Easy Yogurt Making




Introduction: Easy Yogurt Making

It's really easy to make excellent yogurt at home! This recipe can be scaled up or down, and makes delicious vanilla (or plain) yogurt.


1/2 gallon milk (I really prefer 2% or whole milk, for a thicker yogurt.)
1 cup sugar (optional)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract (optional)
1 6-8 oz package plain store-bought yogurt (must read "contains active cultures")

You'll also need:

Canning jars or other containers
A thermometer
A heat source (for incubating the yogurt)

*Note: If you just want to make plain yogurt, skip the sugar and vanilla extract, and just use the milk. This is the only way I make yogurt now! I prefer adding my flavorings in the form of whole fruit, granola, etc.

Step 1: Heat the Milk

Heat milk to 180 degrees, and add the sugar. Stir until it's completely dissolved.

If you want plain yogurt, skip the sugar but still heat the milk.

Step 2: Cool It Down.

Cover and cool your sweet milk down to 115 degrees F. In the meantime, sanitize your containers. I use One Step no-rinse sanitizer, which is available at most homebrew supply shops. Alternatively, you could rinse them with boiling water, or run them through the heat-dry cycle of your dishwasher.

Once the milk has cooled to 115 degrees, add the vanilla extract and your purchased yogurt, stirring it in well with a sanitized spoon or rubber spatula. It's crucial that you maintain sanitation at all points in this process!

Again, for plain yogurt, skip the vanilla.

Step 3: Fill Your Jars

Now pour the mixture into your sanitized jars. I use quart jars, and ladle the mix in with a liquid measuring cup. Set aside a small container to use as a starter for your next batch. This will allow you to skip buying the store-bought yogurt next time, as long as you keep your sanitation up! Screw the lids down tightly.

Step 4: Incubate

Incubate the yogurt at 110-115 degrees F for the next 6-8 hours, up to 12 hours for a tarter flavor. I've found that my heating pad inside a cooler maintains this temp perfectly. However, most heating pads will have an automatic shut-off, so you'll have to babysit it a bit. Pack any dead air space in your cooler with wadded up towels for better insulation. My long probe thermometer is resting right against the side of one of the jars.

You could also try setting them in the oven, if you can set the heat that low. If you're just itching to spend lots of money, you could buy a commercial yogurt maker, which I believe maintains a constant temp as your jars incubate in a water bath. I prefer my free setup, using common household items.

That's it! Refrigerate the yogurt and it should keep for at least a month or two. You'll notice that the curd separates out from the whey after it sits awhile, so give it a stir and you're good to go. This makes a great base yogurt to blend with fruit, granola, etc. It's also good over cereal in the morning, or whipped up as kind of a yogurt drink.

Finally, you can pour the finished yogurt into a strainer lined with cheesecloth and let it hang for several hours to make a "yogurt cheese" that is much like cream cheese. You can make the plain version of this yogurt and then add any sort of flavorings to the finished cheese for a fancy spread.
Let me know what you think!



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    36 Discussions

    A friend gave me some lactobacillus bulgaricus. I add milk and it makes yogurt. I didn't like the idea of losing all that vitamin-rich whey and so I began incorporating it into my bread dough instead of plain water. I began doing this several years ago and my bread tastes better, and it has a more agreeable texture. This is one the my brighter ideas.


    I made some! I used the Trader Joe's plain french cream line yogurt to inoculate. Basically put one pot inside of another pot filled halfway with water and heated the (store bought) milk to 180 (candy/fryer thermometer) for a few minutes and stirred in a couple TBS of some brown and white sugar. Put that inner pot in a half sink of water which cooled it to 110F in a few minutes, stirred in my yogurt. Let that sit in the pilot lighted oven for 7hours at 102F.

    The yogurt came out soooo good! My only problem is that I ironically got distracted by destructables for a few minutes and i think my milk scalded and a bit of skin formed on my milk and the edge of the pot. I think this caused some tiny lumps in my yogurt, either that or not stirring the inoculator in well enough.

    Any idea how to prevent that next time? Otherwise my yogurt is (about to be WAS) sooo good! Thanks for your instructable!

    2010-07-21 15.24.40.jpg

    I was definitely just gonna wing it on this one. Now all I need to do is pick my favorite yogurt to culture the milk. A couple questions tho.

    Is it necessary to boil the milk, as a fresh jug should be pasteurized/homogenized already?

    How important is sanitation when you're introducing a hardy and highly concentrated bacteria Lacto. acidophilus, into the mixture?


    1 reply

    Well, you're right that milk from the store will be pasteurized already, so you could probably skip that step and just warm it up to incubation temps. I like to be as sanitary as possible, just to be safe. We often start with milk straight from the bulk tank of a dairy farmer, in which case it needs to be pasteurized. As far as the INCUBATION temp goes, I've found that our oven will stay right around 100 degrees with just the light on and the door closed, which is about perfect.

    I just bought a yogurt maker at a yard sale. I'm looking forward to using it on a regular basis for we eat youggy like mad!! I think it is funny that you need "yogurt" in order to make yogurt. Chicken or the egg?? lol I just joined as a 2 year member and yours is the 1st Instructable that I read that I can see all the wonderful pictures and steps involved. thank you for taking the time to share this with us!! Alanna TwistedGreen

    1 reply

    Thanks for sharing your ideas. I boiled up the milk to just below boiling point, tested it after a while with my (cleanly washed) little finger. Once it was just above blood heat I added my bio yogurt starter and then covered the whole container in a towel and let it sit on the counter for about six hours. The result? lovely, creamy, thick yogurt that even my husband enjoyed this morning. The rest is in the fridge now, but I don't think it will be there for long!

    i just made my 5th batch of yogurt from this recipe and i have brown sediment on the bottom of the jar, and a layer of yellow junk on top of the whey. It smells like yogurt but i'm a bit afraid to eat it. anyone know whats going on? is it the result of putting the vanilla extract in too early or letting my starter sit too long? 

    I used to do something similar in college.
    I took a 1.5 gallon stockpot 2/3 full of almost boiling hot water and I added 4 packages of dried milk to it. I let it cool down to 90°f and added one small container of Columbo plain yogurt and stirred it up well. Then I covered the pot and put it in the oven so the pilot light would keep it warm. 18 hours later you have a lot of cheap yogurt to put on your cereal. It was not as thick as store bought, but I mainly used it for cooking (pancakes and quiche) and on my granola instead of milk, so it was just fine.

    I'd call what I did a success.  It's pretty mild and milk-tasting, but definitely yogurt.  I stuck to the recommended temperatures and tried to keep things sterile ... I guess it worked.

    That said, it's a lot of work to save a couple bucks and I think I'll stick to buying it.  I'm glad to know how it's done, though.  It's definitely something that would be easier to accomplish in the summer when I have access to warm places for long times without using power (i.e. not using the oven at 100 degrees for many hours).


    If you have a gas oven, the pilot light gives off enough heat to work perfectly. If not, I have a friend who wraps a towel around container and places it on her hot water heater. She says that works as well.

    I used to do this with fresh goat milk, but used large size baby food jars. Put a piece of cloth(handkerchef cloth works well)over the lid and secure with a rubber band or tie in place. I'd put them on the window sill in the sun for a couple of days, and it made great yogurt. Add berries or whatever for flavor.

    Pretty simple process. this is also pretty energy intensive however. I think I'd do this if I could rig up something solar powered for the incubation. Black painted cardboard box left outside in summer perhaps?

    6 replies

    I had an idea that if one were to pair this with bread baking (on a baking stone) just turn the oven off afterward and the stone would keep it nice and toasty in there, but not too warm. Haven't tried it yet.

    Or use a radiator in the winter. Unfortunately my new place doesn't have any.

    It will even work when you don't actively heat it. Just leave it at room temperature for 24 hours (or a bit longer if you're adventurous) and the culture will grow. I've been making yogurt like this (very similar) for years, without buying new 'starter' in the store. Just keep things clean, and you can go on forever. Great instructable, the step-by-step pictures are very well choosen.

    How long can you keep a starter between batches? I guess you wouldn't want to eat some of this that's been in the fridge for 2 months, but is the culture still in a state to start another batch? I ate a lot of home made yoghurt as a child (parents bought an old "incubator" in a charity shop, it paid for itself in a couple of months and kept on giving :) ) and it's much better than the bland oversweetened stuff in shops.

    Obviously, you shouldn't let the yogurt go bad before starting a new batch. I've kept starters for about two weeks (in the fridge!) without adverse effects. If the starter is bad, you can probably smell it...