How to make Yogurt {No yogurt maker required!}

Years ago I wanted to know how to make yogurt at home but figured I needed a fancy yogurt maker. I bought a second-hand one at a thrift store, but in true Amanda fashion, I lost all the little containers. Don’t ask me how you lose yogurt maker pieces when you are a stay-at-home mom, rarely packing a lunch, but somehow I did.

how to make yogurt

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That kind of put my yogurt making on hold for awhile. Until, one day I discovered there were many ways to make yogurt that didn’t require a fancy maker. All I needed was some jars, and a warm place to let it sit for half a day.

So, I rummaged through my cupboards and found jars. With no matching lids.

There’s a reason there is no “how to be organized” section on this blog.

Anyways, eventually I found mason jars and lids and I could once again jump into the world of yogurt making. The best thing about yogurt making is that it really isn’t that hard. And homemade yogurt is highly customizeable. Once you have your base, you can add fruit, honey, maple syrup, jam, granola, nuts and seeds, etc.

Now, in this tutorial I use a cooler and hot water and a blanket to keep it warm, but it isn’t the only way you can do it.  I’ve heard of people doing it in their oven with just the light on, putting it close enough to their woodstoves, with a heating pad, and even in a slow cooker.  Or of course, you can always go the way of a yogurt maker like this one here.

How to Make Yogurt at Home

You will need:



Medium to large sized pot

Mason jars


Blanket or towel


Hot water

*Yogurt starter


*Yogurt starter is just plain yogurt you have purchased at the store. You will use some of this to create your new batch of yogurt. When your new batch of yogurt is running low you will be able to use a starter from that batch instead of buying some.

Also, it is really important to be sure your yogurt you purchase as a starter as ACTIVE LIVE BACTERIAL CULTURES. This is what makes the yogurt work. Just read the ingredients and it will say whether it contains these cultures or not.

how to make yogurt at home

In this recipe I used 1/4 cup of yogurt starter and 4 cups of milk, but you could easily double the recipe to 1/2 cup of yogurt starter and 8 cups of milk. My cooler just isn’t big enough to hold more. I need a bigger cooler. 🙂

Before you start anything, you will want to prepare your jars. Make sure you wash them well in hot water, and I recommend warming them up beforehand. If you have a cold kitchen like mine, and then you pour hot water in the cooler to incubate them, your jars may break. Ask me how I know. 🙂 Cold jars do not like to be shocked instantly with heat. You can warm them up in a dishwasher or oven heated on low.

Start by pouring your 4 cups of milk into a pot and heating it on medium high heat. Stay close and watch it carefully, stirring often as milk can burn easily. You want to bring it to 185 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure it doesn’t reach a boil.

how to make homemade yogurt

Once it hits 185 degrees, take it off the element and let it cool until it drops down to 110 degrees Farenheit.

While you are waiting for the temperature in the milk to drop you can boil some water. About a quart or two is what I use but it will depend on your cooler size.

Once your heated milk drops to 110 degrees Farenheit, you can whisk in 1/4 cup of yogurt starter.

After you have that whisked in well, pour it into your prepared mason jars and screw the lids on snugly.

how to make yogurt

Place the jars in the cooler {or yogurt maker if that’s what you are using.} Pour the boiling water into the cooler. I pour enough water that it comes up to about halfway on the jars.

*Note: One reader said she needed to let the hot water cool down to 110 degrees for her yogurt to solidify, as the first time around it didn’t work with the water so hot for her. I have always used boiling water with good results and have never had an issue with this, but letting it cool to 110 degrees will most likely give you a better chance of success, so I recommend using her tip of letting the hot water cool down a bit.

Close your cooler and wrap a blanket or towel around it to help insulate it.

how to make yogurt at home

Let it sit on your counter, undisturbed for 6-12 hours. The more you make yogurt you will figure out what timing works for you and your preference. The longer you let it incubate the thicker and more tart it will be. I usually take mine out after about 9 hours.

Once you take it out you can put it in the fridge to cool until ready to eat. I like to add fruit and honey or maple syrup to it when I have some.

Now you know how to make yogurt at home. Homemade yogurt is so delicious and not at all that hard to make. And if you are blessed enough to have your own cow then you will be able to make the most amazingly fresh yogurt.

Have I mentioned I want a cow….

8 thoughts on “How to make Yogurt {No yogurt maker required!}”

    1. I have always used 2%. A Higher percentage might make it a little thicker but should work without any problems. 🙂

  1. Thanks for this I’ve been wanting to try it for a while. I used 3% thats what we drink. In the morning it wasn’t ready it was still just warm milk. I think its important to note you need to put the boiling water in the cooler and give it time to get down to 110. I didn’t do that and it was too hot I think. But in the morning I added a little more starter and wrapped it all back up. When I got home from work I had perfect yougart. We like ours with just some frozen blue berries. I also calculated the cost and its about half what I would pay for yogurt on sale! About $1 for a large mason jar full! It also passed the kid taste test 🙂

    1. Hmm….I never let my water cool down and it turns out but my house is on the cooler side so maybe that has something to do with it. I will add a note above about that though, because it can’t hurt to let the water cool down some and clearly the hot water was a problem for your batch. Thanks, Liz!

        1. Well, you need the active cultures to make yogurt which is what is in the store bought starter. You can try with a non-dairy starter but make sure it has live active cultures in it. I can’t promise it will turn out, but I know there are people out there making dairy-free yogurt, it just all comes down to what kind of starter they are using, and for that I am not sure. If you do try it, let me know how it turns out. 🙂

  2. Then take a nice bottle of your homemade yogurt, pour it through a clean cheese cloth and you have homemade cream cheese for your bagels!

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