How to Make Homemade Yogurt

Yogurt has become so synonymous with our daily lives. But who would ever think of making it at home, right? Well, for those who may think this, you’re at the right place because this recipe is exactly for you. Right now, yogurt is having a moment. It’s in every commercial, you can buy it in almost every flavor, and it’s made with every kind of milk possible (or no milk at all).

For me, when an item becomes so easy to buy, it also becomes easy to forget about the overall cost of buying it. I throw a few yogurt containers into my shopping cart each trip and pretty soon, it’s hundreds of dollars for the year.

Spoon with big dollop of homemade yogurt on it with glass yogurt container in background on wood board

I also tend to forget to look at each yogurt brand’s ingredients to see exactly what’s going into it. But not with yogurt you make yourself! Homemade yogurt is simple to make: just three ingredients and a bit of time.

What is yogurt?

First, we need to understand what yogurt actually is. In its most basic form, yogurt is a combination of two things: milk and live active cultures.

Ingredient one: milk

It may be obvious, but the main ingredient is milk. Since there are multiple types of milk on the market, here’s one thing to remember: the percentage of fat in the milk determines the type of yogurt you’ll make.

Whole milk will create whole milk yogurt and skim milk will create skim yogurt. I know, pretty elementary, but I thought it was worth stating just in case.

High-quality milk is important because it determines how the yogurt will taste. Make sure to buy organic milk. Yes, it’s more expensive but aren’t our bodies worth it?

Ingredient two: active cultures

To make yogurt, you need active cultures. These bacteria are what work during the heating process to ultimately create the yogurt. You can buy dry, active cultures in powdered form in many health food stores, or purchase your favorite good-quality yogurt and use that as the culture.

Not sure which good-quality yogurt to choose? Real yogurts should always have active cultures in them. Just flip to the back of the yogurt container and look for “live active cultures.”

Top down view of yogurt container filled with yogurt with spoon in middle all on wood board

Here’s how you make homemade yogurt:

Start by heating the milk to 180-185 degrees Fahrenheit. Getting to this exact temperature is very important for achieving that creamy yogurt texture, so a good thermometer is essential. It’s a whole science thing that I can’t say I really delve into too much but is definitely needed.

Then the milk needs to cool down. If the active cultures are added when the milk is hot, the bacteria will be killed and no yogurt will form. That would be a sad day!

Once cooled down, the cultures are added. At this point, I like to add dry milk powder. Milk powder makes the final yogurt thicker and smooth, just like I like it.

After it’s all stirred together, you just keep it warm (I use my oven) and let the bacteria do their thing. The time the yogurt sits creates the flavor it will have, so let it sit from 4 to 8 hours. The longer the time, the tangier the yogurt will be.

Here’s my recommendation:

If you haven’t made homemade yogurt before, start with 5 hours so the flavor doesn’t overwhelm you. Then you can adjust further batches to your liking.

Top down view of homemade yogurt topped with peach preserves and blackberries in glass container sitting on wood board

Regular or Greek?

The big buzz words in the yogurt world are 1) Greek and 2) regular. What you may find surprising is that there’s really no difference between these two other than how long they’re strained. Simple, right?

After the yogurt has fermented, it’s strained in a cheesecloth. The longer you strain the yogurt, the thicker it will become, just like the Greek yogurt we buy. If you strain it for a shorter amount of time, the yogurt will be on the thinner side, like regular yogurt.

How long does homemade yogurt last?

Once made, the yogurt will last at least two weeks in the refrigerator. Make sure to store it in an airtight container for maximum shelf life.

Top down view of yogurt in glass container with no toppings sitting on wood board with towel in corner

How else can I use yogurt?

Plain yogurt has so many uses. I love to dollop it on stews, soups, and use as a sour cream substitute. Honestly, I love it with anything savory. But when it comes to breakfast, it has to have some flavor in it. You can do this any way you want, but here are a few of my favorites:

  • Top with your favorite jam, jelly, or preserves
  • Stir in fresh fruit and drizzle with honey
  • Mix in honey and vanilla extract for a sweet yogurt
  • Top with granola and stir in some honey for good measure (my personal favorite!)
  • Mix in some lemon curd for a citrusy twist

If you don’t eat all of the yogurt in one sitting (beware: you just might!), you can use this in many baking recipes. Here are my favorites where I use my own yogurt:

Bonus! I’ll often substitute yogurt for any recipe that calls for sour cream. Now that’s what I call versatile!

Watch how to make this homemade yogurt recipe:

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Top down view of homemade yogurt in glass bowl topped with jam and blackberries sitting on wood board with extra yogurt around

How to Make Homemade Yogurt

  • Author: Kaleb Wyse
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 hours
  • Yield: 4 cups 1x
  • Category: Mix-In’s
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

It’s super simple to make homemade yogurt right in your own kitchen! After making a batch or two, you’ll see why making your own is so much better!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 5 1/2 cups 2% milk
  • 3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt, room temperature (I prefer the Siggi’s (affiliate link) brand)

Instructions

  1. In a 4-quart kettle, heat the milk to 180-185 degrees Fahrenheit. Once at temperature, immediately remove the milk from the heat. Cool to 110-115 degrees Fahrenheit. To speed up the cooling, place the kettle in an ice water bath.
  2. When at 110-115 degrees Fahrenheit, whisk in dry milk and yogurt until smooth.
  3. Keep the mixture at 110-115 degrees Fahrenheit for 4-8 hours until thick with a slight tangy smell. To keep warm, turn on the oven to the lowest temperature setting. Once heated, turn the oven off and set the kettle in the oven with the lid on. Close the oven door and check the temperature of the yogurt every hour. If needed, heat the oven again and turn off.
  4. When the yogurt has fermented for the desired time, remove from the oven and pour in a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Strain 2-6 hours depending on the thickness desired.
  5. Once strained, place in an airtight container and enjoy.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/2 cup
  • Calories: 93
  • Sugar: 9.3g
  • Sodium: 86.8mg
  • Fat: 3.7g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.3g
  • Trans Fat: .1g
  • Carbohydrates: 8.9g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 6.1g
  • Cholesterol: 15mg

Keywords: brunch, yogurt

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