Homemade Greek Yogurt

greek yogurt in glass dish with blueberries

I am completely addicted to this homemade greek yogurt. I never would have thought that I would make my own yogurt. When I first came across the idea, I thought it was interesting but not something that I would actually do. The second time I saw a recipe for homemade greek yogurt, though, I thought, I can do that. And you know what? I totally did. And I’ve made this at least once a week every week in the six weeks since then.

Why am I so addicted to this yogurt? There are a few reasons. For one, it tastes amazing. Even my favorite store brand can’t compete with this thick, creamy yogurt. Homemade yogurt is much less sour than store-bought, and while it’s hard for me to eat store-bought without some sort of sweetener, I can eat this plain.

Second, homemade yogurt is much more cost-effective than the stuff you buy in the store. Greek yogurt isn’t cheap, and it’s been nice to save a few dollars each week on our grocery bill. Plus, I feel good knowing I’m saving on the packaging waste that comes with buying yogurt at the store. I try my best to recycle those yogurt containers, but it’s best not to use them in the first place.

It’s so easy to make your own yogurt! All that you’ll need to get started is some milk, a tablespoon of yogurt, and a few kitchen tools that you probably already have: a medium saucepan, an instant-read thermometer, a large glass or ceramic bowl, a fine-mesh sieve, and another large bowl. The active time that you’ll have to invest is really small, especially once you’ve done this a few times and have the process down. The first time I kept checking the temperature of the milk every minute or two, but now I know about how long it will take to heat and cool, so I can wait a while before I start checking.

I’ve included step-by-step photos and directions below, so you can see how easy the process is.  I usually get the yogurt started in the evening after dinner, let it incubate in my warmed oven overnight, and then strain it the next day.  This works for me because then I don’t tie up my oven all day.  Because, you know, I love to bake, right?

Your homemade yogurt will keep for about a week in an airtight container in the fridge, but it never lasts that long around here. I eat this daily, and Julia is always asking for some of “Mommy’s homemade yogurt.” There are so many ways to enjoy this yogurt. It’s delicious left unsweetened and topped with some berries or granola. Sometimes I mix in a tiny bit of honey or vanilla extract (vanilla yogurt!). This yogurt is so incredibly rich and creamy with just a hint of tartness, I feel like I’m eating dessert when I eat it. If you have any interest in making homemade versions of things that you typically buy in the store, I encourage you to give this a try. But be warned, once you start making your own yogurt, it will be very hard to stop. 🙂

So… let’s make yogurt!

step heating milk in sauce pan on the stove

Heating the Milk

Pour 8 cups (2 quarts) milk into a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the milk reaches 180 degrees F. At this temperature, the milk will be steaming and starting to froth, but not yet boiling.  I usually use 2% milk, but you can also use whole, 1%, or skim.

step checking temperature of milk with thermometer

step cooling milk and checking for 100 to 115 degrees

Pour the milk into a glass or ceramic bowl and let it cool until it is between 110 and 115 degrees F. This is the temperature range needed to activate the yogurt cultures.  (Side note- I really need a new instant-read thermometer!  This one is not in any way instant, and it makes me crazy waiting for it to register the temperature.

step adding active cultures to milk

Then whisk in 1 tablespoon of plain yogurt.

cover bowls with towels

Cover the bowl with a lid or some plastic wrap and wrap it in a few heavy dish towels.

step covered bowl in oven 8 to 12 hours

Fermentation

Turn the oven on to any temperature, and allow it to preheat for one minute. Shut the oven off, turn on the oven light, and place the towel-wrapped bowl inside. Close the oven door and let the yogurt hang out in the warm oven for 8 to 12 hours. During this incubation time, you want the oven to stay warm (about 110 degrees), so you may want to check every few hours and repeat the one-minute warming cycle if needed. (I usually don’t worry about this because I let my yogurt incubate overnight, and it works just fine.)  My yogurt usually takes about 12 hours.

stirring yogurt with active cultures

You will know the yogurt is done when it looks like yogurt, with some liquid on top. This liquid is called whey and needs to be drained off before you will have thick Greek-style yogurt.

step straining homemade greek yogurt with cheesecloth over bowl

Straining the Yogurt

To do this, place a fine-mesh sieve over a large bowl. Line the sieve with some cheesecloth or a double layer of paper towels. Scoop the yogurt into the paper-towel lined sieve and cover it with some plastic wrap. Place it in the refrigerator for about 8 hours until the whey has drained off. (You can either discard the whey or use it in place of water when baking bread. It will keep in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.)

finished greek yogurt before stirring

Scoop the yogurt into a bowl and then stir/whisk until smooth.

finished yogurt stirred in glass bowl

finished greek yogurt in glass dish

Scoop the yogurt into a storage container, cover, and store in the refrigerator. Homemade yogurt will keep for about a week.  Look at that, you made yogurt!

greek yogurt ready to eat with blueberries on top in glass dish

 

Homemade Greek Yogurt

It’s so easy to make your own homemade yogurt! Start with milk and these step by step instructions with photos.
Course Snack
Cuisine Greek
Keyword homemade greek yogurt
Prep Time45 mins
Resting Time8 hrs
Total Time45 mins
Servings 3 -4 cups
Calories 319kcal

Ingredients

  • 8 cups milk (equal to half a gallon or two quarts) 2% milk recommended but whole, 1%, or fat-free will also work
  • 1 tablespoon plain yogurt must contain live active cultures, or homemade yogurt from a previous batch

Instructions

  • Pour the milk into a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the milk reaches 180 degrees F. At this temperature, the milk will be steaming and starting to froth, but not yet boiling.
  • Pour the milk into a bowl and let it cool until it is between 110 and 115 degrees F. This is the temperature range needed to activate the yogurt cultures. Then whisk in the plain yogurt. Cover the bowl with a lid or some plastic wrap and wrap it in a few heavy dish towels.
  • Turn the oven on to any temperature, and allow it to preheat for one minute. Shut the oven off, turn on the oven light, and place the towel-wrapped bowl inside. Close the oven door and let the yogurt hang out in the warm oven for 8 to 12 hours. During this incubation time, you want the oven to stay warm (about 110 degrees), so you may want to check every few hours and repeat the one-minute warming cycle if needed. (I usually don't worry about this because I let my yogurt incubate overnight, and it works just fine.)
  • You will know the yogurt is done when it looks like yogurt, with some liquid on top. This liquid is called whey and needs to be drained off before you will have thick Greek-style yogurt. To do this, place a fine-mesh sieve over a large bowl. Line the sieve with some cheesecloth or a double layer of paper towels. Scoop the yogurt into the paper-towel lined sieve and cover it with some plastic wrap. Place it in the refrigerator for about 8 hours until the whey has drained off. (You can either discard the whey or use it in place of water when baking bread. It will keep in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.)
  • Scoop the yogurt into a storage container, cover, and store in the refrigerator. Homemade yogurt will keep for about a week.

Notes

Nutrition estimate based on the use of 2% milk. 
Adapted from Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese

Nutrition

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 319kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 51mg | Sodium: 299mg | Potassium: 881mg | Sugar: 32g | Vitamin A: 642IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 763mg | Iron: 1mg
Nutrition information is an estimate.
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