How to Make Yogurt with a Yogurt Maker

how to make your own yogurt

What was your regular breakfast when you were growing up?  Mine was a bowl of cereal — Cheerios, Chex, Corn Flakes, Crispix (no sugar cereals allowed, but I made up for that with a heaping spoon from the sugar bowl) — and a slice or two of my my mom’s homemade bread, toasted, with butter.  I loved my cereal with thick whole milk, but if the only milk in the house was dry instant, you can bet I had it plain.

In my single teaching days I grabbed a quick breakfast of cereal and toast.  I was hungry an hour later.  When my husband and I got married I learned that he had an unusual breakfast: plain yogurt with dry oats on top.  I had never been crazy about yogurt.  Occasionally I’d buy the flavored kind in the store.  But I gave my husband’s breakfast a try.

Nowadays my  typical breakfast is an egg, oatmeal, and homemade whole wheat toast.   But for a snack I enjoy a bowl of plain yogurt with cereal on top (or chocolate chips! ssh!).  It’s actually the go-to breakfast for our children.  Yogurt was one of the first foods we gave them, and now their standard breakfast is “nogurt and oats.”  It’s super healthy, filling, and sugar-free.

Because of this, we go through a lot of yogurt a week — a gallon or more . So it makes a lot of sense for us to make our own yogurt. I know there are lots of ways to make yogurt without a yogurt maker – using a crock pot or heating pads are two ways I’ve read about.  I like the yogurt maker option.  It’s simple.  It’s pretty hard to mess up.  And since yogurt is pretty pricey, you can make up the cost of the yogurt makers pretty quickly.  And I think I just said “pretty” three times. Make that four.

How to Make Yogurt with a Yogurt Maker

makes 4 quarts (adjust the recipe to make a smaller amount)

  • 1 gallon milk (we use 1/2 whole and 1/2 lowfat)
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt

milk in pot

1.  If you are making a gallon of yogurt, you need a gallon of milk. Simple.  So since we fill four 1-quart yogurt makers, we need four quarts of milk.  Whole milk will make thicker yogurt.  I use half whole milk and half 1% milk because it saves a little money (lowfat milk is cheaper).  It still turns out pretty thick.  Heat the milk in a large pot until it reaches 190°.  You do not need to hang around; this will take a long time.  A whole gallon of milk can take 20-30 minutes to heat up. If I’m doing something else, I set the timer so that I remember to keep checking it. A couple times I missed it and the pot boiled over.  This was a huge mess; however, I still made it into yogurt, and it still turned out.

icy sink

2. When the milk is almost done heating up, fill a sink with ice.  This is so that the next step will go faster.

big bowl in sink

3. Set a large bowl in the sink – one that will hold all your milk and float in the water.  I like our big silver bowl.  The milk must cool down to 115°.  When you do this in an icy sink, it only takes about 5 minutes. If you do not use an icy sink, it takes a long time. A VERY long time.

mix with starter

4. Now you need the half cup of plain yogurt (figure 2 tbsp for each quart of yogurt you are making).  Put it in a small bowl. Then take out 2 cups of the warm milk (or 1/2 cup per quart of yogurt) and whisk it together in the small bowl.  What you are doing is mixing the warm milk with the starter.  What is a starter?  It is plain yogurt.  That’s all.  We use All Natural Plain Yogurt by Dannon. So I do buy yogurt every few weeks for my starter.  But you can use the yogurt you make as starter. Just keep in mind what generation it is, because as you get to the third generation the yogurt you make starts getting runnier.

mix in big bowl

5. Put the little mixture you just made back into the large bowl of milk and whisk it together.

yogurt containers

6. Now pour the milk into your yogurt containers.  We like to reuse Dannon containers instead of using the containers that came with our yogurt makers. They are more compact for our refrigerator.

yogurt makers

7. Place the containers into the yogurt makers.  We use Salton 1-quart makers that we got for $20 apiece on Amazon. I don’t believe they are selling those anymore.  So I would suggest this two-quart yogurt maker, or something like it.  To follow our recipe exactly you would need two of these.  You could also get a yogurt maker that gives you a set of small glass jars — but do you really want to wash each of those every time you make yogurt?  Set your timer for about 10 hours.  We have found that 11 hours gives our yogurt the taste we like. You can play around with the time.  Just make sure your plug the yogurt makers IN.  I’ve been known to forget that.

Afterward, put the yogurt in your refrigerator for about four hours so it can cool and thicken.  Then it’s ready to eat!




© 2013, Anna Geiger. All rights reserved.


  1. Stephanie says

    I do yogurt in the crock pot – also super easy! My only complaint is that it’s not super thick – I often strain some of it to get it a little thicker. I wonder if a yogurt maker would fix that problem? My boys like it with a drizzle of honey and cinnamon and we often use it in our smoothies.

  2. annageig says

    Are your steps for the crock pot similar to mine? The yogurt makers just keep it at a constant warm temperature, which is just what a crock pot would do. I’d be interested in how to alter the recipe for a crock pot.

    It is pretty thick, comparable to the store’s, and even thicker if you use all whole milk. Not sure what kind of milk you’re using, but all skim or lowfat milk yields pretty runny yogurt, even in yogurt makers.

  3. Stephanie says

    I use whole milk. My steps are: pour milk in crockpot, put on low for 2 hrs., 45 min. Unplug and let sit for 3 hours. Stir in the starter and wrap the crockpot in a towel. Let sit 8-10 hours. The temperatures with the crock pot probably aren’t as carefully regulated. Either way, we like it – when it’s more runny we just eat more smoothies! :)

  4. says

    First off thank you for the instructions! I have two different yogurt makers from Salton but I have lost the instructions. I did wonder if you put the Dannon containers in the yogurt makers? We too go through a high volume of yogurt but I have been using the crock pot as I never have time to stand by the stove, but in my directions from another blogger onegoodthingbyjillee she has you pu it into containers of your choice or leave in the crock and put in the oven with just the light on for 8-12 hours… it works great but ties up my oven ;( so I am thinking I could incorporate the crock pot with the yogurt makers and not have to worry that while am at work that someone will turn the oven on! the one question I have about the little cups in the one maker one of these is broken and I don’t know if I can substitute a half pint mason jar or leave that well empty… do you know?

    • Anna Geiger says

      Hi Robin!
      I have never tried using the crock pot or oven for making yogurt (although I am thinking that may come as we are now going through 2 quarts a day!). But yes, we do put the Dannon containers directly in the yogurt makers and have since the beginning. I don’t see any reason why a mason jar wouldn’t work… it’s worth trying!

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