How to Make Homemade Yogurt

If you’ve followed along for a while on my journey here then you already know I love probiotics and “live” food. I’ve shared with all of you how I make homemade sauerkraut, homemade kimchi, and homemade fermented dill pickles. I also made kombucha at home for over a year though I never posted my recipe for it. I did share this shot of one of my kombucha batches but just never found the time to get a post up on it. So it goes sometimes as a food blogger.

So, how do you make homemade yogurt? Well, there are basically 2 ways to make it. One involves purchasing yogurt culture starter and the other involves just adding a bit of plain yogurt to milk (and a little heavy cream, as I do here).

lola rugula homemade yogurt

Beware that the resting time on this is 12 hours. You can experiment a little with this but I’ve found that this is the time range where I like mine. Letting it sit for less time may result in a little less thick and a little less tangy yogurt.

Special equipment that I use for this:

  • Electronic probe thermometer (a candy thermometer will probably work, too)
  • 3 pint canning jars with lids, cleaned and ready to go (this makes a little more than 2 pints)
  • Large crockpot with a “keep warm” setting
  • Fine sieve mesh strainer
  • 2 large, thick bath towels

Homemade Vanilla Yogurt Recipe

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise (omit if you’re making plain yogurt)
  • 3 generous tablespoons plain, whole milk yogurt
  1. In a medium saucepan, heat milk, heavy cream, and vanilla bean over low heat. Insert the probe of the thermometer into the milk and heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 195º. Don’t try to rush this step or you will burn the milk and cream.
  2. Remove from heat.
  3. If you’ve removed the probe, place it back into the milk mixture and let cool to 110º – 115º. If you want to rush this step along, fill your sink with 2-3 inches of cold water, add some ice, and then set the pan in the ice water for just 3 minutes or so. The mixture should still be steaming a little but this cuts the cool-down time in half. Remove from ice water and let finish cooling to 110º – 115º.
  4. While the mixture is cooling, preheat your slow cooker by turning it on “keep warm”.
  5. When the mixture has reached 110º – 115º, use the fine mesh sieve and strain the mixture into your jars. (you can skip the straining step if you’re not using the vanilla)
  6. Put lids on the jars and place in the preheated crockpot – I put mine right in the center of the crock.
  7. Place probe in crockpot and put the lid on the crockpot
  8. Monitor the temperature for a few minutes – mine stays pretty steady at around 111º. You need the temperature to stay right around 110º.
  9. Leave like this on the keep warm setting for about 45 minutes.
  10. Without removing the lid, carefully slide the probe out of the crockpot
  11. Turn crockpot off and unplug it.
  12. Cover the crockpot completely with the 2 towels, gently tucking an edge or two under the crockpot, until it’s completely covered.
  13. Let sit for 12 hours.

Remove the jars from the crockpot and refrigerate until cool.  You now know how to make easy homemade vanilla yogurt!

lola rugula how to make homemade vanilla yogurt

Now, I have found the crockpot works best for me for making this but there are a lot of other methods out there. Some people place the pan in their oven with the light on and the door closed, which may be a better alternative for you.

I also like my vanilla yogurt really vanilla-y, so feel free to adjust the amount to your taste. Also, this is a pretty thick homemade yogurt but if you want it even thicker, let it cool and then scoop out into a muslin-lined strainer set over a bowl and let it drain in your refrigerator for a few hours.

I’ve only made this a few times now, but it’s been consistently good each time. I really like that I can make this at home and leave out all of the sugar and other things that store-bought yogurt is typically full of.

I hope you give this a try and love it – don’t be afraid to play with your food!

It's always nice to hear your comments...