How to Make Greek Yogurt in Your Slow Cooker

A couple years ago, I discovered the amazing way you can make homemade yogurt in your crock pot. Since then, my slow cooker and I have made dozens upon dozens of batches of homemade yogurt using this simple recipe.

We’ve eaten a lot of homemade yogurt and love it! Recently, we’ve started eating greek yogurt for the higher protein that it has in it. I enjoy eating Greek yogurt with my homemade granola for breakfast.

As if yogurt prices are not high enough, Greek yogurt prices are ridiculous highly! You are easily paying $5 or $6 for a quart of yogurt. With sales on milk, I can make a quart of Greek yogurt for around $1.50. That is a substantial savings!

The main difference between regular yogurt and greek yogurt is the thickness. To achieve that, you will need to add powdered milk to your yogurt. I tried making greek yogurt without the powdered milk and it just didn’t work. Add powdered milk and strain your yogurt to make it nice and thick.

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Ingredients:

1/2 gallon milk (I used Skim because I wanted a non-fat Greek yogurt. Any milk will work – knowing that the higher percentage of milk, the less you will have to strain.)

1/2 cup yogurt starter (Any yogurt with live cultures – Greek or regular – works. I’d recommend plain or vanilla.Once you make your first batch, simply save 1/2 cup of the yogurt to use as starter for your next batch.)

1/2 cup instant powdered milk (You can buy this in the baking aisle of your grocery store or at a bulk food store.)

1/2 cup sugar (I’ve read that honey works too. I stick with a simple sugar. You can add more or less to taste. This amount was just about perfect for us.)

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (I use my pure Mexican vanilla which I love! We buy ours at El Mercado in San Antonio but you can buy a similar bottle on Amazon, although not as cheap. It is so delicious!)

Cheesecloth and colander (Necessary and explained below.)

Directions: 

Pour 1/2 gallon of milk into your crock pot and turn it on low. Let it sit for 2 hours and 45 minutes. Set a timer and walk away from the crock pot at this point.

When the timer dings, turn the crock pot off and unplug it. Whisk in powdered milk. If you want vanilla greek yogurt, whisk in sugar and vanilla. Let the yogurt sit for 3 hours. Again, set your timer and resume your regular activities.

After the 3 hours are up, whisk in your yogurt starter. 

Put the lid back on the crock pot and wrap the entire crock pot in one or two beach towels. I wrap one around the outside and cover the top with another towel. The reason being is that it allows the temperature of your yogurt to slowly cool and culture.

Let your wrapped crock pot sit for 8 to 12 hours while the yogurt cultures. The longer the yogurt cultures, the tangier the taste. 8 to 9 hours is what I generally do.

Now you have yogurt – and here’s how we turn it into greek yogurt.

After the 8 hours are up, line your colander with 2 or 3 squares of cheesecloth. Place the colander on top of a metal bowl and pour all of the yogurt into the cheese-lined colander. Place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight to strain. This allows the whey to strain out from your yogurt, turning it into Greek yogurt.

In the morning, simply scrap the yogurt out of the cheesecloth and put in a glass jar to store in the fridge. You now have greek yogurt!

Additional Notes:

I think vanilla yogurt is the perfect flavor for the addition of fruit or granola. If you don’t want vanilla yogurt, simply omit the sugar and vanilla in this recipe to make plain Greek yogurt.

1/2 gallon is 8 cups. If you don’t strain the yogurt, you will end up with 8 cups of regular yogurt. When I am done straining it, I end up with around 4 cups of Greek yogurt. If you strain out too much whey and the yogurt is too thick for your liking, it is easy to stir some whey back in to thin your Greek yogurt a bit.

I found my cheesecloth at Meijer. You can also buy it on Amazon here or here. It can be washed and reused after each batch of yogurt. This is a similar model to the slow cooker I use, for those who are curious.

Since Greek yogurt takes longer than regular yogurt, I start the process first thing in the morning. Then, when I go to bed, I transfer the yogurt to the colander and fridge to drain over night. When I wake the next morning, my Greek yogurt is ready!

If you find a good deal on milk, remember that milk freezes really well so you could buy your milk and freeze it until you are ready to make yogurt. There are so many foods you can freeze, like milk! Just pour a little bit of milk out before freezing so the jug can expand. I buy milk when it’s on sale and use half of the milk to make yogurt. Then, I freeze the other half until I’m ready to make another batch of yogurt.

Due to the size of my colander, I stick to making half gallon batches of yogurt. This ensures our yogurt stays fresh, too!

It might seem intimidating but if you eat a lot of yogurt and are looking to save money, give this a try. I’m still amazed at how simple it is to make yogurt with a crock pot!

What do you think? Will you try making your own Greek yogurt? If you have any questions, ask in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer!

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Homemade Greek Yogurt in Your Slow Cooker

This is a simple recipe for making homemade Greek yogurt in your slow cooker. With just 5 ingredients, and a matter of time, you can make delicious Greek yogurt.

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 gallon milk
  • 1/2 cup yogurt starter (with live active cultures)
  • 1/2 cup instant powdered milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • Cheesecloth and colander

Instructions

  1. Pour 1/2 gallon of milk into your crock pot and turn it on low. Let it sit for 2 hours and 45 minutes. Set a timer and walk away from the crock pot at this point.
  2. When the timer dings, turn the crock pot off and unplug it. Whisk in powdered milk. If you want vanilla Greek yogurt, whisk in sugar and vanilla. Let the yogurt sit for 3 hours. Again, set your timer and resume your regular activities.
  3. After the 3 hours are up, whisk in your yogurt starter.
  4. Put the lid back on the crock pot and wrap the entire crock pot in one or two beach towels. I wrap one around the outside and cover the top with another towel. The reason being that it allows the temperature of your yogurt to slowly cool and culture.
  5. Let your wrapped crock pot sit for 8 to 12 hours while the yogurt cultures. The longer the yogurt cultures, the tangier the taste. 8 to 9 hours is what I generally do.
  6. Now you have yogurt – and here’s how we turn it into Greek yogurt.
  7. After the 8 hours are up, line your colander with 2 or 3 squares of cheesecloth. Place the colander on top of a metal bowl and pour all of the yogurt into the cheese-lined colander. Place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight to strain. This allows the whey to strain out from your yogurt, turning it into Greek yogurt.
  8. In the morning, simply scrap the yogurt out of the cheesecloth and put in a glass jar to store in the fridge. You now have homemade Greek yogurt!

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1

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21 Comments

  1. Do you think it’s ok to use fat free vanilla Greek or should the “starter” yogurt be full fat? Thank you for the recipe!

    1. Good question! I would probably use full fat, but it might work with fat free yogurt as your starter. The most important thing is that the yogurt has the active cultures in it. As for full fat vs fat free – give both a try and see how it changes the yogurt! Happy yogurt making!

  2. I forgot the powdered milk and now I have sweetened yogurt MILK! 😭 Do you think exchanging honey for turbinado changed the consistency as well?

    1. Hmmm. It could have! I generally make my yogurt with regular sugar so I can’t speak for certain. Also, the less fat in your milk (skim or 1 percent) will result in a thinner yogurt so I recommend using 2 percent or whole. The good news is that you can freeze what you made in ice cube trays and it makes great smoothies! 🙂

    1. I doubled it only once, and while it worked with the same timing, it wasn’t quite as thick. I’d need to try it a couple more times before I could definitively give you an answer on that. Feel free to play around with it, and let me know what happens when you double it!

  3. Hi, Kristin! Thanks so much for the yogurt recipe. I tried it with skim milk powder. We get a lot of that from senior supplemental nutrition. Most people prefer not to drink powdered milk, including me. I drank quite enough powdered milk in my childhood, most of it not measured out as recommended and thus, watery or sticky. Anyway, powdered milk works great for this yogurt recipe, but use hot water to mix. Our skim milk package recommends 1 1/3 cups powder and 3 3/4 cups water per one quart. I start with 6 cups hot water and 2 cups skim milk powder stirred thoroughly for 2 quarts in Step 1. For step 2, I dissolve the remaining 2/3 cups powder and 1 1/2 cups hot water and then stir it into the crock pot. I didn’t try just mixing the whole 2 quarts at the beginning. Sometimes, I need to whisk the yogurt before storing it. It tastes very good and fresh. I never strained it, because it is thick enough for us as is.

    1. The yogurt will easily keep a week or two in the fridge. We’ve never had yogurt last longer than that to test it! 🙂

    1. Hi, Mara. No, the crockpot does not need to be switched on. After the initial cook time, the crockpot stays off and works as an incubator for the yogurt, slowly cooling. Hope that helps!

  4. I made your crockpot yogurt recipe and am excited to try the Greek yogurt now! I used my leftover whey as a buttermilk substitute and made biscuits and pancakes with it. They were so good! Thank you for these recipes!

    1. Yay! I love hearing how excited others are about making yogurt in their crock pots. Great use of the whey, too. Thanks for sharing, Michaiah!

  5. Thank you for this recipe. I’ve made it once now and it worked out great. I’m trying it again today and I added 3/4 cup of dry milk instead of 1/2 cup because I’m trying to get the nutrition content up to par with store bought Greek yogurt. I’m wondering if you have any idea (or if you’ve even considered!) how many calories or nutrients are drained off in the whey? I’m assuming some calories and nutrients are lost but I just have no idea how to even begin to calculate that. Thanks!

    1. Hmm, Kate. Sorry, no idea! A quick search says that 1 cup of liquid whey has about 66 calories, and because it is mostly water you shouldn’t lose many of the nutrients. Hope that helps a bit, and I’m glad you like the recipe!

  6. Thanks for this! I’m so looking forward to trying this recipe. I’ve never given any thought to making my own. I added items to my grocery list so I can try it out soon. As soon as I run through the stacks of yogurt already in my fridge. : )

    Joe-

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