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How to Make Greek Yogurt

The simple guide on how to make healthy homemade Greek yogurt (with just two simple ingredients)!

Greek yogurt in a bowl with mind

What is Yogurt?

Well milk is made up of casein and whey. Casein is what curdles and is used to make cheese and yogurt, while whey is the watery substance left when the milk curdles.

So what is Greek yogurt? Greek yogurt is essentially the same as regular yogurt with the addition of one critical step – straining! At the very end, the yogurt is strained to remove the excess watery whey, creating a thicker, more protein-dense product. So while we call this variation of yogurt “Greek yogurt” in the U.S., you may see it called “strained yogurt” in other areas of the world.

Homemade Yogurt Ingredients

Yogurt is a fermentation (just like kombucha), meaning it’s created by adding some bacteria (yogurt) to a sugar-containing substance (milk) and letting the bacteria eat up the sugar. So to make yogurt at home, you’ll just need 2 ingredients:

  • Yogurt: Make sure to use a good quality yogurt that has “live” or “active” cultures.
  • Milk: Whole fat milk produces the best texture for homemade yogurt.

The result of fermentation is always acid, gas, or alcohol. Fermentation of milk gives us acid, making for the distinctive tart flavor of yogurt!

Milk and yogurt ingredients to make homemade greek yogurt

How to make Greek Yogurt

Step 1: Heat Milk
Heat milk to 185 degrees F (85 degrees C). This is important for creating a thick, nicely textured yogurt.

Heating milk to 185 to make yogurt on stove

Step 2: Cool Milk
Cool milk back down to lukewarm (about 110 degrees F, 43 degrees C), then add 1/2 cup of the warm milk into the yogurt. (Ensuring the milk is cooled down will prevent you from killing the live cultures in the yogurt.) Whisk the yogurt and milk together, then add the rest of the milk and mix well.

Pouring milk into mason jar to make yogurt

Step 3: Let Sit
Place your mixture somewhere warm and let sit for 4 to 8 hours, or until yogurt is thick and tangy. My favorite method for making yogurt is to wrap the jar in a warm, moist towel, then setting it in the oven with the oven light on. The light will provide enough heat to ferment the yogurt!

Keeping yogurt warm in jar in oven

After sitting in a warm environment for a few hours, your yogurt is ready to eat! If you want to turn this plain yogurt into Greek yogurt, we’ll take it one step further and strain it.

Stirring greek yogurt in a jar

Step 4: Strain
Set a mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth (or strong paper towels) over a large bowl. Pour in yogurt and place in the fridge. Check every few hours until yogurt reaches your desired thickness.

Straining homemade greek yogurt

The liquid that is drained out of the yogurt is whey! This is a great protein and works well in smoothies and soups.

Straining homemade greek yogurt

Transfer your freshly made Greek yogurt to an airtight container when it has reached your desired thickness level!

Straining homemade greek yogurt
Straining homemade greek yogurt

How to Make Greek Yogurt

This week we're exploring all things Greek yogurt, starting with this simple guide on how to make Greek yogurt in your oven (with just two simple ingredients)!
Print Pin Rate
Course: Breakfasts, Dips, Sauces, and Salsas
Cuisine: Greek, Mediterranean
Keyword: Greek yogurt, how to make Greek yogurt, how to make yogurt
Diet: Gluten-Free, Low Carb, Raw, Vegetarian
Time: 60 minutes or more
Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 6 hrs
Total: 6 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 2 cups
Calories: 281kcal
Author: Sarah Bond
5 from 4 votes

EQUIPMENT

  • Medium pot with lid, aim for the heaviest/thickest pot you have
  • Kitchen thermometer
  • Quart-sized jar or bowl
  • Mesh sieve
  • Cheesecloth or thin dishcloth, coffee filters, paper towels etc. placed inside a mesh strainer

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups whole milk 960 mL
  • ¼ cup plain store bought yogurt ensure the container says “live” or “active” cultures, 60 g

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Heat Milk: Place milk in a medium pot and heat to 185-200°F (85-93°C), stirring frequently to preventing a skin from forming.
  • Cool Bath: Transfer the pot with milk to an ice bath (I filled my sink with ice and water), to cool milk to 100-110°F (37-43°C).
  • Temper: Pour ½ cup of the warm milk into a separate clean jar or bowl. Mix in plain yogurt, stirring until yogurt is well blended. Add remaining milk and mix well.
  • Let Sit: Cover jar or bowl with a lid, wrap in a moist, warm towel to keep in heat, and place in oven. Turn on oven light to keep warm, and let the bacteria do its yogurt making magic for 4 to 8 hours (or overnight).*
  • Strain: You can eat the yogurt like this, or strain it to make Greek yogurt. To strain, line a mesh sieve with cheesecloth (or paper towels, coffee filters etc), and pour yogurt in. Place over a large bowl and let strain in the fridge for a few hours (or overnight), until it’s reach a consistency you like.

NOTES

  • *The oven light should be sufficient for keeping the milk warm enough for fermentation. You can also turn the oven on for 1 minute (just enough to warm things up an insy bit) every so often. We’re aiming to keep the milk/yogurt at about 100 degrees F (37 C) throughout the whole process.
  • Store in a clean, airtight container.

NUTRITION

Serving: 1cup | Calories: 281kcal | Carbohydrates: 12.1g | Protein: 9.7g | Fat: 22.1g | Saturated Fat: 13.7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6.4g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 132mg | Potassium: 375mg | Sugar: 11.1g
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Greek Yogurt FAQs

Is Greek yogurt healthy? Yes! Greek yogurt is more protein-packed than regular yogurt because we skim out excess moisture.

Can you make Greek yogurt with skim milk? It’s best to use milk with some fat in it to give your homemade yogurt a nice texture. I’d recommend doing a blend of skim and 2% if you are going to try for a low fat homemade yogurt.

How do you make non-dairy Greek yogurt? Making non-dairy yogurt at home is another ball game and requires a different way to introduce live bacteria (in the form of probiotic supplements!) This recipe from Minimalist Baker is great for the non-dairy yogurt seekers.

Is it cheaper to make your own Greek yogurt? Yes! According to Project Meal Plan, homemade Greek yogurt is almost 15 cents cheaper per ounce than store bought.

How did yogurt originate? Yogurt came to be right around the time when humans started drinking animal milk, which was just about the time when we learned to domesticate animals, so 8000 years ago. Back then, milk was stored in (brace yourself) animal stomachs. The natural enzymes and bacteria in the stomach would cause the milk to curdle and ferment, producing yogurt and cheese! Yogurt has made it’s way into most nooks and crannies of the world, but it didn’t become popular in the U.S. until the 1950s and 60s, when health foods began to gain some traction.

Hi, I’m Sarah!

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Comments (41)

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  1. Thank you for the step-by-step photos. I want to make my own yogurt but I’m dairy-free. Can I apply the same method to plant-based milk?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hey Christine! I haven’t tried to make plant-based yogurt yet but my hunch would be no. I don’t think it would work the same due to the huge differences in milk composition (no casein, different bacteria). I did a little digging and it looks like you could make one similar by simply thickening plant-based milk with agar-agar, which is a flavorless, vegan substitute for gelatin and is made from seaweed or algae (I forget which!). I always love cooking tutorials form The Kitchn and they have one for coconut milk yogurt here if you’d like to check it out: http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-dairyfree-coconut-yogurt-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-216358. It looks like you could Greek yogurt-ify it by straining it the same as I did with this milk-based yogurt. Happy experimenting! 🙂

    2. Thank you so much for the link. I’m familiar with agar-agar. I make desserts with it. 🙂

  2. This is a really great tutorial. I’ve been making my own Greek yoghurt for a few years now and would never go back to the store bought version. More people need to know how easy this is! 🙂

    1. Sarah says:

      Right?! So many things are just so simple to make at home! Have you experimented with using lower fat milks?

  3. Shadi says:

    I love yogurt and in Iran we mostly have it savory and it’s been difficult for me to find a good yogurt here, so i guess this is going to be my new favorite!

    1. Sarah says:

      All the more reason to just make it at home! With a touch of honey and some strawberries…yum!

  4. I have to start making yogurt again! It is always better than the store bought when made at home!

    You’ve inspired me. 🙂

    1. Sarah says:

      Aw I’m glad!! Is this about how you used to make yogurt? I’m a yogurt newbie and was quite happy with how I got it to turn out, but I’m curious what other method there may be out there!

    2. I have to start making yogurt again! It is always better than the store bought when made at home!

      You’ve inspired me. 🙂

      The recipe I used used a lower fat milk plus a teensy bit of powdered milk. It was so good every time!

    3. Sarah says:

      Yea I saw a few recipes with powdered milk! I figured I’d start simple, but I’ll probably try out a lower fat milk + powdered milk next time. More protein, less fat, I’m in!

  5. Lyndsay says:

    I need this in my life. I’ve always wanted to make my own yogurt but never have. Looks like now is the perfect time. Thanks for sharing ?

    1. Sarah says:

      Don’t we ALL need fresh made yogurt in our lives? 🙂 Happy yogurt making. Lyndsay!

  6. Bahahaha!!! I’m dying at your title. I’m Greek, like my parents are straight off the boat, and that movie was a fave. That’s totally my extended family. Can’t wait until the next one! It’s been on my list to make a plant-based yogurt!

    1. Sarah says:

      There’s a sequel coming out?! I may be going to Greece in the near future for a friend’s wedding and I hope it is everything like the movie! But yea, I’m going to aim for a lower fat yogurt next, and then eventually a plant-based version. Let me know how your plant-based one turns out!

  7. Christina says:

    Thanks sarah for this post! Just wondering, I used to just strain balkan yogurt to get that greek yogurt texture. would this method bring better results?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hey Christina! How did you used to strain it? It sounds like you would have done something similar to what I did. It’s all really up to what you think tastes best and how thick you like your yogurt 🙂

  8. Shiho says:

    I love yoghurt and did not know that you can make your own! Thank you very much for sharing. This post is very informative. Thank you.

  9. Teresa says:

    Wow it’s so easy! Once I had a special yogurt maker but I got tired of bringing it from my basement before use… I guess it’s logical that you can make some yogurt with no special equipment but I never thought of it. I have to try it some day 🙂

    1. Sarah says:

      I didn’t even know there was such a thing as yogurt makers until I started researching how to make it! I panicked a bit because I started to think you needed to have one to make yogurt, but the oven light ended up being perfect 🙂 You should try it out!

  10. I keep buying Greek yogurt (good quality but frightfully expensive) it would be good to try making it myself. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Sarah says:

      Definitely! And making it at home is often the best quality, you know exactly what is going into it 🙂

  11. Thanks to your very awesome tutorial I am now totally inspired to make my own Greek yogurt. Pinned for future reference.

  12. khadija says:

    wait what? they stored milk in animal stomachs? am off to learn more about this, then maybe i will make some yogurt. but you need a thermometer right? you can’t just set the temperature in the oven and keep it in there?

    1. Sarah says:

      Apparently! The stomach was used as a bag (fashionable, right?), so they stored milk in it. And I’m just imaging one day they looked inside and discovered the best thing on Earth, cheese! But yes, it’s best to use a thermometer to ensure you hit the 2 major temperature points in this process, 185ish for heating the milk and 100ish for incubating. If your oven goes as low as 100 F, by all means set it at that. Most ovens won’t go below 140 F though, which is too hot for the bacteria to make their magic happen.

      You could, if you don’t have a thermometer, still try. Heat the milk until it is frothy, like milk for a latte, but not boiling. Cool until it is warm enough to touch. And use the oven light method for the rest. More chance that it may be a flop but worth a shot!

  13. Jeffrey Wong says:

    I’m nuts about Greek yogurt. It is an essential part of my daily diet. Wallaby Organic Aussie Greek is my favorite, and it costs me plenty. I also worry about all those plastic tubs that the local recycling entity might collect but not actually recycle.

    I’m going to do this. I hope I can start with a quarter cup of Wallaby Organic and go from there.

    thanks.

    1. Sarah says:

      Have fun!! And let me know if you have any questions 🙂

  14. Jeffrey Wong says:

    I did this, and it worked out so well. The whey will keep on dripping as long as I have the yogurt suspended. I just add some back and stir until it gets to the consistency desired.

    1. Sarah says:

      So happy to hear, Jeffrey! 😀

  15. Eva says:

    Will this work using Kage instead of yogurt. Also, what’s the estimate of Probotics?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Eva! Sorry, but I’m actually not sure what Kage is? And the amount of probiotics will really depend on the yogurt you use.

  16. Jeffrey Wong says:

    Eva, do you mean Kefir, or do you mean the brand Fage?

    1. Sarah says:

      Oh good point, could have been Fage (I was down a rabbit hole of Danish foods called kage and I’m not sure that’s what she meant, lol). Fage would work!

  17. Renae says:

    I love this post and excited to try but hope much does one recipe make? Should I assume it makes a quart or just over being that 32oz of milk is used plus a 1/4 cup of starter yogurt. This will be my first attempt at home made yogurt.

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Renae! A lot of the water will be drained out, so you can expect about 2 cups of yogurt in the end 😀

  18. Joseph says:

    Thank you for the tutorial. I will definitely try this in the near future. I just have one question… Once I use the store bought yogurt to make my own yogurt, can I use my freshly made yogurt make my next batch or should I continue buying the store bought yogurt?

    Cheers,

    1. Sarah says:

      Great question, Joseph! You can use the yogurt you made to start your next batch! 😀

  19. Adom says:

    U are amazing, going to try it out.

  20. Gina says:

    It is delicious! Thanks for the clear directions for my first attempt at yogurt. I whisked after straining, but I’ve been told to whisk after adding culture for a smoother texture. I’m researching what to do with the whey now. Having fun experimenting!

    1. Sarah says:

      Enjoy, Gina! 😀

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