Several years ago, my friend taught a class on making yogurt and cheese. Along with over a dozen women from church, I sat in amazement as she showed us how easy it is to make yogurt.
You don’t need a fancy, retro yogurt maker with individual serving cups. In fact, one of the great things about making yogurt in the crock pot or slow cooker is that you can make as much as your crock pot will hold. I am all about making (and buying) in bulk to save time and effort (and clean-up) in the kitchen.
Why would I want to make yogurt?
Yogurt with live and active cultures helps maintain the good bacteria in your intestines, which helps with the digestive and immune system. Yogurt can help prevent and treat yeast infections, which are often caused by antibiotics killing off the good bacteria that keep yeast under control. Since it’s made from milk, yogurt brings calcium, protein and other dairy nutrients as well.
Not only is yogurt good for your body, it’s great for your budget as well. Yogurt has one of the highest price mark-ups in the grocery store, so I was thrilled to know that making your own yogurt is very cost effective. Before I go through the steps, let me show you just how cost effective making your own yogurt is.
The ingredients will cost you about $3.00 ($2.50 for a gallon of milk, $.50 for a yogurt cup) and will yield 134 oz (128 oz of milk + 6 oz yogurt start). That is 22 yogurt cups-worth of yogurt. At the store they cost $.50 each, but made at home they cost less than $.14 each ($3.00/22). In other words, it would cost you $11 to buy the amount of yogurt that you can make for $3.00!
Homemade Yogurt in the Slow Cooker
- Slow Cooker– If you plan to do a gallon, your slow cooker needs to be larger than 4 quarts
- Thermometer– Can be digital or just a regular candy thermometer
- Towel- A bath towel or two
- 1 Gallon of Milk
- 1 Single-serving 6 oz Yogurt cup (with live yogurt cultures)
My current crock pot holds an entire gallon, so I pour the whole thing in. If yours holds a little less that is perfectly fine (my old one held less, but I always followed the “recipe” just the same). I set my crock pot to high and leave it for 3-4 hours or until it reaches 185 degrees (it’s okay if it goes a little over).
You could also heat the milk up in a double boiler or in the microwave, but you would have to pay more attention to it. I like being able to turn it on and forget about it for a while.
Once it reaches at least 185 degrees, turn off the slow cooker and let it cool down to just under 120 degrees (115-119 is perfect). If you leave the lid on, it will take forever to cool down, but if you just take the lid off and let it sit, it will get a “skin” on the top. My preferred cool-down method is putting the crock (stoneware part, not the part that plugs in!) in an ice water bath in the sink. I stir it for a few minutes while it cools to prevent skin from forming.
When it gets down to about 120 degrees, take out 1 to 2 cups of warm milk. Stir the yogurt start (the single-serving yogurt cup you bought or about the same amount of yogurt from your last homemade batch) into the 1 to 2 cups of warm milk to temper it.
When it is fully incorporated, mix it back into the crock of warm milk and stir thoroughly.
Cover the crock with a thick towel and let it sit still overnight (or somewhere between 8 and 12 hours). The longer it sits, the tangier the flavor. I usually heat my oven up a wee bit (maybe 100 degrees) and then turn it off. I try to plan it so that I stick my towel-covered crock pot into the oven just as I’m heading off to bed. I leave myself a reminder on the kitchen counter to get the yogurt out of the oven in the morning.
If you have never had plain yogurt before, you might be surprised by the tang. The yogurt you buy in the store is loaded with sugar and artificial flavors. If it’s too tangy for your liking, try adding a dollop of homemade jam in your serving. Also, if you want thicker yogurt, you can add powdered milk when you pour the milk into the crock pot.
It is normal to have a yellowish liquid in with your thick white yogurt. That’s whey and it’s great for you. You can mix it back together, or spoon it out. You can also strain the final product multiple times to make Greek yogurt.
The yogurt will last in the fridge for up to two weeks.
What in the world am I going to do with a gallon of yogurt?
- Add some granola and fresh or frozen berries for a tasty breakfast.
- Plain yogurt is a perfect substitute for sour cream in recipes (and it’s cheaper).
- It makes wonderful homemade frozen yogurt (we just call it ice cream around here… I’ll share some recipes later).
- Pack it in lunches (we use these spill-proof containers).
- Yogurt can replace milk or water in recipes. I do this sometimes in homemade pancakes.
- Replace half of the butter in recipes with 1/4 the amount of yogurt (if the recipe says 1 cup of butter, use 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup yogurt).
- Thicken smoothies with yogurt (one of our favorites). If you strain off the whey, you can use it in smoothie so you don’t waste all those great nutrients.
You’ll Also Enjoy:
Stephney Vehaun says
I made this last Saturday. It turned out great. I added evaporated milk instead of powdered milk. It tastes really good. I love this recipe. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.
Great idea Stephney! I’m glad it turned out well!
This absolutely works. I left it in the oven for 9 hours and it wasn’t as tangy as I wanted. Next time I’ll do 10 hours as you suggested. Very easy recipe.
I’m glad it worked well for you Susan!
Can you give me some ideas about adding fruit to the yogurt. My daughter doesn’t like plain yogurt and I would love to incorporate her fruits anyways. Any help would be appreciated
I have a crock pot similar to yours just smaller. I make yogurt in mine but i heat up milk in microwave then when cooled with starter mixed in, i let it sit on warm setting with lid slightly off overnight . Works great.
Was so disappointed that I could not read your post because
of a popup that would not go away.
I tried this recipe, but it didn’t set up when I did it. It was still milk when I woke up. 🙁 any ideas as to why?
I can almost guarantee that it was a temperature problem. You have to be pretty precise to make sure it gets up to temperature (it’s okay if it goes over) and make sure it gets down to temperature before adding in the yogurt start (otherwise you’ll kill the cultures). Make sure you have a reliable thermometer and you follow the temperatures listed. Hope that helps!
I was wondering if you could give me the recipe to follow. I can follow it on your website, but I was wondering about printing it out!
I am so excited about using this recipe. I have never made yogurt, and am excited to start.
You can copy and paste the recipe into a word document and then print it.
Laura Beitz says
Don’t waste your time, money or risk disappointment by using any other Crock Pot Yogurt recipe but this one. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I read dozens of recipes before I found this one and they were pretty much the same, but different than this one. They said cook on Medium for 2.4 hrs (to 115 degrees) let stand for 3 hours, take a cup out and add only 1 – 2 Tablespoon for 1/2 gallon of milk. I tried and tried and read and re-read, but it never worked. This one is wonderful! By the way I also am trying to save money and get my milk at a discount store that is almost out-dating and freeze it. I just take it out of the freezer and set it in my sink for about 12 hours, shake it up and put it in the refrigerator. It works just fine. I was a little worried that it wouldn’t work for yogurt, but it was fine. On a side note, one of our dogs continuously licks his front paws until they are raw. After trying everything (antibiotics, antihistamines, anti anxiety meds you name it) the vet suggested I try Pro-biotics on his food, which is VERY expensive. I think I will try a little of my yogurt instead, thank you very much…and that’s how we save money and have a better quality life all at the same time! Yippee! Hope it works! I can’t thank you enough!!!
I’m glad the yogurt worked well for you Laura! Yes, it’s definitely a money-saver!
I am so looking forward to doing this. I have a grandson who is now type 1 diabetic. Knowing what is in the yogurt will be great. Found out he is allergic to antibiotic they give animals, most of the normal additions to pre made food.
How do you KNOW the yogurt you buy to be the starter has live cultures? I usually just grab and go any Greek yogurt for me. do not buy any for him. He has only had Type 1 since April Fools day last year. so we are still struggling. So if anyone knows the carbs, calories etc., it would help, but I am thinking I will just count a cup of yogurt is the same as a cup of what ever milk I use. Anyone try Almond, Cashew, coconut or rice milk? I bet here is a way to figure carbs/calories etc., somewhere on the web.. just don’t know how to find it. Thank you so very much for this recipe. I am so pleased, and now I know I can freeze it, it will be perfect.
Hi Jeannette! Sorry this reply is so late! If you read the label of the yogurt that you want to use for a started it will say something like “live yogurt cultures” or “active yogurt cultures” or something like that. I have yet to see a yogurt that didn’t say that.
How much powered milk would I add to thicken it?
You could start with a cup or so. There’s no right or wrong answer. It just depends on how thick you want it. More often than not, I just use skim milk and don’t add any powdered milk, but you could really add as much as you want. (Sorry that probably doesn’t help you very much!)
Hi, thanks for the easy recipe and helpful comments! I tried a batch of this yesterday and I let it sit overnight in the oven with 2 thick towels wrapped around it. But when I took it out this morning, it was maybe only 1/3 set. The rest was still the consistency of plain milk. It smelled and tasted like yogurt though. Any thoughts on what might have happened? I left it to sit for another 5 hours and no change. Straining didn’t work as it’s mostly just liquid. I tried to follow the instructions with the temperature, but I have an old thermometer that maybe wasn’t accurate enough, I don’t know. Thanks for any advice!
The temperatures are pretty important, so I’m guessing that was your problem. You can still use it in smoothies or to cook with if it doesn’t work out right. I hope it goes better next time!
any idea of the nutritional value? I used low fat yogurt and skim milk. I’d think it’s low fat, but wanted to check. I love yogurt, but I have baby weight to lose!
I would assume that the nutrition (at least fat content) doesn’t change at all. By turning milk into yogurt, you aren’t creating fat, so whatever fat the milk and the yogurt start had is the fat that is in your finished product. I would say it’s definitely low fat if you used skim milk and lowfat yogurt!
Would dunking a hot crock in an ice bath cause it to crack or break? I’m new to crockpot cooking, but I had a really disastrous moment with home made chicken stock, glass jars and the freezer that I would like to avoid repeating.
Oh I can only imagine the chicken stock disaster! I’d be cautious after that too!
That’s a good question! I’ve been doing it for years with two different crock pots and never had a problem. If you are nervous about it you can omit the ice and just put the crock in a sink of cold water, then drain and refill it (or add ice) when the water warms up.
I have a couple questions. Can we use skim milk, or does it need to be whole? Also, light yogurt or regular?
Hi Kristy! I use skim all the time for yogurt! The kind of yogurt you use for the starter doesn’t matter as long as it has live yogurt cultures. Good luck!
Thanks! Also, I don’t have a thermometer. Could I do low for 3 1/2 hrs and call it good?
I wouldn’t do it without a thermometer. This is more like chemistry than cooking. Heating the milk up without a thermometer wouldn’t be a problem, as it’s okay for it to get up to boiling. It’s when you cool it down that you really need the thermometer. If the milk is too hot, it will ruin your yogurt start, but if it isn’t hot enough it won’t keep it’s temperature throughout the rest of the procedure.
At the grocery store a regular candy thermometer shouldn’t be too expensive. Or you can get a digital one on Amazon.
Nancy F says
I didn’t have a thermometer either, so I put it in the crockpot for 4 hours and it have developed a “skin” on top. I then took the crock out and set it on the counter to cool. I sort of forgot about it but when I checked it, the yogurt was still warm, too warm to leave my finger in it. I added the live culture yogurt and proceeded with the recipe. It turned out great. I probably left it in the oven wrapped for about 9 hours. This was my first time and it turned out great! I probably will still get a thermometer when I can.
I’m glad yours turned out Nancy! That’s pretty lucky, in fact! 🙂
Last might I made my first batch of crockpot yogurt. I had a late start so I ended up staying up waiting for the temp to fall, but instead I was the one who fell, asleep. I awoke when the temp had fallen to 98. I went ahead and added the yogurt and wrapped the pot in a towel and put it in the preheated oven for about 11 hrs. I understand my mistake and why the yogurt is watery and not perfect, but is it safe to eat? Like in smoothies and recipe substututions?
I would probably still use it in smoothies and cooking, assuming you have it in the fridge now (and it isn’t still sitting out).
In the future another thing you could do in this case is just heat it back up to 119 degrees before you put in the yogurt start. Or you could start the whole process over too. It should still work.
Clifford Thiemer says
My yogurt turned out perfect last time, but I don’t know if it was because I let it get down to 130 then added 12oz. cold yogurt from last time which got the temp down to 100 degrees and then added cultures from a packet like last time and let it sit for 13 hrs. because my alarm didn’t go off. When I stirred it up, it had the tangy smell but ended up with almost the consistency of cottage cheese when stirred. Is this okay?
Crystal Thiemer says
Oops my pc entered hubby’s name. I’m Crystal.
Crystal Thiemer says
will do… Thanks
Would this work with soy/coconut milk and a similar yogurt base? My son cannot have any dairy products so we use a coconut milk based yogurt for him.
I’m guessing it would work fine. I know it works with powdered milk, but I’ve never tried soy or coconut or anything other than cow’s milk. I know they make soy milk yogurt, so as long as you use that as the start, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. You could try a smaller batch to try!
I made this yogurt yesterday and left it in the oven overnight not sure if it was going to work or not-but it did! I got up this morning so nervous and then I opened my slow cooker and had some beautiful yogurt. This is going to save us so much money! I eat plain yogurt everyday because it is so good for me. Thanks for posting this! If you haven’t tried it give it a whirl.
I’m glad the yogurt turned out well Darcy! It’s pretty amazing how it happens. It’s like magic! 🙂
Freda green says
Thanks so much much for all your wisdom and sharing your learned information! I have been reading everything on your site past 2 days!! I have made yogurt tonight! It’s in the oven for the night! I eat yogurt every day.. Got my beans soaking.. I know The Lord sent me to you! We r having financial difficulty.. Needing your info badly.. Talked with my husband and taking about a no spend month in August! I have a freezer but don’t have a lot stocked up food.. Have been canning tomatoes.. I am soo excited about how u do yours!! I have some to do soon and will do them your way! Well pray for us.. We have no budget! We don’t even write down debits .. Just call bank and hope for the best! If u have any suggestions on how to get started I would be thankful. Well I have written a book like that other lady did.. I sure appreciate you replying to everyone that writes to u.
Hi Freda! I’m glad that my site is helping you. It sounds like you’re diving right in! Good for you! “How do I get started dealing with my debt” is one of the questions I get most frequently, so I recently wrote this article addressing that topic. It should give you some good direction as to what to do!
Thank you for sharing this. I love Greek yogurt, but the best price I can get on it around here is about $1.00 per cup. I can’t wait to try this recipe.
Yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, is so marked up! To get it thick like Greek yogurt, you will need to strain it.
This sounds so much easier than many of the other yogurt recipes I’ve come across. I have one question: will the yogurt last past the expiration date on the carton of milk used to make it? Basically, does making it into yogurt extend its shelf life?
Thanks so much for sharing this!
Yes Jennifer it does! When you bring it up to temperature it “resets” it (for lack of a better word). I make yogurt pretty often with milk that is around the expiration date.
Speaking of expiration dates on milk, you can also freeze milk to prevent it going bad if it’s near the expiration date.
My mother-in-law has been making her own yogurt using a yogurt maker for years, but given that my family LOVES yogurt when I talked to her about how to make it she was saying we’d probably need to find a way to make a bigger batch, and this is the answer!! Now to see how it works with non-dairy milk…my yogurt has to be non-dairy and I’d LOVE to be able to make my own using nut milks considering how expensive almond milk / coconut milk / soy milk yogurt is!!! (I typically just drool while I jealously watch my kiddos eat their yogurt and granola)
Making it in bulk works so well for us. I’ve never tried yogurt with other kinds of milk! Let me know how it works out!
I found this article through Pinterest. I’ve always wanted to try making my own yogurt. Thanks for posting how to do it!
You’re welcome! We love homemade yogurt and it saves so much money!
I made this recipe and it came out very thin. Borderline runny. Is there anything I can do, after the fact, to thicken it up or do I need to start from scratch to get it right?
Hi Angel, if you take a spoon or ladle scoop out of the crock pot, does the rest of the yogurt maintain its shape (leave a spoon indentation)? If so, it sounds like it didn’t work out right. In years of making yogurt, that has only happened to me once. I think it may have had to do with not being precise enough on the temperatures. I have never had a problem with the milk getting too hot– sometimes I have forgotten about it and let it get to boiling (over 200 degrees). The important thing is to let it cool down enough (but not too much) before adding in the yogurt. If it’s too hot, it will kill the live cultures. If it didn’t turn out, I would just use it in smoothies (that’s what we did when it happened to us).
If the yogurt turns out with too much liquid (but turns out), you can strain the yogurt with cheesecloth. This is what you’d do to make Greek yogurt too. Homemade yogurt is naturally thinner than what you buy in the store with thickeners. If you know you will want ti thicker, you can add in some powdered milk powder in the beginning. Also, you can use whole milk instead of 2% or skim.
I hope that helps!
Margaret @ Live Like No One Else says
Thanks for sharing this Stephanie. I do have one of those retro yogurt makers, but am trying to simplify my life and get rid of things that serve only 1 purpose. I love this recipe and have pinned it. I just need to get a candy thermometer and will definitely be doing this!
That’s great Margaret! I think I got my candy thermometer at Winco for under $3 if I remember right. Getting rid of things that only serve one purpose sounds like a great plan.
Laurie @thefrugalfarmer says
Talk about irony! We need some plain yogurt to help clear out an infection in one of our barn kitties. Great timing!
Perfect! I never though about using people food or home remedies on animals! Good luck with the cat!
Sara @ Not Your Mainstream Mama says
I did make yogurt once and was completely surprised by the tang. I need to try again and add in some raspberry preserves or something like you suggested. Happy Wednesday!
I was surprised too! My favorite ways to eat it are in frozen yogurt and in smoothies. My husband really likes it tangy and eats it plain though!