Why I Love Making Yogurt in My Instant Pot
If there’s anything you need to know about me, it’s this: I like yogurt. Partially in thanks to my Persian heritage, I’ve eaten it as long as I can remember, whether it was a snack, a side, a breakfast, a dessert, or dip. I’ll easily eat half a gallon of yogurt a week; my fridge will always house some form of plain, whole-milk yogurt, because that’s how I prefer to start my mornings. For other meals, I’ll slap it atop shredded chicken and beans, substitute it anywhere I need sour cream, or dollop some over anything that needs a little tang, including my dog’s meals. (What can I say? He likes it too.)
So yes, while I do use my Instant Pot to cook all kinds of things, I bought it with the intention of making my own yogurt. It was a dream of mine for years, and attaining it was much easier than I suspected. You may not eat a lot of yogurt, and if so, then I’ll admit making your own wouldn’t be very practical. But for me, it’s a way of life.
Watch: How to Make Instant Pot Mac and Cheese with Bacon
To make yogurt in your Instant Pot, you only need a few things: milk, a yogurt starter (a.k.a. already-made yogurt), a meat thermometer, oven mitts, and patience. The Instant Pot may speed it up a little, but yogurt making is still a time-intensive process. You don’t have to set aside an entire day for it, but do make sure you’re around for key steps. It’s best to play it safe and ensure you don’t accidentally leave the milk out too long in case it spoils.
It may sound counterintuitive that you need yogurt to make yogurt, but you’ve gotta have that culture. Don’t use more than three tablespoons of starter per half gallon of milk: the bacteria will crowd up the milk and make the yogurt thinner. You’ll want to use whole milk. Anything else will yield a soupy texture. The Instant Pot cult swears by Fairlife, but you can use whatever brand of milk you trust. I use Horizon. Additionally, take your Instant Pot’s size into account: a 3-quart Duo Mini works best with a half gallon of milk, but the big boys can take more.
First, pour half a gallon of milk into your Instant Pot, seal it, and press the “Yogurt” setting until you get “Boil.” Once the boiling’s done, let the steam release, turn the Instant Pot off, and remove the lid. Wearing oven mitts, remove the inner bowl and set it somewhere the milk can cool down, like a wire rack or in the fridge. Stir the milk occasionally, and let it hit 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
Next, put your three tablespoons of starter yogurt in a medium-sized bowl, and add ⅔ cup of the milk. Stir the mixture with a whisk until it’s uniform and transfer it back to the Instant Pot’s inner bowl. Replace the bowl, close and seal the Instant Pot, and press “Yogurt.” It’ll need to cook for eight hours, and if you like, you can cook it a little longer to make it thicker. Remember, it’s yours.
Before your yogurt’s complete, make sure you have a way to store it, whether it’s recycled Yoplait Oui containers or a large Pyrex dish. After it’s done cooking, transfer the yogurt to your container(s) of choice. To thicken the yogurt further (think Greek yogurt consistency), strain it with some cheesecloth first. Then, let it sit in the fridge for at least six hours—if it’s late, let it sit overnight, and enjoy your yogurt with some fruit and granola for breakfast the next morning.
Note: if you’re too lazy to strain your yogurt (as I was), your first batch will be thin. Maintaining the culture—that is, using spoonfuls of your own yogurt as the starter in subsequent batches— will result in thicker, creamier yogurt. It simply takes time and dedication.