crock pot greek yogurt

When I talk about my yogurt maker, I usually encounter one of two reactions.

The first is, “Oh my, I need one of those now! I’m off to buy my very own,” or better yet, (and just as often) someone will admit that they actually have a yogurt maker gathering dust in the back of their closet, but that now it’s coming out for another round.

The second can only be described as a long, deep sigh. That sigh means “I don’t want another gadget. I want to make yogurt with what I have. Please don’t make me buy a yogurt maker!”

So I talk about a good all-purpose alternative, how you can heat the milk and put it into mason jars, and let it culture in a cooler. But by the time I’ve gotten to the end, I’ve lost you. I might have even lost you at “mason jar.” For many, it’s just too rustic, too log-cabin-in-the-woods. I get that. That’s one reason why I love my yogurt maker.

Finally, I can recommend a new yogurt method.

Have you met the crock pot?

A few weeks back, when I was signing books at the From Scratch Club swap, not one but TWO people told me about making yogurt in a crock pot. It makes sense–after all a crock pot both heats and insulates, and it does seem like a pretty fitting tool for the job.

To understand why and how this might be the method for you, it’s helpful to know the science around yogurt making. Essentially, we need two elements:

1. Milk- this can be any milk of any fat level, but it should not be ultra-pasteurized. Look for a locally produced milk that is labeled “pasteurized”.  Raw milk also makes great yogurt.

2. Starter- this can be a powdered yogurt culture (available from a cheesemaking supply store or this website. This is the culture that I use) OR you can use plain, store-bought yogurt. Different yogurts and cultures will produce different qualities in your yogurt, so play around to see what you like. I’ve had great success with fage Greek yogurt.

This is how yogurt is made (in any vessel): The milk is heated to 185 degrees. You can use a thermometer, or you can stop it when it is hot, steamy, and just short of boiling. Then the milk is cooled back down to 110 degrees. Again, you can measure with a thermometer, or you can stick your finger in the milk. It should be quite warm, but not hot. Then, the culture (powder or yogurt) is added to the milk. After that, the whole mixture needs to stay at about 110 degrees for 5 to 6 hours. Over that time, the good cultures in the starter will turn the milk into yogurt. Refrigerate for a few hours, and then it’s ready. That’s it.

 

So when it comes to the crock pot, this is how it works:

1. Pour 1/2 gallon of milk into the the crock pot. Turn it on to the “high” setting. Cover, and walk away. Let it sit there until it reaches 185 degrees (or, if you’re winging it, hot, steamy, and just below boiling). The poorer the quality of your crock pot, the longer this will take. I have a pretty low quality version, and this takes 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

2. When the milk reaches 185 degrees, shift the lid so there is a crack for the heat to escape and turn off the crock pot. Let it cool to 110 degrees (or warm, not hot).  This takes about 1 1/2 hours in my pot.

3. Add the culture–either 1/2 cup plain yogurt OR 3 tablespoons powdered yogurt culture. (update: Don’t stir.)  Replace the lid, and wrap the whole crock pot in a blanket. (You heard me right, a blanket. Make it a warm one.) Let it sit, undisturbed for 5 to 6 hours. This can also be overnight, if that is where you are in your day. (Update: I’ve been having success with longer culture times as well in the crock pot. Sometimes in the yogurt maker, a long culture time produces a lot of whey in the yogurt, but this doesn’t seem to be as much as in issue in the crock pot. So feel free to experiment with your timing–12 to 14 or even up to 24 hours is okay, too.)

Then, you have yogurt. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and then it’s ready. Remember to put a bit aside to use as your starter for your next batch.

But the best part about this whole crock pot method is this:

People often ask me how to make Greek yogurt at home, and I talk about straining it through cheesecloth. I also warn them that they will have a lot less yogurt than they started with. This is why Greek yogurt is so expensive. If you are using a yogurt maker, you are probably making about a quart or a bit more at a time. Straining that down to make Greek yogurt can be a little sad, because you end up with so little yogurt.

But the crock pot method makes 1/2 gallon of yogurt. That’s 2 quarts. So when we strain that, we still get about 5 cups of yogurt, plus 3 cups of delicious yogurt whey (more on that later).

To make Greek yogurt, pour the yogurt (after its two hours of refrigeration time) through a colander lined with cheese cloth.

Let it drain for about 30 minutes, or until the yogurt is thick and creamy. Save the whey.

Yogurt whey is particularly delicious, and I like to mix it with lemon. maple syrup, and cardamom. It tastes like some sort of refreshing beverage I imagine I could buy on the street in India. And the last time I was in New York, I saw that they were selling nearly this exact mixture at some foodie grocery for 4 dollars a bottle (and that was one tiny bottle). So take that store-bought foodie beverage!

 

Indian Street Beverage of My Dreams

3 cups cold yogurt whey
the juice of 1 lemon (or lime)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cardamom (or more or less, to taste)

Combine all of the ingredients in a jar and shake well.

 

 

 


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160 Responses to crock pot greek yogurt

  1. Jennifer L. says:

    I think yogurt-making is next on my list of homemade foods. Thank you for being an inspiration!

  2. Rachel says:

    I just bought your book after hearing you on Martha Stewart – I LOVE it! Its beautiful and a genuine resource. It will hold an honored place in my kitchen for a long time. You asked for people to comment on Lactose free milk on the show, so here goes…

    I make it about 3 times/week using 1% Lactaid milk (ultra pasteurized) – my daughter cannot tolerate lactose. I have found that yogurt making is incredibly forgiving. I follow the method you used in the book – with the Fage yogurt as my starter. I have also learned that coffee filters make a great substitution for the cheese cloth. It yields a very smooth even curd.

    I can’t wait to try your indian street drink – until now, my dogs have enjoyed most of the whey. Thanks again for writing this treasury.

  3. Hannah says:

    I am definitely one of those “I love to make everything at home but I don’t want another gadget” people — now I have no excuse. On my list for next week – Greek Yogurt.

    Also, I am wondering if you have ever tried making Kefir? I don’t recall seeing it on the site, though I will look around more carefully. My kids are obsessed with it – and you are such a trusted recipe source. Now that I see it might be possible in a crock pot …

    Loved the lilac post, too, by the way. And your radio spot was really nice.

    • alana says:

      Hannah, I have to admit, I had a kefir fail a while back, and then I stopped trying. I was using a powdered culture, and for lack of a better word, it came out all snotty. (Does that make sense?) Now I’ve been on the search for some kefir grains without success. But I’ve got some new kefir cultures on their way in the mail, and I’m going to start working on it again. Rosie drinks a ton of the stuff, and I’m determined to solve it! Will share as soon as I find the right method.
      And thank you, and thank you! I didn’t get to hear it, but I’m so glad you thought it was good. All these adventures in live radio are such a trip…

      • alana says:

        Update on this one- great success making kefir in the crock pot!

        • Karen says:

          I’d love to hear about kefir in the crockpot! I just leave mine on the counter in mason jars. Will it make the kefir grains grow faster? Thx!

          • alana says:

            Hi Karen! I’ve only done kefir in the crockpot with powdered culture (made pretty similarly to the yogurt). But I’ve just come into some dehydrated grains, and I’m going to start playing with them! I’ll let you know how it all goes.

  4. Lena says:

    I made my first batch of yogurt in the oven. Unfortunately it didn’t set quite enough.
    In 3 weeks I’m getting my mothers yogurt maker, which is 25 years old, but it still works. Mostly because she never used it ;) . Thanks for tips with the greek yogurt and how to use the yogurt whey, I will try this.

    Your site is so great!

    • alana says:

      Glad to hear the yogurt maker is on it’s way! If you have any problems with yogurt set in the future, I’d try 1) a new kind of starter or 2) adding a bit of dry milk powder for a firmer set. These seem to cover most runny yogurt issues around here. Thanks for saying hello!

  5. Melania says:

    Hi Alana,
    I just came to your site via 101 cookbooks. I was pretty delighted to see your post because yesterday was my first attempt at making crock pot yoghurt, and it worked beautifully! I also strained it, and am very excited to have such good looking yoghurt. Next time I think I will keep some set aside as it for cooking with and I have also kept a small portion straining for longer to make a thick quarky/cream cheesy/tangy type spread. It’s looking really good. Thanks for encouraging me to just drink the whey, I need to get a bit friendlier with it and make sure it doesn’t just get tipped down the drain, so any other ideas you have would be most welcome!

    Thanks,
    Melania

  6. Krista says:

    Wow! We just met after seeing you featured on Boston.com and you are an instant friend indeed. Going to buy your book today. Cooking has always been a joy but life and teenagers put “fast” on the list of priorities. Hopefully that changes today and I get back to the home cooking roots I was brought up to love. Those homemade crackers are first on my list to make!

  7. Todd says:

    Awesome. I’ve been really leaning toward starting to make yogurt again– I’ve done it a few times but never let it be a regular thing. This makes a lot of sense and I like how much you can make. Thanks!

  8. Annie says:

    Two questions – could you speed the process up by heating the milk to 185 on the stovetop, then pour it into the crock pot to cool? Can you do a gallon of milk at one time? Thanks!

    • alana says:

      Hi Annie,
      I would like to play around with varying combinations of crock pot/ stovetop yogurt making. But this is my sense so far–in order to get enough heat into the crock pot itself so that it can actually stay warm enough for 6 hours (after we’ve turned it off), we need to heat the milk in the crock pot. One option, I think, might be to heat and cool it on the stove top, and then preheat the crock pot on a low setting to built up a bit of heat in there. I’ll keep updating here if I find new variations that work.
      And yes, you can certainly use a gallon of milk if your crock pot will hold it! I I would increase the starter amount by about a half, and you might have to let it culture for a tad longer.

  9. Jessica says:

    *gasp* this looks perfect. I’m totally trying it. Well – in two weeks when we are done with school for a bit and before we start wheat harvest. PS I am in love with your blog!

  10. Sarah says:

    Looks great! Cannot wait to try this approach to yogurt, since I am definitely in the ‘Do I have to get another gadget?!’ category. Any tips on getting my kids to bite on homemade yogurt? My attempts in the past havent been great, since it’s not in those cool drinkable tubes that other kids take in their lunches. Also, quick question from another post (quite a bit back): I too stumbled upon some Lyle’s treacle and snatched it up. Can I use it instead of molasses when making your homemade brown sugar recipe from your new cookbook? My kids love to help with that one and wondered if Lyle filled in, how the outcome would taste? Thanks for a great book and a great site!

    • alana says:

      Hi Sarah! As for kids and homemade yogurt, I have two suggestions. The first- get them involved in flavoring. Once they understand that they can have any kind of yogurt they want (mix with any jam, fruit, maple, honey, even a little chocolate), they might even want to get involved in the process. Also, I’d suggest getting creative with the packaging. Little mason jars are good, or find some nice little swanky containers that they like- and make those your yogurt containers. That definitely helped around here.
      As for the treacle, I haven’t tried it, but I think it would make great brown sugar. I’m going to try it too! But if you get to it first, let me know what you think!

  11. Marissa says:

    I love this idea. I make yogurt in my oven on the bread-proof setting, but it takes 6 to 7 hours. Can’t wait to try this. + Thanks for the bonus Indian Street Beverage recipe! Cardamom is so sexy. :)

  12. Rashell says:

    I randomly saw your book on Amazon and then I got lost in your website for hours and now I have a jar of preserved lemons on my counter. :-)

    I’ve been making crockpot yogurt for months with only 3 variations in your technique and mine comes out the same good consistency every time.

    1. I heat the milk on low in the crockpot, something about slow heat versus rapid heat and how the milk sets up. It does take more time, but if I turn it on in the morning then by lunch it’s usually ready to turn off and by evening it’s to 110 and ready for starter. OR, once you know how long it takes to get to 180/185 degrees, just set up an appliance timer to turn the crockpot off after so many hours and you’re good to go (this is nice for people who are out of the house all day.

    2. I keep the lid on while it cools. This is a critical time to not introduce any environmental beasties from the air into your milk, it also prevents the milk from forming the layer on top as it cools.

    3. I’ve found that when yogurt is made this way it also eliminates the need to ‘set up’ in the refrigerator. Texture is the same from the get-go after being left overnight. I still put it in the fridge, but it’s yummy right away.

    Tips! Save a small amount of your yogurt to use as the starter for your next batch. Then some from that batch for the next batch. Then I’ll get a new container of greek yogurt and start again!

    Kefir made from kefir grains is even easier than making yogurt (with even more probiotics and other good stuff!). I get consistent results using the grains, have never tried any kind of starter because kefir starters are not forever usable like the grains are.

    This is what I do:
    1 TBS kefir grains into clean mason quart jar.
    Pour about 1 to 1 1/2 cups raw milk over grains (or whatever kind of milk, just not ultra-pasteurized or non-dairy milk).
    Swirl jar a few times.
    Lay cloth over top.
    Secure cloth with rubber band or open screw top lid.
    Set in cabinet for 24 hours.
    Strain kefir and put in fridge.
    Reserve kefir grains.
    Repeat.

    Easy peasy

    Rashell

    • Hannah says:

      Rashell thanks for posting this! Now I have to order some kefir grains and give it a try …

    • alana says:

      Thank you, Rashell! Now I just have to find kefir grains- I’ve put the word out around here (I’ve heard they don’t travel so well by mail), and hopefully they’ll come my way.
      And thank you, also, for sharing your crock pot yogurt tips… the more I experiment, the more I find that crock pots vary so much! I know that if mine was on low, I would never get to 185, but it seems that the higher quality crock pots behave differently. Would you mind sharing what kind of crock pot you’re using? I think that would be helpful to people, too.
      Thanks again!

      • nutellanutterson says:

        My understanding is that slow cookers had a switch to higher heat a while back. I’m not sure when, certainly before 2003, but now even the low setting will simmer! I use the “keep warm” option to prevent a simmer.

        I’m hoping for a new one for the holidays. The America’s Test Kitchen “Slow Cooker Revolution” book has some great info and ideas, and I want the cooker they recommend!

        • alana says:

          I think you’re right- every time some one tells me they’re having issues, the newer, fancier slow cookers often seem to be the problem! I always tell people to pick up an old one a tag sale.

  13. IndianaAnna says:

    I just started making yogurt in my crockpot. It works great and my kids love all the homemade favors we’ve been coming up with. I didn’t have cheesecloth, so I took a tip I found online and cut up one of my husband’s thin white (clean) t-shirts. Works perfect!

  14. erin maxwell says:

    Thanks so much for this! I just made the best batch of yogurt in a long time and paired with the old bag of frozen blueberries that I found in the bottom of our freezer, there are some very happy little people around here.

  15. Marie says:

    That looks like a totally doable method…we’ve been eating a lot more yogurt since the granddaughter came to live with us.
    How long will the finished product keep in the fridge?

    • alana says:

      Honestly, the longevity is affected by how clean you are as your making it. (clean crock pot, clean utensils) It’s absolutely good for 10 days or so with no effort, but the more meticulous you are, the longer after that it will last.

  16. alexa says:

    For simplifying life, for illuminating the world with a little homemade sunshine, and for sharing it all with your readers – THANK you, Alana!!

  17. Lindsey says:

    I’ve tried yogurt in the oven, in a cooler, with hot water bottles/jars surrounding, in a hot water bath, with a towel, a blanket, and almost a sheepskin, all to no avail.

    We recently moved into our House Bus (see: http://glitterandgritgirl.com/category/our-house-bus/) and above the refrigerator is a real legitimate bread box. I recently made the most delicious yogurt I’ve ever tasted (what is it about making something from scratch that makes our taste buds truly wake up? I love your swap party, by the way!) by placing it in the incubated bread box! Next up, Greek yogurt.

    I love your recipe for yogurt whey–I’m going to make some tomorrow, as last night we made cream cheese from our yogurt (by straining yogurt for much longer than you would Greek yogurt).

    Thanks for your wonderful site full of tips and tricks and musings. Have a great weekend!

  18. Christie says:

    I have your book of course and was just telling my mom I wanted a yogurt maker and complaining that I didn’t really have room for another “maker”. I am so relieved I can do it in the crockpot! Thank you!

  19. kristen says:

    I’ve been making crockpot/Greek-style drained yogurt for about 2 years now and we love it–sometimes I drink the whey, but the best use I’ve found for it is to use it as a substitue for water in baking. It gives my bread a little extra lift and a very fine, even crumb–from the added protein, I guess. It seems to brown a little better, too. Try it! (And thanks for posting this–I just found your site and I think it’s great.)

  20. Saeriu says:

    I’m going to have to try this method. Last year I was making homemade yogurt all the time, then I stopped. The last 3 times I’ve tried making it, it failed….big time. I’ve been a little bit discouraged but I know it’s just a matter of practicing to get it right. I usually make it on the stove top but, my crockpot is free for a date this weekend…

    • beachcomber says:

      Saerin: Did you ever get back to trying again? I was the same way…first time: BAM. Perfect. Six or eight more batches: BAM. Perfect. Next batch: fail. Then, fail, fail, fail. I had tried a different milks and different yogurts for cultures so went back to my original yogurt and failed again. Almost to tears with the “waste”. Of course, I’m trying to use the yogurt-milk but still feel as if I wasted a half-gallon of good, locally produced milk. Not ultra-pasteurized. Can NOT figure out what I’m doing wrong all of a sudden. Is the non-fat/low-fat/whole milk issue important?

      Alana: is the cooling down part crucial in some way? I’ve done it as directed..wrapped in a towel in the oven overnight. Is it detrimental that it be a slow cool down or what? Going to go BUY a pint of my favorite Zoi Greek yogurt and will try another crockpot batch when I’m down to the amount I need for culture but I’m getting gun-shy.

      • alana says:

        Oh Beachcomber- we’ll figure this out!
        So this is such a mystery, mostly because you had so much success in the beginning. Let’s see what might be going on…
        As a response to your question, in the crock pot method, the slow cool down does make a difference. I’m wondering if something changed in your house, temperature wise, and it’s not staying warm enough as it cultures? The milk should heat to 185 in the crock pot, cool back down to 110 (which it naturally does slowly), and then, after your culture is added, it needs to stay at 110 for long enough for the culture to turn the milk to yogurt. I do this with a blanket wrapped around my crock pot, and others (as it looks like you’re doing) do it by keeping it in the turned-off oven.

        I know this is all what you know already (especially if you made so much good yogurt at first), but I just want to make sure I know your process. And the reason I mention the temperature is that maybe you’re in a colder climate and your kitchen’s gotten colder? If the milk isn’t warm enough as it cultures, it won’t turn to yogurt.

        Any clues, here? Let me know, and we’ll keep working on it. Or of course, if anyone has any help to offer, please jump in!

        • beachcomber says:

          That is basically where I was heading with my “trial and error”. It sounds like my rattly old house has become colder and the cooling down period is happening too fast or maybe my oven had been used on the previous batches so there was residual heat… Is it possible (or even advisable) to put the crock back in the cooling (or turned to low) receptacle for a period THEN put it in the oven overnight? Would putting it on low be too warm for the culture? I tried recooking the first failed batch and ended up with an ugly half-custard that was far too funky to try and eat. Where is the too-much-heat line? My guess is that it isn’t an exact science.

          • alana says:

            Yup, I’d advise against adding any additional heat as it cultures–you just want to hold onto the heat you have. Otherwise, the yogurt gets cooked. It isn’t an exact science! But the great part is once you find what works for you, it’s usually pretty easy to repeat. We just have to find the right process for your kitchen!

  21. Camille says:

    I can see how this “indian” drink can fit my dreams too… I will make some soft cheese tomorrow to try the “indian” whey!

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  23. LynnAnn says:

    hey all…another wonderful use for the whey from yogurt or cheese making is Lacto-fermentation. I make veggie ferments (think sauerkraut without the cabbage) with the whey I get when I make cheese or yogurt cheese. I’m definitely going to try this!

    Check out Nourishing Traditions for a wonderful lacto-fermentation recipe…or get creative with any “solid” veggie. (it’s low salt fermentation) Maybe that’s another blog idea?
    Thanks for wonderful blogs Alana! love and peace

  24. Kathi Bourg says:

    I got the kindle version of your book about 2 weeks ago – was looking for that type of cookbook & then read a “free sample” first – I knew then that I had to have it! I love a good cookbook that is also a good read. I’ve baked bread (from “Artesian bread in five minutes a day”), and have wanted to try pasta. The first thing I tried was yogurt (found a “baby” yogurt maker at Tuesday Morning for $10 – it turned out pretty well using nonfat milk, dry milk & yogurt for starter, but I’m still tweeking as it was grainy. Just wanted to say thanks for the inspiration AND entertainment!

  25. Margaret says:

    I just made my first batch of crockpot yogurt this weekend. The directions I followed did not mention draining the yogurt, so mine is a bit thinner consistency but still tastes great. I was thinking of buying a yogurt maker after purchasing your book at the Troy food swap, but my husband discouraged the idea of yet another appliance (and he usually loves gadgets). For now I am happy to stuck with the crockpot.

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  29. Catherine says:

    I also heard you on Martha Stewart Living radio and immediately fell in “love” with you. I ran out and purchased your book and I am really really loving it.

    I have a question about the crock pot yogurt. Does it matter what style cooker you use…ie oval vs round?

    Thanks

    • alana says:

      Hi Catherine!
      I don’t think the shape makes a difference here. Use what you have! I have a friend who has been making yogurt in his huge 2 gallon crock pot with a lot of success, too.

  30. Anna Farneski says:

    Hello. A question, can this recipe be doubled to one gallon of raw milk and one cup of yogurt….same temps?

    Thank you.

    Anna

    • alana says:

      Hi Anna,
      I haven’t tried this recipe with more than a half gallon myself, but I have a friend who can fit 2 gallons in his crock pot, and he’s been having a lot of success with that. In principle, all times/ temps should stay the same, but let me know if you run into an issue and we can troubleshoot a bit.

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  33. Emily O. says:

    At what point in the process do you strain the yoghurt? Before or after refrigeration? And does everything need to be sterilized?

    • alana says:

      Hi Emily,
      Strain the yogurt after refrigeration–that chilling process is important in getting the yogurt to firm up. And yes, it’s very important to be working in a clean environment, but I just make sure that everything is washed in hot, soapy water (as it’s pretty difficult to get create a sterile field in the kitchen).

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  36. Michael says:

    Too hot, too hot, too hot!

    Since you’re heating slowly in a crock pot, you can use the “Low Temperature, Long Time” method of sterilizing your milk before adding the culture. 30 minutes or more at 145 degrees F is all it takes.

    Overheating the milk causes the yogurt to be a little “grainy” in texture, especially at the bottom of the container.

    • alana says:

      Thanks for your addition, Michael! I’ve never had a grainy issue with 185 degree milk, but I’ll certainly add this to the list of trouble-shooting points if someone comes to me with that problem.

  37. Wendy says:

    Can you use glass containers containing the mixture in the crock pot? water pool? I don’t want the yogurt to touch the pot….

    • alana says:

      Hi Wendy,
      It seems that it would work to use the crock pot to keep a water bath at a constant temperature, but I’m not sure that the crock pot is the best vessel in the end for that method- I think it’s pretty ideal if you want to out the milk directly into the pot, which works great. Is there some reason why you don’t want the milk to touch the pot?

  38. Tess D says:

    Let me just start by sharing how very acCOMplished I feel, making my own yogurt! Thanks once again, Alana, for teaching me how. Now, even with a very warm blanket I was having trouble keeping my crockpot warm enough to culture the yogurt. I happened to read someone else’s instructions for crockpot yogurt (sorry, don’t remember where), which had you putting the blanket- or towel-wrapped crockpot in the oven with the fire off, but the light on. Success today! The light bulb provided just enough warmth to keep all at perfect temp.

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  40. Cynthia says:

    Going to try this this week. Found the following on Livestrong.com

    http://www.livestrong.com/article/292137-yogurt-whey-nutrition/

    USES of whey:
    Stirring the separated whey back into your yogurt is the most obvious method for consuming the nutritious liquid. But if you prefer to remove the whey to make your yogurt thicker, reserve it for other uses. Stir it into savory soups, casseroles, oatmeal or fruit smoothies in place of milk, cream or water. Boost the protein and mineral content of homemade bread by replacing some of the liquid in the recipe with protein whey.

  41. Lilly says:

    Stupid question, I tried making this last night. This morning I put it in the fridge for the 2 hour period, is that when it thickens? I hope it’ll be firm when I get home becuase it was still very runny but I guess the time in the fridge is when it “sets”? Thanks!

    • alana says:

      Hi Lily,
      Not a stupid question at all! Yes, it does continue to set in the fridge, but it should be fairly firm already. If it’s too runny, let me know, and we’ll do a bit of trouble shooting.

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  43. Lilly says:

    FAIL :(
    There was yourt in the milk but when I strained it it come to the same amount I had put in to start (the 1/2 cup)
    A few questions: 1.) I wrapped a warm towl around the base of the crock pot should I rather wrap the enire thing? Or should I put it in the oven? 2.) How should I mix the starter yourgt with the milk? Use a whisk? 3.) Maybe my temperatures were off, should I use a thermometer?
    Thanks.

    • alana says:

      Yes, Lily- it sounds like temperature is your issue, and the yogurt didn’t culture! 1) Wrap the entire crock pot in the blanket- you want to keep it insulated. Some people have luck with a gas oven with the pilot light on as well. The goal is to keep it at about 110 for the whole culture time. 2) Yes, with a whisk! 3) If you have a thermometer, it helps! Then there is less guess work. I wrote a post about yogurt for Food 52 here: http://www.food52.com/blog/3593_yogurt_at_home. It has most of the same info, but a bit more discussion in the comments that might be helpful! Let me know how the next batch goes!

  44. Leanna says:

    Hi there,

    I’ve made yogurt using your recipe twice with great success. Yesterday, I decided to make another batch and I did it the exact same way I always do. However, it didn’t set! I took it out this morning to strain and it’s totally runny. Where did I go wrong?!

    • alana says:

      Hi Leanna!
      There are a few different possible culprits for thin yogurt. First- was it totally runny (not yogurt at all?). If so, I’d say that your culture was no longer active, and I’d start again with a new culture. If it’s yogurt but just not thick enough, I would 1) make sure that you heat the milk all the way to 185 before cooling it- this initial heat makes the yogurt thicken later, 2) Give it a bit more set time, 3) Add a bit of dry milk powder with the culture to thicken it further 4) double check your system to make sure that it’s keeping the yogurt warm enough during the culture time. Do any of these seem like they might have been the culprit? We’ll figure it out…

      • Leanna says:

        Thank you SO much for such a thorough response! It was not yogurt at all, so I’m thinking an inactive culture was the culprit. I’m going to try again tomorrow with a new starter, so keep your fingers crossed for me!

      • Leanna says:

        The new culture sealed the deal. I used a full fat Greek yogurt from Trader Joe’s and I strained my yogurt for the first time. It is SO creamy and has this amazingly sweet smell. I am a little weirded out by the whey, though…Thank you!

  45. Pingback: Crockpot Yogurt with Cream (or, I just couldn’t make it thick enough…) « Beyond Mom

  46. Samantha Bourdelier says:

    My mother always used a white pillow case with a knot on top to strain the yogurt over the sink. The only problem was to know how long to let the yogurt strain. If you did not let the yogurt strain long enough your yogurt would not be thick enough and who wants yogurt that is to watery. I have not heard of using a crock pot but it looks like it simplifies it. I plan to try this method because it sounds allot more easier than my mother’s recipe.

    Dimitra

  47. Thank you for these clear and easy instructions. I will definitely be trying this.

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  49. Rachel says:

    I have made this two times now. There are little bits of “film” throughout my yogurt. My husband and I can tolerate it, but my kids act like it’s the end of the world. They aren’t lumps, just little pieces of a milky film. Any ideas? Thanks!

    • alana says:

      Is there a skin on the milk when it’s heated? I always just whisk the skin right in, but it might be creating that little bit of texture. If that’s not it, let me know, and we’ll figure it out.

  50. Thanks so much for the yoghurt recipe, Alana – I tried it and it was delicious! I was really happy with the consistency too so I didn’t bother straining it. Thanks again :)

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  58. Ashley says:

    I am just starting to investigate making my own Greek yogurt. We eat it daily around here! However, my 13 yr. old will only eat the vanilla flavored ones. How do you flavor this crockpot yogurt?

    • alana says:

      Hi Ashley! There are a bunch of ways to do it. 1. You could add the seeds of a vanilla bean+the pod to the milk as it heats and cools- then remove the pod before you add the culture. Sweeten when you add the culture. 2. When you add the culture to the milk, you could add a bit of vanilla extract and sweetener as well. 3. Add the vanilla and sweetener after the yogurt is done. As for the sweetener, maple syrup and vanilla work really nicely together.

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  61. Colleen says:

    I just looked at this post linked from your recent yogurt updates. My husband just sent me this article as he has been with my on this yogurt adventure. The Greek yogurt companies seem to have more waste whey than they know what to do with! I immediately thought of your comment about the whey drink. Sounds like a business venture waiting to happen! http://modernfarmer.com/2013/05/whey-too-much-greek-yogurts-dark-side/

  62. Doh! I was domain shopping at namecheap.com and
    went to type in the domain name: http://www.eatingfromthegroundup.
    com/2012/05/crock-pot-greek-yogurt/ and guess who already had it?
    You did! lol j/k. I was about to buy this domain name but realized it was taken so I thought I’d come check it out. Great blog!

  63. Lara says:

    Just yesterday, my husband and I were wondering aloud how we were going to manage to make the 4+ gallons of yogurt a week that our new piglets eat as their first non-mama food! This is a perfect solution. (Please don’t be offended that we’ll be feeding your delicious yogurt to pigs… they’re very fancy pigs, I promise!)

  64. Angelia says:

    Hey! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone 4! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the superb work!

  65. olivia says:

    curious – why the tip ‘don’t stir’? thanks!

    • alana says:

      Hi Olivia,
      I’ve recently discovered that if I don’t stir, the good bacteria makes its way through the milk (making yogurt), but the yogurt has less of a chance of getting grainy or clumpy. I know it’s counterintuitive, but it’s been working really well for me.

  66. April Brown says:

    I am seriously NEVER buying yogurt again! I made your recipe last night, left it to culture overnight and had fabulous creamy yogurt this morning. I strained it to make a more “Greek” yogurt, and plan to mix in some maple syrup now. Thanks!!

  67. Pingback: Crockpot Yogurt | Forbidden Rice Blog

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  69. Erica says:

    Does this yogurt transfer well to smaller mason jars for refrigeration? I use my crockpot lots and wouldn’t want it’s sole purpose as a “yogurt holder” LOL

    • Tess D says:

      I can answer that! Absolutely pour it into anything you want for storage. I use my crockpot almost daily, too, and wouldn’t dream of keeping it in the fridge.

      • alana says:

        Yes, I second Tess here! I transfer the yogurt to quart-sized mason jars, and store it that way.

        • Erica says:

          Excellent! The yogurt is currently resting and I can’t wait to see the finished product. I just got your book in the mail Alana and can’t wait to try out a few recipes :)

          • Erica says:

            I am sorry to report that this method didn’t work for me. I am not sure what happened. It was still quite runny after 6 hours, so I letit sit overnight. Then in the morning it just hadn’t set enough. Does it set more in the fridge? I will try again sometime soon!!

          • alana says:

            Hi Erica,
            Definitely try again! There are a bunch possible culprits as to why the yogurt wouldn’t set, but I’d start by trying a new starter, as well as absolutely making sure your milk gets up to 185 degrees before cooling and adding the starter. Let me know if you’re still having issues, and we can do a bit more troubleshooting.

  70. Pingback: I Am a Yogurt Wizard | Artisans at Home

  71. Erica says:

    This didn’t work again unfortunately! I used a different starter and made sure to get the milk to 185. I wrapped the crockpot in 3 towels to make sure the heat stayed in LOL. I added the starter and did not stir, but it was still in a big lump where I had dropped it in. I will away on vacation for a while now so I will try again when home.

    • alana says:

      I’m not sure what’s preventing the culture! If you want to go through what you’re doing step by step, I’m sure we can figure it out together.

  72. I_Fortuna says:

    This looks like a great way to make yogurt, however, why not use ultra pasturized milk. When you heat the milk to 185 degrees aren’t you doing what manufactureers have already done with ultra pasturized milk known as UHT. They have already killed the bacteria one is supposedly killing by heating the milk. I have seen videos of UHT milk poured right from the carton into a glass container, thermophilic culture added, stirred, put on the lid and set it out in the sun to be cultured. The results were a delicious cultured yogurt. I have cultured my thermophilic yogurt in a preheated oven that is then turned off and the oven light left on. I left it for over 12 hours and it came out super thick and delicious. I often use a mesophilic culture which requires no device to heat it and cultures in temperatures 68 degrees to about 78 degrees. It is very thin but delicious Swedish Filmjolk. In the winter, a crock pot may just be the solution for thermophilic cultures like Greek yogurt or other grocery live culture yogurt.

    • alana says:

      Ultra Pasturized milk will work, but I’ve found that the act of heating the milk just before adding the culture actually creates a much thicker yogurt. I also find the flavor of my yogurt to be better when I use more local milk, which is usually just pasteurized or even raw.

  73. Joy says:

    I bought your book last year after seeing an article in our local paper about it, and then visiting your website. First I wanted to thank you; your book inspires me to make more of my own food at home instead of buying it, and my kids have enjoyed immensely being my kitchen helpers and taste testers. I also wanted to add that yogurt has been sort of gateway food for me. Since taking it on, I feel like I can make anything. Thanks! I have milk in the crock pot right now trying this new method. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

    • alana says:

      Thank you, Joy! Yogurt was totally my gateway food too. How’d the crockpot batch come out? Definitely feel free to ask any questions!

      • Joy says:

        Alana- I do have a few questions. My yogurt turned out rather runny, much more so than it ever does in my yogurt maker, which made it impossible to strain. I tried several times folding the cheese cloth overand over again, so it was 8 layers at one point and most of the yogurt, not just the whey, poured through the cheese cloth and into my bowl. It tastes like yogurt, but I am not sure how to get a thicker set? I am also wondering if i could be using the cheese cloth wrong, or if there is a trick to keeping more of the yogurt in it? Thanks so much!

  74. Nikki says:

    Hi, I’m just wondering how you avoid lumps in your yoghurt. Whenever I’ve tried it I get a skin on top as it heats which ends up as lumps through my otherwise delicious yoghurt. How do you avoid the lumps?

    • alana says:

      Hi Nikki, I think in most cases that skin is the fat- it makes a “cream on top” sort of yogurt. The little bit I’ve experimented with skim milk, the skin isn’t there. So I’d say that maybe you could try playing around with skim, or you can also just skim off that whole fat layer and use it like sour cream.

  75. Emily says:

    What causes the yogurt to become grainy? I used skim milk and plain yogurt for the starter. Mine looked great, but this morning when I pulled some out of the fridge it was all grainy. It wouldn’t smooth out with stirring.

    • alana says:

      Hi Emily,
      There are a few reasons why the yogurt might be grainy. One is that the milk could be overheated, so make sure it doesn’t boil. Also, are you whisking in your culture? Just plop it in there, and the yogurt should be more smooth. If neither of these are the culprit, let me know, and we’ll keep working on it.

  76. Heather says:

    First, I love your book and have made many of the recipes including yogurt. My question is, how many times can I use some of my old batch as the starter?

    I was hoping to use 6 of my jars to eat and the 7th as a starter each time I make a batch but I was told I shouldn’t more than 2 times by a friend. However, searching online I can’t find a conclusive answer. Thanks for the help & great recipes!

    • alana says:

      Thank you, Heather! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the book.
      You can absolutely use your yogurt as a starter 5, 6 or even more times. My rule is that as soon as your homemade yogurt starts getting runny or just not coming out quite right, usually you need to start with a new starter.

  77. jeanne says:

    Everything went fine until I tried to drain for greek yogurt. I used the cheesecloth over a colander….and barely anything drained out after 1 hr. I tried to hurry it up and again, nothing. Finally I just lifted the cheesecloth and tried some more….still not as thick as Greek. Any ideas?

  78. Melissa says:

    I tried making crockpot yogurt for the first time last week and my only complaint was that it did not taste good! My husband and I experimented adding sugar and strawberry flavoring and finally got it descent but I am wondering if there is a way to flavor it while cooking. We would just use strawberry extract or make a vanilla if we knew how to do it!

    • alana says:

      Hi Melissa,
      The biggest variable in the taste of the plain yogurt is going to be the culture you use, so you could try a new culture? I wouldn’t try to flavor the yogurt while it cultures, because with this method you’re not going to get any plain yogurt to use with your next batch. How about adding jam, honey, or some other sweet flavoring when you eat it?

  79. Jamie says:

    Would using the warm feature on the crockpot be useful in maintaining the temperature? Rather than placing in the oven or wrapping in towels, I was hoping to put on warm after getting it down to 110. My crock has an aluminum or metal crock rather than ceramic and I don’t think wrapping it will maintain well enough.

    • alana says:

      Jamie, I think this varies from crock to crock. My crockpot is ceramic, and when I tried to keep it on warm, it just cooked the yogurt. But you could try with one batch, and then if it doesn’t work, you know the culprit is the temperature.

  80. Sahar says:

    I have been wanting to try homemade yogurt for a long time, but am really gun shy. I like the idea of cooking the yogurt in the jars (like you would with a yogurt maker), is it possible to combine the crockpot yogurt with the jars (by placing my jars in the crockpot) or do i really need to cook it in the crockpot and then transfer to a jar for storage?

    • alana says:

      Sahar, I think that a big reason why the crockpot works so well is because the initial heating and cooling of the milk happens SO slowly. Somehow, that process really creates such thick and creamy yogurt. So I would say, if you have a crockpot, try it, and see what you think. If you’re attached to creating it in jars, I’d just go the more traditional method and heat the milk in a pot, cool it back down, transfer to jars, add culture to the jars, and keep in a warm place. If you already have a crock pot, you can try both ways and see which one works best in your kitchen. Good luck, and don’t hesitate to ask more questions as you dive in!

  81. Rebecca says:

    I just made my first attempt. I used nonfat milk and had some issues with one of my crockpots not heating it well. I then transferred to the other and was able to get to the right temp. In the end, my yogurt smells and taste like yogurt but is pretty runny. Will this thicken up in the fridge; will straining it like Greek yogurt help? Any ideas?

    I love your site and your book! I am excited to try again.

    Thank you.

    • alana says:

      Hi Rebecca! If it smells and tastes like yogurt, it probably is. Let it thicken up a bit in the fridge, but if it’s still pretty runny I’d skip the straining step. Super thin yogurt just doesn’t strain well. I’d try again, and watch your temperature. Just let me know if more questions come up!

  82. . And that could not be much more accurate
    right here.

  83. Ruth says:

    Can goat milk be used for making yogurt?

    • alana says:

      Absolutely. Sometimes it requires a little thickening agent- many people use tapioca starch or something similar. But I’d try with the milk you have to work with, and experiment from there.

  84. Garth says:

    I use powdered milk. This I don’t have to heat it up to 185 degrees first.

  85. Duane (real men eat yogurt and don't need big dogs) and Ruffy says:

    For the last year I have stopped heating the milk to sterilizing temp. An unopened carton of milk is already sterile enough for me. (Your utencils do have to be sterile though) I just heat it up to nice and warm celcius. I stir in my starter and keep it warm with the pilot light in the oven. That isn’t quite warm enough but it just slows it down a bit. If you keep a cool house like myself your pilot light heated oven will be cooler. If you have an 80 F. degree house your oven will be almost 20 degrees warmer than mine. For Greek style I strain it through piece of sterile flannel bed sheet. No failures (yet). Most failures are from to much heat. Live simple friends.

  86. Molly Polly says:

    Followed your recipe yesterday but only yielded about 10 curds and a lot of yogurtish milk which we can use for cooking. Starter was oikos plain. Thoughts?

    • alana says:

      There are a few possible culprits here… 1. starter: Sometimes it’s just not alive. I’d try again with a new starter, and if you have some local brand of yogurt that might be more reliable. 2. Heat: were you using a thermometer? If the milk was too warm when the culture went in, it could kill the culture 3. temperature: Is your house really cold? It might not have been warm enough for the culture to do it’s thing. One remedy for that can be extending the time- sometimes these days I leave it for up to 24 hours. Any of these seem like they might have been the case? Let me know and we’ll keep troubleshooting!

  87. Beth says:

    I am planning on attempting this. I have the kind of crock pot that can be put on the stovetop and then transferred over to start slow cooking. Would it be okay to start the yogurt on the stove so I don’t have to wait forever for it to come to temp?

    • alana says:

      Hi Beth, I’ve never used that kind of crockpot, but as long as you stick to the basic method, I don’t see an issue. However, the super long heat time contributes to the goodness (and great texture) of the yogurt, so I’d heat it over very low heat. Let me know how it works out!

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  89. Lynn says:

    Hi. Why the update about not stirrigation culture in. Curious, Lynn

    • alana says:

      Hi Lynn, I was having issues at one point with my yogurt getting a bit chunky- almost like cottage cheese with tiny curds. So I played around my methods a bit, and I found (I’m pretty sure) that by stirring in my culture, I was actually agitating the milk in a way that caused the milk to curd up (like as if I were making ricotta). Once I started adding the culture without stirring, my yogurt was much smoother. And I haven’t looked back since.

  90. Lynn says:

    Sorry, *stirring

  91. cathy says:

    I have made yogurt in my crock pot using full fat milk andit was a great success,but when i tried using non fat milk it wasn’t so good it was too runny.
    Is there a way using nonfat milk that will make it a bit thicker?.

  92. Jill Hicks says:

    I am going to try the yogurt recipe. I did however, see mention of creme fraiche and would love to know the recipe for that or is it simply the drained “cheese” yogurt?
    I am definitely buying your cookbook. Sounds very interesting. Thank you, Jill

    • alana says:

      Hi Jill! There is indeed a recipe for creme fraiche in the book, although it’s really just as simple as adding a bit of culture (powdered, or just a a few spoons of buttermilk) to cream and letting it sit out at room temperature for a day or so. It’s that easy! Thanks so much of your question, and I hope you enjoy the book!

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