Slow cooker yogurt is an easy, healthy and inexpensive way to make homemade yogurt without a yogurt maker. Prepare it in five minutes, go to bed, and wake up to a freshly made breakfast!
I have a few more yogurt recipes that you will enjoy. 4 Ingredient Healthy Strawberry Frozen Yogurt (5 minute recipe!), Homemade Fruit on the Bottom Yogurt Cups and 5 Easy Healthy Yogurt Bowl Ideas are all winners.
How to Make Slow Cooker Yogurt
Yogurt can be expensive and often times it has a long list of artificial colors, flavors, and who knows what else. So here is a super easy recipe to make your own slow cooker yogurt. It is plain yogurt, but you can add honey, jams, fresh fruit, and just about anything else you like. I also use it in place of sour cream in most recipes. This is a great way to to get organic yogurt on the cheap. You can buy a carton of organic milk and turn it into yogurt for about half the price of organic yogurt.
The recipe is so easy that it practically makes itself. You just have to commit a little time to the process! You essentially just use your slow cooker to scald the milk and then the heavy warm crock radiates heat all night long to help culture your new batch of yogurt. The hands-on time is about 5 minutes, though the waiting time is about 15 hours. I like to start this in the afternoon so that it's ready to sit for its long 8-12 hour warm resting period overnight. We then wake up to fresh yogurt and I'll serve it with fresh fruit and some homemade granola.
I really recommend straining this yogurt through 3-4 layers of cheese cloth for a few hours too. This helps it to thicken up to a more "Greek yogurt" consistency which my kids prefer (and it's easier to eat). I explained more of how I do that in the tips and tricks section. Before you know it, you'll know how to make homemade yogurt with your eyes closed.
Tips and Tricks for making Slow Cooker Yogurt
- I'd highly recommend getting a little instant-read thermometer to make homemade yogurt - it's all about the temperature! I use this $10 thermometer all the time.
- The goal is to scald the milk which takes place around 180 degrees. So you could check it with a thermometer the first time to see if the "warm" setting is warm enough or if maybe an hour and 45 minutes would work on low. Once you figure it out, I don’t think you would have to use the thermometer every time.
- After the milk is scalded, the waiting time is meant to bring the milk down to around 115-110 degrees so that it’s still warm but won’t kill your yogurt culture!
- You don't have to buy commercial plain yogurt every time. Just save ½ cup of your own yogurt for the starter for the next batch.
- I really recommend straining this yogurt through 3-4 layers of cheese cloth for a few hours, too. This helps it to thicken up to a more "Greek yogurt" consistency which my kids prefer (and it's easier to eat). I simply set a large colander in a bowl, line it with cheese cloth, and then pour my yogurt in from the slow cooker. I cover it with a clean dish towel and let it sit for a few hours until it's the consistency that I like. Do note that the yogurt will also thicken some when refrigerated. Play around with it until you figure out how thick or how thin you prefer your yogurt and make notes. That's the perk of cooking from scratch - you get a product that is truly customized to your preferences.
How long does homemade yogurt last?
Homemade yogurt is generally good for eating for up to 2 weeks when properly stored in the refrigerator.
Do I have to buy store bought yogurt every time in order to make homemade yogurt?
You don't have to buy commercial plain yogurt every time. Just save ½ cup of your own yogurt for the starter for the next batch.
How can I make homemade yogurt thicker:
There's a few ways to make your yogurt thicker!
- Use whole milk instead of 2% or skim. The higher milk fat lends to a thicker yogurt.
- Stick it in the fridge. Your yogurt with thicken up some as it gets cold.
- Strain your yogurt. By removing some of the whey, you are left with a thicker Greek style yogurt.
- I strain my yogurt 2 ways, one is by straining the yogurt through 3-4 layers of cheese cloth for a few hours, too. Simply set a large colander in a bowl, line it with cheese cloth, and then pour yogurt in from the slow cooker. Cover it with a clean dish towel and let it sit for a few hours until it's the consistency that you like. Do note that the yogurt will also thicken some when refrigerated. Play around with it until you figure out how thick or how thin you prefer your yogurt and make notes. That's the perk of cooking from scratch - you get a product that is truly customized to your preferences.
- The second way I strain my yogurt is new to me, but I'm loving it. I just got a stainless steel yogurt strainer (you can find it on Etsy for $25) and it's awesome. I just stick the tube in my yogurt after the incubation time and let it rest about 2 hours. Then the middle fills with the whey and you ladle it out. I normally do this a in three spots down the middle of the slow cooker (over the course of the morning or so) before placing it in the fridge and it works so great. The tube I just rinse off or you can stick it in the dishwasher. It's a cool thing that if you make yogurt a lot, it's great to have (it works in the 6 and 8 quart Instant Pots too!).
Slow Cooker Yogurt
- Total Time: 12 hrs 5min
- Yield: Makes 8 Cups 1x
Slow cooker yogurt is an easy, healthy and inexpensive way to make homemade yogurt without a yogurt maker. Prepare in five minutes, go to bed, and wake up to a freshly made breakfast!
- ½ gallon (8 cups) whole milk (you'll get a thinner product with a lower fat content milk)
- ½ cup commercial plain yogurt that says "Live and Active Cultures" on the tub (I have great success with Mountain High yogurt for my culture)
- In a large crock pot, add the milk. Add the lid.Turn it on low for around 2 ½ hours*.
- After that time has passed, unplug the crock pot and let it sit for 3 hours. I always set a timer for these or I don't remember.
- After the 3 hours has passed, stir in the ½ cup of yogurt. Replace the lid of the crock pot and cover with 2 big towels or a blanket. Let rest for 8 to 12 hours (overnight works well). In the morning you'll have yogurt!
- Place it in a ½ gallon mason jar and refrigerate for a few hours before serving. It will thicken up in the fridge. Keep a ½ cup of this yogurt for your next batch and say goodbye to buying yogurt!
- You can also let the yogurt strain in cheese cloth in the fridge for a few hours and you'll get a thicker Greek yogurt!
- *The goal is to scald the milk which takes place around 180 degrees. So you could check it with a thermometer the first time to see if the "warm" setting is warm enough or if maybe an hour and 45 minutes would work on low. Once you figure it out, I don’t think you would have to use the thermometer every time.
- After the milk is scalded the waiting time is menat to bring the milk down to around 115-110 degrees so that it’s still warm but won’t kill your yogurt culture!
- Prep Time: 5 min
- Cook Time: 12 hrs
- Category: Breakfast
- Method: Slow Cooker
- Cuisine: American
I love this recipe. The timing works perfectly. Last time I added a cup of heavy cream to make it richer and thicker. It was divine.
If I double the recipe how do I need to adjust the timing of heating the milk, waiting for it to cool, and does it take longer than the 8-12hrs to turn into yogurt? I tried it yesterday and previously I've had great success with the original recipe but this time it came out much more runny than in the past..almost like not all of the milk had turned into yogurt. Let me know what you think. I added about 1cup of plain yogurt as well instead of 1/2cup, since I doubled the recipe..but I don't know if that was necessary.
It can take longer than that time period if your house is chilly and the timing should be about the same for that much milk, do you have a thermometer so you could check on things?
Thanks for trailblazing the process for me. Is there any way to use the "whey"? I hate to toss if I can use it for something else. Thanks
yep, you can use it in bread making as part of the water or liquid (adds a sour flavor like sourdough), you can water plants with it, you can add it to smoothies, google whey uses, it's a really cool product! I don't throw mine away because there's so much you can do with it.
Thanks for this recipe. We have tried 4 or 5 ways to make yogurt with our raw milk. This worked. The only modification we needed to make was with our crockpot heat setting. At 2.5 hours it was still hovering around 160 so we upped it to high for about 25 min and checked temp frequently until it hit 180. The other thing we did different was that we put the inner portion of the crockpot in the stove overnight, no heat, light on.
I used to make this often, but it's been a few years. My crock pot is older plus the timer got turned off. So basically I didn't check the temp when I turned off the crockpot. I just checked it now for 110-115 but it's down to 60. It's been around 3 hours. Is the milk done for or can I safely start over with this milk?
It's fine to start again! And you don't have to get all the way to scalding again, you just did that, just get it up to about 100 so the yogurt is warm.
I can't wait to try this out. I've been contemplating making my own yogurt for a few months now. Store price increases for yogurt have nudged me to go ahead and give it a try.
Most recipes I've come across for homemade yogurt recommend warm water baths while culturing the yogurt. I wanted something more failure tolerant. I read a comment on another site about using a crock pot and decided to research and here I am.
Thank you for posting the recipe.
I love this- it turns out a bit runny, but perfect for overnight oatmeal! I’m going to buy sone powdered milk next time I go to the store to thicken it up. Thank you!
Can you do this with larger quantities of milk? Say, 1 gallon instead of 1/2 gallon at a time?
Yep, it works very well
I've read powdered milk is an oxidant.
If I need 1/2 cup starter for half gallon do I need 1 cup for a gallon? Or will it just take longer to ferment?
You don't need to increase the starter for a bigger batch, that amount will still work and generally takes the same amount of time to ferment though it takes longer to heat up and cool back down because of the volume.
I have used this recipe four times now, twice using UHT whole milk and twice using fresh whole milk. Both worked really well proving that you don't need to spend money on a yoghurt maker to be successful at making your own yoghurt. I personally prefer the whole fresh milk as it set a bit more than the UHT but still both delicious. Thank you for the recipe.
I made this...thankyou so much. It turned out lovely
Your ingredient list mentions 1 1/2 C yogurt, then the recipe instructions says to add 1/2 C of yogurt. Please clarify the right about of yogurt to add to the milk for this particular recipe. Thanks!
Hmmmm, not sure where you are getting 1 1/2 cups yogurt from, the ingredient list just says 1/2 cup, that's all that you need for the starter.
I am going to try this even though I’m a bit dairy sensitive but I’ve been able to tolerate Mountain High Yogurt so….but will this work do you think made with full fat coconut milk?
Coconut milk won't work for this recipe but I have seen it with others!
I am lactose intolerant and I am able to eat this yogurt recipe (using whole milk, no less) without lactase and I have no problem. I believe if the yogurt process goes to completion (i.e., you follow all of the minimum times), then all of the lactose in the milk gets broken down by the yogurt culture.