Catherine Winter-Hébert

DIY: Make Your Own Yogurt in a Crock-Pot!

filed under: DIY, Sustainable Food

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Image via Shutterstock 

Yogurt is one of those all-around fabulous edibles that can be used a thousand different ways. It gets added to smoothies, eaten with cereal, mixed with herbs to create spreads and dips, or just devoured by the spoonful right out of the container. Yogurt exists in many different forms all over the world, and it’s actually ridiculously easy to make at home. Keep reading to learn how you can use your Crock-Pot to make a bounty of creamy yogurt.


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Crock-Pot Method

This fabulous method for making yogurt in a standard Crock-Pot comes courtesy of That Mama Gretchen. The batches I’ve made have been created with half the ingredient amounts, as I have a teensy little Crock-Pot, and they’ve turned out beautifully.

Ingredients and Supplies:

  • 8 cups of milk
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt with live cultures
  • Crock-Pot
  • Bath towel
  • Cheesecloth
  • Strainer

Covered Milk in Crock Pot

STEP 1:

Pour 8 cups of milk (or 16 cups which is 1 gallon if you’re doubling the recipe) into a large Crock-Pot. Set to LOW for 2 1/2 hours, then turn off your Crock-Pot let it sit with the lid on for 3 hours.

Add 1/2 cup yogurt (or 1 cup for a double recipe), place the lid back on, and wrap a bath towel around the Crock-Pot. Your goal is to make a dark, insulated environment for the live cultures to propagate.

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STEP 2:

Let the Crock-Pot sit covered (with lid and towel, not by heating it up again) for 8-12 hours. It’s a good idea to start the yogurt process by 3 pm so this 8-12 hour step happens overnight. By morning, your milk should have turned into yogurt!

STEP 3:

At this point, your yogurt will be a drinkable consistency that’s perfect for smoothies or for pouring over granola, but if you’d prefer to eat it with a spoon or just have a thicker consistency, you’ll want to strain it for 15-30 minutes. To do this, line a strainer with a cheesecloth, place the strainer over a bowl, and let the yogurt drain until it reaches the desired thickness. If you prefer a really thick consistency (like Greek yogurt), let it drain for at least an hour. Another option is to just set it in the fridge for a few hours: the yogurt will settle, and the liquid whey will rise to the top. You can pour off the excess liquid and use that in drinks, cooking/baking, etc., and the more solid yogurt will be beautiful and thick at the bottom of the container.

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You can then use the strained liquid in your favorite smoothie, and use the thicker yogurt in whichever manner makes you happiest. You may come across other methods of yogurt production, such as the heating pad method or the oven method, or you might wish to invest in an actual yogurt maker. If you’re so inclined, experiment with a few different methods to see which one works the best for you.

*Note: Yogurt made with goat, soy, or almond milk requires different types starter cultures, so your best bet would be to hunt around online to find out which cultures you’d need for which milk, and then use the technique mentioned above to cultivate it.

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When it comes to flavoring your homemade yogurt, it’s best to add extras to individual servings, rather than the entire container. Store-bought yogurt that has fruit or other flavors added in also have preservatives that can prevent spoilage, and chances are you don’t want to add those into your own. Keep your yogurt plain and well-chilled in the fridge, and stir in the fruit/spices/sweeteners of your choice just before you eat it.

An avid permaculture gardener, locavore, and novice (but enthusiastic!) canner, Lana Winter-Hébert joins Inhabitat after spending the last decade working as a writer and event guru for non-profit/eco organizations. In addition to her work with this site, she writes features and blog posts for Vegan Cuts, Green Pigeon, and several event planning websites based in London, UK. Currently, Lana divides her time between writing, and doing collaborative projects with Winter-Hébert: the design studio she runs with her husband. Best described as “endearingly eccentric”, she spends any spare moments wrestling with knitting projects, and devouring novels by obscure Czech writers. A Toronto native, she has recently chosen to leave that splendid city in favor of a tranquil lakeside nook in rural Quebec, where she and her Sir co-habitate with two hand-raised sparrows that live in their writing-desk.

The images featured below the fold are © the author 

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4 Comments

  1. stellababe September 7, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Hi, I was wondering how long in the refrigerator before it spoils?

  2. Catherine Winter-Hébert Lana Winter-Hébert March 20, 2014 at 11:48 am

    Sorry for the delayed responses!

    Handcrafter: I don’t use a thermometer anymore, as I’ve found that results can vary so much depending on what type of milk I use, which yogurt I add to it, etc. The crock pot method here works so well for me, I haven’t lost a batch yet. :) Maybe experiment in small batches to see what works best for you?

    Wifabif: You know, I’ve never encountered that before. What was the result?
    I’ve never boiled milk before making yogurt from it, so I have no firsthand experience there, I’m afraid. :\

  3. handcrafter50 January 18, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    I am trying to make yogurt for the first time. I put the milk in the crock pot and put it on low for 2.5 hours and at the end of that time, the milk’s temperature was only 140. As I understand it, it needs to be 185. It took a further 2 hours to get it up to that temperature. Perhaps it doesn’t have to be 185? It’s cooling now but my guess is it is going to take much more than 3 hours to cool down to 115 – 120 which is also what I have read is the correct temperature at which to add the culture. Any comments or suggestions would be most welcome.

  4. Wifabif September 10, 2013 at 1:30 am

    During the first stage, with my milk in the crockpot on low, I noticed some browning around the edges. Is this normal, and will it affect the yogurt? I had a batch accidentally boil when I attempted making it on the stove, resulting in a gritty texture. I’m hoping this doesn’t do the same. Has this happened to you?

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