11 Instant Pot Dairy Yogurt for NEWBIES Complete Guide

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I have been making yogurt for over 20 years, using my slow cooker, oven, or a yogurt maker. I have discovered that I love, love, LOVE how the Instant Pot pressure cooker has simplified making yogurt! I don't have to stand over the stove, stirring the milk, and watch the temperature. I don't have to wrap my pot in large towels and set it in my oven (with the oven light on) and let it incubate. The Instant Pot pressure cooker has a Yogurt setting that heats the milk and incubates it at the perfect, constant temperature to make creamy, silky smooth yogurt that will WOW you and your family. It does not taste like store bought yogurt. It tastes better. It will have a much cleaner (not cooked) and fresher taste because you make it yourself. It is SO easy to make - you will be surprised!

Why Make Your Own Yogurt?
For many, it is the ease of making yogurt at home, the cost benefits and knowing exactly what is in your yogurt. Depending on where you live, the cost of milk and a tablespoon of yogurt is much cheaper than purchasing it at the grocery store. Once you have made your own yogurt and tasted it, you will never go back.  Thick, creamy, and clean tasting wins even with non-yogurt lovers every time. 

The mix-ins to flavor your yogurt is endless. You can use your yogurt in many recipes and as a substitute for mayonnaise or sour cream.  Add herbs and spices for a fantastic veggie dip. Making yogurt with the Instant Pot® is much easier than traditional methods of using the stove, slow cooker or the oven. Even though the Instant Pot® is a pressure cooker, no pressure is used during the entire yogurt making process.

The recipe for making dairy yogurt is simple. Milk and a starter. The easiest and most widely available method is to use store bought yogurt as your starter. Yes, you need yogurt to make yogurt!

Making yogurt in the Instant Pot only takes about 10-15 minutes of hands on time, the IP* does the rest! You can make mild tasting yogurt in as little as 6-7 hours and set it in the fridge to chill for a drinkable yogurt, or strain it in the fridge for an additional 3-4 hours for a thicker yogurt. For a tangier yogurt, it can take longer, depending on how tart you like your yogurt.

The best times to start your yogurt are either first thing in the morning (your IP* will be tied up for the day) or just before you go to sleep at night. I like to start 45 minutes before I go to bed, wake up, strain my yogurt for 4 hours in the morning, enjoy my yogurt by lunch and have my IP available for pressure cooking during the day.

To see how simple and easy it is to make yogurt in your Instant Pot, check out this short video:

*IP = Instant Pot®
Image from InstantPot.com

Instant Pot Lux 5 quart, 6 quart 6-1 Models do NOT have the yogurt setting, but there is a workaround for this model. (See Troubleshooting, below)

For the most part, you may already have all the equipment you need.

-       Thermometer. This can be a digital, candy, or meat thermometer. It is important that your thermometer is:
o   A) Accurate
o   B) Readable for temps between 110°F – 180°F .

o   You can test the accuracy of your thermometer by dipping it into a small pot of boiling water. You will need to adjust the temp for your altitude. At sea level, water boils at 212°F and drops with every 500 ft increase in altitude. For example, water will boil at 203°F at 5,000 feet. (1)

-       whisk** to help cool your yogurt and to stir in your starter.
-       Small cup or bowl to hold your starter
-       Ladle or large spoon
-       Glass lid, Silicone lid, dinner plate or glass pie plate - is optional. Making yogurt does not require pressure, so you can use these or you can use your IP lid for making yogurt. If you use your IP lid, you may want to use a clean smelling seal, as seals with strong flavors can transfer to your yogurt. 
-       Large 8 cup colander/sieve for straining (This has 3 sizes to fit both half gallon and full gallons of yogurt)
-   Large bowl to set your strainer in to catch the whey
-       Material for straining. Lots of options! (see Material to use for straining, below)

**No need to purchase a special silicone coated whisk. A stainless steel one will do. There have been concerns about using a metal whisk and the transfer of a metallic taste to the yogurt. Your IP pot liner is made of stainless steel. If your whisk is made from aluminum, that can react with the acid in the yogurt and create an off-taste.

MILK – What kind can I use?
Whichever milk you decide to use, make sure it is FRESH and not close to the expiration/sell by date.  Whole milk is a good place to start, as the flavor and consistency is quite good. From there, you can experiment with different milks for a comparison.

Can I use expired milk?
You can, usually. The date on the label is the Sell By Date, which gives consumers at least 5-7 days to use their milk, especially if it hasn’t been opened. It is best to use fresh milk and yogurt to make a successful yogurt. Smell the milk. If it doesn’t have an ‘off’ or sour smell, you may be fine, especially if you heat your milk to 180°F during the boil cycle. Your finished yogurt will have a 2 week refrigerated shelf life. Using old milk can cause your yogurt to curdle.

Cow’s milk
Choose from pasteurized, homogenized Whole, 2%, 1%. Or Skim. If you use Skim or 1% milk, you may want to use a thickening agent (see Do I Need to Add a Thickener?, below).  Whole milk will produce a thicker and creamier tasting yogurt than one made with 2%.  Your yield, after straining is greater with Whole milk than 2%, unless you add a thickener.

Raw Cow’s milk
The organisms in raw milk may provide competition with the bacteria in your yogurt starter. Raw milk yogurt is generally thinner than pasteurized milk yogurt, as it has not been heated or pasteurized to denature the proteins that help yogurt become thick.  If you want to keep the nutritional benefits of raw milk without heating it to a high temp, you may want to add a thickener to your milk. (2 ½ T gelatin dissolved in 1 cup of milk and added to a gallon of raw milk, bring up to 110° and add yogurt starter.)

It is recommended that you use the boil cycle (see** Raw Milk under BOIL CYCLE, below) to heat your raw milk. If you do not, the natural bacteria present in raw milk will be in competition with your yogurt starter. It will look a little different, the cream will rise to the top, but definitely can be scraped off to enjoy alone or mixed in with the yogurt after it has strained. 

Special considerations should be taken into account when making yogurt from raw milk and you can find them here at Culturesforhealth.com  (2) (4)
Here is a method for Raw Milk Yogurt and uses gelatin for thickening.

If you don’t want to heat your milk and keep the benefits of raw milk in your yogurt, you may want to purchase an heirloom starter or culture that uses Mesophilic strains of bacteria that are cultured at room temp and do not use heat to culture. No boiling required unless it’s your first batch to activate the starter. You can find mesophilic yogurt starters on Cultures For Health 
and on Amazon.

Non-homogenized Milk
Homogenization is a treatment that keeps the cream from separating from the milk. If you are using non-homgenized milk, the cream rises to the top of the milk, will be thicker, and more yellow in your yogurt. 

Grass-Fed Milk
Summer milk is lower in protein, fat, and milk solids than winter milk, meaning it has more water and is similar to a skim milk. Making yogurt with grass-fed milk benefits from straining and whisking to help achieve a thick, creamy style yogurt. (11)

Goat milk
You can successfully make a thick yogurt from raw goat’s milk with your IP!  Goat milk yogurt is thinner than cow’s milk yogurt, more like a pourable, drinkable yogurt. This is because the proteins in goat's milk is different than cow's milk. If you have a dairy allergy, are lactose intolerant, you may want to try goat's milk for making yogurt.  You can choose to heat it to 110°F with the yogurt setting or use the boil cycle (will have a more “cooked” taste) and bring the temp back down to 110°F, add your starter (1/4 cup per gallon) and ½ cup of  powdered milk, or 2-4 Tablespoons of gelatin if you want it thicker. (7)

Ultra Pasteurized Milk
Ultra pasteurized (UP), or Ultra High Temperature (UHT) means that the milk has been heated to 280°F for a couple of seconds, killing 99.9% of the bacteria that your yogurt starter needs to grow into yogurt, making it hit or miss for making yogurt. (14)

Cultures for Health states that UP/UHT "Milk that is 'too clean' may be too sterile for the yogurt cultures to use as nourishment." (2) (Also See Organic Milk, below) The intense heat can also damage the protein structures that are needed to make yogurt, resulting in a thinner yogurt or needing longer culturing times. Using UP/UHT milks can be hit and miss when making yogurt. Some UP milks need a longer incubation time, as long as 10 hours, before they appear set. UP/UHT milks are a requirement for the easy, revolutionary Cold Start™yogurt method

How do I know if my milk is Ultra Pasteurized?
Check the label/carton for the words Ultra Pasteurized, UT, UHT (ultra high temp).
Check the date. If it is good for more than 2 weeks, most likely it is UHT milk. If you are not sure, look up the brand on the Internet or call the number on the milk carton. 

If UP/UHT milk is the only variety of milk available to you, you can try a half gallon (or a 4 cup) recipe and see if it works for you.

Also see, ‘Do I need to Boil My Milk’, below, for UP/UHT consideration.

Organic Milk
Organic milk is hit and miss, because it is often times Ultra-pasteurized. Even the same brand of milk is not handled the same across the country. One person may say they've tried organic or UP milk for yogurt with no problems and then another person has a problem with their organic milk. An experienced cheese maker, who knows her milk, has this to say about organic and UP/UHT milk:

 “There are multiple processors for the same brand and they may process it differently, so even when both are ultra-pasteurized, the process, temp and time can vary; so one person can have success with the same brand milk even by following the same yogurt process. Check the codes stamped on the carton to find out which plant processed the milk.” (3)

Lactose free milk: Lactose milks are usually Ultra Pasteurized and have the lactase enzyme added to the milk to make it "lactose free." There is still lactose in the milk. This enzyme helps lactose intolerant individuals digest the lactose. The live bacteria in your starter need lactose to make yogurt. The bacteria in your starter breaks down the lactose into 2 simple sugars that are in the lactose. Lactase does the same thing; breaks the lactose into the same simple sugars. The bacteria are happy to eat that and make your yogurt. 

If the label contains lactase, then the milk can be used to culture yogurt. There is another option for lactose-intolerant individuals and that is using a longer culturing time and straining to reduce the lactose in your final yogurt. (See Culturing Times, below, to make a lactose free yogurt from dairy milk)

Two examples of lactose free milk that people have had success with are Lactaid and Fairlife milks. Fairlife is a filtered milk (and UP milk) that filters the lactose, fat, sugars, protein, etc, and puts them back together using a proprietary formula, resulting in a milk that is lower in sugar, higher in protein and lactose free. While it does make a thicker yogurt due to the higher protein levels, a consistency somewhere between traditional and Greek style yogurt without straining, if you want a cream cheese-like consistency, it will need to be strained. You can choose to heat your Fairlife milk or use a cold start method (no temperature taking, cooling, or straining unless you want it thicker). 

Natrel is a filtered milk available in Canada that is very similar to Fairlife milk. Kroger Carbmaster milk also looks similar in nutrients, but I haven't tried it yet. (2) 

Half & Half or Cream
Many yogurt cultures do well with half and half or cream, and make a rich, thick yogurt that is almost like sour cream without straining. You can even make a blend of half cream and half cow’s milk. Keep in mind that some cream or half & half milks may be UHT/UP and may not work well for yogurt.

Powdered Milk 
You can use powdered milk for making yogurt. The beauty of using powdered milk is that you can add less water when reconstituting it to make a lovely, thick yogurt that doesn't require any straining. There are two kinds of powdered milk: Regular and Instant. The regular variety is more compact, takes less storage, but is more challenging to reconstitute. The more readily found powdered milk is instant, which is processed more to be more easily dissolved in water. Both have the same nutrient composition. They may vary in texture, so you will want to experiment with different brands and milk fat percentages. Powdered milk is more expensive, and has a 3-5 year shelf life.

1% milk with Siggi's Skyr Vanilla, incubated for 8 hours and chilled/strained for 4 hours

Breast Milk
Breast milk is lower in fat than whole cow’s milk, and the result will be a watery yogurt. There are some ways around it in the recipe link below. Research and decide how you want to heat the milk to retain any beneficial properties of the milk. The Instant Pot Yogurt setting cultures milk in the 107°F-110°F range and that is well above normal body temps of 98.7°F. Most feel that heating breast milk above this temp will kill any beneficial enzymes that are good for the baby. 
Use with careful consideration as with raw milk, see above.
Recipe 2: http://www.food.com/recipe/breastmilk-yoghurt-for-babies-52832

Coconut/Almond Milk – With these non-dairy milks, some brands work better than others. Some brands are UHT/UP (see above) and will not be suitable with a dairy yogurt starter. These milk yogurts are typically thinner than dairy yogurt and will need a thickening agent. If you want 100% dairy free, you will want to find a direct set starter. s. Depending on the starter, it may follow a slightly different process. You can find these starters/cultures at your local health store, whole foods store or at Cultures For Health.  (2) (13)

Soy Milk – Will be thinner than dairy milk, but thickens up in the fridge. You can use to use a thickener, if you wish. Soy milk is a boxed, shelf stable milk, and is suitable for the Cold Start method

Chocolate Milk
There are additives in chocolate & other flavored milks, sugars and thickeners that can either compete with the yogurt cultures resulting in a lumpy yogurt or inhibit (slow down) the culturing process altogether, resulting in a runny or thin yogurt.

Some folks have reported success with a farm chocolate milk or homemade chocolate milk without the additives. Others have used Fairlife Chocolate milk, with mixed results. Your best bet is to make a traditional plain yogurt, strain it, and add your favorite chocolate syrup, or drink mix powder. (See Flavoring Your Yogurt, below)

My milk has a ‘sell by date’ that was yesterday. Can I still use it?
Maybe. The date does not mean that the product is unfit for consumption beyond it. Anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks leeway is allowed so that with proper storage, the consumer can assume the product will remain wholesome for a time in the home. How long not only is determined by storage conditions and usage, but also varies widely from product to product and brand to brand.” (18)

I would give the milk the smell/taste test and if it passes, use the boil cycle in making your yogurt. If you are choosing not to boil your milk, your yogurt is only as good as the date on your milk. To ensure successful batch of yogurt, it is best to use fresh milk and fresh yogurt starter.

For a 6 qt model, it is recommended that you use a half-gallon of milk. For the 8 quart model, use 1-1.5 gallons. This is recommended because the IP was tested using these measurements and found them to come to the correct temperature during one boil cycle. The markings on the inner pot do not correspond to actual cups/liters. They are markings used for making rice, using the 6oz plastic cup that comes with the IP.

You can use a gallon of milk to make yogurt in your 6qt Instant Pot, however, you may not reach the 180°F temp during the first boil cycle without some help. It is not critical to a successful yogurt to reach this temp. (See “I can’t reach 180°F on the first boil cycle,” below)

Another thing to consider when deciding between making a half gallon vs a gallon batch is if you decide to strain your yogurt. Ask yourself if you have the equipment necessary and the room in your fridge to handle a larger batch of yogurt.  (See “To Strain or Not to Strain," below)

Can I make a smaller batch of yogurt?
Absolutely. You can successfully make yogurt directly in the pot liner with as little as 4 cups of milk and 1.5 teaspoons of yogurt starter. Be extra careful to pay attention to the boil cycle temp and check the temp after 5-10 minutes have passed, as a smaller amount of milk will reach the 180°F a lot faster. Cool, temper your yogurt and proceed as normal.

Can I make a larger batch of yogurt?*
Absolutely. Depending on the size of you pressure cooker, you can fill your milk up to the max line, as making yogurt does not require pressure. Keep in mind that the 6 qt IP model was tested for a half gallon of milk and your larger batch may not get to the 180°F temp during the first boil cycle. (See Boil Cycle, below)

Your larger batch of yogurt will need additional time to cool down and if you choose to strain, make sure your equipment for straining can handle a larger batch of yogurt. If you have an 8 quart model, it can take much longer to heat, cool, and you would need to have the space in your fridge to chill and strain. *Cultures for Health recommends culturing no more than ½ gallon of yogurt per batch, as it is easier to keep the temperature consistent. (2)

If you are using 1%, Skim, or raw milk, it is perfectly acceptable to add any of the following ingredients to help thicken your yogurt. You can most certainly choose to add a thicker milk to whole milk. 

  • heavy cream
  • half & half milk
  • whole milk
  • non fat dry powdered milk
  • gelatin
  • agar agar powder
  • tapioca flour/starch
  • carrageenan
  • corn starch
  • corn flour
  • xanthan gum
  • flax seed, etc. 
Follow a recipe that uses any of these thickeners and adjust to get the consistency you want. If you want to use a thickener, mix it into a cup of cold milk to dissolve, then whisk into the rest of the milk, prior to heating. Most experts agree that the best way to thicken yogurt is to heat your milk to 180° and strain it. (6)

You will need a ‘starter’ to grow your yogurt. The most readily available starter is plain flavored store bought yogurt. 
Why do you need yogurt to make yogurt?
The live, active, carefully balanced blend of bacterial cultures in the yogurt will consume the lactose in your milk, convert it to lactic acid, giving your yogurt its classic tangy taste. The lactic acid will lower the pH of the milk, allowing it to be stored longer, changes the protein structure, giving your yogurt its thick texture.

Store bought yogurt contains thermophilic cultures. Thermophilic cultures require heat of 100°-110°F to culture. Powdered starters for making yogurt are available at whole and health foods stores or online: AmazonCultures For Health   New England Cheesemaking Supply

Mesophilic cultures can be used for making yogurt. They are cultured at room temperature, so the Instant Pot is not needed to maintain the temperature. Mesophilic yogurt is thinner than thermophilic, but if it's an heirloom yogurt starter, you can re-culture it indefinitely, as long as you are making yogurt weekly to keep it going. 

Probiotic Capsules can be used, but I do not have any experience using them to make yogurt, as they are expensive and I prefer to use store bought yogurt for my starters. There are many strains and strengths in probiotic caps, and using them for making yogurt can be hit and miss. Folks that have used them have only mentioned the following:
"Use 1 or 2 capsules per gallon of milk. Find a high quality, refrigerated probiotic.
Just because it lists probiotics, doesn’t mean it will culture yogurt well. Some have reported a ‘snot-like’ texture to using some probiotic capsules."

Yogurt contains 2 general types of bacteria: acid producers and body producers. (Think TANG/TEXTURE) Within each general type, there are many yogurt producing bacteria strains. Many yogurts made currently are fairly mild, as they are more popular. If you want a mild tasting yogurt, choose a yogurt that tastes mild to you. If you prefer a more tart yogurt, choose one that tastes tart to you. Incubation times will also affect how mild/tart your yogurt will be. Fage & Oui are considered mild yogurts, while Chobani, Siggis, and Greek Gods are more tart. (See Culturing Times, below)

How to Choose a Mild or Tangy Yogurt
Your choice of yogurt starter will impact the flavor and texture of your final yogurt. You may need to find a small, individual sized container and test the yogurt for yourself to see if it tastes mild to you. For example, some people think Oikos is mild, where others feel that it is tangy. Culturesforhealth.com lists the profiles of each of their yogurt starters as plain or tart. 

Mild yogurts: FAGE, most Greek style yogurts, Yoplait Oui, Oikos, Stonyfield, Cabot
Tart yogurts: Oikos, Greek Gods, Yogurmet
Canada/BC favorites: IO Go Pro Bio, Oikos (sweet), Olympic Krema, Astro

Choose a FRESHLY OPENED plain yogurt with a flavor and texture you like. Once opened, the yogurt begins to lose its culturing ability. Do not use a yogurt that has been opened 7 days or longer.  Fage is a popular choice as it is mild tasting and does not contain additives. If your yogurt has pectin or other thickener, it will still work, but may give a different texture. (6)

How to choose a store bought yogurt starter:

  • Look for a plain yogurt with CONTAINS LIVE OR ACTIVE CULTURES written on the label or listed in the ingredients.  "Made with Live/Active cultures" will not work. This means that the yogurt was once made with the live cultures, but once packaged/processed, they are no longer alive. Canadian law requires all yogurt to contain Live & Active bacterial cultures.
  • Fat content of your starter doesn't matter. It can be full fat or 0%. You only need the live cultures.
  • Buy an 8 oz or smaller container; you will have better luck with a smaller container than from a Costco economy sized container, as the smaller yogurts have a faster turnover and may be fresher.
  • Flavored yogurts or ones with fruit are not recommended, as they may inhibit or slow down the fermentation process. The amount of flavoring in the starter is not enough to flavor your yogurt. If you use a fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt, like Noosa, you can scrape off the plain yogurt on the top to use as a starter. Vanilla yogurt is fine to use as a starter. 
  • Not every brand has the same blend of cultures and not every yogurt cultures the same way. It's worth testing out a few different brands to see what you like. (11)
    • Yogurt with L. Casei  tend to set up more quickly, have more viscosity (thickness).
    • Yogurt with L. Bulgaricus and S. Thermophilus has less viscosity. 
  • Use freshly opened yogurt. You only need 1-2 Tablespoons of yogurt starter per half gallon (8 cups), so with any yogurt that is left over, free it in tablespoon portions for your next batch of homemade yogurt. Yogurt that is made with a starter 7 days or older often struggles to culture properly, often resulting in a thin, runny yogurt, or a lumpy, bitter, curdled yogurt. (2)
Bring your 1-2 Tablespoons of starter to room temperature by taking it out of the fridge or freezer prior to starting the boil cycle. Bringing it to room temperature will help make mixing and tempering your starter easier. (See Tempering Yogurt, below)

How much starter do I really need? Is more better?
1-2 Tablespoons of starter per 8 cups of milk is sufficient.* If you use more than 2 Tablespoons per 8 cups, the starter can crowd out the bacteria, creating either a thin consistency, or a lumpy yogurt with a sour and bitter taste. You will also get more whey when you use more starter. (2) (16)

Think of it this way. You are having a party and want to invite 50 people (your baby yogurt cultures). You have only enough food for 30 people (the lactose in your milk). The people (yogurt) quickly consume all the food (lactose), but then are still left hungry (and quit growing).  When you have the right amount of food and people (milk and starter), you will have happy and content guests (yogurt!).

*If you plan on incubating your yogurt for more than 10 hours, use only 1 Tablespoon per 8 cups, to allow the culture to continue to cultivate.

Can I freeze my starter? Can I use my yogurt as a starter for my next batch?
Yes! Prior to adding vanilla or sugar, freeze some of your yogurt or whey as a starter in 1 Tablespoon portions in an ice cube tray. Remove when frozen and transfer into a labeled freezer safe bag. Use within 6 months. Freezing does not kill the bacteria; it merely slows it down. However, after 6 months in the freezer, it can become weaker, and lose its viability to culture.

This Chef Craft Ice cube tray perfectly holds 1 tablespoon portions

To use your frozen starter, simply bring it out at the beginning of your boil cycle. It will thaw out sufficiently by the time your heated milk has cooled down, ready for tempering. 1 Tablespoon size portions thaw out more quickly than larger blocks of yogurt.  (See Tempering Yogurt, below)

If you are cultivating your yogurt for longer than 15-24 hours to create a lactose free yogurt, make sure you remove some yogurt at the 4 hour mark to use as a starter for your next batch. You want to make sure that it will have enough lactose to cultivate your next batch.  (See Culturing Times, below)

NOTE: When you are re-culturing your own yogurt as a starter, the yogurt you make from it is called the “first generation.” The next time you re-culture that yogurt as a starter, it is the “second generation.” The culturing viability is only good through generations 5-6 as the re-culturing process weakens the live bacteria over time. With each re-culturing, a dominant strain can take over, changing the tang or texture of your yogurt. At that time, you will need to begin with a fresh yogurt starter. I personally have a hard time keeping track of generations, so I only keep original, gen 1 & gen 2 starters in my freezer. If you want a yogurt starter that cultures indefinitely, look for an heirloom yogurt starter. (See also Can I Freeze My Yogurt? Below)

Yogurt experts agree that if you want to add a sweetener to your yogurt, it's best to add it after straining/chilling your yogurt. You want your yogurt bacteria culture to feed on the natural milk sugars (lactose), while feeding on other sugars is less desirable. Adding sugar or other sweeteners to your yogurt prior to incubation can inhibit or slow down the culturing process. (11)

It is believed that alcohol from vanilla extract can interfere with the culturing process as well. If you want the flavor of vanilla in your yogurt, you can add a split vanilla bean to your milk during the boil cycle, but if you plan on straining your yogurt, it is best to add the vanilla and sugars after you have strained. This way, all your flavor can be concentrated into your yogurt and you will not lose any vanilla flavor with your whey.

You may want to use some of your unflavored yogurt for other purposes: save some of your thick, strained yogurt to use as a starters for future yogurt, to use as substitutes for mayo, sour cream, cream cheese, or for a veggie dip.

You can use any lid for the entire yogurt process. 

The ‘boil’ setting on your Instant Pot is really not boiling your milk. Milk boils around 212.3°F, and the Boil setting on the IP is ~160°F-180°F. This is more of a ‘scalding’ of your milk, rather than a true boil. My guess is that the word “BOIL” fit better than “SCALD” on the display.

You have some choices as to which temp to heat your milk:

100°-110°F is the perfect temp for thermophilic yogurt cultures (the kind that are in store bought yogurt) to grow into yogurt.

118°F Destruction of milk enzymes begin and end at 180°F.

160°F, held for 15 seconds, is the temp considered to be ‘home pasteurization.’ This is a process that kills any potential harmful organisms or bacteria that may be present in raw milk. This temp is not necessary if you are using store bought pasteurized milk.

180°F  This is the temp that not only the bacteria in raw milk is killed, but the enzymes in the milk are destroyed. Many of the proteins in the milk are denatured, or changed, to help create a thicker, denser and milder yogurt. Denaturing increases the ability of the whey proteins to bind to some of the other proteins in the milk and result in a firmer, thicker yogurt.

180°+ milk at this temperature can scorch and often leads to a more ‘cooked’ taste to yogurt. Milk can be held at this temp or higher for 10-20 minutes, which allows for some evaporation, concentration, additional denaturing of proteins, which can result in a thicker yogurt.  

Reasons to use the boil cycle are:

-       To get a thicker, denser and milder yogurt with a slightly greater yield, by Heating your milk to 180°F. You can still achieve a thick yogurt by straining or by adding thickeners without hitting this temp. (gelatin, powdered milk, etc).
-       If you are using raw milk, you have the option to use the boil cycle to “home pasteurize “ your milk, which is bringing it to a certain temp for a duration of time. The definition of home pasteurization is not standard. I found temps ranging from 145°F – 165°F and durations anywhere from 5 min to 30 min. You will need to research this and decide for yourself. Unheated raw milk has natural bacteria that can compete with the yogurt bacteria, resulting in a thinner set yogurt.
-       This author, a professional chef, has an interesting article (Nwedible.com) about heating vs. not heating your milk for yogurt making. (5)

If you are using Ultra Pasteurized (UP) milk or Ultra High Temperature (UHT) milk, you may be able to skip the boil cycle, as the milk has already been heated past the 180° temp. Use the boil cycle for 5-10 min for a half gallon (15-20 min for a full gallon) to gently bring the temp up to the 100°F-110°F range, and temper in your starter. Keep in mind that some UP/UHT milks are hit and miss for making yogurt.

Can I skip the heating step and start yogurt from cold?
The 'cold start' or 'no boil' method works best with Fairlife milk and a handful of other ultra pasteurized milks that have added protein. UP milk is heated to 280°F, killing 99.9% of the bacteria and is packaged in aseptic, sterile containers. You can also see them as "shelf stable" milk that is not in the refrigeration section.

With regular, pasteurized milk (and in raw milk), there are natural bacteria present that can compete with the bacteria in thermophilic cultures, resulting in yogurt that doesn’t look set, or have an unusual texture, so it’s best to heat your milk to at least 100°-110°F to give your yogurt bacteria a fighting chance to make a successful yogurt.

If you put cold milk and yogurt starter into your IP, push the yogurt normal setting, it will take about 30-50 min for 1/2 -1 gallon of milk to reach the optimal yogurt incubation range (100°-110°F) to begin culturing. During this hour, if regular pasteurized milk is used, there is enough natural bacteria present that can grow and interfere/compete with your yogurt before it has a chance to become active in the yogurt culturing range. 

With any milk (unless it is UP/UHT), it is my recommendation that you heat your milk to at least 100°-110°, add your yogurt starter, and begin culturing.  You can use the yogurt Boil cycle and set a kitchen timer for 10-15 min for a half gallon, or 20-25 min for a full gallon to heat your milk to the 110° temp range. If you want to heat your milk to 160°-180°, use the full boil cycle.

Can I still skip the heating step if I use UP/UHT shelf stable milk?
You can; however, it may need a longer incubation time to set. Fairlife, Lactaid, Natrel, and Kroger CARBmaster milks are UP/UHT milk is 99.9% bacteria free, so there is no risk for bacteria to grow if you are using very clean equipment. This poses a low risk of competition with the yogurt bacterial culture. Since it only takes about 30-50 min for the yogurt normal setting to heat the milk to the incubation range, your UP/UHT milk should still be safe. It may be need to be strained to be thicker. Fairlife has added protein, which helps thicken yogurt, while Lactaid does not. 

You can read more about the Fairlife Cold Start method in this post.  It talks about what Fairlife milk is, why it works, and shows a video how thick it looks without straining. There's even a cost analysis to see if it is worth the higher cost of the milk. 
“Shelf stable milk has been ultra pasteurized (UHT) and is packaged in aseptic cartons. This allows the milk to sit at room temperature in the grocery stores. However, it must be refrigerated after being opened and consumed within 7-10 days to maintain quality and food safety.It’s important to remember, that opened milk, regardless of the type, should never be left in temperatures above 40° for more than 2 hours.” - (Best Food Facts)
Can I use the stovetop or microwave to heat my milk?
You can; however, you will need to watch your milk carefully, as milk can boil over easily and can scorch.

You will get your smoothest, creamiest texture yogurt if your milk is brought up to temp slowly and evenly. The IP does a great job of this, without any worries of boiling over or scorching (especially if you use the ice cube tip!) Heating your milk too high, or too quickly, can leave not only a cooked taste to your yogurt, but also leave it tasting grainy or gritty.  (16) (2) 

How to find the Boil Setting on your Instant Pot

Press Yogurt
Quickly push ADJUST,
Repeatedly push ADJUST until you see BOIL on your display.

Push Yogurt,
Quickly push the Adjust button once.

Select the Yogurt program
Press the YOGURT key repeatedly until you see MORE on the display
In 10 seconds, heating will begin
When the boil cycle has ended, the IP will beep 3 times and display YOGT.

Turn the dial to YOGURT
Press the dial to select it
Press the dial to select TIME (30 min for a half gallon, 60 min for a full gallon)
Press the dial to confirm the time
Turn the dial to TEMP
Push the dial to select
Select HIGH temp for BOIL
Pus START and the milk will heat
When the boil cycle has ended, the display will show YOGT.

Adding ICE CUBES helps keep milk from sticking to the pot! 

Tip: To prevent your milk from sticking to your IP liner during the boil cycle, rub an ice cube over the inside bottom of the pot before adding the milk. Or put several ice cubes in the pot liner and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Why does this work? Harold McGee, an author of the chemistry of food and cooking, has this to say:

            “When you rinse the pot with water, you pre-coat the metal surface with water molecules, and that coat seems to protect the surface from direct contact with the milk proteins when you pour the milk in. When you turn on the heat, the protein molecules take longer to contact the hot metal and bond to it. So less protein sticks to the pan bottom and scorches.” (15)

Not much milk sticks to the bottom of the pot and wipes clean with no scrubbing
The ice cube tip also helped reach this temp on one boil cycle with a gallon of milk!

The boil cycle on your IP ranges from approx. 160°F - 180°F. This is not a true “boil,” but more of a scalding temp. 180°F is the temperature when enzymes in the milk are destroyed and many of the proteins are denatured, resulting in a thicker yogurt. The lactic acid released by the good bacteria during the culturing process causes these proteins to reform a mesh, which is what thickens the yogurt. Do not assume that your milk is at 180° after the first boil cycle. Whisk your milk, then take the temperature to make sure.

What lid do I use? Vent open or closed?
You can use the IP lid, seal, vent closed, or a lid from your pots and pans, as long as it fits well. You can even use a glass pie plate or a large dinner plate. There is no pressure used during the entire process and if you use the IP lid, it won’t affect the timer if you open the lid to stir, and replace the lid.
This 10" Silicone lid works great!

How long does it take for the milk to boil?
A half-gallon of milk takes about 25-30 minutes to complete the boil cycle. At the end of the boil cycle, there may be a thin layer of “skin” on the surface of the milk, which can be removed with a spoon or whisk. Removing this skin will ensure that you have a smooth and silky yogurt.

The “skin” on top of the milk is comprised of solid proteins that combine with the milk’s fat molecules, which begin to evaporate as the milk is heated. These proteins, casein and beta, clump together when the liquid reaches a temperature of around 113°-122°F. (45°-50°C)

*If your milk begins to curdle, it is past its prime and is going sour. You can add some vinegar, lemon juice, or yogurt whey to help it curdle more and make a ricotta cheese from it.

**RAW MILK: Pasteurization of raw milk is done in one of two ways: Heat the milk to 161°F for 15 seconds, or to 145°F for 30 minutes. Yogurt requires milk to be kept at 110°F for hours, which kills the pathogenic bacteria, while encouraging the growth of the bacteria needed for yogurt, that makes it tangy and thick. Pregnant women, children, and those with suppressed immune systems should NOT consume raw milk because the bacteria present in raw milk that are killed by pasteurization can cause illness and sometimes death.

Using the Ring/Seal
I have found more success in reaching the 180°F or higher on one boil cycle by using the IP lid/ring/and moving the pressure valve to SEALING. You can take out the seal, but your yogurt may not reach the desired temp in one boil cycle.

The smell of previously cooked foods, especially spicy foods, may transfer to your yogurt. Some folk’s sense of smell and taste is more sensitive than others. You can use a glass lid that fits well, a lid from your pots or pans, a flat silicone suction lid, or use a secondary seal specifically for Rice/Cheesecake/Yogurt, or even a flat silicone suction lid for the entire process.

Instant Pot customer service has mentioned that the IP’s were tested with a half gallon of milk in the 6 quart model to reach 180° during the first cycle. The 8 quart should successfully work with a full gallon of milk. Their manual specifications indicate that the temp range for the boil cycle is approximately 160°F-180°F. Many folks are struggling with reaching the 180°F temp with a full gallon of milk, even when the boil cycle takes almost an hour. It's not critical to reach this temp for a successful yogurt, but here are some tips to try:


  • Use a clean, cool pot, cool IP*  (no sanitizing needed if pot is clean and has no soap residue)
  • Use only a half gallon of milk*
  • Bring milk out 30 min prior to starting to take off the chill
  • Use the IP lid/seal/valve set to sealing - or a snug lid that fits
  • Whisk your milk every 10-15 min (without scraping bottom of the pot) to help regulate the temp as it is hotter near the bottom and cooler near the surface of the milk.
  • As a last resort, use the SAUTE LOW setting while whisking constantly, being careful not to scrape the cooked on milk solids on the bottom of the pot, which can affect the texture of your yogurt. Heating milk too quickly, too hot, can cause a grainy or gritty texture to your yogurt. It can also make your yogurt taste more "cooked." (2) (6) (16)
*Cultures for Health has also recommended culturing no more than ½ gallon of yogurt per batch, as it is easier to keep the temperature consistent. (2)

*Many are not reaching the temp after sterilizing their pot. Sterilizing your pot and making yogurt soon after using your IP for a previous dish can be the culprit. Sterilizing is a personal preference and is done by adding 1-2 cups of water to the pot and using the steam setting for a minute or two. 

image from InstantPot.com

If you try to use the boil cycle while your IP and inner pot are hot/warm, you may not be able to reach the 180°F temp because of the heat sensor button at the bottom of your pot is reading the temp from there. Personally, I hand wash my pot, all equipment very well, make sure there is no soap residue, and see no need for sterilization. If you are pregnant, elderly or have a compromised immune system, you may want to utilize the sanitization step.

If you are unable to reach 180°F on the first boil cycle, you could try another boil cycle. It will be much shorter in duration than the first one. During the first cycle, milk solids have begun to cook on the bottom of you pot, triggering the heat sensor and engaging the safety feature to shut your IP off before your batch of milk reaches temp.  That is why your second boil cycle is shorter. You may only gain an additional 5 degrees with the second cycle. I personally find that using multiple boil cycles are counterproductive. 

I would NOT try more than 2 boil cycles. At this point, you can either continue by cooling your milk (you’ll still get a great yogurt and thicken by straining) or, and I say this cautiously…use the sauté setting (low) and whisk constantly, checking the temp till it reaches 180°. If you do not watch your milk, it can foam, boil over, and damage your pressure cooker. 

Make sure you are using an accurate thermometer! Test your milk after a quick whisk (being careful not to scrape the bottom), as the milk at the bottom is often hotter than the milk at the surface, due to the heating element under your pot. 

Remember that it is NOT crucial to reach this temp. You can still get a successful yogurt and thicken it by straining. Yogurt that is heated to 160°F will taste fresh, a little fruity, and will be thinner and more tart when it sets. (11)

There is “scorched” or cooked on milk on the bottom of my pot. What can I do to clean it and how can I prevent this from happening again?
This is cooked on milk from the proteins in contact with the heating element at the bottom of your pot. This is a normal result of using the boiling cycle and may be more prominent if using the sauté setting to help the milk reach temp. You can reduce the amount of cooked on milk by utilizing the Ice Cube Tip listed above, under the Boil Cycle section. Using this tip will not only reduce the amount of milk solids on the bottom of your pot, it will wipe clean very easily. 

To remove any scorched milk, immediately after pouring your yogurt into your lined strainer, fill your pot with hot, soapy water and let it sit for a few minutes. Use a nylon scrubber or similar sponge to take off the cooked milk.

 It is very important to cool your heated milk down to 100°F-110°F, as that is the temp your yogurt cultures will grow and thrive. Any hotter than 115°F, your cultures can die, and you will end up with warm milk, not yogurt, at the end of the yogurt cycle. Any lower than 90°F, and your starter will have a harder time culturing and may need a longer incubation time. (2)

You have 2 options to cool down your yogurt before adding your starter. Both options are safe and effective to use. The first option takes more time, the second option cools your milk faster and does not harm the yogurt:

Option 1: Cool down at room temperature. For a half gallon of milk, this can take up to an hour. Check the temp by stirring your cooled milk with a whisk (not scraping the bottom of the pot, as there may be cooked milk solids). Stirring the milk solids from the bottom will affect the texture of your yogurt. Stirring the milk ensures that you’ll get rid of any “hot spots” that can kill some or your entire starter.

Option 2: Use an ice water bath. Fill a large bowl/sink with ice cubes, and a few cups of cold tap water. Place your IP liner of heated milk in the ice water. Stir your milk, without scraping the bottom of the pot, and take the temp every couple of minutes. A half gallon of milk can be cooled to a 110°F temp using this method in about 5 minutes. A gallon will only take about 10 minutes.
If you don’t have access to ice, you can use frozen gel packs, or a sink of cold water. 

HELP! I let my yogurt cool too low…it’s 90 degrees. What do I do?
You can still put your starter in. Use your cooled milk to temper your yogurt (see below) and continue with the incubation cycle of your yogurt.

If it is lower than 90°F, push the yogurt normal button and wait about 15 minutes. This yogurt setting is about 105°- 110°F. Give your heated milk a quick stir to prevent hot spots, test the temp again with your thermometer, and continue the yogurt process.

I forgot to cool my yogurt and added the starter! What do I do next?
Your starter has been killed at the high temperature. Cool your milk with one of the two methods above to 110°F- 115°F. Temper another starter and continue with the yogurt process.

Tempering means to bring your room temperature starter to the same temperature as your cooled milk, which should be in the 100°-110°F range.  Make sure you whisk it smooth before stirring it into your cooled milk. The only way you can “kill” your starter is if your milk is over 115°F. 

You can, however, keep in mind that yogurt experts like to add them after the yogurt has set and chilled. Alcohol in the vanilla can inhibit the culturing process and sugars, and especially honey, can slow down the culturing process. You want your yogurt starter to feed on the natural sugars (lactose) in your milk, not on added sugar or sweeteners. (11) (2)
(See Flavoring Your Yogurt, below)

There are 3 yogurt settings on the IP: LESS/NORMAL/MORE
The less setting (86°-93°F) is too low of a temp to culture yogurt properly. Using this setting will give you partially cultured, runny, thin or very loose yogurt with bit of yogurt throughout. This setting is intended for fermenting rice and works well for proofing yeast breads. 

The normal setting (96°-109°F) is what you want for the proper fermentation and culturing of your yogurt. 

The more setting (160°-180°F) is for heating, scalding or pasteurizing your milk prior to making yogurt. If you add your yogurt starter to this temp, it will kill your culture and you will not get yogurt, you will get hot, curdled milk. 

How to find the yogurt normal setting on your Instant Pot

push Yogurt, then Adjust (Display reads BOIL, More button is lit)
push Yogurt, then Adjust 2x (Display reads 24:00, Low button is lit) ~ 86°F – 93°F
   (This setting temp is too low to culture yogurt properly. It's for proofing bread dough and for fermenting rice)   
push Yogurt, then Adjust (Display reads 8:00, NORMAL button is lit
     (This is the right setting for culturing yogurt)

Turn dial to YOGURT
Press to select
Press the dial again to set TIME (5-24 hours, depending on how tart you want it)
Press the dial to confirm
Turn dial to TEMP (110° is optimal) –or- MEDIUM
Press dial to confirm
Press the START button.
Incubation will start.
When the cycle has ended, the display will show YOGT.

Press +/- to set incubation time (5-24 hours, depending on how tart you want it)
When finished, the IP will beep and display YOGT.


**Your model may have a “memory” of your last setting (BOIL) and no matter what you do or what buttons you push, your display still says BOIL and MORE is lit. 

This video will show you the 3 yogurt settings on the IP Duo and how to clear the memory of your last setting. 

To clear out the memory, push/hold the ADJUST button for 3 seconds. It will beep and you will be able to push:

Yogurt (one time) and your display should say 8:00 and the NORMAL button is lit. 
It will say 0:00 and will begin counting UP to the time you set.

CULTURING TIMES – How long should I incubate my yogurt?
It depends on how mild or how tart you want your yogurt to be. Yogurt begins to set around hours 5-6 and the average incubation for most people is 8-10. You can choose a longer fermentation for a tangier yogurt. 

If you choose to cultivate more than 10 hours, make sure you only use 1 Tablespoon of yogurt for your starter. The yogurt setting does NOT go to keep warm when it is done. It shuts off, with YOGT on the display. Make sure you will be awake or available when your yogurt is ready.

To change the 8:00 default yogurt time, push the (+) and (-) buttons to your desired culturing time.

Does a longer incubation mean a thicker yogurt?
No. Your yogurt becomes more tart the longer it incubates. If you want a thicker yogurt, choose higher fat content milk, add a thickener and/or strain it.

  • Yogurt begins to set around hours 5-6. The IP defaults to 8 hours, which is the average time that most people culture their yogurt.
  • The longer you culture your yogurt, the more acidic or tangy it will taste. If you choose to incubate 10 hours or longer (up to 24 hrs), use only 1 Tablespoon of starter per 8 cups of milk.
  • If you want a mild tasting yogurt, check it at the 5th hour and take a small spoonful (no stirring!) and taste it. If you want more tang, add some time. Putting your yogurt into the fridge to strain immediately after incubation will slow down the production of acidic tasting whey. Straining also helps removes much of the whey that makes a tangy yogurt.
  • You can make a lactose free yogurt from a 15-24 hours culturing time and/or straining your yogurt to remove most of the lactose. Remember to use only 1 Tablespoon of yogurt starter for a half gallon of milk. If your yogurt is too tart, you can look at the troubleshooting tips at the bottom of this post for help in balancing out the tartness. 
Using the Eurocuisine strainer to make thick yogurt and weighing the yield on the OXO Good Grips Digital scale. Using a scale helps portion yogurt into individual serving sizes. 

Straining your yogurt is what makes it a Greek Style yogurt. If you strain it completely, you will get what is called “yogurt cheese.” Straining is a personal preference. Straining helps remove much of the lactose, acidic tasting whey and results in a much thicker yogurt. Straining your yogurt also reduces the lactic acid (that makes yogurt tart), reduces the lactose (milk sugars), carbs, and increases the protein of your yogurt. The yogurt that is strained will give you more protein and fewer carbs (milk sugars). For more about whey and what it is, see the topic, "What is Whey", below. 

After incubation is finished, your yogurt may appear very thick, however, if you take a small spoonful (no stirring) and stir that spoonful into another dish, the once thick yogurt will thin out. This is because you are breaking the delicate protein strands that are holding your yogurt together, allowing the whey to be exposed and mixed into your yogurt. If this is the consistency you like (and the taste/tartness you like), you are good to put the entire pot of yogurt in the fridge to slow down the process of acidic whey and set your yogurt.

Choosing a material to strain is very much a personal preference! You may have what you need right at home. There are many, many options to choose from. Consider what will work the easiest for you. You may need to try a few before you settle on what you like best. The key to removing any material easily is to strain it as long as possible: (half gallon: 4 hours warm from incubation or overnight if chilled) Another great tip is to wet your cheesecloth or fabric and wring it before using; the yogurt tends to stick less. 

IKEA flour sack towel and stainless steel strainer

Quality Coffee Filters 
Pros: Inexpensive, easy to use and dispose. Half Gallon and Gallon Size

Cheap filters will rip, shred and the little pieces will not taste good in your yogurt! Some folks find it difficult to peel the coffee filter off. 
It works better if you wet your coffee filters and strain your yogurt fully.
If your yogurt is too thick, you can whisk some whey back in to your desired consistency.

Not environmentally friendly.

Quality Paper Towels
Pros: paper towels are easy to use, disposable. 
Don't use cheap paper towels, as they can rip, shred, and be impossible to pick out of your yogurt. Like coffee filters, they work best is dampened, and yogurt has strained fully.

Cons: Added, though minimal cost. Not environmentally friendly.
Bamboo Heavy Duty Paper Towels: reusable, organic, machine washable

Pouring yogurt into the Eurostrainer right after incubation to chill in the fridge.

EuroCuisine Yogurt Strainer - Plastic - Stainless Steel version
Pros: Easy to use, holds a half gallon of yogurt. Includes a lid for storage and stacking if two strainers are used. Use kitchen sprayer and hot water to clean. BPA free. 

Environmentally friendly. Stainless steel version is more durable; may be dishwasher safe.
Cons: Added one time cost, some leakage of yogurt (about 1/2 teaspoon), yogurt sticks to mesh, only holds a gallon, mesh is delicate, hand wash only, stainless steel version is more durable, but costs more.

Butter Muslin
Butter muslin is a very fine fabric used in making butter and cheese. 

Pros: 100% cotton, reusable, washable, environmentally friendly. 
Cons: Requires care in washing; need to use unscented detergent.

Flour Sack Towels, White Pillowcase, Cheesecloth 
Pros: 100% cotton, reusable, washable, environmentally friendly. Inexpensive .79 linen towels can be found at IKEA. The IKEA towels can be found on Amazon as well.

Cons: Requires care in washing; need to use unscented detergent. Some find using cheesecloth messy and difficult to get all the yogurt out. 
Cleaning cheeseclothWash in the washing machine or by hand in the sink. Avoid detergents and fabric softeners. Use only mild detergent if necessary, and rinse thoroughly to remove any soap residue. If there are bits of curd sticking to the cloth, rinse with whey or white vinegar to help remove it – from culturesforheatlh.com

Straining Bag, Nut Milk Bag
Pros: Can strain large batches of yogurt. TIP: Must turn inside out (with seam on the outside) so yogurt doesn't get trapped in the seams. Washable. Environmentally friendly. Must use with a strainer or colander, set over another bowl to catch the whey.
Extra large Almond Milk Bag. Hatrigo MicronNylon mesh bag (holds up to a gallon).

Cons: Some find handling the large bag cumbersome and difficult to get the yogurt out. 

White T-shirt, Men's handkerchief, White cloth napkins, Bandanna, Hop/Grain Steeping bag, Fine Mesh Laundry bag, use your imagination!

Chilling your yogurt “sets” the milk solids of your yogurt, making it slightly firmer. It also sets it so the whey layered throughout has a more difficult time coming out. 

If you do not plan on straining your yogurt, you can chill it right away. You can also slowly pour your warm yogurt into another container to chill in the fridge. This will allow you to use your IP while your yogurt is chilling. 

I have tried both methods, using a coffee filter with a half gallon of whole milk yogurt. 

Batch A: Chilled 4 hours
               Strained 8 hours for 4 cups of whey
               Thick, cream cheese-like texture

Batch B: Poured warm, right from incubation, into strainer, put in the fridge
               Strained 4 hours for 4 cups of whey.
               Thick, cream cheese-like texture

Batch A, the chilled yogurt, took twice as long to strain the whey completely. Also, I discovered that when chilling my yogurt first, it also chilled the cooked milk solids on the bottom of my pan, and when it is scraped into my yogurt, it contributed a ‘grainy’ texture to it. 

To help you decide, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What material am I using to strain my yogurt?
  2. Do I need my IP free during the day while my yogurt is chilling?
  3. How quickly do I want to be able to enjoy my yogurt?
You can strain right away if:

A)Your yogurt looks set after your incubation cycle is finished (no milky yogurt)

B) Use a super fine mesh yogurt strainer, extra large coffee filters or butter muslin set over a sieve or colander. If you use cheesecloth, you will want to use several layers. 

**If you are unsure about the material you are using to strain, test it right away after incubation. If your whey is clear, you are ok. If your whey is milky or cloudy, you will need to use a different material, add another layer, or chill your yogurt completely prior to straining.

Pouring yogurt warm from incubation into a coffee lined pasta strainer. 
You can see the milk solids on the bottom of the pot are wiped easily because of the ice cube tip.

Milky whey is a sign that you are losing yogurt through your straining material. If this happens, you will want to use another layer of material and strain it in the fridge. You will want clear whey for a couple of reasons: 1) to keep as much of your yogurt as possible, and 2) to be able to keep your whey in the fridge for up to 6 months. If there are yogurt solids in your whey, it will only last a couple of weeks in the fridge. 

Can I strain at room temperature?
Yes, you can. Keep in mind that your yogurt will continue to ferment and become more tart. Two hours is the maximum length of time that yogurt can be above 90°F. (17)

I like mild yogurt, so I prefer to strain in the fridge as the cold temps slow down the production of acidic whey, which causes yogurt to become tart.

How long do I need to strain my yogurt?
It depends on how thick you want it, if you chilled it first and what material you are using to strain it with. Chilled yogurt takes almost twice as long to strain the whey as it would straight from incubation. For example, chilled yogurt for 4 hours, takes 6 hours to strain almost 4 cups of whey, whereas straight from incubation, only takes 3-4 hours to strain the same amount of whey. 

Using a more loosely woven material, such as cheesecloth, allows more to come through, but you would need to chill your yogurt first. You can strain it overnight to get what is called “yogurt cheese,” with similar texture and consistency of cream cheese. If your strained yogurt is too thick, you can whisk some whey back in, a little at a time, to your desired consistency.

Instant Coffee dissolves well for a coffee flavored yogurt

The possibilities are endless, but for best results, add your sweeteners and vanilla extracts once the yogurt has set or after it has been strained, if you choose to strain your yogurt. (11)

Love Noosa style yogurt? Consider adding some sweetened condensed milk (in place of sugar) to your milk or Fairlife milk to give it an extra creamy, sweet taste. 

Honey dissolves better when it is slightly warmed. Fruit, jam, flavored syrups, protein powder, powdered drink mixes, mint, herbs….. the best part is that YOU get to decide what flavorings go in your very own yogurt. Herbs, garlic and other savory flavorings make for a wonderful dip for veggies or in other recipes.

Tea flavoring syrups add great flavor to yogurt

Can I add vanilla or sweeteners to my yogurt prior to incubation?
First, ask yourself the following questions:
1.  “Am I planning on straining my yogurt?”
2.   “Am I planning to use your yogurt as a substitute for mayonnaise or sour                   cream?”
3.   “Do I want successful yogurt the first time around?”

If you answered, “Yes,” to any of these questions, you will want to flavor your yogurt after it has finished incubating. Adding sweeteners and vanilla extract can inhibit (slow down) the culturing process of your yogurt and much of your flavor will get strained out with the whey.

Ball Freezer Jars - 5 oz of yogurt allows room for toppings and add-ins

Plain yogurt is great to use as a substitute for mayonnaise, sour cream, or even cream cheese. However, yogurt is more fun to eat when your favorite flavors are involved! Here are some ideas to sweeten and flavor your yogurt, which are best added after chilling and straining. 

No Artificial flavors or dyes!

My grandson LOVES Strawberry Nesquik in his yogurt!

Any food safe plastic container or glass jar (Mason jar) with a lid will work. Most folks like to use an 8 oz canning jar (plastic or glass) with a plastic lid to store individual sized containers. 

You can keep your entire batch of yogurt in a single container, as well. If you do, make sure you use a clean spoon each time you scoop out your yogurt. 
Squooshi Pouches

Pouches are great for children and can be used for applesauce and other pureed fruits. Yogurt tubes are fun for a lot of kids. Some are disposable, others are reusable. Squooshi comes with reusable pouches and a filling station. 

From Walmart

The shelf life of your yogurt depends on how you store it. It should be in an airtight container, which will deter bacteria from other foods entering and keep the yogurt tasting fresh. Store at 40°F or below. With these conditions, your yogurt can last up 2-3 weeks. However, it may not last that long…it will get eaten up very quickly! 

If you store your yogurt in a large container, make sure you use a clean spoon each time you scoop out your yogurt. You will not want any cross contamination causing your yogurt to become moldy. 

If you add fruit, fruit compotes or syrups, your yogurt will be fine for 4-10 days. (20)

Signs of spoilage are: unnatural smell, taste, discoloration, or large quantities of whey pooling on the surface. If in doubt, throw it out! (17)

Can I freeze my yogurt?
Yes, you can, but once thawed, the texture may be different. It can separate, become grainy and watery. You can whisk it and will still be edible. I don't like it as much for eating, but it can be used in recipes. 

Freezing 1 Tablespoon portions for using yogurt as a starter is a great way to have fresh starter on hand for each batch of yogurt you make.  Starters will keep well in the freezer for up to 6 months. Smaller portion sizes thaw out much more quickly; bring out the frozen cube at room temp at the beginning of your boil cycle and it will be thawed out enough to mash and temper with your cooled milk.

You can make frozen yogurt by adding additional sugar to your whole milk yogurt and use an ice cream maker to make a soft serve yogurt. Additional sugar prevents the yogurt from freezing rock hard solid, like a popsicle.

  • Starters for future yogurt- freeze in tablespoon portions
  • Smoothies
  • Sub for mayo, sour cream, cream cheese
  • Add herbs for veggie dip
  • Taziki
  • Marinade for meat
  • Parfaits
  • Frozen yogurt ice cream
  • Quick breads (banana bread)
  • Salad dressing base

Whey is that clear, yellowish-green liquid that you may see on top of your yogurt or when you strain your yogurt. Whey is the byproduct of the bacteria consuming the lactose (natural sugars) in the milk. 

Whey is mostly water, lactic acid and sugar (lactose). There is very little protein in whey. After your yogurt finishes incubating, you may not see the whey, but it is there, layered throughout your yogurt. Even after chilling, if you take a small spoonful, you will see whey begin to pool into the spot you scooped up your yogurt. Stir this into a bowl and it will thin out. Straining your yogurt will help you achieve the thickness you want.

How much whey should I expect?
It depends on the fat content of the milk, if you heated it to 180°F, how much starter was added, how active your starter is, and how long you strained it. Longer incubation times can produce more whey separation.
8 cups of Whole milk, heated to 180°F, incubated for 5-6 hours, with only 1 tablespoon of active yogurt, will give you the least amount of whey.
8 cups of 2% milk, heated to 180°F, with 1 tablespoon of starter, incubated for 8 hours, strained with coffee filters for 3 hours, 1 t. vanilla + ¼ c. sugar = 5.5 cups yogurt and 3.75 cups of whey.

How do I get less whey in my yogurt?
Whey is a natural byproduct of making yogurt. There will always be whey in your yogurt, but you can reduce the amount or add a thickener. If you boost the fat content, you will get less whey. With Whole and 2% milk, it is common to get half yogurt, half whey. With 1% and Skim milks, you will get more whey; about 40/60 yogurt/whey. The higher the protein, the less whey and thicker your yogurt will be. 

You can certainly “boost” your milk fat/protein content by adding some heavy cream, half and half or milk powder to your milk.  (try 1/3 cup dry non fat milk powder per quart of whole or low fat milk/ 2/3 cup powder when using skim milk) Milk that is higher in protein, such as Fairlife milk, can give you a thicker yogurt.

You can add unflavored gelatin to your yogurt, for a no-strain yogurt. Sprinkle 2 Tablespoons of gelatin into 1/2 cup of cold milk while the rest of your 8 cups of milk is heating. Add the gelatin to the cooled milk along with your yogurt starter. After incubating, put the pot of yogurt into the fridge to chill. You can add flavor and even use a mixer for a delicious whipped yogurt. 

How long  does whey last?
If your whey is clear, (no yogurt solids), it will last up to 6 months in fridge,  6 months in freezer. If your whey is milky or cloudy, it will only last 2-3 weeks in the fridge.

If you want to use whey as a yogurt starter, freeze is right after straining. Yes, you can use whey as your starter! After 7 days, the whey, like yogurt, may be too weak to culture properly. The fresher the whey and yogurt, the higher your chances are of a successful yogurt.

What to do with the left over whey?
Don't throw out your whey! There are many uses for whey, including in your cooking and baking. Some folks have had success in using their whey as a starter for their next batch of yogurt, 2 Tablespoons per 8 cups of milk.

Can I use leftover whey to make ricotta?
No. The whey from yogurt making is too clear (no evidence of yogurt solids) to make ricotta. Ricotta is usually made from the leftover whey from making cheese. You can use milk, add vinegar or lemon juice, heat till you get curds and strain to make a great ricotta cheese. Here is a great recipe for making ricotta in your Insant Pot.

Some uses for whey:
Pie crust - use ice cold whey in place of water
Breads, biscuits, pancakes, waffles, etc.  
In any recipe, replace the milk and buttermilk with whey. 
Whey acts as a natural tenderizer and preservative for your breads, extending its shelf life.
Add it in your soups, broths, and in your rice in place of some/ all of the water while cooking. 

Flaky, light biscuits - made with whey in place of buttermilk
Here is a great site that lists many, many uses for your yogurt whey, from Don't Waste the Crumbs:

You can save your yogurt and your whey to use as a starter for your next batch of yogurt! Freeze it in tablespoon portions in an ice cube tray; when frozen, transfer to a freezer safe baggie and date it. It should be good for up to 6 months. I do not recommend freezing yogurt for starters that has sugar, vanilla extract, flavoring or even gelatin in it. The additional ingredients can interfere with the culturing process of your yogurt. 

To use your frozen starter, take it out at room temperature at the beginning of the boil cycle, or 30 minutes before you use the cold start method. By the time the boil cycle is finished and your yogurt has cooled down, your starter should be thawed out enough to mash and temper it with your cooled milk. Make sure your milk is around 100°-110°F, or the hot milk will kill your starter, even if it is semi-frozen. Don't try microwaving to thaw out your starter. If you are in a hurry, you can set your frozen starter in a clean cup, and set the cup in some hot tap water. Freezing your yogurt or whey as starters in single tablespoon portions will thaw out more quickly than a larger, 2 Tablespoon cube. 

Your yogurt starters will not last indefinitely. Your starter from your original yogurt is the first generation. The starter used from that batch of yogurt is your second generation, and so on. By the 5th or 6th generations, your yogurt will be noticeably weaker and your yogurt may appear thinner. That is when you will need to start over with a brand new starter. You may also notice the flavor and texture change with each recultured batch. If this is happening, you may want to purchase a new starter. I personally only keep original, 1st and 2nd generation starters in my freezer. They will keep viable in the freezer for up to 6 months.

If you want a yogurt starter that you can reculture indefinitely, look into purchasing an heirloom starter. These are powdered starters that you can find online or at a whole foods store. They will work well as long as you are making yogurt weekly.

My Fitness Pal has a recipe calculator that may help, but if you are straining your yogurt, that can make it a little more challenging. You can assume that the incubated yogurt is the same nutritional value as your milk, then you can measure the amount of whey and subtract the nutritional values of liquid whey, which is covered in the next section. Adding sugars or any other flavorings will need to be considered.
MyFitnessPal Homemade Yogurt values:
Whole Milk
2% Milk
1% Milk
Skim Milk
24 hour fermented and strained

When you strain your yogurt, you will reduce your carbs, sugar, lactose and increase the protein of your yogurt, which is concentrated in your yogurt through the straining process.

Liquid whey is mostly water, lactic acid, calcium and some B vitamins. 

Many people believe that whey is high in protein. Yogurt whey is NOT the same as the whey protein powder supplement, which is actually derived from making cheese.  Liquid whey from yogurt is not high in protein. (8)

Two cups of low-fat yogurt contains about 22 grams of protein. If you strain it to produce a thicker, Greek-style yogurt, you’ll end up with about one cup of whey (containing about 2 grams of protein) and one cup of thick yogurt (containing the other 20 grams of protein). 

Nutrition levels (9)

1 cup liquid whey = 1.87 g protein, 12.6 g sugars, 60 kcal
1 cup Strained Greek yogurt = 22.5 g protein, 10 g sugars, 100 kcal

(100 grams = .4 cup of yogurt, times by 2.5 = 1 cup)

You can add additional protein to your yogurt by:
  1. Adding non-fat powdered milk, 1/3-/1/2 cup per quart of milk
  2. Straining your yogurt
  3. Adding a protein powder to your finished yogurt
  4. Adding chia seed of other high protein foods

Whole milk Greek style yogurt has nearly double the amount of protein, which promotes fullness. 
15-20 grams of protein is roughly the amount you would find in 2-3 ounces of lean meat. An identical serving of regular, traditional yogurt, on the other hand, has 9 grams, meaning you may feel hungry sooner.

Probiotics: The longer you incubate, the more probiotics your yogurt will have. Longer incubation also means increased tartness.  It will also create more whey. Yogurt looks ‘set’ around hours 5-6 and is fairly mild or sweet tasting, depending on the brand of yogurt you used as your starter or the bacterial strains in it. After that time, your yogurt will develop its distinctive tang. 

Active probiotic levels in your yogurt are at their peak during the first week; then the probiotic counts drop. This explains why yogurt or whey that is stored in the fridge for longer than a week struggles to culture properly. (16)

Low carb: Greek style yogurt is a smart choice for low carb dieters. Greek yogurt roughly has half the amount of carbs as the regular kind. You can use whole milk, heavy cream and half and half for making your yogurt low carb. 

Fat: Using whole milk can increase the fat content, but because of the high protein levels, you may feel full sooner and eat a smaller portion of yogurt. 

Calcium: Greek style yogurt provides about 15% of the daily amount recommended nutrients while regular yogurt provides up to 30%. Greek yogurt loses some of its calcium through the straining process, but still packs a lot. A 6 oz cup of Greek yogurt has about 20% of the daily recommendation. If you’re concerned about calcium, add seeds, or almonds to your yogurt.  (19)

There are many varieties of yogurt, which are described below. 

The Lux method is for pressure cookers that do not have the yogurt setting. 
Skyr is a type of Icelandic yogurt that is very smooth and tangy. 
Vietnamese yogurt is very sweet and not as thick as Greek style yogurt.
Fairlife milk yogurt does not require the boil step and is lactose free. 
Noosa style yogurt is sweetened with honey, is tart, and has a velvety texture.
Whipped Yogurt uses gelatin to make a no-strain yogurt. You can add orange curd, or other flavoring, whip it with your electric stand mixer or blender, set it into the fridge to chill for a mousse-like textured yogurt. Yogurt doubles in volume with this method.



1) Pour 1/2 gallon of milk in the inner pot.
2) Let milk sit in the pot without doing anything to let it come to room temp a bit.
3) Push sauté function adjusted down to low.
4) Watch and occasionally whisk the milk.
5) Wait for temp to reach 180°F.
6) Set inner pot of hot milk on counter, cool milk over ice water to 100°-110°F.
7) Turn the IP off - put the lid back on to hold in heat while milk is cooling.
8) When the milk is 100°- 110°, temper a bit of the milk with 1 TBSP of starter yogurt.
9) Mix tempered yogurt back in to the pot; whisk it around. 
10) *(PIP method)Then I actually poured the milk/started into another dish because I don't have a second pot and didn't want it to be out of commission, if you don't mind having your inner pot out of commission for a day or so, just put the pot back in.
11) *(PIP method) This step is also only if you use the pot in pot method - I put about an inch or so of water in the bottom of the pot, then used a foil sling to lower my other dish into the inner pot
12) then I closed the lid and vent, wrapped the whole this with a with a towel and let it sit over night, and... (you can wrap your IP in towels and set it in your oven with only the oven light on)
-Heather Maddox Sebel (Recipe Source)

Icelandic yogurt, or Skyr, is technically a cheese, and is smoother than Greek yogurt, with a sweet/tang taste. Try Siggi’s Icelandic Skyr style yogurt as your starter. Use 1 tablespoon of yogurt per 8 cups of milk. Siggi’s Vanilla works, too, as it only has only 9 g sugar and 14 g protein per serving.

Some say this yogurt tastes like Noosa. It doesn't need straining and is made using 8 oz glass canning jars. It has a silky, smooth texture with a slight tang.

Ingredients - Instructions
7 (8oz) clean glass canning jars
aluminum foil
In a large mixing bowl, combine:
1 (14oz) can of sweetened condensed milk, pour into the IP liner
Using the empty milk can to measure, pour in:
1 can of boiled water - mix in with the sweetened condensed milk
1 can of half & half milk (half cream, half milk)
1 can of heavy cream
1 can of whole milk
Strain the mixture through a sieve for an ultra smooth yogurt. 
Take the temp and make sure it is in the 100°-110°F range.
6 oz of plain yogurt - add into mixture
Divide the milk mixture between the 7 glass canning jars. 
Cover each jar with aluminum foil to prevent moisture from entering the yogurt.
Put 2 cups of water into the Instant Pot.
Submerge the 7 covered jars into the water.
Press yogurt, normal setting, for 8-10 hours. If you want more tang, incubate longer. 
- Anh Kim (Recipe Source

FAIRLIFE COLD START YOGURT  (Can use other milks - see link for more info)

1 carton of Fairlife milk (whole, 2%, skim)*
1 Tablespoon of plain yogurt, made with live/active cultures (listed in the ingredients or on the label)

Instructions - Make sure your Instant Pot and utensils are very clean and free of soap residue.
1.  Pour the carton of cold Fairlife milk into the Instant Pot liner.
2.  Stir in 1 tablespoon of the plain yogurt into the milk.
3.  Cover the Instant Pot with the lid/seal/vent closed or use any lid from your pots/pans, glass pie plate or even a flat silicone suction lid.
4.  Push the Yogurt button until you see 8:00/Normal.
        You can push the +/- button to increase/decrease the 8 hour incubation time.
         The longer you incubate, the more tang your yogurt will develop.
         The shorter you incubate, the more mild you yogurt will be.
Display will read 0:00 and will count UP to the 8:00 hours.
5. When finished, the display will show YOGT and you have a couple of options:
  A.  Put the liner of yogurt, covered, into the fridge to chill.
  B.  Pour your warm yogurt into a lined strainer, set over a bowl to catch the whey. You can see a list of straining options in this post)
6. Once chilled, strained, you can add sweetener or vanilla, or fruit of your choice.
Yield and serving size will depend on if you strain your yogurt and for how long.
Your yogurt will keep well in the fridge for at least 2 weeks. 

      *Whole/2% milk yogurt will give you the least amount of whey. Skim will give you more whey.


Noosa is an Australian Greek style yogurt that is sweetened with honey, giving it a sweet/tart tang and velvety texture. It contains pectin and gelatin, which are thickening agents that contribute to the texture. You can use Noosa plain yogurt as your starter, or if you can’t find plain, scrape off the plain yogurt from the top of fruit flavored Noosa and use that as your starter. After straining, you can add warmed honey as a sweetener. If you don’t warm up your honey, it will seize and not stir in well.
If you don't want to strain your yogurt, you can sprinkle 2 T. of gelatin to ½ cup of cold milk while the rest of the 8 cups of milk is on the boil cycle. After your milk has cooled, mix in your bloomed gelatin to your milk an proceed with the rest of the yogurt process.

8 cups of milk
2 Tablespoons of gelatin - omit if you plan to strain your yogurt.
1 Tablespoon of Noosa plain yogurt
2-4 Tablespoons of warmed honey
1. Heat your milk to 180°
2. Sprinkle 2 T. of gelatin (like Knoxx) into 1/2 cup cold milk. Let it sit.
3. Cool your heated milk to 100°-110°F
4. Add the gelatin mixture, stir well.
5. Add the Siggi's yogurt starter, mix well.
6. Incubate on the yogurt normal setting for 8-10 hours, longer if you want more tang.
7. Strain in the fridge if you are not using gelatin. Do not stir till strained.
    If using gelatin, mix the warmed honey into the yogurt. Chill until set.

Orange Dreamsicle Whipped Yogurt
Want a light, mousse-like whipped yogurt? Then try this recipe for a light and refreshing treat. This uses Orange Curd, but you can use any flavoring you like. Whipping the yogurt requires using unflavored gelatin, which helps set the yogurt in its airy, whipped state. 

Sometimes, yogurt just doesn’t become yogurt for one reason or another. It can be a challenge to remember from the night before if you did all the steps, checked your temperature, used a different milk or check to see which IP yogurt setting you used.  Hopefully, this section will help you diagnose what happened and what you can do to fix your yogurt. It is not a “fail” if you have learned something and are willing to try again!

Adding in your starter when your milk is too warm will kill the cultures and result in runny/milk like yogurt. To test your digital thermometer, Fill a glass with crushed ice. Add a little clean water until the glass is full and stir. Wait for about three minutes before inserting the sensor on the thermometer into the ice-filled water. Wait for about thirty seconds and check that the thermometer reads 32°F.

If your thermometer doesn’t read a 32° degree temp, you can test it against a small pot of boiling water and adjust the temp for your altitude.

 My motto is, “If in doubt, throw it out.” The milk has been sitting out in the incubation temp zone (100°-110°F) without an active starter for a long time - Food safety dictates that any food left in the danger zone (40°-140°F) for 2 hours or longer should be discarded or thrown out. Milk has natural bacteria that can grow during that time and not only compete with your yogurt starter, but may not be safe to eat. Even boiling your milk to 180° will not kill the bacteria - you would need to heat it to at least 280°F, the temp for ultra pasteurizing, which kills 99.9% of bacteria. Heating your milk that high not only poses the potential for scorching, boiling over, but would also change the taste of your milk. 

How does it smell? If it smells off or bad, you need to throw it out.

If it looks like yogurt, smells like yogurt, what do you think it is? Well, there is bacteria present in your milk, just not the “chosen” cultures.

When I consulted two yogurt experts (Cultures for Health and Brod & Taylor), I got two different responses. From Brod & Taylor:

What is the temperature of your yogurt? Most likely, it is below 90°F. If it has been at or below 90°F for 2 hours or longer, you will need to throw it out. It it is above 90°F, go ahead and put it in the fridge to set or strain and to slow down the production of acidic whey. (11) (17)

From Cultures For Health and this was their response:

 Generally speaking, as long as the finished product smells and tastes pleasant to you, it should be perfectly safe to consume. Of course, it may good to get a second opinion from a friend or roommate and you should always discard the batch if you have any doubts about its safety. It's always best to err on the side of safety rather than take the chance, but trust that your senses of taste and smell will be able to inform you as to whether to consume or discard a batch."
"To re-culture your yogurt you will add some yogurt starter to the milk, but I wouldn't recommend heating the yogurt to 160*F and then add a new culture to that as it can be dangerous to mix cultures. Mixing cultures throws off the colony, which causes a chain reaction that alters the balance. Could be a funny taste to nothing happening at all, but can result in getting very sick.”

Can I do the boil cycle, put my milk in the fridge and add the starter in the morning?
Yes, you can. Make sure your yogurt is tightly cover with plastic wrap to prevent any cross contamination. When you are ready to make your yogurt, take the milk out of the fridge and use the boil cycle again till the milk is at least 100°-110°F. For a half gallon, it may only take 5-10 minutes. For a gallon, it may only take 15 min. It doesn’t need to reach the 180°F temp for denaturing the proteins, if it was previously reached during the initial boil cycle. Stir your milk, take the temp, add your starter, and proceed with your incubation.

Signs of spoilage are: 
  • unnatural smell - does not have a pleasant smell
  • unnatural taste - tastes "off" or bitter
  • discoloration
  • large quantities of whey pooling on the surface
If in doubt, throw it out! (17)

Did you:
-       Use an accurate thermometer?
-       Stir your cooled milk to prevent Hot Spots before taking the temp?
-       Use fresh starter? (use w/in a few days) Frozen starter? Are you re-culturing your yogurt? Which generation?
-       Use more than 2 Tablespoons of starter per ½ gallon?
-    Does your Yogurt starter say CONTAINS LIVE/ACTIVE cultures?
      “made with” live cultures does not mean your yogurt is active.
-       Use the Less yogurt setting? Your display should have the Yogurt button lit and the Normal setting lit.
-    Use the KeepWarm setting? When Cancel/Keep Warm is pushed twice, the display will say 10:00 and it will heat your milk to 145°F, killing your starter and resulting in hot milk, not yogurt.
-    Use the TIMER button? This is a delay setting and if pushed, will not start heating your milk until the 8-10 hours is up.  Toss/No fix for this.
-    Use ultra pasteurized milk? (If so, the Fix, below, won’t work)
The Fix
Used the Yogurt Less setting - has been on for 2 hours or less
*If it has been longer than 2 hours, it cannot be fixed. See above. 
Push Cancel/Keep Warm once.
Push Yogurt, then adjust to get the Yogurt Normal setting.
Push the +/- buttons to set the desired time.  

Used Keep Warm setting - milk is 145°F or warmer:
Cool your milk to 110°F, temper additional starter and continue the process. You may have a more “cooked” taste to your finished yogurt.

LUMPY?  (10) Did you:
-       Whisk your yogurt smooth after chilling or straining?
-       A few, small lumps are normal. Chill, strain your whey, and whisk smooth.
-       Stir your starter smooth when you tempered it with cooled milk?
-       How old is your starter? If your starter is more than 7 days from opening, it may have given your yogurt a lumpy, curdled texture.
-   Whole milk, when it is not heated to 180°, the fat in the milk can get in the way of protein coagulation, which can make for a loose yogurt.
The Fix
If you strained your yogurt, give it a good stir with a hand whisk. Add some whey back in, a little at a time, till it looks smooth.
Make sure you use fresh starter and the right amount for your next batch.

-       Is your milk fresh? If not, your milk is past its prime and is going sour.
-       Heating your milk over 120° that has yogurt added can curdle. This can happen when a “failed” batch of yogurt is reheated.
-       Is your yogurt starter fresh? Using starter older than 7 days can result in a curdled, lumpy texture.
-       Yogurt incubated too long can easily curdle, especially at a higher temp (115°) A lower, more forgiving temp is 110°F.
The Fix
You can add some vinegar, lemon juice, or yogurt whey to help it curdle more and make a ricotta type cheese from your curdled yogurt.

GRAINY?  Did you:
-       Scrape the bottom of your pot during the cool down or when you whisked in your starter?
-       Use the sauté setting to heat your yogurt? Milk heated too quickly can cause a grainy or gritty texture. (16)
-       Brands of yogurt starter vary in taste/texture. Try a different yogurt starter.
-    Chill your yogurt, then strain? It is possible the cooked milk solids from the bottom of the pot attached to your chilled yogurt.
-     Each brand of yogurt has a unique blend of bacterial strains that contribute to the taste and texture of your yogurt. If you find teeny, tiny grains/bits of yogurt that don’t go away with straining or mixing, you may want to try a different brand of plain yogurt. I used Walmart’s Light Greek vanilla yogurt and got a very smooth yogurt. I switched to Fage, and while it tasted good, it had those tiny bits of yogurt. It’s worth experimenting with a couple of different brands to find the taste and texture you prefer.
-   Are you using skim or low fat milk? The lack of fat in the milk can contribute to a grainy or chalky texture. You may want to try 2% or whole milk.
The Fix
Be careful to skim off the ‘skin’ after the boil cycle and not scrape the bottom of the pot during the boiling/cooling steps.
Heat your milk slowly and evenly by using the boil cycle and not use other methods to heat your milk more quickly.
Try a different brand of yogurt for your starter.
Try a higher fat/protein content of milk.

-       Too much starter can create a thin consistency and bitter taste.
-       Are you re-culturing your starter? Over time, the dominant strains of bacteria can take over, creating a different taste/texture to your yogurt. Reculturing only works up to the 5th generation of yogurt and can even change in taste/texture by the 3rd generation.
            The Fix
            Add your choice of sweetener, honey, jam, fruit preserves. You can add 1 part                     plain milk to 3 parts yogurt, which will thin it, but may help with the bitterness.

            -    Did you stir your yogurt during incubation, or after incubation/prior to chilling?                  Stirring your yogurt prior to chilling breaks the delicate protein                  strands that are holding your yogurt together and allows the whey                                         to thin it out.
-       Store bought yogurt has thickeners. You may want to strain your yogurt, add a thickener, or use a higher fat content milk.
-       Did you use the Yogurt Less setting? The temp at this setting is too low to culture yogurt properly; it will begin to set near the bottom of the pot, and be milky near the surface. 
-    How long did you incubate? Yogurt should be set by the 5-6th hours and may need a couple of more hours of incubating to set, especially for UP milks.
-       What percentage of milk are you using? 1%, and skim produce a thinner set yogurt than whole milk.
-       Did you use raw milk? Raw milk yogurt is thinner in consistency to pasteurized milk yogurt.
-       Are you using ultra pasteurized milk? UP milk is hit/miss for making yogurt and may need a longer culturing time.
-       How old is your starter? If nearing 7 days, it may have been too weak to culture properly.
The Fix
Try straining your yogurt. 
Make sure it is on the Yogurt Normal setting and try a longer incubation time.
Use your yogurt for smoothies.
Try a thickening agent, added to your milk. See "Do I Need a Thickener?" above.

-       If you have strained your yogurt and it is too thick, stir some of the whey back in until it’s the desired consistency you want. Next time, you may want to consider skipping the straining step and put your finished yogurt directly into the fridge.
-       If you want a thinner yogurt, use lower fat milk and consider skipping 180° temp.
The Fix
Whisk some whey back in.
Skip the straining step and put the yogurt into the fridge.
Use a lower fat milk.
Heat the milk only to 110°, using the Boil setting for 5-10 min for a half gallon of milk, 15-20 min for a full gallon.

-       Choose a yogurt starter that has a tangy taste and culture it longer, more than 10 hours, less than 24. Make sure you use only 1 Tablespoon of yogurt culture per 8 cups of milk if you plan to culture longer than 10 hours.
-       Yogurt will continue to become tart as it sits in the fridge. Wait a day or two and see if it’s too mild. If so, consider increasing the incubation time.
-       The Fix
-       Add some tart fruit, lemon curd, or sprinkle some Crystal Light powder into your finished yogurt.
-       Choose a mild tasting yogurt for your starter and incubate for a shorter period of time.
-    Straining your yogurt helps make yogurt more mild. The whey from straining is acidic and can make yogurt tart. 
The Fix
For one cup of yogurt, stir in ¼ teaspoon baking soda, and let it sit for a few minutes. Stir in  ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract and 2-3 teaspoons of honey or sugar to taste.  Baking soda will neutralize some of the acid. Your yogurt will be slightly thinner, but taste much better.

I have not found a definitive answer, but some possible causes are:
-       Cross contamination with the yogurt cultures and other surrounding bacteria. (pickles, milk kefir, yeast, etc.)
-       Yogurt cultured at too low of a temp/room temperature
-       Cooling yogurt at room temperature after the boil cycle and not having it covered
-       Check your starter. Does it have additional ingredients and thickeners?
-       Other milk bacteria in competition with the yogurt bacteria has dominated and resulted in the texture. (Using the cold start method with regular milk)
-       If using raw milk, it could be from a cow that is pregnant.
           The Fix
           None. Sorry! Toss it. 
Yogurt smells off/bad/sour….
-       Did you use fresh milk & fresh starter?
-       Did you use 1 or 2 Tablespoons of yogurt starter per 8 cups? It is a myth that more starter will produce a thicker or better yogurt. Sadly, this is not the case. Too much starter (bacteria) and not enough food (lactose in milk) 
            The Fix
            None. Toss it. Sorry!

 My yogurt has set, but there’s liquid on top.
-       The clear liquid on top is whey, which is normal.

Yogurt looks thick, but when I stir it, it gets thin?
-       There is liquid whey layered throughout your yogurt, which you cannot see. When stirred, you mix in the whey and thin out your set yogurt. Chilling your yogurt first will help some, but if you want it thicker, you will want to strain it or use a thickening tip shown above.

(1) What's Cooking America: Boiling Points of Water

(3) Debbie Lockett, FaceBook IP Community member, cheese maker (Organic Milk)

(4) Foodsafety.gov: Myths About Raw Milk

(5) NorthWest Edible Life: Do You Need to Heat Milk for Yogurt Making?

(7) Everything Goat Milk: How to Make Yogurt

(8) Nutrition Diva: How Much Protein is in Whey      

(9) USDA National Nutrient Database,
                              Yogurt, Greek Plain, whole milk and Liquid Acid Whey

(12) Don't Waste the Crumbs: 36 Uses for Whey 

(13) Simple Vegan Blog: Soy Yogurt

(14) Cornell University Dept. Of Food & Science: Pasteurized vs Ultra Pasteurized Milk - Why Such Long Sell By Dates?

(15) The New York Times: Yogurt Making Tips from Readers 

(18) The New York Times: “Freshness of Milk Products

(20) National Center for Home Food Preservation: Fermenting Yogurt at Home 

This post is not sponsored nor endorsed by Instant Pot®.  All of the text is you see here is my own writing, with the exception of direct quotes, and therefore copyrighted.  If you wish to share this post with others or any content within it, please use a direct link to this post. If you want to publish any of the information shown here, please contact me. I don’t bite. I promise!

The information in this post has been researched and gathered from my personal experience and sources that I believe are experts in their field. It has been gathered for informational purposes and it is up to you to verify the information using the source links provided and use your own judgment. I do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss, damage, disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such error or omissions result from accident, negligence, or any other cause. My goal for you is to be able to make a successful yogurt the first time and enjoy every delicious, creamy bite. J


  1. This is the most complete and concise information on every aspect of yogurt making with an IP. Thank you so much!

  2. This is amazing and comprehensive. Just made IP Yogurt for the first time yesterday following your directions and using the boil method. It's wonderful. Is there a way to print out the Dummies pages so I can refer to it? I tried following on my phone in the kitchen, and ended up running back to my computer to reference.

    Thanks, in advance, for your response, as well as putting together this wonderful reference.

    1. You are most welcome! I'm glad you are finding my Guide helpful in making your yogurt. At this time, only my recipes are available to print for personal use. Please feel free to come back and visit this page as you go through your journey in making yogurt and enjoy the yummy results!🙂

  3. Hi Frieda! I tried my first cold start over this weekend and turned out great. One question though, you mentioned using whey protein powder as a flavoring, how much would i use to flavor a whole batch? I used the fairlife milk and 1 tbsp of plain yogurt.

    1. Hi! I'm glad you enjoyed the Cold Start Yogurt recipe! We just add a couple of spoonfuls to taste to our individual serving. It works best if sprinkled in a little bit at a time; otherwise it's clumpy. Enjoy!

  4. First, THANK YOU!!! I have started making my own yogurt after reading this and I love it!

    I am curious to know if I can add natural bliss to my yogurt after it is strained and chilled?

  5. You are most welcome! I'm glad you are enjoying yogurt. If you add Natural Bliss creamer to finished & chilled yogurt, it will thin it. :-)

  6. Is the nutrition info for Greek vs. regular yogurt correct, i.e. 15% vs. ONLY 30%? Context of using word “only” seems to indicate Greek should be higher than 30%.

    1. I have removed the word 'only' as you are correct that it makes more sense. Greek yogurt can have less calcium than traditional yogurt because much of it is removed during the straining process. :-)

  7. This helped me a lot. It is a very comprehensive article. Thank you!!


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