How to make yogurt in the Instant Pot
Why make your own yogurt
For me, I like making my own yogurt to save money. A gallon of organic milk (when it isn’t on sale) where I love costs about $5. That gallon of milk turns into a gallon of yogurt. Magic!
Compare that to a quart of organic yogurt which costs $4-$5
So if your family eats regular yogurt, you’ll be saving $13 per gallon of yogurt you consume ($18 for store bought yogurt vs about $5 for homemade yogurt)
If your family eats Greek style yogurt, you will save even more!
The least expensive organic Greek yogurt at my local grocery store is $1.25 for a 5.3 ounce container, or $30.18 a gallon. Compare that to about $6 a gallon for homemade Greek yogurt (depending on how long you strain it and how thick you like it). That adds up!
How to Make Homemade Yogurt in a Crockpot or Instant Pot
Ingredients & Equipment
- 1 gallon milk* – I prefer organic whole milk
- About 1/2 cup yogurt* – just a small single serve cup (look for “live active cultures” on the label)
- Fruit* or sweetener of your choice (optional)
- Slow cooker
- Whisk (silicone is best)
- Food thermometer
- Large towel or two (like a beach towel)
- Cheesecloth (if you want Greek style yogurt)
- Strainer or colander (if you want Greek style yogurt)
- 8 ounce jars for packing single servings (optional)
- Canning funnel to make filling jars easier (optional)
*Creative Green Living recommends purchasing these ingredients as organic where available to avoid GMOs, pervasive pesticides and/or questionable farming practices.
What kind of starter to use for making yogurt
How to make less than a gallon of yogurt
This tutorial makes a full gallon of yogurt at a time. If you family loves yogurt, they will burn right through it! If you don’t have a full gallon of milk or won’t be able to eat all of it, you can make less just by reducing the amounts but follow the temperatures and timing as written. So to make half the amount, use a half gallon of milk and 1/4 cup starter.
STEP 1: Prepare the Milk
Pour your milk into a clean slow cooker or instant pot inner pot. Put the lid on and set to high. Set a timer for yourself for every 15-20 minutes to pop over and whisk the milk (just enough to mix it up to ensure even heating) and check the temperature until the milk reaches 180 degrees F (this takes about an hour but will vary depending on your specific appliance).
Keep an eye on it so the milk doesn’t get so hot that it starts boiling or scalds. If this happens you will need to start over, so as the temperature approaches 180, you may want to check more often so that you are there when it hits 180.
STEP 2: Cool Down
Turn your Crockpot or Instant Pot off and remove the lid to allow the yogurt to cool until it reaches 120 degrees F (about an hour). If you want this step to go by faster, you can put the liner of your slow cooker or pressure cooking on a cooling rack so the air can circulate. Set a timer for yourself for every 15-20 minutes to pop over and whisk the milk and check the temperature.
STEP 3: Add the yogurt starter
Take about a cup of warm milk from the crockpot and stir it together with a half cup (4 ounces) of yogurt in a bowl. Keep stirring until the mixture is the same consistency throughout without any lumps (though “lumps” from any fruit that may have been in your starter yogurt are okay). Pour the milk/yogurt mixture back into the crockpot and give it a stir to distribute it evenly.
STEP 4: Bundle up
The goal of this next step is to keep the milk in the 110 – 120 degree range for 8-12 hours. To do this, I placed my Crockpot on top of a folded beach towel, then draped another double beach towel over the top and left the crockpot turned off. I did give it a 15 min blast on low right before I went to bed for the night to make sure the yogurt cultures stayed nice and toasty. The longer it sets, the more tart and more set up the yogurt will be. I found 10 hours to be perfect for me, personally. If you like runnier yogurt, let it set for just 8 hours. For a more Greek style yogurt, let is sit for 10-12.
STEP 5: Stir or Strain
Once your yogurt is done incubating, take the lid off and take a look! You may see some little pools of watery stuff in there with it. This is whey. You can save it to use in a smoothie or for making lacto-fermented veggies (read more about other ways to use whey on The Prairie Homestead). You can also stir it back into the yogurt.
For runnier yogurt: stir the whey back in.
For creamy yogurt: scoop out the large puddles of whey with a ladle (don’t forget to save the whey!) and then stir the rest back in.
For Greek style yogurt: you can set up a colander or strainer lined with damp cheese cloth over a bowl to strain the yogurt.
Keep in mind that once refrigerated, the yogurt will thicken even more. If you’re making a full gallon of yogurt and you get more than 16 ounces of whey, you probably want to stop straining or you may end up with something resembling cream cheese (which is delicious – but isn’t really yogurt any more!)
STEP 6: Store
Store your yogurt in clean glass jars in the refrigerator. You can either use large jars or set up small, single serving serving jars to make portion control easier. If you make single serving jars, you can add diced fruit and some sweetener like agave syrup if desired to the bottom of each jar before adding a ladle of yogurt on top. When it’s time to eat, just stir it up!
Pro tip: If you are re-using jars that once housed food from the store I DO NOT recommend using the lids of jars that used to store tomato sauce or pickled products. The scent is hard to get out of the lid and may ruin your tasty new yogurt.
If you strained the whey, don’t forget to save that, too. Put it in a clean jar in the fridge and read more about how to use whey from The Prairie Homestead so you can decide what you want to make with it.
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