Homemade Slow Cooker Yogurt: Fall in Love with Your Slow Cooker Week

Just a few years ago, I would have looked at you like you were crazy if you told me you can make yogurt at home. I thought yogurt was one of those things that you could only buy in the store. In little plastic cups. Flavored with all kinds of fun different flavors.

Fast forward to the present time, and I now typically make a gallon of yogurt a week.  Homemade slow cooker yogurt.

Why Do I Make My Own Homemade Yogurt?

  1. It is delicious.
  2. It is easy.
  3. It saves us a LOT of money. (This is the main one!)

You can make yogurt at home for the price of milk.  A gallon of milk usually costs anywhere between $3.00-$7.00 depending on where you live and what type of milk you buy (conventional, organic, raw, etc.).

So, you can make a gallon of yogurt for the same price as you can purchase a gallon of milk.  Do you know how many of those little cups of yogurt it would take to make a gallon of yogurt?  WAY more than $7.00 worth, I can tell you that!  And that is on the high end for the cost of milk, too.

How to Make Homemade Yogurt in the Slow Cooker

I have tried several different methods

of making yogurt over the past few years.  The method that I am going to share with you today is the one that I have settled on (for now at least!).  It is a bit of a mix between my two favorite methods.

The reason that I have chosen this slow cooker homemade yogurt method is because it is very laid back and doesn’t require much hands on time at all.  If you have never made homemade yogurt before this is a great method to start with.  It is not confusing or intimidating at all, and your yogurt will turn out thick, creamy, and perfect every time.

Don’t be intimidated by the long instructions or notes at the bottom.  I included as much information as I could think of to help answer any question that you might have.  It really is a simple process though.

 

Homemade Slow Cooker Yogurt

Yield: 1 gallon of yogurt

Check out the notes at the bottom of the recipe for extra tips and tricks.

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (full fat)

Instructions

  1. Pour the gallon of milk in a 6 qt. slow cooker. Turn the slow cooker on low.
  2. Allow the milk to heat up to 180 degrees F. In my slow cooker this takes about 5 hrs. Every slow cooker is different though, so use a candy thermometer to check the temperature of your milk until it hits 180.
  3. Turn the slow cooker off and allow the milk to cool to 110 degrees F. Again, use a candy thermometer to determine when it has hit the correct temperature.
  4. Once the milk has cooled off to 110 degrees, preheat your oven to 200 degrees F. Remove some of the warm milk into a small glass bowl. Gently whisk the 1/2 cup plain yogurt into the warm milk in the small bowl until there are no lumps left. Gently whisk the yogurt/milk mixture back into the rest of the warm milk.
  5. Pour the warm yogurt/milk into sterilized glass jars. A funnel helps with this. Put lids on the jars and place them in the oven. Turn the oven off and allow the jars to sit in there for 8-12 hours (or overnight). This is the incubation phase when the yogurt cultures the rest of the milk and turns all of it into yogurt. If your oven has a light in it, leave it on while the jars are in there. This will help to keep the oven the right temperature.
  6. After the jars have set in the oven for 8-12 hours, remove them and place them in the refrigerator to chill completely before using.
http://creatingnaturally.com/homemade-slow-cooker-yogurt-fall-in-love-with-your-slow-cooker-week/

Notes:

  • If a whole gallon of yogurt seems like a lot to you, you can cut the recipe in half.  This will affect the heating and cooling times, but the yogurt will still need to incubate for 8-12 hours no matter how much you make.
  • I definitely recommend using whole milk for this recipe.  It makes the yogurt very thick and creamy.  I usually use raw milk, because that’s what we have on hand.  Any whole milk will work great though.
  • If the milk goes a little past 180 degrees F when you are heating it, that is fine.  However, it must get to at least 180 degrees F.
  • You can speed the cooling process along by cracking the lid on the slow cooker and/or by removing the ceramic part of the slow cooker from the part that generates the heat.  I usually don’t do this, but if you’re wanting it to be done faster it won’t hurt anything to speed it along.
  • Don’t worry if your oven doesn’t have a light in it.  Mine does not, and it still always turns out great.
  • If for some reason your oven is not available, there are other options for incubating your yogurt.  You can put the jars in a closed and sealed cooler with a pot of boiling/very hot water.  Or if you have a dehydrator with removable trays you can set the jars in the dehydrator with it set on about 115 degrees F.  No matter what you choose incubate your yogurt in, it needs to stay in the warm environment for 8-12 hours.
  • If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can still make this.  Just heat the milk up to 180 degrees F in a pan on the stove instead of in the slow cooker.  Then proceed as directed above.
  • I do not add any sweetener or flavor to my yogurt when I am making it.  If you want to sweeten it and/or flavor it, add honey, maple syrup, or jam (to taste) to the milk/yogurt mixture before putting it in the jars.  You could also add any extracts that you would like to use.
  • The reason I don’t sweeten my yogurt is because we use it in baking and eating as a buttermilk and sour cream substitute.  We also enjoy eating it plain with applesauce or frozen blueberries.  It also makes an almost daily appearance in our smoothies, which are sweetened by the fruit that we put in them.
  • This yogurt will last for several weeks in the refrigerator.
  • Make sure you save 1/2 cup of your homemade yogurt to make your next batch!

Have you ever made homemade yogurt before?  Would you be willing to give it a try?

If you are interested in more healthy slow cooker recipes to save you both time and money in the kitchen, I recommend the eBook Crock On! A Semi-Whole Foods Slow Cooker Cookbook.

The cost for the eBook is only $5, but for this week only you can get it for 15% off using the code Creating15.  It contains 40 healthy and delicious recipes for your slow cooker. You can read more about the book here, including what I think about it and if it’s for you or not!

Comments

  1. mc says:

    I just started using the crock pot method to make homemade yogurt! We LOVE it! The recipe I have is a little different but same idea :) love your site and all the tips you share! Thanks for putting the time in to help others!

  2. Beth says:

    I have been making yogurt for many years. I do mine on the stop top which seems like a quicker option to me…you still have to check the temp. I stick the pot in the sink to cool. After filling the jars I place them in a cooler, packing a few cloths around the jars. The whole process, for 2L of milk, is done in less than 45 mins (sterilizing jars, heating, etc). The yogurt is done after 4 hours but can stay in the cooler for up to 14 hours. Making your own does save a significant amount of $$, esp here in Australia where yogurt is definitely not inexpensive. Everyone should give it a try…with whatever method works for you.

    • Mindy says:

      I’ve used the stove top method a lot before too, Beth. I’ve found that I do better with the crock pot method though. My milk always got scalded on the bottom because I would forget about it for too long, and our yogurt would end up tasting burnt ;) That’s why I started using the crock pot because I could throw the milk in and forget about it. The stove top method does work great though, just as long as you don’t let your milk burn like I always did! LOL

  3. I like this method – but we tend to like the stovetop option better because it gets thicker….although, this method is GREAT if you want to make Greek yogurt because then you just strain it. :-) I heart my crock pot.

    • Mindy says:

      Stacy, our crock pot yogurt used to not turn out as thick either, until I started putting it in jars and incubating it in the oven instead of in the crock pot. As long as I do this and let it completely chill in the refrigerator before we use it, it turns out just as thick as when I make it on the stove top. I was so happy to discover this, because I always burnt my milk when I made it on the stove top ;)

  4. Amy says:

    I’ve made yogurt in my crockpot using a towel at the end of the process for the incubating period…it was delish but not that thick. I will have to try your way. Thanks.

  5. Karen says:

    Hello,
    Thanks for sharing.
    Do I have to brand new seals that will seal or can I use any lids or old seals? Does the lids have to seal or is today in oven simply to make it and not seal?

    • Mindy says:

      Hi Karen! No, you do not have to use brand new seals for the yogurt. The jars don’t actually seal in the oven. In fact you don’t have to even use canning jars. Any kind of glass jar would work just fine. I usually just use whatever is convenient for me at the time (which is usually quart size mason jars). I hope you have fun making your yogurt!

  6. Karen says:

    Thank you for this. I do have a question though. My son is only now beginning to outgrow his cow’s milk allergy. I would like to start giving him regular yogurt that we make at home, but I am going very slowly at introducing the dairy into his diet. I had heard that raw milk is much easier for people who are sensitive to cow’s milk to digest. I’m wondering though if I were to pay so much more for raw milk, is it really all that much different in the end due to the heating process of making the yogurt, or am I just killing off all of the natural bacteria present and cooking the enzymes in the milk so that in the end it is much like organic conventional milk?

    • Mindy says:

      Hi Karen! It depends on what the quality of the pasteurized milk is that you are buying. If it is typical store-bought milk that has been high-temp pasteurized, homogenized, and is from factory cows, then I would personally go ahead and use the raw milk. Even though you will be heating it and it will no longer technically be raw, it still will not be homogenized and it will (ideally) be coming from healthy, happy grass-fed cows. But if you can find un-homogenized, low-temp pasteurized milk from grass-fed cows for cheaper than your raw-milk, then I would go ahead and use that. Either way, turning the milk into yogurt will add lots of good probiotics and should be easier for most people to digest than plain old milk. I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any more questions :)

  7. Trish says:

    Thanks for your tutorial. Why do you have to heat the milk to 180 degrees and then cool it to 110?

    • Mindy says:

      Trish, from what I understand heating the milk to 180 degrees kills any bacteria (good or bad) left in the milk so that the yogurt cultures have room to culture the milk and turn it into yogurt. The reason for cooling it 110 degrees is because that is the temperature that the yogurt incubates at. I hope that helps :)

  8. Jeannie says:

    I have been making yogurt at home for about 40 years now. I add @ 3/4 to 1 cup of non instant dry milk and a teaspoon of plain gelatin sprinkled over @one quart of milk and allow this to sit for 5minutes before mixing it in. Then heat to 180 let cool to 110 (having big bowl or sink of ice water speeds this up) then add the starter and incubate for 10 hours … the oven idea sounds perfect. The added milk powder and gelatin makes the yogurt a bit thicker and very creamy tasting

  9. Jeannie says:

    I have been making yogurt at home for about 40 years now. I add @ 3/4 to 1 cup of non instant dry milk and a teaspoon of plain gelatin sprinkled over @one quart of milk and allow this to sit for 5minutes before mixing it in. Then heat to 180 let cool to 110 (having big bowl or sink of ice water speeds this up) then add the starter and incubate for 10 hours … the oven idea sounds perfect. The added milk powder and gelatin makes the yogurt a bit thicker and very creamy tasting.

  10. vanessa says:

    Love the website! Any help for a vegetarian/vegan? I need the probiotics, but the store bought varieties taste terrible. Can I use Soy milk and a regular milk yogurt or Soy milk and a soy yogurt? Silk soymilk is not as thick as whole milk, but it is definitely on the creamier side.

    • Mindy says:

      Vanessa, I don’t really have any experience with making non-dairy yogurt, so I’m not sure. Sorry I couldn’t be more of a help!

  11. Jill says:

    Thanks so much Mindy! I found the link to this post on your recent cultured foods post on Keeper of the Home. I’m excited to have found your site. I have been wanting to make yogurt for a while now and have finally decided to tackle it. I am trying it out for the first time today, just started heating the milk. I am so excited, it will save a us a bunch of money!

  12. Val Fisher says:

    How do I make yogurt with coconut milk?

  13. Ashley G says:

    What happens if you leave the yogurt in the oven longer than 12 hours? Will it spoil? I’ve got my first batch in the oven now, but it took longer than I planned to heat up and cool down, so now I’m faced with a minor issue. Stay up super late (for me) and put it in the fridge or go to bed and set my alarm to get up and put it in the fridge. Either way sucks on a work night. LOL Should have done it yesterday!! :-)

    • Mindy says:

      Hey Ashley, I have left it in the oven for up to 24 hours before. In my experience, it just resulted in a more sour final product, but it still turned out. Hope that helps!

      • Ashley G says:

        Awesome! Thanks for the quick reply! I like a tart yogurt, so I’ll give it a go and see. :-) If nothing else, I’ll call it homemade sour cream and act like that’s what I meant it to be. LOL

  14. Julianna M. says:

    Wow. Just made this in my crock pot and it is so good! So happy to have found this! My kids adore yogurt but it can be so expensive so we don’t eat as much as I’d like to be able to give them. I just mix some fruit and oatmeal into it for breakfast and it’s a hit with my three toddlers. Thank you so much for the recipe!

  15. Trish says:

    Hello. What is the point of heating the milk to 180 and then cooling it down to 110? Thanks!

  16. Jody says:

    Quick question, when adding vanilla for flavor at what stage do you do that at?
    Thanks, I can’t wait to try this, I love using my crockpot.

    • Mindy says:

      Jody, you can add sweeteners or flavoring such as vanilla extract right before you put the milk in the jars to go in the oven. Hope this helps!

  17. Hi Mindy! I stumbled across your post while poking around for good recipes and I was compelled to try this out! I made it yesterday and it cured until this morning! I just tried some and it’s delicious! Thanks so much!

  18. Alicia says:

    This looks amazing and easy! (especially considering I’m notorious for burning things on the stove top!). My only question is when adding larger amounts of extracts (vanilla, orange, raspberry, etc…) You put them in the mixture BEFORE it goes into individual jars, yes? And if that’s right, does adding the extra non-dairy liquid make a thinner yogurt? And when making Greek yogurt, what do you strain it with and when? I’m sorry, I’m bombarding you with questions, but the way my kids and I eat yogurt, we definitely would benefit from making it homemade. Besides, the kids would love watching the change, like making butter!

    • Mindy says:

      Alicia, yes you would put the extracts in before putting the mixture in the jars. I don’t usually flavor mine, so I’m not sure if it would make a thinner yogurt or not, but I don’t think it would make a noticeable difference. If you want to make Greek yogurt you would strain it after it’s sat in the oven over night and then been chilled in the refrigerator. Hope this helps!

  19. Doniel says:

    Oh my goodness! I’m ADDICTED to making this crockpot yogurt! Have had complete success every time and now am thinking about trying the stovetop method and using 2% milk instead of whole milk. WIsh me luck~

  20. Hi, I am just making my second batch of homemade yogurt today. It’s in the oven. It turned out so well last time and I love that I can just stick it in the crockpot and walk away! ( I homeschool 4 children and standing at the stove for extended periods of time don’t work that well.) I just love it! Thank you so much for sharing this!

  21. Rhonda says:

    We have a lactose intolerance in our house. I can not buy whole milk that is lactose free. Will 2% work and I am unable to find plain lactose free yogurt as my starter. Do you know if there is a starter out there that is lactose free? Also there is type 1 diabetes would love the carb count if you have one.
    Thank you for any help you can give.

    • Mindy says:

      2% milk will work, it just might not turn out as thick. As far as a lactose free starter, I’m not sure. I’m also not sure what the carb count would be either. Sorry I couldn’t be more of a help!

    • Jenn says:

      To get lactose free yogert you let it ferment at least 24 hours then the bacteria have “eaten” all the lactose. It is more tart but worth it. What a great thing to be able to make lactose free yogert at home!

  22. Dave Rogers says:

    Thanks for the recipe. I tried this yesterday and turned out with quart jars of milk; it didn’t thicken. Any idea what might of happened? Do you think I can use the milk again and start over? I appreciate your site.

    • Mindy says:

      Hmm…it could have been a number of things so I’m not really sure. Some things that could have caused it could be that your milk was too hot when you added the yogurt starter to it. This would cause the bacteria to die and then it wouldn’t culture the milk into yogurt. Another thing could have been a weak starter or too warm or cool incubation temps. Other than that, I’m not sure what could have caused it.

      • Dave Rogers says:

        I remembered that I heated the oven to 200, put in the yogurt and forgot to turn off the oven; killed the culture. Put a tablespoon of starter in each quart and set them in a cooler with a warm water bath for 8 hours: nice and thick. Thanks for the recipe. My wife and I love it!

  23. Eva says:

    I really want to try this, but I’d like to know if there are major benefits with using raw milk vs. pasteurized milk. Is it even worth it if not using raw milk? Thanks for your help!

    • Mindy says:

      Hi Eva! It would still definitely be worth it to use pasteurized milk. When you heat the milk up to 180 degrees it is no longer raw anyways, so there is really no difference in using pasteurized milk. If you can find milk that is un-homogenized (where the cream rised to the top) that would be my first choice, but I’ve used homogenized, pasteurized milk to make it plenty of times when I didn’t have access to raw or un-homogenized milk. I use raw milk to make it now, because we get two gallons of it a week and so that is what I always have on hand. Hope this makes sense! Let me know if you try it and how it works out for you.

  24. Margarita León says:

    Hi! I stumble upon this when i started making yogurt and as of now I am trying the jars in the oven (on now, fingers crossed!). I live in Quito, Ecuador and I dont have any mason jars available. So i have some pasta sauce jars and I was wondering if that would work. Thanks!!

  25. Karolynn says:

    I made this yesterday and let me say it is amazing! Thank you so much for sharing this. My kids are so happy to have a lot of yogurt in our fridge. I followed your directions exactly and it turned out wonderful.

  26. Natalie says:

    I make yogurt in my crock pot often. This time, I tried a greater quantity of milk, and it wasn’t as thick as we like, so I turned the crock pot on for a “few minutes” and left the house for hours, forgetting it was on! I’m pretty sure I killed a lot of the yogurt, but there are some clumps left in it. What can I do with it? It seems like sooo much to pitch!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Creating Naturally’s Homemade Slow Cooker Yogurt recipe is a hit! I flavored it with 1/2 cup of vanilla extract and 1/2 cup of honey, but it is still very mild. Perfect for adding fruit or granola, too. I’ve tried several different times in the past to make yogurt, but the slow cooker method works best for me because I just can’t give a lot of attention to something for a long period of time unless it is with my children right now. [...]

  2. [...] Homemade Slow Cooker Yogurt (this is the method that I use) [...]

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