Introducing my good friend and fellow real food proponent, Stephani Jenkins! Steph writes at The Cheapskate Cook about eating healthy on a budget, and I’m so pleased to have her on the team as a regular KS contributor. You are going to fall right in love with her (and her cute boys), let me tell you… 😉
I’ve written before about why I don’t make yogurt in my Instant Pot, but I know many people love it! I was glad to have Steph write a tutorial for those of you who want to try it out. Let me know what your preferred method of yogurt making is in the comments! -Katie
Homemade yogurt was a problem for me.
I started making it as a 15-year-old who raised dairy goats on my family’s small homestead. Anyone who milks an animal twice daily understands how hard it is to use up ALL THE MILK ALL THE TIME before it goes bad.
Making our own yogurt was a simple answer.
At first, we did what everyone who made yogurt in the early 2000s did (all 12 of us). We bought a yogurt maker. It kind of worked, but the process was inefficient and frustrating for a large family. Also, it meant storing another appliance in an already tight kitchen.
Years later, when I had my first son, we were broke and living a thousand miles away from my family’s yogurt maker. If we wanted to eat healthy, we had to stretch every dollar. For us, making yogurt helped.
I started with the trusty Slow Cooker Method. When we discovered our son had dietary problems, we started fermenting the yogurt for 24 hours. This led to the Oven Light Method, using a Stove Top and a Soup Warmer, and eventually Katie’s Cooler Method.
Fast forward to now, and we still make homemade yogurt. Now we make it the easiest way I know (and I’ve tried most of them): we make yogurt in the Instant Pot.
Making Yogurt in the Instant Pot
We received requests for an Instant Pot Yogurt tutorial, so here it is – complete with step-by-step photos and a video to show the process.
Making your own yogurt is an extremely rewarding and satisfying real food skill. Learning how to ferment food by using a little acid and time applies to many real food cornerstones, like sourdough baking, lacto-fermented vegetables, homemade kefir, kombucha, and more.
Make your Instant Pot work for you!
I won’t tell if your Instant Pot is still in its box, pinky swear. 😉
I left mine abandoned in the basement for almost a YEAR because I have a new-thing-instructions phobia, but now I have TWO Instant Pots and they’re both in constant use!
Turns out it’s so easy, a kid can do it — I’ll send you a quick video of my children unboxing and setting it up when you grab your FREE download mini eBook:
Get the Instant Pot Guidebook for FREE!
What’s in the Guidebook?
You’ll love the simplicity of your Instant Pot, and the free downloadable guidebook will help you:
- Adapt your own favorite recipes from the slow cooker
- Cook FROZEN ground beef
- Hard boil eggs perfectly
- Cook squash, steam veggies, and make applesauce in your IP
- Make dry beans in an hour and perfect rice without boiling over
- Steam veggies al dente and make Paleo cauli rice in minutes
- Cook a whole chicken and make FAST bone broth
Whether yours is still in the box or you’ve used it a little but want to know more about those techniques, or if you’re still pining for an IP on your wish list, I can’t wait to give you these simple baby steps to success!
This is the simplest way I know how to make homemade yogurt. With the Instant Pot, you can adjust the fermentation time to fit your schedule or diet needs. Most people like the flavor of a 4-8 hour ferment. Some people need or prefer longer.
Watch the video here, but be sure you scan the rest of this post for some very important tips and FAQs.
Not every Instant Pot is equipped with a Yogurt Setting. If making yogurt is your goal, be sure you check the settings before you get one!
Here is a short list of current models that have a Yogurt Setting:
Is Homemade Yogurt Cheaper?
YES! You’ll see in the recipe that homemade yogurt is essentially the same cost as the milk you use. You only need a little bit of yogurt to turn a large amount of milk into yogurt.
This is really good news if you are buying organic or raw milk because every cost savings helps.
Enlist your kids to help with this recipe!
If they can already use an Instant Pot, they can certainly help make this yogurt. Just make sure you set a timer for the cooling step so you all remember to check the temperature!
Making homemade yogurt with your kids prompts meaningful conversations about real food, probiotics, and why we make our own yogurt instead of buying the brightly colored, mouth-puckeringly sweet kind at the store.
Is Making Yogurt in the Instant Pot Hard?
Like any new cooking skill, homemade yogurt takes a little practice before you feel confident. However, the skills involved in making yogurt in the Instant Pot are extremely basic. If you can set your Instant Pot and stir a spoon, you can make yogurt in your Instant Pot.
Easy Homemade Yogurt: Do I Need Special Equipment?
Besides an Instant Pot with a yogurt setting (see above), you don’t need any special equipment to make yogurt in the Instant Pot.
The only slightly unusual equipment you might like is a meat thermometer. Using a thermometer ensures accurate temperatures. However, you can do it without using a thermometer.
You Will Need:
Optional but helpful:
How to Make Thick Homemade Yogurt
This is probably the most challenging part about making your own yogurt. Homemade yogurt does not usually turn out as thick as store-bought. There are many ways to make it thicker, but each method either requires adding ingredients or making the process more complicated.
Personally, I settled on 2 methods for making thicker homemade yogurt. The first I use all the time, and the second I only use occasionally.
- Refrigerate the yogurt for 24 hours after fermentation. Do not transfer it to a jar, DO NOT DO ANYTHING except set it gently in the fridge, cover it, and leave it alone for a full 24 hours. This helps the yogurt set.
- Strain it! Use this process to strain the yogurt through a cheesecloth and give it a thicker consistency. We love making it into thick, creamy Yogurt Cheese then using it in Real Food Fruit Tart or Cinnamon Roll French Toast Casserole.
A simple, fool-proof method for making homemade yogurt in the Instant Pot.
- ½ gallon whole milk
- ¼ cup plain yogurt
- Pour the milk into the Instant Pot and close the lid.
- Set it to Yogurt and the Boil setting. Press Start (keep in mind that each Instant Pot model is different. Refer to your owners manual for the exact yogurt setting process).
- When the boiling process is done, use oven mitts and carefully remove the inner pot and place it on the stove. This will help the milk to cool faster. Set your timer for one hour.
- In one hour, check the temperature of the milk. You want it to get to about 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit. If it is still too hot, set a timer for 15-30 minutes and check it again. Continue checking the temperature periodically until the milk is 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Return the inner cooking pot to the Instant Pot. Use a ladle to scoop 2 cups of milk out of the Instant Pot and into a mixing bowl. Add the plain yogurt and whisk gently (you aren’t beating eggs – you simply want the yogurt to mix completely with the milk).
- Pour the milk and yogurt mixture back into the Instant Pot, then whisk everything together (also gently).
- Close the lid. Set the Instant Pot to Yogurt and the Low/Ferment setting. Select the amount of time you want your yogurt to ferment. Most people like the flavor of a 4-8 hour ferment. Some people need or prefer longer. Press start and let the yogurt ferment for the selected time.
- Remove the lid of the Instant Pot. Gently carry the inner pot to your fridge, then replace the lid or cover the pot with plastic wrap. Let it sit in the fridge for a full 24 hours.
- Remove the inner cooking pot from the fridge. Pour or scoop the thick, creamy yogurt into jars (this is where we like having a funnel).
- Enjoy your yogurt immediately or store in the fridge and enjoy as desired.
How to Check the Temperature Without a Meat Thermometer:
Since you are trying to get the milk to just above body temperature, feel a little bit on your wrist (like you would for a baby bottle). When the milk is about 100-110 F, it should feel just warm, not hot.
- Serving Size: 1 cup
- Calories: 127
Keywords: fermented, yogurt, dairy
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Healthy Yogurt Toppings
- Maple syrup (with or without a splash of vanilla)
- Raw honey (use the code Katie15 for 15% off at that site!) (with or without a splash of vanilla)
- Fresh or frozen berries or diced peaches
- Ground flaxseed, chia, and/or hemp seed
- Simple one-bowl granola
- Use as a topping for this Fruit Tart
- Use instead of cream cheese for Cinnamon Roll French Toast Casserole
Note: I have an Instant Pot Ultra, so my settings and display might look slightly different from yours. However, the basic process is the same. Refer to your manual for the exact instructions.
In order to make Homemade Yogurt in the Instant Pot, you will need 1/2 gallon of milk and 1/4 cup plain yogurt.
1. Pour the milk into the Instant Pot. Close the lid. Set your Instant Pot to Yogurt, use the dial to select “High” temp (displayed as “boil”, and press Start.
2. Remove the inner pot and let the milk cool down to 100-110 F.
3. Combine 2 cups of milk and the yogurt in a small mixing bowl. Whisk gently to combine. Then pour the milk and yogurt mixture into the Inner Pot and whisk everything gently.
4. Place the inner pot back into the Instant Pot. Close the lid. Select Yogurt, then “Med” or “Low” temp, and use the dial to adjust fermentation time (4-24 hours).
5. When the yogurt is done fermenting, remove the inner pot and place it in the fridge, covered, for 24 hours.
6. Pour the yogurt into jars and refrigerate.
Making yogurt in your Instant Pot is a very simple process. Like any new skill, it takes a little practice before you feel confident. However, as we said, the skills involved in making homemade yogurt in the Instant Pot are fairly basic.
If you can set your Instant Pot, use a thermometer (optional!), and stir a spoon, you can make yogurt in your Instant Pot.
Where to find a Pressure Cooker
This is the 6-quart Instant Pot I started out with. After a few years, we added an 8-quart partly because I knew I would use two at the same time often enough, partly because it was the Prime Day sale, and also because I wanted more space for certain recipes. Both are a pretty basic model and you don’t need more bells and whistles than that!
If you’re deciding on size, most people say it’s better to get a deal on the 6-quart and just have 2 rather than go big, BUT if your family has 5 or more people or you really like to batch cook or do more than a pound of beans, the 8-quart may be the best choice. You can even get a carrying case to travel with it!
If you really want an old school pressure cooker for the stovetop, you can browse them at Amazon – this is the set that I got for our wedding so very long ago. Mine is actually a 7L size (which is over 7 qts) and the one included here is only a 6-quart.
The best thing about these is that they have a glass lid for normal cooking, and they are the two pots we use MOST of all in the last 14 years! So if you have no extra space, just replace a big pot with a pressure cooker and you only need to store the lid additionally. I admit I’m not sure I ever used the pressure function with the smaller pot, but I love both sizes for normal cooking.
If I had to do it over, I’d get this set because it has an 8-quart pot and a larger steamer basket that could also do pasta or potatoes. The members of our Kids Cook Real Food eCourse often ask about how to help kids heft a heavy pot of water to the sink to drain, and this is the best solution – pulling out a basket insert rather than lifting boiling liquids around.
Enjoy this simple, fool-proof homemade yogurt method, and let us know when you try it! I (Steph) will be hanging out in the comments if you have any questions about the process, and don’t forget to watch the video and leave a comment there if you have any questions!