Use your crockpot to make deliciously, creamy and wonderful slow cooker yogurt. It is an economical way to make organic yogurt that can be enjoyed any way you like!
There is something special about creamy plain yogurt. It is the culinary equivalent of a blank artist's canvas just waiting to be turned into a beautiful masterpiece.
Yogurt can be served sweet or savory. It can be eaten plain, with tons of different mix-ins, or as a topping. You can even use it as a healthy ingredient when baking.
But the best news of all? You don’t need a yogurt maker to make this delicious creation
Why make your own crockpot yogurt?
There are lots of great reasons to use your crockpot to make yogurt. Here are the top few:
- You know exactly what is going into it. Homemade yogurt never has ingredients you can't pronounce. You are in complete control. Want to make sure your yogurt is fully organic and natural? Easy! Just use organic ingredients.
- It is economical. This is particularly true if you currently buy organic yogurt or if you usually buy yogurt in individual serving containers. No need to buy expensive yogurt when your own slow cooker yogurt is better!
- Fresh always tastes best! When you are making your own yogurt - it just doesn't get any fresher than that.
- As with all crockpot dishes you have the added benefit of being able to cook without adding extra heat to the house.
- It is a great dish to make with kids. This recipe can be used as an educational tool since it is basically an edible science experiment! You will be teaching how to grow beneficial bacteria.
How to use a slow cooker to make yogurt
The process of making yogurt happens in stages. No stage is difficult. However, you do need to keep an eye on timing and scheduling more than the average slow cooker recipe.
Stage one - heating milk
Start by heating one-half gallon of milk in your slow cooker. You should heat it until it reaches an internal temperature of 180 degrees F. You can use any level of fat in your milk depending on what you want for your end product. Whole milk yogurt is delicious, but I almost always use skim milk.
Each slow cooker is different so actual heating times will vary. As a rough guide, when I use my oval, 6 qt cooker, it takes about 2 hours. In my 3.5-quart casserole crockpot, it takes 3 hours. The first time you make yogurt you will need to keep an eye on it to get the right time.
Stage two - cooling milk
Once you have confirmed that your milk has hit 180°F, turn your slow cooker off and leave it covered. Allow the milk to cool to between 110°F and 120°F. 110°F is the ideal temperature for the good bacteria in yogurt to grow. This stage should also take about 2-3 hours.
Stage three - add yogurt
When the ideal milk temperature has been reached, carefully but thoroughly stir in ½ cup room temperature plain yogurt. Make sure your yogurt contains "live active cultures". This is the good bacteria that needs to grow in order to turn your warm milk into yogurt.
If you want a fat-free finished product, use fat-free yogurt and milk. If you want an organic batch, start with organic yogurt and milk.
Stage four - turning milk Into yogurt
The best environment to grow bacteria is a dark one. So, after mixing, replace the slow cooker lid and cover with dark towels. The goal is to block out as much light as possible.
Your milk/yogurt mixture needs to sit for 8-12 hours to fully turn into yogurt.
After about 6 hours on your kitchen counter, you can move the mixture into the refrigerator if you need to. This will allow you to leave the mixture overnight or beyond the 12-hour mark. You won't run the risk of growing harmful bacteria along with the good yogurt culture!
You've got yogurt!
After 8-12 hours, you can uncover your yogurt! There will be a watery layer on top. Pour this off and your regular, plain yogurt is ready to serve!
But wait - there's more!
If you would like to turn your yogurt into thicker Greek style yogurt, you aren't quite finished. For that, you will need to use a fine strainer that is good for yogurt. Alternatively, you can line a regular strainer with cheesecloth.
Pour your yogurt mixture into the strainer/cheesecloth and allow it to drain over a bowl. The longer you let it drain, the thicker your yogurt will become.
There are so many delicious ways to serve fresh, yoghurt that I couldn't possibly list them all. My most favorite way is to use it in baking recipes.
To keep it basic, you can make vanilla yogurt by adding in your favorite sweetener and some pure vanilla extract. This, of course, works with other extract flavors as well. Additional great yogurt flavor enhancers include honey, maple syrup or a flavored sauce such as blueberry sauce.
Oh - and I almost forgot what a perfect ingredient it is to use in savory dips and salad dressings. The list is truly endless.
Store your crock pot yogurt in airtight containers. Store single servings in individual containers for easy grab-and-go meals or snacks.
Healthy Eating Hint: Keep a small bowl of yogurt in the front of your fridge beside some prepped pieces of your favorite fruit. This will allow you to grab a healthy snack very easily.
Hints and hacks
- Always set aside ½ cup of your own homemade yogurt. This way you will have some live cultures on hand to use as a starter culture for your next batch. For the first batch, you will need to purchase yogurt with live active cultures.
- Since this recipe relies heavily on temperature, a good food thermometer is key.
- If you prefer that your homemade yogurt be organic, always start with organic milk and organic yogurt.
- Slow cooker liners are an optional but helpful hack whenever using a crockpot. They allow you to cook with little to no cleanup. I like to buy mine in bulk for a better per-piece price.
- Don't have cheesecloth for straining your yogurt? Coffee filters can be used in a pinch to help with this part of the process
- In the market for a new slow cooker? This one has a built in thermometer making this recipe a bit easier to track.
- Looking for delicious homemade granola to go along with your homemade yogurt? Try out this great recipe by From Bowl To Soul (frombowltosoul.com)!
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Lazy Slow Cooker Yogurt - Greek and regular
- 3.5 qt or larger crockpot
- measuring cup
- strainer a yogurt strainer is great, but a regular strainer will work with cheesecloth as a lining.
- large mixing bowl
- cheesecloth optional
- ½ gallon fat free milk
- ½ cup yogurt with live and active cultures
- place slow cooker liner into slow cooker, if using
- pour milk into slow cooker, cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours (depending on your slow cooker) or until milk temperature reaches 180°F. It takes me just about exactly 2 hours in my 6qt Crockpot brand slow cooker.½ gallon fat free milk
- turn off slow cooker and allow milk to cool to between 110° and 120°F
- while milk is cooling, allow ½ cup plain yogurt with live active cultures to come to room temperature½ cup yogurt with live and active cultures
- when milk is as close to 110°F as possible (but not less), carefully mix room temperature yogurt fully into milk
- replace cover and then drape slow cooker with a towel (or two) for up to 8-12 hours. It is important that the yogurt/milk mixture to be in the dark. After about 6 or so hours, you can move your crockpot into the refrigerator if you won't be able to get to it before the total timing exceeds 12 hours. This will allow you to handle the next step when your schedule permits
- after sitting, your yogurt will have a layer of liquid on top of it. If you want regular yogurt, just pour off the top layer and serve!
- to make Greek yogurt, place cheesecloth into a yogurt straine or a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Place strainer into a bowl that has room for draining.
- add yogurt into cheesecloth/strainer and allow extra liquid to drain. This can be done in the refrigerator or on the counter. The longer you allow it to drain, the thicker and more creamy your yogurt will be (but the less volume of yogurt you will have).
- enjoy your homemade yogurt!!!
Have you tried this recipe? If so, please let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.