How to Make Thick & Creamy Homemade Yogurt

For less than the price of one container of yogurt from the store, I can make twice the amount.

How to Make Thick & Creamy Homemade Yogurt | Real Food RN

One of the foods that I make every week is homemade yogurt. Not only do I know that it is the healthiest yogurt that we can consume, but we save a TON of money doing it this way. For less than the price of one container of yogurt from the store, I can make twice the amount.

I will admit that I was intimidated to start making it. I thought that it would be a long and very detailed process. I was wrong. Once I learned how to make yogurt I quickly make it into an easy process that fits right into our weekly routine, with very little effort. I want to share my method with you, so you can save money and nourish your family too!

How to Make Thick & Creamy Homemade Yogurt | Real Food RN

Thick & Creamy Homemade Yogurt

For less than the price of one container of yogurt from the store, I can make twice the amount.

Ingredients

Instructions

1. Put one quart of milk into a clean pot and heat slowly on medium heat until the temperature reaches 180°F.

2. Stir the milk from time to time to keep the bottom from scorching, the purpose in heating the milk to this temperature is to kill any bacteria that might be present and interfere with the yogurt making culture. You do not want to breed bad bacteria in your yogurt!

3. Once you reach 180°F, turn the heat off and allow to cool to 80°F. I like to cover mine with a clean cotton towel while it cools so no critters can get in.

4. You can use a yogurt starter, or store-bought yogurt to make your yogurt.

5. If you use a starter culture, then follow the instructions on the package.

6. If you use store-bought yogurt as your starter, make sure it contains Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Streptococcus Thermophilus, and Lactobacillus Bulgaricus. It must not contain Bifidus/Bifidum bacteria. It should also be free from any additives, artificial colors, or artificial flavors. The culture must be active, it cannot be pasteurized after the cultures were added.

7. Add the starter to the milk and stir well (if you want thick yogurt, then this is when you would add the gelatin too).

8. Pour into a large clean glass container.

9. Cover the jar with a clean cloth or paper towel.

10. Place into your dehydrator and set the temp to 110°F.

11. Leave in the dehydrator, undisturbed, for 24 hours.

12. When it has been in there for 24 hours, remove and let cool on your countertop.

13. Then place in the fridge for another 8 hours, undisturbed. Do not mess with it, or it will not set up properly.

14. Stir and enjoy!

Notes

Note: If you do not have a dehydrator, you can also place the yogurt in a cooler, wrapped with a towel. Place a pot of boiling water in the cooler and close it up. Make sure that the inside of the cooler remains warm for 24 hours. This method is a bit more tricky with temperature control. I have even seen yogurt made in a crockpot. I don't generally recommend this method because the low setting on a crockpot is typically higher than 110*F. For best results, it is worth buying a high-quality dehydrator or inexpensive yogurt maker.

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Additional Tips:

  • Culturing time is important in making good yogurt. The amount of time the yogurt cultures depends on taste and texture preference. In general, the longer yogurt cultures, the more tart and thick it will be. Toward the limit of culturing time, the yogurt may begin to separate into solid (curds) and liquid (whey). The whey is quite nutritious and can be strained off to use in cooking or culturing, or it can be stirred back into the yogurt
  • Separation is usually the result of yogurts culturing either too long or too fast. Once yogurt begins to separate, it is not long before the bacteria will begin to die off
  • There is a 2-hour cooling-off period for thermophilic yogurt, to help ease the transition between culturing temperature and refrigerator temperature. Finished yogurt should be refrigerated for at least 6 hours to halt the culturing process. Once the fermentation has been stopped, it will not restart even if the milk is brought back to room temperature
  • If a thicker yogurt is preferred, draining whey from the finished yogurt is another option. Draining whey produces thick, Greek-style yogurt. You can strain the yogurt through a cheesecloth placed in a strainer over a bowl, the whey drains off through the bottom and into the bowl and the thick yogurt remains on top

Watch my video that shows how I make yogurt in my kitchen below.

CLICK HERE to Pin this recipe

How to Make Thick & Creamy Homemade Yogurt | Real Food RN

Resources:

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31 Replies to “How to Make Thick & Creamy Homemade Yogurt”

  1. I love everything about your site and am a subscriber to your newsletters. Even though I’ve been making my own yogurt for years, there were still a few things I learned from this article. Thank you so much.

    PS – You can find additional symbols so you don’t have to use * for °. There are several ways to do this – the one I used here was Alt 0176 (make sure your NumLock is off). As you find the symbols you use most often, you can add them to your AutoCorrect options so you never have to look them up again – just hit the spacebar or whatever punctuation comes after 180°F and it should automatically appear. I’ve set mine so that every time I type 180F, the degree sign automatically appears.

    1. Moira, I could kiss you! Awesome. I did not know that! Can you tell that I am a cook and a nurse, not a tech savvy blogger? I plan to apply my new-found script right now. 🙂

      1. Glad to help. Here’s a great printout I found on Pinterest which is where I found this easy way to access symbols:

        https://www.pinterest.com/pin/7388786863046519/

        Let me know if that link doesn’t work and I will email you the page so you can print it out and keep it handy beside your keyboard.

        PS Keep up the good work. There are a lot of us out here who are really benefiting from your work!

  2. Love this! great tutorial, thank you! I have made yogurt several times, but am still experimenting because I still feel like I haven’t nailed it… wondering about your mention of “no bifidus bacteria”. The yogurt I’ve always added to my own has bifidus added, so I’m wondering if maybe that’s why we’ve not had great success? Or why else you say it shouldn’t be added? The other thing I’ll try from your suggestion is a longer “dehydrating” time. I’ve only put it in for like 8-10 hours before, so definitely going to be trying a longer time now!

    Thanks again 🙂 -Sarah

    1. Sarah, my recipe is based off an “SCD yogurt” recipe and I believe that bifidus might be a bad one for those with bacteria overgrowth in the wrong part of the gut. I decided to include that mention in my post because I was seeing it again and again. The long ferment time is to ensure that a lot of the lactose it eaten up. The less lactose, the less insulingenic response you get when eating it and the less likely you are to have any dairy intolerance issues. Also, it is nice and tart after a long ferment. Hope you have success with it too 🙂

  3. How can you thicken yogurt besides staining it, I know you can use cream, but it’s a lot costlier, and how well will this work with homemade coconut milk.

    1. I have not made it with coconut milk, YET. It’s on my list to try. I have seen people make beautiful yogurt with coconut milk. You could stir in a tiny amount of gelatin to thicken it.

      1. Thanks I’m going to attempt, some coconut milk yogurt this week, sometime when things aren’t going crazy, with some room temperature yogurt cultures I know one is named villi, will try to remember to update, if it works with the store bought, which seems to be thicker than my homemade, no matter how hard it try, I’ll try it with my homemade and just start making coconut/almond yogurt. I’m going to save some back incase my experiment doesn’t work out well.

  4. I make yogurt every week doing the same thing you do..the recipe I have said cool to 115 and that has worked for me. I have an older heating pad that doesn’t shut off after a few hours and I put the yogurt in a large glass jar, cover it. Then I put it on the heating pad turn it to low, wrap it Ina towel and cover with a big stock pot. To make mine thick I sometimes add some heavy cream to the milk mixture while it is warming up. Delicious!!

  5. Hi Kate,

    Do you use raw milk? I just made one that I did not heat the raw milk or cream; but did heat the starter culture which was pasteurized. I’d imagine boiling raw milk would nix some of the benefits(enzymes). Thank You for all the great tips and recipes!

    1. Hi Jennifer, I heat it to kill any of the bad bacteria. I have tried heating a small amount to dissolve the culture and then stirring that into the rest of the raw milk, but the yogurt didn’t set. The milk just separated. Not sure what happened, but I didn’t try it that way again. I do make kefir with just plain old raw milk, let it sit for 24 hours and then refrigerate. The heating of the yogurt for 24 hours made me leery of culturing bad bugs too.

  6. I make 24 hour fermented yogurt several times a week and find my EuroCuisine yogurt maker invaluable. It doesn’t take up much counter space and every batch turns out perfect. (If I don’t get distracted and let the milk overheat on the stove, that is). Bed Bath and Beyond has several versions online.

    Fun fact: cows milk isn’t advisable for cats so when our newly adopted kittens begged for yogurt I did some research. It turns out long fermented yogurt is actually good for cats. So when we have our morning yogurt, the two kitties each get their own little serving. Whooda think it?

  7. I started making my own Bulgarian yogurt a few months ago and have been able to stop taking my daily dose of acid reflux medication. Yay! The pilot light on my 1940’s gas range keeps the oven the perfect temperature for incubation, but I have always pulled it out after 10 or 12 hours. I’d love to have it a little thicker, so I’ll definitely go 24 hours this weekend. Thanks!

  8. I find that using only 1 tablespoon per quart of milk works really well. It makes a nice thick yogurt without any other additives such as gelatin. I also put my yogurt in a gallon size jar then place the jar in a pot filled with warm water 110 degrees F. in the oven with just the pilot light on. My daughter now makes her yogurt in the pot and simply puts the pot in the oven with the pilot light on. I find the best time to make it is in the evening when the oven is not in use. 6 to 12 hours is sufficient to make yogurt depending on how you like it.

  9. Just subscribed. Have u tried grassfed raw milk? There’s an incredible amount of vit/nutrients. Nourishing Traditions/Weston A Price is where I gained so much knowledge in nutrient dense foods for my family

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