How to Make Yogurt the Easy Way: No Measuring Required

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Got milk? Here’s how to make yogurt at home. It is really simple to make, tastes great, and eliminates a lot of little plastic cups!

tulip shaped glass jars with yogurt and strawberries on top

How to make yogurt at home

I’ve been making my own yogurt for several years now and I’m here to tell you: it’s easy. It tastes great, it’s MUCH cheaper than store-bought, and it doesn’t come with any packaging. I make vanilla yogurt and top it with fruit or homemade jam or jelly for a variety of flavors.

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There are a lot of different recipes out there for making yogurt at home. The basic ingredients are generally the same; it’s the method that changes. Some people make it in their slow cooker. Some use an oven set to low. Others use a dehydrator to keep the yogurt warm as it ferments. I’ve successfully used my slow cooker, but what I like about this recipe is that it doesn’t require any extra appliances.

Yogurt ingredients

The base for this yogurt recipe is milk (cow’s milk). If you have access to raw milk, that’s my favorite way to make it. You can also use store-bought milk, but try to find milk that hasn’t been ultra-pasteurized for the best chance at success.

You’ll need a “live culture” to get the fermentation process going. This can be a store-bought container of yogurt or, once you’ve made a successful batch, you can use homemade yogurt as the starter. This works great, but you need to make it on a regular basis to keep that cycle going.

I like to sweeten my homemade version with honey, but if you prefer sugar, that will work. Just add it to the milk as soon as you remove it from the heat, to make sure that it dissolves fully.

The process

While this is not difficult and the hands-on time is limited, you do need to pay attention while this recipe is in process. (Hint: A kitchen timer is your friend!)

First, you’ll warm the milk to 180 degrees. Then you’ll set it aside for half an hour or so until it cools to 125 degrees, at which point you can stir in the honey. When it cools to 110 degrees, you’ll add the remaining ingredients. Allowing the mixture to cool is necessary! Adding yogurt cultures to a hotter mixture will kill off the bacteria necessary for proper fermentation.

A note about raw yogurt: 

The reason we heat the liquid to 180 degrees and then allow it to cool is to kill off any bad bacteria (before adding the good bacteria). Proponents of raw dairy products skip this step, heating the milk to only 110 degrees which gives it the warmth it needs to ferment properly.

Fermentation

Once the ingredients are combined, you’ll need to keep the jars warm overnight. For this, I use a great quality cooler. This is where you could also use a dehydrator or a slow cooker. Once thickened, store this yogurt in the refrigerator for up to a week.

tulip shaped glass jars with yogurt and strawberries on top

★ Did you make this homemade yogurt recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

How to Make Yogurt (Without Measuring!)

How to Make Yogurt (Without Measuring!)

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Got milk? Here's how to make yogurt at home. It is really simple to make, tastes great, and eliminates a lot of little plastic cups!

Ingredients

  • 64 oz milk, (I’ve used whole raw milk and low-fat local milk with success. Use milk that has not been ultra-pasteurized, if possible.)
  • 6 oz container of yogurt with active live cultures*
  • 1/4 cup honey, (to taste)
  • Splash vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Pour the entire carton of milk into a large pot. Heat to 180 degrees (F) over medium-high heat stirring occasionally. Once you’ve achieved that temperature, remove the milk from the heat and allow to cool for about half an hour, depending on your household temperature. (I set my kitchen timer in ten minute increments otherwise I will forget about it)

While your milk is cooling:

  1. Fill a container with hot water and place it inside a small ice chest. Close the ice chest, allowing the hot water to warm the inside so it’s all ready to incubate your milk.
  2. Prepare your jars. You’ll need two quart or four pint jars.
  3. Keep an eye on your thermometer.

At 125 degrees:

  1. Add about a quarter cup of honey (don’t measure – just eyeball it and save yourself a sticky container to clean) and a splash of vanilla. Adding these ingredients now will help the honey to dissolve and will cool the mixture a bit more. If you like a sweeter yogurt, add a bit more honey.

At 110 degrees:

  1. Stir in the container of store bought yogurt. Use a whisk and make sure it’s really mixed in well. Do not get excited and add the yogurt before the milk cools to this stage or you will kill the live cultures.
  2. Once the starter yogurt is well incorporated, pour the mixture into jars, seal, and place immediately into the pre-warmed cooler alongside the hot water bottle. Close the cooler securely and leave it for eight hours or overnight. (If your cooler isn't really well insulated, wrap it in a heavy blanket to help retain heat.)
  3. When you open up the cooler, you’ll have lovely thick yogurt to enjoy. Store in the refrigerator.

Notes

*Once you have created your first batch of yogurt, you can use it instead of the store bought yogurt to make your next batch.

Once the ingredients are combined, you'll need to keep the jars warm overnight. For this, I use a great quality cooler. This is where you could also use a dehydrator or a slow cooker. Once thickened, store this yogurt in the refrigerator for up to a week.

A note about raw yogurt: 

The reason we heat the liquid to 180 degrees and then allow it to cool is to kill off any bad bacteria (before adding the good bacteria). Proponents of raw dairy products skip this step, heating the milk to only 110 degrees which gives it the warmth it needs to ferment properly. 

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 183Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 4gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 107mgCarbohydrates: 20gSugar: 21gProtein: 7g

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Meet the Author

Kris Bordessa

Kris Bordessa founded Attainable Sustainable as a resource for revitalizing vintage skills. Her book, Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living (National Geographic) offers a collection of projects and recipes to help readers who are working their way to a more fulfilling DIY lifestyle.

52 comments… add one
  • Alexandra May 2, 2011, 8:17 am

    You have inspired me! I will start making my own yogurt again. I used to make it with buffalo yogurt as the starter, because it came out firmer that way, but then the local health store stopped carrying the buffalo yogurt. Also, I have discovered that organic whole milk works best in our area.

    • Debbie May 2, 2011, 9:36 am

      Use greek yogurt for firmer texture, it works very well. We make our own all the time.

      • Kris Bordessa May 2, 2011, 9:47 am

        My husband loves Greek yogurt; I’ll have to try it that way sometime.

    • Kris Bordessa May 2, 2011, 9:48 am

      We certainly don’t have buffalo yogurt here!

  • Sheryl May 2, 2011, 11:44 am

    Interesting! I remember years ago there was a way to make yogurt from a “kit” that you could purchase…but I don’t remember how exactly it worked. I’ll bet the taste of homemade yogurt is wonderfully fresh.

  • Living Large May 3, 2011, 1:51 am

    This looks yummy. I’m going to give it a try!

  • merr May 4, 2011, 8:26 am

    Wow! I admit that I will likely never make my own yogurt (don’t eat much of it!) but this post was an absolutely fascinating read. I learn A LOT – and really enjoyed it. Thanks, Kris!

  • Jane Boursaw May 4, 2011, 10:37 am

    I was JUST talking to my hubby about how we used to make our own yogurt back in the day. We had a little doohickey warmer machine with little glass jars and tops. I have no idea where that piece of kitchen gadgetry ever went, but I think it’d be fun to make yogurt again. And fun to see the shout-out to Diana B. 🙂

    • Kris Bordessa May 4, 2011, 7:57 pm

      I toyed with getting a yogurt maker at first, but I just don’t have room for a piece of equipment that does only one thing. This method works just fine!

    • Emily Sewell Feb 23, 2015, 3:08 pm

      Had the same yogurt maker. Also don’t know what happened to it. Let’s do it again.

  • sarah henry May 5, 2011, 3:44 am

    We eat so much yogurt in my home I really need to start making my own. Thanks for the step-by-step guide.

  • MyKidsEatSquid May 5, 2011, 5:48 am

    So cool. I say a yogurt maker at a gourmet store this week–this would be so much less expensive and the possibilities with making your own flavors…I need a better ice chest though.

  • [email protected] Food. Stories. May 5, 2011, 6:58 am

    Sigh – I used to make homemade yogurt all the time when I had a long commute and needed lots of snacks to get me through the day. I think it’s time to get back on the yogurt train! Have you ever tried this with a soft-sided cooler?

    • Kris Bordessa May 6, 2011, 12:10 pm

      I haven’t tried it with a soft sided cooler, but as long as your cooler is good at retaining temperature, it should matter if it’s soft or hard sided. Wrapping the cooler in a big quilt could help retain warmth if you are concerned about that.

  • Beth Jun 20, 2011, 5:35 am

    Hi,

    I want to make homemade yogurt and use some of it for my son to take in his lunch box to school. But I am really struggling to find suitable containers. Any ideas?
    Thanks

    • Kris Bordessa Jun 22, 2011, 6:15 am

      I presume that you’re asking because you want to avoid plastic. And glass isn’t too good for a kid’s lunch. These are stainless with bpa-free plastic lids: https://t.co/aqNWW2s. The stainless containers w/stainless lids I’ve used haven’t been leak proof, but these have a screw on lid and are *supposed to be leak proof: https://t.co/w7BwW4C.

    • Millby Feb 23, 2015, 5:43 pm

      Thermos

    • Dido Jun 5, 2015, 1:57 pm

      Walmart sells a wonderful wide mouth Thermos brand thermos – it’s grey metal with a folding spoon in the lid and it holds 2 cups. It is leakproof and if you pre-chill it, it keeps things very cool until lunch. It’s the only really good one I’ve every found.

  • Cindy Green Sep 8, 2013, 6:08 am

    If you save a cup out you can use that next time instead of purchasing new yogurt to make it again.

  • Melodie Dec 24, 2013, 4:27 am

    I have made yogurt (on the stove) and put it on a heat pad on low – cover with a towel overnight and you will have yogurt the next day. I made mine in a gallon jar this way for years. 

  • Sabrina Apr 23, 2014, 3:56 pm

    How long does the yogurt keep in the fridge?

    • Kris Bordessa Apr 23, 2014, 4:20 pm

      I’d *guess a couple of weeks. But I have two grown boys, so it doesn’t ever make it that far. 😉

  • Kellie Apr 23, 2014, 6:30 pm

    This sounds fun! I have a couple of questions:) do you think it could be made unsweetened? Also that heating pad got me thinking… I have a warming drawer in my kitchen I never use? Would that work, say on low? Or what about an electric crock pot on low, replacing the cooler? Love your posts!

    • Peggu Apr 24, 2014, 4:00 am

      I have not tried this yet but I have seen other yogurt recipes that suggest using a crock pot. Maybe google it to get ideas.

  • Rebecca Ponder Apr 23, 2014, 7:34 pm

    Can you use some of the leftover yogurt to start a new batch instead of buying more?

    • Kris Bordessa Apr 23, 2014, 7:48 pm

      Yes! Once you’ve got your own going, you can use it!

  • Dena Apr 23, 2014, 11:53 pm

    After you have made your yogurt stir in a pinch or two of salt then strain it overnight through a cheesecloth lined colander over a bowl and you will have “labne” or a form of cream cheese

  • Leslie Apr 24, 2014, 8:39 am

    I use my oven just warmed up and then turned off with a ‘hot’ water bottle inside. I have also left the light on for about 10 minutes to reheat a bit about 1/2 way thru. I was wanting to try the low temp method instead of heating until 180 degrees. Is it the same process, just only heat to 125 degrees and then let cool? And does it last as long?, mine (at 189 degree heated) lasts 2-3 weeks in the fridge. Thanks for all the great advise.

    • Kris Bordessa Apr 27, 2014, 7:16 am

      I’m still experimenting with the raw milk version. I’ll update with a new post when I get it dialed in!

  • Kathy Luke Apr 24, 2014, 11:44 am

    Sorry. She is on a strict diet for crohns.

  • Kathy Luke Apr 24, 2014, 11:47 am

    I was using the oven while visiting my daughter. I changed the light bulb to 60 watt and it works great. But when I got home my oven had two small bulbs that use smaller sockets. So my oven won’t work. I also used the ceramic bowl and lid from the crock pot which holds 1 gallon.
    I tried the crock pot on warm but it didn’t work. Don’t know if it didn’t work cause it wasn’t warmed first.
    Also tried with almond milk but mine didn’t get firm. Made it the same time as the other yogurt that turned out perfect.
    I also strain mine after using a white”tea towel” that I bought art Walmart in the kitchen towel department.
    Though it is finished in 7hrs, the longer you leave it, the more probiotics. I leave mine for 24 hrs accord to a friend who is on a strict diet for healing Crohns. What she learned the longer you leave it the more nutrients. So I keep mine 24 hrs.

  • Theresa May 10, 2014, 3:38 pm

    Please, please follow up with making it raw.  I specifically buy organic raw milk and it just kills me to heat it to 180, destroying all the good stuff in it.

  • Laura Jul 3, 2014, 5:14 am

    Just an funny thing. I actually have one white glass (looks like a cup) from a yogurt maker (salton?) years ago. Now I got married at 21 and I’m 59. It was from my teens. Making this today especially since the price has gone up up up!

  • Melissa Feb 23, 2015, 8:35 am

    I love this! While I usually shy away from “a dash of this” and “a splash of that”, this process is right up my alley! Thanks 🙂

  • Liana Feb 25, 2015, 12:57 pm

    I make mine in a crockpot and it works great! Non dairy milk will need a thickening agent from what I’ve read.

  • Candi Mar 1, 2015, 4:07 pm

    Ugh…… Why does yogurt have to be such a precise science? I’m not a precise person at all……. I may need to check out the heating pad or crock pot method.

    Thanks for the info!

    • ozge Mar 21, 2015, 9:52 pm

      actually it does not to be a precise science. i am from turkey and all i use is my pinky and never failed for more than 30 years. my great grandmothers did not own a thermometer either 🙂 you heat up the milk on the stove and check the heat with your pinky, if it feels hot that is the right temperature unless you have high heat tolerance. if you cannot stand let it cool and check again. use one rounded tablespoon yogurt for each quart of milk plus one more tablespoon. mix the yogurt in a bowl, temper it with some of the milk you heated then pour it in the milk pot. you can leave your mixture there or pour in other vessels, i prefer mason jars, put them together and cover with a blanket. let it stay there 8-10 hours and transfer them to the fridge. it will get thicker as it cools. mix any flavors after the yogurt is done.

  • Tina Chadwick Mar 21, 2015, 5:06 am

    Forgive me for asking a probably silly question, but when you say hot water bottle, do you mean the rubber type we used to fill up to warm childrens feet or a jar/bottle filled with warm water? I don’t have the rubber kind.

    • Kris Bordessa Mar 21, 2015, 6:55 am

      Just a glass jar filled with hot water. 😉

  • Michelle Apr 5, 2015, 2:04 am

    I just made this and wow!!!! I have had my milking goat for a little over a month. This yogurt was so good. Creamy and just a hint of sweetness and vanilla. My fiancé was not expecting to like it as much as he did. Now to serve it up for Easter breakfast and see what the kids and the parents think.

  • Sherry Sullivan Apr 7, 2015, 3:57 am

    What is the shelf life of this product once made? Thanks

    • Kris Bordessa Apr 24, 2015, 8:24 am

      Hm. I have two grown boys. I’m not sure we’ve ever made it to “outdated” before it was gone. A week or so?

  • sarah May 3, 2015, 4:18 pm

    Have u added fruit to the individual jars? I made a batch once (using a crockpot….worked great!) But when I tried to add fruit to it and leave it in the fridge, it seemed to separate out. I was too lazy to cut up the fruit for the yogurt everytime the kids wanted some, so I didn’t do it again (they wouldn’t eat it plain). Was wondering if u had tips on that…..thanks!

    • Kris Bordessa May 4, 2015, 6:29 am

      I usually just top mine with a bit of homemade jam, so no – no fruit stirred in. Not sure how to remedy that one.

  • cathy May 10, 2015, 4:32 am

    Has anyone tried this with coconut milk? Andany update on the low heat methods with raw milk? Thank you!

  • Jennifer Jul 7, 2015, 4:02 am

    I use the warming lights on top of my stove and they work great. I’ve always used plain yogurt as a starter. You don’t specify plain in your recipe. Is it possible to use flavored yogurt as your starter? I really want to try this with a new brand of Australian yogurt that I live, but I can’t find plain.

  • Barb Onneken Jul 7, 2015, 6:34 pm

    I turn my oven on to warm it up at the lowest setting, just a little, then turn it off. Wrap the yogurt in jars or in my dutch oven in a thick towel and leave the light on overnight. Refrigerate the next day all day. Works beautifully. I use greek yogurt as a starter and I don’t add anything at all. It is nice and thick. We eat it with homemade granola and real maple syrup for breakfast every day. I make a gallon of milk at a time and it will last easily 2-3 weeks in the fridge.

  • Sally Connor Jan 22, 2017, 5:48 pm

    Can this be done with goat’s milk?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Kris Bordessa Feb 1, 2017, 7:57 am

      I have not tried it with goat milk. If you do, report back!

  • Paulette Jan 23, 2017, 5:19 pm

    My Mother-In-Law uses the oven with the light on to keep her bread dough warm while rising, would that be too warm for the yogurt set stage?

    • Kris Bordessa Feb 1, 2017, 7:57 am

      My mom did the same. I doubt it would be too warm. Maybe not warm enough? All you can do is try!

  • Michelle Mar 24, 2018, 7:37 pm

    I’ll definitely make this again!

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