How to Make Yogurt at Home (and Save Money)

How to make yogurt at home and save money.

I love those single servings of yogurt with an attached section of yummy toppings that you can flip over onto the yogurt before eating. My favorite is the one with chocolate pieces, sliced almonds and a bit of coconut in the yogurt.

At over a dollar apiece, I don't buy them often. I'd love to eat one every day, and a daily serving of yogurt is so beneficial to our health, but the cost is prohibitive. Spend over $30 a month on yogurt? I don't think so.

But making yogurt at home is so easy - and it can save so much money. Plus homemade yogurt is even healthier than grocery store yogurt because it doesn't contain artificial sweeteners and other additives.

These days I use fresh milk from our goats, but way back in the early days of motherhood I made yogurt with whole milk from the grocery store. Our children enjoyed eating wholesome homemade yogurt that was simple to make and didn't bust our budget.

Would you like to learn how to make yogurt at home and save money? It's easy, and you just need a couple of ingredients.

This post contains affiliate links. Read my disclosure here.

The health benefits of yogurt

Yogurt is healthy as well as delicious. One cup of yogurt can provide 49% of our daily calcium requirements for healthy bones and teeth. The phosphorus, magnesium and potassium in yogurt help regulate blood pressure, metabolism and bone health, and might help to protect our bodies from osteoporosis.

The B vitamins in yogurt, especially B12 and riboflavin, protect against heart disease. B12 keeps your red blood cells and nervous system healthy. Yogurt also contains saturated fat which increases good HDL cholesterol levels and can reduce high blood pressure.

Eating protein-rich yogurt helps to reduce hunger and boost your metabolism. Protein is essential to new cell growth, tissue repair and building muscles.

The live bacteria in the yogurt cultures may benefit digestive health. Probiotics that are consumed regularly may strengthen your immune system, reduce inflammation and according to some studies might help reduce the chance of catching the common cold (or lessen the length and severity of a cold if you do catch one). Yogurt also contains selenium and zinc which contribute to a healthy immune system.

What kind of milk do you need to make yogurt?

Yogurt can be made with any milk, from lowfat to whole milk, from the grocery store or the farm, from cows to goats and even yaks and water buffalo. (I haven't tried the last two, by the way.)

While it's possible to make yogurt from non-dairy milks such as soy or almond milk, it's a slightly different process with different ingredients. I'm making yogurt from dairy milk here.

The type of yogurt you make will depend on the type of milk you use. Whole milk makes full fat yogurt, lowfat milk makes lowfat yogurt and skim milk makes non-fat yogurt. Non-fat yogurt has a naturally thinner consistency than yogurt made with whole milk; when you buy it from the grocery store it usually has additives to make it thicker.

Making yogurt is easy and inexpensive, and it's so healthy for our bodies. Here's how to turn milk into yogurt and save money doing it!

You'll need a starter culture

To make yogurt at home you'll need a starter culture. You can purchase a powdered starter from health food stores and online, or you can use plain yogurt from a previous batch you've made or from the grocery store.

If you use commercial yogurt as your starter, read the ingredients to make sure it doesn't contain sugar or artificial sweeteners, thickeners like pectin, gelatin, or other additives. The label should simply say "contains live, active cultures."

However, sometimes you have to use what you can find. When we lived in Iceland it was very hard to find plain, unflavored yogurt so I used strawberry-flavored skyr (Icelandic-style yogurt). My homemade yogurt was faintly strawberry-tasting, but as I made each subsequent batch the flavor mellowed. The most important thing is to use yogurt with live, active cultures - those cultures are what make it possible to make yogurt.

Either Greek or regular yogurt can be used as a starter. Greek yogurt is simply regular yogurt that has been strained several times to remove most of the liquid whey. It has a stronger flavor and is thicker than regular yogurt.

By the way, if you use yogurt from a previous batch as your starter, you'll need to replace it with fresh yogurt after making about 6-8 batches of homemade yogurt. If your homemade yogurt doesn't set up like it should, purchase another starter culture or container of grocery-store yogurt.

Yogurt starters usually contain Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus cultures. These bacteria cultures ferment the natural sugar in milk and produce lactic acid. The lactic acid decreases the pH of the milk and causes the soft gel to form. These cultures also produce the tart and tangy yogurt flavor.

While most commercial yogurt brands have added ingredients such as sweeteners and artificial flavors, yogurt you make at home is additive-free and has many health benefits. As a bonus, you can flavor it any way you wish with fresh fruit, honey, chopped nuts and other great-tasting, fresh and natural ingredients.

How to make yogurt

It seems as though every cookbook I own says to warm the milk to a different temperature for making yogurt. The recipe I'm sharing here is the method I have used with great success for several decades.

Be sure you're using clean equipment: a large pot, whisk, spoon for stirring, measuring cups, candy thermometer with a clip to hold it on the side of the pot, Mason jars or other lidded containers, etc.

You'll need:
2 quarts of milk
2-3 Tablespoons of yogurt with live, active cultures
1 cup of powdered milk

The powdered milk is optional according to my cookbook (Goats Produce Too! by Mary Jane Toth) but I've always added it to my homemade yogurt because it makes the yogurt thicker. If you don't want to use it in your yogurt, just omit it.

You can double or triple this yogurt recipe by doubling or tripling the amounts of starter and milk. Or make half as much by making half of the recipe.

How to make yogurt at home and save money.

Warm the milk to 115°F in a saucepan or stockpot. Remove it from the heat and stir in the powdered milk. Then mix the yogurt into a small bit of milk and add it to the pan. Mix well with a whisk and pour into clean canning jars (pints or quarts) and add the lids.

NOTE: Milk that is hotter than 130°F can kill the yogurt bacteria.

How to incubate your yogurt, and my super-easy method

Basically, you need to keep your yogurt-inoculated milk warm; 100-110°F is the recommended temperature needed. There are several ways to incubate yogurt:

  • Use a yogurt-maker.
  • Warm up your oven a bit as though you are letting bread dough rise, then turn it off. Set the jars of yogurt inside and shut the oven door. Leaving the oven light on will help to keep the oven warm enough inside.
  • Wrap your jars of yogurt in towels and set them inside the microwave. Shut the door - don't turn the microwave on! The insulated interior will keep the jars warm.
  • Rinse a Thermos with hot water, pour it out, then pour the yogurt-inoculated milk into the Thermos instead of into jars. Screw the top on. Wrap the Thermos in towels to help hold in the heat.
  • Warm up your Crock-pot or slow cooker until it reaches about 115°F, turn it off and set your towel-wrapped jars inside. Put the top on. (In my slow cooker I'd have to use pint jars; I'm sure quart jars wouldn't allow the top to fit properly.)
  • I use this easy method: put the jars into an insulated cooler, then fill the cooler up to the "necks" of the jars, just below the lids, with hot water. Close the cooler. It's that easy.

Let your yogurt incubate in a place where it won't be disturbed or jostled. A kitchen counter that vibrates when the washing machine spins is not a good place if it's laundry day.

The longer your yogurt incubates, the tangier the taste will be. Five hours is the minimum amount of time needed, six to eight hours is probably what you'll need. If it isn't as set as you'd like, you can let it incubate longer, even overnight, although it will have a stronger taste.

How to make yogurt at home and save money.

How to store and use your yogurt

When it's finished, you can strain the yogurt if you like it thicker. Line a colander with a thin cloth such as muslin and gently pour the yogurt inside. Set it over a bowl to catch the whey, cover the whole thing and put it in the refrigerator for several hours.

To make Greek yogurt, allow the yogurt to strain for several hours longer. Straining is optional though, you don't have to do this step.

The final step is to put your yogurt in storage containers such as clean Mason jars with lids and store in the refrigerator.

Your yogurt should last about two weeks in the refrigerator but the taste will get tangier as time goes by. If more whey separates, just stir it back in before serving.

Homemade yogurt is delicious on its own, in smoothies, with fruit or granola, and as a substitute for sour cream in recipes. You know what's in it and what isn't; it's good, wholesome food that's good for you and your family.

Me? I'll be topping mine with homemade chocolate syrup, some thinly-sliced almonds and maybe some coconut flakes. (Try this made-from-scratch chocolate syrup from Recipes From The Homestead and you'll understand why this is my favorite way to top yogurt!)

Don't forget to save some of this batch to use as a starter for your next batch of homemade yogurt.

It's so easy to make yogurt at home. It's healthier and you'll save money. Here's how you can make yogurt at home and save money.

Making yogurt is easy, inexpensive and requires just a couple of ingredients.

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


My mission is to inspire and encourage you to live a simple, joyful life,
no matter your circumstances or where you live. Join me here:
Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram | Subscribe