Homemade Vanilla Yogurt, with Live Active Cultures

I was reading a little while back about making yogurt, and realized that it was something I could actually do! We go through a lot of yogurt here, and so much of it has a lot of sugar, and of course high fructose corn syrup. So I thought I would try it. The first batch turned out really well. The texture was good, and it tasted OK, but it wasn’t my favorite.

Since then I’ve played around with the recipe, and have gotten it really good!

Yogurt is made from other yogurt cultures. When picking out your yogurt, just make sure you buy one that is 6-8 ounces, and has live active cultures in it. (no yo-plait, go-gurt, or off brand) Then that yogurt is your starter. You can get vanilla plain. Don’t get one with fruit added. Once you’ve made your own yogurt, you can use that as your starter next time.

The first step is to pour a gallon of milk into a stock pot. I like the kind that are thicker on the bottom so it doesn’t burn the milk. You need to get it up to 190 degrees F. Once it’s there, you need to keep it there for about 10 minutes. This part is really important, it really affects the outcome of the texture. You’ll want to stir the milk while it heats up, to avoid it from burning on the bottom of the pot. I don’t stir it the entire time. Just every few minutes.

While I’m waiting for the milk to heat up, I get everything ready. I set out the jars and lids, and the ingredients. I just put my bottles in the dishwasher. You aren’t technically canning anything, so I’m fine with that. I don’t need to sterilize them. When you take the pot off of the stove, you’re going to want to put it in an ice bath. I’m all about keeping things simple, so I just have my girls put some ice water in the sink. Anything to help!

The pot stays hot even though it’s in the ice bath. This is when I add my starter, sugar and vanilla. I do 8 oz. of a good yogurt, 1 1/2 cups of sugar, and 1/4 cup of vanilla. I was out of the fancy stuff, and just used the cheap stuff. It tasted good still.

Then grab a wire whisk and stir everything together. That gets all the tiny yogurt cultures throughout all the milk.

When your yogurt is at 120 degrees F, pour it into your jars.

I fill them right up to the top.

There might be some bubbles on the top. I scooped them off this time, but usually don’t. It doesn’t matter, just whatever your preference is.

This is the fun part. You grab your cooler, and throw it in the shower or tub. Then fill it up with hot water, keeping the water at 120 degrees.

Then close the lid and incubate! The shortest you can do this for is about 4 hours. The longest I’ve done, was like 13. The longer it’s in there, the better the texture gets, but the flavor gets a little tart. I usually do about 8 hours. This, to me, is the best flavor and texture. If you like yours thicker, you can find a recipe that calls for gelatin. I tried that once, and for some reason that batch had a weird texture. I mostly put the yogurt into my protein drinks, so I’m not too picky about the texture.

Once it’s done incubating, move it straight into the fridge. Don’t wiggle it, don’t peek. Just put it in the fridge, and leave it there for 4 hours. Then it’s done. It’s so fun opening it up when it’s all done.

My favorite ways to eat yogurt are; on pancakes, in a parfait, or in a protein drink. 

One of my twins came downstairs while I was taking this picture. She said, “Mom! I love that kind of yogurt so much! When I wake up from my nap, can I have that same yogurt, with the same stuff, and the same bowl?”

She’s almost 4 and still naps everyday. She can have whatever she wants!


1 Gallon of Milk

3/4-1 1/2 cup sugar (totally a preference thing! I didn’t like it without as much sugar)

2 Tbsp-4 Tbsp Vanilla (another preference thing, I use 2 Tbsp of the expensive vanilla, and double the cheap stuff)

6-8 ounces of a good vanilla yogurt


Heat up a gallon of milk to 190 degrees, keep it there for 10 minutes. Then put it into an ice bath. This is when you’ll add the sugar, vanilla, and yogurt starter. Whisk it up a little, and when it’s at 120 degrees, pour it into canning jars.

Then put the closed jars into a cooler. Add 120 degree water up to the top of the jars. Then keep them there for about 8 hours. You can play around with this time. It’s actually really forgiving.

Then put straight into the fridge for 4 hours.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>