And you thought homemade almond milk was exciting! Because no, the title post is not a typo. You can indeed make yogurt at home using nothing but your crockpot. And it is ridiculously easy. All you need is a crockpot (duh), 1/2 gallon of milk, 1/2 cup of yogurt with live cultures, and some towels. Oh, and some planing because you do need to be around a specific times to turn the crockpot on/off, etc.
Anyway, making yogurt in the crockpot is actually not new to this challenge for me. I actually made my first batch of yogurt a few years ago after I stumbled upon this recipe from A Year of Slow Cooking. Of course I had to try it, and had quite a bit of success. I stopped because I was working on my PhD and NEVER at home, so it became hard to plan ahead to make it from scratch. And then I just got out of the habit and got lazy.
But the crock pot is back in action! And don’t worry, I have step-by-step instructions here for you!
Homemade Crock Pot Yogurt
- Plug in your crock pot and add 1/2 gallon milk. You can use any type of cows milk you want, but the higher the fat content the thicker the yogurt.
- Set crock pot to “low.” Go entertain yourself for 2.5 hours.
- After 2.5 hours, simply unplug the crock pot. Now go find something to do for 3 hours.
- After 3 hours, scoop out 1-2 cups of the milk (it will still be warm) into a separate bowl and wisk in 1/2 cup of store bought plain yogurt with active cultures. Or, if you have been making yogurt for some time, you can take 1/2 cup of your own homemade yogurt from the previous batch.
- Put the milk and yogurt mixture back into the crockpot and put the lid back on. Wrap up the crockpot in a few towels and let it “incubate” for about 8 hours.
- After 8 hours, you are DONE! You now have yogurt. Now, just a disclaimer: this will NOT be the same consistency of store bought yogurt. It will be a little bit “runnier.” Why? Well…it doesn’t have any stabilizers (such as pectin) added. And as I said, more fat content equals thicker yogurt.
Now, if you want “regular” yogurt you are done. However, if you are like me and LOOOOOOOOOVE greek yogurt, you can make that too with a few more hours and one additional step!
Greek yogurt is just regular yogurt that has been strained to remove the whey, giving it a thicker consistency and higher protein content per unit of volume. It is actually pretty easy to strain. You can use a cheesecloth, but I found a way to make it work with coffee filters. Here is what I do:
Homemade Greek Yogurt
- Take a large bowl and a strainer/colander that fits inside the bowl. Make sure there is enough space between the bottom of the strainer/colander and the bottom of the bowl for the whey to drain.
- Line you strainer/colander with several coffee filters. I use one at the bottom and 3-4 around the sides. Just make sure the entire strainer/colander is covered or yogurt will simply leak through.
- Carefully place your homemade yogurt on top of the coffee filters. I recommend simply spooning it in slowly at first to avoid yogurt leaking in between the bottom of the different coffee filters.
- Place the bowl in the fridge for 8-12 hours to let it drain.
- Scoop out the strained yogurt and enjoy! You can see below how much “greek” yogurt I got from my 1/2 gallon of yogurt. Its a few cups!
You can throw away the whey, or re-use it. I have used it when making bread in place of water, or for soaking grains/oatmeal prior to cooking. Here is what it looks like (yeah, it does have a yellow tint to it):
There are some other tips for making your yogurt thicker without straining it. You can add a few tablespoons of dried milk powder when you add in the cultured yogurt. And my father, who has taken my original experiment and continued to make it over the past few years, has his own method of adding gelatin. You can read the directions on this blog post.
So there you have it….a simple way to make yogurt at home. Again, the hardest part is finding a day when you are home at the appropriate times. I found that if Im home on a Sunday by 4:00 I can “cook” the yogurt for the 5.5 hours and then wrap it up before I go to bed and wake up to yogurt in the morning!
Happy yogurt making!!!!