I have a confession to make.

I lost my yogurt-making mojo this winter.

Seriously, me, the one who gets probably close to 25% of my daily traffic from my crockpot yogurt recipe, couldn’t make yogurt to save my life.

Three batches in a row.  Ended up with milky. . . milkiness.

I was disheartened.

I was confused.

I admit, I cried.

What happened?  Was it my new crockpot (a little bigger than my last).  Was it heating too hot?  Was it not heating hot enough?  Was I using old culture?

So I decided to revisit my yogurt making routine.  I decided to think outside of the box, found a few tips online, rolled up my sleeves and tried again.

And it worked.  I made yogurt.  And not only did it work but I made the thickest, creamiest yogurt I’d ever made in the two years I’ve been making yogurt.  I used to have to strain my yogurt, for a day, to get it this thick.  It must be a fluke.

So I did it again.  And again.  And revised and streamlined my technique.  And I’m in love.

The crockpot technique is still awesome.  A great way to make yogurt when you’re out of the house and to take advantage of an appliance most of us already have in our kitchen.  If you’re having trouble with the crockpot method, test your temperature based on the info below and adjust the timing to fit your crockpot, if you prefer.  But this new way?  I have to admit it’s my new favorite simply because the quality of the yogurt astonishes me every time.

Homemade Yogurt

Ingredients

  • Milk (I generally make a half-gallon to gallon at a time – I make mine with whole milk; raw or organic)
  • Yogurt Culture (see below for quantity, depending on how much yogurt you’re making.  The yogurt culture is simply a little bit of previously made or purchased plain, whole milk yogurt)

Tools

  • A large pot
  • A Candy Thermometer
  • A small-ish bowl and spoon
  • Glass Jars to hold the yogurt
  • A funnel
  • Dish Towels or a diaper or two to wrap around the jars

Instructions

1. Pour milk into your pot and affix candy thermometer to the side of the pot. Turn heat on medium under the pot.

Yogurt on the stove
2.  Place jars in the oven (I make sure my baking stone is in mine) and turn oven to 200 degrees. As long as the oven stays on for 30 minutes at least, the jars will be sterilized from this process.
3.  Place your yogurt culture into the bowl and allow it to warm to room temperature while your milk heats. You will need 1/4 cup of yogurt culture per every 1/2-gallon of milk you are using.
4.  Allow milk to gradually heat until it reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit. This normally takes about half an hour. Once it reaches 180 degrees, turn off from heat but do not remove from burner.
5.  Turn off oven. Do not open doors or remove jars.
6.  Allow milk to gradually reduce in heat until it reaches 110 degrees Fahrenheit (normally takes about half an hour). Discard any film that has formed on top, then remove a  cup or two of the warm milk to the bowl with the yogurt culture and whisk briskly with a spoon or fork until well-combined and there are no lumps. Return milk and yogurt culture to the pot and stir into the remaining warm milk.
Yogurt on the stove
7.  Remove jars from the oven and, using the funnel, pour the cultured milk into the jars before returning them to the oven. Wrap a thick dish towel (I frequently use a clean diaper) around each jar and leave, uncapped in the closed, warm oven for 6 to 8 hours. Do not disturb the jars.
Yogurt on the stove
That’s it! After 6 to 8 hours, remove jars from oven, check to make sure they’ve set, cap and place in your fridge! I’ve also forgotten the yogurt in the oven overnight, effectively making almost 24-hour yogurt, with no ill effects. But six hours is normally my goal.
Make sure you hold back a little of your prepared yogurt to make your next batch and

Enjoy!

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 June 1, 2011  Posted by Heartland Renaissance Breakfast, Pantry Basics

  44 Responses to “How to make Thick, Creamy Homemade Yogurt with only Two Ingredients”

  1. wonderful post! ive often wondered about making yogurt at home even when i was back in the states i thought about it but just never got around to it…now here in australia and the fact that i am not enjoying any of the yogurts here i find them way to runny and way to sour and tangy! So i think im going to have to give making my own a try!

  2. can you give some insight on how you would flavor this yogurt?? I admit to our family being addicted to Trader Joe’s Organic Whole Milk French Vanilla and I am afeared plain yogurt would not go over well. Sweeten with some honey or maple syrup, and some vanilla??? How much? At what point in the process would you add those things??

    • Hi Anne!

      Trader Joe’s has my favorite store-bought yogurt too . . . :)

      I normally keep mine plain and season as needed (because we use it a lot in baking in place of buttermilk – I always have yogurt but don’t always have buttermilk – making ranch dips, as a savory Greek marinade, etc.), but if you want to make the entire batch vanilla I’d probably add a Tablespoon or two of vanilla extract per half gallon into the milk mixture when you add the yogurt culture and right before you pour it into the jars and stash in the warm oven. You’ll probably have to experiment to find if more or less vanilla is right for your family. I don’t have experience sweetening it during the process of culturing, and hesitate to recommend sweetening it until after it’s cultured as the sugars might interfere with the culturing process . . . and I’ve found that if you mix too fervently you lose the creamy, thick texture of the yogurt so I tend to sweeten it in the bowl instead. Honey is what we normally use, but maple syrup sounds tasty too!

      One thing that we really love to do to “sweeten the pot” is add a Tablespoon or two of homemade jam to our bowls to make instant sweetened, fruit yogurt. My strawberry freezer jam and ginger peach butter are our two faves and I’m hoping to add raspberry to the list of homemade goodies as well (for now I just buy a jar of good quality preserves at the store as I never have enough fresh raspberries to make my own.)

      If all you ever make is vanilla yogurt, using a bit of unsweetened vanilla yogurt as your culture next time should be fine, otherwise try to save a bit of plain back or just buy new whole, plain yogurt each time to culture the next batch.

      Hope this helps! Good luck!

      Best,
      Sarah

  3. This is great! I have your crock pot yogurt on my list to make, but I’m going to make this one too! :-)

  4. Love the Austin Powers reference, and love the statue of the Blessed Mother watching over you as you work! (I never thought I’d pair THOSE two together…) I’ll be linking to this (eventually, sigh. My blog is more neglected than yours – and I don’t have such a good reason!)

  5. I always place it in either the slightly warmed oven (an oven light works well or heat to 150 for 10 mins or so and then turn off). or place it in a microwave mounted above a stove with the light on under the microwave over the stove. Using the towels has always just seemed awkward to me but I’m sure it is probably more efficient.

  6. Sounds great! I just need to procure a candy thermometer and some nice jars. And some motivation. :) That ginger peach butter sounds ahhhhhhhhhhhhmazing!

  7. [...] like her oven technique, but i went with the cooler [...]

  8. Hi! I’ve never tried to make my own yogurt. How long will it keep in the fridge?

  9. [...] in the crock pot. I looked around at several recipes and finally settled on this one, also from Heartland Renaissance. It’s very easy and makes some really great yogurt. I’m still astonished that I’m making [...]

  10. [...] with cans of coconut milk.  Luke seems to do okay with small, managed amounts of CULTURED dairy (yogurt and cheese, especially hard, aged cheeses like parmesan) and has no problem with butter (thank you, [...]

  11. [...] 26.  Switch to plain yogurt. You can sweeten it yourself with fresh or frozen fruit or honey. Feeling extra daring? Make your own. [...]

  12. [...] Thanks for visiting! This is an older post and I confess, I actually have a new favorite way to make yogurt now.  With only two ingredients, you’ll make the thickest, creamiest, homemade yogurt [...]

  13. Just tried it using lactose-free UHT 1% milk….. And it worked!!! Used yoplat French vanilla as my starter, since I had it on hand. Guess I will be keeping yogurt in my fridge now :)

    • Thanks for the comment Krysta! I appreciate you writing in in case anyone else is wondering about that variety of milk . . . it really helps!

      AND, I’m so glad it worked for you and you’re enjoying your yogurt! Yum!

      Best,
      Sarah

  14. Hi!
    I made homemade yogurt today for the first time and I’m really excited about it! Thanks so much for this recipe.
    I have a couple of questions.
    First: Does it matter that there was no whey floating in the jar? I saw on the Kitchen Stewardship site that whey in the jar is a good thing and something that is desirable to see, so I just want to make sure I didn’t do anything incorrectly, or rather that my results are correct. My yogurt has no visible whey floating in the jar, but it has a good thickness to it and is creamy and tasty, not too tart, but just tart enough for me.
    Second: Is it normal for there to be some very tiny lumps in the yogurt? I thought it could be bits of the milk that had clung to the side of the pot or bits of the layer of stuff that we skim off before we pour it into the jars before going into the oven.
    Third: (This question is for my husband, who is afraid to try my yogurt!)
    Is this (making homemade yogurt) truly safe? We’re not growing dangerous bacteria, right?
    Thank you so much in advance for your time and help!
    Regina

    • Hi Regina,

      Congratulations on your successful yogurt! In answer to your questions :

      1) It’s fine if you don’t see any whey on top. It’s still there, and likely, after you take a few spoonfuls out, you’ll see a little bit begin to pool on top. This is just a very thick yogurt and the whey doesn’t pool to the top as much as other techniques I’ve tried.
      2) Little tiny lumps are okay. They don’t always occur, but they’re nothing to worry about. Sometimes they happen if you don’t thoroughly mix the culture into the milk leaving some of the culture lumpier, other times it could be because you scraped the bottom of the pan too much when you pour the milk into the jars, but again, nothing to worry about.
      3) Eat the Yogurt! It’s perfectly safe. No crazy bacteria (if there was any crazy bacteria, you’d see them as mold, it’d be obvious.) . . . Eat the Yogurt!:)

      Best,
      Sarah

  15. HI Sarah,

    I’ve made this yogurt 2 or 3 times and now and have loved it! I went to make it today and nothing happened. I still have milk in my jars. Any idea what might have happened? I’m almost positive I followed all the steps correctly (though I was getting quite confident and admit I did it all from memory). Can I try again with the same milk? I’d hate to waste it all. I just tasted it and it tastes fine. I just capped the jars and put them in the fridge. What do you think?

    Danielle

  16. Thank you so much for the easy-to-follow recipe! It got me motivated to finally try making homemade yogurt. I was wondering if maybe you can help me figure out where I went wrong. My yogurt didn’t turn out smooth and creamy; it had little lumps and a chalky feel in the mouth. Here’s what I did differently: used 1% milk and added milk powder, and I used smaller jars (8oz). Also, I don’t know how warm my oven stayed during the 8 hrs. Any input would be greatly appreciated.

  17. I just made this last night. I was going to do the slow cooker method, but it took too long. (I didn’t plan on a 6 hour process) so I was able to get this in the oven in a hour before bed last night. I used 48oz of skim milk and pint & Half canning jars wrapped in diapers with the oven light on. My DH got them out this AM and said the oven felt cool, but the jars were still warm. My first glance at them was about 2 hours after DH put them in the fridge and it looked like yogurt. I tried a little, it still was warm and tasted milky, but good. I tried again after the jars had time to come to fridge temp and it was even thicker than this AM and had more of that yogurt tang. I was so worried about this process and it was so simple, it just required a little babysitting for the temps, but other than that no problem. Thanks!

    Now to get DS to taste it. I’m thinking if I stir in some strawberry jam he’ll eat it.

  18. This recipe is what finally motivated me to take the plunge with homemade yogurt. It’s sitting in my oven right now, but I’m not sure how it will turn out. It took almost 45 minutes for the milk to heat up and another 45 to cool down. I followed the instructions exactly, but it also scorched some of the milk at the bottom. I didn’t put any of that in the jars, but maybe my thermometer reading was off?? I don’t think that’s supposed to happen :O

    • Hi Cheryl!

      I often have a layer of thickened milk on the bottom of my pan, not exactly scorched, but certainly gelled. You were right, Don’t scrape that in with your yogurt! Try using a heavier-bottomed pan next time to evenly distribute the heat and that might help. Also, in my experience, the longer it takes to cool, the thicker the yogurt. That’s why I recommend keeping it on the stove (especially if you have electric) and not disturbing it to reduce the heat. When I’ve removed it from the stove (some recipes I’ve read have actually recommending cooling it over ice) the yogurt is always much thinner. Have patience and you’ll be rewarded with super thick yogurt! Thanks for trying the recipe!

      Best,
      Sarah

      • I just have a short question you talk about using a heavier pan can I use cast iron will that be safe.?

        • I just have a short question you talk about using a heavier pan can I use cast iron will that be safe.? I did it. Lol it is sooo creamy but it does. Have a cast iron taste but I cant give up my pots. Guess I have to stick to the lil pot I was using but there was a big diffrence using a heavy pot. Thanks for all your info

  19. Tried this today, but when I pulled the jars out of my oven after 7 hours, the oven was completely cool & the milk hadn’t thickened at all. I used Oberweis whole milk & Fage 2% for the starter. Do you think it was the 2% instead of whole starter? Or did my oven cool too fast? Can I warm it back up and try again? If so, do I add more culture or just let it grow with what it has? Thanks! Christine

    • Hi Christine!

      There are a number of things that could have happened. Did you take the warmed milk off the stove/heat source to cool? Were your jars warm before you added the milk to culture? Did you thoroughly mix the culture into the milk (sometimes, if you are too gentle, you’ll end up with clumps of yogurt mixed in with milk). It does sound like your oven cooled quicker than mine does, but I honestly couldn’t pin-point it from here. I’m sorry that it didn’t work for you this time, I would certainly try again with your milk next time if you’d like!

      Best,
      Sarah

  20. I’ve been making my first few batches of yogurt on the stove top and then placing it in the oven. I am using raw milk and read that I needed to heat the milk to 110 degrees rather than 180. (180 degrees for non-raw milk, though.) Your thoughts?? My yoghurt has been thin and tangy.

    • Hi Kimberly!

      To maintain the “rawness” of the raw milk, yes, you need to keep it at 110 degrees or less. If you want to get a thicker, raw yogurt, you can try using a “countertop” yogurt culture like the Villi variety from Cultures for Health which does not have to be heated to culture. It does have to have ample cream, though, to culture, so make sure that you use raw whole milk. If you want to make thick yogurt with your raw milk and don’t mind heating it to 180, then definitely try my recipe! Hope this helps!

      Good luck!
      Sarah

  21. Hi Sarah,

    I have made your yogurt twice now, both with organic whole milk, one Horizon and one with HEB brand and dannon as a starter. It looks thick initially, then when we go to eat it, its almost liquid. I follow your steps to a T but not working for me, any advice?

  22. I have made your other yogurt but really like this one as well. I do have a few questions. Mine seems to take MUCH longer to heat up and especially cool down. I have a glass top and see you have electric burners. Is that why? Also, it is definitely creamier but I usually drain my crock pot type for about 8 hours and this was definitely not as thick as when I do that. I go the impression from your recipe that yours is creamier than when you drain all day so I wondered if I messed something up. Any thoughts. Thanks.

  23. Thanks for posting this recipe. I was going to use your slow-cooker recipe but decide to use this one for my first attempt at making yogurt. It turned out so creamy and thick with a great of tang after 6 hours. Great suggestion about using the diapers to wrap the jars. I knew there was a reason I kept the old worn out ones around. I will definitely try this again, maybe for 8 hours next time.

  24. I’ve tried the “cooler” method and it was okay. This was SO MUCH easier and it was incredibly creamy! No runny yogurt :) My family has been loving it unsweetened with my very-sweet homemade granola and fresh blueberries! YUM!

  25. [...] First of all, I want to thank my dear friend Danielle for suggesting this yummy yogurt recipe!  I knew she dabbled in the yogurt making process and I found that the crockpot methods I was seeing all over Pinterest just weren’t cutting it for me.  Too soupy.  Too many hours “watching the pot.” Not enough goodness for me to continue investing in the labor.  Then Danielle opened my eyes to this lovely recipe. [...]

  26. [...] cups heavy cream or yogurt or combination of the two (if you have very thick, creamy, Greek-style yogurt, as I do, add in a [...]

  27. I made yogurt using your recipe yesterday. I was a little nervous about how it would turn out since I’ve never tried to make homemade yogurt before. It worked beautifully. The yogurt has a nice tang and is very thick and creamy. I used Natural by Nature whole milk and Stonyfield plain yogurt for the starter. I’m so glad that I decided to try it. Thank you for the wonderful recipe!

  28. This method is so easy and made wonderfully creamy yogurt. Thank you! I’m a convert!

  29. I’ve been searching everywhere for a successful yogurt made with coconut milk. Any help you can give me with this would be excellent! My daughter and grandson have digestive concerns in this regard.
    Thanks!

  30. Hi! I found your site through following links from Kitchen Stewardship. I have a couple of questions, and wonder if you could help. I have made this yogurt three times now. All three times, I’ve started with raw, unhomogenized milk, but followed your method exactly. The first time, I used Dannon full-fat yogurt as a starter. It was about two weeks old, so I wasn’t sure if it would work, but my yogurt came out perfectly thick, creamy, and delicious. I used some of this batch as a starter for my second batch, but used the heating pat method, as I hadn’t planned well and needed to use my oven during the time the yogurt should be incubating. It smelled and tasted fine, but had kind of a clear, stringy, mucousy stuff on top, and the amount seemed to increase as it sat in the fridge. Again, it smelled and tasted fine, but the mucousy texture seemed odd, so I dumped it and started again. This time, all my local grocery store had was fat free Greek yogurt. My oven cooled down too fast and when I checked after 8 hours, the yogurt was still runny, so I left it overnight. At first, I thought it was still runny, but when I looked closer and tested with a spoon, what I had was a solid layer of yogurt underneath with cream on top. I’m eating it, as it tastes great, but if I stir the cream in, it comes out thinner than I like, but if I don’t stir it in, it’s hard to get the cream evenly distributed o the bottom. Any ideas on what may have gone wrong? My guess on the stringy yogurt is that either the starter was too old or I didn’t heat my yogurt enough, but is there something I can do to prevent the cream from separating on my next batch? Is the problem that the starter was fat free, or does it have something to do with me disturbing the jars partway through the process?

  31. Hi! I’m trying this NOW! I’m super hopeful this method works! Like you, I lost my (crock pot method) yogurt making MoJo about 6 months ago and I’ve been to nervous to try again…here goes!! Quick question though, what’s the point of the stone being in the oven? And should my jars sit on top of it? Does this help keep then warm?? Thanks!! Fingers crossed!!

  32. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe for yogurt. I make a batch every week and it always turns out wonderful! I don’t have a pizza stone, so instead I just use my crockpot’s ceramic pot and put 4 Qrt jars inside it and into the oven they all go! THANK YOU, best yogurt recipe ever!

  33. [...] time around, I think I am going to use this method from Heartland Renaissance.  She claims it’s the thickest and best yogurt ever, plus this [...]

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