Yogurt, like a lot of things these days, has been hard for me to find. So since we own an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker with a “yogurt” button and also find ourselves with quite a bit of time on our hands these days, I thought I’d learn how to make Instant Pot yogurt my own dang self.
This is not a food blog, and I did not anticipate a yogurt-making success story on my first try. So please forgive the quality of my picture. What you are looking at is five hot and sour soup containers from our favorite Chinese place filled with homemade yogurt. This amount of yogurt cost me roughly $1.83 to make — $1.52 for the half gallon of store brand milk and about $.31 for the store brand yogurt cup (the last remaining in my fridge from a low-fat vanilla 4-pack.)
I know, right?
Turns out, it was really, really easy to make. Yes, it takes all day, but it’s almost entirely passive. You don’t have to fuss with anything. The Instant Pot does all the work. The recipe below includes modifications I made to this recipe. It was so helpful and explained everything very well. I would have followed it to the letter had I possessed freeze-dried starter, but this is America in the middle of a pandemic. So I said, “Screw, it. Let’s see what happens if I use this.”
Homemade Instant Pot Yogurt
- Half gallon whole milk
- 6 oz. low-fat vanilla yogurt
1. Boil the milk in your Instant Pot. Pour the milk into the Instant Pot and close the lid. Press the YOGURT button and adjust until the digital readout says “boil.” The Instant Pot will beep when it’s finished. It takes about half an hour. Remove the lid and repeat these steps, boiling the milk with the lid off for another 5 minutes to reduce.
2. Cool the milk. Turn the Instant Pot off and remove the insert of hot milk. Put the insert in an ice water bath and stir the milk slowly to cool it evenly. (This should also prevent any film from forming on the milk’s surface, but if one forms simply remove it.) Using a thermometer to measure, cool the yogurt until it reaches 116°F.
3. Temper the store-bought yogurt, which serves as your starter. Put the store-bought yogurt in bowl and add about 1/2 cup of the warm milk. Whisk until smooth, then add the starter mixture to the rest of the warm milk and whisk until combined.
4. Incubate the yogurt. Put the insert back in the Instant Pot, secure the lid, and press YOGURT. Set the time for 8:00 (8 hours). Walk away.
5. Check your yogurt. Your yogurt is set when jiggles. (The original instructions said incubation could take anywhere from 4 to 12 hours. But 8 hours was right on the button for me.) A thin, clear liquid layer of whey will be visible on top.
6. Cool your yogurt to room temperature without stirring. Remove the insert and place a tea towel over the top to cool.
7. Chill yogurt overnight. Remove the tea towel and cover the insert with plastic wrap. Chill for at least 6 hours.
8. Store your yogurt. Whisk the chilled yogurt just until smooth to remove any lumps. Store in the refrigerator in airtight containers.
My Personal Notes
I think technically I was only supposed to use a couple of tablespoons of the starter yogurt. I put in all 6 ounces. Because I do what I want.
Plain, unflavored yogurt is also recommended, especially if you’re planning to use your homemade yogurt in other applications like making pizza dough or tzatziki. But I’m not sure if I can taste any vanilla in my final result. Sometimes I think I taste a hint, and other times I think my brain just thinks it detects a hint because it saw me putting vanilla yogurt in the pot.
This is tangy stuff. You’ll notice there’s no sugar in the ingredient list. If you’re trying to feed it to kids, they might find it too tart as is. You can blend in honey or jam when you serve it though.