Nourishment : : Homemade Yogurt Recipe

Update! I rewrote my yogurt tutorial in 2016 with tips and tricks to make your yogurt even thicker. You can find it here.

One final repost before I roll back into town from our week away. Yogurt! There are so many ways to make it. This is our method. These days we insulate it for 24 hours (because we are on the GAPS diet) but we still use the same method I describe below.

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Yogurt is one of the easiest and most common fermented foods. And the cost is about half that of store-bought yogurt.

This recipe is nearly foolproof yogurt every time. No special equipment needed. Making yogurt is ridiculously easy. We make it three times a week.


 Homemade Yogurt Tutorial

1 Quart milk (raw is awesome but store-bought works great, too)

1 Tb yogurt culture (details on lively yogurt cultures are below)

Cooler, oven, heating pad or yogurt maker

Kitchen thermometer (optional)


Step 1: Heat

Warm 1 Qt of milk over medium-low heat until it is about to simmer. A skin will form on the top. Stir it in (my method) or lift it off (Pete's choice). If you are using a thermometer heat to 180 F/82 C.

Why heat? Heating the milk to nearly boiling kills anything living in your milk and gives the yogurt an unpopulated place to grow and thrive.

Remove from heat.


Step 2: Cool

Transfer your still hot (but not jar-breakingly hot) milk to a clean wide mouth quart jar. I do this little by little to ensure I don't crack my jar. Pour, swirl, wait. Pour, swirl, wait. Then pour the rest in.

Allow to cool until it feels warm but not hot to the touch (if you are using a thermometer it will be between 108 F – 110 F (42 – 43 C).) Cool adequately so that you don't kill your culture.


Step 3: Culture

Add 1 Tb of unflavored live yogurt.

How do you source good yogurt? Look local. Do you have a friend who makes yogurt? Ask for a bit. Is there a local or regional brand at your coop or grocery store? Try a small cup. Always choose unflavored yogurt because the sugars in sweetened yogurt weakens the culture and doesn't result in thick yogurt.

Blend the yogurt into a small bowl of milk or add to the jar and shake well (really well) to incorporate. Don't add extra. In yogurt making less is definitely more. I've experimented with different quantities for years, but only after reading Wild Fermentation did I find this perfect quantity. Our yogurt is now amazingly thick thanks to this minimal quantity of culture.


Step 4: Insulate

Place your quart jar in one of three places:

A. A cooler filled half way with very warm water. This method requires a bit of monitoring. Check the water temp a couple of times. Is it still warm? If not carefully scoop some out and replace with hot water.

B. A warm oven. Turn on your pilot light and place jar inside. This is our preferred method. We make yogurt in 1/2 gallon jars this way frequently.

C. A yogurt maker. There are styles with little glass cups that you can find second hand, or newer versions like the one above. I bought this one on Ebay for $8 including shipping. Score. In essence a yogurt maker adds heat and insulates to keep your yogurt warm while it cultures.

D. Heating pad on low heat. This can be tricky if your heating pad gets too hot, but can work beautifully. Place heating pat in the bottom of a cooler and cover with a thick towel. Set to low and place yogurt on top. Cover.


Step 5: Wait

Let your yogurt culture undisturbed for 4 – 12 hours. Four makes for mild, thick yogurt and the full 12 hours creates a more sour yogurt with no residual milk sugars – great for people sensitive to such things. Don't jostle your yogurt while it cultures or it will be thin and disappointing.

Step 6: Chill

Cool your yogurt before you scoop it out or it will separate a bit. My kids love warm yogurt and we use whey for lots of other things, so we sometimes scoop while warm, but if you want your yogurt to not separate pop it in the fridge for an hour.


Step 7: Enjoy!

Fill a bowl with your homemade yogurt, some fresh fruit, granola, or a drizzle of maple syrup. This yogurt is so good that I ate two bowls while writing this. Really.



26 thoughts on “Nourishment : : Homemade Yogurt Recipe

  1. kari b. says:

    This looks so easy. I have a yogurt maker and have only used it once trying to create yogurt with almond milk. It sucked and didn’t ferment at all, but it may have been my cultures.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I love this blog and check it just about everyday. I found out about you through the Farmama blog. Keep the great tutorials and recipes coming. I’m so envious of yours and Sara’s lifestyles. I know you know this but you are doing yourself and your children such a favor by raising them this way. Way to go Mama!!
    Also, I just ordered from LuSa and loved my products!!

    Thanks again,

  3. Lola says:

    Hey, I knew I recognized your name when I saw it on Pinterest and realized I’ve seen your company adds on other blogs. Anyway, I found your blog and I love it! We have so much in common!

  4. Rachel Wolf says:

    Lovely! I think you are the only person I dont know in person who Im following. What can I say. You pin sweet stuff.  (And welcome to my world. Im sure it feels oddly familiar already. 🙂 )
    ~ Peace ~


  5. denise renee says:

    you can also heat the milk to 110 and it will be raw with all of the nutrients still in tact (if you start with raw milk). it might be a little more runny (because the bacteria has a little more competition), but RAW! 🙂 i love adding english toffee sweet leaf stevia, about 5 drops per cup or so. it tastes like ice cream. if i really want a treat, i add cinnamon (great for stabilizing blood sugar and cholesterol), cardamon, nutmeg, vanilla etc. mmmmmm……..who needs ben and jerry’s!?

  6. Rachel Wolf says:

    Have you tried raw milk? I thought I was lactose intolerant but in fact I could simply not digest processed milk. If that isnt a match I would think LF milk would work just as well in yogurt making.


  7. plumbing says:

    You will need a candy thermometer to measure the temperature, a large container for mixing, a whisk and sterilized glass or porcelain containers for storage.

  8. Maekellan says:

    Hi Rachel,
    I have a yoghurt question for you. Ive been making yoghurt with store bought milk for almost a year with no troubles. We are now lucky enough to be able to get raw milk. Yay. But my yoghurt didn’t work. I usually just mix the cream through the milk to drink. When I got my yoghurt out of my flask the cream had set on top like sour cream and underneath was still milk, no thickness about it. Is this because I didn’t seperate the cream? Or do you have any suggestions?


  9. Rachel Wolf says:

    Hi Lou,
    Are you killing your raw milk first? Some say to use it as is – raw – but I find my yogurt is very watery when I do. I prefer to cook my milk to hot, cool to 80F, then add my culture. I dont skim but leave the cream in. Whisk the culture in well so it isnt just hung up in the cream on top. And try a longer culture time. 6 hours or more. Hope this helps! I made a gallon yesterday as I laid it out above (with cooked, raw milk, if that makes any sense!) and it is thick and lovely today.


  10. Kelly says:

    Even easier have 1 liter of milk sit in slow cooker on low for 2 hours shut off slow cooker wait 3 hours add in 1/2 to 1/3 cup of ready made yogurt ( take out some milk and add to the smaller amount then add to whole batch) wrap slow cooker in a nice cozy towel and put on the top of your fridge for the night . For thicker yogurt line a strainer with cheesecloth and set over a bowl in the fridge for the afternoon… to get cream cheese leave it for 2 days.

  11. Kelly says:

    I live in Canada so we can’t get raw milk and it still works as long as you don’t use ultra filtered milk.I even use skim.

  12. Gabrielle Smith says:

    My yogurt took a long time to set–that may have been because I didn’t use a thermometer and maybe didn’t heat the milk hot enough or allowed it to get too cool. There was a yellow liquid that settled at the top after it had set. Is that fat or whey? Do i mix that in or pour it off? At what point do I strain the yogurt if I want a thick consistency? Thanks for your help!

  13. Rachel Wolf says:

    Hi Gabrielle,
    I notice that depending on how lively my culture is it can take a longer time to set. (Like the batch I made yesterday for example!) I just ever so gently tip the jar to see if it is set or not. If not I leave it up to 24 hours. The yellow liquid is probably just fat. Ive had it happen as well. No worries! Cool your yogurt completely before you strain it if need be. If it is thin when cooled, purchase a fresh culture. Good luck!


  14. Gabrielle Smith says:

    Thanks for your reply, Rachel. Can you recommend a more lively culture? I added a Tb of Chobani plain Greek. Do you use a yogurt maker for your incubation? Do you think my starter culture wasn’t fresh enough? Also should I mix that yellow liquid in? Thanks again. Just sampled the yogurt I made yesterday–not bad! Definitely more healthful than the junk that’s at the store!

  15. Rachel Wolf says:

    Gabrielle, Weve had great results with Mountain High, which is available in the organic cooler at lots of groceries/coops. Also try Kalona (if you can find it). In a pinch you can buy culture here that lasts forever! Im going to do that soon to try some new cultures.

    As for stirring it in, I try not to stir my yogurt as it tends to separate. I just scoop that out little by little as we eat the yogurt.


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