Food & Drink

How To Make Homemade Yogurt

Just as you can taste a difference between a store-bought cookie and a homemade cookie, so too can you tell when you're eating homemade yogurt -- it's infinitely better. But making yogurt is not nearly as common as whipping up a batch of cookies, and that just doesn't seem right.

Most people don't really understand what yogurt is, so making it in their own kitchen seems like a risky, if not impossible, task. But it's actually easier to make than cookies; it requires less effort and just a little more patience.

Making your own yogurt is similar to driving a car. It's intimidating at first; you're not quite sure what you're doing and you don't want to hurt yourself or others (with spoiled milk). But once you've been in the driver's seat for a little while, you can do it without much thought.

Just follow the instructions below, and you'll be well on your way to zooming past the yogurt aisle at the grocery store, saving a couple of bucks, and eating some of the best yogurt you've ever had -- your own.

Homemade Yogurt:
  1. You'll need half a gallon of milk (whole milk offers the best flavor), 2-3 tablespoons of plain yogurt with live active cultures (very important), a thermometer (candy one works best, but an instant read will do the trick) and a large pot.
  2. Heat the milk over low-medium heat until it reaches 180 degrees F or until you start to see it lightly simmer. You don't want to heat it above that. And make sure not to scorch the bottom. (You can avoid this by stirring the milk as it's heating.)
  3. Once the milk has reached the 180 degrees, bring it back down to 110 degrees F, or until you can hold your finger in it for 10 seconds and without any discomfort.
  4. Once you've reached the right temperature, mix a little bit of milk with 2 tablespoons of yogurt in a separate bowl. Stir until smooth and then add it to the rest of the milk. (Save the last tablespoon of yogurt in case you need to further thicken the homemade batch.)
  5. At this point, your work is pretty much done. All you have to do is keep the milk mixture warm until it becomes creamy, tangy yogurt. There are a few ways to do that. You can transfer the mixture to a jar or insulated canister and place it in a barely warm oven (just having the pilot light on should be enough). If you have a crock-pot, you can keep it in there on the lowest possible setting. You can put it in a warm water bath or wrap it with warm towels. Or, you can use a yogurt maker which will keep it at exactly 110 degrees F.
  6. Now it's time for the waiting game. Just leave the yogurt in its warm spot, and check on it in four hours. If it's thickened and has a nice flavor (don't be scared to taste!), it's done. If it's not quite set yet (and this can happen because it all depends upon how "active" the live cultures are and how warm the milk mixture is), let it sit out longer. Some people let it sit out overnight, waking up to freshly made yogurt in the morning. The longer you leave it out, the tangier the yogurt will taste, so if you like that flavor you might want to give it more time. And if it didn't thicken enough, add more yogurt and let it sit a while longer. But of course, you won't want to leave it out for days on end, just enough time to achieve yogurt doneness.
  7. When the yogurt is as you like it, store it in the fridge. It'll keep for 7-10 days. Be sure to save a few tablespoons of your homemade yogurt to make the next batch.

Now that you have your yogurt made, you should know that you can use it for so much more than just a tasty breakfast meal. It makes healthy dinners, too. Check out our recipe gallery for inspiration.

WATCH: Use Your Homemade Yogurt In A Smoothie