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How to Make Homemade Plain Yogurt

Today is a pretty epic day for PBR. It’s my dad’s first recipe post! I can’t even begin to tell you how happy it makes me that he’s going to be regularly contributing around here. Let me back up and tell you the story of me + my dad + my love for cooking.


My dad is an extremely talented self-taught home cook. My mom went to back to school to get her master’s degree when I was really young and my dad quickly discovered if he was going to feed me anything other than frozen pizza and canned green beans, he needed to learn how to cook. My mom showed him the basics and he took off from there. He eventually took over all of the primary cooking duties around the house because his work schedule put him home earlier with us and he enjoyed it.

My dad created our family meal plan every weekend and I often accompanied him on trips to the grocery store. Our weekly menu was always hanging on the fridge and we rarely went out (we lived in a small town with few good options). We sat down to dinner every night as a family. This is something that is still important to me to this day. To be honest, I didn’t have much of an interest in cooking when I lived at home but once I went to college and realized that I couldn’t eat like I was used to without learning to cook, it became a passion. My dad has spent COUNTLESS hours on the phone with me talking me through various cooking related questions and he’s set me up with some of my favorite gear including my KitchenAid 5-Speed Professional Mixer, Vitamix, Thermapen and more.

As the years went on, my dad’s cooking got better and better. One of the things that amazes me most about him is that he can do everything from bake 14 layer cakes to grill a prime rib on the Big Green Egg. He does it all! After over 30 years with the same company, my dad retired about a year ago. He’s been doing even more cooking in his retirement so I approached him about sharing some of it on the blog. He’s constantly trying new recipes, cooking methods, ingredients, etc. and he’s been focusing on eating healthier and cleaner so I knew it would be great to share here. And he agreed! Yay for us!

His first contribution is a homemade yogurt tutorial. My dad isn’t much of a breakfast eater but knows he should eat it for his health so he makes a batch of homemade plain yogurt every week and eats it with granola and fruit every morning. His yogurt is great! The texture is so soft and pillowy and the yogurt isn’t so tangy that you can’t eat it plain. This yogurt contains just two ingredients and is easy and economical to make at home.

Here we go!

Yogurt at Home

Makes about 5 pints

What You Need


– 1/2 gallon milk organic or any store brand will work; whole milk or 2% is best. I have used 1% and skim but you get a thinner yogurt. The texture is so much better with 2% or whole.
– 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt containing active cultures. I use Chobani or Stonyfield but any brand with the live cultures should work.


Live and active cultures refer to the living organismsLactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, which convert pasteurized milk to yogurt during fermentation. All yogurts are required to be made with these two cultures. In addition, some yogurts contain Lactobacillus acidophilusBifidus and other cultures. (Source)



  • 8 cup measuring cup
  • Large whisk
  • Instant-read thermometer
  • Small bowl
  • Cooler
  • Heating pad
  • 5 pint jars with screw on lids


1) Heat the milk in a microwave to 180° to 185°. This takes about 15 minutes in my microwave. When I first started making yogurt, I used a stock pot and it took 30-35 minutes to heat the milk and I had to stand there stirring and watching the milk so it did not scorch. Use your microwave!


2) Let the milk cool on your counter until it is 110°F to 115°F. This will take about 50 to 60 minutes. A skin will form on the yogurt remove this after the yogurt cools.


3) Once the milk has cooled, pour about 1 cup of milk into your bowl and add 2 rounded tablespoons of yogurt. Adding more yogurt will do more harm than good; so eat the remaining yogurt as a treat.

4) Gently whisk the yogurt and milk to combine.

5) Add back to the warm milk and gently whisk together. I whisk in a back and forth motion for 15 -20 seconds.


6) Pour the yogurt mixture into 5 sterile pint jars. Note: I run my jars through a hot dishwasher cycle.


7) Place the jars into your cooler with the heating pad turned to medium. Note: I place the heating pad in bottom of the cooler and then place a kitchen towel over the heating pad. I turn the heating pad on about 30 minutes before adding the jars of yogurt mixture.


8) Leave the jars in the cooler for 8-9 hours and the yogurt will set. Do not stir, look at, move, or think about the yogurt while it is in the cooler, the good bacteria in the yogurt is busy multiplying and making your yogurt. My heating pad set on medium keeps the yogurt between 105° and 110° this is the temperature the bacteria needs.


9) Once the yogurt has set, remove it from the cooler, screw on the lids and place it in the refrigerator overnight.

10) If you get a liquid on the top of your yogurt, that is the whey. I usually pour it off but if you are making a smoothie add it in as the whey is good for you.

11) The yogurt will keep in the refrigerator for 2 – 3 weeks and you can use your homemade yogurt as the starter to make your next batch of yogurt.


  • If your milk drops below 110° while it is cooling place it back in the microwave and reheat it.
  • I use a dishwasher to sterilize my jars.
  • Yogurt, fresh fruit or frozen with granola makes a fast healthy breakfast.

What’s your favorite way to eat or use plain yogurt? 

{ 19 comments… add one }
  • Pam Leverette November 12, 2014, 5:14 pm

    I LOVE that your dad will be a regular contributor here on PBR! The fact that you grew up with family dinners is so important! I did my best to have a home cooked hot meal everyday for my children and now they will all tell you, “homemade is better”! My husband just purchased a green egg and is interested in cooking a prime rib on it. That would be a nice blog!
    I’m REALLY excited about the yoga posts! I LOVE yoga!

  • Casey November 12, 2014, 6:17 pm

    Wow, I had no idea it was that simple to make your own yogurt!! Thanks for sharing. I also really enjoyed reading about your dad and the bond you share over cooking… My dad and I had similar back and forth phone calls while I was at undergrad and to this day, he still gets weird “how do you make that one dish in the wok? You know, the one with beef and cabbage that I love?” phone calls almost weekly!

  • Jojo @ Run Fast Eat Lots November 12, 2014, 7:01 pm

    That’s so cool that your dad is so passionate about cooking! Thanks for sharing his recipe. I’ve made homemade yogurt before and it’s so gratifying

  • Callie November 12, 2014, 8:09 pm

    I love everything about this post! I love the history you gave about your dad’s cooking to now making his own yogurt. So impressive. He is also so good with giving clear directions. Usually I like lots of photos with step-by-step instructions, but his were so detailed with timing estimates and easy how tos. His method seems so approachable and will definitely make this one weekend soon!

  • Ally November 12, 2014, 8:23 pm

    What a great collaboration, Jen! So neat that your dad is sharing on the blog, he’s been a presence here through your cooking stories over the years. Love that you guys shared homemade yogurt! It’s so easy and satisfying! I love homemade coconut milk yogurt, too : )

  • Liv @ Healthy Liv November 12, 2014, 9:59 pm

    That’s awesome that your dad makes homemade yogurt! It looks delicious. So fun that he’s going to be sharing recipes now, too!

  • Amanda Bee November 12, 2014, 10:30 pm

    Great post! I assumed making homemade yogurt required fancy equipment but this looks pretty doable. With full-fat plain yogurt almost impossible to find, I might just have to try it out!

  • hillary | nutrition nut on the run November 12, 2014, 11:20 pm

    Like the new Dad posts 🙂

  • Claire @ My Life Cravings November 13, 2014, 9:26 am

    I cannot believe how easy this yogurt is to make! I never would have thought making yogurt could be so simple. I really can’t wait to try this; I want to buy a heating pad just so I can do it.

    I think it is so wonderful and inspiring that your dad will be posting recipes 🙂 It’s so heart warming to see a collaboration like that, and also the influence your dad has had on your love of cooking.

    Thank you for sharing!

  • Lauren November 13, 2014, 10:21 am

    Hi Jen (and your dad)! Thanks so much for posting–this looks awesome! Do you know if you can make this yogurt using dairy free milk/yogurt (of course, if you can find a non-dairy yogurt containing live active cultures)? Thanks!!

  • Courtney F November 13, 2014, 1:06 pm

    I loved, loved, loved everything about this post. From talking up your dad to the explicit instructions (“do not stir, look at, move, or think about the yogurt” :o), I definitely want to make yogurt now. My husband is the cook in our family too b/c he enjoys it too, where I am more the sous chef and side dish queen / vegetable pusher!! Keep the guest posts coming, please!!

  • Erin November 17, 2014, 5:27 am

    How cool! I love that your dad will be contributing recipes to PBR – the yogurt looks delicious and so fun to make!

  • Alyssa November 18, 2014, 3:39 pm

    This is great! Healthy and seems so easy, too! So many people don’t realize how easy it could be to eat healthy and make your own things!

  • Holly November 19, 2014, 8:01 pm

    Very cool. The directions are well-written and simple to understand! I look forward to more posts from your pops!

  • Mary H. November 27, 2014, 1:16 pm

    I have tried several homemade yogurt recipes over the years and was never happy with the results. I tried your dad’s recipe and I love it! Thank you so much for posting this.

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