How to Make Greek Yogurt

Make creamy, rich and delicious Greek yogurt at home for a fraction of the cost of commercial varieties.

 

           
     

 

 

Supplies for Making Greek Yogurt:

  • Greek yogurt starter or some Greek yogurt from the store (plain, unsweetened)
  • Milk
  • Container for culturing the yogurt (glass canning jars work well)
  • Cover for the container
  • Wooden or plastic spoon
  • Heating method for culturing the yogurt, options include:
    • Yogurt maker
    • Oven that can be set to 110°F (sometimes just turning the light on is enough, but be sure to double check the actual temperature)
    • Cube-shaped dehydrator (e.g., Excalibur, TSM, or similar model)
    • Crock pot or slow cooker (double check that it's not getting too warm!)
    • Cooler with warm water bottles and towels
    • Any appliance or method whereby the yogurt can be cultured at 110°F for 5 to 12 hours
  • Method for straining yogurt (if desired, to yield the thick consistency similar to store brands of Greek yogurt)
    • Tea towel
    • Multi-layered fine-weave cheese cloth or butter muslin
    • Paper coffee filter
    • Cotton bag
    • Jelly bag
    • Yogurt cheese maker


Making Greek Yogurt

  • Heat one cup or more of milk to 160°F. Allow the milk to cool to 110°F.
  • For each cup of milk, mix in 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons of Greek yogurt from a previous batch in a glass or plastic container. Add half of the cooled milk to the starter and mix well.  
  • Add the second half of the cooled milk to the mixture and mix well.
  • Cover the yogurt and incubate at 110°F for 5 to 7 hours.
  • Once the yogurt is set (when the jar is tipped, the yogurt shouldn’t run up the side of the jar and should move away from the side of the jar as a single mass), allow the yogurt to cool for 2 hours.  
  • Place the yogurt in the refrigerator for 6 hours to halt the culturing process.
  • When it’s time to make a new batch, place 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons of yogurt from the previous batch in a cup of new milk and start again. Larger batches can be made (up to 2 quarts per container) by maintaining the same yogurt-to-milk ratio. Yogurt from each batch can be used to make the next batch. Yogurt from batch A is used to make batch B, yogurt from batch B is used to make batch C and so on. To perpetuate the culture, be sure to make a new batch of yogurt at least once every seven days. Waiting longer than one week between culturing can weaken and eventually kill the culture.



Making Greek Yogurt with Raw Milk:


Step One: Activate the Starter to Make a Pure Mother Culture
Our cultures are commonly used with raw milk but doing so requires a few extra steps to ensure that a pure mother culture is maintained. If you do not maintain a pure mother culture, the bacteria in the raw milk will slowly kill the yogurt culture and the starter will not perpetuate long term.

  • To make a pure mother culture, heat 1 cup of milk to 160° to
    180°F and then allow the milk to cool to room temperature.
  • Add 1.5 to 2 teaspoons of Greek yogurt from a previous batch and mix well.
  • Cover the yogurt starter mixture and allow it to incubate at 110°F for 7 to 12 hours. Temperature is critical to successful yogurt culturing. Verify via thermometer that your appliance is maintaining the appropriate temperature.
  • Check the mixture after 7 hours to see if it has set (when the jar is tipped, the mixture shouldn’t run up the side of the container and should move away from the side of the jar as a single mass).  If it has not yet set, leave it to culture checking it every 30 to 60 minutes or so until it is set. 
  • Once the yogurt has set, allow it to cool for two hours.  
  • Place the yogurt in the refrigerator for 6 hours to halt the culturing process.
  • Make a new pure mother culture at least once every seven days by heating milk as directed in step one, mixing in 1-1/2 to 2 teaspoons of the current pure mother culture per cup of milk and following steps 2 to 4 to allow the mixture to culture, refrigerate, etc.



Step Two: Make Raw Milk Yogurt

  • To make a batch of raw milk yogurt, heat one cup of raw milk to 112°F. Mix in 1.5 to 2 teaspoons of the pure mother culture. Mix the starter and milk well. You can make larger batches of yogurt by adhering to the same ratio of 1.5 to 2 teaspoons of yogurt to 1 cup of milk making up to two quarts per container.  
  • Cover the yogurt and incubate at 110°F for 5 to 7 hours.
  • Once the yogurt is set (when the jar is tipped, the yogurt shouldn’t run up the side of the jar and should move away from the side of the jar as a single mass), allow the yogurt to cool for two hours.  
  • Place the yogurt in the refrigerator for 6 hours to halt the culturing process.
  • Each batch of raw milk yogurt must use the pure mother culture as the starter culture. Do not try to culture a new batch of yogurt using a previous batch of raw milk yogurt. This will result in a compromised culture and over time your yogurt will no longer culture properly.

 

 

Making Greek Yogurt with the Characteristic Thick Consistency:


Commercially available Greek Yogurt is often very thick. There are two techniques which can help you achieve a similar texture:

  • Straining the yogurt to remove excess whey (clear liquid) greatly increases the thickness of the yogurt. There are a number of ways to do this. If you are using a tight-weave tea towel or multi-layered cheese cloth or butter muslin, place a colander in a bowl. Lay a tea towel or cheese cloth in the bowl. Add the yogurt and either let it drain as is or gather up the edges of the cloth and knot them over an upper kitchen cabinet handle so the towel hangs over the bowl to drain. You can also use a cotton bag, jelly bag or even a pillow case. Drain the yogurt for approximately 2 hours or until the desired thickness is obtained. Continued straining will yield a soft spreadable cheese texture and eventually a firm cream cheese texture. The excess whey can be used for soaking grains, for fermenting vegetables or condiments or as a replacement for water in recipes.
  • Culturing Greek yogurt with part cream instead of 100% milk will also yield a thicker texture and a richer tasting yogurt.

 

 

Troubleshooting Greek Yogurt:


  • For extensive troubleshooting information, please click here.
  • Whole milk makes the thickest yogurt. Yogurt made with low fat milk is likely to be thin and not set well. You will achieve the thicker yogurt using one part cream to three parts whole milk (the higher the cream-to-milk ratio, the thicker the finished yogurt will be). If a very thick yogurt is desired, fully cultured yogurt may be strained through cheesecloth or a tea towel and the resulting whey discarded or used in recipes.
  • Temperature is very important to successful yogurt making. We strongly recommend verifying the temperature your yogurt making appliance is maintaining when in use. Temperatures that are too low or too high will damage the culture.
  • Be cautious of overly warm temperatures. Temperatures above 112°F may cause the yogurt culture to die. If the yogurt mixture separates into curds (solid mass on top) and whey (clear liquid underneath), this may be a sign that the culture was too warm.

 

 

     
Greek Yogurt

In This Article:

  • How-to Video
  • Supply List
  • Instructions
  • Special Instructions for Using Raw Milk
  • How to Make Thick Greek Yogurt
  • Basic Troubleshooting

Related Articles and Recipes:


View All Yogurt Articles, Videos & Recipes
Related Products:
Greek Yogurt Starter Greek Yogurt Starter
 Yogurt Makers Yogurt Makers

Straining Bag for Making Thick Yogurt or Soft Cheese
Cotton Bag for Straining Yogurt or Making Yogurt Cheese

Free eBook Library Access & Weekly Newsletter


Sign up today for free access to our entire library of easy to follow eBooks on creating cultured foods at home, including Lacto-Fermentation, Kombucha, Kefir, Yogurt, Sourdough, and Cheesemaking.
  • Library of eBooks for making your own cultured foods
  • Weekly newsletter filled with tips & tricks
  • Expert advice articles, recipes, and how-to videos
  • Join 140,000+ other health-conscious readers
  • We never share your information!
first name last name email address