Instant Pot Yogurt

Homemade yogurt doesn’t require an appliance. All you need to culture milk is a warm spot and about 8 to 12 hours. While a yogurt maker consistently makes thick and creamy yogurt, if you don’t want to buy another single-use appliance, the Instant Pot Duo’s yogurt setting is a great alternative.

I’ve been making yogurt in an Instant Pot for a few years and the results are consistent depending on the milk’s fat content and the fermentation time. 

I’ve tested this recipe with three kinds of different milk and fermentation times. This recipe yields the best result.

How to make instant pot yogurt

Thermometer in pot of milk.

1. Scald milk to 180℉ in a large pot on high heat. Don’t let the milk boil. Then remove from the heat and let cool to 100℉.

2. Combine the yogurt starter and 1 cup of cooled milk in a small bowl. Whisk it with the milk and starter. If you’re adding gelatin, add it here.

Whisking yogurt starter and milk in a small bowl.

3. Pour the starter and milk mixture and the rest of the cooled. milk into the Instant Pot container. Whisk to combine.

4. Set the Instant Pot on the yogurt setting and use the up and down buttons to adjust the time. Set the time on the Instant Pot to 10:00 to ferment the milk for ten hours.

5. Remove the Instant Pot insert and cover it with plastic wrap. It will get thicker once it’s chilled. Refrigerate for at least 3 to 4 hours or overnight for the best results.

5. Transfer the yogurt to containers and store it in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 weeks. This recipe yields four quarts. 

Key Ingredients

Whole milk has the best results and yields the thickest yogurt. This recipe uses whole cow’s milk and a Greek yogurt starter but you can use other starters and kinds of milk.

  • Milk: You can use whole, reduced-fat, low fat or skim milk. Whole milk and 2% work great and yield a creamier yogurt.
  • Yogurt starter: You can use a yogurt starter or ¼ cup of plain yogurt (regular or Greek). 
  • Gelatine (optional): Gelatin thickens the yogurt and helps thicken yogurt made with low-fat or fat-free milk. Yogurt made with whole milk or 2% reduced fat milk is thick and doesn’t require a thickener. 

Tips for Success

  • Clean the Instant Pot inner cooking pot thoroughly or fill it with water and select the “boil” setting to sterilize and kill unwanted bacteria before adding the milk and live cultures.
  • If you’re making low-fat or skim milk yogurt, add a thickening agent for a thicker yogurt.
  • For best results, yogurt incubates between 8-12 hours. The yogurt gets tangier with longer incubation times.
  • Yogurt made with low-fat or fat-free milk may be lumpy or watery. You can strain the yogurt, pour off some liquid, or distribute the yogurt between containers so each container has a similar ratio of yogurt and liquid. The yogurt thickens more once it’s chilled.
  • Whisk the chilled yogurt before serving if the yogurt is lumpy and you want a creamier consistency.

What’s the Best Milk to Use for Homemade Yogurt?

This recipe is for store-bought pasteurized cow’s milk. But you can make yogurt from whole, low-fat or nonfat cow’s milk, goat’s milk, pasteurized, raw or plant-based milk. 

The milk you choose depends on preference and dietary considerations. If you prefer a creamy thick yogurt and aren’t concerned with calorie or fat content, whole milk yields the best yogurt. If you want a lower-calorie or lower-fat option, low-fat or fat-free milk will still work. 

  • Whole milk & 2% reduced fat milk: Whole milk yogurt will be creamier and richer than any other milk. Reduced fat is 2% milk and has a similar end product as whole milk.
  • 1% low-fat and skim milk: Yogurt made with 1% low-fat or nonfat milk comes out slightly lumpy and has significantly more liquid (whey). You can strain or pour off the liquid for a thicker yogurt but you may yield less than 4 quarts.
  • Instant dry milk: Reconstituted dry milk works too. Dry milk comes in whole milk or nonfat. The advantage of instant dry milk is that you can control the thickness of the yogurt by adding more or less dry milk.
  • Raw vs pasteurized: Both raw and store-bought pasteurized milk will culture. Raw milk is rich in bacteria but may contain salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. Pasteurization kills the harmful bacteria that cause food-borne illnesses. 
  • Plant-based milk: The microbial content of plant-based milk differs from cow’s milk, so yogurt made from nondairy milk has a different consistency. Yogurt made from coconut and cashew milk is thicker because of its high-fat content. Yogurt made with lower-fat plant-based milk like almond and oak milk will need a thickening agent to make a spoonable yogurt. Since gelatin and regular yogurt starters aren’t vegan, look for a vegan starter and thickener.

Yogurt Starters

Yogurt is made by fermenting milk with live bacteria Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. Fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha and some cottage cheese are probiotics and are good for gut health. 

To ferment milk, you need to introduce the microorganisms with a starter. You can buy yogurt starters or use plain yogurt. 

You can also use 2 to 4 tablespoons of plain store-bought or homemade yogurt as a starter. Homemade yogurt will lose its potency so you can only use it a few times. This recipe calls for either Greek or plain regular store-bought yogurt.

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is a thick yogurt made by straining the liquid (whey) from regular yogurt. Making Greek yogurt from homemade yogurt is easy and only takes one extra step and a few more hours.

To make Greek yogurt:

Straining yogurt in a colander with cheesecloth to make Greek Yogurt.
  1. Place a strainer over a bowl and cover with cheesecloth.
  2. Pour yogurt into the colander and fold the cheesecloth over the top of the yogurt. 
Whey in bowl after straining yogurt.
  1. Strain for about 5 hours or longer in the refrigerator until the yogurt reaches the consistency you like. The whey drains into the bowl and you’ll get a rich Greek yogurt.
Thick Greek yogurt in upside down spoon.

Storage Tips

Store homemade yogurt in individual or 1-quart containers in the refrigerator for one to two weeks

Intant Pot Yogurt

Get creamy homemade yogurt in your Instant Pot every time with this easy recipe. Enjoy it for breakfast or snack.
Prep Time2 hours 15 minutes
Cook Time10 hours
Chill4 hours
Total Time16 hours 15 minutes
Course: Breakfast, Snack
Servings: 20
Author: Jennifer Messineo, MS, RD

Equipment

  • Instant Pot (Not all models have a yogurt setting)
  • Candy Thermometer

Ingredients

  • 1 Gallon Whole Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Plain low-fat yogurt or plain Greet yogurt
  • 1 Packet Gelatine, unflavored optional

Instructions

  • Pour milk into a 6 or 8 quart saucepan. Insert candy thermometer.
    1 Gallon Whole Milk
  • Heat milk for about 15 – 20 minutes on high until the temperature reaches 180°F (82°C). Scald the milk, but don't let the milk boil.
  • Remove saucepan from burner and let cool for about 1 to 2 hours until the temperatures reaches 100 to 110°F (38 – 43°C).
  • In a small bowl, add 1/2 cup of plain Greek or regular plain yogurt, about 1 cup of the cooked milk and a Gelatine packet if you're using a thickener. Whisk together.
    1/4 Cup Plain low-fat yogurt, 1 Packet Gelatine, unflavored
  • Pour the remaining milk into a sterilized Instant Pot container and whisk in the reserved milk and yogurt mixture.
  • Set the Instant Pot to "yogurt" and set the timer for 10 hours and minutes (10:00)
  • Portion into containers and chill in the refrigerator at least 4 hours until it is chililed or refrigerate oovernight. This recipe yields about four 1 quart containers.

Notes

  • Whole cow’s milk makes a thick and creamy yogurt. You can substitute with lower-fat or plant-based milk but you’ll get better results if you add a thickener.
  • The yogurt will be ready in about 8 hours but I found 10 to 12 hours to be ideal. If you ferment for more than 12. hours the yogurt is lumpier.
  • For a smooth yogurt, whisk after refrigerating.
  • Add fruit or vanilla to the chilled yogurt.

About Jennifer Messineo, MS, RD

I’m a food loving Registered Dietitian. I help families plan meals, reduce food waste and save money on food!

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