This is the best homemade yogurt recipe with its tangy flavor and creamy texture. It is also very easy to make with the traditional slow cultured process.
Making traditional yogurt at home is simple and the preparation is a very quick process. DIY yogurt is unbeatably delicious and good for you too.
Starting with fresh milk, the preparation and natural fermentation method are quick and easy to follow with this step-by-step recipe. This fresh cultured yogurt is thick, smooth, and mouthwatering.
Learning how to make yogurt is fun, gratifying, and luscious. A perfect snack or a quick addition to any meal it is mouth-watering and so delicious and healthy.
Why make your own
Fresh homemade yogurt is so nutritious. There are so many benefits to eating naturally fermented foods made in your own home where they are exposed to the naturally occurring microorganisms of your environment.
The probiotics also help keep your digestive system running smoothly and strengthen overall gut health. It may also help prevent osteoporosis, and heart disease and strengthen your immune system.
It is packed with nutrients such as calcium, vitamin b, and vitamin d. It is high in protein which gives you energy and powers your brain. The protein content also makes you feel full longer and can help you lose or maintain weight.
Making your own yogurt costs much less than store-bought as well. Milk can be purchased for a fraction of the cost of prepared yogurt which helps save money.
It is easy to control the ingredients. Choose the type of milk that you want to use, organic or regular, low fat or whole, or even cow or goat milk.
You will only need a few simple ingredients for this recipe:
- Milk - ½ gallon, this can be skim, 1%, 2%, whole, or raw. It will also work with goat or sheep milk. The yogurt will be thicker if it is made with 2% or whole milk.
- Yogurt (homemade or store-bought) - ½ cup or 1 yogurt starter packet
Yogurt starter contains live cultures that you can use to start fermenting yogurt.
It can usually be found near yogurt in health food stores or online. Make sure to keep it refrigerated to keep the cultures fresh and alive.
- Heat the milk in a saucepan until it reached about 108º. Remove the pan from heat a few degrees before your reach 108º because the milk will continue to warm up even after you have taken it off of the stove.
- Then add the yogurt or starter packet and gently stir just enough to mix it in. Pour into a storage container.
- Place it in a warm location for about 6 to 8 hours or overnight to allow it to incubate. The idea is to keep it at a constant 108° while it is incubating or fermenting.
- In the summer, usually leaving it on the counter is warm enough. In the winter, if your kitchen is a little cooler you might want to place it in the oven with the light turned on for some extra warmth.
- It can be left for about 6 to 8 hours or overnight.
- After about 6 to 8 hours check to make sure that the yogurt has begun to set up. It should be thick and pleasantly sour by then.
- Then refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours before eating.
- It is typical for homemade yogurt to be a little more liquid than store-bought. That is because the store-bought ones typically have additives or thickeners.
- If it is watery and still tastes like milk, simply leave it in the warm location for a little longer. Don’t worry about the idea of leaving milk out at room temperature and being concerned that it will spoil.
- This is all part of the fermentation process. The more time it is left to incubate the more sour it will become.
There are a few options to help hold your yogurt at a constant temperature while it ferments for 6 to 8 hours or overnight. It is normal for the temperature to drop some but will have better results if it stays close to 108°.
If the room temperature is warm, the yogurt can be left on the counter. Wrap in a few kitchen towels to help keep it warm.
In cooler weather, you could place it in an oven with the oven light left on to help give it a bit of warmth.
It can also be placed in a small cooler. The extra insulation of a cooler will hold in the heat which would hold in the heat long enough to let it ferment.
Yogurt machines are also a great option. These little incubators hold your mixture at just the right temperature while it ferments. If you have one, by all means, use it.
Storage & Freezing
Store in an airtight storage container in the fridge for 2 to 3 weeks.
After serving, smooth down the top surface of the yogurt. This will help the whey from separating. But if a bit of the liquid does separate, just stir it back in.
You can freeze yogurt but when you defrost it the texture will be affected. It usually becomes runny and loses its creamy texture.
Because of the change in texture, I recommend that you only freeze it if you plan on eating it frozen. You can add it to popsicles, frozen smoothies, frozen yogurt, or other treats that are dipped in yogurt and then frozen.
If you prefer thicker yogurt you could add 1 to 2 packets of unflavored gelatin. Add the gelatin when the milk is hot.
Allow the gelatin to dissolve then mix it in well. Pour it into the storage container then ferment and chill according to the directions
How to serve
You can eat yogurt plain or top it off with anything that you like. Try it with a drizzle of honey, or maple syrup, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, raisins, dried cranberries, nuts, or toasted coconut.
You can also layer it into a fruit parfait, serve with granola, in smoothies, use as a replacement for sour cream, or mix it into your favorite homemade salad dressings. You can also add it to many bread, muffin, or cake recipes
Generally, I have better results from a starter packet or my homemade yogurt than with store-bought yogurt. Different brands of yogurt may give different results depending on the other added ingredients.
Yogurt Troubleshooting Guide
Yogurt separates into curds and whey
- The incubation time may have been too long, allowing the formation of too much acid.
- Shorten the incubation time and refrigerate the yogurt as soon as it becomes firm.
- Insufficient heat treatment of milk.
- The milk may not have been heated up enough or was not held at the same temperature.
- The yogurt is firmer and the whey does not separate so easily from curds when it s heated to the proper temperature.
Yogurt does not become firm
- Runny yogurt may be caused by inactive culture.
- Use a new yogurt starter or fresh, plain store-bought yogurt with live cultures.
- Runny yogurt may also be caused by an incubation temperature too high or too low.
- While it is incubating, place it in the oven with a light on for warmth, or in a cooler insulated with several towels to help hold in the heat.
- Watch for higher temperatures, especially in warmer weather. Place directly on the countertop and let ferment at room temperature.
- Consider using a yogurt machine that will hold the incubating yogurt at a constant temperature.
- Other substances such as detergent can also interfere with yogurt fermentation.
- Make sure to wash and thoroughly rinse all yogurt-making equipment and container(s) before making yogurt.
- If your milk was off-flavored to begin with, the yogurt will also be off-flavored as well.
- Always start with fresh milk.
- Different bacteria that cause off-flavors can grow along with the yogurt culture.
- To prevent unwanted bacteria, use a fresh, active yogurt culture or fresh yogurt and thoroughly wash and rinse all yogurt-making equipment and containers.
- ½ gallon milk
- ½ cup approximately leftover yoghurt from a previous batch or store bought yoghurt or 1 yoghurt starter packet
- Heat the milk in a sauce pan until it reached about 108º. Remove pan from heat a few degrees before your reach 108º because the milk will continue to warm up even after you have taken it off of the stove.
- Add the yoghurt or starter packet and gently stir just enough to mix it in. Pour into a leak proof storage container.
- Place in a warm location for about 6 to 8 hours or overnight.
- After 6 to 8 hours check to make sure that the yoghurt has begun to set up. Then refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours before eating.
Frequently Asked Questions
Place yogurt in a warm location for about 6 to 8 hours or overnight to allow it to incubate. The idea is to keep it at a constant 108° while it is incubating or fermenting.
Homemade yogurt will last for 2 to 3 weeks in the fridge. As it ages it will become tangier. Don’t forget to save a bit to start a new batch.
Runny yogurt may be caused by an inactive culture or an incubation temperature that is too high or too low. Use a new yogurt starter or fresh, plain store-bought yogurt with live cultures, and make sure to keep your yogurt at a constantly warm temperature while it incubates.
Yes, you can make homemade yogurt with skim, 1%, 2%, whole, raw milk or goat or sheep milk. Whole milk will make a creamier, thicker yogurt.
Homemade yogurt is healthier for you and avoids added sugars and additives that store-bought yogurt contains. When made correctly, homemade yogurt is thick, creamy, and naturally flavorful.
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Please make sure to leave your questions, comments, and ratings below!
I've been making yogurt on and off for over 40 years. Using the method of heating the milk first and when cool then adding small amount of leftover yogurt However, since recently getting a vintage 1950 Wedgwood Stove which keeps an oven temp at 120 all the time, I make yogurt once a week at least. I have found out its not necessary to heat the milk first as its already been pasteurize. Just add 2 Tbs yogurt to a small amount taken from a cold quart of whole milk, mix well .Add the rest of the quart ,cover and let rest for 8-10 hours in a warm spot.
I love this idea! So fantastic. I will definitely try this with the lightbulb in my oven for warming.
Great recipe. I love yogurt and finally tried making my own homemade. It was easier than I thought and really good. Cheaper than store bought too. Just pure homemade goodness without all the sugar and additives.