How to Make Yogurt (Easy Homemade Recipe)

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Update: Since the original writing of this post, I acquired an Instant Pot with a yogurt making function. It makes yogurt-making a breeze and I can do a whole gallon at a time. For the most part, the process is the same as what’s listed below. In step three I leave the warmed milk in the Instant Pot instead of dividing it into smaller jars and in step five I put the bowl back into the Instant Pot for the incubation period.

When I started experimenting with the GAPS diet I noticed right away that eating yogurt was a big part of the diet and the process of regaining gut health.

I was super intimidated by making my own yogurt but after some initial research, I decided that it didn’t seem too hard and that I should just jump in and give it a try. I’m so glad that I did because the process was so easy and the results were wonderful.

During my research, I found that like most things, there are a million different ways to make homemade yogurt. You can order a starter or use a commercial yogurt as your starter. You can use a dehydrator, heating pad, crockpot, yogurt maker, or oven to act as your incubator.

I opted for the oven because I didn’t own a dehydrator and why get the Crock-Pot dirty when I can just throw the jars in the oven (I’m all about whatever gives me fewer dishes to wash)? I found that when I was doing the GAPS diet I was using canning jars quite a bit to store things in the fridge (bone broth, soup, sauerkraut, kimchi, etc.) so I decided that since I would more than likely be using canning jars to store my yogurt, I might as well just make it in the jars (again, less washing).

How to Make Yogurt: the Basic Process

Making your own yogurt at home is relatively easy as long as you follow these steps:

Step 1: Choosing Your Milk

First, choose your milk. This can be any kind of milk, but the more healthy your milk is the more healthy your yogurt will be. Raw milk is best, especially if following the GAPS protocol, but I didn’t have access to raw milk at the time I started making this. Instead, I used milk locally produced using a low pasteurization process that is non-homogenized, which means that I had that yummy layer of cream on top. You can also use goat’s milk.

Whatever milk you decide to use, make sure it is not ultra-pasteurized (the label of the milk will say whether it is ultra-pasteurized or homogenized). In order to get the most nutrition, I also opted for whole milk.

I typically begin by using a ½ gallon of milk. I don’t quite fill the jars all the way, so I end up using 2-quart jars and 1-pint jar.

Step 2: Heating the Milk

Put your milk in a stainless steel pan on the stove and heat over medium heat until it reaches 180°F. The first time I made my yogurt I only had a basic candy thermometer, so I had to really stay with it to watch the temperature.

More recently, I’ve purchased a digital quick read thermometer. This makes the whole process so much easier because you can set the temperature alert to 180°F and the alarm will go off when it reaches that temperature. This is also helpful later, during the incubation period.

Step 3: Cooling the milk

Once the milk reaches 180°F, pour it into the canning jars. Using a stainless steel wide-mouthed funnel made this easy to do, but just pouring from the pan or using a glass measuring cup works too.

The milk then needs to cool to 115°F. You can do this by either putting the milk in a cool water bath or just letting it sit on the counter, keeping a really good eye on it. I place the lids loosely on top of the jars to keep dirt out.

With my first batch, I used the cool water bath technique and it cooled down much sooner than I thought it would. At the time, I didn’t have a thermometer with an alarm to warn me that it had reached 115°F. Before I knew it, the yogurt was at 110°F and dropping and I flew into panic mode.

The yogurt still worked out, which just shows that it’s really hard to mess this process up and it doesn’t all have to be exact. The other thing you have to be careful of with the cool water bath is that if it’s too cool then you risk cracking the jars.

The second time I made a batch I was more patient and let it cool on its own on the countertop. It took longer but I wasn’t so stressed out from the quick temperature drop of the cool water bath.

Step 4: Adding the Culture

Once the milk has reached 115°F, you will add 2 tablespoons of pre-made yogurt to each quart of milk. The yogurt can come from either a previous batch (if you’ve already made some) or from store-bought yogurt. You can also use a store-bought yogurt culture, but using pre-made yogurt is easier and less expensive.

Personally, I use organic plain Greek yogurt for my starter. Stir lightly, just to incorporate the yogurt into the warm milk. Then, put the lids on the jars.

Step 5: Incubating the Yogurt

Once the culture has been added, it is ready to go into the oven to incubate (with the lids on). You want a fairly consistent temperature.

The first couple of times I made my yogurt I just used the 40-watt appliance light bulb that was in the oven. I found that the temperature was dropping lower than I wanted it to, so I would have to turn the oven on to heat it back up every couple of hours. I incubated it overnight and didn’t wake up to check the temperature or turn the oven on, but when I woke up in the morning the temperature was reading 100°F which is less than optimal incubation temperature (115°F would have been better).

Interestingly, it didn’t ruin my yogurt and it still came out really well. Again, it just goes to show that this method is hard to mess up (even with all of the mishaps during my first experiment). I have since (ok, my husband has) replaced our 40-watt bulb with a 60-watt bulb and it now holds the temperature closer to the optimal 115.

If the temperature goes above 115°F you run the risk of killing your culture. You may need to do some testing with your oven light to see what temperature it holds at when the light is on for a period of time and try 40-watt and 60-watt bulbs. The optimal incubation range is 95-115°F.

The yogurt needs to incubate for at least 10-12 hours. The GAPS protocol calls for a 24 hour incubation period in order for the majority of lactose to be consumed by the bacteria (this article does a great job explaining all of that). The longer it incubates, the more tangy the finished yogurt will be.

Important note: Just make sure not to forget that you are incubating yogurt in the oven and accidentally turn the oven on. My new digital quick read thermometer makes this less likely to happen. The thermometer probe goes into the oven sitting in one of the jars, while the digital display portion of it sits on top of my stove so that I can easily monitor the temperature of the yogurt. Seeing the digital display sitting on my stovetop keeps me from forgetting about the yogurt incubating in the oven and accidentally turning it on.

Once the yogurt is done incubating, refrigerate it to set the yogurt and just pour off the extra whey. The whey can be saved to use for other recipes, especially if you are following the GAPS protocol.

If you want a thicker yogurt then you can always strain off the remaining whey using cheesecloth. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of super thick yogurt so I found that I really enjoyed it just the way it was once the whey was poured off after the yogurt was refrigerated and set.

My favorite way to eat the yogurt is with local raw honey drizzled over it. It’s also really good in smoothies or added to soups.

How to Make Yogurt (Easy Homemade Recipe with or without Instant Pot)

An easy method for making your own yogurt that only requires milk, starter yogurt, a thermometer, and a couple canning jars and lids!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Incubation Time 12 hours
Total Time 1 day 1 hour 15 minutes
Calories 76kcal
Author Katie Wells


16 servings



  • 8 cups milk (preferably raw whole milk)
  • 4 TBSP yogurt starter


Oven Light Method

  • Heat the milk in a stainless steel pan on the stove over medium heat until it reaches 180°F.
  • Pour heated milk into clean canning jars and cool, either by sitting on the counter or in a cool water bath until the temperature drops to 115°F.
  • Use a clean whisk to mix the yogurt starter into the cooled milk.
  • Place the jars into the oven with the light on for 12-24 hours. The light should provide a consistent heat of about 110°F.
  • Put jars into the refrigerator until the yogurt is cold and set.
  • Once the yogurt is set you can pour off the liquid whey from the top or strain the yogurt using a cheesecloth for a thicker consistency.

Instant Pot Method

  • To heat the milk in the Instant Pot, press the yogurt button until the display reads boil.
  • When it beeps, check that the temperature is at least 180°F.
  • Cool the heated milk by either letting it sit on the counter or in a cool water bath in the sink until the temperature drops to 115°F.
  • Use a clean whisk to mix the yogurt starter into the cooled milk.
  • Return the inner pot to the Instant Pot and press the yogurt button until the display reads a number of hours.
  • Press the "+" or "-" button until the display reads the desired length of time. I like to incubate mine for at least 12 hours. Incubating for 24 hours will yield the tangiest yogurt with the least amount of lactose left. Do not incubate for longer than 24 hours or the probiotics will start to die off from lack of food.
  • Once the time is up, put the pot of yogurt into the refrigerator until the yogurt is cold and set.
  • Once the yogurt is set you can pour off the liquid whey from the top or strain the yogurt using a cheesecloth for a thicker consistency.
  • Enjoy!


Nutrition Facts
How to Make Yogurt (Easy Homemade Recipe with or without Instant Pot)
Amount Per Serving (0.5 cup)
Calories 76 Calories from Fat 36
% Daily Value*
Fat 4g6%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Cholesterol 12mg4%
Sodium 54mg2%
Potassium 165mg5%
Carbohydrates 6g2%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 198IU4%
Calcium 141mg14%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


For the yogurt starter, just use any plain yogurt with live active cultures.
If you’d like to make a smaller batch just use a ratio of 2 TBSP starter for each quart of milk. 
If you’d like to make a larger batch (such as using the Instant Pot to make a gallon) just double the ingredients listed.

Like this recipe? Check out my new cookbook, or get all my recipes (over 500!) in a personalized weekly meal planner here!

Have you tried your hand at making your own yogurt? How did it turn out? What type of starter and milk did you use?

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


133 responses to “How to Make Yogurt (Easy Homemade Recipe)”

  1. Donna Opperthauser Avatar
    Donna Opperthauser

    Thanks. I’m trying it now. In the past, I’ve used my big electric skillet with a little water in the bottom and set 6 store-bought yogurt containers (1 qt. ea.) in it and turn it on pretty low for 8+ hours.

  2. Su-Chong Lim Avatar
    Su-Chong Lim

    Katie: Just read your excellent home-made yoghurt recipe and it is simple and very clearly written. The Instant Pot update is very helpful, too. I have been on a low carbohydrate diet for 5 years now, and I consider myself well informed, but it is amazing how I’m still learning aspects of practical nutrition and metabolism. I used to be a doctor before I retired (and started competing in triathlon, but that’s another story) but it is amazing how poorly informed I was back then.

    I think there must be some mix-up in your nutritional summary. 0.5 cup would be about 125ml, or very roughly, 125 g. 3 g fat is about right, as there would be 3+ g in the original half cup of full fat milk and nothing changes here during fermentation. There would be about 4 g protein in that amount of milk, and that also doesn’t change significantly. You didn’t say anything about draining off the whey in your nutritional summary, so there should still be about 4 g of protein left in your 0.5 cup of finished yoghurt, not 84 g. Regarding carbohydrates, you would have started out with about 6 g of lactose in your original 1/2 cup of milk. The fermentation process would reduce this lactose amount to 3 g or maybe close to 0 g depending how long you kept fermenting. The total carbohydrate would still be 6 g, because each 1 g of lactose ferments to 1 g (more or less ) of lactic acid, which technically is also a carbohydrate (although it doesn’t throw off our low-carb diet). Assuming you didn’t strain off any whey, the correct carbohydrate total per 1/2 cup serving should be 6 g, not 30 g.

    However for us low carbohydrate dieters, we are actually interested in the SIGNIFICANT CARBOHYDRATE content, i.e. lactose, which would be 3 g or less, depending on how far we let the fermentation go on for.

  3. Jean Mercer Avatar
    Jean Mercer

    I recently found I should avoid milk. Can I use coconut milk or some other non dairy milk to make yogurt?

    1. Katie Wells Avatar

      That will depend on how you tolerate them. I used a lot of coconut milk when I was avoiding dairy and eventually became sensitive to coconut and can now tolerate dairy. If you tolerate coconut well, you can make yogurt with it, though I personally wouldn’t consume it every single day.

  4. Lexie Avatar

    5 stars
    I have a comment and a question. I had heard of heirloom yogurt starter and being the earth conscious person I am, thought that would be a great fit. I asked lots of questions and thought I was all ready to start using a starter that would never wear out (since store bought and regular cultures do after a few uses.) The first batches are supposed to be watery as the freeze dried culture takes “a while to wake up” so I lost my money on at least a gallon of organic, grass fed milk trying to awaken my starter. I got a single run of actual yogurt on the 3rd try and then the 4th was watery again! I persisted and the 5th was again, a total waste! After many wasted dollars and countless phone calls I’m finally told that my heirloom culture probably just died because it has to be recultured every few days to stay viable!! What a waste of time, effort and money!!
    My question is that I have read repeatedly that unpasteurized milk enzymes compete (or something similar) with the yogurt cultures and make for a very watery product if it works at all. I use my yogurt for a dip for my fresh vegetables so this would be relevant to me so I would love to have someone’s first hand knowledge on this. I am hoping to add my own was milk source soon so I have my fingers crossed that this is more misinformation, like how dangerous raw milk is!

  5. Jamie Avatar

    5 stars
    Can you please reshare the link to your digital thermometer? When I click on the link in the article I don’t believe it is the right one since it isn’t digital. Thanks!

  6. Dawn Avatar

    I’ve read in many articles not to heat my raw milk above 110 – 118 degrees. Won’t heating the milk to 180 degrees “ruin” the point of using raw milk? I currently heat on the stove to about 115 degrees, mix with yogurt culture in canning jars, and put in the oven for 23 hours with the light on. I would use your method instead but I’m unsure as to why I should heat the raw milk to 180 degrees.

  7. Kate Avatar

    Hi Wellness Mama. I love your posts and really appreciate this step-by-step guide. I just have a few questions if you don’t mind. Why does the milk have to be heated to 180°F, Especially when you’re just going to cool it back down to 115°? Could you also explain the method behind your nutritional information? I’ve never seen a half a cup of yogurt containing that much protein, potassium, calcium, and other nutrients. Finally, I noticed that when I hit “show comments, “the posts just repeat themselves. Is this a glitch on my browser?

  8. Ken Dowsett Avatar
    Ken Dowsett

    I see no mention of sterilisation. It is important to sterilise the jars and utensils when making yoghurt as the optimum temperature for the yoghurt culture is also the ideal for the bad bacteria. Stay safe!

  9. KENT Avatar


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