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Thick and Creamy Homemade Instant Pot Yogurt

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Homemade instant pot yogurt always comes in handy, and is great to keep in your refrigerator. You will appreciate the endless meal options that come with a batch of instant pot yoghurt.

It’s rare to find a recipe that can be used so easily in everything from breakfasts, lunches and dinners, to side dishes and desserts. Honey BBQ Instant Pot Pork Spare Ribs

homemade instant pot yogurt presentation

Okay, I just have to mention this — don’t be discouraged by the many steps listed in this recipe. Making homemade instant pot yogurt is super easy! You only need to remember a temperature reading for when to add the yogurt starter. The instant pot does all the work for you.

I have included all of the guided step-by-step instructions below, but once you’ve made homemade instant pot yogurt once or twice, all you need to know are two temperature settings. Continue reading and I will show you the simplified approach to making homemade instant pot yogurt.

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What is the Science Behind Making Homemade Instant Pot Yogurt from Milk?

Have you ever wondered how milk can turn into yogurt? If not, feel free to skip past this section if you are comfortable with not knowing the science behind the process of making homemade instant pot yogurt.

Yogurt is created from milk by culturing probiotic, an active bacteria, such as Lactobacillus. The probiotic takes use of the protein in the milk (and whey) and binds it together to create the thick consistency of yogurt.

For the probiotic to work, the natural bacteria culture in the milk must first be removed. In addition, for the milk and whey protein to bind together, the initial bond between them needs to be broken.

Probiotic is sensitive to temperature. Similarly, the milk and whey protein will disconnect if heated. Therefore, the first step in making homemade instant pot yogurt is to heat the milk.

Once the milk has been heated (and cooled) an active bacteria needs to be added back to the milk and then cultured at a constant temperature, for a prolonged time.

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What Effect does the Initial Heating Temperature have on Yogurt?

Homemade instant pot yogurt created from milk heated at the low end of the required temperature is thin and tastes fresh and tart. On the contrary, milk heated at the high end results in a thicker, sweeter yogurt. So, in a simplified form, the higher the initial temperature of the milk, the thicker and sweeter the yogurt.

The milk initially needs to be heated to perform two things:

  1. Remove the competing bacteria so that the probiotic can start culturing the milk,
  2. Break down the whey protein so it can form a thick texture with the milk protein.
homemade instant pot yogurt above

What Effect does the Incubating Temperature have on Yogurt?

The active Lactobacillus bacteria can only be activated (and stay active) at certain temperatures. A yogurt that is incubated at a lower temperature will be “stable” and not release whey. It will therefore also be thinner and smoother when compared to a yogurt that is incubated at a higher temperature. If you prefer a thick and creamy yogurt, incubate the milk at a higher temperature.

Does Different Milk Make Different Yogurt?

The fat content in milk greatly affects the type of yogurt produced. Skim milk creates a thinner and less sweet tasting yogurt when compared to higher fat content milk. The fat in the milk promotes both thickness and sweetness in the yogurt. Use whole milk if you want a thick, creamy and sweet tasting yogurt.

What Ingredients do you need to Make Homemade Instant Pot Yogurt?

Making yogurt cannot be any easier. All you need is milk and a yogurt starter. To make the yogurt super thick and creamy use 3.5% whole milk (or 3.25% homogenized milk). The extra fat content in the milk not only makes the yogurt thicker than low fat milk, the yogurt also tastes sweeter (less tart) and creamier.

What is a Yogurt Starter?

Yogurt starter is basically any plain yogurt with an active bacterial culture in it. This can be a good quality yogurt from the grocery store, yogurt you saved from the last time you made homemade instant pot yogurt, or probiotic in powder form.

What Yogurt is Best as Yogurt Starter?

Any good quality non-flavored yogurt with active bacteria culture works as a yogurt starter. If you use store bought yogurt, make sure the ingredients list active or live bacteria culture. Also, make sure you use a non-flavored, good quality yogurt, as you will rely on this for many yogurt starters going forward.

I started my first homemade yogurt from a store bought yogurt containing Lactobacillus. That was the first and only time I used anything other than a yogurt starter from previous batch of homemade instant pot yogurt. This is another reason that makes this recipe so great!

You can keep making yogurt over and over again. All you need to buy is milk (and remember to save a quarter cup of yogurt from the batch to use as a starter for the next time you make some).

homemade instant pot yogurt step 8

How do you Store Yogurt Starters?

Yogurt starters (yogurt containing active or live bacteria culture) can be kept stored in a freezer for months. When making homemade instant pot yogurt, cycle through and replace the yogurt starter with every new batch you make. Try to keep two or three starters, frozen in quarter-cup freezer containers, ready to go at all times.

How Long can you Keep Homemade Instant Pot Yogurt in the Fridge?

Homemade yogurt can easily be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for two weeks. You may notice that the whey separates from the yogurt after a while. You can either discard it or blend it back in with the yogurt.

What are the Important Temperatures for making Homemade Yogurt?

The probiotic bacteria in milk and yogurt starts to die at 130°F (54°C).
The milk and whey protein bonds that holds the yogurt together will start to break at 160°F (70°C).
Most instant pots with a yogurt function heat the milk to between 170°F and 180°F (76°C to 82°C).
The whey is maintained within the yogurt and will not leak out if the incubation process starts below 105°F (40°C).
Probiotic will best maintain the culturing process between 105°F and 112°F (40°C to 45°C).
Most instant pots with a yogurt function incubate the milk at 110°F (43°C).

What is Special About This Homemade Instant Pot Yogurt Recipe?

This recipe is not designed to produce a thin, tart yogurt, like most store bought ones. Instead, the yogurt resulting from this recipe is sweet, creamy and thick. In my opinion, it is even thicker than Greek yogurt and Turkish Labneh. As you will see below, both the initial heating temperature and the incubating temperature are purposely set high with this in mind.

homemade instant pot yogurt thick creamy

How to Make Homemade Instant Pot Yogurt

Step 1 — Boil the Milk

Boil the milk using the “yogurt boil” and sauté function on the instant pot — takes about one hour and is automated by the instant pot.

Step 2 — Cool Down the Milk

Cool down the milk to between 105°F to 110°F (40°C to 43°C) — takes about two hours but can be sped up if you chill the milk in the sink or the fridge.
NOTE: This is a good time to start thawing the yogurt starter if you have one in the freezer.

Step 3 — Add the Yogurt Starter

Add the yogurt starter to the milk — takes two minutes.

Step 4 — Culture the Milk

Culture the milk using the “yogurt 08:00” function — takes eight hours and is also automated by the instant pot.

Step 5 — Chill the Yogurt

Chill the yogurt in the fridge overnight — takes eight hours.

Step 6 — Strain the Yogurt

Strain the yogurt in a yogurt strainer — takes two to four hours but can take as long as you want.

Step 7 — Enjoy

Enjoy your very own thick and creamy homemade yogurt.

When is the Best Time to Start Making Homemade Instant Pot Yogurt?

The process of making yogurt in the instant pot takes about 24 hours, start to finish. Almost none of this time requires any work on your end. The instant pot does all the “cooking”. Aside from spending a minute here and there checking on the temperature while cooling the milk, you only need to combine the milk and the yogurt starter and mix it in with the milk.

With the above durations in mind, and as an example, I usually start making yogurt in the morning, around 9AM. That makes the time when you need to start checking the cooling temperature to be between 11AM and 12PM. Once the yogurt starter is added, the instant pot runs its course until 8PM. After that I let the yogurt cool in the fridge until the next morning, about 8AM, when I start the straining. By 12PM there is a thick and creamy yogurt ready in the fridge.

What Recipes can you use Homemade Instant Pot Yogurt in?

This instant pot yogurt is such a versatile dish. You can enjoy it for breakfast, as a dip, as a substitute for sour cream, and use it in all recipes that list plain or Greek style yogurt as an ingredient. Once you start making homemade yogurt in your instant pot you will find endless uses for it.

I have listed some of our dishes where yogurt is featured in the recipe.

For example, in both Deliciously Easy Baked Spinach Dip and Hot and Creamy Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash, yogurt is used to lighten the dishes up, but still maintains creaminess.

It is also used as a topping instead of sour cream on Spicy Bell Pepper Nachos with Quinoa and Bean Mix. And, in our Zesty Canned Salmon Salad Sandwich recipe, the yogurt is used as a substitute for mayo.

As you can see from these recipes, this yogurt is a keeper and will find its way into many of your daily meals.

And, as mentioned earlier, it’s helpful to keep a few yogurt starters in the freezer ready to go, in case you need to make more homemade instant pot yogurt — since this yogurt is enjoyed in so many different meals each day!

Yogurt Jokes

Well, for starters (get it? Yogurt Starter… LOL!).
What is the Mandalorian Yogurt Code? — “This is the whey.”
Don’t let the yogurt fall to the wheyside!
Why did the yogurt stay in the strainer? — Because it didn’t want to be in the whey!
Okay, enough. There are whey too many yogurt jokes here!
Besides, there is no whey anyone will find these funny…

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homemade instant pot yogurt recipe

Thick and Creamy Homemade Instant Pot Yogurt

Susan & Björn
Super creamy and versatile – this yogurt dresses up both sweet and savory dishes – from pairing with breakfast granola and smoothies, to tzatziki, labneh and spinach dips. Use instead of sour cream for a healthier version of your favorite recipes.
No ratings yet
servings10
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Incubation 8 hours
Total Time 10 hours 5 minutes
Course Appetizer, Breakfast, Dessert
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Calories 231 kcal
Carbohydrates 18 g

Equipment

1 Instant Pot 6 Quart
1 Yogurt Strainer

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1 gallon Milk, 3.5% whole milk or 3.25% homogenized mik
  • ¼ cup Yogurt Starter, any plain yogurt with active bacteria culture

Instructions
 

Boil

  • Pour milk into the instant pot
    homemade instant pot yogurt step 1
  • Close the lid, set the vent to sealing and press the yogurt button on the instant pot a few times until the display reads "boil". Depending on your instant pot model, you may have to cycle through a few settings until the correct one is displayed.
    homemade instant pot yogurt step 2
  • The boil process is completed when the display reads "yogt". This step takes about one hour.
    homemade instant pot yogurt step 12
  • Remove the lid from the instant pot and press cancel.
    homemade instant pot yogurt step 4
  • Press sauté on the instant pot. The display should read a time setting, such as "00:30", and the temperature setting should be on "more". To change the temperature setting from "normal" to "more", keep pressing the button.
    homemade instant pot yogurt step 5
  • Continue to heat the milk (while stirring frequently) until it almost starts to boil. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature. It should read 210°F (99°C). Note: remove the inner pot from the instant pot as soon as the milk reaches the correct temperature as it may boil over otherwise.
    homemade instant pot yogurt step 6

Cool Down #1

  • Place the inner pot on a cooling rack and let it cool down to between 105°F and 110°F (40°C to 43°C). I use 108°F (42°C) to make the yogurt extra creamy. This step can take between one to two hours depending on the ambient temperature.
    homemade instant pot yogurt step 7
  • Once the milk has cooled down to the correct temperature, prepare the yogurt starter by adding a cup of milk from the instant pot to it.
    homemade instant pot yogurt step 8
  • Whisk the yogurt starter with the milk to blend them well. Pour the mix back into the instant pot and stir well.
    homemade instant pot yogurt step 9

Incubation

  • Close the lid on the instant pot. The vent can be set to either sealing or venting. Press the yogurt button on the instant pot repeatedly until the display reads "08:00".
    homemade instant pot yogurt step 10
  • The milk is now being cultured with the probiotic yogurt starter. Contrary to most other timer settings on the instant pot, the timer starts at zero and counts up.
    homemade instant pot yogurt step 11
  • The incubation process is completed when the timer has reached eight hours and the display once again reads "yogt".
    homemade instant pot yogurt step 12

Cool Down #2

  • Once the incubation cycle is completed, remove the lid from the instant pot. Be careful to not drip down the water trapped under the lid into the yogurt.
    homemade instant pot yogurt finished
  • Without disturbing the yogurt, place the inner pot with a lid in the fridge over night to cool down.
    homemade instant pot yogurt step 14

Straining

  • When the yogurt has cooled down overnight, scoop up half of it into a two-quart yogurt strainer.
    homemade instant pot yogurt step 15
  • Since this yogurt incubation temperature was started at 108°F (42°C) a lot of whey will be released from the yogurt to make it super thick and creamy.
    homemade instant pot yogurt step 16
  • Let the yogurt strain in the fridge for at least four hours until most of the whey has been strained. Notice how the volume of the yogurt is almost half against what it was before the straining started. That is whey that has been removed, making the yogurt extra thick and creamy.
    homemade instant pot yogurt step 17

Additional Information

Remember to freeze a quarter-cup of yogurt in freezer safe containers to have as yogurt starter next time you make homemade instant pot yogurt.

Nutrition

Calories: 231kcal Carbohydrates: 18g Net Carbohydrates: 18g Protein: 13g Fat: 12g Saturated Fat: 7g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g Monounsaturated Fat: 3g Cholesterol: 46mg Sodium: 147mg Potassium: 577mg Sugar: 18g Vitamin A: 619IU Vitamin C: 0.03mg Calcium: 473mg Iron: 0.003mg

Note

The above nutritional values are estimates and should only be used as a guide. If you are following a specific diet or have dietary restrictions, please use your preferred nutritional calculator. If you have a food allergy please ensure that none of the listed ingredients are part of your restrictions. As well, always use a food thermometer to ensure safe cooking temperature of the food items.

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