Homemade Stovetop Yogurt Recipe

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March 21, 2017

finished yogurtYou can make yogurt without a yogurt maker. You are in control of the amount of tartness, sweetness, and the flavor.


Prep Time: 40 min prep

Cook Time: 8 hours incubation, 1-2 hours chilling, 3 hours or so straining

Total Time: About 12 hours

Yield: 1/2 gallon unstrained, less if strained


  • 1/2 gal whole or 2% milk
  • plain yogurt with live cultures
  • honey, sugar, or stevia, if desired
  • vanilla and other spices, if desired
  • fruit or jam, if desired


  1. Put 1 Tbsp. of live yogurt in a small bowl. Bring to room temperature.
  2. Fill a 5-quart pot 1/4 of the way with water.
  3. large pan with water in it
  4. In a 4 quart pot, put your milk.
  5. warming milk in pan
  6. Fit the 4-quart pot in the 5 quart pot, to make a double boiler. This will prevent you from scorching the milk, which will ruin the yogurt.
  7. warming milk in pan

  8. Heat the milk to 180 degrees F. I partially covered the pot to speed up the process. Whisk with a non-metal whisk to avoid hot spots and a metallic taste. Don't scrape the bottom to avoid milk solids from getting into the yogurt. A good digital thermometer reads the temperature quickly and accurately. It took almost 30 minutes to get to this temperature. NOTE: If you are not interested in the custard-style or Greek yogurt, the temperature does not have to reach 180 degrees.
  9. Put your hot milk on a cold burner. Dump the hot water from the 5-quart pot. Refill the pot with fresh water and 2 trays full of ice.
  10. Put the hot milk into this ice-water bath. Whisk a few times until the temperature reaches 110 degrees F. Don't scrape the bottom.
  11. milk in pan on stove
    whisking milk in pan
    hand holding thermometer in warmed milk

  12. Cooling the milk took about 20 minutes. Skim off any skin that has formed, for a smooth yogurt.
  13. skiing yogurt with spoon
  14. Scoop 1 cup of the cooled milk into the bowl with the 1 Tbsp. yogurt. Whisk until smooth. Whisk back into the rest of the milk.
  15. milk and yogurt mixed together
    whisking milk and yogurt
  16. You now need a reliable heat source to incubate the milk. I covered my pot with a thermal fleece blanket, put it on my cable box, and covered it with the largest pot I had. You may leave the yogurt for as little as 6 hours or as long as 10. Start with 8 hours. The longer you leave it, the tangier it gets.
  17. fleece blanket on cable box
    yogurt on fleece blanket covered with large pan

  18. Freeze the container of yogurt you bought in 1 Tbsp. portions. I put each Tbsp. on a piece of plastic wrap and put all the Tbsp. in a ziplock baggie. This will be good for a few months. The next time you make yogurt, bring a Tbsp. to room temperature.
  19. tablespoons of yogurt wrapped in plastic
    tablespoons of yogurt wrapped in plastic in baggie
  20. When you are finished incubating, you have your yogurt.
  21. yogurt cooled in bowl
  22. For Greek-style yogurt, you have to strain it. Chill it in the refrigerator until cooled down. Then line a strainer with a clean white T-shirt or coffee filters. Put a large bowl under the strainer. Put your yogurt in the strainer. Cover the yogurt with a dinner plate or plastic wrap and strain for 3-4 hours in the refrigerator. If the material is woven tightly enough, which it should be, your whey will be clear.
  23. yogurt whey

  24. Whisk your yogurt for added smoothness. You may flavor right away or leave it alone until you are ready to eat. Plain yogurt is a great substitute for sour cream.
  25. finished yogurt in bowl
  26. You may use the diluted whey to water plants, or use full-strength for baking.
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