How to Make Homemade Yogurt

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Long before we got a dairy cow, I learned how to make yogurt at home. The delicious taste is worth the little bit of effort. This is my favorite way to make homemade yogurt.

Bowl of homemade yogurt

Once we started milking our Jersey dairy cow, Honey, it didn’t take long for our fridge to fill up with half-gallon jars full of her wonderful, fresh milk. I already had big plans for it and was excited to make butter, sour cream, ricotta, and mozzarella cheese. Of course, making yogurt was one of the first ways that I used it.

We lived in Germany for a few years while my husband was stationed there. Right before we left, we stayed in this simple and cozy little gasthaus. Every morning we had a delicious breakfast of traditional German foods that we had become accustomed to. Our favorite, though, was their homemade yogurt. It was amazing.

I had never had homemade yogurt before and wasn’t a big yogurt eater anyways. I was surprised at how incredible it tasted and I wanted to learn how to make it myself.

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Different Methods of Making Yogurt

I had a French cookbook with a recipe so I ordered a small yogurt incubator and some starter culture and gave it a try. It was amazing! I couldn’t believe that such a simple process created something so delicious.

I really loved my little incubator, and I still have it. The only problem was that I couldn’t make very much yogurt at a time. I love the little individual jars but when there were five people in our family (at the time) eating the yogurt, it didn’t last long. I had to make it more than once a week.

Bowl and spoon with homemade yogurt

I looked into other methods that I had heard about. Many people make their yogurt by incubating it in their oven with the light kept on. I bake so often that giving up my oven for an entire day didn’t sound like the best method for me. I was also afraid that in my absent-mindedness, I would forget about the yogurt and turn the oven on!

Other people incubate their yogurt in a cooler but dragging our large cooler in and out of the house every week didn’t appeal to me either. There’s also the crock pot method, wrapping it in a large towel. There are several different ways to make homemade yogurt, all with great results, it’s just about finding which method works best for you.

I kept plugging away with my small incubator for several years and it continued to allow me to make healthy, homemade yogurt for our family.

Homemade Yogurt in an Instant Pot

For Christmas last year, my mother gifted me with a new cookbook. I love cookbooks. It had several Instant Pot recipes in it that I just passed over. I’m not a big fan of extra appliances in our kitchen so I had never even looked into getting one of those.

My husband started looking them up because he didn’t even know what they were. He read in a description that they could be used to make yogurt. I had no idea! After doing some research, we decided to get one with a yogurt setting and give it a try.

I found out that I would be able to make an entire gallon of yogurt in one batch! I couldn’t believe it. That would be plenty for our family for at least a week and would save me the time of making smaller batches so often.

The first time I made a batch, it turned out perfect. Just like with my smaller incubator but this time I had an entire gallon of yogurt! This was so nice because our family of five could eat a full quart of yogurt for one breakfast. I love making homemade yogurt and am so glad that I can make a large batch so easily.

Glass quart jar full of homemade yogurt

Ingredients

There are only two ingredients for homemade yogurt, milk, and a starter culture. You can use store-bought yogurt to use as a starter but I have always used a freeze-dried starter culture that I buy from our local health food store or order on-line.

Before our cow came into milk, I used store-bought organic whole milk to make yogurt. Now that we have our own fresh milk, I use that.

To make raw milk yogurt, the milk doesn’t get heated as much and the end result is a fairly runny yogurt. My family prefers a thicker texture so I heat the milk, as I’ll describe below. It is no longer raw but this doesn’t bother me. It’s still our fresh milk and the yogurt will contain its own good bacteria from the starter culture.

How Much Yogurt Starter to Use

The starter you purchase will have detailed instructions on the packaging. However, in general, you will use 5 grams of freeze-dried yogurt starter per quart of milk. I use 20 grams for a gallon of milk.

When using yogurt as a starter culture, you will need 1/4 of a cup of yogurt for a gallon of milk.

Tools You Will Need

  • Stockpot for heating the milk (I know you can do this step in the Instant Pot itself and save a dish so by all means, do what you prefer! I’m used to heating the milk in a pot so I have just continued to do it that way.)
  • Instant Read Thermometer
  • Small Bowl
  • Ladle
  • Whisk
  • Incubator (I have a small yogurt incubator but prefer to use my Instant Pot to make larger batches.)
  • Jars for Storage (I use quart-sized glass canning jars.)
Bowl of homemade yogurt with honey drizzling on top

How to Make Homemade Yogurt

  • Pour one gallon of whole milk into a large pot.
  • Heat to 180 degrees F over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. (This takes about half an hour. Don’t rush and turn the heat up too high or the milk will scorch!)
  • Remove from heat and cool to around 110 degrees F. (To speed this up, fill your kitchen sink with a couple of inches of ice water and set your pot in to cool. Place a tea towel over it and remind your family not to use the sink while it’s in there!)
  • While you wait, place your starter into a small bowl. (You will need 1/4 cup of store-bought yogurt or follow the directions on your freeze-dried starter package. I use four 5 gram envelopes for one gallon of milk.)
  • Once cooled, ladle out a small amount of milk and pour it into the bowl. Gently whisk until combined.
  • Pour this back into the large pot and gently stir to combine.
  • Pour all of the milk into the Instant Pot (or the small incubator jars), put on the lid, and turn on the yogurt setting. I set mine for 10 hours, but you can set yours for anywhere between 8 and 12 hours, depending on how thick you like your yogurt. The longer it incubates, the thicker it will be.
  • Let it sit undisturbed while it incubates.
  • Once the time is up, remove the lid, move the pot (or jars) to the fridge and cover with a dinner plate (or jar lids). Allow to cool in the fridge for several hours (I leave mine overnight).
  • Once cooled, ladle into smaller containers for storage (glass canning jars work well) and enjoy!

Homemade Yogurt

Homemade yogurt is simple to make and so delicious. With a little hands-on time and some patient waiting, you'll be enjoying tart and creamy homemade yogurt.
Print Recipe
Prep Time:45 mins
Cook Time:10 hrs

Equipment

  • Instant Pot or yogurt incubator of your choice
  • Large pot
  • Small bowl
  • Ladle
  • Whisk
  • Instant read food thermometer
  • Airtight container(s) for storage

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • 20 grams freeze-dried yogurt starter or 1/4 cup of yogurt

Instructions

  • Heat milk in a large pot on low to 180 degrees F.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool to about 110 degrees.
  • Ladle a little bit of the milk into a smaller bowl.
  • Pour in the freeze-dried yogurt starter (or 1/4 cup of yogurt) and whisk until combined.
  • Pour back into a large pot and stir into the rest of the milk.
  • Pour into the Instant Pot (or small incubator) and incubate for 8-10 hours.
  • Once done, cover and place in the fridge for several hours or overnight.
  • Ladle into airtight containers and store in fridge.
Servings: 1 Gallon

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