• Beginners Guide: Make Greek Yogurt for Cheap At Home



    Making Greek Yogurt at home is easy and funMaking yogurt is easy. Making greek yogurt is equally easy! In order to make greek yogurt you need only an old clean tee-shirt, space in your fridge, and a couple of hours to relax, watch a movie, whatever you want to do. The industry that has arisen around home yogurt making is pretty impressive (you can check out some reviews of the Greek yogurt makers we have tried), but you don’t need anything more than some basic kitchen necessities if you want to make delicious, pro-biotic, natural, organic, authentic Greek Yogurt right at home.

    What you need to make greek yogurt:

     

    4 cup or greater glass or plastic measuring cup (with a lid is helpful, but not necessary)

    2 Tablespoons live culture yogurt (You can get it from you local grocery store), or yogurt culture packet

    If you’re using a yogurt culture packet you will need 2 tablespoons milk set aside in a little bowl for use later.

    4 cups of milk, the higher the fat content, the better.

    6 cup saucepan or pot

    Whisk

    Piece of an old tee-shirt, cheese cloth, or a tea towel (the kind that is not made out of terry cloth) Alternatively you can use a special greek yogurt strainer

    Optional: 1/4-1/3 cup powdered milk

    Making greek yogurt:

    Note: These instructions are for 4 cups of milk, but you can make it in larger batches, if you want. 4 cups is just a manageable amount of milk to work with.

    Step 1: Scald the milk - Time 3-7 minutes

    First you have to scald/pasteurize your milk. This means pouring 4 cups of milk into your saucepan and, over high heat, bring it almost to a boil. This will take about 3 minutes if the milk is at room temperature or 5-7 minutes if it’s just out of the fridge. As the milk is just starting to bubble around the edges of the saucepan, remove from the burner. Put a lid on the pan if you want, and then walk away.

    You also have the option of adding the powdered milk now, and whisking it in, or doing it later. It doesn’t matter.

    Step 2: Let the milk cool - Time 45mins-1hour

    Come back periodically over the next hour or so until the pan has cooled down to about 108-115 degrees. You don’t need a thermometer for this, you can just use your fingers. When you can hold your fingertips to the side of the pan, for ten seconds without burning them you know it is ready. If you didn’t add the powdered milk before, you can add it now, or not at all.

    Step 3: Add the bacteria - Time 1-2 minutes

    If you’re using yogurt culture packets, now you add the packet to the 2 tablespoons and stir and then pour into the saucepan. If using the 2 tablespoons of live culture yogurt, pour it into the saucepan.

    Stir the saucepan of now culture rich milk with a whisk, and then pour back into your glass or plastic cup measure. If your measure cup has a lid, put it on, if not that’s fine.

    Step 4: Keep the mixture at 108 degrees - Time 4-12 hours

    Turn on the oven light, and turn the oven on to warm. After about 2-4 minutes turn off the oven and then place the measuring cup in the oven. The oven light will produce enough heat to keep your oven pleasantly warm and allow you to peer in at the whole ecosystem you’ve just created.

    Walk away for 4-12 hours. During this time you can use a wireless thermometer that will alert you when the temperature is getting too high or low.

    When you wake up from the delightful nap you’ve just taken, remove the yogurt from the oven, and turn off the oven light. You can test if the yogurt is done when you tilt the measuring cup and the yogurt moves away from the side in one mass.

    Step 5: Strain the yogurttime 2-4 hours

    Now you get to make greek yogurt.

    Take the cloth that you have designated for the straining–tee-shirt, tea towel, or cheese cloth–stretch it over top of a bowl. Keep the cloth in place with several rubberbands stretched around the outside of the bowl. Then pour your yogurt onto the strainer you’ve created. Place the bowl and suspended yogurt into the refrigerator. Let the yogurt drain for a couple of hours. The longer you let it drain the thicker the yogurt.

    Walk away. Read a blog about how to make greek yogurt and the shift of the US yogurt culture.

    You’re done!

    When the yogurt has drained long enough, or when you remember that you forgot about it go to the fridge and remove the delicious ready to eat yogurt.

    Remove the rubber bands and gather up the edges of the yogurt cloth. Avoid submerging the yogurt in all that delicious whey you’ve drained off. Put the yogurt in an air tight container and refrigerate until you want to eat it.

    One more thing!

    Don’t throw the whey away!  You thought you were just making greek yogurt, but you got a bonus: Whey!  But what do you do with whey? Read our article on what to do with whey to learn more. 

    Now you have delicious homemade greek yogurt. Make sure to go check out some quick and easy greek yogurt recipes that we have collected for you.



    49 Responses to Beginners Guide: Make Greek Yogurt for Cheap At Home

    1. Jessica Crawford
      May 11, 2013 at 4:21 pm

      Thank you for this easy-to-follow recipe. Can you use plain yogurt as the starter, or is it a special yogurt starter?

      • admin
        May 13, 2013 at 7:04 pm

        Thanks Jessica for the comment. In regards to your question, you can use plain yogurt as a starter as long as it contains a”Live Culture” Many plain yogurts do not contain a live culture which is what you will need to start your greek yogurt. So when buying a yogurt make sure to check if live culture is listed on the container. Most of the major greek yogurt brands contain live cultures so they are a pretty safe bet, but you will have to look more closely when using a plain yogurt. In short, yes it is possible. Let us know how your greek yogurt turns out.

        • Michelle
          June 9, 2013 at 10:50 pm

          Dannon plain yogurt has active live yeast cultures.

          • Mrs. Hansen
            October 1, 2013 at 8:58 am

            Not sure if it matters to you, but it’s likely they make their yogurt from milk from cows that have been given the Rbst growth hormone. It is also likely that their cows have been fed GMO corn and GMO soy. I believe all that passes through the cows milk to the consumer.

          • Mrs. Hansen
            October 1, 2013 at 9:14 am

            P.S. Only way to really avoid both is to buy organic greek yogurt. You can find greek yogurt that comes from milk that the cows haven’t been given the RBST growth hormone easy enough. The manufacturer will state it on the container if they haven’t. If it’s not there, then it does come from RBST milk, which causes organ damage and premature maturation in children, and provides consumers with a lot of unnecessary antibiotics, which were given to the cows given the RBST shots (so they’d produce more milk) to prevent mastitis. The GMO corn and soy carry with them a host of other problems–you can see the list here:

            http://www.sott.net/article/264517-First-long-term-study-released-on-pigs-cattle-who-eat-GMO-soy-and-corn-offers-frightening-results

            • Ashley B
              March 17, 2014 at 7:29 pm

              The Aldi brand, Friendly Farms, although not organic, is rBST free and contains live cultures.

      • Jake
        July 12, 2013 at 8:47 pm

        In fact, almost all yogurts you see in supermarkets have live cultures: the beneficial effects of the live culture (acidopholus) on the digestive system is one of the important reasons people eat yogurt. Maybe some of those individually packaged fruity ones don’t have live cultures, but I know that Dannon and Yoplait do; and all the quart sized plain yogurts do, even the generic supermarket brands. What a lot of the commercial brands also have are thickeners, like starches, pectin, agar agar, etc. (These won’t hurt you, but some of them add extra carbohydrates. They still work fine as starter for a new batch of yogurt.)

      • David
        March 10, 2014 at 10:44 pm

        More importantly, what’s the yield for 1L of milk?

    2. Don
      May 22, 2013 at 7:56 pm

      I have made yoghurt at home for years, but I prefer the regular unstrained variety, not Greek style, but what you do with it after it ferments is beside the point. You DO NOT have to heat the milk until it is almost boiling and let it cool down. It takes me about 5 minutes to prepare a batch. I use a 1-quart yoghurt maker, but anything that heats the mixture to the prescribed temperature. Before getting the yoghurt maker on line for about $20, I used a slow cooker connected to a variac (a variable voltage transformer) to reduce the a.c. line voltage to produce just the right temperature as measured with a thermometer. Here is my method.

      1. Take 1% fat, ultra-pasteurised organic milk from the refrigerator and pour into the container.

      2. Place the container of milk in the microwave oven. Run the micro until it comes to temperature. Mine takes exactly 3 minutes with the oven on high. You will have to experiment with yours using a thermometer to determine the exact warming time, but once determined, just use the timer on the micro.

      3. Add a heaping teaspoon full of plain yoghurt. Make sure it is the real stuff with active yoghurt culture. I use regular Plain Dannon (not the low or no fat).

      4. Allow to ferment 16-18 hours. I have found 12 hours is not long enough for regular yoghurt. Fermenting time may be different for Greek style. This will require experimentation, since I never try to make the Greek style.

      5. If you like regular yoghurt, put it in the fridge overnight and enjoy. To make Greek yoghurt, strain just as described in the recipe in this article.

      Greek yoghurt is exactly the same as regular, except that the whey has been removed by centrifuge or straining. I once purchased a coup of Greek style, and used it for starter. The outcome was precisely the same as using regular plain yoghurt for starter.

      I usually purchase one quart of plain yoghurt for starter. When that runs out, I use a batch of home-made for starter. But I find third generation less tasty, so I only make two generations out of fresh starter. I usually save only about a third of a quart of starter, because an entire quart tends to go bad and mould before it is used up.

      • joe
        July 3, 2013 at 7:58 pm

        Not once did you ever tell us the temperatures you used. Why bother writing all of that and not give the temperatures so we can use them?

        • jake
          July 12, 2013 at 8:56 pm

          The temperatures I use are these:
          Bring the milk up to 180° F.

          Take it off the heat and let it cool to 120° F.

          Now mix in the starter (I use already made yogurt).

          To keep it warm, I use a small ice chest. I pour warm (115°) water into the ice chest aobut 3 inches deep and set the containers in that.

          Don (above) says he lets his yogurt ferment for 18–20 hours. That seems pretty long to me.

          I do mine for about 4 hours and it comes out fine. I check the temperature with a thermometer after about an hour and a half and, if it is getting down toward 95° I add some boiling water to the bath to heat it up a bit. Usually I only need to add boiling water once.

    3. Vicki
      May 27, 2013 at 12:50 pm

      What if I overheat milk ? I left the room for a minute and came back and it was boiling ferociously ! Also my first batch is creamy but not tangy like store bought

      • Bethany
        June 11, 2013 at 6:57 pm

        Freshly made yoghurt isn’t all that tangy. The longer it sits (in the fridge), the more tangy it will get.

    4. Julie A. Childers
      June 1, 2013 at 10:38 pm

      Can soy / nut / rice milk be used, instead of regular cow milk?

      • joan waldhalm
        August 9, 2013 at 1:59 am

        I knew a vegan that did, but he started by replacing milk a little at a time and kept his culture going, eventually even his starter was soy.

    5. jim
      July 6, 2013 at 10:05 pm

      Loved your article – grateful for it. This is such valuable information. It is so economical and healthy.

      Have also been making yoghurt for quite a few years. Temperature is not super sensitive except you dont want to go over 108 which could kill your culture. Lower temps can work fine but maybe take a little longer. I have made it in 1.5 gal covered stainless pot and once cooled (can lower temp a little quicker by putting the pot in a sink of cold water), then I stir in the culture and put the pot in a warm kitchen window or warm up the water in the sink. My culture is a cup of cream top trader joes plain yoghurt (or a cup of leftovers from the previous batch). Mine has set up in a few hours, then I ladle it out into quart plastic leftover containers and keep it out on the counter for more hours.

      Best thing about the yoghurt is it has become a healthy substitute for ice cream.

      Next task is conquering natto making. If you correct my grammar, I aint gonna change it.

      Much cheers Jim

      • carol
        November 30, 2013 at 9:16 pm

        hi jim, i loved your reply.

    6. Lane Edwards
      July 7, 2013 at 4:59 am

      After straining the yogurt is the whey suitable for making fresh ricotta cheese as you can with the whey after making fresh mozzarella cheese (hate to see that whey going to waste)?

      • admin
        July 14, 2013 at 12:28 am

        Hi Lane,
        Thanks for reading the blog and commenting. You can check out our article 3 Great Uses for leftover whey on some uses for the whey. In general there is less protein left behind in yogurt whey which makes it less fruitful for ricotta cheese making. That being said I have made ricotta from my leftover whey from my homemade greek yogurt, so it is possible but it usually only yields a couple of tablespoons worth on a batch this size. Give it a try and let us know how it works out.

    7. txrr50@yahoo.com
      July 12, 2013 at 8:12 pm

      I learned from a friend of mine who is from India. Almost 75-80% of the indian household makes their own yogurt at Home.
      I have learned this and perfected it. I make about 6 cups at a time.
      I take the milk )1% or 2% – does not matter if you use whole Milk) boil it in a corning ware in the Microwave. Make sure that the milk comes to boiling. Let it cool for safe handling.
      Transfer the milk to a stainless steel vessel. Let the milk cool to medium hot.
      I cant tell the temperature – I stick my clean finger in the milk and if it is bearable hot thats good.
      It should not be luke warm.
      Take 4-5 teaspoons of yogurt culture that is whisked with a spoon to a creamy consistency.
      Add this to the warm milk and stir it well to mix the culture with the milk uniformly.
      Cover the vessel with a plate and put it inside the oven and turn the lights on.
      In about 6-8 hours the milk should set as Yogurt.
      Leave it in the fridge for about 6-8 hours to chill, and once chilled it is ready to eat.
      This is the best yogurt – healthy – no additives and not gooey like Dannon and other brands and healthy.
      Question to the Author of this Article – In what way is this Yogurt different from Greek Yogurt, Can I buy Greek Yogurt (there is a brand called Kefir or something) and use the culture to make as above and it will be Greek Yogurt. In fact I made some a couple of months back when I ran out of culture.

      • admin
        July 14, 2013 at 12:22 am

        HI Txrr,

        Thanks so much for reading our blog and comment. We are super excited that you are making homemade yogurt. In response to your question the only difference between your yogurt and homemade greek yogurt is the process of straining. So if you follow step 5 in our tutorial which is about straining the yogurt that process will transform your yogurt into greek yogurt. You can use a special strainer or something as simple as a clean t-shirt to do it. Then you will end up with rich, thick and creamy greek yogurt. Happy yogurt making.

        • John Farrell
          January 19, 2014 at 4:05 pm

          I made my first batch of Greek yoghurt last evening. It is in the fridge wheying out right now.

          I used the ceramic crock pot in the microwave to bring the milk temp up to 170 degrees which took about 30 minutes. Transferred the milk into a stainless steel stock pot for the slow heat rise to 180 degrees on the stove top. My crock pot came with a plastic lid which, inverted, also fits my SS stock pot.

          Last month, when I was making fruit jellies that required a 122 degrees set, I drilled a hole in the center of the plastic lid through which I can insert the probe of my Taylor digital thermometer. The probe reaches into the heating milk whereby I can control the heat to exactly 180 degrees.

          • admin
            January 20, 2014 at 7:42 pm

            Exciting John, we are so excited that more and more people are making greek yogurt at home and sharing their recipes and tips. Happy yogurt making!

    8. July 16, 2013 at 8:39 am

      G’day! Thank you for inspiring me, true!
      I in turn made Yiaourtopia Cake (Greek Lemon Cake) with a bit of a twist should you like to view!
      http://whatsonthelist.net/2013/07/16/one-cup-greek-yogurt-cake-the-daring-kitchen-cooks-challenge-2013/
      Cheers Joanne

    9. Aziz sheikh
      August 2, 2013 at 12:53 pm

      Why can’t we just buy Yogurt and strain it.

      • admin
        August 8, 2013 at 6:09 am

        Hi Aziz,

        That is correct you can buy yogurt and strain it, which will produce greek yogurt. We are also into DIY greek yogurt making here and we are excited about making homemade greek yogurt from scratch so thats why we provide our how to guides. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    10. Malinda
      August 24, 2013 at 1:04 am

      Hi, this looks easy enough, but I”m wondering if you have the nutrirtional informatin. I’m interested in making some low-fat greek yogurt for my fruit smooties. Any thoughts?

    11. susan
      September 14, 2013 at 4:32 pm

      Thanks to everyone above for their recipes (for both plain yogurt and the Greek) — I wish I had read this before I had bought the yogurt maker!! Can’t wait to start making my own.

    12. Nicholas
      September 30, 2013 at 3:54 pm

      Hi,

      Thank you for the recipe. I had been meaning to make my own yogurt for some time now and am pleased that I was successful on my first try! However, I have two questions. First, how does preparing the yogurt without placing a lid on the cup affect the process? And second, and most importantly, I was wondering if, by always taking some yogurt from the previous batches to make the next batch, the yogurt taken would go bad, thus ruining the new batch of yogurt?

      Thank you in advance for your reply.

      • Brandi
        February 25, 2014 at 10:39 am

        No it will not. Generations upon generations of people have used the same cultures, sometimes transporting them as nothing more than a dried smear on a piece of cloth.

    13. Maryvella
      October 8, 2013 at 8:03 am

      I have been making Greek Yogurt for years … use to live on Crete. A little different making it here in the States but, I love it and no need to milk a goat! Lol, lol. I have done all of what you stated with a couple of differences. After my fourth starter, I add liquid acidophiles (about two teaspoons) to my next three batches to revitalize AND give my culture a “SUPER CHARGE”. Works great and keeps my homemade healthy … VERY healthy. *When warming, I have always just placed my yogurt container/containers on a heating pad (which is placed on a folded bath towel)) and then wrapped a few bath towels around the sides and tops of the containers. Put the Heating Pad on warm/low -lowest setting- on my counter ….. (usually do it right at bed time) …. go to bed and in the morning proceed with the directions you have for straining it, place MY HEALTHY GREEK YOGURT in containers and into the fridge. “WAH-LA”, let it chilllllllll get myself a bowl of it with a little squeeze of lemon and drizzle honey, then I sit back, slowly indulge in each spoonful and drift off to HEAVEN’S GATES! :-) *** HOPE THIS HELPED SOME! BLESSINGS!

    14. Neil
      October 23, 2013 at 8:12 pm

      Instead of wasting energy putting the mixture in the oven or faffing around with tea towels, use a large wide-mouthed thermos flask to maintain temperature.

    15. Imran
      November 5, 2013 at 11:49 am

      Hi there

      Thank you for such a well informed article. Because I am dieting I was wondering if you could outline what the nutritional benefits are of this particular make of greek yoghurt? Thanks.

      • admin
        November 20, 2013 at 3:04 am

        Hi Imran,

        I am not sure (I have never had mine tested) but the nutritional facts should be pretty comparable to most store bought yogurt. Making greek yogurt at home is more about saving money and knowing exactly what goes into your yogurt rather than changing the nutritional value substantially. I hope this helps! Thanks for reading our blog on how to make greek yogurt!

    16. Minna
      November 27, 2013 at 2:09 am

      It’s been 8 hours and my milk still looks like liquid. Shouldn’t it be thick by now? Can I fix it or did I over heat it? Any suggestions would help

    17. corinne j.
      January 5, 2014 at 6:27 pm

      How long can you keep your yogurt in the fridge?

      • admin
        January 6, 2014 at 2:50 am

        Hi Corinne,

        Thanks for posting. You can keep your homemade greek yogurt in the fridge about as long as store bought greek yogurt 2-3 weeks. To keep your culture healthy so that you do not have to keep buying starter, however, you will want to make a new batch every 6-7 days (it can just be a cup or so.) This will keep your greek yogurt culture alive and fresh. Happy greek yogurt making!

    18. Rosa
      January 8, 2014 at 9:33 am

      I can’t wait to try this out! We live in Italy and they sell unpasteurized milk here. Would that work better than already pasteurized milk?

      • admin
        January 20, 2014 at 7:39 pm

        Hi Rosa,

        I have never tried it since it is illegal to buy unpasteurized milk in my home state. I have heard that it is quite easy to make greek yogurt from unpasteurized milk. The main concern is been super hygienic and starting the process as soon as you can after the milk comes from the cow or goat. Let us know how it turns out.

    19. Noelani
      January 12, 2014 at 7:17 am

      Back on the farm, 40 years ago, we had a Holstein cow and made lots of yogurt. The way we made it turned out like Greek yogurt, but we didn’t strain it. Unless we were trying to make cheese out of it and heated it up, there was almost no whey. We added about two-thirds cup of non-instant fat-free powdered milk per quart of whole milk, which essentially doubled the amount of milk solids. The yogurt was very thick and creamy! One of the things I love about Greek yogurt is that it reminds me so much of the yogurt I made, back then!

      I’m glad you know about the used of whey! I’ve seen other homemade yogurt recipes that say to throw it out!

    20. Rebecca
      January 16, 2014 at 5:41 pm

      Thanks for all the useful tips! I have been making yogurt for years, taught to me by my grandfather. The greek yogurt sold in stores is typically higher in protein than regular yogurt. So If you are making greek yogurt at home and straining off the whey, (which contains more protein than the yogurt) is greek homemade yogurt higher in protein content than regular homemade yogurt? I would appreciate your input. Thanks!

    21. John
      January 24, 2014 at 10:21 pm

      Darn – I think the dog got into the fridge and ate all the yogurt. Sneaky beast that she is, I only just noticed today that most of it was gone. She must have had difficulty with the spoon she used. And getting the lid of the canister back on must have been worthy of a Youtube episode.

      Now I have to make more. I probably have enough left for a yogurt starter for the next yogo. Luckily, I was at the grocer’s today and bought 2 gallons of milk instead of the usual one gallon. ESP?

    22. Debbie
      February 8, 2014 at 7:25 pm

      I used to make yogurt years ago and the pilot light on the gas oven was all you needed. I am going to try this for Greek Yogurt.

      One question, why do you need to scald the milk? Can you just warm to 108 and start from there? The milk has already been pasteurized.

      • admin
        March 11, 2014 at 1:37 pm

        Hi Debbie,
        It is true that the milk has been pasteurized, but that was at the processing plant. Your milk has since traveled many miles to get to you as well as when you open it up it can be exposed to bacteria that are not so much harmful but could impart a funky flavor to your greek yogurt. The most important thing for fermented foods and making greek yogurt is being a stickler for hygiene not so much for safety concerns but for the flavor. This all being said you can give it a try and let us all know how it works out. Thanks for reading!

    23. Brandi
      February 25, 2014 at 10:28 am

      Do you have to scald the milk? Why is this necessary since its already pasturized? Can’t I just warm the milk to a lower temp, enough to allow culture growth, and if so, what temp should i bring it to? Thank you

      • admin
        March 11, 2014 at 1:38 pm

        Hi Brandi,
        It is true that the milk has been pasteurized, but that was at the processing plant. Your milk has since traveled many miles to get to you as well as when you open it up it can be exposed to bacteria that are not so much harmful but could impart a funky flavor to your greek yogurt. The most important thing for fermented foods and making greek yogurt is being a stickler for hygiene not so much for safety concerns but for the flavor. This all being said you can give it a try and let us all know how it works out. The temperature to heat it to if you did not want to scald it is 108 degrees. Thanks for reading!

    24. Pete Pickens
      March 1, 2014 at 10:46 pm

      Hey, I was wondering if you could make this nonfat by using nonfat milk. Are there alternatives to milk that you could use, like almond milk?

    25. John
      July 19, 2014 at 7:34 pm

      Now a veteran of more than 15 batches of yogurt since I first found this site in January 2014. I’ve crossed several bridges since then in tuning how I make the yogurt. If I may . . .

      I started using the slow cooker ceramic bowl in the microwave then trying to remove it with a couple of towels and transferring the 180°F milk into a SS pot. That was too hazardous. The ceramic bowl handles were small, the towel was slippery and unwieldy when tilting the bowl to pour the milk into the SS pot.

      I use my cook top range with two large SS pots now, as a double boiler. Use enough water to float the upper pot when the gallon of milk is in it. I use a candy thermometer in the milk to watch the temp and as I bring the milk up to 180°F. Then place the SS pot into the 1/2 filled sink of cold water. Stirring the milk around and swirling the water in the sink with my other hand, (I’m really coordinated) the milk temp will drop to 115°F to 120°F in about 5 minutes. Then add the 1/4 cup yogurt from the previous batch; cover the pot and pop it into the (preheated to 110°F) oven overnite with the oven lites on. I’ve found that keeping the temp around 105°F to 110°F is about all one can do.

      I strain the yogurt in my pasta strainer that was a part of the SS pot I heat the milk in. The pasta strainer is lined with the back 1/2 of a clean (important) t-shirt held on the edges of the pasta strainer with spring loaded clothespins. 3 hours in the fridge = Greek style yogurt.

      • John
        July 19, 2014 at 7:42 pm

        Oh – another bridge I crossed. I never could figure out what to do with all that whey I collect. I did figger it out last evening. I tried mixing some into the dog food for my two outside kennel dogs and my Parson Russell Terrier house buddy. They scarfed it up like it was a Twinkie. A protein bonanza! Problem solved.

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