DIY Homemade Yogurt

I have to tell you that since moving to our tiny little town stuck in the Northern reaches of Minnesota, I’ve realized that if I don’t start getting in touch with the inner reaches of my resourceful soul (I swear, it’s in here somewhere), I’m going to be in big trouble. Mainly because I don’t have the same access to groceries and “things” that I used to have. Let’s face it – I was spoiled. Big time. And now my family is learning the true meaning behind the phrase “make it do or do without” or rather “make it ourselves or do without” in our food-loving case. I’m not saying we can’t buy stuff; we can. But I don’t have the luxury of seventeen flavors of organic, Greek yogurt staring me in the face at the store. Which brings me to this post. In fact, I’m so excited to share it with you that my fingers may or may not be shlowken…I mean, shaking.

In the last three months, I’ve made this DIY yogurt nearly weekly. I wanted to really have the method perfected before sharing it with you, and I can honestly say I am as sold on making this yogurt as a regular part of our lifestyle as I am making all of our bread, which was a huge leap for me when I first started over three years ago but now seems like second nature.

Once you get the hang of it, this yogurt is practically mindless. I have it down to a science. I know that by starting it by 3:00 or 4:00 in the afternoon, I’ll be ready to pop it in the oven for an overnight rest by 10:00 or 11:00 and it will be strained and devour-able by 2:00 the next afternoon. Besides taking the yogurt’s temperature (think of it as a beloved child you are nurturing) and moving it from point A to point B, this couldn’t be simpler.

When I initially tried it, I figured it would be kind of neat-o and novel to make my own yogurt. But I didn’t count on the absolute delicious, creaminess of this yogurt. In my opinion, it beats out any storebought yogurt I’ve ever had – Greek or regular. And if you live in the boonies like I do where grocery prices are a little bit inflated, it’s very cost efficient to make it yourself.

I’ve included a step-by-step tutorial along with the recipe. And I’ve added lots and lots of notes to the recipe in order to help you along (basically my finds after dozens of times making this) so please settle in and read through it all. It’s riveting and educational and it will make you smarter while changing your life. Ok, not really to any of those things, but seriously…get on the yogurt making bandwagon! You’ll definitely be the cool kid in town, no doubt about it, and I’ll be here to hold your hand through the journey. Promise.

DIY Homemade Yogurt

DIY Homemade Yogurt

Yield: Makes 6-8 cups of yogurt

DIY Homemade Yogurt

Note: I have not tried this recipe with skim milk so I don't know how/if it would work. I have made it consistently with 1% and it works great, so I'm sure 2% and above will work great, too (and probably be even creamier). The milk powder adds extra protein and I always use it and don't notice a strong taste to the yogurt but you could leave it out if you'd like. I use a 5-quart slow cooker. If you have a smaller (say, 4-quart), you may need to adjust the amount of milk. If you are only decreasing the amount of milk by a few cups, you can leave the other ingredient amounts the same. On the other hand, if you are using a large, 6-8 quart slow cooker, feel free to increase the milk and other ingredients accordingly. You can use 1/2 cup of the yogurt you make for a future starter, just be sure to reserve it out of the batch before mixing in fruit or add-ins. If you don't have a slow cooker, you can follow the basic instructions (temperature, etc.) using a saucepan on the stove. Just make sure to keep an eye on the temperature because it will heat much faster than a slow cooker (although it needs the same incubation period in the oven). I have this process down to a science now: if I start it at 4:00 p.m., I can put it in the oven to incubate overnight at around 10 or 10:30 p.m. and pull it out anywhere from 6-8 a.m. I have included a very simple, delicious fruit syrup recipe below the instructions that we use to stir into the yogurt. You could also stir in honey to lightly sweeten it. Remember this is plain yogurt unless you add something else to it, although the plain yogurt makes a great substitution for sour cream.

Second Note {Update on 2/21/2013}: After I posted this, many of you had great recommendations so the last few times I've made this, I've followed the general method except that I've heated the milk on the stovetop (I still prefer the slow cooker way for a no-brainer, no-scorching method but the stovetop is a bit quicker if you have time to babysit the milk) then after following the other steps of cooling, stirring in the yogurt culture, I portion the milk mixture into quart-size canning jars and add a lid and a ring. I've used the light-on-in-the-oven method to culture (still works great!) but I've also put the jars in a large cooler bag (one of those thermal cooler bags) and placed 3-4 quart-sized jars filled with really, really hot water that have lids and rings on them. I zip up the bag and let the warm yogurt mixture sit in there with the hot water and after 8-12 hours, the yogurt has cultured perfectly. Also, I've been making this with whole milk for my baby and I still strain it for a couple of hours otherwise it's too thin and runny. Phew! I think that's all the updates for now.

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon milk
  • 1/2 to 1 cup nonfat dry milk powder (optional)
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt with live and active cultures (look at the ingredient list to make sure it includes Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus)
  • Fruit syrup, if desired (recipe below)

Directions

  1. Pour one gallon of milk into a 5-quart slow cooker, leaving enough room for 1-2 cups more liquid. See the note above for adjustments if you are working with a larger or smaller slow cooker or pan. Whisk a cup or so of milk into 1/2 to 1 cup powdered milk until the mixture is smooth. The powdered milk is optional but adds protein and creaminess. Pour or strain the powdered milk mixture into the slow cooker. Cover the slow cooker and heat on low until the mixture reaches 180 degrees F (in my slow cooker, this takes about 2-3 hours, although each slow cooker will heat a bit differently). Remove the slow cooker insert and let the milk cool to between 112 and 120 degrees F. Too warm or too cool and the milk won't culture into yogurt. Without any stirring to help cool, it takes 1-2 hours for the milk to cool. Stirring will help the milk cool more quickly.
  2. Once the milk has cooled to that temperature range, measure out 1/2 cup plain yogurt (Greek or regular) in a small bowl and whisk in 1 or so cups of the warm milk into the yogurt. Whisk the yogurt/milk mixture into the warm milk. Now lay out a standard size bath towel and place the covered slow cooker in the center. Fold up each side until it makes a neat little towel wrapped package and the slow cooker is completely insulated. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Once the oven is fully preheated, turn it off. Turn the oven light on. This will help maintain the warmth of the oven while the yogurt cultures. Place the towel-wrapped slow cooker into the warm oven. Let the wrapped pot sit in the warm oven for 8-12 hours. The idea is to keep the milk/yogurt mixture in the 112-118 degree range for that period of time. It is what cultures the milk and turns it into yogurt.
  3. After 8 or so hours, remove the pot, take off the bath towel and take off the lid. The mixture should be very thick and set and it may have a layer of clear liquid on the top (whey). If it is still too liquidy, return it to the warm oven for a longer period of time. If you think your oven may not be holding warmth, you may need to preheat it to 250 degrees and then turn it off every couple of hours but usually just keeping the oven light on after preheating it once should do the trick.
  4. Once the milk has successfully cultured and turned to yogurt, line a colander or strainer with cheesecloth and set it over a large pot or bowl. Pour the yogurt into the strainer. It may be lumpy but as long as it's thick, it will strain just fine. Using lowfat milk will produce more whey and the yogurt will need more straining time; using whole milk will produce less whey and you may not even need to strain it at all. Place it in the refrigerator and let it drain for 4-6 hours. There will be quite a bit of whey in the pot or bowl. Discard this liquid. Scrape the yogurt off the cheesecloth into a bowl or other container. Whisk to recombine the yogurt. My yogurt, at this point, looks almost like cottage cheese and has little lumps no matter how much I whisk it, so I pour it into my blender and blend it for a few seconds (too long and it will become runny). The yogurt can be stored in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks. If you want to continue making yogurt like this, reserve 1/2 cup of the yogurt to use as a starter in your next batch.

Notes

If you are interested in adding fruit syrup, I use the following simple method. Simmer these ingredients for 5-7 minutes until thick: 2 cups fresh or frozen fruit, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 2 teaspoons lemon juice. You may need to increase or decrease the sugar accordingly. I find this makes the perfect amount for one batch of yogurt.

http://www.melskitchencafe.com/diy-homemade-yogurt/

Yogurt Inspiration: Taken from Annie’s Eats and Jillee, among many other sources and sites around the internet

Click HERE for a .pdf version of the step-by-step directions.

melskitchencafe.com: Step-by-step Homemade Yogurt

142 Responses to DIY Homemade Yogurt

  1. Kim in MD says:

    Are you reading my mind again, Mel? Just yesterday, after reading an article in a food magazine about homemade yogurt, I was searching the web for recipes. Seriously- and then this morning I see that you have posted this recipe! I am so excited that you have been making it (aka perfecting it!), so now I know the tried and true method! While it saddens me that you (being such a foodie), are so limited in the ingredients you can purchase in your new town, I am happy that you are finding creative ways to make your favorite foods despite your limited local resources! :-)

  2. Katie Rose says:

    I was just talking to my husband about making homemade yogurt to save some money (we eat LOTS of yogurt!) and he didn’t think it would be worth it but it looks like it will basically be the cost of 1 gallon of milk for an equal amount of yogurt (for plain, anyway) so I think I will try this! Thanks! About what temperature does your oven seem to stay at with the oven light on (say about 1/2 way through the process)? I ask because my oven light doesn’t work (it won’t stay on and comes on unexpectedly other times) but my utility room is basically a tiny little hole that is always really hot compared to the rest of the house. I wonder if I could make it in there?

  3. Renee says:

    Wow Mel! I am impressed. That seems like a lot of work for yogurt. I bet it is delicious though. I will do a lot more than most people for food prep. ( weighing ingredients, making most things homemade, etc. ) But homemade yogurt is something I never thought of. You might have just inspired me! :) homemade croissants were probably my most difficult but this looks doable. Thanks Mel!

  4. Mel says:

    Katie Rose – I don’t have an oven thermometer so I don’t know the exact temperature the oven stays, although from what I read online as I’ve gone through this process, the thought is that your oven should maintain right around the 250 preheated temperature (hence using the oven light to help it stay warm and not lose all the heat) to incubate the yogurt. Does that make sense? You could use any number of incubation methods as long as the yogurt stays between the 112-120 mark for the 8-10 hours. If your oven light isn’t working, you can preheat the oven to 250 degrees and then turn it off every few hours to keep it warm enough.

  5. Patricialynn says:

    Geez, Mel, are you reading my mind??? I JUST told my husband I’ve been craving yogurt and that I miss having it in our regular rotation. After I hung up the phone, I checked my FB wall and saw this new post – couldn’t have been more than five minutes after I’d mentioned my craving!

  6. Laurie says:

    This looks like a fail-proof method. I have tried a few different ones and this looks the easiest. I am excited to try it. How much yogurt are you left with after straining? I know you mentioned that there is more whey with 1% or 2 % milk. I have made yogurt with whole milk and even added heavy cream to it. It makes a decadent treat.

  7. Amanda Yoder says:

    I am questioning how much money this would save, if you factor in the electricity cost. Here I can get 32 oz of organic yogurt for $4 (less often with a coupon), but organic milk is $6+ a gallon, so even if I made my own, the $2 in savings is largely eaten up by electricity.

  8. Sara says:

    We’ve done this for about a year and love it! Slightly different method…we don’t put it in the oven, just wrap it twice (once with a big beach towel and then wrap a giant, fairly thick blanket around the whole thing) and we leave in on the counter, and in the morning it’s yogurt. The weird thing is, we recently got a new crockpot and it didn’t work in the new one (it turned out a little lumpy..?) I think it might get a little hotter than my old one did. I’d imagine if I do a little tweaking/monitor the temp I could get it to work in the new one. Love your clear, precise directions and photos. You rock!

  9. Trisha T says:

    Do you think you could use soy milk for this? My kids can’t have regular milk and I have been trying to figure something out for yogurt because they love it. Thanks so much for your website and all the time you put into it! :)

  10. Mel says:

    Homemade yogurt isn’t for everyone. It takes time and effort. If you read through the post before the recipe, you’ll note that the reason I have started to do this is because I live in a remote area of Northern Minnesota where yogurt, especially organic Greek, is very expensive. So for me, it is cost effective. Plus, there is a sense of total awesomeness and Pioneer-ish-ness when making your own yogurt (even though Pioneers didn’t have slow cookers or ovens, just go with it). Sometimes it’s not about saving money; in this case, it’s a twofold purpose for me: making something I can’t find easily and feeling a sense of accomplishment from making yet another food staple instead of buying it.

  11. Mel says:

    Trisha – I honestly don’t know. You’d have to experiment or google to see if anyone else has tried it.

  12. Nancy says:

    I’m confused, why drain it and blend it if, after it comes out of the oven, it’s already thick and creamy? Or is it because it’s not thick enough to be yogurt?

  13. Mel says:

    Nancy, it IS thick and creamy after it incubates in the oven, but if you were to discard the whey and stir it up, it would still be runnier than a thick, Greek-style yogurt. If that doesn’t bother you, then you could use it at that point but it’s too runny for me, which is why I like to strain it. After it strains, it’s lumpy like cottage cheese, so the quick blend in the blender helps smooth it out. I’m using 1% milk so those factors may change if you use a fuller-fat milk.

  14. Mel says:

    Nancy – I read on Jillee’s site that she uses whole milk and doesn’t strain it so using a lower fat milk is probably the reason for the straining time.

  15. Ada says:

    Thank you! I tried to make homemade yogurt a couple times last winter and was skunked both times. Thank you so much for this detailed tutorial. I’ll be giving it a whirl very soon!

  16. Sara says:

    Didn’t realize the lumps were normal, and hadn’t even thought to just put it in the blender to smooth it out. Duh moment.:)

  17. ErinNH says:

    Don’t throw out your whey! It is really easy to make ricotta with it. Or use it instead of buttermilk in baked goods.

  18. Amanda E says:

    To Amanda’s comment: You only save money this way. You can never buy yogurt for cheaper than you can make it yourself. I have done the math many times. Whether you buy organic milk, raw milk, or regular store bought, making your own yogurt is way cheaper! Even at $2 a quart you can’t beat the price of making it yourself. My opinion is that it also tastes better :). 4 qt.s of yogurt = 1 gallon of milk. A cheap gallon at Costco is $1.89, so you get your yogurt made at home for half the price of the store bought stuff that has more junk in it and doesn’t even taste as good. No electric waste really either… maybe a few cents… IT’s worth it :)

    Mel- I would call this true Greek yogurt. Regular yogurt doesn’t strain the whey (I don’t). Watching America’s Test Kitchen the other day, they said that was the only difference…. and to your credit… the American brands of Greek yogurt, not one of them actually strain the whey in their processing methods. They all cheat and use pectin.

    I do a couple things different but the only one that really matters is to keep mine simple… after heating the milk, I pour it out into quart size jars leaving room to add the yogurt culture to each container. Then I put all the jars into a large pot
    of warm water with the lid on and the water to the level of the yogurt in the jars. Place in the warm oven (heated to 170 then turned off)…. I don’t strain the whey. It rises to the top and I dump it out or use it for other things… Mine has never been lumpy this way. It’s very smooth and I love the fact that I can keep it easily stored. We do go through a lot of yogurt, but I like it this way!

    Love you stuff as always!

  19. Dawn says:

    Don’t throw away your whey, use it as the liquid the next time you make bread, yummy! Try making yogurt cheese, too, I’m hooked.
    Great instructions, by the way. Takes all the scary out of it!

  20. Judy says:

    I can’t use my oven light since it smells like it’s melting if I leave it on too long. My oven does have a cool dehydration feature that allows me to set the temp as low as 100 degrees. Would that do the trick for the 8 hour culturing period?

  21. Lisa says:

    I love this! I love when I can make something at home froml scratch instead of always having to rely on a store. Thank you for sharing this!

  22. Becky says:

    I make my yogurt a similar way, but there’s even less work – I usually make it in a smaller crock pot, but you’ll get the idea – 1/2 gallon milk in slow cooker. Cook on low for 3 hours. Turn off for 3 hours. After 3 hours stir in 1/2 c plain yogurt. Wrap up crock pot in blanket and let sit overnight. ( I usually start the whole process at about 3:00 in the afternon). In the morning put a cloth over strainer and pour in yogurt. Let sit for however long… Works great!

  23. Mel says:

    Great tips, Amanda E! All my quart jars are in storage but it may be worth digging them out to try it this way. I’d love to find an alternative to blending and maybe even straining. Thanks!

  24. Mel says:

    Judy – you’d have to experiment and see but if you could set it to 115 degrees, that should be perfect.

  25. Laura D says:

    Awesome!! I was surprised how easy this looks. Fantastic tutorial, Mel!

  26. Ang says:

    Thanks for the instructions! What brand of thermometer is that?

  27. Amanda E says:

    let me re-phrase you get you yogurt for 4 for the price of 1 that’s better than half ;)

  28. Vicky says:

    I’ve been making my own yogurt for a while using the method in Jennifer Reese’s book, Make the Bread, Buy the Butter (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1451605870/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=7682999557&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=12111526531630074376&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=e&ref=pd_sl_7d9801p7qr_e). It uses the stove instead of the crock pot, but I personally prefer it. The one time I made a crock pot yogurt I don’t think it cultured all the way. But your tried-and-true method looks like it’s worth a try, even just to compare.

    As someone else mentioned, don’t throw away the whey! It still has nutritional value. When I have some I use it in place of water when I make bread.

    Also, I got tired of buying and using cheesecloth, so I bought a pack of those white flour-sack style dish cloths from Target and I use them for all my straining needs. I just dampen one before using it to line the colander. Easy to wash and use again.

  29. Jen says:

    For those who commented about using the whey, do you have a good recipe for making ricotta cheese with it?

    I have never tried making my own yogurt, but have thought about it more and more recently. My daughter and I love yogurt (Greek in particular) but even on sale, a small container can cost $.50-$.75.

  30. Lesli Dustin says:

    Any experience making yogurt with milk substitutes?

  31. karen says:

    I know that Mel said she hasn’t tried this with nonfat milk, but has anyone else? I’d love to hear your results!

  32. Colleen says:

    My ancient oven doesn’t have a light. Could I just keep the oven on at 250 for the duration?

  33. Lisa says:

    I’ve been using this method for a couple years, but I don’t heat the milk up in the crock pot. I turn my crock pot on low while I use a stockpot on the stove to heat the milk to 176 degrees (the temperature milk is heated to for making yogurt commercially). This takes about 20 minutes. Then I put the stock pot into an ice bath in my kitchen sink for approximately 4 minutes, watching the temperature carefully to get it between 112 and 115. I then pour the milk into the crock pot and continue from there. It shortens the whole process by several hours. Love your pictures, Mel!

  34. Amy says:

    I second Jen’s question, would any of you that say you make ricotta cheese please pass along the recipe you use?

  35. Emily says:

    Wow! I’m excited. I think my life might change forever once I give this a shot!

  36. Oh, Mel! I’ve been wanting to try making my own yogurt, but I needed very clear instructions from someone like you! Thanks :)

  37. Mel says:

    To all those wondering about milk substitutes – someone left a comment on my Facebook post saying that yogurt can be made with soy milk, rice milk, coconut milk, etc. I have NOT tried it, but apparently others have. Good luck!

  38. Nita says:

    wow this post makes it look so simple. I’m going to give it a try this weekend. My kids and I love greek yogurt but in NYC I pay about $2.00 for a single serving cup. It really adds up when you are buying yogurt for 6 people.

  39. Oddree says:

    Hi Mel! I never comment but have been a reader for the past year. I love your blog! I just had to comment today because I noticed that you also have the small piggy whisk, the cutest! =)

  40. tj says:

    …Now pinning! :o)

    …Thank you so much for this! Great tutorial and again, thank you, as I know this was no small feat.

    …Enjoy your day!

    …Blessings. :o)

  41. Pat Corcoran says:

    This yogurt information looks very interesting. I will have to try it on a weekend.
    I also wanted to comment that I have been hoping to try the Spaghetti Pie recipe sooner rather than later. But oh baby, is it ever good. Thanks for all you do.
    Pat

  42. tsmith says:

    Make sure the yogurt you are using for your starter contains live and active cultures. Check the packaging, not all yogurt does. I also add a package of unflavored gelatin to the milk after it has been heated to 180. It makes a nice thick yogurt without straining. If I am in a hurry, I heat the milk on the stove and then set the pot in the sink with a little bit of water for a quick cool down before I add the yogurt starter.

  43. Leigh Anne says:

    Awesome Mel! I have been wanting to make my own Greek yogurt cuz I too am in the same rural boat as you….just warmer in Texas….haha! Since this is Greek yogurt, does it have the same high-protein content as the store bought? I use it in my morning smoothies to help me feel full longer. And it helps to keep my kids full too, which is hard to do! My local store only carries sugar-filled yoplait, so when we go to the big city I buy some plain Greek. But now, I am gonna make my own! You make it look so easy! Thx!

  44. Mel says:

    tsmith – good point! I forgot to add that in the instructions, so I’ll edit because that is very important that the yogurt starter have active, live cultures.

    Leigh Anne – adding the nonfat dry milk significantly increases the protein content in the yogurt.

  45. Janette says:

    Hi Mel, thanks for this great recipe. I always enjoy your site. Just wondering how long homemade yogurt is typically good for? I know you have a large family, so it might not “last” very long in your house, :) but maybe someone else could chime in?

    Thanks!

  46. kate C. says:

    This was actually my last post on my food recipe blog. We’ve been making it at least weekly (2x a week for a while) since the beginning of summer.

    A couple things: 1- even with whole milk the finished yogurt is less sour and more creamy if you strain it. We always do and use the whey for pancakes – yum! 2 – we heat our milk to 195 deg F for 10 min, before cooling the milk down. 3- use only a teaspoon or two of yogurt. 4 – we put mason jars with the milk in a cooler with another jar or two filled with simmering water… close the cooler lid and it stays the right temp for the ~4-5 hours it takes to firm up.

    We heat the milk hotter because it makes for a thicker yogurt. Why? well, Harold McGee’s “On Food and Cooking” says that manufacturers cook the milk for 30 min at 185 deg F or 195 deg F for 10 min, this “denatures the whey protein lactoglobulin, whose otherwise unreactive molecules then participate by clustering on the surfaces of the casein particles. With the helpful interference of the lactoglobulins, the casein particles can only bond to each other at a few spots, and so gather not in clusters, but in a fine matrix of chains that is much better at retaining liquid in its small interstices.”

    Translated: the hot temps is needed to unfold a particular protein that will help the yogurt be thicker at the end of the day.

    Not as practical for your slow cooker, but it makes fabulous thick wonderful yogurt for us!

  47. Mel says:

    Janette – I’ve kept mine in the fridge as long as a week (we go through it pretty fast) but I think a good rule of thumb is to keep it as long as the milk expiration on the carton (perhaps even a bit longer since it’s been cultured).

  48. Mel says:

    Kate (and others) – thank you so much for all your feedback! Methinks I’ll be doing an update to this yogurt post as soon as I try out some of the other methods. The steps I included in my tutorial are no-fail (if you ask me) but I’d love to find a way to streamline the process so I’m going to try it out with the mason jars and perhaps heating it to a hotter temp. I’ll report back!

  49. Tori Jones says:

    When I strain my yogurt, I line the colander with coffee filters instead of cheesecloth. Works perfectly!

  50. dana says:

    Literally, yesterday I said to hubby that I was going to learn to make yogurt! I’m so excited that you read my mind! :-)

  51. Heather B. says:

    I have to say this really is a fail proof method or mine would have flopped! I mis-read and thought the milk had to reach 212 before cooling and adding yogurt. It took a lot longer than 2-3 hours but then realized it was not supposed to be that high. Followed everything else. Then I got up in the middle of the night to find my oven totally cool. Preheated to 250 and left it on warm. (My light only comes on when the door opens or closes. ) I also left it in the oven longer as I realized that I didn’t have cheese cloth. I ended up using an old clean pillow case and it worked beautifully! It is delicious! I only wish it was a little more tart. Any suggestions?

  52. Mel says:

    Hi Heather – glad this worked out so well despite the hiccups. Try a different brand of yogurt for the starter if the tartness seems off. My homemade yogurt is more mellow in flavor than plain yogurt from the store (which I like) but if you want more tartness, the brand of starter may make a difference…and also, letting it culture longer, even if it’s set will probably help enhance that flavor.

  53. Karen says:

    One more suggestion. I place the bowl on a heating pad set to low and cover everything up with a heavy towel. Leave it for about 6 hours. Works great and frees up the oven.

  54. AshlEe says:

    Made it its awesome! I thought I ruined it the first step but it was awesome! I love controlling how sweet it is! Thanks for all your scientific documentation

  55. Tommie says:

    I have this going right now… :) Can’t wait!

  56. Tommie says:

    It’s finished, and it’s amazing!! I had no idea it could be that creamy! I made the strawberry syrup for it, and now I can’t wait for my kids to come home and try it! My only question is can you stir up the syrup in with it now, or should you just spoon a little bit on top as you go? I was worried it might get runny stirring it all in.

  57. tsmith says:

    One more thing I forgot to add, but was reminded of when reading the comments. If you like a milder flavored yogurt, keep your incubation time closer to the 8 hour mark. If you like it more tart, aim for an incubation time of 12 hours. I have been making my own yogurt for about two years now and the only time I have had to throw it out was when I attempted to experiment with flavored yogurt. I found out that simple is best and add the fun stuff later! My kids love it served with homemade jam or just a little bit of honey and some granola. Yum!

  58. Mel says:

    Tommie – it all kind of depends on how thick your yogurt and/or syrup is. I often stir the syrup into the yogurt and store it that way but if my yogurt isn’t quite as thick as previous batches, I’ll just dollop some of the fruit on top before serving.

  59. pwrrkc6 says:

    Mel…try doing it on the stove top heating the milk to 190 then letting cool to 120. Add your starter(I usually do a cup) then pour into mason jars and put in a cooler. Pour heated water(120 degrees) up to the “shoulders” of the jar. I take it out after about 4 hours or so. You would still have to strain if you want it thicker, however, I have never added the powdered milk to it, so maybe that would help with the thickness. This way, I can do it in the morning while I’m cleaning up breakfast etc…and then not think about it again until I put it in the fridge. I don’t know if it saves me money, but I think it does, and as you said it’s just the coolness factor of knowing how to make it!

    Also, I think it lasts wayyyy longer than a week. You’ll know if it’s expired!

    Some have also told me that the whey can be used to water plants. I’ve poured it on a spot of my grass needing some help and I think it worked!

    Thanks for your amazing recipes!

  60. Tanya says:

    I love all the comments on this post! I’ve been making this recipe for yogurt for about 6 months and it is yummy! I use whole milk (still have babies who need the fat for brain development.. and come on, it tastes better!) :) I have tried adding a bit of sugar and vanilla during the process because my kids love vanilla yogurt, and it turns out fine. I tried brown sugar because I like the flavor better, but brown sugar made it gooey and sticky! It was gross. I haven’t been straining it, but I’ll try it now to see the difference. For what it’s worth, I wrap it in 3 towel and leave on the counter. After it sets up, I pour off the whey and put the whole crockpot in the fridge overnight. It seems to thicken more if I do this before stirring or scooping it. In the morning I put into 4 quart jars. Super easy and tasty!!
    Thanks for all your awesome recipes! I love your blog!

  61. Anne says:

    I love the timed out steps of this plan! I make my yogurt on the stovetop, and knowing how long each step takes makes this so easy. I make mine in mason jars in a yolife yogurt maker ($45 on amazon). i like that there are so many different ways to make yogurt and still have a fabulous end product. A couple comments based on my 3 years making yogurt.

    1) If you are having trouble with your yogurt not getting tart enough, even with long incubation, try using less starter, and switching brands of plain yogurt starter if you can. I had trouble with this after moving back from overseas, and discovered that i needed to use less starter. if there is too much starter, the probiotics compete too much for the same food and some die out. I use the Fage full fat plain yogurt as my starter. I buy the smallest size, and use half the container for my 10 cups of milk. I freeze the second half for the next time I need a fresh starter.

    2) you can use your yogurt as a starter, but most places I have looked say that 5 ‘generations’ is the max, meaning that after using your yogurt 5 times, like once a week for 5 weeks, you need a fresh batch of store yogurt (or powdered starter, or frozen plain yogurt from your first generation).

    3) I am surprised no one says they refrigerate their yogurt before using or straining. Maybe it is unnecessary, but when I was figuring out how to do this, all my sources said to refrigerate the yogurt after it is done incubating, but BEFORE you disturb it in anyway. Don’t move it to a new container, don’t strain it. Just stick it in the fridge for 24 hours. This is supposed to help your yogurt stabilize and thicken, and should make added thickeners like gelatin and milk powder unnecessary. I make mine in quart mason jars so it is easy to refrigerate. I use whole organic milk and never add anything but the starter until I am ready to eat it. It comes out very thick.

    4) careful using powdered milk, which is still a processed product, and still costs money. Luckily you can still get fabulous results, even if you don’t use it, or run out, or just can’t find it at your store.

    5) for those that want to use other milks, or non-milks to make yogurt, check out culturesforhealth.com. They have great instructions on how thinks like coconut milk or soy or almond milk behave when culturing, and what you might want to do a little differently. They also are a great source for specialized starters.

    5) lastly, if you can make yogurt, you can make Awesome frozen yogurt. Just strain your yogurt as long as you can stand, like a full day, and then mix the yogurt cheese you made with agave, honey or maple syrup and some vanilla, and then freeze it in your ice cream maker (if you are lucky) or in Popsicle molds of some kind. If it is fully frozen, let it soften a bit before serving. Take that, Yogurt Land!

  62. Mel says:

    Just checking back in to let everyone know, I’ve made this twice already since posting it (I’m telling you, we eat the stuff like crazy). One of those times I heated the milk on the stovetop instead of the slow cooker to save time and it was great (although the slow cooker takes the guesswork and possible scorching out of the equation). Both times this week, I also poured the cultured milk into quart size canning jars, capped them with lids and rings and put them in the warm oven for 4-8 hours (without covering in a towel). It worked great! Even though it meant more jars to clean instead of one slow cooker pot, I felt like it cultured more quickly. And finally, I am pretty convinced that if you are using a lowfat milk (I use 1%) you really need to strain the yogurt (1-4 hours is perfect straining time, in my book, I strained one batch overnight and it was so thick, I had to add a lot of milk to get the right texture). I tried not straining it after using the quart jars for incubation and it just didn’t jive for me – the texture was all wrong. Many of the reviews who say straining isn’t necessary are using whole milk, which is great, but may produce a different result than lowfat milk, which is how I’ve always made it. I’ll test out the whole milk yogurt in the next few months as baby Cam starts eating yogurt and needs the full fat content, but for now, lowfat milk can still produce extremely thick, creamy yogurt – it just needs to be strained first.

    Also, although reviews are mixed on using nonfat dry milk or not, I have to add my two cents that I’ve made it without and highly prefer it in – both for protein content and creaminess. I don’t add it to make the yogurt thicker (that depends on straining time, in my opinion), but I love how it enriches the yogurt. That’s just our taste preference, however. I use organic nonfat dry milk and so while it does increase the cost a bit, it’s worth it for how we like our yogurt. Just something to think about. Everyone will have a different preference.

    Thanks for everyone who has left tips. Valuable info for all of us! Who knew homemade yogurt could be so exciting (insert nerd alert)…so grateful to everyone who has shared their expertise.

  63. Deb says:

    Just enjoyed my first bowl of this delicious concoction. Like you, we eat yogurt by the ton here and this will change our lives! I love the texture, I love how easy it is to make and I love that it’s less sour than store bought yogurt. I really like the crockpot method because it requires no babysitting, I just inserted my thermometer timer and it beeped when it reached temp. Thanks so much for the detailed method and pictures, Mel, you are awesome!

  64. Anne says:

    I have heard that many people use a heating pad to maintain temperature during incubation rather than the oven light option. So if your oven light is unreliable or some such, that might be another possibility. Good luck!

  65. Lauren says:

    Hey Mel,

    Just thought you might like to know (being the frugal, mom-of-5, breadmaker you are, just like myself) that you can use that whey to replace some or all of the water in your home-made bread. Then the nutrients (and money you spent on the milk) go in the bread instead of down the drain! I’ve done it several times when yogurt (or cheese) making day has coincided with bread making day, and we can’t tell the difference. And I always feel good about not wasting all that whey. You should try it!

    ps. for non-breadmakers, I’ve also heard you can use the whey to make kool-aid, but we aren’t kool-aid drinkers, so I’ve never tried it, therefore can’t vouch for that one!

  66. Nicole says:

    Made this last night – Holden took over when he got home, partly b/c he loves a good experiment I think, and partly because he was worried I wasn’t doing it right. I was happy to hand it over. Anyway, it seemed pretty easy and turned out great I think. I didn’t strain it initially, but I’m straining it now since it seemed more liquidy than i wanted. I’m planning to use the whey to ferment something – another new experiment! Thanks this was fun, I had just seen someone else’s recipe that I was going to try when you posted yours’, funny how you read everyone’s mind!

  67. Beth says:

    I can’t believe I made yogurt. I am a yogurt-maker! I am going to try again with a shorter incubation time as it was a little too sour. I had to leave it in for 12 hours because it was a crazy morning and I couldn’t get to it. So, I used it in your tzatziki recipe and it was amazing! The texture was perfect, and that is the best recipe for tzatziki I have ever made. Scratch that– the best tzatziki I have ever tasted!

  68. Sparky says:

    Mel,
    I have been making my own yogurt for a couple of years now. We live on a island of only about 7,000 people and the products that we can get are really limited or really expensive. Fresh milk is really expensive (sometimes it $5 USD for 1 quart). I make my yogurt completely with non-fat milk powder, adding extra milk powder for creaminess.
    I use my yogurt for regular eating, in place of buttermilk in recipes, and I use it to make yogurt cheese. Yogurt cheese is similar to cream cheese, but I can add flavors such as garlic and italian seasoning. If you are interested in a recipe let me know.

  69. Mame M says:

    LOVE this! I have a friend who does this with the raw milk she gets and I am so jealous I might have to just start trying. I know everyone is commenting about the nutritional value about the Whey, I just wanted to add my two cents, that it is REALLY important part of yogurt, because it is where the Calcium is … so please try to find a way to use it because women & children especially need lots of Calcium. So even though Greek yogurt is higher in Protein, it is lower in Calcium. So just make sure there is Calcium somewhere in our diets :o)

  70. BarbaraO says:

    Did you melt the handle off of your slow cooker lid? I ask because it looks just like mine :) and I have to use a meat fork to help me lift the lid.

    Yogurt is just cooling now, and that stirring really speeds that process along, as well as avoiding the slimy skin from forming. Thanks for this lesson!

  71. Mel says:

    BarabarO – good eyes! No, I didn’t melt mine…it got knocked off the counter years ago and broke off (thankfully the glass part of the lid survived)!

  72. Whitney says:

    I just put my first batch into the fridge. It looks wonderful but I had like 8 cups of whey. Is that normal? If not, what might have caused this. Did I do something wrong? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  73. Karen says:

    This was DELICIOUS! I can’t believe how easy and inexpensive it was (except for the fact that we’ll probably be eating a lot more yogurt!). Thanks for a wonderful tutorial. You really streamlined the process; I love using the slow cooker through the whole thing. When I’ve seen it on other blogs it’s seem too complicated to try, but this was easy and wonderful the first time through! I also loved the fruit syrup recipe!

  74. Mel says:

    Whitney – what kind of milk did you use (skim, 1%, etc.). I get quite a bit of whey, also, so I don’t think it’s a huge cause for concern. You might try straining for less time if you find the yogurt is thicker than you would like – that will reduce the amount of whey.

  75. Kelly says:

    I made this and it WORKED! I feel like I’ve done some kind of magic! I used 2% milk and it turned out fine. I could only leave it in the oven about 6 hours to culture, but I think it turned out great anyways!

    Thanks for taking the time to figure this out and share with all of us- my husband has been going through yogurt like crazy and this is much cheaper!

  76. Army of 7 says:

    I really cannot believe you convinced me to make yogurt. I have seen it on all the money-saving blogs & large family blogs but I just didn’t understand why we would spend so much time on making yogurt. Anyway, I started my yogurt yesterday afternoon, used 2%milk & milk powder. I read all the comments & heated the milk on the stove then wrapped in in a towel & set it on a heating pad on the counter for 11 hours. My yogurt turned out thick & tart. My 4 kids & I just ate it for breakfast with bananas & homemade granola!! Thank you so much, it was very simple. Now what can we do with all this whey besides in bread dough?

  77. Rebecca says:

    I just made yogurt last night! I tried to make homemade yogurt a couple years ago from instructions on a crockpot blog that I shall not mention. ;) It turned out awful and was a waste of money! I just had to try your instructions because everything I make of yours is great! And this didn’t disappoint! I used 2% milk and placed it in the fridge right from the oven this morning. I had very little whey, so I just stirred it in. The consistancy is great! I am going to make a peach “stir-in” from frozen peaches and this will be our afternoon snack! I also used a half gallon of milk and half the other ingredients since we won’t eat it all before it goes bad. It made two full quart mason jars.

  78. Mel says:

    Army of 7 – several people have suggested using it in place of buttermilk also.

  79. Amanda E says:

    FYI on the use of Mason Jars… I realized that most of you are using commercial milk to make this yogurt.. something I have noticed in all the recipes that use comm. milk is that they all talk about mopping up the whey or straining the whey.. I use RAW milk and I can use the quart size jars with out a lot of whey mop up. So if you try the quart jar method, beware you may still have a lot of whey :)

  80. Jnl2211 says:

    Here’s a good website for a few ideas on what to use leftover whey in.

    http://www.salad-in-a-jar.com/recipes-with-yogurt/18-ways-to-use-whey-a-by-product-of-greek-yogurt

    There are plenty more on professor google :)

  81. pwrrkc6 says:

    So…I tried making the yougurt this way, and I have to say, I don’t think I will do it again. I really wanted to like it better! It took FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!!!! Too many steps in my opinon. I will go back to the stove top method and then just pouring it into jars and putting it in a cooler with hot water. Even if you wanted it a bit thicker, I would still think it would be easier to strain them as needed. When I do it the stovetop way, it takes barely any time or fuss, and it lasts for at least a month in my fridge. I am so glad it works this way for other people, but I thought it required a lot more time and thought. I’m still glad I tried it out though!

  82. Catherine says:

    I have been making yogurt for years, and I keep simplifying the process. One note, I always use ultrapasteurized milk, as that the my only organic option, and I have NEVER had a problem getting it to thicken. I add powdered milk, (just stir it right in), then I just heat it in the microwave to 115-118 (since it’s already ultrapasteurized and hermetically sealed, there is no rouge bacteria to kill!) and then stir in the culture and put it in the oven (warmed and turned off) with the light on overnight. If there is a lot of whey, I spoon it off, but then I whisk in 1/2 packet instant vanilla pudding to thicken it and sweeten it just a little. My family loves it! And when I have strained it to greek yogurt (no pudding added) it is the most creamy, delicious greek yogurt ever – so much better than storebought!

  83. Emily Marie says:

    I just wanted to add my review. My husband and I made this together two days ago, and it’s already almost gone!! I can’t believe that my kids and my hubby are eating it without complaint, and even asking for it. They won’t touch store-bought Greek yogurt. Thank you for such a fantastic recipe/method. It worked so well and I’ll definitely be making it again! :)

  84. Shannon says:

    I’ve made it twice now and my only complaint is that we eat it too fast! It is so delicious, my kids are always begging for more! I am excited to try heating the milk up on the stove though to shorten the process a bit. Also, the second time I made it i strained it for too long so I just added some of the whey back in until it was the right consistency. I’ve also used the whey to make bread and rolls and I love how they turned out as well. Thanks for all of the instructions!

  85. Sparky says:

    Mel,
    I’m hoping you can help. I would love to find a way to make homemade vanilla yogurt. (The good kind using a vanilla pod). I’ve tried many recipes and no matter what I do, the consistency turns out like snot. Help please!

  86. Mel says:

    Sparky – I’ve never tried the vanilla homemade yogurt so I don’t know why you are having textural issues but it’s definitely on my radar to try soon so I’ll let you know how it goes when I try it.

  87. Alisha says:

    I have also heard that the whey can be used in place of buttermilk. I’ve been experimenting with different ways to make yogurt for the past year. I just tried your method, but my crockpot took almost 6 hours to get to 180 degrees. Next time I’ll have to place it on a higher setting — obvious, I should’ve just turned it up in process but there was a lot going on. Another method that’s worked for me is putting a gallon of milk straight into 4 mason jars and then into a large pot on the stovetop filled with water up to the neck of the jars. I boil the water until the milk inside the jars reaches 180 degrees, then cool off to 120. Stir in my starter, place plastic canning lids on the jars and put into my oven overnight with the light on. I haven’t used a towel with this method but maybe that would be better? I also don’t strain it (although I was using whole milk and really didn’t need to). This method works great ’cause the yogurt is already in smaller containers for storing. It doesn’t work great if you are letting it culture in the middle of the day with the plastic lids on and forget it’s in your oven when you’re preheating it for dinner …

  88. Anona Davis says:

    I just got done trying the recipe. SO YUMMY and CREAMY!! I loved it!! Thanks for sharing! It was a fun miracle to watch the milk turn into yogurt. I may never go back =). THANKS for all of the delicious recipes! I love your blog!!!!! And use it every day!

  89. leigh anne says:

    Mel~Thanks again for making me feel like a kitchen rock star!! I was so proud of myself for making yogurt! I kept telling my hubby over & over how excited I was (nerdy!). It was so creamy & delicious. I made it on friday and it is wednesday and it is almost gone (shared some w/ my mother-in-law too).
    The only thing I did different was use a heating pad on low on the countertop instead of the oven overnight. I also got busy & let it “cook” on the counter for 13 hrs. It strained for 8 hrs (b/c I was at work) and despite all of my delays…it still turned out perfect! I just blended it in the food processor with some of the whey to make it a nice creamy consistency. And I used coffee filters cuz I didn’t have cheese-cloth.

    I’ve been using it in my fruit smoothies in the AM, adding my lemon-flavored stevia drops (amazing!) (www.nunaturals.com) to it w/ a few sunflower seeds. For my kids, I add honey & they use it as fruit dip. Yummy!

    Also, for the whey, I used it in your whole wheat oatmeal pancake mix w/ some of the yogurt. Perfect! I haven’t been doing much baking (trying to lose weight), so I used it to water my plants (read it online). So far, they aren’t dead yet…haha!
    Thanks so much for helping me conquer this fear! I will never go back to store-bought!

  90. Nadine says:

    If you had a keep warm function on your crockpot, would that work instead of putting it in the oven????

  91. Mel says:

    Nadine – it’s all about maintaining the temperature so as long as the warm function does that, it should work. You want to keep the yogurt in the 110 to 120 F range for 8-10 hours.

  92. Kathryn says:

    Thanks Mel for another great recipe. I’ve made this several times and had great results. However last night I forgot to add the yogurt to culture it. This morning I realized my mistake. Think I can add it now and repeat the last step or do I risk making everyone in my house sick??? Any advice would be appreciated!

  93. Mel says:

    Kathryn – oh, bummer! If it were me, I’d feel better being safe and starting over. I am overly paranoid about bacteria in food, though. Have you tried googling? I wonder if anyone else has done the same thing and saved it. Good luck!

  94. Fairlight says:

    I too recently came across Jennifer Reese’s “Bake the Bread, Buy the Butter” book. I’ve only made the yogurt twice but plan on making all of our yogurt. I bought the Norpro and Kinderville ice pop molds to make my 3 year old’s frozen go-gurts…he likes to eat them frozen. I’ve only tried once and it seems to work.

    http://www.amazon.com/Norpro-431-4-Piece-Silicone-Maker/dp/B0036B9KHO/ref=sr_1_3?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1363269608&sr=1-3&keywords=ice+pop+molds

    http://www.amazon.com/Kinderville-Little-Bites-Ice-Molds/dp/B002YVGNHC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1363269581&sr=8-2&keywords=kinderville+silicone

    I want to make a rhubarb curd/syrup. I suppose it can be done with the same recipe? When we were in England we had THE BEST yogurt ever (sold at Sainsburys). It was like rhubarb custard!

  95. Fairlight says:

    oops…make that “Make” the Bread, Buy the Butter

  96. Jess says:

    I used organic whole milk, made half gallon at a time, and got almost a liter of whey when I drained it. I think that it is definitely cost effective as a gallon gets 21 “cartons” of organic greek yogurt, which costs me $26, and the gallon of organic milk plus the starter was only $8! Plus I know what sweetners are going into it, and I can control the flavor! Thanks so much Mel for sharing this recipe!!!

  97. Bree says:

    I am in the process of making this, but it took me five hours in my crock pot to get up to 180! I even put it on high for the end. I don’t know why, it is a new crock pot. Would high the whole time need stirring do you think? I loved the ease of not worrying about it, maybe I’ll just have to plan five hours then for warm up :(

  98. Mel says:

    Bree – that does seem like a long time but each crockpot can vary in temperature. Cooking on high can burn the milk (especially on the bottom of your crockpot) – at least in mine. When my crockpot cooks on high, it actually simmers a bit and you don’t want the milk to get that hot.

  99. Laurie says:

    Thank you for the recipe and instructions. I tried a different method last night they may be of use. I poured my milk in mason jars first. I heated them on the stove in a water bath. When they reached 180 I removed them to cool. When 118 I added the yogurt culture and transferred jars to a small cooler. Inside the cooler was an additional mason jar with boiling water wrapped in a thin dish cloth. I did this to maintain the temperature during incubation. In the morning I swapped out the mason jar lids for a coffee filter and turned the jars upside down to strain. I will let it strain for a few hours then add the sweetened fruit directly to the jar. I haven’t read everyone’s comments so I apologize if this is a repeat. Thank you again for the recipe and the wonderful blog.

  100. Laurie says:

    Vanilla Yogurt….Sparky asked about vanilla yogurt. I just had an idea about that. You can infuse a vanilla pod into sugar. Then add the sugar to sweeten the yogurt.

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