How To Make Yogurt

4 Sep

There are a lot of yogurt tutorials out there. It’s understandable, because yogurt is much cheaper to make than buy. And in theory, it’s easy to make: heat milk, cool milk, add starter, incubate, refrigerate.

But if you screw it up, you end up with slimy sour milk. Shudder.

Most of the yogurt tutorials are either too complicated or simplified. I took a complicated recipe and pared it down to a level that I am comfortable with.


  • Double boiler, improvised is fine
  • Digital thermometer with temperature alarm
  • Stirring spoon
  • Ladle
  • Yogurt Containers, like GlassLock
  • Heating Pad
  • Towel


  • Half gallon of whole milk
  • Yogurt starter, either freeze dried or 4 Tablespoons of plain yogurt with live active cultures


  • Set up your double boiler. I use a mixing bowl over a saucepan of water. I’ve tried not using a double boiler, but I keep scorching the milk. Even worse than yogurt that tastes like burnt milk is cleaning the burnt milk out of a pot.
  • Pour the milk into the top part of your double boiler. Heat the milk to 185 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring occasionally, and use the fancy thermometer’s alarm to warn you when it’s getting close.
  • Hold milk at a temperature between 180° and 185°F for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Adjust the stove temperature as necessary. This step is important to make the yogurt nice and thick.
  • Turn off stove and let milk cool down to 112°F. Again, the alarm on the digital thermometer is very helpful because it lets you walk away from the stove while the milk cools.
  • When the milk has cooled to 112°F, ladle some of the warm milk into a measuring cup or bowl. Mix the yogurt starter into the small bowl of warm milk. Add the small bowl of milk with yogurt starter back into the rest of the warm milk. Stir well.
  • Ladle warm milk into your yogurt containers.
  • Put lid on full yogurt container.
  • Place the full yogurt containers on your heating pad. Set heating pad to lowest setting. Cover containers and heating pad with a towel.
  • Let yogurt incubate for 5 hours, then remove it to the refrigerator. Let it set overnight.

3 Responses to “How To Make Yogurt”

  1. elina September 4, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

    I don’t have a heating pad… Would the oven work, on the lowest possible temperature?

    • eclause September 4, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

      You want to make sure the oven doesn’t go over 130 degrees Fahrenheit (55 degrees Celsius), because that will kill the active culture bacteria. And it needs to be over 98F (37C) for the bacteria to grow. If the heating pad technique didn’t work, the next thing I was going to try was a cooler (with a tight lid) with a few inches of hot (120F-ish) water.

      • elina September 6, 2012 at 12:08 am #

        Maybe I’ll try that. I guess I could also test the oven and see what the temperature actually is inside. It might work. Thanks. 🙂

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