We’re big yogurt eaters in my family and for a long time I was buying two big tubs a week. I hated seeing all of that plastic come into our house week after week (even though it got recycled). I remembered hearing that you could make yogurt in a crockpot, so I decided to give it a whirl.
After watching approximately 8 billion YouTube videos, and reading an equal number of blog posts on the subject matter, I attempted my first batch. “Attempted” being the key word; it was a big fail. The happy lady in the video made it look so easy!?!? She SAID it was SO EASY?!?!? After reading approximately 3 million more blogs (and comments!), I realized that my crockpot temperature at “low” was not the same as the YouTuber’s crockpot temperature at low. I borrowed my neighbor’s meat thermometer to check the temps (using water) and it turned out mine needed to be on high for the first step, not low. I tried again—and success! YUM! You guys, homemade yogurt is soooooo yummy! And no poopy plastic tubs (unless you decide to store yours in a plastic tub that you saved from your last store-bought yogurt like I do).
Here’s how I made my crockpot yogurt. (First things first: I have the Rival® Crock Pot® Stoneware Slow Cooker, Model #3351. It’s pretty old, but still works like a charm. Don’t have a slow cooker? I can almost guarantee you’ll find one at the local thrift shop or neighborhood garage sale.)
- Pour 1/2 gal milk in crockpot (we’re trying to save plastic here so buy whatever brand that comes in cardboard containers. I like Sweet Meadows Farms).
- Turn the crockpot on HIGH for 3 hours. Temp should get somewhere between 170-190 degrees, so it’s a good idea to calibrate with water and a meat (or candy) thermometer ahead of time to make sure that’s what your crockpot is at HIGH.
- Turn off and unplug crockpot and let sit for 2 hours. After two hours, temp should be 110-ish degrees.
- Add 1/4 cup or so of starter. The starter is just any plain yogurt. You can start with a little container you get from the store. Just make sure it’s plain and says that it contains live active cultures (I used Chobani). Once you make your first batch of yogurt, you can set aside 1/4 cup to use as a starter for your next batch. One more thing about starter: I usually set mine by the crockpot at step #3, so it gets to room temperature by the time I have to add it. I have no idea if this is necessary or why I started doing that. Maybe I read it in one of the 8 million blog posts I read.
- Swaddle your crockpot like a little baby. I use a heavier large bath towel and just completely wrap the crockpot (while in the base–make sure it’s unplugged!) and let it sit 8-12 hours.
- Strain your yogurt to desired thickness. I place a steamer on top of a bowl then put a large square I cut from an old pillowcase or t-shirt over/in the steamer. Then I spoon the yogurt into that. You can let it sit in the fridge like that anywhere from one to four hours. The longer it strains, the thicker the yogurt. The bowl will be filled with whey that you can use in cooking or smoothies if you’re ambitious (I put it on our dog’s food sometimes too). If you forget about your yogurt in the fridge and it gets over-strained and thicker than you want it, you can always stir some whey back in to thin it out.
- Serve with toppings of choice. My favorite is a tiny touch of honey, sliced bananas and chopped walnuts. YUM!
That’s it! Once you make crockpot yogurt a few times, it’s super easy—pinky swear! It mostly just sits so the hardest part is timing it so you’re around the few times you need to pay attention to it.
You should try it. (Bonus: It makes a great gift too. And you can get rid of some of those glass jars you’ve got cluttering your kitchen cupboards. I mean, not that I would know anything about THAT.)