Do You Need To Heat Milk For Yogurt Making?

I recently chatted with my friend Margaret Roach on her radio show, A Way To Garden, about yogurt making. One of the things we discussed was if home yogurt makers can skip the traditional step of heating the milk to 180-degrees and then cooling it back down to 110-degrees for culturing.

As it turns out, yes. Sometimes. But first, a little background.

Yogurt making is insanely easy once you get the hang of it. Fresh milk is inoculated with thermophilic (heat-loving) beneficial bacteria. The bacteria culture the yogurt by eating milk sugars and making lactic acid. As the lactic acid builds up in the milk, the pH drops until eventually the milk proteins coagulate into the soft, tangy curd we know and love as yogurt.

Those beneficial yogurt-makin’ bacteria are a bit like Goldilocks. Too hot and they die, too cold and they don’t work fast enough to protect the milk from spoilage organisms. They are happiest at around 110-degrees. That’s their “just right” zone. The only real trick to yogurt making is figuring out how to keep the inoculated milk at 110 degrees for several hours. On her show, Margaret and I discussed several methods to keep the yogurt at the right temperature, so take a listen if you don’t have your personal yogurt mojo dialed in yet.

How To Ma

Okay, back to that question of heating milk intended for yogurt making to 180 degrees. There are two reasons why milk is traditionally scalded – brought to a simmer – before being made into yogurt.

The first is to kill off any wild bacteria, yeast or mold spores that might have fallen into the milk. This is important because you want your preferred lactic-acid bacterial strains to do the culturing of the milk, not get outcompeted by various mystery microbes.

The second advantage to the heating stage is that the most abundant protein in the whey of in milk – lactoglobulin – fully denatures and unfolds at about 172-degrees. This allows those proteins to bind to some of the other proteins in milk, called caseins. Ostensible result: a firmer, thicker yogurt curd.

Since I last demonstrated yogurt making on this blog several years ago, I’ve refined my own yogurt making technique and one of the things I’ve stopped doing is first heating the milk to 180, then chilling it to 110.

Here’s why.

I start my yogurt making with fresh, store-bought, pasteurized milk. When milk is commercially pasteurized, there are a few combinations of time and temperature that can be used, and the most common of those is called High Temperature, Short Time (HTST) or “flash” pasteurization. In HTST pasteurization, the milk is brought up to between 160 and 165-degrees for about 30 seconds. This creates a milk that is reasonably sterile, which means we can ignore the first reason to heat the milk.

So that leaves the issue of the thicker curd. I wondered if heating the milk really mattered that much, so I did an experiment where I made two batches of yogurt with the same milk and same starter.

For one batch I followed the traditional method of heating the milk up to 180 then chilling it to 110 before adding the culture. The second batch I simply warmed the milk to 110 then added the culture directly. Both batches were cultured for about 8 hours before being chilled overnight.

Yogurt with Granola

There were some minor differences in the final yogurt. The scalded-milk yogurt was a bit thicker, but not in any kind of dramatic or show-stopping way. And I actually preferred the texture of the un-scalded milk yogurt. It had a silken, very smooth texture that made the scalded-milk yogurt seem just a bit coarse in comparison.

So why was the difference in final yogurt thickness so minor, when every yogurt recipe seems to say that the initial 180 heat is somehow essential to making good yogurt?

As I see it, there are two possible reasons.

It’s possible that the HTLT pasteurization heat-chill cycle does enough to denature the lactoglobulin to make scalding the milk unnecessary.

It’s also possible that, when compared to the acidulation of the milk that takes place as the lactic bacteria culture the milk, the denaturing (or not) of the lactoglobulin just doesn’t make that much difference. Sometimes things are done just because that’s the way they’ve always been done and they become dogma. Starting with scalding the milk might just be yogurt dogma.

One more note about how I make and use yogurt that affects my decision to skip that heat-cool cycle: I strain almost all my yogurt to make a rich, Greek-style product and provide me with whey for breadmaking.

Lactoglobulin is one of the proteins in the whey, or the liquidy part of the famous “curds and whey” equation. Since I strain off a fair bit of the whey from my yogurt curd, any minor difference between scalded milk and non-scalded milk yogurt just doesn’t seem to matter.

Cutting out that heat-cool cycle has made my DIY yogurt making far faster. Instead of shepherding milk gently up to 180 degrees without allowing it to burn, then stirring it to speed chilling back down to 110, I just warm it to 110 over medium heat. One or two stirs at this gentle heat is enough to keep the milk at the bottom from scorching.

This streamlined process cuts the hour-plus commitment of yogurt prep down to a quick ten or fifteen minutes plus inactive culturing time.

If I were starting with milk of unknown quality or raw milk, I would certainly still scald it before starting yogurt making, but if you start with freshly opening, pasteurized store-bought milk and plan on draining your yogurt anyway, you can reliably skip the scalding step.

What about you guys? Do you heat your milk to 180 degrees for yogurt making? Why or why not?


  1. Laurel says

    We get raw milk and want the beneficial bacteria so I don’t heat it. I just inoculate with fresh yogurt from the store and incubate in the oven with the light on, but door slightly cracked, for 24 hours. Comes out really good, but not as thick as if it had been heated. We always drink it anyway, mixed with fruit.

    The only downside to this is that you can’t re-inoculate with your own yogurt. You have to buy fresh inoculant from the store every time. Too many competing bacteria otherwise.

  2. Christina says

    I also prefer the beneficial aspects of raw milk and therefore make Kefir which can be made at room temperature and also has more strains of beneficial bacteria and even beneficial yeasts.

    • Sanj says

      We make kefir, too. Easiest thing ever, very delicious, nutritious, and versatile. It’s self-perpetuating (just add more milk.) The colony is so interesting – all those various creatures cohabiting the matrix like a peacemaking commune. When the colony gets too big (it’s making too much kefir for your needs) you can pull off a chunk to give away to a friend. Satellite peacemakers.

      • Nicole says

        I agree with Sanj. Kefir’s even easier: incubates at room temperature, self-perpetuates (no need to buy culture), and grows for giving away. For some reason my kefir always achieves the consistency of yogurt after 24 hours culturing. Highly recommended.

  3. Deborah says

    I started heating my milk to 160 degrees. I don’t remember where I read that this was okay, but I like it. I still have a thick yogurt, but don’t have burnt milk on the bottom of my pan.

  4. Louise says

    Thanks for posting this. I got to your site from Margaret Roach’s site. I alternate using commercial Greek style yogurt and my yogurt to inoculate and wonder if I don’t need the commercial yogurt as often.

    I will try just heating to 110 degrees. Even using a heavy bottomed pressure cooker pot, I often end up scorching it and I’d love to save that clean up time as well.

  5. TSandy says

    I make crockpot yogurt weekly as I’ve done for the last three years. Recently I switched to using Fage Greek Yogurt as my culture and that makes for a thicker, silkier texture.

    I’ve tried numerous methods to incubate my yogurt. From a heating pad, to a Yogourmet to finally settling on the easy method of using my oven. I pour the milk/culture mixture back into the warm crockpot crock, put the lid on and put the crock in the oven. I heat the oven to 110 degrees and set the timer for two hours. At two hours I heat the oven again to 110 degrees and set the timer for two more hours. After the timer sounds I move the crock to the refrigerator for 24 hours. Nice thick creamy yogurt. We like our yogurt on the sweet creamy side and that’s why I have such a short incubation time.
    I think I’ll continue to heat my milk only because the warm crock is critical for curing my yogurt. I guess I don’t need to heat the milk to 180 and hold the 20 minutes though (that’s 3.5 hours) so I can definitely shorten the heating process.

  6. auntie M says

    I’ve returned to yogurt making after piling up a horrifying number of plastic containers in the garage of our new house. There’s no curbside recycling in this small coastal town and our buying habits tend to smack us in the face occasionally.
    I can’t recycle easily but I can buy local (low and slow method) pasteurized milk, a nice comprise between raw (which I won’t consume) and high heat pasteurized. I’m thoroughly confused about how to approach yogurt making with this type of milk but I’ll just plunge in and see what works.

  7. says

    Thank you! This was a great post! We started experimenting with yogurt making about a year ago – and more recently, straining it for greek yogurt. (Which we love.)

    Two questions for you: how do you use the whey in breadmaking?
    And – any idea if Greek yogurt is the same thing as a German product known as Quark? My research seems to suggest that it’s made the same way… (?) It tastes awfully similar!

    • Isabell Norman says

      Quark is not the same then Greek yogurt it’s a soft, spreadable German Farmers type cheese more similar to Fromage fraiche and Cream-cheese or the farmers-cheese one can get in the Jewish Deli stores in Los Angeles but it’s made just with milk. Totally different cultures being used and also rennet. I am German and make it frequently. I also think it doesn’t taste like Greek yogurt at all, similar texture perhaps but the culture and rennet would make a different taste profile, also how it’s made/cultured would affect the taste.

    • Jeannine R says

      Ann, in regards to using it for bread making, I simply use the whey in place of the water that is called for in the recipe. I strain my yogurt to make it thicker, then put the whey that drains off into a pint jar or empty juice or tea bottle and put it in the fridge. The whey stays good for at least 2 weeks, and by that time, I’ve made bread, smoothies, or pancakes and can add they whey in place of the liquid. Sometimes I warm it in the microwave some so it’s not so cold when I put it in the breadmaker. I don’t honestly know if I can TASTE the difference, but I KNOW it’s better for me!

  8. Bethany says

    After failing at following the Nourishing Traditions recipe with raw milk, I learned to make yogurt in the kitchen of my raw milk supplier and haven’t looked back since! I don’t use a thermometer, but a “baby bath water touch” method for heating (start with 5 min on the double broiler and recheck at 1 min increments after that) – add the starter from my last batch (I have been keeping one jar of starter from each batch for at least the last 2 months) whisk vigorously and pour into (8) 4 oz ball jars; place in my dehydrator at 100 for 12 hours. Perfect, tangy yogurt! I will try one more batch with this starter; if it doesn’t thicken well, I will start with a store bought yogurt to get a little thicker and re-use from those batches until it thins out too much. I make a batch every Sunday with one of my 1/2 gallons of raw milk from my Saturday pickup!

    • Melissa says

      What ratio of starting raw milk to starter do you use? What kind of cows are you getting milk from? What do you use for starter for a first time batch? How thick is it? I’d just do keifer, but my husband prefers thicker yogurt.

  9. Kat says

    I use raw goat milk, straight from my girls. Since fresh milk has anti-microbial properties, I heat that milk up before making yogurt so the yogurt bacteria doesn’t have to fight for it’s life. One note: un-cooled goat-milk yogurt is the biggest nasty! Refrigerate it before you taste it or you’ll say naughty words in front of the child.

    • Sharon says

      Hi, I buy raw goats milk from a local goat farm, they make yogurt and have raw milk fir sale. When I started I used starter from there yogurt and my yogurt came out wonderful. I made two more batches and it was great, but the last time I made we had eaten all of our yogurt so I used the farm’s yogurt and it didn’t work???? It very hot here in Utah and I make it in my dehydrator and it works usually. I don’t know what I did wrong. I heated the raw milk to 110 and whisked in the starter and we put it in the dehydrator for 12-15 hours so its a bit thicker. Its delicious but the last two times it hasn’t worked. I called the goat farm and asked them what they thought and the owner said that in the summer the goats drink a lot more water and that could have an affect on the yogurt. Or she said the bacteria might be different(which gives me a little anxiety). I love making the raw yogurt and we just loveit but I am perplexed. HELP!!!

      • Deborah says

        I have a couple of thoughts. 1) do you know for sure what the temperature is in the dehydrator? If it’s not keeping if a consistant 110 degrees, you are killing your added culture if it’s to hot, or inhibiting growth if it’s to cold. 2) milk is usually heated to 160 or 180 degrees first, than cooled to 110, than culture added. This is so the culture doesn’t have to compete with other bacteria in the milk. This is esp important when using raw milk as there is so much competing microbe life in it. You might have just lucked out the first couple of times that it worked.

  10. Christy says

    I’ve been using a Yogourmet with a quart sized mason jar, the straining, to great success (I used Ellenos yogurt as my starter a few batches ago, and it’s tasty!). The Greek-style makes yogurt consumption much easier for my toddler :) I’m also curious what to do with the whey?

  11. Anna B says

    Brilliant! I’ve been making yogurt on and off for years and have only had a few failures (that I’ve managed to salvage in different ways – no need to throw out yogurt failures!). I attributed the failures to not letting the milk cool down enou gh and killing the culture. I need a better thermometer to make this work for me; I’ve been using a meat thermometer. Thanks!

  12. K Coghlan says

    Good post, I knew I didn’t HAVE to scald with ultrapasturized milk, but I don’t like to use that, so I wondered. One thing, I use either 2% or nonfat milk, they both work well. We’re desk jockies and need to watch our calories. Also, I heat the milk to 120 degrees (I will try just going up to 110) in the microwave, saves time. Finally, I don’t measure my starter yogurt, I just dump a heaping tablespoon in a bowl, thin it out with some of the warm milk and then mix the slurry into the remaining milk. The whole process takes less than 15 minutes, makes great yogurt, and saves money.

  13. Janet says

    I’ve been making yoghurt for the past year or so as it’s a way we can support our local organic dairy (we don’t drink milk anymore). I have been heating the milk to 180 then down to 110 using a thermometer and then whisking in my saved starter from the previous batch and pouring it into clean quart jars (and one 2-4 oz. jar for the next starter) and placing them on a cookie sheet in a 110 degree oven with the jars wrapped together in kitchen towels. The electric oven gets turned off (it’s fairly new and well insulated) and we go to bed. In the morning we have great yoghurt (6-8 hours). I haven’t bothered to strain it as I use it mostly in smoothies, but I’d be interested in what to do with the whey. I’ll be happy to give the shorter heat time to just 110 degrees a try and save even more electricity!

  14. says

    I can see why you wouldn’t bother with the heating step if you are going to strain out the whey. But I like a firm non-weepy yoghurt that doesn’t require straining. I get the best results by heating to 190F and maintaining 180F-190F for 30 minutes. I also add about 1 cup / gallon of milk powder for extra protein. It’s a little more work, but I make 6 quart batches that last me a long time.
    For a more liquid cultured milk product I make kefir – so easy. But there’s something very satisfying about a creamy yoghurt that makes it worth the effort.

  15. Domestic Bliss says

    hmm… I might be the laziest yogurt maker around. I use cold, raw milk directly from the refrigerator cultured with either my last jar from the previous batch or a few spoonfuls of Trader Joe’s cream line yogurt – whisk them together pour into the jars, put in my yogurt maker, set the timer, and refrigerate when done. The yogurt turns out with a fabulous yogurt-cream layer on top, and the lower part has great texture.

  16. Emma says

    I have only tried tr heating method so keen to skip it and see how it goes- I also prefer to strain anyway. One change I have made after making cheese is heating the milk in the microwave. No watching no stiring and you learn the time needed for a quantity so just set and forget. Much quicker and easier than a stove!

  17. Becca Meskimen says

    I use the crock pot method with pasteurized milk and have never had scorched milk, despite bringing the temp up to 180.

  18. says

    I use raw milk, so yes, I heat to 180 each time. I used to get “fresh” starter (Brown Cow plain yogurt) from the store for each batch, believing that the results would be more consistent over time. Yet occasionally a batch would turn out really runny, with lots of whey on top. One day I did not have any store-bought yogurt, so I used some of my self-made yogurt as starter. Results were good, so I continued in that vein. And you know what? Over time, the results are much better and more consistent! Now I am practically guaranteed a nice thick product.

  19. Sue says

    I’ve been making yogurt for 8 years. I started out using powdered milk at double strength which worked well with no heating, just mix with warm water and put in the yogurt maker. I’ve progressed to buying raw milk and heating it to 180 then cooling it down and adding the culture. I never keep it at the high temp. just get it there and cool it down. I’ve been using my yogurt for a starter all along and now I just need to culture it for four hours to get good creamy yogurt. I put it in my oven in mason jars. My oven has a pilot light so it’s just the right temperature.

  20. says

    i’ve been making at least a gallon of yogurt a week for 12 years. currently about 3 gallons/week as my girlfriend and friends are on board. i used to make it in a le creuset / descoware pot thinking i needed the heat retention. not necessary if you use an oven with a pilot light. now i use a decent quality stainless pot, rinsed with fresh water just before the milk is poured in. very minimal scorching even at high heat. i heat to 190; Harold McGee in ‘On Food and Cooking’ has electron microscope pics of the milk proteins before and after heating and a nice discussion, too. it’s pretty convincing. I culture it at 121 for about 6 hours, the temp Sonia Uvezian recommends in ‘the Book of Yogurt.’ if i remember correctly she said that culturing it as quickly as possible (warm temp) leads to less sour tasting yogurt. Also, using Straus organic un-homogenized whole milk makes a pretty tasty yogurt.

      • says

        yogurt from unheated milk had large “clumps” of proteins, yogurt from heated milk had finer clumps that were connected with thin strands. at the human scale this makes a thicker/more viscous yogurt.

        • Liana says

          I make up to 30L of yogurt at one go and always have some lumps in it despite heating the milk to 160-180F prior. Do you know how to avoid these lumps of protein? I read somewhere that heating the milk to fast causes these lumps of protein to form, but I have tried heating it very slowly with the lowest heat, to no avail. Any ideas, anyone?

          • TSandy says

            @Liana I temper my starter to ensure there are absolutely no lumps before I add the starter back into my warm milk. On occasion I have even used a whisk to ensure no lumps because I’ve found any lumps in the starter will form those clumps in the yogurt.

          • seth says

            the clumps i spoke of are microscopic. i don’t get clumps in yogurt unless i use some powdered milk to enrich the milk. is it possible you are using older milk that is starting to go off? or raw milk that has other things in it? that said, the biggest batch I make is 2 gallons, 30L is huge, who knows what is going on.

  21. says


    I’m a professional artisan from a local farm-fresh fermented foods hub. I just got through reading the comments from this post and wanted to say, “WOW!” This is hands down the most fantastic open-discussion of methods and processes that work for people in yogurt making that I have ever seen.

    I’ve been making yogurt for over 12 years as well. I have my own vision for what a “perfect yogurt” should taste like, and I’m actually still refining it (though I’m pretty close! I’ll be making the methods I use public when I have consistent batches).

    I think this discussion does a fantasic job of highlighting the many variables, preferences and outcomes available within the range of yogurt making. The type of milk used has a huge impact on the finished product — in my experience, it’s a larger impact than the starter culture used, given the same methods. While I do think that there are “wrong ways” (e.g., if you’re burning the milk, something’s wrong; if your yogurt culture gets weak over time, something’s wrong)…ultimately, if it works for you, keep doing it!

    The only thing I would add is something Sandor Katz mentioned in a recent interview about “Heritage-Quality cultures.” These are starter cultures that have the diversity and resilience to continue working indefinitely. There is no need to continually buy commercial starters — just develop your own heritage-quality culture. Do this by increasing the genetic diversity and blending in cultures that contain tastes or other properties that you appreciate. Some will die off, others will survive and thrive. You can achieve this diversity by “rewilding” many different strains and mixes of commercial starters and/or mix them with cultures from various spontaneous lactic-acid bacteria ferments.

    Maintaining the quality (resilience and diversity) of the culture over time is a bit longer discussion; I’ll also have that on my website when it’s up and running.

    Lastly, share your heritage-quality culture with others! There is a selfish reason for this: On occasion, I’ve come close to losing my starter(s) and it’s always nice to borrow from one of their “siblings” as-needed :)

    Congrats to the author for provoking one of the coolest discussions about yogurt making I’ve read on the internet to-date! There are a lot of minefields, lots of crap based on FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt), so it’s great to see people sharing “what works for me” so prolifically.

    • says

      Thanks Ethan. My readers are pretty awesome! :) I like your idea about growing out your own culture. One thing I’ll sometimes do is buy a few varieties of store bought yogurt with different strains of bacteria and mix them. I figure the more the merrier when it comes to beneficial bacteria.

    • seth says

      i agree about the importance of the milk. organic pasteurized homogenized makes a much less interesting yogurt than unhomogenized. and forget about reduced fat…. i’d say the starter is very important though. my previous starter was about 5 years old when i killed it off. it had alot of sentimental value, but we got a bulgarian starter from cultures for life and it’s amazing. really creamy. it’s about 3 years old, now.

  22. Katie says

    Ok so I’ve never tried making yogurt but all of this discussion is pretty fascinating. I do make ricotta all the time so you all got me wondering if the heating to 180 step in that process is necessary. Looking forward to finding out and learning more about yogurt from everyone!

  23. suzanne says

    I just park my car in the sun, roll up the windows, and put my yoghurt crock on the front seat…at the end of the day it’s yoghurt! I warm the milk first and I always scald my crock to sterilize it before I pour in the milk.

    • Janet says

      LOL! This uses even less electricity than my turned off oven with jars wrapped in towels. I love it. Where do you live, as I’m thinking in AZ inside the car might actually get too hot and kill the culture? Do you only do it on a sunny day, or overcast or any other parameters?

  24. Jennifer Smith says

    We use raw milk and don’t heat it to 180. We do use a yogurt maker that keeps it around 117 and we culture it for 24 hours. This removes most of the lactose so it’s more easily digestible. It is bitter but we sweeten it with fruit or honey.

    • Jennifer Smith says

      I actually think it’s lower than 117, sorry. I am interested in more info on the heritage starter. We’ve just been buying store bought yogurt we are comfortable with and use that as a starter. We’ve never used yogurt from our previous batch because it gets eaten quickly. We already buy 2 gallons of raw milk a week that cost $17 so making more isn’t an option lol. About 1 1/2 of that goes into yogurt.

      • TSandy says

        What’s odd is raw milk is cheaper ($8/gallon) than the Strauss Cream Top milk I buy ($6/half gallon) when the raw milk isn’t available. I just finished two months of buying the Strauss between cows.

      • seth says

        the cultures for life starter’s are freeze dried. it takes a couple of batches to get them fully active again, but they work. their Bulgarian strain is really good.

  25. TSandy says

    Sorry I accidentally hit send too quickly. The heritage cultures I have tried are from Cultures for Life’s website. I too would be interested in any other sources people are using.

    • Janet says

      I just pour about 1/2 cup of pre-cultured mix into a smaller jar to save as starter for the next batch. If after several batches it smells a little off then I buy a small container of some plain organic yoghurt for the starter for the next batch. I use organic milk, either whole or 2%, whichever is on sale when it’s time to make more yoghurt. I like Erica’s idea of mixing together a couple different yoghurts to increase the pro-biotics in my starter for next time.

  26. Jeannine R says

    I make my yogurt/Greek yogurt in my crock pot. I add 1/2 gallon of milk to the main crock, turn it on low for 3 hours, unplug it for three hours, whisk in 6 oz-8 oz plain greek yogurt, wrap everything up in a couple of thick towels and forget about it until the morning. Then, I use a thin flour sac kind of towel to strain and drain off about 1/4 of the whey (takes 1 hour) then package it up, adding a piece of plastic wrap on top. I feel the plastic wrap keeps it from spoiling as fast, as it keeps the lid moisture free. I pull off about 6-8 oz for the next batch and put that in the freezer. I love it, and use it in place of sour cream. I usually start at 3 p.m. one day, and have yogurt the next morning. (3 p.m., 6 p.m., 9 p.m. – 9 a.m.)

    • Jeannine R says

      I used my thermometer to find that the milk gets close to 180 degrees in the 3 hours, and then after 6 hours, it’s close to 110 degrees. Wrapping it up keeps it warm enough over night. I do like the idea of the pilot light in the oven as an idea though. I do add some unflavored gelatin sometimes when I whisk in the yogurt at 6 hrs, I find it makes things quite a bit firmer, which is what my family prefers versus soft yogurts!

  27. Amy G says

    Over the past few years, I’ve tried a few different methods. When I started, I usually did like Jeannine R, and heated the milk in the crockpot (with similar timing) and cultured wrapped in a cooler overnight. Then I moved, and started heating on the stove and culturing in the oven with the light on (which in that oven was 110). Then I moved again, and started having problems (the oven didn’t have a light). I decided to by an Excalibur dehydrator. That helped a lot. More recently, I got a large double boiler (I usually make a gallon at a time). Because I often will pick up marked down milk (still within it’s dates though), sometimes I’m using fat free milk. Using the double boiler (no more burning milk for me!) it’s easy to hold the temp for 30 minutes. Without adding anything, I can get fat free milk to make a decent yogurt. Not as firm as whole milk of course, but still good. I’m usually using it for smoothies, so the different textures are not as big a deal for me.

  28. Suzan Z says

    I’ve been making yogurt now for about 2 years. I had a lot of trouble getting consistent results at the beginning but have found a method that works well for me. I like my yogurt creamy and prefer to not strain it unless I want something really thick like yogurt cheese for filling omelets. I use pint jars filling them up half way so that I’m able to just retrieve it from the refrigerator and add lots of fruit to it. This way is contrary to other instructions I’ve seen as far as how warm the milk should be when the starter is added but it works really well. I do need to replace with a fresh starter once in a while. I let mine culture in a cooler. Here’s the site is anyone is interested in this method.

  29. says

    I started making Greek yogurt after 5 months traveling in South America as the only yogurt that was available was so full of sugar and other things I dread to think about. I have been heating it up to 180 and letting it cool, but will now try not doing it that way and see what happens. I like quite thick yogurt and straining it makes it really mellow when the whey is removed. I add the whey to my fresh fruit juices for extra protein and it makes a good starter for pickling sauerkraut and other things. I can’t believe people pay for whey powder.

    • TSandy says

      I tried taking the shortcut and only heating the milk up for 2 hrs versus my usual 3.5 hrs (to 180 degrees and hold for 20 minutes). I had my first yogurt failure as the yogurt never thickened. It was thin like milk. Considering that I use the heat from the crockpot crock as part of my curing process I found heating the full amount of time was vital to being successful. Live and learn but I’m sticking with the old tried and true method.

  30. Janet says

    I’ve made two batches of yoghurt now, only heating the milk to 160 and it is a little thinner, but I think that has more to do with using milk closer to the expiration date than the total heat (thanks to a previous comment). I sterilize the jars in the oven for 20 minutes at 220, then air out the oven and jars to 100 degrees, before filling the jars with the milk and starter mixture (cooled to 110-degrees, loosely fitting on lids, wrapping the jars together with two dish towels on a cookie tray and leaving them in the turned off oven for 6 hours. No failures yet, but my oven is only a few years old with a self-cleaning cycle (which means it is well-insulated). A friend has had no success with this off-oven method with an older range and bought a yoghurt maker. I’m off to make buttermilk like this next!

  31. nancy says

    Has anyone tried Beijing Yogurt? I had it 15 years ago.
    A friend recently told me she makes yogurt straight from the fridge. No heating whatsoever. Puts in the oven with light on and 24 hr later you got drinkable yogurt.

    I bought a DASH maker. I pour ice cold milk 5 cups into 1/2 cup of starter yogurt. Heat it for 9 hrs and next morning I drink my yogurt warm. Or cold, for the kids with some sugar. They love it. I love it. Tart, liquidy, warm..

    I drink my kefir the same way. 1:1 kefir with juice, cold from the fridge. store bought.

    To me, it tastes just like Beijing Yogurt.
    and it is just how I want it.

    But no one drinks it that way? ?
    Does it make it any different, drinkable yogurt vs spoonable yogurt??

    What difference does it really make? My milk is ice cold..

    any experience or enlightenment appreciated!

    • Janet says

      From my days in the PRC nearly 30 years ago, their yoghurt was sweeter and made right in the little ceramic jars or bottles with paper caps. I suppose the different taste would also be in the type of cows and the bacteria in their yoghurt cultures. I do remember it was very good and I went out of my way many times to get a crate of containter home to my apartment. Good memories.

      After making this recipe twice I have returned to heating the milk to 180 because it was just too runny the other way for the ways I use it (mostly as a sour cream/mayo sub). Heated to 160 it was definitely more drinkable, like in China.

  32. says

    All very interesting, thank you! I started making yogurt about 5 months ago, and I think I’ve finally got the hang of it. My latest batch is the best, creamy and tart but not sour. I bought a Eurocuisine Greek yogurt strainer because it was too liquidy even for my taste (I was buying TJ European Style Yogurt and also used that as my starter, and have gotten starters from my own yogurt ever since.). Straining it makes it really delicious. I strain pretty much all the whey out for my (Greek) husband and strain for a few hours for myself.
    My only problem right now is that the milk always burns onto the pot, which then takes a whole day of alternate soaking and scrubbing to clean. I use a Le Creuset type dutch oven. I saw a few ideas in the discussion to prevent this (heating the milk less, using a metal pot) which I intend to try. Does anyone have advice specifically to prevent this from happening? This last time, I stirred almost non-stop for 45 minutes, and it still burned onto the bottom of the pot. (But in one of the earlier attempts, the brown burned-on bit just lifted off the pot bottom easily. I can’t figure out why it did that then but never did it again.)

    • says

      put some water in the pot and swish it around, then pour out before you add the milk. i started doing this after i switched from le creuset to stainless, so not sure how much it helps with le cresuset, but i don’t stir any more at all. sometimes i get minor sticking but it comes up easily. high heat helps, too — heating the milk as quickly as possible seems to help.

      • Nina Liakos says

        Higher heat seems counter-intuitive, but at this point I am willing to try anything. I will also try the water with my next batch. Thanks for such a quick response, Seth!

    • Amy G says

      I was using a Le Creuset for a long time, thinking it was the best option, and always had a lot of scrubbing to do afterward. One day, I used my Revere Ware Dutch oven pan and I couldn’t believe how much easier it was to clean.

      Now, I use a double boiler. I make a gallon at a time, and bought a double boiler big enough to hold the gallon of milk. It’s super simple now, I can pretty much turn it on and walk away for almost 1/2 hour. No more burning for me.

      • Nina Liakos says

        Thanks, Amy. These options require buying more stuff, so I will first try the water-sloshing method and heating the milk less. Keeping your suggestions in reserve. Nina

    • Carolyn Juran says

      I heat my milk in a large glass Pyrex measuring pitcher, I just microwave it to the prober temp. And than set it on the granite counter top to cool it quickly, I stir in my culture and put it in the oven with the oven light on. I make it at bedtime and have wonderful breakfast yogurt when I get up the next morning. What can be simpler? Some people seem to go out of their way to make it into a hard job?

  33. Darren says

    My wife bought me a yoghurt maker for Christmas. I noticed though, according to the instruction, I have to heat the milk first on the stove and THEN put it into the yoghurt maker. Already more work than I wanted. Is there such a things as a yoghurt maker where you basically pour the milk in and it does the rest?

  34. Bonnie says

    I use my slow cooker to heat milk to 180 (takes just under 3 hours on high) and then remove insert and lid and cool down to 110 (takes about 1 hour 25 mins) – whisk in 1/2 cup starter, lid back on, wrap in old towel and add to preheated 250F oven. Turn OVEN OFF and keep in overnight for 8-10 hours ** OVEN LIGHT must be on the entire time. Strain and you have perfect yogurt with no fuss.

  35. says

    I’m a goat herder and cheese maker in the Skagit Valley. I make a lot of raw milk cheese, yogurt and kefir. You know one trick to get nice, thick, fantastic yogurt? Ack, nope, it’s not powdered milk. It’s rennet! I usually make a gallon of yogurt at a time, so I add one (ONE) drop of rennet mixed in 1/3-ish cup of water, then add that to the milk when it’s at proper temperature. Then I fill my cooler with hot water, put my mason jars in that, close the lid, and 10 hours later have the best yogurt in the world. Easy, ey?

  36. Veronica says

    An easy method for me is using quart Mason jars right off the bat. I’ll pour cold milk directly into however many quarts I want to make, slip the open jars into a bath of water in a deep pot covering just to their shoulders and bring the water to a boil. Once the yoghurt reaches my desired temperature, I pull them out with tongs I use for canning, and let them cool to 110 before adding starter (either leftover from a previous batch, TJ’s or Strauss – all full fat). Immediately after pulling jars out of the water bath, I’ll cover the pot and run it over to my waiting cooler and place the pot inside over a towel (so it doesn’t burn the cooler) and shut the lid. Once the yoghurt has the starter, I’ll seal the Mason jars and slip them into the cooler inside the towel and close the lid. Perfect yoghurt, no messy pots to clean. I’ve incubated anywhere from 6 hours to 12, and it works no matter what.

    • janet says

      Veronica, I think you’re a genius! One less pot to wash, and I can pop them right into my warmed, but off, oven for their overnight congealing.

      • seth says

        i’ve tried something like this, the only issue is when the milk is all together in a large pot it stays warmer longer than if it’s in separate jars, so it sets better/faster. this is in a gas oven with a pilot light, in California, so if it was somewhere colder the problem could be exacerbated.

        • Janet says

          I’ve always fermented my yoghurt in separate quart and 1/2 pint jars in a 100-degree (then turned off), well insulated, oven. The warmed jars are grouped together in the middle of a cookie tray and wrapped together and covered with two kitchen towels. Typically they are still slightly warm 6-8 hours later when I pull them out.

          • Veronica says

            Seth – my experience is the same as Janet’s. I have a large beach towel in the cooler, so I wrap the pot with the hot water in the towel, drape the pot sides with the towel so the jars aren’t touching the too-hot pot, then crowd the jars near the pot, wrapping them up in the towel as well. I live in the Seattle area – much cooler winters than CA, and they set up beautifully in the cozy cooler (or “warmer” at this point). Wish I had a pilot light in my electric oven, though!

          • says

            I put my jars in a cooler and pour boiling or near boiling water over them up to the lip of the lid (so the jars are not completely submerged), close up the cooler and let it incubate overnight, with great and very consistent results. Even the mesophillic cultures seem to survive this…

  37. Nina says

    I started making yogurt 10 months ago and got great help from this group! Thanks to all for your ideas and advice. I was having problems with scorched milk that was difficult to clean up with my enamel pot. I discovered that the real problem was that I was using a metal whisk to stir the milk. When I switched to a coated whisk or, even better, a wooden spatula, I got minimal sticking. It cleans up easily with a scrubble pad.

    Now for a new question: I’ve been using the same starter (TJ’s European Style) since August 2014, but now I am going away for 5 weeks. Should I just toss my starter and begin again when I get home? Or can my starter survive in the fridge for 6 weeks?


    • says

      It should be OK, it might take a few iterations (back to back batches) to reawaken it and rebalance the microbial community. The only time I’ve had difficulty reusing a heritage quality starter is when I let it sit and ferment out of the fridge for several months and it got so sour that it instantly curdled the milk for a new batch of yogurt. We’re talking lemon-juice sour.

    • seth says

      i’ve gone on a 3 week trip and no problems. 6 seems long, though it’s worth trying. you can re-buy that starter easily if it gets too funky.

  38. Sara Keene says

    I’ve just discovered these year old posts and can’t wait to make my next batch of yoghurt without taking the milk to 180. My method of incubating the yoghurt is to warm up an insulated cool box by heating one of those microwaveable heat bags filled with wheat or lavender and popping it into the box for 10 minutes then I take the bag out, put the glass jars of yoghurt into the box, put the lid on and leave it overnight. It never fails.

  39. James says

    I have followed your recipe twice and both times the yogurt has turned out tasting very good, but I am curious about the thickness that home-made yogurt should be. both times mine has been a fairly runny consistency, it can actually be poured and drank from a glass. Is this normal? I want to try making yogurt cheese but cannot find a cheesecloth that would be fine enough to actually hold any of this yogurt, it all just runs right thru. Any ideas are welcome. thanks

    • Amy G says

      Are you using whole milk? Whole milk will make thicker yogurt than reduced fat milks. Otherwise, I’d probably try culturing it a little longer.

    • TSandy says

      The other thing that I have found that helps make thicker yogurt is using a Greek yogurt starter. I use one of the containers (7 oz) of Fage per 0.75 gallon of milk. My yogurt turns out thick enough that it scoops like ice cream when cooled completely. As Amy mentions also make sure you use whole milk too.

    • Jeannine says

      I use 2 percent milk (from Costco) I have had good luck adding a packet of unflavored gelatin when I add my yogurt culture to the heated, then cooled to 110 degrees yogurt. I then put the crock in the oven overnight with just the light on. In the morning there should be a layer of whey on top. Last time, I also tried adding a couple Tbsp of powdered milk, whisking it in at the same time, right before bed, and that thickened it considerably. I do strain mine in a flour sack towel set in a colander set in a large bowl for an hour in the morning. I’ve heard people like nut bags for straining as well, and hang it from a cabinet knob to drain more whey into the bowl below. That seems messy to me, more so than pouring the culture milk into the towel/colander/bowl set up.

      • Jeannine says

        I use 2 percent milk (from Costco) I have had good luck adding a packet of unflavored gelatin when I add my yogurt culture to the heated, then cooled to 110 degrees milk. I then put the crock in the oven overnight with just the light on. In the morning there should be a layer of whey on top. Last time, I also tried adding a couple Tbsp of powdered milk, whisking it in at the same time, right before bed, and that thickened it considerably. I do strain mine in a flour sack towel set in a colander set in a large bowl for an hour in the morning. I’ve heard people like nut bags for straining as well, and hang it from a cabinet knob to drain more whey into the bowl below. That seems messy to me, more so than pouring the culture milk into the towel/colander/bowl set up.
        3 pm, crock on low with milk (3 hrs)
        6 pm, crock pot unplugged
        9 pm, whisk unflavored gelatin, 6 oz unflavored, plain yogurt, and powdered milk if using, place in oven with light on.
        9 am, pour into the towel/colander/bowl
        10 am, put into 2 cup containers, with a piece of plastic wrap in the top of the yogurt, refrigerate. Use the whey to make pancakes, bread.

    • says

      whole milk for sure, unhomogenized if possible (more for flavor), organic (flavor)
      do heat it (i heat to 190)
      the culture matters, i have Bulgarian from cultures for life, to indicate how much i love it i’ve kept it alive for 5 years
      use ~3T starter per gallon
      culture it 6-8 hours.
      I make 3 gallons of yogurt/week, this is what i do.

  40. howard says

    people, people. stop microwaving anything–particularly milk for yogurt if your intention is to eat healthy. microwaving kills the lifesource of all foods. try to germinate a seed with water that has been microwaved– it will NOT germinate. when i see the word “microwave” on a health food discussion, it makes me cringe on your behalf.

    • Amy G says

      Nobody says you have to have or use a microwave for anything, but I have serious doubts about the validity of your water claim. I was going to test your theory myself then I thought chances were good someone else out on the interwebz might have already done it. This guy here ( had no trouble getting seeds watered with microwaved water to sprout. Google it some time.

  41. Violet says

    I’ve been making yogurt for a while using Lactaid milk. Sometimes the name brand, sometimes whatever lactose-free milk I can find. Today I had an interesting experience. I put the milk on the stove to heat up and totally forgot about it. When I finally remembered, it was boiling all over the stove! I figured I would try it anyway, all I could lose was some time.

    I cooled the milk to the proper temperature, added a couple of spoonfuls of Greek yogurt, and put it in my Yogourmet. The milk was quite yellow and had a thick skin. I strained it before using. I took it out and put it into the fridge after about 6 to 6 1/2 hours. After it cooled for a few hours I decided it was a little bit thin for my taste so I poured it into my yogurt strainer and left it for another few hours. After that it was creamy and incredible. The best yogurt I’ve ever made. While it was definitely yellow-ish and not white like usual, it was the least sour yogurt I’ve ever had. It’s the first time I could eat it without adding any sweetener. Just totally creamy and delicious.

    I would love to make it this way again every time. It wasn’t so burnt but the pot was blackened, the pot just have a thick white stuck on coding. But the milk was definitely very yellow. I don’t know if it was letting it boil to a higher temperature than usual ( normally I would only heat it to 180) or if it was boiling it for a longer period of time (usually bring it up to temp and immediately take it off the heat. Sometimes I let it cool naturally, sometimes I put it in the sink full of cold water).

    I am assuming that there is no reason this would be harmful to me. And it set up just fine. Any thoughts on how to repeat this without making a mess all over my stove LOL? I assure you it has no burnt taste at all. Just rich, creamy, and mild.

    • Violet says

      My apologies for all the weird typos, I was dictating into my phone. I meant to say the pot was not left with blackened milk stuck to it. So maybe it wasn’t really “burnt,” just overheated… In the past I have always brought it up to 180 maybe 190 tops, this is the first time I’ve brought it to an actual full boil. Could that have made so much difference?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>