Basics: Yogurt

I used to think the only people who made their own yogurt were crazy hippies. Well, now I wonder why everyone doesn’t make their own.

Frankly, I got tired of paying $1+ for a 6oz container of Chobani. While delicious and convenient, there had to be a better way. And after reading Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, I was convinced this was something I could do on my own. After all, it only requires two extremely basic ingredients. Be warned, it is a bit time consuming, but I broke it up into stages over the course of 3 days with (so far) no ill effects. And yes, it does taste better than Chobani.

heat milk

The first step is to scald the milk to about 180 degrees. There is some scientific mumbo jumbo behind this step so don’t skip it, or else your yogurt will be runny or won’t set at all. I used organic pasteurized (NOT ultra-pasteurized) milk for this step. I wanted to use whole but since the grocery store was out that day I went with 2 percent. Stir the heating milk constantly so it doesn’t burn on the bottom.

cool milk

Next, you want to transfer the milk to a large container (I used my crock-pot insert) and let it cool down to about 100-110 degrees. At this point you will add your starter. I used a 6oz container of plain Greek yogurt for this, but you can also use regular. Just make sure it contains live active cultures. Greek’s just what I had at home. Give it a good stir now and then that’s it! Don’t mess with it for at least four hours. I let mine sit overnight, since my kitchen is on the cooler side. In order to give it a nice warm home, I microwaved a glass of water for a minute and then put my yogurt in the microwave overnight (I do the same thing when I want dough to rise, such a great trick!).


In the morning, you have yogurt! However, it is probably on the thinner side. So you will want to strain it for a few hours (on the countertop) or overnight (in the fridge). Set a colander or strainer over a large bowl to catch the whey (which is protein-packed and you will want to save to bake bread, add to smoothies, etc.), line the strainer with cheesecloth, and let sit until it’s as thick as you’d like, stirring occasionally to break it up. Remember, it will get thicker in the fridge, and if you strain too much whey out you will wind up with yogurt cheese (not necessarily a bad thing!).


And that’s it! Save a quarter cup for your next batch. Add frozen fruit, granola, and a touch of honey for breakfast. Or marinate chicken in it before grilling. Or make some tzatziki sauce. Or make a smoothie. The possibilities are endless!

I’ve read that your homemade yogurt will last anywhere from a week to a month. I’d say: Use your nose, you’ll be able to tell if it goes bad. If you’re worried about it and it seems to be teetering on the edge, throw it in the freezer, where it will keep for a few more months, not to mention be a delicious treat. Many people immediately freeze a quarter cup to use for the next starter, while it’s at its freshest. The whey should last about 10 days, which gives you plenty of time to bake bread. I actually strained out so much whey I didn’t keep all of it — a quart seemed like more than enough for me!

Happy yogurt making!

Homemade Yogurt

Printable recipe

Active time: 1-2 hours. Inactive time: A lot.

Yields 1-2 quarts yogurt and 1+ quart of whey, depending on how much you strain.

  • Half-gallon milk (any variety will do; however, the more fat you remove, the thinner your yogurt will be)
  • 4 oz starter (store-bought plain yogurt or some from your previous batch)
  1. Heat the milk to 180 degrees, stirring constantly.
  2. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool to about 110 degrees (this took about half an hour for me).
  3. Add your starter, stir to combine. Move to a warm-ish place to sit undisturbed for 4-12 hours. Do not stir or “check on” your yogurt in this time or you might ruin it.
  4. After the desired time has passed, strain the yogurt to your desired consistency.
  5. Refrigerate, add mix-ins as desired, and enjoy!


  1. I cannot imagine not making Yoghurt at home. At many Indian homes, this is a twice-a-day activity; in the afternoon for the Yoghurt needed for dinner and at night for yoghurt needed for lunch….. 🙂

    * If your yoghurt does not set in time, drop a dried red chilli into it.

  2. […] 1 cup yogurt (Greek or strained homemade) […]

  3. […] brew our own beer occaisionally (I hope to have a post on this soon too!) and I’ve made yogurt before, but this inspired me to think seriously about fermenting vegetables. So I checked out The […]

  4. […] guts). We know that fermented foods are a great way to get them — but with the exception of yogurt, kefir, and a few other foods you may be lucky enough to come across, all of the beneficial […]

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