Homemade Yogurt: No Measuring Required 51

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

Got milk? Homemade yogurt is really simple to make and eliminates a lot of little plastic cups!Easy Homemade Yogurt


  • Half-gallon 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*
  • Honey (about 1/4 cup)
  • Vanilla (a splash)

Pour the entire carton of milk into a large pot. Heat to 180 degrees (F) over medium-high heat stirring occasionally. (This is the thermometer I use.) 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:

  • 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.
  • Prepare your jars. You’ll need two quart or four pint jars.
  • Keep an eye on your thermometer.

At 125 degrees: 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: 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.

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. When you open up the cooler, you’ll have lovely thick yogurt to enjoy. Store in the refrigerator.

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

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51 thoughts on “Homemade Yogurt: No Measuring Required

  • Alexandra

    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

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

      • Kris Bordessa Post author

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

    • Kris Bordessa Post author

      We certainly don’t have buffalo yogurt here!

  • Sheryl

    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.

  • merr

    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

    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 Post author

      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

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

  • sarah henry

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

  • MyKidsEatSquid

    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.

  • Casey@Good. Food. Stories.

    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 Post author

      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


    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?

    • Kris Bordessa Post author

      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: http://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: http://t.co/w7BwW4C.

    • Dido

      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

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

  • Melodie

    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. 

    • Kris Bordessa Post author

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

  • Kellie

    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

      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

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

    • Kris Bordessa Post author

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

  • Dena

    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

    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 Post author

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

  • Kathy Luke

    Sorry. She is on a strict diet for crohns.

  • Kathy Luke

    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

    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

    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

    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

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

  • Candi

    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

      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

    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 Post author

      Just a glass jar filled with hot water. 😉

  • Michelle

    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

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

    • Kris Bordessa Post author

      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

    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 Post author

      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

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

  • Jennifer

    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

    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

    Can this be done with goat’s milk?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Kris Bordessa Post author

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

  • Paulette

    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 Post author

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