How to make homemade yogurt that is thick and creamy every time
I was about to quit making my own yogurt at home. I burnt a lot of milk on the stove, and lost patience with the Crock Pot. But this easy Instant Pot method changed my life–no joke. Here is how I make creamy, easy, homemade yogurt in the Instant Pot, with tips for extra thick yogurt that’s full of healthy probiotics and nutrients.
Oh, homemade yogurt and I have had a love-hate relationship for a long time. I’ve tried many yogurt-making methods and never found one that I actually liked. Now, it’s probably user error, but I just got to hating making yogurt. I nearly quit altogether.
The crock-pot method took soooooooooooooooo looooooooong.
The regular ol’ stove pot method had multiple burnt milk experiences.
And putting my yogurt in the oven was iffy (I once (or twice) had my yogurt in the oven overnight, totally forgot about, preheated my oven to bake something for breakfast, and completely ruined all my finally perfect yogurt…)
And I don’t want a yogurt maker. I have a big thing about multi-purpose appliances.
Obviously, I have found an AMAZING method for making yogurt that is fool proof, or this post wouldn’t be here.
And I’d be at the grocery store buying yogurt.
Basics of making yogurt
If you’re brand new to making yogurt, here are the basic steps you need to follow, no matter what method you use.
First, you need to heat milk to 180-degrees F
This kills off some bacteria that can cause the milk to spoil instead of grow the good bacteria we actually want in yogurt. The second thing this does is help to thicken the yogurt.
Next you need to allow the milk to cool back down to about 110-115 degrees F. This is the good bacteria-loving, yogurt-cultivating temperature.
Once the milk is in that happy zone, you need to add in warm yogurt starter, which is actually just plain yogurt (no sugar in the yogurt, since sugar actually kills the good bacteria found in yogurt).
Once you’ve added your starter, the last step is to keep the milk/yogurt at that happy 110 degree temperature for several hours while it cultures and becomes yogurt. This takes 7-18 hours, depending on how sour you like your yogurt. The longer yogurt sits, the thicker it gets (but also the more sour it gets).
Here’s where I kept getting frustrated with making yogurt:
In the heating process, you don’t want to go past 180 degrees F. But getting it up to that 180 degree F heat takes just long enough for me to get distracted by, say, a million other things. My two year old never cared that I was making yogurt, watching milk simmer like a hawk. It became a normal, infuriating thing to scorch milk…over and over. There were many times where I couldn’t stir the milk because I’d scrape up chunks of burnt milk from the bottom (and that adds a gnarly texture to yogurt).
Can you relate to any of this?
Or if you’ve never tried making yogurt, does it seem daunting and labor-intensive?
I’m going to sound like a sales ad, but I’m so excited and serious when I say:
The Instant Pot method is the best way to make yogurt. Ever. Period.
At least for impatient milk-burners like me.
Using the Instant Pot to Make Yogurt (easiest method)
Here are a few ways it makes things easier.
- If you’ve ever burned your yogurt milk, you’re gonna love this:
The Instant Pot brings milk to the perfect 180-185 degree F temperature and then beeps to let you know it’s ready to cool down. Brilliant!
- The steel pot cools the milk fast. Like, in minutes.
Once the milk has come to high temperature, it needs to cool down. The best way to do this is to fill your kitchen sink with ice water and place the pot insert, full of milk, in it for a quick cool down (don’t let any water IN the pot with the milk! It’s just taking a nice ice bath).
- The Instant Pot holds the milk at the perfect 110-115 degree range for as long as you set it. After the milk has come down to 115 degrees, you can set it back in the Instant pot to maintain the temperature and add your starter. Then the Instant pot can be set for your desired yogurt-making time and left to do it’s thing. No worries about “tucking in” your yogurt with towels. And it keeps it at that perfect temperature without needing to keep checking or guessing, like with the oven or crock-pot method.
3 ways to make extra thick yogurt
There are a couple extra things you can do if you like a really thick yogurt.
1. Add gelatin as a thickener
My favorite way to add thickness to yogurt is to add gelatin
Using gelatin just adds another level of nutritional benefits along with adding great texture. Start by using 2 teaspoons per half gallon of milk. Just add it to a small bowl with cool milk to let it bloom, and then toss it into the rest of the milk in the Instant Pot before heating it up.
2. Strain it
Store-bought Greek yogurt is generally strained yogurt. If you like Greek yogurt and enjoy that extra thick creaminess, ya gotta strain it. Simply place a clean t-shirt (clean…that goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway) or a tea towel in a colander, set over a bowl, and dump your yogurt in after it’s set. Simply let it drain for 1-8 hours in the fridge.
3. Let it sit longer
The longer you let your yogurt incubate, the thicker it will get. Just note that it also gets more sour as it sits, too. Taste your yogurt starting at 8 hours, and then every hour after that until it’s at your desired sourness and thickness. I like mine on the sour side, so 14 hours is my happy spot. Remember that yogurt also thickens as it refrigerates as well.
How to Make Yogurt in the Instant Pot
You can use any amount of milk you want. I almost always use a half gallon of milk, since it makes the perfect amount of yogurt to last us a week or two. You can halve or double this as needed.
For every half gallon of milk you’ll need 2 Tablespoons of yogurt starter (remember that yogurt starter is just plain yogurt. You cannot use a yogurt with sugar or sweetener in it. It kills the live bacteria needed to cultivate your own homemade yogurt! )
STEP ONE: Prepare the Milk
- If you’re using gelatin as a thickener, add 2 teaspoons of gelatin to a cup of milk in a bowl first
- Pour the rest of the half a gallon of milk into the Instant Pot
- Add gelatin milk in with the rest of the milk and close the lid
STEP TWO: Heat to 180 F
- Hit the yogurt button, selecting the option for BOIL. You can walk away and get distracted. It on’t burn. Note: The valve can be open or shut, it doesn’t matter
- Once the milk reaches 180 degrees F, the Instant Pot will beep. You can double check the temperature with a thermometer just for funsies.
STEP THREE: Cool to 110-115 F
- Fill your kitchen sink with cold water. You can even throw in some ice cubes to help speed up the process!
- Take the inner pot with the milk and carefully place it in your cold water bath, making sure no water gets into your soon-to-be yogurt.
- Keep the thermometer in the milk and stir constantly until the milk cools down to 115 degrees F. This has taken as little as 2 minutes, so keep an eye on it!
- Pull out the pot from the water bath and scoop out ½ cup of the warm milk into a small bowl.
- Add in your yogurt starter to the ½ cup of warm milk and gently stir. This will acclimate the bacteria for your yogurt.
- Pour the milk and yogurt starter into the pot with the rest of the milk and give it a quick stir. It can have chunks in it, that’s totally fine.
STEP FOUR: Incubate
- Place the pot of warm milk back into the Instant Pot. Hit the yogurt button again until it gives the time option, and then adjust the time for your liking. If you’re not sure how long to incubate your yogurt for, start with 8 hours (FYI, I like it at 14, since sour yogurt is my thang).
- Place the lid back on, and let that yogurt incubate. Once again, the valve can be open or closed. The Instant Pot will automatically start.
STEP FIVE: Refrigerate
- If you’re straining your yogurt, go ahead and do that now. Otherwise, just place yogurt in the fridge and let fully set.
- Store your creamy, thick, homemade yogurt in an air-tight container in the fridge.
That’s it. You just made yogurt.
And so did I.
This method saves time and money. Here are some other posts to help you save even more:
Menu Plan Like A BOSS: The ultimate guide to meal planning
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