How To Make Foolproof Crock Pot Yogurt

Homemade yogurt is actually very simple to make. And if you ask me the easiest and most dependable way to make yogurt at home is with an electric crock pot.
All you need is crock pot, a thermometer, some fresh milk and a little bit of the proper type bacteria.

Greek yogurt is a favorite of mine and is also very easy to make. Greek yogurt is simply ordinary yogurt that has most of the whey drained from it.

Milk & Electric Crock Pot

A Gallon of Milk & Electric Crock Pot

There are many recipes on the internet for homemade yogurt. Some of them actually make what I would consider yogurt – but plenty of them don’t.
Homemade yogurt does not have the same firm consistency as store-bought yogurt. Store bought yogurt is a fake out and is thicken and stiffen with pectin, milk solids and other thickeners.

Homemade yogurt created without added pectin or powdered milk will have a top layer of whey that makes the yogurt thinner.
Whey is the natural liquid by-product of cheese and yogurt making and is easy to strain off.

Yogurt & Cranberries

Fresh Homemade Yogurt With Cranberries

The important thing to remember about homemade yogurt is that if you want to make it thicker, the whey needs to be strained from the yogurt . The more whey that is removed from the yogurt the firmer the final product. In fact if you strain off most of the whey from yogurt, you’ll end up with a delicious soft cheese known as “yogurt cheese”.
The crock pot method of making yogurt produces very dependable results. It is pretty much foolproof as long as you follow the directions faithfully. If you want success – don’t improvise.

Here’s What You’ll Need

  • 1 Gallon of Milk (4 Quarts) – Doesn’t matter what type of milk
  • 2 Tablespoons of Starter Yogurt – The bacteria for the yogurt has to come from somewhere. If you don’t already have a starter you’ll need some yogurt. It can be any type of yogurt but must have both of the active and live cultures of lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophilus. Read the label to make sure you have the right starter bacteria.
  • Electric Crock Pot
  • Some Type of Cooking or Dairy Thermometer
  • A Whisk or Fork
  • A Colander
  • Muslin, Plyban Cheesecloth or Some Type of Woven Cloth
  • Bath Towel or Woolen Scarf
  • Oven or Other Draft Free Warm Location

Place the gallon of milk into the crock pot and cover. Heat the milk slowly until the milk is between 180°F – 190°F. It is vital to heat the milk to at least 180°F.

Heating Milk In Crock Pot

Heating Milk In Crock Pot

The milk must be made sterile and free from all types of bacteria. The only bacteria you want growing in the milk will be the lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophiles that you will purposely add when you inoculate the milk. This is an especially important step with raw milk.

* Note to raw milk people*
You have to get rid of the other bacteria if you want consistent and dependable results when making yogurt. Competing bacteria can be a problem.

Allow the milk to cool naturally and undisturbed to a temperature of 110°F. It takes about 3 ½ to 4 hours to cool to that temperature. It is critical to the success of the yogurt that you catch the milk at 110°F. 110°F is the ideal temperature for inoculating yogurt.

100°F IsThe Ideal Temperature

100°F Is The Ideal Temperature

A temperature any higher may kill the added bacteria. And if the temperature is too cool the bacteria will not thrive.

If you are using non-homogenized or raw milk there will be a skin that has formed on the top of the milk.

Milk Skin On Milk

A Milk Skin Will Form On Non-Homogenized Milk

The skin should be carefully and completely removed. If you don’t remove all of the milk skin you’ll get nasty hard flakes in your yogurt.

Remove about 1 cup of warm milk into a separate cup or small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of starter yogurt to the cup of milk.

Inoculating Milk

Inoculating Warm Milk With Lactobacillus Bulgaricus and Streptococcus Thermophilus

Do not add any extra yogurt. 2 tablespoons are all you need.
The bacteria must have adequate room to grow and won’t grow properly if overcrowded. With a fork or a whisk, gently but thoroughly stir the starter yogurt into the cup of milk to inoculate it.

Next pour the inoculated milk back into the crock pot and stir in gently going from side to side. Do not stir in circles – use a careful and slow up and down lifting motion moving across the length of the crock.

 Whisk In Inoculated Milk

Gently Whisk In Inoculated Milk

Carefully lift the covered crock out of the electric base and place it into a cool oven. Lay a bath towel or woolen shawl snugly around the crock and leave it undisturbed overnight or for about 10 – 12 hours.

 Milk Covered With Towel In Oven

Crock Of Milk Covered With Towel In Oven

You want the milk to stay nice and warm.
An oven with a pilot light or electric light turned on works great. Do not disturb the milk and keep the oven door closed. If you open the oven door you may have a yogurt failure.

After 10 or 12 hours your yogurt should be solid with a layer of whey on the top.

Proper Yogurt Consistency

Proper Yogurt Consistency After 12 Hours

If you like a thicker yogurt you’ll need to drain or carefully pour off the whey.
The way that I do it is by pouring the yogurt into a colander lined with Plyban cheesecloth that has been set on top of a large pot. A rectangular piece of muslin or a clean dish towel can be used. I don’t like to use regular cheesecloth because the weave is too sleazy and open. If I have to use regular cheesecloth I triple the layers.

Straining The Whey From Yogurt

Straining The Whey From Yogurt Using Plyban Cloth

As the whey drains away from the yogurt it is collected into the pot and can be used later for another food purpose or fed to chickens or pigs.

Whey Left Behind From Straining Yogurt

Whey Left Behind From Straining Yogurt

It takes about 2 hours of draining to make a thick natural yogurt, and about 3 or 4 hours to make Greek style yogurt. Once the yogurt is the thickness that I want, I lift the cheesecloth from the colander and carefully dump the yogurt into a covered dish or large container.

Finished Homemade Yogurt

Finished Homemade Yogurt

I store my yogurt in a refrigerator or a cooler to keep it sweet tasting. Some people prefer a tart yogurt and do leave it out at room temperature for over 24 hours. The longer yogurt stays at room temperature the more tart it will become.
I try to always remember to save a little bit back so I have starter for the next batch.

  38 comments for “How To Make Foolproof Crock Pot Yogurt

  1. Tama
    January 8, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    I use this recipe every time I make yogurt and it turns out perfect every time! Thanks!!

  2. Shirly Solomon
    January 13, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Have you used raw goat’s milk? It usually requires powdered milk to be added. Have you made it without?

    • KMG
      January 13, 2016 at 2:02 pm

      Don’t use raw milk. Follow the directions exactly. This recipe works with all types of milk 🙂

  3. Hannah
    February 1, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    Can I make this in a one quart batch and just quarter the ammount of starter yoghurt added ?

    • KMG
      February 1, 2016 at 6:05 pm

      I don’t know. I never did it. I suppose the only way to know for sure is to try 🙂

  4. Ray Starke
    February 5, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    Help I overslept and the first step of cooking on low was an hour longer. Can I save the yogurt? What adjustments to make to the recipe because of my mistake?

    • KMG
      February 5, 2016 at 3:05 pm

      I don’t know. All I know to tell you is to get the milk to the right temperature and then inoculate the milk 🙂 Good luck!

    • SJ
      February 17, 2016 at 3:05 pm

      Check the temperature of milk, then make sure you cool to proper temperature. It may take longer to cool, so be sure to check with a thermometer.

    • c
      March 25, 2016 at 8:01 pm

      That is no big deal. the milk needs to be up to 185 f. to kill the…. before you put your own starter in.

  5. Aaron
    February 6, 2016 at 9:45 am

    I was fooled by fool-proof yogurt

    • KMG
      February 6, 2016 at 10:15 am

      Sorry to hear it 🙁

  6. Jacque
    February 9, 2016 at 11:45 am

    Can this yogurt be used to make “Frozen yogurt”?

    • KMG
      February 9, 2016 at 12:51 pm

      I don’t know. I’ve never made frozen yogurt… or eaten it for that matter 🙂

    • C
      March 25, 2016 at 8:04 pm

      You can use any yogurt, and freeze it.

  7. Kelli
    February 25, 2016 at 11:29 am

    Hi! I made this over the weekend- so easy! Loved it and definitely will be making more in the future. I do have a question though. I am on my 5th day of the having the big batch and have noticed it is starting to clump. Any ideas why this is happening? It was perfectly smooth the first few days and is only recently turning. Thanks!!!!

    • KMG
      February 25, 2016 at 12:04 pm

      Not sure. Maybe it’s drying out & turning to yogurt cheese?

    • C
      March 25, 2016 at 8:10 pm

      The less you fool with yogurt the better it is. Do your add tos and any exparements in a small container and NOT in the whole batch.

  8. trish
    February 25, 2016 at 10:46 pm

    Looking forward to making my first batch of yogurt. How much does this make? How long will it stay fresh in frig? When it is cooling down from 180 to 110 should the cover be on? I was going to buy a yogurt maker and that keeps the mixture at around 110 for six-eight hours. I am wondering how putting it into a cold oven keeps it warm even with towels, but I’m willing to give it a try:)

    • KMG
      February 26, 2016 at 8:20 am

      I get a little over 2 quarts after straining and it doesn’t matter if the cover stays on while cooling. The wool scarf or wrap around the crock in the oven insulates the inoculated milk in the oven while the bacteria reproduce. I’m not sure how long it stays fresh because I’ve never had any go bad 🙂

  9. Judy
    March 2, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    Leave the oven light on.

  10. Jaime
    March 6, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    I did half the recipe and it turned out great

  11. Chloe Giles
    March 13, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    Does it really take that long to cool? Is that because you leave the lid sealed? Is that necessary? I was wondering if to speed up you could leave the lid askew and it would cool much faster.

    • Brian
      March 18, 2016 at 9:34 am

      Although leaving the lid on would allow it to cool faster, it also increases the risk of wild bacteria infecting the yogurt (defeating the purpose of bringing it to 180° to kill existing bacteria). Personally, I err on the side of caution and leave the lid on. Minimizing the risk of food borne illness is worth the extra wait time.

  12. Eric Newell
    March 17, 2016 at 9:00 pm

    How many times do you use your starter until you buy more bacteria?

    • KMG
      March 17, 2016 at 10:04 pm

      You never have to buy starter again after you make the first batch 🙂 Just remember to keep 2 tablespoons back to start it again.

  13. Maureen
    March 27, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    Came out great! Followed Granny’s instructions to the letter and am listening to the whey drain as I write this. Thank you so much. I have a ton of creamy, delicious yogurt for much cheaper than store bought, which was my goal.

  14. Claudia
    March 31, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    I tried to make this yogurt last night and I woke up this morning and its watery it just looks like milk right now so I don’t know what I’ve done wrong but would maybe getting it too hot in the first book I also put in more than two tablespoons of yogurt starter and I think I’ve stirred it so maybe that’s where I’ve gone wrong my question to you is can I try it again with the milk that’s watery the first existing milk can I start over and try it again or do I have to throw the whole batch away

    • KMG
      March 31, 2016 at 1:53 pm

      Make pudding or tapioca with the milk. Start over and follow the directions EXACTLY 🙂

  15. GypsyQueen4Ever
    April 4, 2016 at 9:24 am

    I made a quarter of the recipe except I still used the same amount of yogurt… smells great…just straining now. Seems to of worked just fine but will definitely be doing a full a batch next time.

    • KMG
      April 4, 2016 at 10:01 am

      Glad it worked for you 🙂

  16. Paulette
    April 8, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    Will this process work using coconut milk? I can’t do Dairy!

    • KMG
      April 8, 2016 at 6:24 pm

      Of course not 🙂

  17. Brenda
    April 10, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    Does it need to be organic milk?

    • KMG
      April 10, 2016 at 5:41 pm

      No. Any type of milk will work 🙂

  18. Brenda
    April 10, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    Do you think Liberte yogurt would work for the culture?

    • KMG
      April 11, 2016 at 6:21 am

      I don’t know what Liberte yogurt is. Sorry.

  19. jeanermouse
    April 12, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    Can almond milk or soy milk be used by any chance instead of “regular” milk?

    • KMG
      April 12, 2016 at 1:44 pm

      Yogurt is made with milk from mammals – not plants 🙂

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