Homemade Yogurt in the Crock Pot

Homemade Yogurt in the Crockpot

After my fairly successful attempt at making homemade toothpaste, I was again inspired by Thankfully Thrifty to try making homemade yogurt in my crockpot.

I’ve made yogurt on the stove and in a yogurt maker before, but I’ve always worried that it wouldn’t turn out right in the crock pot. Don’t ask me why!

And now I’m wondering why I was scared to try. Because folks, if you not done this before, it is so, so easy. It felt almost too easy — like I was cheating or something! :)

I’d picked up a half gallon of whole organic milk marked down to $1.99 at the health food store on Tuesday, so I used that for the milk. And I used plain Greek yogurt for the starter, because that’s what I had on hand.

The recipe requires very little effort on your part, but it takes a long time to make: I started it yesterday morning and it wasn’t done until I woke up this morning (well, it would have be done in the middle of the night, but I wasn’t about to get up at 2 a.m. just to put the yogurt in the fridge! :)) So, if you want to try this, I’d recommend doing it on a day when you’ll be home all day.

And you might want to set a timer to remind you when you need to go do something to it. You certainly don’t want to waste a whole half gallon of milk!

My beautiful bowl of homemade yogurt. I had some for a snack this afternoon with dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, and chocolate chips sprinkled over it and it was delicious!

By the way, according to my friend, Angie, this homemade yogurt is great to use to make Homemade Go-Gurts!

Have you made homemade yogurt before? If so, I’d love to hear about your experience. What is your favorite way to serve/use yogurt?

Want more make-it-from-scratch ideas? I highly recommend Easy Homemade by Mandi Ehman. This ebook contains more than 60 recipes for homemade kitchen staples and it’s beautifully laid out, well-illustrated, and packed with great ideas and recipes.

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  1. says

    My crock pot seems to cook pretty hot, or at least hotter than my old one. I’m worried it would be too hot, even on low. Is this something that has to be exact, do you think my crock pot cooking too hot would mess up the yogurt?

    • says

      Katy, you can use a thermometer to check it! Heat to 180 degrees (about 2.5 hours on low) to kill any and all bacteria. Cool to about 110 degrees (around 3 hours with crock turned off) before introducing the good bacteria from a yogurt starter. I also wrap in a towel, but I place in my oven (heat off) with the light on. It has to stay at a constant temp (slightly warmer than room temp) to incubate. If it turns out too runny, you can strain with cheesecloth (save the whey–it’s great for making pancakes in place of milk or water!) or just use the runny yogurt in smoothies. Hope that helps!

    • C. Dazey says

      I have what I believe to be a very hot crockpot, but I have not had any problems with making yogurt (even though I seem to burn other things in it!). Best wishes!

    • Kim says

      Scroll down for my recipe that does not rely on the temperature of your Crock Pot. It works better for me, since I can carefully monitor the temperatures (the key to success!) and it is much faster than the hours and hours of the traditional Crock Pot yogurt method.

      • Mandy says

        I know this may sound crazy but I like to add powdered sugar and lime juice to mine. I swear it tastes just like key lime pie flavored yoplait which is my favorite. I also like to add some nonfat powdered milk at the beginning to make it come out thicker.

  2. Beth says

    Yum! I love homemade yogurt! This is exactly the way I make it, but I add a little bit of powdered milk when I add in the starter to make it thicker, and I double strain it, to make it “Greek.” I took some to work once, and it was a big hit. Everyone keeps asking when I am making more.

  3. Kim says

    Here is the Stovetop/Crock Pot yogurt recipe I made up as a combination of ideas from various websites. It is MUCH faster than regular Crock Pot yogurt and takes the guess-work out of the timing/heating if your Crock Pot doesn’t heat perfectly (gets too hot or not hot enough).

    Quick Crock-Pot Yogurt
    by Kim Nevels

    ½-1 Gallon whole or 2% milk
    2-4 Tablespoons starter yogurt (unflavored plain yogurt with live active cultures- make sure that the cultures are listed on the ingredient list (not just on the front of the container; or may use from a previous batch of homemade yogurt)

    Large pot
    Measuring cup (2 c. or larger)
    Whisk or spoon
    2 Bath towels

    1. Pour milk into large pot on the stove and begin to heat on medium-high. Place a thermometer in the pot (not touching the bottom or sides).
    2. While the milk is beginning to warm, plug in the Crock-Pot and turn it to low. Put 2-4 tablespoons starter yogurt into a measuring cup (or something similar) and set it on the countertop, so it can warm up a bit.
    3. As the milk starts warming, stir constantly to avoid scalding. Heat to 185-190°.
    4. Place pot in the sink. Carefully fill the sink with cold water around the pot. Stir and check the temperature often until it cools to 120°.
    5. Pour the milk into the warmed Crock-Pot.
    6. Spoon out about 1 cup of milk into the measuring cup of starter yogurt. Stir well. Add this mixture into the Crock-Pot of milk. Stir well.
    7. Turn off and unplug the Crock-Pot. Wrap it snugly with bath towels.
    8. Let Crock-Pot sit undisturbed for 4-10 hours.
    9. Pour or spoon off any liquid (the whey). Spoon yogurt into containers and refrigerate. It will thicken a bit more in the refrigerator.
    10. If yogurt is too thin for your taste (or you want to make Greek yogurt), strain some of the liquid off using cheesecloth or a clean dishtowel in a colander.

  4. susie says

    I made yogurt for the first time today too! my sister in law gave me the recipe,,, good idea for the sunflower seeds, I will have to get some.

    • Kim says

      Make sure you get the temperatures right and make sure the starter yogurt has live and active cultures (the cultures should be listed on the ingredients list, not just on the front of the container). If you feel like your Crock Pot was getting too hot or not hot enough, try my method above. Though it requires a couple more dishes to clean, it is MUCH faster and more accurate.

    • Jessie says

      Pam, the first time that I made it, I used a half gallon of Horizon Organic milk and it did not turn out. After reading some more on the internet, I learned that their half gallons of milk are ultra pasteurized and that is why it wouldn’t work. Maybe this is why yours didn’t turn out?

    • Lori F. says

      You may want to double check the yogurt you used for starter. I was surprised to see that the brand of Greek yogurt I have been buying lately doesn’t have active live cultures in it. The live cultures are what turns milk into yogurt. I had wrongly assumed that all yogurt contains live active cultures.

    • says

      If your milk is too hot when you add your yogurt bacteria, it will kill them (much like hot water does to yeast) and thus, runny yogurt! As far as using ultra-pasteurized milk…nearly all organic milk is UHT. It makes it last longer on store shelves, because it doesn’t move as quickly as the regular varieties. Sadly, heating milk to that high of a temperature completely kills all living enzymes, creating “dead milk”. 180 is the minimum temp needed to pasteurize milk any more is redundant and only for profit reasons–not for health reasons. The UHT organic milk will work for making yogurt, but will be slightly less nutritious. But store-brand, non-UHT milk has issues of its own…so it’s a personal decision. I say just buy a cow! LOL

    • Laurie V says

      Unfortunately, this recipe didn’t work for me. I guess the temperature was off because what I ended up with looked like milk with lumps in it. Oh, well. Back to the drawing board.

  5. Misti says

    Did you have any issues with a film forming over the yogurt? Also, when I made this I thought that it was REALLY sour. Thoughts? Suggestions?

    • Kim says

      You can do the final culturing step for as little as 4 hours according to my research & personal experience! The longer it sits in the last stage, the more sour the taste. The shorter time, the milder flavor. Of course, if it tastes like sour milk then it didn’t work and I’d throw it out. (:

    • Kim says

      It WILL taste different than store bought vanilla yogurt, because theirs has a ton of added sugar. You can sweeten yours with honey, agave, fruit (fresh or frozen), artificial sweeter (truvia etc.), or sugar. You can also add a drop of vanilla if you like.

    • Heather Hauer says

      If it has a film, it got too hot. If it lumps, it wasnt wisked long enough. I make this weekly, so I’ve had a ton of success and fails! You can add 1/4 dry milk to your starter. It thickened nicely. Or unflavored gelatin, but I don’t. We are gelatin free. When you wisked the milk into the starter yogurt, it should thicken and be smooth. That will tell you the milk is the perfect temp and the cultures are active. Hope this helps someone. Our digestive issues have gone away since eating lots of this. Plus its soo much more natural than yoplait that is filled with fillers and gelatin.

  6. Jamie says

    Curious as to cost comparison here. How much did this make?? I pay just under $4.00 for a quart of Stoneyfield whole milk yogurt. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it on sale but occasionally get coupons for it.
    I’ve wanted to try this for so long, but was terrified I would poison us all or something.

    • sarah says

      Depending on whether you strain it or not, it should make a bit less than a half gallon. I made it recently (using a different recipe) and I got 3 regular sized Prego spaghetti sauce jars full, lol. I think each jar is something like 20 oz? I might be totally making that up and this comment might be completely useless… so… sorry??

      Regardless, it’s a lot cheaper. However, if you strain it to thicken it you get considerably less and the cost difference decreases. I made mine with 2% milk and used it in smoothies and mixing it in sauces in place of sour cream.

    • sarah says

      Oh, and re: poisoning- my husband was scared of the same thing, but you don’t have to taste it to tell that it’s turned into yogurt, even if it’s still pretty runny. You can definitely tell by the smell. If it smells like sour milk- toss it. But mine definitely smelled yogurty and the hubster agreed. And so it was ingested.

    • says

      I wondered the same thing & ran the numbers:

      –>Organic milk: $5.99 per gallon, which equals $3.00 for 8 c.
      –>Organic yogurt: $3.29 per 32 oz. container, which equals $0.42 for 1/2 c.
      –>Organic non-fat dry milk (used to help thicken mixture): $6.91 per 12 oz. container, which equals $0.18 for 1 tbsp.

      This totals $3.60 & makes 64 oz.! If you strain the yogurt, you’re left w/ roughly half the total, so it would be $3.60 for 32 oz. Greek-style organic yogurt! While more expensive than Stonyfield ‘regular’ yogurt, it is significantly cheaper than buying organic Greek yogurt!!

      My recipe & breakdown are here: http://wp.me/p2gGyc-fK.


  7. liz says

    I’ve been using this method for a while and it is great! I have noticed that different brands of milk produce different thickness of yogurt (all other things were the same). It’s a fraction of the cost of buying yogurt and my DD eats it almost straight with just a bit of fruit compote in there. So much less sugar than many brands out there. I have strained it using multiple layers of cheesecloth and it has thickened really well!

    • says

      I was wondering the same thing.

      We’re SLOWLY going vegan, and I was wondering about coconut milk and coconut yogurt.

      (I’ve made it lots of time with dairy yogurt and milk.)

    • Annie says

      I used soy milk for the yogurt I made yesterday, but had regular (cow’s milk) fat-free yogurt for the starter. I’d guess, though, that as long as you have a starter with live cultures, you’ll be fine. Good luck!

    • Amanda says

      Total fail with almond milk (not *quite* what you asked, but close), but apparently there’s a method that uses coconut milk, and tends to be successful.

  8. Joy Shepard says

    I make mine in the microwave. I keep one cup of milk out and use 2 tbs of gelatine in it (stir like crazy). I put the rest of the milk in a large container in the microwave and heat until I can put a figure right on top and come away with a light scum (that tells me the milk is scalded enough). I put in 2 tbs of active plain yogurt and the cold milk mix and stir until there are no lumps. I set in a container of warm water, covered for 6-8 hours and then refrigerate.

  9. Beth says

    I have made yogurt this way, and it turned out great! However, I prefer a thicker yogurt. I put the yogurt in a strainer lined with cheese cloth for a few hours (if you leave it long enough, it becomes Greek yogurt). Delicious! The liquid that strains off is called whey and can be added to smoothies for extra protein.

  10. Amie says

    I pulled the recipe from link for homemade go-gurts and started making homemade yogurt in my crockpot this summer and my boys (ages 2 & 4) eat it all within 7-9 days! They love it. We mash up some banana and sprinkle just a little sugar and they drink it as banana smoothies. I haven’t decided if it is really cheaper or not since they consume so much more of it than the store bought yogurt. lol. I also use it in place of sour cream. We really like it. This is yet another recipe I picked up from moneysavingmom. I am now required to keep a supply of slow cooker yogurt, buttery rolls, and bread sticks on hand. Thanks for having so many great recipes. :)

    • Emma K says

      How do you store your go-gurts? My kids love eating them and I was trying to think of a kid friendly way to store them so they can eat them, when I attempt homemade yogurt.

      • Amie says

        I actually haven’t made them as go-gurts. I just used the go-gurt recipe on this blog. In that recipe, the person used snack sized ziplocks and froze them.

  11. says

    Too funny, I JUST made my first batch of homemade yogurt in my yogurt maker yesterday :). It turned out ok, but slightly runnier than I would have liked. This sounds so much easier! I will probably give it a tray next time!!! :)

  12. Tracy says

    Would this work with coconut milk and coconut yogurt as the starter? We have a dairy allergy in the family. Coconut yogurt is yummy but pricey.

  13. Charity says

    We make our yogurt in the crockpot too. So easy! Just remember to keep enough from your homemade batch to start the next batch. This is definitely the cheapest way to have organic yogurt!

  14. Annie says

    I made yogurt yesterday, too. Since it was 107 (!) here in NW Ohio yesterday, mine made a little faster by using the same method I used when we lived in central Africa and had consistently warm weather. In my crockpot, I heated the 1/2 gallon of milk (plain soymilk is what I had on hand) to 110 degrees. (My crockpot has a temperature probe.) I then stirred in 1/2 plain yogurt, and replaced the lid. Then, I removed the covered crock and placed it on my back porch in the sun for about 3 hours, then in the shade for another 1-2. Worked like a charm!

  15. Jodi Knaak says

    I have used this method before and it worked well! I added vanilla extract to it when it was done and topped it with honey and it was yummmmmmmy!

  16. Sandy Floyd says

    I have used this method before too and it is really good. My only issue it that I sometimes has ‘lumps’ in it that have a wierd texture. Is it just bacteria cultures? I used fresh ingredients so it was not spoiled. I was afraid I was doing something wrong and didn’t want to upset any tummies. Anyone have an idea what the lumps are?

  17. Jennifer B. says


    I wondered if you might want to adjust your recipe directions regarding spooning a “small amount” of the warmed milk into the yogurt starter? When I read that, I was thinking a couple of spoonfuls, which would likely be only a few tablespoons. The original recipe you linked to, as well as the one posted here in your comments by Kim, each list using much more milk (1-2 cups). Is that just my misinterpretation of “small amount”? Did you actually use much less milk than 1 cup when you spooned, meaning no adjustment is necessary?

    I fully admit I am not a “cook” (so I might have totally misinterpreted your instructions) and that most might think one cup is a small amount. (It is, compared to how much is in the crock pot!) I’m the kind of person who needs to be told to CRACK the egg for the recipe! c:

    • Kim says

      I wrote the recipe in the comments. I use a ladle and scoop 2-3 ladles full of the warm milk into the starter (about 1- 1 1/2 cups). Stir, then pour it back into the warm milk in the Crock Pot, then stir again. HTH!

  18. Kimber morrow says

    Started mine in the crock pot this morning and was wondering what would happen if it started to boil a little. I have turned it off and am now letting it cool for three hours but I am wondering if it is going to be any good???

    • Amanda says

      Second comment, but when you make yogurt on the stovetop, a slight boil is desirable, since it breaks down the milk proteins, which will help the texture. I don’t have a crockpot, so I let the yogurt sit outside (AZ is pretty hot) or in the oven with just the pilot light on. I’ve had the best results using Nancy’s, Straus and Fage as starters.

  19. Bobbie-Jo says

    This homemade yogurt is runnier then store bought yogurt but its PERFECT for smoothies. I throw it in a blender with whatever fruit (frozen or fresh) I have on hand and the kids LOVE it!

  20. Renae says

    I make this weekly, and my only problem is remembering when I started/finished the previous step. The online timer http://e.ggtimer.com/ has helped tremendously! I actually start all 3 timers at the beginning of the process, 1 timer for the initial milk heating, 1 timer for letting the milk cool down, and 1 timer for re-warming after adding the starter yogurt (I don’t think Crystal’s recipe has this step). This way I have all the timers set up front, and can’t forget!

    • Kim says

      This is part of why I made up a faster recipe (see above). I had a hard time timing all of the steps and coordinating the timing so I didn’t have to get up in the middle of the night to tend to it. With the faster version, I can start it as late as 5 pm and it is done before I go to bed at 10. :)

  21. Sarah says

    I use this same recipe often but we like it thicker so I have been adding some boxed pudding. Makes the cost a little higher but it is super tasty. We have used vanilla, lemon, and banana cream and have loved it!

  22. says

    I’ve tried various methods with inconsistent results, but finally landed on the method using a heating pad posted here.
    I make 4 quart jars at a time (use 1/2 C. of starter) and omit the dry milk and it has turned out great every time. For me this seems like the simplest way that I’ve tried. Wide mouth quart jars also make for easy storage and serving.

    • says

      I’ve calculated the cost to be about $2.25 or less for 4 quarts of yogurt. (Costco milk @ 1.98/gal. + starter) plus the cost of electricity

  23. Laura says

    Just thought I’d share that if I refrigerate my yogurt before it cools off completely, so start refrigerating after 8 hours, but while the yogurt is still warm, then the yogurt thickens up really nicely, just like store bought!

  24. Monica says

    From what I’ve read, there may be two easy things to remember to get thicker yogurt. First, when you stir your starter into the 1 cup of milk, don’t stir much. I only stir 3 or 4 times around. Do this as well when you add it to the warm milk because you just want to spread out the starter, not destroy it. Lumpy is ok. Over stirring can cause it to be runny. The other thing to do is to put your crock pot crock directly into the refrigerator to fully cool, after the towel incubation, before you put it into containers or stir. These two things make our crock pot yogurt thick. Oh, the longer it’s in a towel, the more sour it gets.

  25. Suzanne says

    Just curious, if you use greek yogurt as your starter, do you end up with greek yogurt or plain yogurt?

  26. Patti says

    I make yogurt in my crockpot every week following a similar recipe. At the point of mixing the milk and starter yogurt, I take out a cup of the milk and mix it with the store bought yogurt and a package of sugar free /fat free vanilla yogurt. After the eight hours wrapped in the towel, I strain it by pouring it into a cheesecloth covered colander sitting in a large mixing bowl. I cover it and put it in the refrigerator for several hours. The longer it is strained, the thicker it gets. We love this yogurt and eat it pretty fast. I use half skim milk and half 2%. It costs about .09 an ounce which is not a huge difference from on-sale yogurt but we like knowing our ingredients and we love the flavor. It goes with all fresh fruits, granola, etc. And I use it in place of sour cream.

  27. sai says

    I make yogurt every day at home itself using the culture. Almost all Indians do it. Usually we get cultured yogurt from fellow indians if we don’t have it. Any milk would work for it.
    Just boil the milk in microwave until it forms a layer on top of it.
    let it cool for some time. Add a spoon full of yogurt culture in the warm milk(milk should be warm to touch ). Put them in conventional oven with light on. Do place the lid slant on the pot. Don’t move the pot until it is done. The process usually takes 6-8 hours.

  28. Leah Bening says

    I have made yogurt before, and what you are doing takes a lot of unnecessary time, counter space and expense (electricity for hours of cooking).

    I ‘facilitate’ an international cooking class and bring in a cook from a different country for each class. My friend from Pakistan taught me a long time ago how she makes yogurt which is a staple in their diet. She repeatedly gave me the recipe until I finally insisted she and I make some together. It was indeed as easy as she kept telling me it was. She even gave me a small enamel bowl to make it in. She does not like glass or plastic.

    She mixes a few spoons full (no measurements) of her reserved starter-yogurt into some milk, fat or a little fat but for her not skim, and set it on her counter and covered the top with something to keep dust/pests out, that’s it! Left unshaken and not disturbed, in 6-8 hours it begins to congeal and goes into her frige. I think it’s a little thinner than I’m used to, not sure anymore.

    I also had someone tell me their climate is cold so they make yogurt in a cold manner. Might have been an Ukrainian friend. That’s all I can remember, sorry.

    My Bulgarian friend (Bulgarian is the pinnacle of probiotic yogurts) choses her ingredients carefully and insists you need a large towel to wrap it in. She warms her milk before making yogurt as many do, I assume to speed up the thickening.

    We can’t make it in class because it is not to be disturbed after making it so it does not lend well to a class. She demonstrated and sent some of hers home with everyone.

    All yogurts will taste different, some more sour and some less. You can adjust the flavor and make a far better product easier and with less expense. Milk is costly, homemade yogurt is not cheap but a much better product. Hope this helps!

    • Margaret says

      Interesting observations from across the world. I think the heating of the milk is beneficial also for killing any bad bacteria in the milk before adding the good bacteria.

  29. says

    I loved this! I made it for my daughter, whose 3, and she loved it too. We added some fresh strawberries that we had frozen from picking and that was just the best! I did make the frozen also, and put it in the sandwich bags like I read. Delicious and it was so easy!

  30. Carla in MT says

    For a thicker yogurt (which we like), line a colander/strainer with a clean cotton cloth (home-made cotton napkin, or several layers of cheesecloth, or a non-fuzzy dishtowel, etc). Set the colander over another bowl, and pour in the yogurt. Let it drain until it is the thickness you like. You can put this in the refrigerator while it drains. It may take several hours. If you strain for a very long time, it becomes the thickness of cream cheese. You have just made yogurt cheese. :)

    We find that a gallon of milk makes down to a quart of yogurt. We used a greek yogurt as starter. I recently returned from a trip to Greece & brought home some plain yogurt. Can’t wait to try it as the new starter.

  31. Margaret says

    I agree, making yogurt is so great! I have been making thick Greek style yogurt for the last year. I found an excellent website that explains how to do it. You might want to take a look and see yourself: http://www.salad-in-a-jar.com/making-homemade-yogurt
    You can save time by heating the milk in the microwave for about 17 minuets on high or until the temp reaches above 175. Also, putting about 1 tablespoon of your previous yogurt per half gallon of milk is plenty. I have been told that putting in much more than that can have problems because the bacteria needs room to grow.

  32. KimH says

    Actually, you dont need to heat the milk these days as most recipes call for unless you’re using fresh whole milk. Back in the olden days, milk wasnt pasteurized and needed to be scalded to kill any bacteria that might be hanging around.
    I’ve been making yogurt for about 33 years and in the beginning, I scalded like all the old recipes said, but over the years, talking to others (before computers) who didnt scald convinced me to try it. I dont scald now. Its a waste of time & energy. (again, unless you are using raw milk).

    Also if you add half & half to your milk, it will thicken it considerably. Funny thing about it though, is that if you try to make it out of 100% half & half, it will be much thinner than if you just made it from milk. Also, heavy cream doesnt make it thicker either. About 1/2 milk to 1/2 h&h gives the best thickest results but any added to the milk will thicken it.

  33. Kim says

    I made this yesterday with almond milk (the almond milk with a coupon was cheaper than regular milk) before I read someone else’s comment that hers made with almond milk did not work. I used Dannon nonfat yogurt. I’m so disappointed. It barely thickened at all. I’m planning to freeze for baking, as it didn’t taste soured or like yogurt.

  34. Susan says

    I have been making yogurt for a couple of years, and although I have had success with the crockpot method, I feel like I get better results on the stovetop. I boil water in a large stockpot and place my pot of milk over the top to heat. It is like using a giant double boiler – keeps the milk from burning, and you don’t have to watch it as closely. I fill the stockpot with ice water to cool the milk back down to 110. Although, after reading previous comments, I may try making yogurt without heating it first… After I have mixed my starter in, I wrap the yogurt in a large towel and then an emergency blanket (the silver ones that look like aluminum foil). This keeps the yogurt at a consistant temp -again even in the winter when my kitchen gets VERY cold!

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