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Homemade Yogurt in 3 Hours

Homemade yogurt with spoon dipped in the mason jar under a green checkered napkin.

Yogurt is something my family absolutely loves. In fact we like all milk products, from regular milk, to buttermilk (with pan-fried potatoes, yum!), homemade fresh cheese, to sour cream (with borsh for example).
While I do not own a cow and can not get fresh milk, I do make my own fresh cheese, buttermilk and sour cream. Yogurt though, is something I made completely by accident.

Homemade yogurt topped with jam in a mini mason jar.
I was heating the milk to make buttermilk (which then I was going to make into fresh cheese) and I overheated it, going all the way to 180F, instead of 120F. I was upset because it meant that I had to wait until it cools down enough for me to mix in the buttermilk starter.

 Side view of homemade yogurt in a mini mason jar with a spoon under a green checkered napkin.

Next day when I checked on my milk-turned buttermilk, I was surprised to find it much thicker then my usual cultured milk. It was a very pleasant surprise as it meant that I now knew the trick to bringing my regular buttermilk to yogurt consistency.  I wish all accidents were this nice!

I like to make my yogurt non-flavored and add jams, berries, sugar or honey right before I eat it, but if you want to make Vanilla Yogurt, it’s actually very easy. Just add 1 teaspoon sugar & 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract to every 1 cup of heated milk and allow to sit for in closed jars, in 120F water. It will not produce very sweet yogurt, so if you want it more sweet adjust the sugar to your liking.

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Homemade Yogurt in 3 Hours

5 from 3 votes

The best creamy yogurt recipe made from scratch with just two basic ingredients!

Author: Marina | Let the Baking Begin
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: homemade yogurt
Calories: 589 kcal
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 1 quart yogurt


  • 1 qt milk
  • 1 tablespoon yogurt Tillamook/Dannon etc.


  • Large Pot / Crock Pot
  • Jars & Lids


  1. Place jars into 350°F oven for 15 minutes. Remove, let cool.

  2. Heat milk to 185°F, then let cool to 120°F.

  3. Thoroughly whisk 1 tablespoon yogurt with 1/2 cup warm milk. Add the mixture to the rest of the milk and stir for 2 minutes.

  4. Pour milk into sterilized jars. Close with lid.
  5. Place jars into the crock pot or large pot. Pour enough warm (not more than 120°F) water to be 1 inch below the top of the jar.

  6. Cover the pot with lid and then a folded towel.
  7. Leave for 3 hours.
  8. Remove the jars from water and refrigerate until ready to eat.
  9. Will keep good for up to 2 weeks.
Nutrition Facts
Homemade Yogurt in 3 Hours
Amount Per Serving
Calories 589 Calories from Fat 279
% Daily Value*
Fat 31g48%
Saturated Fat 18g113%
Cholesterol 97mg32%
Sodium 416mg18%
Potassium 1249mg36%
Carbohydrates 46g15%
Sugar 49g54%
Protein 31g62%
Vitamin A 1533IU31%
Calcium 1094mg109%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Marina | Let the Baking Begin

Welcome to Let the Baking Begin! I'm Marina and my love and passion for eating only the most delicious foods drive me to share that love here on Let the Baking Begin (since 2009). With over 20 years of experience in the kitchen, you know the recipes are tested and retested until perfect. I'm so happy to have you here. Enjoy! Read more...

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  • Jetta

    If I’m going to make vanilla yogurt can I use vanilla yogurt as my starter or should I only use plain yogurt?

    · Reply
  • My yogurt never got thick after 3 hours why what should l do and if its done how should it look before it goes in fridge

    · Reply
  • Ash


    I came accidentally to your blog. And I am rest assured now.

    I set yogurt once a week and sometimes more than that. It gets consumed very fast at our place. I was using the oven as well. Thanks to summer and warm oven, my yogurt would set in three hours. I was,actually wondering if something is wrong with my starter.

    Thanks again and keep writing.
    Take care

    · Reply
    • Hi Ash, there are many factors that can change the fermentation time. The type of milk and the temperature are the ones that will affect that the most. As long as the yogurt gets fermented, it doesn’t matter how long it takes (just don’t leave it out for more than 24 hours, as after that the other bacteria can make it go bad).

      · Reply
  • Heidi

    Can you tell me the reason for heating the jars in the oven?? I have tried a dozen recipes for yogurt and none have given me anything even close to your pics. I’m hoping that is somehow the secret. Thanks!

    · Reply
    • Hi Heidi,
      The reason for heating the jars is that you’re trying to sterilize (read, kill all the bacteria) the jars, so that once the milk and the active cultures from the yogurt are added to the jars, the bacteria on the jars don’t interfere with the bacteria that is responsible for making milk into a yogurt. Does that makes sense?

      I know how frustrating it can be to keep trying something and it doesn’t work, but the method in this recipe is pretty foolproof if you follow it precisely. If you don’t have a slow cooker you can just preheat the milk to 180, then cool it down to 120, add the culture and stir, distribute it in jars and place in the oven with just the oven light on. This will not keep the temp very high, but it will keep it warmer than room temperature. The oven method might take longer, but it still works.

      Sometimes the recipes will tell you that the yogurt should thicken in a specific amount of time. I have found that sometimes even when you follow all instructions that time can vary. So, if let’s say after 6, or 8 or even 10 hours the yogurt hasn’t thickened, it doesn’t mean that you did something wrong, it just means that you need to wait a little longer for it to thicken and it will. Just trust the process.

      If you’re looking for greek yogurt consistency just strain the yogurt through cheesecloth until it is desired thickness.

      Hope this helps!

      Let me know if you have any questions!

      · Reply
  • Paula Sargood

    I tried it worked well I used my yougourt maker for the dry mix to incubate it worked I don’t have a slow cooker,thank you

    · Reply
  • Kimberly

    So you’re using store bought yogurt to make homemade yogurt? Yeah that’s not really homemade yogurt

    · Reply
    • Kimberly, the store bought yogurt acts as a starter. This is your only option, unless you have access to unpasteurized milk (which is illegal here in Oregon where I live) or the live bacteria which comes in the form of kefir or yogurt.

      · Reply
  • Sandra Small

    Hi! I tried this today using 2% milk and I followed your recipe to the letter including using a thermometer. I noticed after 3 hours, the yogurt had a little thickness to it, but it was really runny. Almost like a milk shake instead of a yogurt. I tasted it, I made vanilla, and it tasted wonderful but not very thick at all. I shook the jars to distribute it around more and placed it in the fridge, where it is right now. I wonder if I did something wrong or do you think it will thicken? I’d hate to waste this batch. It’s very tasty. The water bath I placed the jars in was 120, I used a large stockpot, but by the time 3 hours had gone by it had cooled significantly. Help! I really want this method to work for me!

    · Reply
    • Pamela

      Hi. I had exactly the same trouble and I used the crock pot. Any ideas…mine is also sitting in the fridge right now.

      · Reply
      • Hi Pamela, sorry you had trouble with this yogurt. I wrote a reply to Sandra, who seemed to have the same issue, hope it gave you some answers. But if anything, let me know 🙂

        · Reply
    • Hi Sandra, now that you say that I wonder if the kind of slow cooker you have makes a difference in how it retains heat. For this yogurt recipe to work in three hours the temperature must be somewhat maintained for the 3 hours. That’s why I covered the pot with a folded towel, as it prevents the heat from escaping and decreasing.

      With your old batch (if the same thing was to happen again), leaving it in warm water until it thickens is what you should do. If the water temp goes down, you can turn your slow cooker on until it increases back to the 115F (the temp will continue increasing a bit even after you turn it off, so to stay below 120 you want to turn it off around 115) and then turn it off. Covering with more towels or blankets might do the trick in maintaining the heat as well.

      Basically, if you mix warm milk and yogurt, the bacteria will continue thickening and souring the milk as long as you keep it at room temperature or warmer. So if the mixture is not thick enough, just leave it in warm water (or at least at room temperature) until it is thick like you see in the pictures. It will not thicken in the fridge, but the fridge will keep it good for up to a week or even two if you do not open the jars once the yogurt is thick.

      The process for making this yogurt will also work without the crockpot altogether. Just mix the yogurt and warm milk and leave it overnight or up to 24 hours at room temperature and the bacteria will do its thing. It’s a bit faster with the crockpot, but the temperature must be somewhat maintained between 100F -120F.

      Hope this helps 🙂

      · Reply
  • Lori

    I wonder, could you substitute powdered probiotics for the yogurt?

    · Reply
  • lesley

    great recipe, Marina. thanks alot!

    · Reply
  • Lover

    Does the crockpot have to be on for 3 hours or is it just the container for keeping the jars warm?

    · Reply
    • No, the Crockpot does not need to be on for 3 hours. You turn it off, and the construction of the crockpot just keeps the container and the jars with milk warm enough for long enough to make it thick and cultured.

      · Reply
  • Kalen

    What is the point of the tablespoon of yogurt? Is it optional? I was looking for a recipe for at home yogurt so I wouldn’t have to buy store bought. Thanks. 🙂

    · Reply
    • It introduces the bacteria and cultures to start the process of ‘souring’ the milk and it is definitely NOT optional :). In unpasteurized milk, this process happens naturally on it’s own, but during pasteurization of the store-bought milk those bacteria are killed, so the tablespoon of yogurt works as a starter. The good news is, once you make your first batch, you can keep half a cup of yogurt in the fridge for the next batch of yogurt and you never have to buy yogurt for your milk again.

      · Reply
  • Georgia

    What kind of milk are you using? Does it specifically have to be cow’s milk? And what percentage of fat? Have you attempted this recipe with almond milk, by any chance?

    · Reply
    • Hi Georgia,
      I used cow’s milk for this recipe and full fat works best, but you can use 2% also, it will give you thinner yogurt but all the nutritional value is still there.
      I have not tried almond milk and would think that it would not work as the cultures in the buttermilk will probably only work on cows milk, but if you find out that it does work, let us know, I think it might help others with this question.

      · Reply
  • Chris

    do you have a recipe for your homemade sour cream and buttermilk?

    · Reply
    • Hi!
      I do not have it posted, but sour cream is made using the same technique as yogurt but instead of taking milk, you use heavy whipping cream.
      Buttermilk is made with milk following the same method as for making yogurt, but you heat the milk to 120 only, and add buttermilk right away… Then also put undisturbed in warm place until it turns thick, could take from 10-24 hours depending on how warm your house is. To speed up the process, put in jars, then those jars on a pot with warm water.

      · Reply
      • Chris Elkins

        Thanks, appreciate it, we use a lot of all of the above, would much prefer to do it at home than buy it!

        · Reply
        • Yes, for sure! Good luck to you!

          · Reply
          • cassie

            Is there anyway to make this non dairy by substituting soy milk for regular

          • Oh I am not sure. I’ve never done substitutions with milk. Sorry couldn’t be of more help.

  • Jeannie D

    I love homemade yogurt…cannot wait to try this in my crockpot! Thanks for the recipe and Merry Christmas!

    · Reply
    • Let me know how it all goes, once you make it 🙂

      · Reply
  • kevin

    hi,MARINA, thanks a lot for your blog.

    · Reply
    • No problem Kevin 🙂

      · Reply
  • Mom's Dish

    wow, really cool!!! is measuring temperature a must?

    · Reply
    • It’s not if you know by feel when it’s too hot. But basically 120 is hotter than then warm, but not so hot that you can’t keep your finger in the water…it just takes the guesswork out of this process…

      · Reply
      • Mom's Dish

        ok, thanks! I want to try your recipe one of this days. My sister in law made yogurt at home and I loved hers

        · Reply

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