’s no milk sugar present for them to feast on.
Your homemade plant-based yogurt will probably be significantly thinner than the store-bought stuff, which contains thickeners to give it more of that dairy yogurt texture.
But still, there are tons of recipes online that utilize natural thickeners, like tapioca starch or agar-agar.
How do you make yogurt starter?
In the recipe above, you’d simply replace the premade yogurt with the powdered contents of one probiotic capsule.
Look for one that contains only the powdered probiotics — no extra ingredients that may interfere with your yojo. Refrigerated versions are more likely to be alive and kickin’ than the ones that can be stored at room temp, so they might result in a better yogurt.
Alternatively you can purchase powdered yogurt starter and use that instead. One benefit it provides is that you won’t have to worry if it contains the right strains to make your yogurt thicc.
If you use powdered yogurt starter, check the instructions for how much you need for 4 cups of milk — as it can vary slightly between brands.
Becoming a maker of fine artisan yogurt is surprisingly easy, and you don’t need any special equipment to do it. Plus, homemade yogurt lovers agree that homemade yogurt has a better taste and texture than store bought yogurt — and you get more control over the ingredients, sugar content, and cost.