How to make Homemade Greek Yogurt in a Crock Pot or Slow Cooker. It’s easy, better for the environment, and you only need two ingredients! A naturally gluten-free recipe.
Pat and I made a mutual New Year’s resolution to cut down on the plastic we buy, especially pertaining to food. The impact is twofold. One, who knows what chemicals end up in your food because of plastic packaging. The other is lessening the amount of plastic that’s made. Sadly, tons of plastic ends up in the ocean. In fact, every great sea now has a garbage “gyre” or a rotating ring laden with plastics. It’s sickening. Cutting down on our plastic use saves energy, reduces greenhouse gas production and prevents pollution.
An easy first step was to stop buying store-bought yogurt. We eat multiple containers of single serve yogurt on a daily basis and our recycling bin is full to the brim by the end of the week. This method of making Greek yogurt in a slow cooker allows us to make enough yogurt to last us at least a week.
The trick to delicious homemade yogurt is starting out with great ingredients. You only need two things – milk and a yogurt starter. I use organic whole milk to ensure I am making a high-quality product. Whole milk makes the yogurt thicker and so much more decadent, but you can also use low-fat milk. You should choose a yogurt that tastes good to you, as it will determine how your final product will taste. Make sure your yogurt has live active cultures and is unsweetened.
For me, the trickiest thing about making homemade yogurt is that I have to be home for at least five hours to control the temperature! Luckily, yogurt is very forgiving. To keep the mixture at the required 110-115 degrees, I put it in a crockpot with the lid off on the “warm” setting and perch a thermometer on the edge. When it starts to get too hot, I just turn the crockpot off. It’s important to not move or stir the yogurt while it is incubating, as this can interrupt the process.
Because I usually start when I get home from work, I leave the mixture in the slow cooker overnight and then put it in the fridge when I wake up in the morning. Because the yogurt lasts for two weeks in the fridge, I usually make a larger batch using a gallon of milk. There isn’t a ton of hands-on work, but you do need to make sure you’re home. After I figured out a workflow to keep the temperature within the right range, I was able to just set it and forget it.
Greek yogurt is special because it is strained to remove the whey. This makes it thicker and creamier. There are many ways to strain the yogurt without having to buy special equipment. You strain it through cheesecloth, use a fine mesh strainer, or buy a designated Greek yogurt strainer.
You can add just about anything to your yogurt to suit your preferences. For me, a drizzle of honey with some almonds and berries is the perfect finish. You could also try adding a few spoonfuls of your favorite jam.
How to Make Homemade Greek Yogurt in a Slow CookerPrint
Homemade Greek Yogurt
How to make Homemade Greek Yogurt in a Crock Pot or Slow Cooker. It’s easy, better for the environment and you only need two ingredients! Makes about 6 cups after straining.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 8 hours
- Total Time: 8 hours 20 minutes
- Yield: about 6 cups of strained yogurt
- Category: Breakfast
- Cuisine: Greek
- 1-gallon whole milk
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened yogurt with live active cultures (found on the ingredient list)
- In a large pot, heat the milk until it reaches at least 180° F, stirring occasionally.
- Once the mixture reaches 180° F, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool to 110° to 115° F. You can speed the cooling process by plunging it into an ice bath. In the winter I just put the pot outside to cool.
- Combine one cup of warmed milk with your yogurt and stir gently to combine. Add this mixture back to the large batch of heated milk.
- For the next 5 to 10 hours, depending on desired flavor and consistency, keep the yogurt between 110° and 115° F. You can get creative with how you do this. As I mention above, I use a crock-pot with the thermometer tucked along the side. You could also use a thermos or an oven with just the pilot light on. They key is to check it often. The longer you incubate the yogurt, the thicker and tarter it becomes. Do not stir the yogurt during incubation.
For regular yogurt: Cover the yogurt and refrigerate at least two hours before eating or straining, ideally overnight. If whey (liquid milk protein) separates out, just drain it off or stir it back in before eating. To make Greek yogurt you have to strain it (see next step).
For Greek yogurt: Greek yogurt is thicker and creamier because it is strained to remove the whey before eating. This can be accomplished in a number of ways. I have a fine mesh strainer that I load up over a mixing bowl in the fridge overnight. You can also strain it through a couple layers of cheesecloth or even two paper coffee filters taped over a small bowl. No fancy equipment needed, but if you want something specifically for making Greek yogurt you can buy a Greek yogurt strainer (link in the ingredients section). If you overstrain your yogurt just stir some of the whey back in.
No need to purchase separate live active cultures. Just look for yogurt at the grocery store that has ‘Live Active Cultures’ on the ingredient list. It’s possible to use less milk to get a smaller yield.
If you’re looking for a fun way to enjoy all of your new Greek yogurts, try turning it into an easy yogurt brulee:
P.S. – This post is a makeover from a post I originally shared in September 2013. There’s been a huge improvement in my photography and food styling, right? I remember being really proud of these photos when I originally took them.