How To Make Yogurt

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How to make yogurt at home with just two ingredients and a simple step-by-step process. Homemade yogurt is creamy, and luxurious, and can be made as regular yogurt or thick Greek yogurt!

A bowl with homemade natural yogurt

Even several years on, how to make homemade yogurt remains one of my favorite simple homemade “hacks.” It’s easy to prepare and affordable. Plus it requires just two ingredients (yay, no chemicals, no preservatives, and no added sugar!) and minimal prep time and effort.

Best of all, it’s super versatile. And it can be made with as little as a saucepan and blanket or even in an Instant Pot or slow cooker. Once you’ve made your first batch, you can also use it as a “starter” for your next one. This means you’ll rarely run out of yogurt again!

And if the plentiful Google searches for youghert, yougart, youfurt, yougurt, yoghurt, and yogurt, are anything to go by, everyone is as obsessed with this ingredient as I am! (And thank goodness for Google autocorrect!)

A bowl with homemade natural yogurt

Is Yogurt Good For You?

Plain yogurt is high in protein, calcium, and several other vitamins (including B vitamins) and minerals (such as phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium). Plus, it contains an abundance of probiotics/live cultures which have great health benefits.

More research links gut health to our overall health and well-being. So it’s no surprise that we’re turning towards healthy gut-friendly probiotic foods to keep our bodies happy and boost our immune systems.

Is Yogurt a Probiotic?

Yes, but no worries if you’re wondering what that even means. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that we consider “friendly”/”good” bacteria. When consumed (either in supplement form or food/drink), probiotics help improve and restore the balance of bacteria in our gut (“gut flora”). This, in turn, can improve gut health and immune health, reduce symptoms of IBS, and potentially even impact heart health and mental health.

Yogurt is one of the best natural sources of probiotics, made by fermenting milk with friendly bacteria such as lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria. However, not all commercial options contain live bacteria, depending on the processes used to prepare and/or flavor it. However, by learning how to make yogurt at home, you can ensure a healthy yoghurt made with active or live cultures every time. Your gut will thank you.

There are several popular sources of probiotics, including kefir, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kombucha, and pickled foods!

Greek Yogurt Vs Regular Yogurt

Following the homemade yogurt recipe below, you can choose to prepare either regular yogurt or Greek yogurt with a simple method tweak.

Generally, your homemade yogurt results will vary depending on the starter you use and the fermentation duration and process. However, the actual difference between the type of yogurt – regular vs Greek yogurt (called this way in Greece, America, and the UK, but this thick yogurt comes under many names globally) – is much simpler. The latter is simply a thicker, strained version of the former.

After fermenting the DIY yogurt, leave it to strain naturally to remove excess liquid whey and create a thick Greek yogurt. Continue to strain it even further, and you’ll eventually end up with homemade Labneh.

Straining makes for a higher protein yoghurt. However, it also rids the yoghurt of lactose, the primary carbs source. Therefore, Greek yogurt is your best option if you’re following a low-carb/keto diet.

What Is Yogurt Made Of?

This sugar-free homemade yogurt recipe requires just two yogurt ingredients:

  • Milk: I recommend using full-fat milk (whole milk) for the creamiest results. Though 2% or skim should work but will yield thinner results. It doesn’t need to be pasteurized as we’ll be heating it ourselves (refer to the FAQs regarding using raw milk). Avoid UHT milk/ultra-pasteurized milk as it isn’t suitable for fermenting.
  • A “starter”: In this case, you have two options:
    • Probiotic capsules OR a “yogurt starter” pack,
    • Plain full-fat yogurt (store-bought yogurt labeled as containing live/active cultures).
Ingredients for homemade yogurt

You’ll also need non-reactive tools like wooden (not metal) spoons, sterilized jars, a saucepan, and an instant-read thermometer or candy thermometer.

If you plan to continue making it over a long period, it may be worth picking up an “heirloom yogurt starter.” Unlike the methods above, this is said to yield unlimited batches of yogurt without weakening over time.

What Is Yogurt Starter and How Does It Work?

A “starter” is required in most recipes where fermentation is key (such as sourdough, kombucha, etc.). It is a blend of friendly bacteria needed to transform your ingredients. In this case, we need it to convert the lactose in the milk to lactic acid. This thickens and transforms the milk into yogurt.

When making yogurt, you can either use probiotic capsules or a “yogurt starter” pack. Alternatively, for an even easier and more accessible option, you can use a few spoonfuls of pre-fermented yogurt (MUST contain live/active cultures!).

Yogurt starters

Once you’ve prepared your first batch of probiotic yogurt, you can save a few spoonfuls to use as the starter for your next batch. Continue to do this until the starter “weakens” and then start from scratch again with a new “starter” – simple!

How to Make Yogurt From Scratch?

Making yogurt at home requires just a few steps.

Step 1: Prepare the Milk Mixture

First, sterilize the equipment (refer to the FAQs for method), including wooden spoons, a saucepan, and jars. This ensures there are no competing bacteria on your tools that can affect the fermentation process.

Then, add the milk to your saucepan. Heat the milk over medium heat until it reaches 175-185ºF/80-85ºC. Stir the milk occassionally.

If you don’t have a thermometer, switch off the heat right before the milk boils, when small bubbles start to form.

Set it aside to cool to 105-115ºF/40-45ºC. This is the optimal temperature for yogurt making that is great for fermentation without killing the starter.

Steps for heating and cooling milk

Or until you can dip your pinkie into the warm milk for 7 seconds before it hurts. Be careful with this method, though, to avoid burning yourself. It’s necessary to cool the milk, so the live yogurt cultures aren’t killed, so don’t rush this process.

Once cooled, combine the yogurt starter or probiotic starter culture with ½ cup of warm milk. Stir it well. Then add that back into the milk mixture. This will temper the starter and help avoid lumps.

Mixing yogurt starter into milk

Transfer the milk mixture to a sterilized glass jar/s.

Step 2: Leave the Yogurt to Ferment

To ferment correctly, the milk mixture needs to be incubated. There are several ways you can do this:

  • Wrap the jar/s in a warm tea towel or blanket. Keep them in a draft-free, warm place in the kitchen for 6-12 hours.
  • Do the above and store them in a switched-off oven. Leaving the oven light on will add low residual heat that helps the process.
  • Add the cultured milk to your Instant Pot and press the YOGURT button. If it doesn’t display “8:00”, use the + button to set the time. This means it will incubate for 8 hours before auto-switching off.
    Check on it after 4-5 hours up to 12 hours until it’s ready (note the timer counts up rather than down). Allow it to cool at room temperature before transferring it to the fridge.
  • To use a slow cooker, add the milk to the slow cooker and heat it on HIGH until it reaches the correct temperature. Then, let it drop off to the lower temperature (2-3 hours). Then, combine a cup of the warm milk with your starter before pouring it back into the slow cooker.
    Next, add the lid to the slow cooker. Wrap it in a big towel or blanket and leave it to incubate for 8-12 hours, undisturbed.
  • If you have a yogurt maker, refer to the instructions that come with it.
Wrapping a jar with milk in a towel

When ready, the yoghurt should have thickened and will be jiggly. Note that the longer you leave the yogurt to ferment, the tangier it will taste.

Once the incubation period is over, transfer it to the fridge. Allow it to set for a further 12-24 hours for a thicker plain yogurt. Finally, pour off any whey that may be sitting on the top and enjoy!

Step 3: Strain the Yogurt (Optional)

This step is optional. Proceed with it if you want to learn how to make Greek yogurt.

Instead of transferring it to the fridge as written above, transfer the yoghurt to a nut milk bag, muslin cloth, or several layers of cheesecloth.

Hand that above a bowl (i.e., from your sink faucet, a kitchen cabinet, or by placing it in the rim of a large jar). Leave it to strain to your desired thickness. I recommend assessing it at 3-4 hours, leaving it for longer if desired.

Straining yogurt

There’s no need to discard the strained whey. This is packed with protein and can be used in smoothies, added to baked goods, soups, stocks, stews, etc.

Once ready, transfer the homemade Greek yoghurt to a sterilized glass jar and place it in the fridge.

Can You Freeze Yogurt?

Absolutely. You can freeze the homemade yoghurt for up to a month. But also the thawed frozen yogurt will still work as a starter for your next batch if needed.

A spoonful of homemade yogurt

FAQs

Can I use raw milk to make yogurt?

Yes, and no. Technically, it’s fine to use raw and unpasteurized milk to make homemade yogurt. However, raw milk contains bacteria too that may compete with our “starter” and affect the fermentation process, yielding a thinner yoghurt.
Raw milk isn’t homogenized and so can cause the mixture to separate into layers. This is fine to eat and can be mixed back into the yogurt. But some people don’t like how this looks.

How do you make yogurt with non-dairy milk?

It is possible to make homemade non-dairy yogurt at home. For inspiration, refer to my homemade yogurt recipes for coconut milk, almond milk, and soy milk yogurt!

How to sterilize the jars and equipment?

Preheat the oven to 325ºF/160ºC. Wash everything in hot soapy water, rinsing it well. Then place the jars, with no rubber, plastic, or otherwise non-heatproof elements, onto a clean oven tray.
Heat for 10-15 minutes until completely dry. Wooden spoons can be left to dry out of the oven.
Alternatively, you can boil everything in hot water for 10 minutes.

More Easy DIYs for Dairy Foods

If you try this homemade natural yogurt recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!

How To Make Yogurt

4.98 from 38 votes
By: Samira
How to make yogurt at home with just two ingredients and a simple step-by-step process. Homemade yogurt is creamy, and luxurious, and can be made as regular yogurt or thick Greek yogurt!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 6 hours 40 minutes
Servings: 8 servings

Equipment

Ingredients 
 

  • 8 cups milk avoid UHT/ultra-pasteurized milk; full fat milk is best, but 2% or skim works too
  • 2 packet powder yogurt starter or 1/2 cup plain yogurt (labeled as containing live/active cultures)

Instructions 

Step 1: Prepare the Milk Mixture

  • Sterilize the equipment, including wooden spoons, a saucepan, and jars. Refer to the FAQs for the method.
  • Add the milk to your saucepan and heat it over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 175-185ºF/80-85ºC.
    If you don't have a thermometer, switch off the heat right before the milk boils, when small bubbles start to form.
  • Set it aside to cool to 105-115ºF/40-45ºC. This is the optimal temperature for yogurt making that is great for fermentation without killing the starter.
    Or until you can dip your pinkie into the warm milk for 7 seconds before it hurts. Be careful with this method, though, to avoid burning yourself. It's necessary to cool the milk, so the live yogurt cultures aren't killed, so don’t rush this process.
  • Once cooled, combine the yogurt starter or probiotic starter culture with ½ cup of the warm milk and stir it well. Then add that back into the milk mixture. This will temper the starter and help avoid lumps.
  • Transfer the yogurt milk mixture to sterilized glass jar/s.

Step 2: Leave the Yogurt to Ferment

  • To ferment correctly, the milk mixture needs to be incubated. There are several ways you can do this::
    • Wrap the jar/s in a warm tea towel or blanket and keep them in a draft-free, warm place in the kitchen for 6-12 hours.
    • Do the above and store them in a switched-off oven. Leaving the oven light on will add low residual heat that helps the process.
    • Add the cultured milk to your Instant Pot and press the YOGURT button. If it doesn't read at "8:00", use the + button until it does (this means it will incubate the yogurt for 8 hours before auto-switching off). Check on it after 4-5 hours up to 12 hours until it's ready (note the timer counts up rather than down). Allow it to cool at room temperature before transferring it to the fridge.
    If you plan to use an Instant Pot and a powdered starter, select a started that incubates at 110ºF/43ºC. Starters that require lower temperatures won't work for Instant Pot yogurt. 
    • To use a slow cooker for making yogurt, add the milk to the slow cooker and heat it on HIGH until it reaches the correct temperature. Then, let it drop off to the lower temperature (2-3 hours). Then, combine a cup of the warm milk with your starter before pouring it back into the slow cooker. Next, add the lid to the slow cooker, wrap it in a big towel or blanket and leave it to incubate for 8-12 hours, undisturbed.
    • If you have a yogurt maker, refer to the instructions that come with it.
  • When ready, the yogurt should have thickened and will be jiggly. Note that the longer you leave the yogurt to ferment, the tangier it will taste.
    Once the incubation period is over, transfer it to the fridge to set for a further 12-24 hours for a thicker plain yogurt. Finally, pour off any whey that may be sitting on the top and enjoy!

Step 3: Strain the Yogurt (Optional to Make Greek Yogurt)

  • Instead of transferring it to the fridge as written above, transfer the yogurt to a nut milk bag, muslin cloth, or several layers of cheesecloth.
  • Hand that above a bowl (i.e., from your sink faucet, a kitchen cabinet, or by placing it in the rim of a large jar) and leave it to strain to your desired thickness. I recommend assessing it at 3-4 hours, leaving it for longer if desired.
    There's no need to discard the strained whey. This is packed with protein and can be used in smoothies, added to baked goods, soups, stocks, stews, etc.
  • Once ready, transfer the homemade Greek-style yogurt to a sterilized glass jar and place it in the fridge.

Storage Instructions

  • Homemade plain yogurt will last between 1-2 weeks in the fridge. For maximum shelf life, always use clean utensils in the container. Even better, store it in several smaller airtight jars.
    If you add any flavorings, the shelf life will reduce. For example, fruit purees make it best eaten within 3-4 days, stored in the refrigerator.
    Remember to set aside a few spoonfuls (1/2 cup) of the previous batch as a starter for your next batch.

Video

Notes

  • Avoid UHT/ultra-pasteurized milk: It isn’t suitable for fermenting and usually won’t yield great results. For the best yogurt, use pasteurized milk instead.
  • Results will vary: Depending on the culture/starter used, fermentation process and duration, milk used, etc.
  • For a creamier yogurt: Making yogurt with some half and half or cream in with the milk makes for creamier results.
  • For a keto yogurt: Use a 1:1 ratio of heavy cream and sour cream with your culture for a yogurt that’s lower in carbs and higher in fat.
  • For flavored yogurt: Wait until you’ve fermented the yogurt before adding any flavorings. I like to blend fruit into purees to mix into the yogurt for simple and delicious homemade fruity yogurts.
  • If it is slightly lumpy: Just mix/whisk it well before serving! If it’s gritty, you may have incubated it too long, so try it with less time next time (check after 4 hours).
How to serve homemade yogurt? There are tons of ways to enjoy plain yogurt. Here are just a few of the top ways I enjoy it:
 
Check the blog post for more tips and answers to top FAQs!
Course: Dessert, DIYs, Side
Cuisine: American, Global
Freezer friendly: 1 Month
Shelf life: 1-2 Weeks

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup, Calories: 120kcal, Carbohydrates: 11g, Protein: 8g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 19mg, Sodium: 113mg, Potassium: 335mg, Sugar: 12g, Vitamin A: 244IU, Vitamin C: 0.5mg, Calcium: 287mg, Iron: 0.05mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

4.98 from 38 votes (37 ratings without comment)

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14 Comments

  1. Rivka Elhyani says:

    Hi
    I’ve been making plain yogurt for years but really learned a lot from your post.
    How do you make flavored yogurt?
    Add stuff to the plain?
    It’s for one of my kids that really wants the sweetie store-bought stuff, and I’m trying to make a homemade version that he’ll accept.

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Hi Rivka,
      Thank you for asking! The possibilities are endless…
      You can use plain yogurt with a sweetener of your choice (eg. honey) and perhaps vanilla extract as the base and then blend any fruit of your choice (eg. banana/berries or mango) and mix it into the yogurt. You can also mix in cocoa powder and cinnamon or add chia seeds. You can then keep your flavored yogurt refrigerated for up to 5 days.

      I hope this answers your question. I will try to add a blog post with more suggestions soon! 🙂

  2. Nihan says:

    Hi Samira! Do you collect the layer that forms when it gets colder, on the milk before mixing the starter?

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Hi Nihan,
      Sorry for the late answer. You don’t have to remove it – it’s just the cream. But you can if wanted.

  3. Hafsat says:

    Hello samira! Can i use powdered milk?

    1. Samira @ Alphafoodie says:

      Hi, yes you can, I will be making a DIY on my instagram stories very soon.

  4. Ny says:

    5 stars
    Hi Samira,

    so you think I could use sheep or goat milk instead too?

    Thanks for your great DIYs!

    Best
    Ny

    1. AlphaFoodie says:

      I haven’t tried using either but I would imagine so 🙂 Let me know how it goes

  5. Angelica says:

    Do you strain it to make green yogurt?

    1. AlphaFoodie says:

      the more you strain it, the thicker it will become. So yes, you’ll end up with a lovely thick Greek yogurt style yogurt eventually 🙂

      1. Hanifi says:

        I am a master of strained yogurt

      2. Samira @ Alphafoodie says:

        Great to hear :). I loved strained yogurt!

  6. Lana says:

    Hello, can I make yogurt from pasteurized milk?
    Thanks

    1. AlphaFoodie says:

      Hi Lana, of course you can! I do it all the time. When I am lucky to be able to go to the farmers market, I buy the non-pasteruised milk for making yogurt, but all other days I just use store bought pasteurised milk (I added new video at the top of this post) with all the tips that work for me to make the perfect yogurt every single time :).