Enjoy creamy, thick, nutrient rich yogurt at home with these two simple recipes to make homemade yogurt — no special tools or skills required!
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How Can I Make Yogurt at Home?
Easy. Delicious. Gut healing.
These are the words I would use to describe making homemade yogurt.
The amount of hands-on time it takes to make yogurt is practically nothing. It has a smoother, creamier taste without the sour twang that store bought yogurt usually has. And don’t even get me started on the benefits that homemade fermented foods can have on your gut.
My husband has always been a lover of dairy. Cheese. Milk. Ice cream. Yogurt. I’d often go to the grocery store and grab a variety of dairy products for him. Vanilla yogurt being his favorite treat. But when I started learning about some of the junk they put into commercial yogurt, I wasn’t so keen on purchasing it anymore.
I knew you could make yogurt at home but where should I start? There seemed to be countless ways to make homemade yogurt, including in an instant pot. It wasn’t until I purchased The Prairie Homestead cookbook that I learned how quick and simple making yogurt really is.
You didn’t need special tools or supplies to make yogurt.
All you need is some milk (preferably local if you have access), yogurt starter culture and a warm place to begin the fermentation process.
I must admit the first time I made yogurt, I was a little nervous. Leaving dairy out on the counter for hours is so very much against what we’ve been taught. Dairy must be refrigerated! But as I learned more, in order for yogurt to be created, you needed to leave the dairy in a warm environment for all of that beneficial gut loving bacteria to grow.
After trying a few different recipes, my Mom and I settled on two favorites – making yogurt in a cooler and creating yogurt in an oven. Both have their benefits.
Version 1 is great if you plan to leave the house and don’t have time to “babysit” the yogurt during the day. It’s also an excellent choice if your oven is already in use but you need a warm environment to ferment your yogurt.
Version 2 takes significantly less time to make your yogurt than version 1. It also uses less tools which means less mess to clean up.
Whichever version you make, they will both be delicious, thick and healthy.
5 Benefits of Homemade Yogurt
- Great source of probiotics to help your digestive system
- High in protein
- No sugar, fillers or additives
- Inexpensive to make
- Rich in the nutrients your body needs
What is a Yogurt Starter?
To create yogurt at home, you need a starter culture which is a blend of different bacteria that consume the lactose in a dairy product, transforming the milk into creamy, tangy yogurt. Yogurt starter can come in the form of a freeze-dried yogurt culture or you can use a high quality yogurt with live cultures such as Fage Total 5% Milk Fat Yogurt.
What is the Best Milk for Making Yogurt?
When making pasteurized yogurt at home, pasteurized cows milk works best to create a thick, tangy yogurt. Milk with any fat content will work, although I prefer to use whole milk to create yogurt in our home. This is primarily due to the health benefits and the ability for whole milk to make a thicker yogurt than when using a reduced-fat milk. 100% lactose-free milk and ultra-pasteurized milk are not suitable for culturing since both types have a insufficient amount of food to keep the bacteria happy.
The yogurt recipes below are not intended for non-dairy yogurt. Check out these non-dairy yogurt recipes if you’d prefer to use coconut milk or nut milk.
How Long Does Homemade Yogurt Last?
When refrigerated homemade yogurt typically last for 2 weeks but we have consumed it at 4 weeks and it still tastes delicious. As the yogurt ages you may see the whey separate and sit on top of the yogurt. This is normal and harmless. You can eat the whey if you’d like or simply strain it off.
What Can I Add to Yogurt to Flavor It?
To flavor your yogurt, you can add sweeteners such as agave or honey. You can add vanilla extract, granola, nuts, fresh fruit, fruit syrup or jelly.
Yogurt Making Supplies
To make yogurt at home, you will need a milk, a starter culture and a stainless steel pot. Here are a few additional tools you may consider when making homemade yogurt.
- Quart size glass jars
- Liquid measuring cup
- Yogurt maker / Instant Pot / warm spot in your home to culture your yogurt such as your oven
2 Easy Ways to Make Homemade Yogurt
Homemade Yogurt Recipe
8 cups whole milk
1/2 cup of plain yogurt with live, active cultures (such as Fage Total)
Large glass bowl
Large measuring cup
Similar to version one, you will want to begin with filling a stockpot with whole milk. Gently, simmer the milk over medium low heat until the milk reaches 180° F.
Pour the warmed milk into a large glass bowl. Cool the milk to 110° F. To speed up the cooling time, you can stick the bowl in the fridge, testing the temperature every 15 minutes or so.
While the milk is cooling, turn the light on in your oven to begin creating a warm environment for your yogurt to incubate in.
Once the milk has cooled, add 1/2 cup of yogurt to the bowl. Stir gently to combine the milk and yogurt. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in your oven. Do not turn the oven on.
Fill a large measuring cup with hot water (120° F) and position next to your bowl of yogurt inside the oven with the door closed. Allow to yogurt to incubate for 5-7 hours.
Chill the yogurt in your fridge for 18-24 hours before serving. The yogurt should last for 2 weeks. Serve your yogurt with your favorite toppings.
How to Make Mason Jar Yogurt
7 2/3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup of plain yogurt with live, active cultures
2 quart-sized mason jars
2 Stock pots
Large measuring cup
Small plastic cooler
Before you begin, make sure you clean and sterilize your mason jars in a dishwasher. Next, fill a medium to large stock pot with the whole milk. Simmer the milk over medium low heat until the milk reaches 180° F.
To speed up the cooling time, transfer the warm milk to a large measuring cup. Allow the milk to cool to 110° F. You can leave the container on the counter to cool or stick it in the fridge to accelerate the cooling — but don’t forget it’s in there! It’s very easy to do.
While the milk is cooling, fill a stockpot with water and bring to a boil. Turn off stove burner. We will be using this water to incubate the yogurt.
Add 1/4 cup of yogurt to each canning jar. Once the milk has reached 110° F, fill the jars with the milk, leaving about an inch or two of space at the top of the jar. Stir gently and cap the jars.
Place the jars in the cooler. Carefully pour the hot water over the jars (the water should be a minimum of 120° F). Incubate the yogurt for 10-12 hours. The longer the yogurt incubates, the tangier it will be.
Chill the yogurt in your fridge for 18-24 hours before serving. Top your yogurt with jam, granola or fresh fresh.
Yogurt Making Tips
Always make sure your jars are clean. Sterilizing them in the dishwasher is best before you start.
When incubating the yogurt, the temperature should stay around 110° F. This helps grow the good bacteria to create the yogurt.
You can use this yogurt as a great base for homemade frozen yogurt, popsicles or smoothies.