How to Make Homemade Yogurt

Homemade yogurt might just be my favorite thing to make on our homestead – it is delicious and so easy! Homemade yogurt us significantly better than storebought and making your own yogurt can also save you money.

When our goats were producing milk, we made goat milk yogurt a few times a week and my kids were pretty much raised on this delcious food. In this article we’ll share exactly how to make homemade yogurt with just a few easy steps.


Quick Look at How to Make Homemade Yogurt

Below we will go into detail with exact steps for how to make yogurt, but the process is relatively easy and straighfoward and is done in just 3 steps.

  • Step 1: Heat milk to 180°F, then cool to 110°F
  • Step 2: Add yogurt starter culture (or active yogurt), incubate at 110°F for 4-6 hours.
  • Step 3: Refrigerate the yogurt, and enjoy (add flavoring if you prefer)
how to make homemade yogurt
How to make homemade yogurt

Ingredients for Making Yogurt

You only need a few ingredients for making yogurt. Since there are only a few things that go into making yogurt – it’s important to select high quality ingredients for the best tasting yogurt. Below are the ingredients you need:

Milk – you can use either pasturized or unpasturized milk. I have found pasturized milk tends to make my yogurt more solid. You can also use goat milk. In general I prefer to make yogurt with whole milk for a rich creamy taste.

Yogurt Starter – yogurt is made from live and active cultures. To start you’re yogurt you need either a yogurt culture or to use plain yogurt purchased at the grocery store (or a nearby market) as your starter. Once you’ve made your first batch, you can keep using your yogurt at the starter. I usually use yogurt to start my yogurt, but have also used this culture.

Optional Flavoring: once you’ve made your yogurt, you can eat it plain or you can flavor it. Below are some possible things you can use to flavor your yogurt.

  • Fresh Fruit: Mix in fresh berries, sliced bananas, diced mango, or any seasonal fruits for a burst of natural sweetness and texture.
  • Honey or Maple Syrup: Drizzle honey or maple syrup over your yogurt for a touch of sweetness. Stir it in for an even distribution.
  • Vanilla Extract: Add a few drops of pure vanilla extract to give your yogurt a warm and aromatic flavor.
  • Citrus Zest: Grate the zest of citrus fruits like lemon or orange into your yogurt for a refreshing, citrusy kick.
  • Jam or Fruit Preserves: Spoon in your favorite jam or fruit preserves for a quick and easy way to infuse flavor.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Sprinkle chopped nuts (almonds, walnuts, or pistachios) or seeds (chia, flaxseeds) for a crunchy texture and added nutritional value.
  • Cinnamon or Nutmeg: Dust a pinch of ground cinnamon or nutmeg for a warm and comforting flavor profile.
  • Cocoa Powder: Mix in unsweetened cocoa powder to create a chocolate-flavored yogurt. Add a sweetener if desired.
  • Coconut Flakes: For a tropical twist, stir in coconut flakes or coconut shavings.
  • Herbs: Experiment with fresh herbs like mint or basil for a unique and savory yogurt experience.
  • Granola: Top your yogurt with granola for a combination of textures and flavors.
How to make homemade yogurt

Equipment for Making your Own Yogurt

There are many different methods for making homemade yogurt. Ultimately they all accomplish the same thing – heating your milk, and then maintaining your milk for 4-6 hours at around 110 degrees.

Many people prefer to use a yogurt maker to make their yogurt. This simplifies the process and was how I first started making yogurt. The benefits of using a yogurt maker is well regulated temperature and you will often get your yogurt in small containers making it easy to pack for a lunch or eat for breakfast. You can find a number of different yogurt makers online.

While a yogurt maker does make it easier, I prefer making my yogurt directly into large mason jars. This is more efficient for me both in terms of storing my yogurt and cleaning the containers. To do this, I use a small cooler for the incubation stage of making yogurt.

Another popular method is making your yogurt in a crock pot or even in the oven with just the light on to keep the temperature up. In this post I will be outlining the method I use (which is with a small cooler).

Here are the supplies you will need to make Homemade Yogurt:

Steps for Making Yogurt

Below is a step by step description for how to make homemade yogurt using a small cooler as an incubator. You can also see a few additional suggestions for other ways to incubate at the bottom of this section.

Step 1: Heat the Milk

You can use any amount of milk to make yogurt. I prefer to make yogurt with 1/2 gallon of milk at a time. This provides my family of 5 with about 3-4 days of yogurt.

Heat the milk gradually over medium to medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent scalding. Bring the milk to a temperature of 180°F (82°C) to pasteurize it, ensuring any harmful bacteria are eliminated. If you are using pasturized milk – you can skip this although I will prefer to heat the milk as this bring it up to above the 110 degree temperature needed for incubation.

How to make homemade yogurt

Step 2: Cooling the milk

Once the milk has reached 180s, turn off your burner and allow your milk to cool. I prefer to let the milk cool slowly on the stovetop for about 20-30 minutes. Once the milk feels warm but not hot to the touch – around 180 degrees F, pour a small amount of milk (about 1/2 cup) into a bowl, add your yogurt starter and mix.

Pour this back into the milk and mix thouroughly.

Transer the milk/yogurt mixture to your mason jars.

How to Make Yogurt
How to Make Yogurt

Step 3: Incubating the milk

Put the mason jars inside a small cooler. Pour in some hot water to cover the bottom inch of the cooler. Cover the cooler and allow the yogurt to incubate. After 2-3 hours check the inside to the cooler to make sure it still feels warm. I typically add some more hot water to keep the temperature around 110 degrees F.

How to Make Yogurt

Alternate Ways to Incubate your Yogurt

Using a cooler is my favorite way to make yogurt – and I’ve tried them all. Here are some of the other popular methods for incubating yogurt.

  • Yogurt Maker: Use a dedicated yogurt maker, a specialized appliance designed for maintaining a consistent incubation temperature. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for optimal results.
  • Oven: Preheat your oven to the lowest temperature (usually around 170°F or 75°C), then turn it off. Place the yogurt mixture in the turned-off oven with the light on for warmth. Ensure the temperature stays around 110°F (43°C) by periodically checking with a thermometer.
  • Thermos or Insulated Container: Pour the prepared yogurt mixture into a pre-warmed thermos or a well-insulated container. Seal it tightly to retain heat for the required incubation period.
  • Instant Pot or Multi-Cooker: Some multi-cookers, like the Instant Pot, have a yogurt function that can maintain the ideal incubation temperature. Follow the appliance’s instructions for yogurt-making.
  • Warm Water Bath: Place the yogurt container in a warm water bath, such as a larger bowl filled with warm water. This method helps maintain a consistent temperature throughout the incubation process. This is simlar to the method I use with the cooler but you can also use this method even in you don’t have the right cooler.
  • Heating Pad: Wrap the yogurt container with a towel and place it on top of a heating pad set to a low temperature. This method provides a steady and controlled heat source for fermentation.
How to Make Yogurt

Checking for Doneness

After 4-6 hours, check the consitency of the yogurt. You are looking for runny to stiff yogurt. If your yogurt is still too liquidy – give it some more time. You can even leave your yogurt overnight. I’ve found that using pasturized milk, especially with a greek yogurt started provides the most solid yogurt.

Once your yogurt is done, you can eat immediately or put it in your fridge.

How to Make Yogurt

Finishing your Yogurt

You don’t need to do anything to your yogurt to enjoy it, but there are many options for creating a flavored and delicious yogurt. We love to make fresh granola and add fruit to our yogurt or stir in a little honey of jelly to add some fruit flavoring.


Below are a few of the most common problems when making yogurt (but honestly these problems are rare!

  1. Thin Yogurt:
    • Issue: The yogurt turns out too thin or runny.
    • Solution: Increase the incubation time. The longer fermentation allows the cultures to further thicken the yogurt. Additionally, ensure the milk is heated to the proper temperature during the initial heating stage. Check that you are using active cultures.
  2. Separation of Whey:
    • Issue: Whey separates from the yogurt, creating a watery layer.
    • Solution: This can occur if the yogurt is incubated at too high a temperature. Lower the incubation temperature and stir the yogurt gently after incubation to redistribute the whey. Straining the yogurt through cheesecloth or a fine-mesh sieve can also help achieve a thicker consistency.
  3. Unpleasant Taste or Smell:
    • Issue: The yogurt has an off-putting taste or smell.
    • Solution: Check the freshness of your milk and the expiration date of the yogurt starter culture. Ensure that all equipment and containers are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized. If the yogurt has been incubated for too long, it may develop an undesirable flavor, so be mindful of the incubation time.

Homemade Yogurt Recipe

Homemade Yogurt

Learn the easy and fun steps to make your own delicious yogurt at home.


  • Pot for Heating the Milk
  • Thermometer (I use a standard candy thermometer)
  • 2 Large Mason Jars
  • Small Cooler
  • Spoon or wisk to stir


  • 1/2 gallon Whole Milk
  • Yogurt Starter (active yogurt – 1/4 cup or a yogurt culture)


  • Prepare the Milk: Heat the milk to 180°F (82°C) – Stir frequently to prevent scalding. Allow the milk to cool to around 110°F (43°C).
  • Inoculate and Mix: Add the yogurt starter culture to the cooled milk. Use either store-bought plain yogurt with live active cultures or a powdered yogurt starter. Transfer to Jars and Place in Cooler:
  • Incubate your Milk: Place the jars in a pre-warmed cooler. To pre-warm, you can add warm water to the cooler – check temperature several times.
  • Finish Your Yogurt: Maintain the temperature at around 110°F (43°C) for 4 to 6 hours. Enjoy your yogurt

Looking for other homemade dairy? Check out:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

Get a FREE copy of the ebook: The Modern Homestead and access to our community exclusively for backyard gardeners and homesteaders.

Just straight up homesteading ideas sent directly to you.

Learn more about the Modern Homesteading Academy, a low cost series of ebooks and mini-courses.


This will close in 15 seconds