Crockpot Yogurt Recipe (and Greek Yogurt!)

Yogurt is one of those absolutely amazing, incredibly nourishing natural foods.  Packed full of  nutrients and healthful probiotic, its beneficial bacteria helps populate our gut with beneficial flora, which in turn helps us in our digestive process.

We eat a lot of yogurt in our household.  Jeshuah loves it for breakfast mixed with his probiotic and elderberry syrup, and Stephen and I enjoy it with strawberries, craisins and granola.  With the amount of yogurt we go through on a regular basis, the cost can add up fairly quickly!  A few months ago, I learned about a began making our own yogurt and have found the cost savings to be astronomical and the benefits immense!

Here is the cost savings breakdown:

  • Before: we would buy Stonyfield organic plain yogurt from Wal-Mart: (at least) $3.50/quart (most places $4.50)
  • Now: I make it out of our organic raw milk from the farm: $1.40/quart
  • Savings = $2.10/quart x 3/week = savings of $6.30/week = savings of $327.60/year
I feel the need to repeat that. By making my own yogurt, we save over $300 a year!!

Some of the other benefits of making your own yogurt (besides saving a ton of money!) is that you have complete control of what goes into it.  Store bought yogurt can contain very few (or no) live active cultures and can instead have a lot of added ingredients, including sugar and artificial flavorings.  By making my own, I know exactly what is in it, and I can choose my own sweetners and flavorings.  Our favorite sweetener is organic orange juice concentrate (with no high fructose corn syrup) and organic, frozen strawberries.  I can also use raw milk, which preserves many of the nutrients on the milk.  Read more about the benefits of raw milk here.

Raw Milk Crockpot Yogurt

(I make a gallon at a time, but this can just as easily be split in half to make 1/2 gallon)

1.  Turn your crockpot on low and add 1 gallon of milk.

2. Cover and warm for 2 1/2 hours.

3. Turn off crock pot and let sit for 3 hours.

4. Whisk warmed milk and measure out 1-2 cups of the warmed milk into a bowl and add to 1 cup yogurt starter (either from previous batch or plain, store bought yogurt with live active cultures).

5. Gently stir warmed milk and yogurt together, then reincorporate into crock pot.

6. Cover with a few towels or a blanket and allow to incubate overnight, 8-12 hours. I find 12 hours to be the perfect texture/taste.  More or less time can make your yogurt thinner/thicker or more tart.  Find what tastes best for you!

Obviously, we are Steelers Fans:-)

7.  Add a natural sweetener (honey, juice concentrate), some fruit, or whatever else you like! Don’t forget to keep an extra cup plain for starter for your next batch. I also use plain yogurt instead of sour cream.  Store in mason jars or other containers in fridge.  Best to refrigerate for 8 hours before serving.

Pasteurized Crockpot Yogurt

The same as above, except in step 2, allow milk to warm for a full three hours instead of 2 1/2.

Greek Yogurt

(Thanks to my friend Jamie for coming up with this version!)

Follow the above steps for the type of milk you are using whether it is raw of pasteurized milk, with the following substitutions:

Use Greek Yogurt for your starter culture

Let it incubate 15 hours instead of 12

Use a basic bread/flour sack towel for the straining of the whey. Put the whole amount in the cloth inside a large strainer. Then bind it up and let it sit. Every 10 or 15 minutes, scrape the inside of the towel to release the more thick yogurt from the cloth. Let it sit for 45 minutes or so doing this process to thicken it. Voila!

For more tips of great yogurt every time, check out this post!

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37 responses to this post.

  1. Thank you for sharing:)

    Reply

  2. Would this still work with non-raw milk?

    Reply

    • Posted by ashleynicolewillcox on November 15, 2011 at 9:59 pm

      Yes, the recipe is at the bottom, the “unpasteurized” one. Essentially the same, only warm for 3 hours and cool for 3 hours and incubate for 12.

      Reply

  3. I love that you use your crockpot for this! I’ve been wanting to make homemade yogurt and am bookmarking this!

    Reply

  4. Posted by Debbie Fritch on November 20, 2011 at 1:11 am

    when you say incubate 12 hours do u mean with crockpot turned off?

    Reply

  5. What do you do with the starter? Do you put it in the fridge or leave it out?

    Reply

  6. Does the crockpot need to be on low or high?
    Thanks

    Reply

  7. Posted by Robin on January 27, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    How long does each batch of yogurt usually last?

    Reply

    • Posted by ashleynicolewillcox on February 7, 2013 at 8:34 pm

      I am not sure exactly, but mine usually will last at least a month or more. Just look out for pink mold if it is bad:-)

      Reply

  8. Posted by Trish C on February 23, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    I just made a batch yesterday, my first! I relied a lot on my thermometer and while the final product tastes good ( I added vanilla and a little sugar) it’s still too thin. You could drink this through a straw, which I may do! I had let it ferment for 8 hrs. The top layer was firm, but the bottom of the pot was not. Do you think longer fermentation is the key? Thanks so much!

    Reply

    • Posted by ashleynicolewillcox on February 25, 2013 at 1:49 pm

      Yes, I would let it ferment for 12 hours. It is still going to be much thinner than storebought yogurt, but it will be thicker if you let it incubate for 12 hours. Enjoy!

      Reply

  9. Posted by Bonnie on March 14, 2013 at 4:35 am

    I made this and it was quite runny, so I put it back in the crock pot and heated it on high for another hour. Then I covered it for 3 hours and it became thick. I let it cool down and then strained it. Turned out wonderful!!

    Reply

  10. Posted by Jamie Saylor on August 1, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    What if I want more of a Greek yogurt thickness? Do I go longer than 12 hours or can I? Also what is the protein content compared to store bought greek yogurt? Thanks

    Reply

  11. I just made this and it didn’t thicken at all =( I did half gallon of 2% milk on low for 2.5 hours, added 6oz yogurt to 1 cup and reintroduced it into the crockpot and turned it off and wrapped up my crockpot in fleece blankets for 12 hours…what did I do wrong?

    Reply

    • Posted by ashleynicolewillcox on September 3, 2013 at 2:08 pm

      Were you using raw or pasteurized milk? If it was pasteurized, it needs to warm for 3 hours, not 2.5. Otherwise, it sounds like you did everything right, so I’m not sure what went wrong!

      Reply

      • Hmmm…I think I may know what went wrong…maybe you can clarify. First, I used pasteurized milk…so it should have warmed 3 hours…but after it warms, does it need to sit 3 hours before adding the yogurt culture? I was just rereading your directions. I added the yogurt to the milk as soon as it was done warming. Thanks for your quick reply! I am REALLY interested in making homemade yogurt…I was so disappointed =(

      • Yes, you are correct–it does need to sit for three hours before the cultures are added, otherwise the heat the yogurt kills the cultures. Keep trying! It can be very frustrating to try and fail, but believe me, it happens to us all!! It is worth it to keep trying until you get it right, and you will! Even when we feel discouraged by “wasting” batches, it is all part the learning process and pays off in the end.

  12. […] 1 quart plain organic yogurt (my recipe here!) […]

    Reply

  13. Posted by Siobhan on October 11, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    can you freeze it? my kids eat lots of yogurt and i usually freeze the stuff i buy once I sweeten it .. i have the Sili Squeezes that i freeze it in. Also can you freeze the starter or does that need to stay in the fridge.

    Reply

    • I have never tried to freeze it, but I do not see why it would not freeze as well as store bought. I am also not certain about freezing the starter–hypothetically, it should work, since, as far as I know, freezing should not destroy the live, active cultures, but I am sure testing it would be the best way to find out!

      Reply

  14. Hi, I am getting ready to make my first batch of yogurt and I’m slightly confused, You actually use just a cup of yogurt? Or do I have to buy yogurt starter culture for my first batch? Thanks!

    Reply

    • I am sorry you were confused! Yes, you will always need a starter culture, either commercially prepared or from a previous homemade batch. Stonyfield Organics recently came out with a plain Greek yogurt, and I used it this last time, and it was so much thicker! (I also accidentally used twice as much as it called for, which may also have helped!)

      Reply

  15. Posted by Janice on October 29, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    Hi there! Can I use Ultra Pasteurized Organic Valley whole milk? Or must it be just pasteurized? Thanks!

    Reply

    • Good question…I am honestly not certain. My guess is the timing of the heating process may be slightly different, if anything. Since I know you don’t technically have to warm raw milk before you culture it, and if you do, it heats for a shorter amount of time than pasteurized, it may follow that the more pasteurized the milk, the longer the warming time? I would experiment with normal pasteurized directions first, and if you have problems, try extending the first warming time by half hour? Let me know!

      Reply

  16. Posted by Mark on December 8, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    Ashley-I have a crock pot with a tightly sealed, rubber gasketed lid that clamps down. Would that work instead of blankets for incubation? Thanks!

    Reply

  17. How much honey and or juice do you use?

    Reply

    • I am afraid we typically don’t add sweetener, so I can’t recommend a good amount! I do know that when I make a quart of plain yogurt into popsicles, I add 10 oz frozen, blended fruit, and 1 Tbs honey, so maybe that will help!

      Reply

  18. Thanks for this info! I was looking for a cost breakdown to see if my time was worthy of this project and it is! Looking forward to delicious yogurt and $300 in my pocket this year!

    Reply

  19. Posted by Elizabeth on May 16, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    Would it still work if I had to let it sit and cool for 4 hours or a little more instead of 3? Then added in the yogurt starter and incubated? I’m having a hard time figuring out a day to do this on with not being home for that amount of time! 🙂

    Reply

    • It could be risky–the thing you want to ensure is that your temperature does not drop below a certain point, around 110*. But I have learned that yogurt is not quite as particular is it seems. You could always try it and see!

      Reply

    • It could be risky–the thing you want to ensure is that your temperature does not drop below a certain point, around 110*. But I have learned that yogurt is not quite as particular is it seems. You could always try it and see!

      Reply

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