I love Greek yogurt. My kids love it, too, and for whatever reason, they like it plain and tangy, which I call a mom win since I don’t have to add loads of sugar and things to get them to eat it. As a bonus, Greek yogurt is fantastic in so many different things, and when I make it at home, I get the added benefit of having all the yogurt whey to do things with as well!
If you have an Instant Pot, it’s a cinch to make your own yogurt from scratch as well. It only requires two ingredients and time, and you can make as much as your Instant Pot can hold. If you have one of the pots with the Yogurt setting, it’s a simple matter of figuring out your preferred level of incubation after some trial and error. Then you can keep making your own yogurt over and over again!
Here’s my recipe for making yogurt in the Instant Pot:
1-2 tablespoons plain whole milk yogurt*
½ gallon whole milk*
Pour a half gallon of whole milk into the pot of your Instant Pot. Close the lid. You do not have to seal it, but you can if you want to. Using the Yogurt button, press the Yogurt button until the BOIL setting lights up. Allow the IP to go through the BOIL setting until it is completed. This will heat your milk to approximately 180F degrees. Using a digital thermometer to make sure your milk has reached 180F degrees can help. If your milk is close but not quite at 180F degrees, you can turn on the SAUTE function for a few minutes and keep a close eye on the thermometer until the milk reaches 180 degrees.
Once your milk is at temperature, you can remove the pot from the IP and either set it aside on the counter to cool (depending on how much milk you use, this can take an hour) or set it into an ice bath in your sink to quickly cool. When the milk cools to 105-110F degrees, you are ready to proceed. Ladle out ½-1 cup of milk and mix in 1-2 tablespoons yogurt, whisking it well until the yogurt is combined into the warm milk. Then pour the yogurt-milk mixture back into your pot and stir it in well.
Replace the lid of the IP and press the Yogurt button until the Normal setting is lit up. You can decide how long of an incubation time you want to set at this point. A good rule of thumb is to set it between 8-12 hours. The longer the incubation period, the more tangy your end product will be. (I usually incubate for 9.5 hours.)
Once your incubation period completes, you can remove the inner pot, cover in plastic wrap being careful not to disturb the contents, and refrigerate for another 10-12 hours. (I usually time this so that my yogurt finishes incubating in the evening and can set up in the fridge overnight.)
If, at the end of the refrigeration, you want to turn your yogurt into Greek yogurt, you can set up a bowl with a mesh strainer on top. Line the strainer with either paper coffee filters or paper towels and carefully pour or spoon your yogurt inside. Cover the exposed yogurt with plastic wrap and set it in the fridge for 4-6 hours. This will allow the whey to drain into the bowl and your yogurt to thicken.
Note on ingredients: Many people will argue that you should only use the highest quality milks and yogurts you can buy to start this process. I have found that even just using store brand whole milk and whole milk yogurt yields a good product. Once you have your first batch of yogurt and whey, you can use your own yogurt and whey to make subsequent batches, meaning you only have to purchase your milk!
So once you have your own homemade yogurt, what can you do with this deliciousness?
You can serve it with fruits, granola, and honey or maple syrup in a yogurt parfait or add it to your favorite smoothie ingredients. Yogurt is a classic ingredient in a lot of curry recipes, so you might try your favorite curry made with your own yogurt as well. You can try a tzatziki recipe for a Greek twist.
I love to use my yogurt in this blueberry muffin recipe, and as a bonus, it freezes well for later!
As for the whey, you might be wondering how on earth to use that or even if you can. This article lists way more uses for yogurt whey than I’ve been able to explore yet. I do use my whey as a marinade for meats. It’s a good tenderizer for chicken, and when you mix in some favorite spices and herbs, it can perk up chicken for the grill or oven. I’ve also made this faux sourdough bread recipe and this chocolate chip bread recipe with yogurt whey, which my boys love! Last but not least, save a little whey to use to incubate your next batch of yogurt with. It works great!