How To Make Homemade Yogurt | Full Step-By-Step Recipe

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If you came here today thinking homemade yogurt is going to be difficult, let me put your mind at ease. All it takes is two ingredients and a bit of time. 

Welcome to my kitchen where we make yummy, healthy food. Today, I’m excited to share with you one of my favorite homemade treats: yogurt. I’ve been making yogurt for several years now, and it’s easily one of my kids’ favorite snacks. Not only creamy and delicious, but also a wonderful way to cut costs and ensure we’re enjoying organic, high-quality yogurt every week.

homemade yogurt being poured into glass container.

Ingredients and Equipment

First things first, let’s gather our ingredients and equipment. Whether you’re using raw milk from your homestead or store-bought milk, you’ll need the following:


  • 8 cups of milk (4 cups equal one quart of milk, so technically 2 quarts, or half a gallon of milk) (raw or store-bought) (Ideally whole milk works best)
  • 2 tablespoons of yogurt with live cultures (store-bought or your own yogurt from a previous batch) (You can also use a yogurt starter, but that isn’t cost effective and I don’t think it produces any better results than regular yogurt. I have tried both ways.)


  • Instant Pot
  • Stove and a heavy-bottomed pot
  • Crock Pot
  • Thermometer
  • Whisk
  • Jars or containers for storage

Preparing the Milk

Raw Milk vs. Store-Bought Milk

I prefer using raw milk because it retains more nutrients and has a richer taste. However, store-bought milk works just as well and is more accessible for many people. Both will yield delicious yogurt.

Heating the Milk

Instant Pot:

  1. Pour the 8 cups of milk into the Instant Pot.
  2. Set the Instant Pot to ‘Yogurt’ mode and press ‘Adjust’ to boil the milk.
  3. Heat the milk to 180°F, stirring occasionally.


  1. Pour the milk into a heavy-bottomed pot.
  2. Heat the milk over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, until it reaches 180°F.

Crock Pot:

  1. Pour the milk into the Crock Pot.
  2. Set it to high and heat until the milk reaches 180°F, which takes about 2-3 hours.

Cooling the Milk

Once it has reached 180°F, it’s time to let the milk cool to 110°F. You can let it cool naturally, which takes about an hour, or speed up the process by placing the pot in an ice bath. Stir occasionally to ensure even cooling.

Why Heat the Milk to 180°F?

Heating the milk to 180°F serves a couple of important purposes:

  1. Denaturing Proteins: Heating the milk denatures the proteins, specifically the whey proteins, which helps the yogurt set better and gives it a creamier texture.
  2. Eliminating Competing Bacteria: It kills any undesirable bacteria present in the milk, ensuring that the cultures you add can thrive without competition.

Can You Make Yogurt Without Heating the Milk to 180°F?

Technically, you can make yogurt without heating the milk to 180°F first, but the results might not be as consistent or creamy. Skipping this step might result in a runnier yogurt with a less desirable texture.

Once the milk reaches 180, take it off the heat source and let it naturally come down in temp until it reaches 110°F. 

Adding the Starter

Now that the milk is at 110°F, it’s time to add the starter yogurt. If this is your first time it can be store-bought yogurt with live cultures or a bit from your previous homemade batch.

  1. In a small bowl, mix 4 tablespoons of yogurt with a cup of the cooled milk.
  2. Whisk this mixture back into the larger pot of milk until well combined.

Incubating the Yogurt

This is where the magic happens! The milk and starter mixture needs to incubate at a steady temperature to turn into yogurt.

Instant Pot:

  1. Set the Instant Pot to ‘Yogurt setting’ mode.
  2. Incubate for 8-12 hours. The longer it sits, the tangier it gets.

Stove Method:

  1. Pour the mixture into jars.
  2. Place the jars in a warm oven (preheated to the lowest setting, then turned off) or a cooler with warm water.
  3. Incubate for 8-12 hours.

Crock Pot:

  1. Leave the mixture in the Crock Pot.
  2. Wrap the Crock Pot in towels to maintain heat.
  3. Incubate for 8-12 hours.

Note: Yogurt resting at 120°F / 49°C for longer than one hour may result in whey separation. As yogurt is culturing for a longer period of time, lactose (milk sugar content) is reduced, resulting in more tart yogurt.

Fermentation Time and Flavor

The fermentation time of yogurt plays a crucial role in determining its flavor and consistency. The longer you ferment, the more tart and thicker your yogurt will be. Different cultures work at different rates, but as a general guideline:

  • 6-8 hours: Produces a mild yogurt.
  • 8-12 hours: Produces a tart yogurt.
  • More than 12 hours: Produces a sour yogurt.

Finalizing the Yogurt

After the incubation period, check the consistency of your yogurt. It should be thickened and set. Refrigerate the yogurt for at least 4 hours before serving to enhance the texture and flavor.

Making greek yogurt

All greek yogurt is, is a thicker yogurt. To do this place in a straining cloth and let hang with a bowl below for a few hours at room temperature to remove any whey left. Then refrigerate. 

Storing and Using Homemade Yogurt

I like to mix in a bit of maple syrup, a pinch of salt, and some vanilla extract to flavor our yogurt. Then, I portion it into individual cups so the kids can grab and go as they please. It’s a hit in our household!

Storage Tips:

  • Store the yogurt in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
  • Save a few tablespoons of your homemade yogurt to use as a starter for your next batch.

The Science Behind Sugar in Yogurt

Let’s take a quick dive into the science of yogurt, particularly focusing on the sugar content. Yogurt is made by fermenting milk with specific bacterial cultures. These bacteria, primarily Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, feed on lactose, the natural sugar found in milk.

During the fermentation process, these bacteria convert lactose into lactic acid. This not only thickens the milk into yogurt but also gives it the characteristic tangy flavor. The longer the yogurt ferments, the more lactose is consumed, resulting in a tarter taste. This process of lactose breakdown is also why many people who are lactose intolerant can often enjoy yogurt without discomfort.

A Brief History of Yogurt

Yogurt has a long and rich history dating back thousands of years. It is believed to have been first discovered accidentally in the Middle East. They likely stored milk in containers made from animal stomachs, which naturally contained enzymes that curdled the milk, turning it into a thick, tangy substance. Over time, people began to understand the process and started to intentionally ferment milk, creating yogurt as we know it today.

Common Yogurt Making Mistakes and Troubleshooting

Making yogurt at home can sometimes come with its challenges. Here are some common issues and how to fix them:

Yogurt is Too Runny
  • Cause: Insufficient incubation time or incorrect temperature.
  • Solution: Ensure the milk is heated and cooled to the correct temperatures and incubate for the full 6-8 hours. Try incubating for a bit longer next time.
Yogurt is Too Tart
  • Cause: Incubation time was too long.
  • Solution: Reduce the incubation time. Start checking at 6 hours and stop when the flavor suits your taste.
Separation of Yogurt and Whey
  • Cause: Natural part of yogurt making, but can be excessive due to over-incubation or uneven temperature.
  • Solution: Stir the whey back into the yogurt before serving, or strain it out if you prefer thicker yogurt. To prevent excessive separation, ensure consistent incubation temperature and avoid over-incubation.
Grainy or Lumpy Texture
  • Cause: Milk may have been heated too quickly or incubated at an uneven temperature.
  • Solution: Heat the milk slowly and ensure it cools evenly. Maintain a steady incubation temperature.
Yogurt Not Setting
  • Cause: Incorrect incubation temperature or not enough starter culture.
  • Solution: Double-check your incubation temperature and ensure you’re using enough live culture in your starter yogurt.

Yogurt made with whole cow’s milk is typically referred to as “whole milk yogurt.” 

This type of yogurt is rich and creamy due to the higher fat content in whole milk, which generally ranges from 3.25% to 4% milk fat. Whole milk yogurt has a smoother texture and a fuller taste compared to yogurt made with lower-fat or skim milk. Whole milk yogurt typically contains about 8-10 grams of protein per cup.

Can you use goat milk to make yogurt? 

Yes, you can use goat milk to make yogurt, and the process is largely the same as making yogurt with cow’s milk. The main difference is that goat milk tends to produce a slightly thinner yogurt due to its lower protein content. To compensate for this, you can add a thickening agent such as powdered milk or gelatin if you prefer a thicker consistency. Otherwise, follow the same steps: heat the goat milk to 180°F, cool it to 110°F, mix in the yogurt starter, and incubate for 6-8 hours until it sets.


There you have it – a simple, step-by-step guide to making homemade yogurt at home. 

Yogurt can also be made in a slow cooker, in the stove with the oven light for heat, with a heating pad if you need. Play around until you find a way that works best for you. The main thing is to heat the milk quickly to no more than 190F, and let cool to 110F before adding the cultures or the heat will kill them. Then keep it at 110 after mixing in the cultures for 6-8 hours until your desired thickness. You can use organic milk or regular. Once you make your first batch, I don’t know that you’ll go back to commercial yogurt ever again. 

I hope you find this process as rewarding as I do. It’s a delightful way to provide your family with healthy, homemade yogurt that’s both cost-effective and delicious. Don’t forget to share your experiences and any questions you may have in the comments below. (Next time I’ll have to share how easy sour cream is to make. You’ll be shocked.) 

Happy yogurt making!

Yogurt recipe

Yogurt recipe

Yield: 2 quarts

This homemade yogurt recipe uses whole milk and a bit of live-culture yogurt to create a creamy, tangy treat that's perfect for the whole family. Easy to follow and customizable, it's a cost-effective way to enjoy fresh, organic yogurt every week.


  • 8 cups of milk (raw or store-bought)
  • 4 tablespoons of yogurt with live cultures


    Heat the milk to 180°F using your preferred method (Instant Pot, stove, Crock Pot).
    Cool the milk to 110°F.
    Remove 1 cup of the warmed milk and place it in a separate bowl.
    Whisk in 4 tablespoons of yogurt until well combined.
    Pour the yogurt mixture back into the pot of milk and stir thoroughly.
    Incubate at a steady temperature of around 110°F for 6-8 hours.
    Check the consistency; if set, refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.
    Store in airtight containers and save a bit of yogurt as a starter for your next batch.


I hope you enjoy making and eating your homemade yogurt as much as we do. It’s a healthy, delicious treat that brings a little bit of our homestead into your kitchen. Enjoy!

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