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Make Your Own Yogurt--It's Easy

By , SparkPeople Blogger
When I was younger, my favorite author was Laura Ingalls Wilder, and of her books, Farmer Boy, was the one I reread most often.

Recounting the childhood of her husband, Almanzo Wilder, on an upstate New York farm, Farmer Boy is full of details about cooking from scratch and feeding a family. Together with the Little House cookbook, this book fueled my daydreams of cooking from scratch and being a pioneer girl. Fast forward 20 years, and some of those daydreams are a reality. I cook almost everything we eat from scratch, from spaghetti sauce and soup to granola and yogurt.

Yes, yogurt. While Almanzo and Laura milked cows, I buy mine from the supermarket--a local brand that makes milk the old-fashioned way.

A few months back, I started thinking about ways to cut out even more processed foods and saving money on our food bills. We're keen on granola, berries and Greek yogurt as a snack or breakfast. I already make my own granola, and I picked berries last summer and froze them. The only place to scrimp was the yogurt. We eat Greek yogurt, but it's really pricey--sometimes up to $5 or $6 a quart for the organic brand I like. I knew I had to find a cheaper alternative. When my boyfriend's mom gave us her slow cooker, I found my answer.

Using this easy recipe for Slow Cooker Yogurt (click the link for details and directions), I turn a half-gallon of milk into one quart of protein-rich Greek yogurt (I strain it overnight in the fridge over a bowl using unbleached coffee filters and a sieve) and about a quart of whey (which I use in my smoothies). The thickened yogurt easily scrapes off the coffee filters. I start the yogurt on Friday mornings, and it's ready for Saturday morning breakfasts.

We like unsweetened yogurt and use 2% milk. You can use skim, but I recommend adding a packet of unflavored gelatin to the finished yogurt to thicken it. My grandparents use skim milk and sugar-free flavored gelatin to make their yogurt.

My Slow Cooker Yogurt is slightly sweet, rich and creamy. I love it--and I'll never go back to store-bought again. And now, I'm saving at least $12 a month by making my own. (4 quarts=$24 or so; two gallons of milk=$12)

Will you try making your own yogurt? What is your favorite variety of yogurt?

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this sounds so easy, ive always wanted to try to make my own yogurt but it sounded complicated. I'm going to try this! Report
Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I decided to try it right after I read the article. I can't believe how easy it was! It does take some time, but it was so worth it. I love that I can make yogurt without added sugar and additives. My kids love it too. It is a thinner yogurt and I thought about straining it to make Greek style, but it made such a great smoothie with fresh fruit and vanilla that I didn't get a chance to strain it! Maybe next time. Report
I am so glad you posted this. I had tried making yogurt before and never like the thin consistency. But I made the slow cooker (crockpot) yogurt with nonfat milk and then strained it. I can now make my own marvelous Greek yogurt. Now what to do with all the whey? Report
I LOVE making my own yogurt! And you can do so many things with it! One of my favorites is a coffee smoothie. Report
Well I tried this again for the first time in nearly 20 years! I should have heated and cooled the milk first, to kill off any of the 'wrong' bacteria and get it to blood heat. It eventually worked - it took an extra day but I've just had a big bowl of yummy yogurt without a trip to the supermarket. And no fiddly equipment needed either :) Report
I will be doing this! Report
Btw, yogurt freezes well, too, especially Greek-style. Plain nonfat doesn't thaw as nicely as Greek-style and any low fat or full fat yogurt.
That sounds So yummy! I haven't made my own yogurt for years, I had a maker and didn't make more after the machine croaked. I won't add gelatin, though - it kills the lactobacilli, they suffocate w/o air. Report
I used to make homemade yogurt in the 70's in my gas oven. I just added a couple of tablespoons of yogurt with live culture in it to milk, stirred, covered the bowl with a kitchen towel, and left it in my oven overnight. No need to turn up the heat. The pilot light kept it warm enough. Report
Wow. I haven't made my own yogurt since the 1970's...but I probably still have the electric yogurt maker (with the six cups, lids long since lost) in a closet someplace. Maybe it's time to dig it out! Report
I usually just make mine with low fat milk powder coz fresh milk is expensive here. So mix it with warm water & add on a tablespoon of natural plain yoghurt to it. Leave covered overnit & next morning u hv yoghurt. My mum uses it for cooked dishes like fish curry & salads instead of using cocunut milk. Much healthier this way. Report
We make plain yogurt all the time - if you dont have a slow cooker all you do is boil whole or 2% milk - cool - when lukewarm add 1/2 cup plain yogurt(starter) and hand whisk - place mixture in a steel bowl - cover (or for even thicker yogurt find a container may of clay - and then place the mixture in that- the clay will absorb excess water) in your oven overnight with just the oven light on.
If your over does not have a light then warm the oven just a little and turn off and leave overnight.
In the morning remove and refridgerate. Report
I made this last night. I feel I can improve it a bit. but I have yogurt. A lot of yogurt. Report
I tried making it years ago and never had it come out right. This encourages me to try again. A slow cooker makes sense. I had used a warming tray. Report
I was so excited to try making yogart this weekend, but mine didn't thicken at all. I ended up with warm milk. I even added the gelatin just in case. I wonder what I did wrong? I used whole milk, all natural greek yogart with live cultures,k and gelatin. Any ideas? Report
This sounds terrific, and I can't wait to make it tonight! I eat a lot of yogurt and would love to save money instead of spending $2 + on each quart of yogurt. Report
Cant wait to try Report
Sounds easy. I am sure going to try it. Report
I am definitely going to give this a try. I spend a lot of money on greek yogurt. Thanks for the tip!

What type of whey do you use? I have whey protein powder, but I'm not happy with it. I'm still looking for something high protein that is truely flavorless. My whey protein powder SAYS it's flavorless, but it's definitely NOT! Report
I have a yogurt maker and the live cultures come from storebought yogurt. It't made over night and ready to eat. It's even great on baked potatoes. Report
Oh, this makes me happy. I LOVE greek yogurt...can't wait to try this Report
Thanks so much for posting this. We are big yogurt eaters, but hate paying the price of store bought yogurt and I am trying not to buy more kitchen clutter. I will be trying this idea the next time i go to the store Report
I love yogurt! I have a serving almost every day. My all-time favorite is honey-flavored Greek yogurt, but the price makes it only an occasional treat. There is a limited-edition flavor called coconut vanilla that is simply heaven for only 80 calories. I can't remember which brand, but I know it's at Kroger. Other favorites: acai cherry (and not because of the recent acai media craze) and blueberry pomegranate. Report
I'll give this a try. Report
This is really neat!!! I will try these. Thanks. Report
can't wait to try this! Report
I used to make goats milk yogurt when I had goats so I will try this for sure! Report
I am going to try this. I love yogurt. Report
Thanks Steph!! We got a slow cooker for Christmas and we both love Greek yogurt!! Report
May have to give it a shot:) Report
Sounds like alot of work. I like any type of greek yogurt (went to a personal trainer over last summer and she introduced me to it) but if it's plain I do need to add a little bit of some type of sweetener to it. Love to add any type of berries to it. Report
This article reminded me of when we were in language study in France in the 70s, we visited a family that lived atop a mountain. Actually a rolling high hill. They raised everything and only bought sugar and flour. They gave us delicious cherries to take back to school with us. What a tasty treat. Then in Africa, we would borrow starter from our coworkers to make a batch of yogurt, if we hadn't made it for a while. Report
Thanks so much for the info!!! I am a yogurt nut. I use greek style and I eat some everyday. I use it in smoothies and in recipes and I eat it with fresh fruits most times. I want to try to recreate the Greek kind with lower fat and more fresh fruits. I always add 2 Tbs. of wheat germ on top too. I'm a throwback of the 60's health craze!! Remember when Dannon was the first and only yogurt out there and it was packaged in milk carton cardboard?? hahaha. Those were the days!! I was also a vegetarian back then too!! Times have changed. But not the healthy attitude. I WILL DEFFINETLY TRY THIS RECIPE. THANKS. Report
Wow I will definitely have to try this! Report
Well, today I am making a batch of yogurt. No more buying it at the store except for the starter once in awhile. I love yogurt so thanks for the article it spurred me on to make my own. Report
I absolutely love greek yogurt, but where I live we can't always get it. We make a trip to the store every two weeks and if it isn't in stock then I wait another two weeks to see if I can get any. I can't wait to try this and see how it compares. Thanks Report
I will give this a try. thanks Report
This just sounds like way too much fun to pass up!!!! Report
I remember years ago having a Yogurt Machine but never have I heard of making Yogurt in the crock pot which I am definitely going to try this week.

Thanks so much for a great article.

Sunny332 Report
"(I strain it overnight in the fridge over a bowl using unbleached coffee filters and a sieve)"

You can do the same thing with single servings of regular yogurt (Dannon, etc) to make it thicker and more luxurious. You can also use cheesecloth instead of coffee filters.

I'd like to try this, but I wonder if it'd still turn out if I cut down the recipe? It would only be me eating it, and I wouldn't want to make all of that and have it go bad. What a waste that would be, you know? Report
I'm excited to try this recipe! I've become a HUGE fan of Greek yogurt, and yes, it's expensive! QUESTION: What makes it "Greek"? Is it the draining of the extra whey? Report
I'd love to try making my own yogurt, but adding chemical filled sugar-free gelatin to thicken it? Why not just buy the cheap chemical-filled yogurt in the first place? Much less work and all the same chemicals.

I definitely won't be doing that. Report
I am willing to give this a try. yorgurt can and is some expensive. I pay 5 dollars for 800ml portions and sometimes pay 4 dollars for a ltr when I find it on sale. next weekend project for sure. I can't wait! Report
I've been reluctant to develop a taste for Greek yogurt because of its expense, but maybe this will change my mind. Report
I used to make yoghurt an even easier way. When you've finished a pot of 'live' yoghurt, leave the scrapings in the tub, and fill it up again with milk then stir to combine. Leave it in the airing cupboard overnight and in the morning you've got yoghurt. I also made soft spreading cheese this way by straining the resulting yoghurt. Eventually the culture doesn't work as well so you have to buy another fresh pot. Thank you for reminding me of this, I will soon be switching to a combi boiler so I won't have an airing cupboard or hot press any more, so I'll be able to use the slow cooker method then. Report
Can't wait to try this with our low-fat goat'smilk, that is left after removal of the cream for the super-fatted soaps we make. Good use of milk and good for you! Report
Great idea......I am not a fan of Greek yogurt......prefer Yoplait light Report
Thanks for the great idea and resipe. My huband and I just started eating greek yogurt and Love it. We will have to try thiss out. Thanks. Report
I going to try this! Report
@LEONE4MM... yup, a slow cooker and a Crock Pot are the same thing. Crock Pot is a brand name so sometimes ppl don't use it to avoid complications when they publish stuff. :-) Report
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