This homemade crock-pot yogurt is easy to make. This method takes some time but the result is always great and it produces a whole lot of yogurt from a gallon of milk. Let me show you how to make yogurt in a crock-pot.
Yogurt is something that I always have in the fridge. For me, homemade yogurt and homemade granola are pretty much the go-to combination for those moments when you realize at the last minute that there is nothing else to eat… It’s also my go-to breakfast… And my go-to meal when my kids are at their dad’s house and I’m by myself trying to focus on work and the gardens.
You’re probably catching my drift here… This homemade crock-pot yogurt is a lifesaver over and over again… Making my own yogurt allows me to decide what consistency I like and homemade yogurt is healthy and also much cheaper than store-bought yogurt.
Homemade Crock-Pot Yogurt…
These days, I raise Lamancha goats. They give me amazing milk that I make different kinds of cheeses with. I love making feta cheese, raw goat milk cheese, a soft kind of goat cheese, and another kind of soft cheese. I also use the whey to make ricotta. But when it comes to yogurt, store-bought milk actually works a bit better. Here is why…
Choosing Milk For Homemade Yogurt…
There is a lot of information regarding the best milk for homemade yogurt but my goal is to keep this as simple as possible for you (and me) and send you on your way to making crock-pot yogurt as quickly as possible.
The bottom line is… Raw milk has its own set of microorganisms that competes with the bacteria in the yogurt culture. Therefore, yogurt made from raw milk is usually thinner than yogurt made from pasteurized and homogenized milk (the milk that we find in the store).
It is, of course, possible to make yogurt from raw milk, but let’s make it simple for all of us beginners and make this simple homemade crock-pot yogurt with store-bought milk first.
We are going to use a gallon of store-bought milk in this recipe. You can use whole milk or 2%. If you want to dive deeper into the differences between the kinds of milk for yogurt making you can check out this great post.
Choosing Culture For Yogurt Making…
Aside from the milk, we are going to need just one more ingredient… Culture. Again, my goal is to keep this simple. You can, if you want, find different yogurt cultures but the simplest thing is to use yogurt from the grocery store for your first yogurt batch. After that, as long as you keep one cup of yogurt from your own homemade yogurt to make the next batch you’ll never have to buy yogurt again.
For your first batch, when you choose yogurt at the store, make sure that that yogurt has live culture in it. Most plain yogurts that you find in the store contain live culture in them but it’s just a good idea to check anyway. Look at the label on the container and make sure that it is listing l. bulgaricus and s. thermophilus. Sometimes it will just say something like “contains live cultures”. That’s the yogurt that you want!
We are going to need a cup of live culture yogurt at room temperature.
Why Use a Crock-Pot to Make Yogurt…
You might be asking yourself why you should use a crock-pot to make yogurt… Can’t you just use a stockpot instead? You can definitely use a stock-pot if you’d like. The benefit of the crockpot is that it’s more hands-off than the stockpot.
Whereas with the stockpot you’ll have to stand by and constantly stir the milk to make sure that it doesn’t scorch, with the crock-pot you can just add it to the pot and walk away. Once the milk is hot enough you’ll turn the pot off and walk away again. Then when the milk has cooled enough the culture is added, then walk away again.
The crockpot allows the milk to hold its temperature longer, heating and cooling slowly, and this allows the yogurt to thicken better. I usually start heating the milk in the morning and by the next morning, I’ll have a large batch of yogurt but really, I only spent a few minutes by the pot.
Tools That We Are Going to Need…
We only really need a few things…
A crock-pot – I have an old crock-pot that still works great. Mine can hold a gallon of milk. If you want to process less milk you can use a smaller one. A gallon equals 4 quarts so any crockpot larger than that will work well.
A spoon – some sort of large spoon to stir the milk.
Thermometer – we are going to heat the milk to 180? F so make sure your thermometer can read this temperature.
Cheesecloth – this is optional and depends on how thick you want your yogurt. If you want to strain your yogurt then you might want to use a cheesecloth. I personally don’t strain crockpot yogurt. I get a good set with this recipe so I just refrigerate the yogurt when ready. If you want the consistency of Greek yogurt, you’ll have to use a cheesecloth. We’ll talk more about this later.
Quart jars – I think that this is the best size but you can use whatever size you want.
For a comprehensive list of cheesemaking equipment, make sure to visit my cheesemaking equipment post.
Ok, we are ready to go through this homemade yogurt tutorial. You’ll find all the steps below, however, if you want to have a better understanding of the cheesemaking process (even though yogurt is a bit different…), please visit my How to Make Cheese at Home post.
How to Make Yogurt in the Crockpot…
Start by adding a gallon of milk to the crockpot and set it on high heat. Cover the pot and you can walk away…
Come back to check the temperature of the milk every 30 minutes or so. You want the milk to reach 180 degrees F. Each time that you come to check the milk temperature, make sure to stir it.
Once the milk reached 180 degrees F, turn the crock-pot off (leave it covered) and let it cool to 115 degrees F. This will take a couple of hours. You might want to set a timer so you don’t forget to check the temperature. Now is also a good time to take the cup of yogurt that you are going to use as the culture out of the fridge so it can come to room temperature.
Once the milk has cooled to 115 degrees F, add the cup of room-temperature yogurt to the milk and stir it to make sure it “dissolves” well with the milk. Then, cover the crockpot with its lid and then with a fuzzy blanket. You want to try and keep the milk as close to 115 degrees F as possible for the next 12 hours or so.
I usually reach this stage somewhere in the afternoon, if I started in the morning. Then I cover the pot and let it rest on the counter undisturbed until the next morning.
To Strain or Not to Strain…
In the morning, you’ll wake up to a pot of fresh yogurt. It will probably be a little thinner than the yogurt that you find at the store and will be covered with this yellowish liquid, which is the whey. Here is what I do… I usually scoop as much of the whey out (with a spoon) as I can before I add my yogurt to the jars and place it in the fridge.
If you find that this is too runny for you and you’d like thicker yogurt, kinda like Greek yogurt, you can line a bowl with cheesecloth (I prefer using flour sack towels) and transfer the yogurt to the cheesecloth. Collect the cloth and tie it and then hang it from one of your kitchen cabinets. Make sure to place a bowl under the cheesecloth to catch the whey.
Then it’s your choice for how long you want to strain your yogurt. The longer it strains the thicker it will be. You can go anywhere from 2 or 4 hours up to 8 hours. This is the best thing about making your own yogurt at home, you get to make it exactly how you like it. You might need to experiment and record the time so you have it written down for next time.
Storing Homemade Crock-Pot Yogurt…
As I said before, I usually take the easy way and just store my yogurt in jars in the morning.
I use the ladle and the funnel to scoop the yogurt into jars. I cover the jars and place them in the fridge.
If you do this the same way as I do, you’ll get almost 4 quarts of yogurt. There is really not too much whey but the yogurt is thinner. If you strain your yogurt you’ll get less yogurt but it will be thicker.
Serving Homemade Crock-Pot Yogurt…
Your yogurt is ready to serve right away but I find that it thickens a bit further if I let it cool in the fridge first. So usually, we wait one day before we start using it.
Oh boy, there are so many ways to serve and use yogurt! Of course, there is the classic yogurt with fresh fruit or dry fruit. With granola or without. There are many bread recipes that will call for yogurt, like naan, for example. There are many salad dressings that call for yogurt and even cakes and other baked goods.
Sometimes I even use this yogurt to make popsicles for the kids. I simply mix it with a bit of agave or maple syrup and add fruit before adding it to molds and sticking in the freezer. It’s so good!
And then, of course, you can flavor it with jam. A few of my favorites are mulberry jam, low sugar fig jam, low sugar peach jam, and chia blueberry jam. I add a tablespoon of jam to about a cup of yogurt. It’s delicious.
Lastly, I really want to try and make vanilla yogurt. It’s just a tiny change in the recipe but I’ve never tried before. Here is a recipe that looks great.
So, if you are looking for a fun recipe, if you are looking to ease into the world of cheese making, if you are looking to save money, or if you are looking to personalize your yogurt experience… This is a great, easy and fun homemade crock-pot yogurt recipe.
You can change it up a bit, you can try to strain your yogurt and make it thicker, or you can try to add flavors to it. Homemade yogurt is a healthy meal or snack and is something that is always in my fridge! If you give it a try, let me know in the comments below how you liked it.
- 1 gallon of store-bough milk (whole or 2%)
- 1 cup of yogurt (make sure that it contains active cultures)
- Add your gallon of milk to the crock-pot. Cover the pot and turn the heat to high.
- Let the milk reach 180˚ F. This will take a couple of hours (maybe even a bit longer). Once in a while, come by the pot to check the temperature and stir the milk.
- When the milk reaches 180˚ F, turn the heat off. Keep the pot covered and let the milk cool slowly to 115˚ F. This also may take a couple of hours.
- While the milk is cooling, set your cup of active culture yogurt on the counter so it will come to room temperature.
- When the temperature of the milk reaches 115˚ F, add the cup of yogurt to the milk and mix it in.
- Cover your pot with the lid and then with a large kitchen towel or even a small blanket. We want to try and keep the temperature as close to 115˚ F as we can for the next few hours.
- Let your milk rest, undisturbed in the covered pot overnight.
- In the morning, you'll have yogurt covered with some whey in the crock-pot.
- You can use a spoon, scoop out the whey and then ladle the yogurt into jars and store in the fridge. Your yogurt is ready to use right away but I find that it thickens a bit further in the fridge so I usually let it stay in the fridge for a day before serving it.
If you do it this way you will get about 4 quarts of yogurt but your yogurt will be rather thin.
- If you want thicker yogurt, you can line a bowl with cheesecloth and transfer the yogurt to the cloth. Collect the ends of the cloth and tie the cheesecloth. Hang the cheesecloth on one of your kitchen cabinets. make sure to place a bowl under it to catch the whey.
You can strain the yogurt for 2 hours, 4 hours, or even a bit longer. The longer you let it hang in the cheesecloth the thicker it will be.
When your yogurt reaches your desired thickness you can take the cheesecloth down and place it in a clean bowl. Open it and ladle the yogurt into jars for storage in the fridge.
If you choose to strain your yogurt you might get 2 or 3 quarts.
I usually start heating the milk in the morning. By the time the milk reaches 180˚ F and then cools to 115˚ F it's afternoon. I add the starter culture yogurt and let it be until the next morning.
Remember to save one cup of yogurt from your batch to make the next batch of yogurt. If you do that, you only need to buy yogurt at the store for the first batch.
Serve your yogurt with fresh or dry fruit, with granola or without. You can use it in baked recipes or to make salad dressing. You can use it to make popsicles or in any other recipe that calls for yogurt.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 134Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 137mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 9g
Hi! I’m Lady Lee. I help homesteaders simplify their homesteading journey while still producing a ton of food! I am a single mother of four, I was born in Israel and raised in an agricultural commune called a Kibbutz. Now I homestead in central NC.