Did you know that you don’t actually need a yoghurt maker to make yoghurt at home? We’ve gathered together some alternative ideas so you can learn how to make yoghurt without a yoghurt maker and create a nutritious snack from the comfort of your home.
For each of these methods, you’ll need:
- Warm milk
- Storage containers (or one container if you plan on making one big batch)
- A thickening agent (if applicable)
Making Yoghurt Without a Yoghurt Maker: Step-by-Step Guide
Step 1: Using an Oven
- Preheat your electric/gas oven to 115 degrees Celsius and place a baking stone inside. This stone retains the heat from the oven to maintain the perfect yoghurt-making temperature.
- Once it reaches 115°C, switch the oven off. For the best results, use an oven thermometer to check the oven’s temperature. But if you don’t have one, you can switch the oven off after around five minutes, at which point, it’ll be warm. You can also leave the oven light on.
- Heat the milk gently, and mix in the yoghurt culture.
- Transfer this to a saucepan (or any other kitchen appliance you have that best retains heat).
- Place the lid on top and wrap the pan in a couple of towels. This will act as an insulating method to retain the heat so the yoghurt thickens. Place this pan in the oven for up to 8 hours.
- After 8 hours have passed, check that the yoghurt’s texture has thickened. Avoid constantly opening the oven to check, as the cold air will lower the temperature and can decrease the fermenting process. If it has sufficiently thickened, remove it from the oven.
- Remove the yoghurt from the saucepan, pour it into your containers and put it in the fridge.
Step 2: Using a Thermos
- Start by heating milk in a saucepan until it thickens at the edges but isn’t boiling. Let the milk sit for several hours at room temperature.
- Once cooled, add a culture and transfer the mixture to a thermos. Screw on the lid and let sit overnight.
- Once the yoghurt has set, transfer the mixture to a different container and place it in the fridge.
Step 3: Using a Dehydrator
- Heat organic milk over medium heat until it reaches around 82 degrees Celsius (just before it begins to bubble but not boil).
- Remove the milk from the heat to cool down to around 40 degrees Celsius.
- In the meantime, preheat your jar containers in a dehydrator at 110 degrees Celsius with the lids still on.
- Once the milk reaches 40°C, add 1 tablespoon of whole milk yoghurt per quart of milk.
- Whisk the ingredients together to evenly distribute the bacteria throughout the milk and enhance the yoghurt fermentation process.
- Remove the preheated jars from the dehydrator and fill them with milk and plain yoghurt. Place the lids on and put them back into the dehydrator for around 6 hours.
Step 4: Using a Slow Cooker or Crock Pot
- Add milk to a large slow cooker. Place the lid on top, and turn it on low for around two hours.
- Unplug the slow cooker and let it sit for three hours. Use a timer, to ensure you don’t leave it too long.
- After this time period, stir in 120g of store-bought yoghurt. Don’t place the lid on top of the slow cooker, but use two towels instead. Let the mixture sit overnight (or for up to 12 hours). As the yoghurt gets colder, it’ll thicken.
- When you return to the slow cooker, you’ll have yoghurt. Place the mixture into a glass jar and in the fridge for up to one hour for the cooling process.
- Strain the yoghurt in cheese cloth in the fridge for several hours for thick Greek-like yoghurt.
Step 5: Using a Heating Pad
- Once you’ve heated the milk on a hob and left it to cool (taken from the above instructions), pour the milk into jars.
- Place the unlidded jars onto a towel on top of a heating pad and set it to medium. Wrap the jars with several towels to retain the heat.
- After one hour, turn the heating pad’s setting onto low and leave for around 8 hours.
- After this amount of time, remove the towels from the jar and switch off the heating pad.
- Place the lids onto the jars and store them in the fridge for up to 10 days.
Tips for Making Yoghurt Without a Yoghurt Maker
If this is your first time making yoghurt at home, you might need some additional guidance. Avoiding using a yoghurt maker saves countertop space in your kitchen as you don’t need to purchase an extra appliance.
Check out these tips to improve your yoghurt-making technique.
Sterilise Your Equipment
No matter what method you use to make homemade yoghurt, clean and sterilise your chosen equipment and utensils before using them. This helps to prevent adding any foreign bacteria to your homemade yoghurt. Doing so will also warm the container and help with incubating the yoghurt.
Use a Starter Culture
You can buy a yoghurt starter or purchase one from health food stores. But before making your purchase, check the ingredients first. Avoid any culture with sweeteners, flavours, or additives. You should just use pure yoghurt without any unnecessary ingredients that are designed to increase its life shelf or improve thickness.
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In addition, you need two heaped tablespoons of yoghurt starter for every one litre of milk. Ensure that the starter is at body temperature, too.
Use a Lid on Your Containers While They Set
A common mistake that some people make when making homemade yoghurt without a yoghurt maker is not covering the containers while they’re setting for several hours. Your containers need to be in a room-temperature area and left alone for around 6 hours. This means no messing with the containers; even checking on them can cause the yoghurt to mix and ruin its texture.
You won’t need more than 10 hours for this setting process. But if you find that it’s still not properly set after this amount, use a thermos to keep a constant yoghurt making temperature. A thermos may make it easy to control the conditions, but without one, it’s worth investing in a thermometer for the best results.
What Happens if You Use Too Much Starter Culture in the Yoghurt?
If you use too much starter in the yoghurt, this means that the milk has too much bacteria feeding on it. The bacteria will then run out of food during the fermenting process, leaving the yoghurt thin and runny (the opposite of what you want).
The Right Type of Milk to Use for Homemade Yoghurt
Yoghurt is made from milk, so it’s important that you choose the right type. Always use fresh milk, even if you have a bottle in the fridge that’s only been open for one day; the fresher, the better.
Ideally, use full-fat (whole) milk. This higher fat content provides a thicker texture that’s creamy and appetizing with every mouthful. Because of this milk’s higher fat content, it’ll create more body and structure to the yoghurt. In fact, you’ll probably find that you don’t need to consume as much yoghurt in one go if you use a full-fat version.
Skim or 2% goat milk provides a runner texture. You can make delicious yoghurt using this type of milk, but its texture won’t be as thick and it’ll lack the creaminess that yoghurt has. However, if you need to consume skim milk as a part of your diet, it’s still possible to enjoy delicious homemade yoghurt with this variation.
Organic milk is a preferred option if you don’t want your milk to contain any hormones or preservatives. Although it doesn’t change the flavour of your milk, it can work successfully with lactic acid bacteria to create a delicious thicker texture. You might also find that using organic milk creates a creamier taste—especially when left in the fridge for several hours or left out for 30 minutes before consuming.
Alternatively, almond milk is a delicious alternative to milk if you want to make dairy-free homemade yoghurt. However, you’ll need to use a thickening agent since plant-based yoghurt alternatives don’t have the thickness of a dairy option. Opt for cornstarch or a mixture of agar and arrowroot to add some natural thickness to the yoghurt.
- Pour the almond milk into a pan (you can easily make your own milk by grinding the nuts and sieving the mixture).
- Mix agar and arrowroot into the cold milk and stir until the mixture dissolves. Add the combined ingredients to a saucepan.
- Heat on a low temperature until it reaches 85 degrees Celsius. Stir occasionally to prevent the milk from sticking to the bottom of the pan. This process can take up to 40 minutes, but it depends on the size and quality of your pan.
- Once the milk has reached the desired temperature (checking with a thermometer) remove the pan from the heat before it begins to boil.
- Set the mixture aside to cool down to 45 degrees Celsius for up to one hour. Use a thermometer to check the temperature every 15 minutes. The more accurate you are, the better the results, so don’t just go off luck.
- Add your chosen starter and sieve to remove any lumps or pieces of almond. Place into jars and incubate the yoghurt using any of the milk instructions earlier described within this article.
Choosing a Culture for Homemade Yoghurt
To successfully make nutritious yoghurt, you’ll need a culture to thicken the mixture.
This has set amounts of live bacteria that have a consistent performance. You can typically find this at most supermarkets. Alternatively, search for a powdered culture online.
Alternatively, use a store-bought plain yoghurt. Although it can be tempting to buy flavoured yoghurt, choose an unflavoured or unsweetened version. Ideally, it shouldn’t have any thickeners or additives in it either for a much healthier approach to homemade yoghurt.
Add Homemade Yoghurt
If you’ve made homemade yoghurt before and have some remaining in the fridge, you can add this to your yoghurt mixture. In fact, you can usually do this up to eight times before the previous batch goes off. However, you’ll be able to notice if the yoghurt isn’t as fresh as it used to be.
Ways to Flavour Yoghurt Once It’s Prepared
Once you’ve made your yoghurt, you might want to add some flavour to it. But before you do this, ensure that you’ve perfected making plain yoghurt. In fact, you can then add flavourings into the yoghurt once you’re about to serve it. Not only will this increase its freshness and prevent any ingredients from becoming soggy in refrigerated yoghurt, but it allows you to switch up the flavourings.
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Opt for honey, fruit, and even herbs. You can use fresh fruit at the time of serving. But if you’d prefer to make the final yoghurt in advance, you can incorporate frozen fruit into the yoghurt when storing it in the fridge.
How to Thicken Your Recipe
If your yoghurt isn’t as thick as you’d like it to be, there are several ideas you can use to improve the texture of your homemade yoghurt:
- Heat the milk for longer in the saucepan to encourage the proteins to coagulate and thicken. Never add boiling water or hot water to the mixture to increase the temperature.
- Strain the yoghurt after it’s cooled down. This process removes some of the whey and leaves the fat and protein behind. The longer you drain the whey away, the thicker the yoghurt will become (which is great if you’re trying to make Greek yoghurt).
- Add milk powder to the cow’s milk before heating it in a saucepan. Doing so will increase the amount of milk solid proteins, creating a thicker and more enriched texture.
- Add another thickener to the milk before heating and culturing. Add 1tsp of gelatine for every 1 litre of milk. It’s important that you do this before the heating process, because gelatine needs to be heated in order to activate. Add small amounts of gelatine at a time to prevent any clumps from forming. You can always add more to increase the thickness.
There are so many ways to enjoy yoghurt at home without buying a yoghurt maker. And you might even find that these recipes and steps are much easier. Now you know how to make yoghurt without a yoghurt maker, we’d love to hear about your successes and failures.
Do you have a favourite recipe you’d love to share? Or perhaps you have some delightful recipes that you want other readers to enjoy? Let us know your thoughts and tips in the comments.
Amy is a U.K.-based writer and editor with a penchant for helping consumers find the best home products for their needs, as well as providing easily digestible guides for living better at home. Her dedication to her work means she can usually be found elbow-deep in research or hunting down samples of the latest and greatest on behalf of her readers.
An avid DIYer herself, Amy’s passion lies in teaching others how they too can achieve their dream homes by tackling some of those pesky projects themselves! Whether it’s building furniture from scratch or turning an old dresser into a coffee table, Amy is always happy to share what she knows about making your house feel like home without spending a fortune.