Yes, you can make your own homemade yogurt, and it’s actually quite easy. You don’t even need a fancy yogurt maker. All you really need is the step-by-step how-to information below, some milk, a little yogurt to use as a starter, and a thermometer. Toss everything together in the evening and the magic happens while you snooze. [Editor’s Note: We’ve attempted many, many a homemade yogurt recipe over the years. Most were disasters. This is the only recipe that answered all our questions and worked without a hitch time after time. At a glance, the recipe may seem long and intimidating, but actually, it’s quite the contrary given all the helpful advice the author includes.]Angie Zoobkoff

What kind of milk should I use for homemade yogurt?

A few insightful words from Janet Fletcher, the creator of this recipe and author of Yogurt, on what sort of milk to use when you make homemade yogurt:

You can make yogurt with any type of milk

You can make yogurt with nonfat, low-fat, or whole milk; and with milk from cows, goats, or sheep. (Fortunate is the person with access to sheep milk. It is exceptionally high in fat and protein and makes luscious yogurt.) I use whole milk because I like the richer flavor and body that fat provides. The higher the milk fat, the creamier and richer the yogurt feels in your mouth. You can even add some half-and-half or cream for extra-rich yogurt—perhaps if you intend to use the yogurt for dessert. Start with 10 percent half-and-half or cream to 90 percent milk and see if you like the results.

You can make yogurt as thick as you please

While full-fat milk yields yogurt that makes a voluptuous impression, it’s largely protein that makes yogurt thick. If you choose to use reduced-fat milk (nonfat or low-fat), I recommend adding instant nonfat dry milk in the ratio of 2 tablespoons per 1 quart of milk. The dry milk boosts the solids content (mostly protein) in your milk base, yielding firmer, thicker yogurt and partly compensating for the lack of fat. A little instant nonfat dry milk even makes whole-milk yogurt firmer and more satisfying, so I almost always add it. I prefer instant dry milk, which dissolves readily. Regular dry milk works, too, but it takes a lot of whisking to get it to dissolve in fluid milk. Boosting the solids in this way is comparable to what commercial yogurt makers do when they concentrate the milk with reverse osmosis before culturing. Goat’s milk has fewer solids than cow’s milk, so it yields a more delicate and thinner yogurt. (That’s why most goat-yogurt manufacturers add stabilizers.) You can make a thicker yogurt from goat’s milk by whisking in two tablespoons instant nonfat dry milk per quart of milk. Dry cow’s milk is fine to use—unless you are allergic to it, of course. Dry goat’s milk is available from online sources, but it is expensive.

Make certain your milk is fresh

Always start with fresh milk from an unopened container.

Mind your food safety Ps and Qs

And one last thing. Even if you are using a freshly opened container of pasteurized milk‚ you should heat it to at least 185°F (85°C) before culturing as in the instructions below. Pasteurization kills pathogens but it doesn’t sterilize the milk. By heating the milk to at least 185°F (85°C), you eliminate competitors to the desirable bacteria in your culture. Just as important‚ you denature more milk proteins so that they coagulate as a single mass rather than as clumpy curds. Also, yogurt made from heated milk is more stable and less likely to release whey.

A strainer filled with homemade yogurt with cheesecloth on top.

How To Make Homemade Yogurt

5 / 4 votes
How to make your own homemade yogurt tells you exactly what to do to end up with foolproof, fabulous yogurt every time. And it’s incredibly easy. No fancy yogurt maker required.
David Leite
Servings4 cups
Calories169 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time6 hours 30 minutes
Total Time7 hours


  • Instant-read thermometer; incubation setup of some sort (see below How To Choose An Incubation Method For Your Homemade Yogurt)


  • 1 quart milk of any type
  • 2 tablespoons instant non-fat dry milk (optional but recommended if you’re using low-fat or non-fat milk)
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt with live active cultures, at room temperature


  • Assemble all the necessary equipment (see below How To Choose An Incubation Method For Your Homemade Yogurt). You don’t want to be rummaging around for jar lids when your milk is ready to culture. Make sure that all equipment is scrupulously clean with no soap residue that could damage the culture.
  • In a 2- to 3-quart (1.8- to 2.8-liter) stainless steel saucepan add in milk and whisk in the instant nonfat dry milk, if using. Set the pan over medium-low heat. For thicker yogurt, heat until the milk registers 195°F (91°C) on an instant-read thermometer, whisking often to prevent the milk from scorching, about 10 minutes. Adjust the heat as needed to keep the milk at or near 195°F (91°C) and cook, whisking often, for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. (For thinner yogurt, heat until the milk registers 180°F (82°C) or 185°F (85°C) on an instant-read thermometer, whisking often to prevent the milk from scorching, about 10 minutes.) Adjust the heat as needed to keep the milk at or near 195°F (91°C) and cook, whisking often, for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  • Cover the saucepan and let the milk cool to between 110°F (43°C) and 115°F (46°C), about 1 1 ⁄ 4 hours. You can dramatically accelerate the cooling by placing the saucepan in a large bowl or sink full of ice water and stirring constantly. The milk temperature will plummet to the culturing range in less than 5 minutes, so monitor the temperature often. If it drops too low (below 110°F [43°C), return the saucepan to the stove and gently rewarm the milk over low heat just until it reaches 110°F (43°C) to 115°F (46°C).
  • While the milk cools to the proper culturing temperature, prepare the jars. Choose a 1-quart (946 ml) jar or several smaller jars with a total capacity of 1 quart (946 ml) or use the jars that come with your yogurt maker. Wash well and then fill the jars with hot water and let stand until you need them. Replace the hot water if it cools so the jars will be warm when you fill them and drain just before filling. Alternatively, heat the jars with hot water, and then drain and place in a preheated electric yogurt maker to keep warm until you are ready to fill them. Note that you don’t have to use jars. You can incubate yogurt in a glass or earthenware bowl, or in any nonreactive (nonaluminum) container. You can even incubate it in the saucepan you heated the milk in. However, once the yogurt has set, you need to chill it to stop the fermentation and firm the curd, so make sure your incubation container will fit in the fridge. You don’t want to move just-set yogurt to other containers or you will damage the fragile curd.
  • Put the yogurt in a small, clean bowl and whisk in about 1 cup of the cooled milk. Pour this mixture back into the saucepan, straining it if desired, and whisk gently but thoroughly. You want to incorporate the culture without creating a lot of foam. Immediately move the milk into the prepared jar or jars and cover.
  • Incubate the yogurt according to your chosen method—see How To Choose An Incubation Method For Your Homemade Yogurt below—until the yogurt thickens and firms. Avoid moving or otherwise agitating the yogurt while it ferments. Check for set after 4 hours and at least once per hour after that. Yogurt can take anywhere from 4 to 12 hours, or even longer, depending on the incubation temperature and the strength of the culture. The longer it takes, the more tart your yogurt will be, as the culture continues to produce lactic acid. If you prefer mellow yogurt, try to stop the incubation as soon as the yogurt has firmed.
  • To check your homemade yogurt for set, tilt the jar slightly. If the yogurt looks like baked custard and doesn’t flow, it has set sufficiently. If it is jiggly and you want it firmer, let it incubate longer. Incubating longer should make it a little more tart and firm, but you can over-incubate it. If whey has collected on the surface, the yogurt probably fermented a little too long or too fast and is starting to separate. Either pour off the surface whey or, after chilling the yogurt, stir it back in. Don’t try to stir the whey in before chilling the yogurt, as the curd will be too fragile. Cover the yogurt and place it in the refrigerator until chilled through, at least several hours.
  • After the yogurt has been in the fridge for several hours, take a taste. If a thicker yogurt is desired, drain it. Draining yogurt dramatically improves its texture, making it thicker, creamier, and more mellow by removing the whey. Draining yogurt also extends its life. And if you are lactose-sensitive, you should find drained yogurt more digestible.
    To drain your yogurt, gently pour the chilled yogurt into a colander or strainer lined with three layers of dampened cheesecloth. Cover with a plate or cloth—you’re protecting the yogurt, not pressing it—and place it in the fridge. Drain the yogurt until it has the consistency you like. After an hour, the yogurt will be noticeably thicker. If you drain the yogurt more than you’d intended, no problem, simply whisk some of the whey back into the yogurt, adding as much as it takes to attain the texture you desire. Scrape the drained yogurt into a container, cover, and refrigerate.
    To make Greek yogurt, which is essentially drained yogurt, instead of stopping after an hour of draining, keep going. Depending on the yogurt you started with, it may take 3 to 4 hours to achieve the thick, palate-coating consistency of Greek yogurt.
    Don’t be concerned if each batch of yogurt you make is a little different. Unlike commercial producers with their controlled processes, your home yogurt “factory” is subject to variability: in the milk and culture used, the way you heated and cooled the milk, the length of the fermentation, and the fermentation temperature. Experiment, make notes, and over time you will find the combination of culture, time, and temperature that produces yogurt with the texture and flavor you like.


How To Choose Your Incubation Method

Your challenge as a homemade yogurt-maker is coddling the culture, keeping it in the desired range for the several hours it takes to do its job. Yogurt bacteria tolerate a range of roughly 105°F (41°C) to 115°F (46°C). A temperature of 118°F (48°C) or higher will kill most cultures. If the incubation temperature falls below 105°F (41°C), the culture will produce more polysaccharides and the yogurt will likely be slimy or “ropy” or may not set at all.
Know where and how you are going to incubate the yogurt before you start, and test to make sure you can maintain that temperature. To test, fill a jar with water at 115°F (46°C) and “incubate” it in your chosen manner as if it were cultured milk, taking its temperature with an instant-read thermometer every hour or so.
If you’re using a yogurt-making appliance, follow the manufacturer’s directions. Before you use it for the first time, and occasionally thereafter, verify the incubation temperature using a jar or two of water, as described above. Of course, if the machine is producing yogurt reliably for you, you don’t need to question its thermostat. But if you are having trouble getting batches to set, it could be because the device is malfunctioning.
If you are not using a yogurt-making appliance, you will need to create a warm environment for incubating your yogurt. The target temperature range is not easy to maintain for several hours. Some people successfully incubate yogurt in their gas oven with only the warmth of the pilot light. (Alas, many newer ovens do not have pilot lights.) If you want to try this, preheat the oven to the lowest setting first, and then turn it off. Test the temperature after half an hour and then hourly to see if the oven remains within the target range for at least 5 hours. If it does, it should work as an incubator.
Some people use an insulated container, such as a picnic cooler, partially filled with warm water as an incubator. Others wrap yogurt jars in an electric blanket or set them on a heating pad or in a jury-rigged Styrofoam container with a low-wattage light bulb. You can also keep the incubating yogurt in a consistently warm spot in your house, such as near a radiator or sunny window. A food dehydrator with removable shelves can work as an incubator if the temperature can be set low enough. Some people use a countertop slow cooker, heating the milk slowly in the device and then unplugging it to cool the milk to the culturing temperature. Wrapping the pot with towels after culturing helps maintain temperature.
When I don’t use an electric appliance, I incubate my yogurt the way home cooks have for centuries: wrapped in blankets. (I use small throw blankets.) First, I wrap my warm, just-filled quart jars in kitchen dish towels so they won’t soil the blankets. Then I snuggle the jars into a blanket nest—a blanket underneath and another on top and, if the house is cold, another blanket around them for good measure. Then I ignore the heap for 4 to 5 hours before unwrapping it to check for set. If the milk has not set yet, I check it every half hour or so thereafter.
Whichever incubation method you choose, avoid jostling the yogurt as it incubates. It prefers to be undisturbed.
Yogurt Cookbook

Adapted From


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Serving: 1 cupCalories: 169 kcalCarbohydrates: 13 gProtein: 9 gFat: 9 gSaturated Fat: 5 gMonounsaturated Fat: 2 gCholesterol: 29 mgSodium: 120 mgSugar: 14 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2015 Janet Fletcher. Photo © 2015 Eva Kolenko. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I really appreciate this homemade yogurt recipe with all its helpful notes and information. Making homemade yogurt is as simple as can be, but there are many variables that can affect the final outcome, and the author really tried to cover all the bases. Let’s get to my results-—this was the BEST yogurt I’ve ever made!

What caught my attention about this recipe were two notes that I hadn’t seen in other recipes. One was to use milk powder for a thicker result. The other was the direction to heat the milk to 195°F and sustain it for 10 minutes if a thicker product is desired. In my previous attempts at making yogurt, I have ended up straining it to obtain a thicker yogurt. I don’t like doing that for a couple of reasons—you lose product and also it’s a pain.

I tested my first batch using four 1-cup canning jars and they took about 5 1/2 hours to complete. I used whole milk and instant milk powder. The incubating temperature seemed to range from 115°F to 120°F. My incubation method was to place the jars in a warm water bath in a large pot, cover it with a lid, and place it in a slightly warm oven. One step that I would recommend is to strain the milk before ladling it into jars as there’s always a bit of flotsam and jetsam. I strained the mik into a 1-quart measuring cup so that it was easy to pour into the jars. I call this a good recipe and method to follow for perfect yogurt.

Although this homemade yogurt recipe looked intimidating because there was a lot of information to read, the recipe was in fact simple and was not particularly time-consuming.

Hands-on time was about 37 minutes, which was heating the milk up rather slowly on my electric cooker. I incubated the yogurt overnight in an airing cupboard. Total time taken was 37 minutes to heat the milk, 1 hour of cooling to about 43°C, and then overnight incubation to set the yogurt, so in total about 15 and a half hours. I opted for the thicker version of the yogurt and so heated it to 91°C for 10 minutes. I left the mix to cool for 1 hour at room temperature. I checked the incubated yogurt after 4 hours but it had not set at all, and I thought perhaps it would not set, but by the next day it was smooth and set. Total incubation time was about 13 hours.

The yogurt was softly set, more runny underneath the surface than on top, and so perhaps it could have been left to set for longer. The yogurt alone tasted quite mild and not at all bitter as some homemade yogurt I’ve made in the past. I made a fruit compote with frozen berries and sugar and stirred this through the finished yogurt. The texture was really smooth and without lumps. I think the recipe gives interesting details on the process of making yogurt.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I’ve been trying to make my homemade yoghurt for quite a while with fair success.

    What I need to know is why my yoghurt turns out slimy, even though I make sure not to make any yeast items on the day I make my yoghurt. Also, since I don’t have an oven to incubate the yoghurt, I wrap my jars in warm woolen socks and towels and place them in a Wonderbag with 2 hot water bottles filled with boiled water. I cover the Wonderbag with a blanket but its a mission to unwrap all that every 2 hours so I make it in the morning and it sets just before bedtime.

    I’m also not sure whether the creamy film that forms on the milk during the cooling process should be removed or whisked back in. I hope I can get some answers as I would like my next batch to be perfect.

    1. Rasha, I’m sorry you are having trouble with your homemade yogurt especially when you’ve already experienced how great it can be. I suspect that the sliminess comes from your sock and hot bottle method not creating enough heat to maintain your cultured milk in the 45°C or 113°F temperature zone. Lower temperatures are usually involved in waking up the slime producing bacteria. I’m unsure about the film you are experiencing on the milk. Any milk used in coagulation processes such as cheese or yogurt should not be vigorously mixed or jostled as this prevents the milk from coagulating properly. Perhaps the unwrapping your milk bottles every 2 hours might also alter the yogurt texture.
      Seeing as how the high and low temperatures are so important in developing the right bacteria combination for successful yogurt, just as the recipe suggests, I would recommend the use of a good thermometer. Fresh milk is also very important as is a fresh culture. I make my batches every 9 to 12 days and save a new mini jar as my culture each time.
      As for your incubation method, over the years I’ve used various forms of incubators from a traditional yogurt maker to the oven, dehydrator, and even seedling starter mats. The truth of the yogurt matter is that your milk must be heated to 85°C or 185°F, then cooled to 45°C or 113°F. There’s no guess work, or need for pots and pans and stoves when you use a precision water circulator as your heating, cooling, and incubation time. The precision immersion circulator also called sous vide method, has been my favourite and easiest way to make my homemade yogurts for the last 6 years.
      Essentially, you’re using this recipe information and the help from a sous vide set up. The process is simple and ensures consistent results as long as you have electricity and a sous vide or precision heater that does not rely solely on wifi. Over the years, these units have become less expensive and more accessible to the home cook. Even if I only used mine for yogurt making, the cost is recovered from what you’re saving in making your own yogurts and knowing what’s in them. With the precision immersion circulation, you fill your jars with cold refrigerator milk. I make 6 jars at a time for 750 ml to 1 litre/quart each. You heat the water to 85°C. Allow to sit at this higher temperature for 30-45 minutes (sometimes 1 hour). Remove jars from water bath, cool the water to 40° C and replace jars. The residual heat in the milk jars will warm the water above 45° C. That’s ok. I wait about 2 hours for the temperature to cool to 45°C (This reduces the risk of your jars breaking by using chilled water to cool the hot jars quickly). With an instant read thermometer, I check that the milk temperature is 45°C and then I add my culture with a gentle up and down motion of mixing it in each jar. The circulator keeps the milk at a stable 45°C throughout the undisturbed incubation. 6 hours later, there is 1/2 to 1 inch golden whey above the yogurt mass in the jars. Done.
      I hope you find my response helpful.

      Ilda Costa-Sarnicki, LC Recipe Tester

    2. Rasha, we have some more suggestions from one of our recipe testers, Melissa Maedgen. We do hope some of the suggestions help and that you are able to make a successful batch of yogurt. Please let us know how it turns out.

      So first thing would be the starter. If you are using commercial yogurt as a starter, that might be the problem. Or if you originally used commercial yogurt as a starter, and since then have been using the prior batch of yogurt. If you use store-bought yogurt as a starter, you need to start fresh every few batches. Also, once the yogurt is slimy, that yogurt should not be used to start a new batch. I would suggest that they buy a yogurt starter (in powder form) from a cheesemaking supply company. Those generally work better, and can be reused for more batches.
      I suspect that the starter is the problem, rather than temperature control. But make sure you are heating the milk to the correct temperature and cooling to the appropriate temperature before adding the starter. Shortcutting that process will mess up the texture, although it doesn’t sound like you are doing that.
      As for incubation, the method is probably fine. But I will throw out something that worked well for me: An immersion circulator lets you get a water bath to just the right temperature for your starter. So if they happen to have access to one, that can be a great way to incubate yogurt.
      As for the creamy film on the yogurt, as long as it isn’t an actual skin, I would stir it back in.

      Hope that helps!