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“What Did I Do Wrong???” (The Definitive Homemade Yogurt Troubleshooting Guide)

Anytime you’re growing something, there’s always some problem that could go wrong.

Whether your goal is to grow a child, a vegetable garden, a goldfish or, you know, bacteria, living organisms are by nature dynamic. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they get sick. Sometimes they grow faster, or slower or…chunkier.

If you’ve made an odd batch of my homemade yogurt recipe, this is the “help line” to call!

yogurt trouble shooting guide pinterest

Help, My Yogurt Turned Out…

  • Chunky
  • Cottage-cheesy
  • Runny
  • Lumpy
  • Separated into whey plus thick cheesy weird stuff!

Honestly, for all these texture/consistency problems, you need to troubleshoot in the same way. Your problem might be:

  • Temperature
    • Be sure to incubate your yogurt only between 90-110F – over 116 or so kills the bacteria completely, but over 110 tends to hinder them and you get runny or cottage cheesy yogurt. I’ve found that about 100F makes the best thickness.
    • A problem – you might start at the right temp, but if your pot of water is too hot, it can raise the temp of the cooler WAY too high. I learned that an electric stove, for some reason, holds the heat in the pot more. My yogurt at my in-laws was terrible for weeks! I finally figured out that I couldn’t boil it right before putting the jars in the cooler. I had to put the pot in the cooler while the jars were cooling and/or allow some “cool down” time to let the steam out. You might use an oven thermometer with a wire that comes out of the cooler so you can check the temp while the lid is closed, since opening the lid will alter the environment.
    • Another problem – be aware of summer vs. winter temps. I learned I can’t get the cooler out of the way in the garage in the summer unless I take precautions and use warm, not boiling, water. It just got too toasty in there! On the other hand, you might be able to incubate without a cooler if you have a steamy garage at about 95F.
    • If you have a problem over and over with texture and think it may be inconsistent incubation temps, you might try regulating it with a dehydrator just to see what happens – I’ve had good luck with my Excalibur dehydrator with all the trays out at 105F.
  • Amount of starter
    • Too little starter makes runny yogurt, but too much (more than 2 Tbs./quart for pasteurized or 2 1/2-3 Tbs. for raw yogurt) makes things separate into whey and thick cheese. Renee of MadeOn lotion says to spread that cheese on bread and broil, and your “oops” tastes like good mozzarella. Smile
  • Quality of starter
    • If you’ve been using the same yogurt to restart your new batches, sometimes it just starts to wear out. I used to buy a new starter every  month or two, then I got better at consistency and could go 6 months. Sometimes if you get frustrated with the thickness of your yogurt, it’s worth spending a few bucks to start over, or try a powdered starter from your local health foods store or online: , this one is a popular brand, and Cultures for Health is well-respected and sells these on Amazon: traditional flavor, mild flavorHeirloom Bulgarian or a variety pack of 4.
    • If you  haven’t made yogurt in a while, your starter is probably weak. I wouldn’t bother using yogurt that is over a month old, and less than 2 weeks is optimal.
  • Kind of milk
    • If using raw milk, fresher is better. It’s tempting to make yogurt with milk that’s about to turn, but you’ll probably get a funky consistency. Best to pasteurize and then make yogurt.
    • Skim milk (and other reduced fat milks) will always make considerably thinner yogurt. Read about the benefits of full fat dairy first, and if you still insist on using skim, try the gelatin (use the coupon KS10 for 10% off!) trick here.
  • How you finish
    • Don’t stir or shake your jars after incubating and before cooling. Just let them be.
    • Try putting a jar in the freezer for an hour after incubating vs. just in the fridge. One reader even found that if she let the jars sit on the counter for 2 hours after incubating, she had a wonderfully creamy batch!

Raw milk yogurt notes: Keep in mind that the natural healthy bacteria in raw milk will compete with the yogurt cultures, and raw yogurt is notoriously less thick than pasteurized. Get tips on making raw milk yogurt here.

Five “Runny Yogurt” Fixes

yogurt trouble shooting guide

1. You can follow the directions to fix runny yogurt with gelatin if you consistently have runny problems. That fix will not help if you already have runny yogurt in the fridge, though, as the gelatin needs to be added when the milk is warm.

2. If you keep your milk hot between 160-180F for 20-30 minutes, according to this helpful post at Cultures for Health, it will break down the milk proteins so they will coagulate better. This really works, but again, won’t help if your yogurt is already runny.

3. Strain it like yogurt cheese – follow the directions in this post but instead of letting it drain all the way to a cream cheese consistency, just stop after 30-60 minutes for a thicker yogurt.

4. Make green smoothies with it.

5. Bake with it, such as pancakes (yogurt usually takes the place of milk just fine) or this soaked baked oatmeal recipe.

Help, My Yogurt is Too Sour!

Longer incubation times typically make for more sour yogurt, but so do higher temperatures. Four hours is sufficient to make yogurt. Experiment with 4, 6, or 8 hours to see what you like. For a while, 6 hours was too tangy for me, but now I love it at 12-16 hours, so don’t be afraid to leave one jar fermenting after you take the others out to see what you think. Add boiling water to keep the temp up after 8-12 hours.

making homemade yogurt

Help, I Broke a Jar!

I’m sorry for your loss.

No really, I am. I hate breaking jars. It happened to me twice this month, so even the yogurt lady guru breaks jars. It keeps me humble. I can’t always pinpoint exactly what went wrong, but here are a few things to check:

  • Is your washcloth covering the entire bottom of your pot?
  • Are you using high-quality jars? Quart jars rated for canning usually do better (but not 100%) than reused store jars.
  • Don’t lid your jars while you’re heating them up.
  • Don’t let your pot boil like crazy. That’s never a good thing. Winking smile Set your timer so you don’t burn the house down.
  • Start with cold water surrounding the jars instead of hot water.
  • If you’re using water in the sink to cool the jars, make sure you put the jars in the empty sink, then add cool water slowly up to half the jar, then add some ice, and cringe. If you’re in that much of a hurry, know that you’re running the risk of jar breakage.

Even if you lose a quart of milk, remind yourself how darn much money you’re saving making homemade yogurt – more than a quart of milk over time!

Help, My Yogurt Smells Like…

…dirt, grass, rotten food…

Uh, yeah. If it smells like anything other than fermented milk (which isn’t incredibly pleasant for everyone, but you should recognize the aroma), trust your nose. Throw it out and start over. You may have grown some extra bacteria on accident (or it’s too old). Be sure to use clean jars and clean hands and utensils.

Troubleshooting Yourself

One of the great beauties of the jar-in-pot method is that you can do different things in the same batch – different kinds of milk, different temperatures or amount of starter. If you’ve got a consistent issue, write down a few fixes and try them on different jars. For example:

  • stir in 2, 3 and 4 Tbs. starter into different jars
  • start the process at 95F, 100F, 105F and 110F in various jars
  • do some raw and some pasteurized
  • pull jars at 4, 8, 12 and 16 hours incubation
  • incubate in two different places
  • store in three different places after incubating – fridge, freezer, countertop

Keep track of your results on paper – it will be worth it to be a little academic about it for a week or two, because once you nail it, hopefully it’s like riding a bike from then on and you won’t even have to think about it.

Need more help?

Remember that there’s an online forum to “ask the teacher” in the Cultured Dairy & Cheese eCourse, where you can see a video of me making homemade yogurt using the jar-in-pot method. For some folks, seeing it in person has made all the difference in building confidence, much like my water kefir video got a lot of people starter with that process.

homemade yogurt troubleshooting

More FAQs

  • Can I make dairy-free yogurt?
    • You can use coconut milk with this jar-in-pot method and a bit of gelatin to thicken. A few more thoughts on that here.
    • Cultures For Health shares a method, but they use their starter for every batch, which would get expensive over time.
    • This method with coconut milk worked well for me and straining to make a thicker yogurt was amazing! The psyllium husk trick to thicken it up also worked, but I found I had to sprinkle the psyllium right into the whole jar of yogurt instead of separating out a bit then stirring back in. (That really didn’t work!) Used 1/2-1 tsp. per 2 cups yogurt.
  • Is there a less complicated way?
  • How do you eat this yogurt?
  • What kind of milk should I use?
    • That question is answered near the bottom of this post, including info on UHT organic milk.
  • I strained my yogurt. What do I do with whey?
  • How long will my yogurt keep?
    • At least a month is safe; beyond that, use your nose. Cultured products last longer than fresh milk.
  • Can I freeze homemade yogurt?
    • Freezing yogurt is FINE as far as keeping the bacteria alive. You can even freeze yogurt in 1 Tbs. portions and use it as a starter for another batch, but sometimes it will be slightly weaker than a brand new, fresh starter.
    • The issue with freezing yogurt for eating is its thawed consistency. Once thawed, frozen yogurt separates and is runny, so if you want it for smoothies or just don’t mind a weird consistency, you’ll still get your probiotics, but don’t expect thick, creamy yogurt once you freeze it.

Quick Notes

Just wanted to let you know that there’s a pretty big sale on NaturoKits through this Sunday, over $10 off! If you’ve been interested in trying natural health but don’t know where to start, this first aid kit is for you. Shop here.

Also, “the Berkey Guy” has his new LPC Survival website up, and it’s fantastic. As a longtime KS sponsor, I’m happy to highlight his business – you’ll want to check it out if you’re interested in filtering your water or real food preparedness.

Now you’d better be off to the kitchen to make some yogurt! Think of me while you’re enjoying it….Mmmmmm…
Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

115 thoughts on ““What Did I Do Wrong???” (The Definitive Homemade Yogurt Troubleshooting Guide)”

  1. Hi there! I made yogurt in my IP yesterday (24h) and when I pulled the lid this morning, the yogurt looks and smells perfectly normal. However, the powdered starter I used was clumped up on the top. Has this ever happened to you? Do you think this batch will be missing the good bacteria? Thanks in advance!

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      That’s odd Cassi. I’ve never experienced that. If it looks and smells like normal yogurt, then it definitely has the bacteria, perhaps only a portion of the starter is on top? I’d just scoop it off the top and go ahead and eat the yogurt as long as it tastes and looks normal.

  2. I’m relatively new to making overnight yogurt, but the results have always been perfect. I let the magic happen for 8-12 hours in my 50+ year-old stove with a pilot light that keeps the oven at a steady 95°F.

    Today, instead of a smooth creamy surface, there were many small splits with bubbles. I’ve been making a 2 pint batch every other day in a clean glass Pyrex loaf pan with a lid which I offset by a quarter inch to allow air flow. The yogurt smells good. I’ve just never had tiny cracks appear over the entire surface before. However, the last batch – while smooth and tasty – seemed to slightly tingle on my tongue.

    Do I need to buy a new starter?

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      It sounds like your yogurt could be slightly over fermented MJ. Maybe try an hour or two less time next batch and see if that helps.

  3. My yogurt smells alcoholic and has a beer tasting finish. Is it still safe to eat??
    Also thank you for this guide! It has been so helpful!

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Hi Victoria! As I understand it, if your yogurt smells or tastes like beer it means that yeast that was in your kitchen air got in there and fermented. To avoid that you want to be sure to wash everything you’re using really well and avoid making bread or anything with yeast while you’re making yogurt. Still safe to eat. I hope that helps!

  4. I have been making yogurt for about two years now, yet somehow my yogurt seems to develop some weird flavors; it has a very strong banana/strawberry flavor. It literally tastes like commercial banana or strawberry flavored yogurt. Which isn’t what I am aiming for. I was wondering whether or not it has started to cultivate some unwanted bacteria or if it has been infected with some type of yeast? I do bake a LOT of bread in my kitchen, but never on the same day as I make yogurt nor using the same utensils.
    I make it every 6 – 7 days in a batch of 3-4 Liters. I use 40ml of starter per liter of raw milk. The milk I heat up to 80degreesC and let it be for 20min. Then I cool it to 45degreesC and add the starter. I put it overnight in an oven with the ovenlight on (about 11-12h) before I put it in the refrigerator.
    Any ideas about what I am doing wrong?

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship®

      Hi Dinnis,
      I can’t imagine – I’ve never heard of fruit flavors showing up in yogurt without reason. ?? Raw milk of course can change flavor based on what the cows are eating, but it’s usually more grassy than fruity. You could always try a brand new starter, but otherwise, I’m perplexed!

      Best of luck,

    2. Sounds like esters being produced during the fermentation process. Many such compounds are used for artifical fruit flavorings. They are naturally produced by many microorganisms, including the lactic acid bacteria cultivated in yogurt, but if you’re getting too much in your culture I’d say it got colonized by some undesirables, probably yeasts. I also bake bread and have had some issues in the past, but unfortunately I wouldn’t be able to pinpoint what solved it for me. It’s really hard to trace these cross-contamination issues, so you have to take every precaution you can. Clean all surfaces beforehand, be careful where you rest the lid of your pot before covering it, use a fresh change of clothes (including your kitchen apron if you wear one!), and so on. Best of luck!

  5. I need help asap! I started my yogurt it was in the instant pot on yogurt setting for 5 hours. I forgot to add the yogurt! So I took a cup out mixed ony my yogurt and put it back in and mixed it. Is it too late?? Should I throw it out? Or should I start the 8 hours over again.

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Hey Ash, you’d need to restart the timer for the full 8 hours. If you left it in for the remaining 3 hours and it didn’t set, you don’t need to throw it out. You can use it in smoothies or cereal or drink it if you don’t mind the taste of slightly yogurt milk. I hope you were able to figure it out!

  6. I’ve probably done 20 batches now. Strauss is the best, super thick and creamy and fool-proof. We cook it for 24 hours to get it super tart. My problem is we’ve never been able to make it work saving some of the previous batch or some of the original store-bought yogurt. I don’t know how other people are able to freeze and re-use?

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      How long do you wait between batches? You may be cooking it too long and/or letting it sit too long. If the yogurt is really tart there might not be enough sugar in the yogurt to keep the starter alive before you make your next batch. You could experiment by making another batch sooner, or removing some yogurt for your starter culture as soon as it’s set or try feeding your culture mid-way between yogurt batches and see if that keeps it strong. You can look up “how to maintain a yogurt starter” on google for more tips.

      1. Usually about 2 weeks. What you’re saying about fermenting too long and using up the sugar is interesting. But the weird thing is even freezing the original store-bought stuff for 2 weeks doesn’t work. (We put it in ice cube trays.)

        1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

          Have you tried just refrigerating your yogurt for 2 weeks? In my book that’s not too long to wait between batches. I only freeze a starter as an emergency backup, not a weekly occurrence. So if freezing is causing a problem, don’t do it.
          Best, Katie

  7. Charlene Bordelon

    I made my IP yogurt as usual today; spoon test standing in yogurt after 8 hours failed. Yogurt had more whey. I put it draining.

    Will it still be good?

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Yep! If the only problem is that it didn’t set or had extra whey then it’s totally fine!

  8. Hello! I’ve been making yogurt a few times but last time it didn’t work. My thermometer went all crazy and I think that’s why. The milk didn’t heat enough OR the fermentation temperature was a bit too high, I’m not sure. I got a yogurt with about half liquid and half tiny curds. Is there a way to save this yogurt or should I simply use it in a muffin recipe and start over? Thanks!

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      You can’t fix it to make yogurt, but you can strain it to separate the curds out and then try mixing them until they’re creamy. Basically you can make yogurt cheese and have whey leftover.

      1. Jenny Hansell

        I had exactly the same problem. Can I use the runny yogurt to start a new batch or do I need to buy fresh culture?

  9. We love making yogurt in our instant pot, we go for 20 hours to get a really tangy yogurt. But every time we try it with yogurt we’ve frozen from the last time, we can never get it to thicken. We’re freezing the yogurt in silicone ice cube trays, and they are less than 2 weeks old. Is there some trick to freezing the yogurt for starter?

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      How are you thawing the starter? I’ve read that you need to thaw it slowly in the fridge cause sudden changes in temp can damage it.

      1. Hi I made my homemade Yogurt, I forgot to put my starter in , never realized till the 8 hour ferment was done, can I just reheat milk and then cool it down This time add the starter and ferment for 8 hours again?

  10. Hi there,
    I make yogurt every month or so in an Instant Pot, always using a small container of local, organic, plain cow’s milk yogurt as the starter. I use the standard Instant Pot yogurt setting and typically ferment about 12 hours. This time I wanted to have a tangier, more acidic final product, so I followed the same steps, but increased the fermenting time to about 20 hours. The result was a lovely texture, but no acidity or tanginess whatsoever. It doesn’t even smell like yogurt at all! Any ideas on what could have happened? The texture is just perfect.
    Thank you!!

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Hi Katharine,
      Sometimes yogurt is just happier, longer! At the perfect temperature, it isn’t *always* tangier with a longer ferment. It likely has less milk sugars though, which is good for you. As long as the texture is good, it’s definitely fermented but how strange that it didn’t get tangier which you wanted! Try 4 more hours? 🙂 Katie

  11. Hi,

    I’ve been making yogurt in my Instant Pot on a weekly basis for a few months now and it always turns out well when I use shop bought natural yogurt as a starter. It’s also fine when I use some of that homemade yogurt (batch no.1) as a starter for the next batch no.2 but it never sets when I use batch no.2 as a starter for the next batch no.3. What could the problem be?

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Sometimes the starter just wears out over time. I’m not sure why, but I’ve had it happen too. Look up “how to maintain a yogurt culture” on google for some tips to keep it going.

  12. Hi there!
    I use my InstantPot to make my yogurt, and I’ve been seeing many posts on social media lately about using Fairlife milk to get a super creamy texture. I went out and bought some, as well as some Fage 0% plain yogurt for my starter, and the result was very creamy like the posts said. However, after I ate my first portion right after my batch was cooled overnight in the fridge, I scooped it out to put it in a Tupperware dish for storage in the fridge. I just scooped my second portion out (it’s been 1 day), and it has small chunks throughout it. What did I do wrong? Would straining it have separated the chunks out? There was not much whey since I used the Fairlife milk.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Hi Amanda,
      Hmmm, what a strange one! I don’t often hear of the consistency changing *after* cooling. If you had moved it all around before it cooled fully I would be guessing that’s the problem. I have never used Fairlife milk myself, so I’m not sure what makes it act differently in the first place. You could try straining or whisking it up to see what happens, or use it in smoothies and hope the next batch is better! Good luck, Katie

  13. I forgot to add the starter after the milk cooled. I am reheating milk to start over. Keeping my fingers crossed. Your readers comments led me to try this.!

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Great! Reheating the milk should not cause a problem at all, Mickey — LMK how it goes!! 🙂 Katie

  14. Hi Kate,

    Thanks for all this great info!

    I make my yogurt 1 gallon at a time in my Instant pot.

    Because I’ve read that a longer incubation time “eats up” more of the sugar, I incubate for 24hrs. Lately, my yogurt isn’t very tangy, but it is thickening, so I assume the bacteria is doing it’s job.

    Do you have any ideas as to why it’s not tangy?

    Thank you!

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Hi Venus, That’s an interesting question – I do find that yogurt changes flavor from time to time, maybe as the starter matures and reacts to the environment? Or perhaps your own palate is adapting and you don’t notice the tangy-ness as much? I would think the incubation process is very consistent since you’re using the IP, so it’s likely not that. Strange! But I wouldn’t worry about it. 🙂 Katie

      1. Thank you Katie,

        I’ve used whey from previous batches and fresh yogurt as my starter with the same results, very mild tanginess.

        Funny thing, I visited my daughter in another state and immediately made some yogurt in her InstantPot. It was tangy.

        Who knows what is happening in my InstantPot? Anyway, I’m happy with the flavor.

        Take care and have a sweet summer!

  15. Gr in Bogota

    I make greek yogurt regularly using a yogurt maker – the instructions and steps are clear and i always make sure to follow them, however, sometimes the yogurt comes out greek, thick and amazing, and other times its runny (as in runnier than normal greek strained yogurt)…since I dont seem to be making mistakes in the preparation, could this just be down to the milk??? As in milk can react differently or different batches of store-bought milk can have variations?

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      That’s so strange that even a yogurt maker would have inconsistent results! I doubt that store milk would be that different, although maybe in its age? If your yogurt turns out runny, you can always strain it through cheesecloth or a tea towel to get it thick again. 🙂 Katie

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Hi Scarlet,
      Remember that yogurt is purely cultured milk…so you can’t have too much milk. 🙂 If the yogurt is still thickening up, then it’s culturing fine and is normal. If it seems really runny, perhaps you’re not getting it fully cultured and it might taste milky because it is. Does it still have a yogurt-y smell? Good luck! 🙂 Katie

      1. Hello, my yoghurt still has the consistency of milk and it tastes a bit sour and the smell is like milk. Please is there a way to remedy this or should i discard it. Right now, i’ve placed it in the fridge

        1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

          Hi Steph,
          Well shoot, it sounds like your yogurt didn’t culture at all. You can always reheat the milk to a good boil and start over. I recommend leaving the milk on simmer (I do this with the jar-in-pot method) for an hour. For whatever reason that tends to result in thicker yogurt. Make sure you culture at 100-105F and use a nice fresh starter yogurt. Hope it works better the second time!
          🙂 Katie

  16. My first attempt at yogurt-making was done with clabbered milk. Have you ever made yogurt this way? Still incubating, and I see what appears to be a lot more whey than yogurt (or cheese) in my jars! Just wondering what the texture of the yogurt or cheese will be like when I’m finished, and if it’s not good enough for yogurt, could I still use it other ways?

    I know many people advise not to use clabbered milk, but I read that some do…and I didn’t want to waste the milk once it was not tasty enough for drinking anymore. Any ideas on what to do in the future with thick, soured raw milk?

    1. I’ve used odd yogurt to make bread—it was very good, a bit sour, and would have been even better if I’d added some sharp cheese to kind of go further in that direction.

      I don’t have access to raw milk, so have never tried this myself— I’ve read that if you pour boiling water over raw milk that has gone sour, then drain it, you get cottage cheese.

    2. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Hi Becky,
      I’ve found that milk that’s already soured/souring really doesn’t culture all that well – it’s basically already starting to culture so then the bacteria just competes and it gets funky. But you can always cook or bake with it! Make biscuits, pancakes, add to smoothies…if you do something that heats it, usually the sour taste goes away too, which is nice. 🙂 Katie

      PS – this post from years ago may give you some ideas:

  17. Katie, have you heard of or experienced yogurt that has “carbonated?” I’ve let yogurt sit about 18 hours at which point it’s very sour but does not smell funky or bad. My husband and I like to add sugar and eat it like a dessert 🙂 But when we mix it with a spoon, it fizzes, every so slightly. Is this still “good” yogurt? I use UHT organic milk. Even my toddler eats it this sour and with no sugar!

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Hmmmm, Shey, I can’t say I’ve ever actually seen bubbles, no! ??? Wonder what that is, although fermentation does produce gasses and many other things, like fermented veggies and sourdough, DO create a lot of bubbles, so why not yogurt?

        1. One time, I made spectacularly fizzy yogurt by accident!

          I’d made my yogurt and put in the fridge to chill. When I went to strain it for greek yogurt, I thought it was a bit thin and runny. I decided to let it sit overnight to maybe thicken up.

          I couldn’t help laughing when I pulled the foil off the top the next morning—it was fizzing and popping like something out of a witch’s cauldron. It was astonishing. I wish I’d taken some video.

          The big clue was that it smelled an awful lot like bread. I’d forgotten that I shouldn’t put rising bread near culturing yogurt and I had a batch of Five Minute Artisan Bread in the fridge. The yogurt picked up some yeast. That would have been fine—I do that all the time—as long as the yogurt had remained cold the yeast wouldn’t have been able to overtake the culture. But putting them next to each other for a few hours, then letting the yogurt get warm again…no. Just, no.

          I learned a good lesson, made some awesome bread with the yogurt, and have a great science fair project idea for the future!

  18. I just made my first batch ever with Bulgarian from cultures for health….So if it is runny and clumpy, is it still cultured/ can it still be used as a starter for another batch? Also it tastes extremely mild?

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Hi Amanda,
      I’m not familiar with that culture, but generally if it doesn’t smell *bad* then it’s not unsafe. 🙂 Katie

  19. Hello, Thanks for the tips. I finally found out what’s wrong with my yogurt. What should I do if my yogurt was shaken around when I brought it home! It is now watery, but taste is still good like yogurt. Please help????????????

    1. Helen Thomas (KS Site Editor)

      Hi Laris,

      It should just be some whey that has “filtered” out – you can pour it off for thicker yogurt or just stir it back in 🙂

      1. Thanks Helen. Could you please give me some tips to get a better taste of my yogurt? (my yogurt is sour >.<")

        1. Helen Thomas (KS Site Editor)

          Hmm, sometimes yogurt just is, depending on your milk and starter. As long as it isn’t a BAD sour, it is safe to eat. You might try some fresh or frozen fruit, honey, or other add-ins like granola.

  20. Hello I just made my first batch of yogurt today it came out running but after reheating it to 110 it came out perfect now my question is if I wanted to make vanilla yogurt how do I go about that? Do I add sugar and vanilla when I first heat it up or after the yogurt is done.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      I find it simple to add any flavor after the yogurt is done and cooled, as I don’t want to mess with the incubation process (although I think some do). For vanilla I like 1/4 c. sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla per quart (4 c.) yogurt. Enjoy! 🙂 Katie

  21. Does over cultured, grainy, separated yogurt still have any probiotics worth consuming? Wondering if its worth making smoothies? It smells fine but is watery with gritty molecules.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      I always hope so – and if nothing else, I make smoothies just to use the milk and not waste. 🙂 Katie

  22. Help, I forgot to put my freshly made yogurt (in a yogurt maker) in the refrigerator. It sat at room temperature for 12 hours. It smells fine but is a little watery. Is it ok to eat? Thanks!

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      For 12 hours and smells fine, I’d personally go for it – but trust your nose and trust your gut! Hope I caught you in time! 🙂 Katie

  23. I dehydrated yogurt in dehydrator for the usual 24 hrs last night but forgot to take it out. Put it in fridge this morning after an extra 8 hrs. @ room temp. It looks fine. What do ya think? (I made 4 qts!)


    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Hi Saadia,
      If you mean gummy like sticky or stringy, both could be the temperature and duration of incubation. It’s just something to test for yourself and figure out the magic numbers for your yogurt starter! If it smells good, it’s still good to eat or use in smoothies. 🙂 Katie

  24. So this morning I made a batch of yogurt (I use a yogurt maker). However, I just now realized that I forgot to add the starter to the milk after heating it and cooling it (I just put it in the machine, turned it on, and went on with my day like normal).

    The finished product still looks like yogurt. It set up just fine, like my other batches. What is it? It doesn’t smell bad. It doesn’t smell like yogurt either. Any ideas? I’m not going to consume it, cuz it freaks me out a little. I would think that warm milk without any starter in a yogurt machine would just stay warm milk. Any ideas??

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      I’m totally shocked! No idea why heated then cooled milk would gel up, how odd. (And I’m sorry I missed your comment – it got buried during a particularly busy week and I just dug out!)

      🙂 Katie

    2. You still had bacteria in the milk, just not necessarily the “chosen” cultures. You were really lucky in the bacteria who chose to come live in your batch.

      I culture my yogurt for 24 hours to banish lactose and break down the casein. Any tips on how to cut the tangy taste? Less time is not an option.

      1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

        The lowest temp possible to still culture (I like 100F) generally is less tangy…but beyond that, “flavoring” it with honey or vanilla is about all you have at 24 hours. Keep the temp as consistent as possible, too…. good luck! 🙂 Katie

        1. Thank you so much. I will turn down the dehydrator a bit. The honey I use, will add vanilla next also.

  25. I came across this article google-ing something FroYo related. I thought I’d just pass along how I make yogurt which is pretty problem proof. I measure out the amount of milk I need by almost filling my quart thermos. Then I heat my milk to 175 in a pot, cool it to 115, and pour everything but a tablespoon or so into the thermos. I stir in (Greek) yogurt. Pour the milk in the thermos back into the pot (to mix). Pour into the thermos. Cap, shake, and let sit till the next day (12-24 hrs). Always comes out good. NB- shaking seems to make it creamier as does the Greek yogurt. Less tart at 12 hrs. Shake before emptying usually is easier.

  26. Help–I forgot to cool milk before pouring it into my starter (before putting in oven). Is it still worth it? I’m giving it a try…but wondering what will happen.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      You almost certainly killed your yogurt bacteria if it was at 180 when you mixed it. BUT you can still use the milk – either just reheat and cool and try again or use it in cooking/baking or whatever. Hope that helps! 🙂 Katie

  27. I just wanted to share for anyone else with this problem: I completely over-cultured a huge batch of yogurt last week and ended up with curds on the bottom and clear yellow whey on top. I strained all the whey out with cheesecloth and the remaining curds/paneer substituted nicely for ricotta in my stuffed manicotti recipe. So you don’t have to dump it all out if this happens to you!

  28. Using a timed yogurt maker, the time ran out and the yogurt sat for approx 2 hrs before I realized what had happened. I needed it to cook for an additional 5 hours (SCD ) so I restarted the yogurt maker. Is that a problem?

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Your nose will tell you for sure – but I would bet on it being just fine! 🙂 Katie

  29. So I tried to make my first batch of raw milk yogurt today in the crockpot and it got too hot and has separated into whey and thick cheesy stuff, is it still usable?

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Obviously I’m wayyyy too late to be of any help for you, but I’ll answer for others searching this thread:
      If it smells like yogurt or milk, you’re fine to use it in other ways. Bake with the whey, put it in smoothies, etc. Sorry I got so behind on comments and yours got buried! Hope you’ll try again – Katie

  30. I am making cream cheese for the 1st time from raw milk I left it out for two days coverd with a lid in a mason jar. It’s about 70-75 degrees in my house. I got a cream cheese thin layer on top but the rest is like thin water. Was it to cool in my house? Is that liguid whey, if so can I use it as whey? or is it bad?

    Thank you!

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      I must say I’ve never actually done it that way; I always start with yogurt. But as far as I know, you’ve got a sort of cream cheese (clabbered milk) and the watery stuff is definitely whey. Most folks say to trust your nose! 🙂 Katie

  31. I tried checking to see if this question was already asked. i made yogurt twice and it came out runny… i set the temp in the oven so chances are either i stirred in the starter too hard and/or didn’t add enough. My question is… if it didn’t turn out (it’s pretty much still milk), can I use that same batch and just do it all over again?

    1. Same thing has happened to me. Didn’t seem to ferment at all and looked liked milk at the end of the process. I chose to throw it away since I couldn’t be sure that the right kinds of bacteria were still there. Better safe than sorry?

    2. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      I’ve had this happen before, but usually if it truly still looks like milk, you started too hot or it got too hot and didn’t culture at all because the bacteria were killed. Stirring too hard won’t cause this problem. Because there’s a little bit of yogurt in there, reheating it usually causes some weird separation and it’s not a great base for new yogurt. I just use it on cereal OR better, cook with it, like a creamy soup or rice pudding. Then you can make sure you boil it to set your mind at ease about bacteria. Good luck next time! 🙂 Katie

  32. I made my first batch of yogurt and didn’t realize I shouldn’t stir it before it set. It completely separated. Can I use The thick part that is left for anything?

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      I would recommend separating the whey and thick yogurt – anything thick is yogurt! Ideas for how to use whey here:

      Hope it goes more smoothly next time! (bad pun) 😉 Katie

  33. When I heated my raw milk on the stove top (to pasteurize it myself to 180) it got very chunky. Is this normal? I’m currently cooling it to 90-110.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      I’m wayyyy too late to help, but I’ve only seen that happen when there’s already yogurt in it…so if you just had raw milk, I’m guessing it was starting to “clabber” either from being at room temp too long or being old. ??? Katie

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Fizzy as in little bubbles, like carbonation? I’ve never had that happen. Maybe you over-whisked the starter in? Ultimately, if it still smells like yogurt, you had some fermentation happening. If it acts liquid like milk, you can either start over with boiling it or just use it in baking. Sorry I took so long to find your comment; it came in just before my book launch and I was absolutely swamped.
      🙂 Katie

      1. My last batch of yogurt is fizzy now too, but it wasn’t at first. This hadn’t ever happened to me before and have been making it for over 2yrs. It still tastes fine.. just carbonated. I’m not sure if I could still use it for my next batch, but will err on the side of caution and just get a new starter.

        1. I’ve been making yogurt for about 2 years and just had my first part of a batch go fizzy. I think it stayed in the fridge a bit too long. It’s almost like it’s fermenting like an apple cider would. Gross but not harmful, I’m guessing.

          1. This has now happened to me too. It looked like it was boiling over. It seemed thick and creamy on the top. I was wondering if the cream rose and also a skin formed. Though I’ve only been making yogurt for a few weeks.

  34. Tried to make yogurt for the first time – used grass fed whole milk and three different types of starters in the various jars. I just went to check it after four hours and it is still like milk. Thoughts?

    1. Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship

      There are so many factors, but basically if it is still totally liquid and no yogurt smell, you probably got the temp too high and killed things, or radically too low and nothing could propagate. I hope you figure it out for next time! 🙂 Katie

  35. I just made yogurt (cultured overnight in the oven with pilot light) but forgot to take it out the next morning. It was “culturing” for about 41 hours before I remembered it. It smells and tastes fine. Nice and tangy. Do you think it’s still okay to eat? Thanks!

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      If it was at the right temp for that long, I’d feel better about it. I can’t say I’ve ever let it go more than 24 hours though! Trust your nose…

      🙂 Katie

  36. Hi there! I have made some great batches of yogurt with your awesome instructions! I have a question about buying a starter. For some reason I’m having a hard time finding a small cup of plain non fat yogurt. Can I use plan non fat Greek yogurt as a starter? I tried today and it didnt come out and sorta smelled funny but I’m hoping my mistake was rushing or not checking the temp (today was not the day to make yogurt but I did it anyway) . If I am forced to buy a large tub of plain yogurt can I freeze it in small batches to use for starter?

    Thanks again for your time!

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Yes to both! Yogurt freezes fine and retains the live bacteria; I recommend freezing in 1 Tbs. portions for easy yogurt-making.

      Also, Greek yogurt often makes great yogurt. 🙂 Any plain (or even sweetened, I hear) yogurt will work. Enjoy! 🙂 Katie

  37. Hi – I just tried making yogurt for the first time and unfortunately, I ended up with a pot of whey with a giant cheese curd separated into the middle of the pot. Just wanted to share that I strained some of the whey and they added eggs, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla to make a crustless “yogurt-cheese cake.” It turned out pretty delicious, so if you are wondering what to do with your yogurt fail, that’s one suggestion.

  38. Glad you included about setting the timer when you make it. I forgot I had started a batch of yogurt last week and fell asleep and awoke to the smell of something burning! There was no fire, thank the Lord, but it was a good reminder to set the timer!

  39. Hi Jenny, Can you use the whey from coconut milk yogurt? If so for what? can you use it to ferment vegetables?Ketchup,potatoes sauerkraut etc ? Thank you Megara

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      I’ve really never experimented with coconut milk yogurt, so sorry! If it’s cultured properly, it should be able to be used for all those purposes, but I would check with a fermentation master like or the book Wild Fermentation. 🙂 Katie

  40. Thanks for being so thorough, and for all your stuff in general. I wish your way worked for me, because the no-dishes thing is just wonderful. Mostly, I don’t have pot(s) big enough to put enough jars in to make yogurt in the quantities that works for me, and I find that heating the yogurt in the jars makes for a lot of scrubbing when they’re empty.

    So, not to deflect readers (because, Katie, obviously, you’re awesome!), but if anyone else needs to try a different method, I’ve had good luck with the method Kristen at The Frugal Girl uses ( It’s fussier (I don’t sterilize though), but I find it’s worth it…I’ve gotten consistently thick yogurt, with no real risk of jar breakage.

  41. Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama

    I have to mention that I found if I stir or disturb the freshly cultured, warm yogurt in any way, that will ruin my texture and cause the curds and the whey to separate. I am very careful to remove the jars, put the lids on, and move them immediately to the fridge without stirring or disturbing. I let them chill completely before touching them. This has made a difference.

    Still need to make yogurt…but don’t have any fresh milk. Tomorrow….

  42. I find that starting with cold water reduces breakage. I think hot water with cold milk stresses the glass.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Thank you, Katherine – updating both posts now! Good call! 🙂 Katie

  43. Emily @Random Recycling

    Awesome. I’m sending this post to a friend who had some trouble with her yogurt on a hot day.

  44. What a killer guide! Thanks so much for all the work you put into this. My yogurt is almost always on the runny side and almost always ends up in smoothies and baked goods. I’ve got some gelatin in the cupboard and plan on giving that a whirl next time I get a runny batch.

    1. Wow! Did you try preparing in an un-glazed clay pot? I regularly prepare healthy, delicious & thick yogurt at home in just 3 easy steps. You need milk, live culture and this clay pot (yogurt pot) and I am sure you will have no problem doing the same right in you kitchen. Here is the link that will guide you step by step “”

  45. Stacy Makes Cents

    I agonize over any yogurt that I mess up. I just stew over it all day…and then dream about it at night. My main problem? I get in a hurry and add the starter at the wrong time.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Ah, yes, a good way to practice patience…I’ve been victim of the “hurry up” runny yogurt too! 😉 Katie

  46. A nice comprehensive yogurt troubleshoot page! 🙂

    I’ve hit the riding-the-bike phase. I’ve finally figured out what works for us and it comes out consistently thick every time. Yay!

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