Crock Pot Yogurt for frozen smoothies and more

It feels like the good old days when you’re making your own yogurt at home. I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for at least a year. I don’t know why I didn’t try it earlier, but I’m thankful I’ve made it to pass along my experience with you.

I start with a half gallon of whole milk. We have lots on hand due to the one-year old baby, but I did try it with our usual 2% milk once and it was quite thinner. Just note it works, but I would suggest adding a thickener (which I’ll address).

Adapted from

Step 1-Pour 1/2 gallon of whole milk in a crock pot, cover and set on low for 2 1/2  hours.

Step 2-Unplug and leave the cover on let it set for 3 hours.

Step 3-After 3 hours, remove 1 cup milk and add 1/2 cup store-bought yogurt with live active cultures (later you can use your homemade yogurt as starter-so don’t forget to save 1/2 cup). Whisk the milk and yogurt together.

Here’s where you have a couple of options for thickening. You can add either

  • Up to 1/4 cup powdered milk. Use this method if you’re striving for PLAIN Greek yogurt.
  • 1 box of vanilla flavored instant pudding (natural is best, but use what you have). My daughter prefers it this way for vanilla flavored yogurt. You can also add vanilla extract for flavor at the end.
  • 1 packet non-flavored gelatin (I have not used this, but read about it as an option)

Step 4- Pour mixture back into crock pot and whisk together. It’s so easy my three -year old is doing this.

Step 5-Put the lid back on and keep it unplugged.

Step 6-Cover it with a heavy bath towel and wrap it all the way around and let it set over night. Isn’t this fun to use a beach towel?

This is what it looks like in the morning. REAL homemade yogurt you’ve made yourself. Do you see the water (whey)? This is what you’re going to strain. If you’re using 2% or less, it may need to set longer than eight hours to thicken.

Step 7-Prepare a straining method. I use an unbleached coffee filter in a small colander. I allow small batches to sit in the filter for a while and strain the whey.

This is some of the whey I drained off my first batch. I’m still reading up on what to do with this whey here. In the meantime, I’m throwing it out.

This is the end result: a thick, creamy homemade yogurt  for parfaits, smoothies, homemade Yo crunch or Yo Baby, pancakes, biscuits and more. Store in containers up to ten days. Never throw out unused yogurt-use it in recipes calling for buttermilk or sour cream.

Enjoy your yogurt with fresh seasonal fruit or no sugar jam. Try honey or raw sugar on the plain yogurt to sweeten your tooth if necessary.

It’s so yummy for breakfast, snack or dessert. Let me know what you think?

Updated 8/5/11

I’ve found another way to drain the whey efficiently. I use a piece of thin muslin cloth (which is actually a small clean basket liner) draped over a large colander. The colander sits inside a large mixing bowl.

After an hour or a long while, look how much whey has drained.

I use a measuring cup to scoop it out of the cloth and place in resealable containers. The cloth is washed for the next batch of yogurt. I’ve been making this yogurt about every 7-10 days.

updated 2/20/11

The current way I drain the whey is using muslin cloth method attached to the strainer on the inside of a salad spinner with a rubber band like I drain my homemade chicken broth here. The whey can be used for as protein source for smoothies.

How do you enjoy yogurt?


35 thoughts on “Crock Pot Yogurt for frozen smoothies and more

  1. Jenni

    How much yogurt does a half gallon of milk make? Seems to me that if it makes more than a quart, I would be saving a lot of money doing this! Also, can I freeze the leftover yogurt for smoothies, like in an ice cube tray perhaps? Or is frozen yogurt not as simple as just freezing yogurt?

  2. Sarah G

    Even though I have read your blog (and used some of your recipes) for a while now, I came over here again to read your method for homemade, crockpot yogurt by your post on “Life As Mom”.

    I have made my own yogurt in the crockpot with sucess but the process I used was so long, having to ‘babysit’ the temperature, which then becomes daunting and discouraging. Your way sounds much easier – I’m going to give this a try! Thanks for all your added tips on fruit, cereal and treat ideas too!

  3. Queen of the House

    Hello, I have been wanting to make my own yogurt for a LONG time…your method seems much easier, and less threatening, than many others I have read….I think I will have to try it this weekend. I am so glad I found your site (a link from Frugal Friday)! I know that I will be visiting often. God bless you!

  4. kriswithmany

    I tried this months ago, but in the morning I found it had become a stinking curdled mess. Any ideas on what I did wrong, or how to avoid that?

  5. Rebecca

    The yogurt turned out great! My oldest daugter doesn’t care too much for yogurt but she reallys likes this kind. We used raw milk and natural vanilla pudding mix! Thank you again for this ministry…

  6. Lea Ann

    So…I tried making this yogurt last week and after the 8 hours, it was still exactly like milk, no consistency to it at all. I discovered that you aren’t supposed to use Ultra Pasteurized milk and that’s what I had used. So I went to the grocery store again, bought another half gallon of milk that didn’t state Ultra Pasteurized and am trying again. I just stirred in the yogurt after the three hour wait and it is just like milk. Is it still supposed to look like that after the 3 hour wait. I am a little nervous since the last time after the entire process it didn’t work. If this doesn’t work, I will have to figure out another way since I will have wasted $7 on milk. Hopefully you see this before my 8 hour wait as I am a little nervous. Thanks!!!!

  7. Olga

    I tried twice time to make a yogurt, but looked like kefir (I added gelatin) and was a little sour. Christa mentioned about crockpot size. I have a 6 quart. Is it too big? and Do you use cook thermometer? I think my milk after 3 h wasn`t warm enough.

  8. Lea Ann

    I decided to just buy a yogurt maker. Honestly, I don’t think my crock pot was hot enough after shutting it off and leaving it. The yogurt maker keeps it constantly warm and when it was done, it was still warm, in the crock pot, my yogurt was almost room temp after the 3 hour shut off before wrapping it in the towel. I really didn’t want to spend the money to buy a maker, but didn’t want to throw away any more milk either at $6 a gallon.

  9. Kelly

    I just have to say a big THANK YOU for this recipe! I stopped at the dairy farm on Saturday and picked up a half gallon of fresh whole milk, and a cup of organic vanilla yogurt. By Sunday morning we had a perfect batch of homemade crockpot yogurt. I was a bit worried after reading some of the comments and problems people were having, and then after the 3 hour wait when I put the yogurt in the milk and added some vanilla pudding, my crockpot did not seem very warm. I figured I had gotten this far I would just wrap up the towel and see how it turns out. I woke up Sunday morning opened the lid and it was like sweet bliss. Perfectly setup yogurt, I could have gotten some liquid out, but it would have been very little so I didn’t even bother straining it. I enjoyed it with my fresh fruit and granola this morning for breakfast!

  10. Wendi

    I tried your recipe. It worked beautifully. I think I might buying culture specifically for greek yogurt with more tang. I did use a greek yogurt to start my culture, but really want that tang.

    1. admin

      I’m so glad it worked well for you. I love the creaminess and tang too. I’ve been stirring in low sugar strawberry freezer jam and it’s super yummy

  11. Bill

    To use up the whey, try a mixture of 50% whey and 50% orange juice – tastes great and is good for you. You might even be able to use it as the liquid for making frozen juices for drinking.

  12. Mary Litchfield

    I read your article in All You and I just had to thank you for helping others with your super saver skills! May God bless you and keep you, may He make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you May He give you His peace! I can’t wait to make my very own home made yogurt and share it with others

  13. sarah marshall

    I have made this twice now. The first time i used a thermometer to double check it was done. I ended up having to heat it longer and on High. I have a very nice Crock pot that I just replaced my old one with. The second time i forgot to use the thermometer and its a watery mess I guess i need to use high next time i try it.

    1. admin

      Strange. The temp needs to be around 100, but not too hot or it kills the cultures. Whole milk works the best. 2 percent takes much longer to set up.

  14. Michelle

    Thanks so much for the recipe! I used Borden whole milk, Chobani plain and a Kroger Vanilla Pudding – YUM! Even my hubby likes it (Crazy good if he likes it)

  15. Kathy

    Would it be OK just to take out the 1 cup of milk before heating ? I don’t know what I would do with the milk that had been heated that long.

    1. Keisha

      I took the instructions to mean that you take out the cup of milk and stir the 1/2 cup of yogurt into that cup of milk and then pour that mixture back into the milk in the crock pot. That is what I did and my yogurt turned out perfect. Thanks Jackie for the great recipes!

  16. Christie W.

    No success with this recipe. Used organic whole milk, organic plain yogurt with live cultures. Added unflavored gelatin. Sat all night and still milky this a.m.??? Any suggestions? Thanks.

    1. admin

      maybe didn’t get hot enough; try using thermometer and following this link to exact temps, mels got a great tutorial for thermometer gals All crocks are different. Sorry it wasn’t successful the first time, but like I share with many of my clients, we usually don’t learn to ride a bike the very first time around. Try it again, maybe with discount or conventional milk so you’re not wasting. I would use the organic milk as in buttermilk recipes if you still have it.

  17. Bill

    I have read on others’ blogs that organic milk doesn’t work… nor does ultra-pasteurized milk. I usually make a gallon of yogurt at a time using plain pasteurized whole milk with my Waring Professional Yogurt Maker – I have to throw a towel over the machine when I am using 4 wide-mouth quart jars as they keep the cover from reaching the base.

  18. A.

    I tried your recipe this week and was amazed! I could not believe how thick and tasty the yogurt was. I also found it to be more filling. I had some for breakfast (added a little toasted coconut and pecans) and it tied me over till lunch. I will be making this again for sure!

    1. admin

      Oooh that sounds yummy. I’ve been using powdered milk too when I find 1% or 2% marked down. I bet there are all kinds of pudding flavors that would make it interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Becki @Running with Team Hogan

    I know you wrote this post a long time ago, but I’m glad I saw it. I’ve been contemplating making homemade yogurt, but my children are not fans of plain yogurt. I think the vanilla pudding might be just the trick. Thanks for the tip.

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