Frugal Success #1: Homemade Yogurt

by Angela Davis on March 31, 2010

I feel like a homemaking superstar. I made homemade yogurt successfully. It was so easy, I know you can do it too.

I followed this recipe from Kitchen Stewardship to a tee. Katie has super-detailed instructions spelled out. I’ll just quickly recap what I was able to accomplish but be sure to thoroughly read her directions, especially if it’s your first time.

SUPPLIES: You will need the following items to make yogurt.

  1. milk – any fat percentage, regular, rBST free, organic or raw; I used clearanced organic from Safeway.
  2. yogurt starter — you really should get plain yogurt . Splurge and get a high quality yogurt; I got Nancy’s organic whole milk quart from Fred Meyer for $3.59. You can also get a single serving container of organic Nancy’s at New Seasons for about $1.39. Pull your starter from the refrigerator when you start the process so it warms up a bit.
  3. candy thermometer — you can make the yogurt without it, but it’s super helpful especially the first time
  4. glass jars — any type will do. I used canning and old pasta sauce jars. Make sure they are clean and dry before starting.
  5. large cooler
  6. big pot

STEP ONE: Heat to sterilize the milk (185 degrees).

Put a washcloth, rag or dishcloth on the bottom of your big pot. Put the jars in and fill them with milk, leaving an inch or two at the top.

Fill the pot with water. Stop about 3/4 the way up the jars. Put your thermometer in the water to sterilize it. Bring the water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, move the thermometer to the smallest jar or the one with the least amount of milk. You can reduce the heat to medium-high.

Once the temperature of the milk reaches 185 degrees, remove the jar. The milk is now sterilized. If you have different sized jars or the jars contain different quanities of milk, move the thermometer to the other jars and remove them when the milk hits 185 degrees.

STEP TWO: Cool the milk (90-120 degrees).

Once the milk has hit 185 degrees it must be cooled to the incubation range. I put my jars in the kitchen sink filled with cold water. I also threw in a freezer pack to speed the process up. Again, I put the thermometer in the smallest jar.

After all the jars have been removed from the boiling water, put the lid on the pot and turn the heat off. Don’t dump the water. You will need it in the next step.

Remove the jar from the sink once the milk reaches between 90 and 120 degrees. It took about 12 minutes for my small jar and 16-20 for the bigger ones. If you miss the window and the milk gets below 90 degrees, just reheat it on the stove.

STEP THREE: Add yogurt starter.

When the milk has reached the incubation temperature window, add your yogurt starter. Add two tablespoons to a quart jar. Gently stir it. Immediately put the lid on the jar.

STEP FOUR: Incubate.

While your milk is cooling in the sink, get your cooler ready for incubation. Put a large bath towel on the bottom of your cooler with one end hanging out the side. Place the pot of hot water (lid on) on one side of the cooler.

When the jars are ready, place them next to the pot (not in it).

Once all jars are in their places, take the lid off the pot, wrap the towel around everything and close the cooler lid.

Now don’t mess with it. Seriously. Leave it alone.

Your yogurt will be ready in 4 hours, though you can let it incubate for up to 24 hours. I left my yogurt in the cooler overnight for about 10 hours and it came out perfectly. I did not add additional hot water.

This isn’t the greatest picture, but believe me, it’s yogurt. I put the jars in the freezer for an hour (Kitchen Stewardship said it improves the texture).

Now I can make yogurt at a fraction of the cost of store-bought! And it’s really easy. I did most of the steps with a fussy baby in one arm.

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth September 22, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Where is the crock pot recipe?


loyda January 9, 2011 at 8:10 am

As for wanting thicker yogurt say like greek yogurt. All you have to do is pour some into some cheesecloth and let it sit out for a bit. It will drain more whey off and its much thicker! Delicious!!!


loyda January 9, 2011 at 8:08 am

I use when I make my yogurt. A few changes I make are I heat my milk in a saucepan and also cool it and leave it for the 7 hours in the saucepan. when its finished I then put it in a plastic container to store in the fridge! To keep it warm I preheat the oven for just a few minutes on the lowest setting, turn it off, keep a towel around the saucepan and slide it into the oven for the 7 hours. I have never had a bad batch…


Kelleigh @ Kelleigh Ratzlaff Designs October 23, 2010 at 11:07 am

I made this last night following your (and Katie’s) instructions, and it worked beautifully!! Thank you so much for posting pictures. It was nice to have a visual to refer to as I was nervously attempting this! My yogurt is to DIE for yummy! I used the free Fage yogurt I picked up at Safeway this week! So, double thank-you for sharing that deal!!


Rachel June 12, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Thanks for the suggestion. My yogurt is incubating right now!


me on 28th Ave SW June 11, 2010 at 6:13 pm

I’m searching for the crockpot recipe and haven’t found it yet. Which/where is the one you like best?? Thanks!


Michelle April 22, 2010 at 5:20 pm

No more yogurt cups filling the garbage? This has to be worth a shot. What a great thing to teach kids about bacteria, and that not all germs are bad for you. Also reducing the amount, or type of sugar my family consumes . . . priceless. I’ll have my kids help me out on this one, thanks for the post.


Christa April 1, 2010 at 8:40 am

I’ve been making crock pot yogurt exclusively for the last couple of months. Not only am I thrilled that my family is eating another food that I have control of the ingredients but we are also contributing less to the land fills. Which is yet another great benefit to making your own yogurt :~).


Kirsten March 31, 2010 at 10:16 pm

I was just reading a recipe for crock pot yogurt and she recommended adding a packet of gelatin to the milk if you want a thicker product or use a lower fat milk.


Angela March 31, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Just to answer some of the questions/responses:

1. if you use yogurt, to make is that making yogurt? You need a little yogurt because it contains the bacteria culture. I ended up using less than one half a cup to make almost a gallon of yogurt

2. you’re too lazy. I get it. But this is really, really, really easy. The directions make it sound like so much work. I actively worked for about 30 minutes and saved about $12 (the cost of buying it at the store minus the cost of my organic milk). That’s $24 an hour.

3. you’re already buying it at the store. I will still get the free yogurt at Safeway, but this is just so much better for you. And I’m trying to ween my kids off the super-sugar stuff. I will probably mix half sugar, store-bought yogurt with the plain homemade stuff.

Just some thoughts. If I did it, then it really is easy.


Abby March 31, 2010 at 6:25 pm

Wow you are mega mom!


Sara March 31, 2010 at 6:17 pm

PS You can easily double the crockpot recipe… I’m makng a gallon at a time. We eat it in about a week… It rocks ladies! I can’t say enough about homemade yogurt! :)


Brittany Sizemore January 7, 2011 at 2:15 pm

When doubling the crockpot recipe are there any changes that need to be made regarding time and temp?


Sara March 31, 2010 at 6:13 pm

I just recently started making homemade yogurt…. And we’re all addicted. Even my husband who hasn’t eaten yogurt in decades eats this by the bowl full (with frozen berries and honey instead of ice cream).

I’m using the basic crockpot recipe (did I get it from your site about 2 months ago?). I love this recipe because you literally dump in the milk, set your timer a couple times, stir in the starter, wait and voilĂ !

I love the fact that with homemade yogurt you know exactly what you are eating… Nothing fake added. Try it! You’ll be hooked in no time!


Diana March 31, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Great job! I’ve made yogurt before ~ I really should make it again! But I’m with the other posters, just too lazy! (And I don’t have a big enough cooler that is easily accessible!)

To make thicker yogurt, you can add in powdered milk, or strain it through cheese cloth (I am sure there is something you can do with the liquid but I’m not sure what!). Also, the longer you let it incubate, the thicker (to a degree) it will get. It will also get more sour as the culture grows.

Tilla, you are only adding in a couple tablespoons of yogurt into a quart size jar of milk. You just need enough yogurt to get the bacteria culture.

Here is another hint: Do not add sweetener / flavor until right before eating. The yogurt will keep a much longer amount of time plain. My favorite thing to add to plain yogurt is homemade jelly/jam. You can make it just about any flavor yogurt you want, that way!


Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship March 31, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Here is a post with some ideas for what you can do with the liquid if you strain your yogurt to thicken it:

You end up with whey!

Angela, good job taking the plunge! :)


Tilla Ham March 31, 2010 at 4:06 pm

question? if you use yogurt, to make is that making yogurt? seems like a great idea, but too many steps for this lazy open the yoplait top kinda girl;) wtg supermom


ruthann March 31, 2010 at 3:28 pm

that is cool- but free *with coupon is still cheaper for me than going through these steps… is this for when you find no markdowns at Safeway?
also- I happen to love fiber-fortified food… can you add fiber to yours?


selena March 31, 2010 at 2:51 pm

I’ve been wanting to learn how to do this!!! Thanks!


Jen March 31, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Way to go! To do it all with a fussy baby in one arm? That is an accomplishment in and of itself :)


Saving4myfamily March 31, 2010 at 2:46 pm

awsome!! glad u posted this.



Heather@BecauseMoreIsMore March 31, 2010 at 12:26 pm

You are a rock star! That is way too much effort for me (I know, I’m lazy). I do like the crock pot yogurt recipe, though. Hhhmmm….now I need to make some!


Michelle March 31, 2010 at 12:10 pm

I’ve made yogurt too but mine has the consistancy of drinkable yogurt. How thick was your yogurt?


Angela March 31, 2010 at 12:34 pm

It’s probably like the European style yogurt — a bit thinner than American. Like the O Organics at Safeway, but definitely not drinkable.


Sarah March 31, 2010 at 11:33 am

Thats great! I read that post awhile back, and I’ve been wanting to try making it, I just haven’t gotten around to it. You guys make it sound easy… it must be! I should try it soon. Thanks for this post!


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