How to Make Crock Pot Yogurt

Easy Homemade Yogurt

by From Scratch Farmstead
closeup of homemade yogurt cup

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If you are looking to increase the repertoire in your from scratch kitchen, this easy crock pot yogurt is a great place to start. This highly nourishing, probiotic rich food is so simple to make. It requires only two basic ingredients, a crock pot, and a few minutes of time. Give this easy, homemade crock pot yogurt a try and you will never want to go back to buying it at the grocery store.

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two homemade yogurt cups

Almost 10 years ago when I overnight decided to toss everything in our fridge, freezer, and pantry for unprocessed and real food alternatives, this yogurt was one of my first big homemade wins. You can read more about that journey here. I was amazed to discover how easy making my own crock pot yogurt at home was. For most of my life, yogurt had been a staple breakfast food so learning that I could easily make it myself was a game changer.

Why make your own yogurt?

  • You get to be in control of what’s in it. Those sneaky food producers go out of their way to throw things in food that really have no place being there. Sweeteners, thickeners, stabilizers, flavor enhancers, you name it. If they think it will make the food better, they throw it in, regardless of what it means for your health. Yogurt should only have 2 ingredients. Milk and live and active cultures. Making it yourself means you pick what milk you use. Like it sweetened? You can add your own honey, maple syrup, or fruit.
  • Cost effective. You can make a half gallon of yogurt for the same cost as a ½ gallon of milk. At the store, this much yogurt would go for at least twice that amount, and the yogurt you will make will likely be better quality!
  • Eliminates single use plastics. For years I bought those single serving yogurt cups. Not only is this extremely cost ineffective, it also creates so much unnecessary waste and potential for plastic leaching into your food. When you make it yourself, store it in glass mason jars and you are good to go.
  • Support Local! If you have a local dairy or place where you can find milk locally, this is a great way to support local farms as opposed to the milk from large-scale conventional farms that are used to make most store-bought yogurt.

two jars of homemade crockpot yogurt

How to make yogurt?

Like other fermented food, the process of making yogurt involves heating milk to a certain temperature and introducing live and active cultures. Then, letting them hangout together for a while so those healthy, gut healing bacteria can multiply. And that’s it – you’ve made your own yogurt. Bonus, doing this in a crock pot makes it so easy because all of those times and temperatures have been tested and proven.

Yogurt Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a thermometer or other special equipment?

NO! That’s what I love about this method. There are a lot of ways to make yogurt and most require monitoring temperatures and keeping your milk incubating at a certain temperature. With this crock pot yogurt method, the times of heating and sitting have already been tested and proven to get those temperatures exactly where they need to be so that no temperature checking is required.

What do I use as my starter culture?

Your starter culture is a ½ cup of yogurt from your previous batch. OR, if you have never made it before, you can buy yogurt at the store to make your first batch. For buying your yogurt starter culture from the store, choose a high quality (full fat and organic recommended but not essential) PLAIN, unsweetened, unflavored yogurt where the only ingredients are milk and live and active cultures. Often, commercially available yogurt products contain added pectin or guar gum as a thickener. Avoid using yogurt for your starter culture with these thickeners added. I’ve found that Greek style yogurt is my favorite to use as a starter and generally avoids the use of added thickeners. This is because Greek yogurt is made by straining off the whey causing it to be thickened naturally.

I usually buy fruit flavored or vanilla yogurt instead of plain yogurt?

You can easily add your vanilla extract, honey, maple syrup, or fruit puree to create your own flavored yogurt with much more nourishing ingredients and likely way less added sugar.

overhead of homemade yogurt in mugs

How to serve yogurt?

At least someone in our house is having yogurt for breakfast every morning! Our favorite ways to serve it are with a scoop of applesauce, elderberry syrup, or a homemade fruit puree. Alternatively, fresh fruit or nuts with a dash of cinnamon makes a lovely parfait for breakfast or as a snack. Plain yogurt also is a perfect substitute for sour cream.

How long does yogurt last?

Because it’s fermented, your yogurt should last for up to one month just fine in your refrigerator. However, if you plan to use your last batch of yogurt as your starter culture, you should make another batch within one to two weeks. The longer you wait between batches, the weaker your cultures will be. The more frequently you make it, the stronger those cultures will be.

What if I skip a step, or my yogurt is still liquid and doesn’t turn into yogurt?

This has happened to us usually when I wait too long between batches and my starter culture has weakened. Most likely, your milk will still have that fermented milk smell and be totally fine to eat. In this case, we use it as buttermilk in cooking, baking, or smoothies. It’s a great chance to pick up a new starter culture and start again! If you forget about it and it develops any sort of mold or smell other than that fermented milk/yogurt smell, use it to water some plants or compost and start again!

How do I make a thicker, Greek style yogurt?

This is done by straining off the whey from your yogurt. When your yogurt is finished you can strain off the whey with a strainer/cheese cloth. 

Crock Pot Yogurt Recipe

Ingredients:

  • half-gallon of milk (whole and organic recommended but any dairy milk will work)
  • ½ cup starter culture (either ½ cup of yogurt from your previous batch or ½ cup store bought yogurt with the only ingredients being milk and live and active cultures)

Directions:

  1. Pour half gallon of milk into crock pot and turn on LOW for 2.5 hours.*
  2. After 2.5 hours turn off/unplug and let sit undisturbed for 3 more hours.
  3. After 3 hours, remove lid and quickly stir in ½ cup of starter culture. Replace lid and wrap with a couple of towels to insulate.
  4. Let sit for 8-10 hours or overnight.**
  5. Store in mason jars or container of choice in the fridge.
pouring fresh milk into crockpot for making yogurt
pouring fresh milk into crockpot for making yogurt
pouring half cup of active yogurt starter into milk
pouring half cup of active yogurt starter into milk
wrap crockpot in towels for insulation
wrap crockpot in towels for insulation

Serve and Enjoy!

*I like to set a timer for the 2.5 and 3 hour-intervals. For example, if I start my yogurt at 3 pm, I set a timer for 5:30 pm and 8:30 pm. At 5:30 I turn my crock pot off and at 8:30 I stir in the ½ cup of yogurt and insulate with towels.

**My favorite ways to do the timing of yogurt is to either start my yogurt early in the morning, and then the yogurt will be finished before going to bed that night. Or, beginning my yogurt in the afternoon and it will be finished when I wake up the following morning.

closeup of homemade yogurt cup with nuts and cinammon

closeup of homemade yogurt cup with nuts and cinammon

Easy Homemade Yogurt in the Crockpot

Yield: half gallon
Hands on time: 5 minutes
Let it sit time: 16 hours
Total Time: 16 hours 5 minutes

If you are looking to increase the repertoire in your from scratch kitchen, yogurt is a great place to start. This highly nourishing, probiotic rich food is so simple to make. It requires only two basic ingredients, a crockpot, and a few minutes of time. Give this easy, homemade yogurt a try and you will never want to go back to buying it at the grocery store.

Ingredients

  • half-gallon of milk (whole and organic recommended but any dairy milk will work)
  • ½ cup starter culture (either ½ cup of yogurt from your previous batch or ½ cup store bought yogurt with the only ingredients being milk and live and active cultures)

Instructions

    1. Pour half gallon of milk into crockpot and turn on LOW for 2.5 hours*
    2. After 2.5 hours turn off/unplug and let sit undisturbed for 3 more hours
    3. After 3 hours, remove lid and quickly stir in ½ cup of starter culture. Replace lid and wrap with a couple of towels to insulate.
    4. Let sit for 8-10 hours or overnight.**
    5. Store in mason jars or container of choice in the fridge.

Notes

*I like to set a timer for the 2.5 and 3 hour-intervals. For example, if I start my yogurt at 3 pm, I set a timer for 5:30 pm and 8:30 pm. At 5:30 I turn my crock pot off and at 8:30 I stir in the ½ cup of yogurt and insulate with towels.

**My favorite ways to do the timing of yogurt is to either start my yogurt early in the morning, and then the yogurt will be finished before going to bed that night. Or, beginning my yogurt in the afternoon and it will be finished when I wake up the following morning.

 

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4 comments

Sue January 31, 2022 - 10:43 am

How long does the yogurt keep?

Reply
From Scratch Farmstead January 31, 2022 - 2:40 pm

It should keep in the fridge for up to a month. But, if you are using that batch as your starter for your next batch, I’d make again within 1-2 weeks.

Reply
Gene March 22, 2022 - 2:10 pm

Have you ever done this with raw milk? If so, does the heat with the crockpot on low kill the enzymes in raw milk?

Reply
From Scratch Farmstead March 22, 2022 - 3:05 pm

Yes, we do make it with raw milk. And yes, you do lose some of the enzymes in the process. But you do get a lot of added probiotics from the culturing process. This is a thermophilic cultured yogurt (heat loving) so it needs heat to be activated. This type of culture results in thick, creamy yogurt. If you do not want to heat the yogurt, you can use a mesophilic culture to make the yogurt. The texture is thinner and runnier but you maintain all the enzymes this way. Another option to avoid heating is to make milk kefir. We like to do both this yogurt and kefir to get the best of both worlds! Hope that helps!

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