Homemade Yogurt

Yogurt is SO expensive at the grocery store, especially the individual-sized ones, and I like to eat it every day. Many brands are also full of high fructose corn syrup. Yuck. I decided to try and make my own, and have been doing it for a while. There are a lot of different ways to do it, including using a yogurt maker – I don’t have one of those, and really don’t have room in the kitchen for it. Some people use the oven and set it to 120 degrees, but my oven doesn’t go that low. I use a cooler, and it works like magic.


This yogurt is very tangy and thinner than store-bought. You can make it thicker by draining the whey. More on that later.

The best thing about homemade yogurt is that you can sweeten and flavor it however you want. Plus, you can use it as a starter to make next week’s batch…


  • 1/2 gallon of milk – I use 2%, but whole milk and skim work well, too. Skim turns out kinda thin, but you can thicken it with pectin (like they do in lots of store-bought yogurt) or some milk powder.
  • 1/3 cup yogurt for starter (either store bought or homemade), at room temperature.
  • Optional sweeteners: honey, sugar, agave nectar…


  • Stainless steel pot
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Thermometer
  • Mason Jars
  • Cooler
  • Towels

Pour milk into a big stainless steel pot and heat on medium-low until it reaches 180 degrees. Mix it once in a while so it doesn’t form a skin on top. This is where a thermometer comes in handy – I use a digital thermometer that I set to ring when it reaches 180 so I don’t have to keep checking.

IMG_3136Let the mixture cool to 120 degrees (set the thermometer again) and boil some water. Pour into the mason jars (I use two 1-quart mason jars, but you can use small ones for individual servings, or any size, really) to sterilize and then pour the water into the cooler. Close the top for a few minutes, and then pour the water out. (Alternatively, you can run the mason jars and lids through the dishwasher without soap. In that case, pour the boiling water straight into the cooler to warm it.)

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Once the milk reaches 120 degrees, add some to the starter yogurt and mix, to thin it out. Add the starter to the milk, mix well, and pour into mason jars. Place a towel at the bottom of the cooler, then place the mason jars in the towel and wrap them up. Close the lid, and put the cooler in an out-of-the-way place. Don’t move it until you are ready to get the yogurt out. Mix, refrigerate, and it’s ready to eat. The longer you let the yogurt sit in the cooler, the tangier it will be. I usually let it sit for about 7 hours, but anywhere between 6 and 12 hours would work. Test it out and see what you like best.

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For Greek yogurt, mix up the yogurt and then pour into a cheese-cloth lined sieve. Let drain in the fridge for about 3 hours. You will get a thick delicious yogurt. I eat this with honey and some homemade granola almost every day.


  • Put 1/2 cup frozen blueberries and 1/2 cup honey in the mason jar, and pour the yogurt on top…blueberry yogurt! You can do this with any fruit.
  • For more protein, add some powdered milk when boiling.
  • Like the Stonyfield cream on top yogurt? Boil 1/2 cup of cream with the milk.
  • Sometimes I add vanilla extract…voila, vanilla yogurt!

Still confused on how to make this? This tutorial is very helpful (there are two parts, make sure to watch both).