Learn how to make Instant Pot Yogurt two different ways – either in a large batch or in small individual jars. With detailed instructions on how to turn it into extra rich and creamy Instant Pot Greek yogurt and different ways to flavor the homemade yogurt to your taste.
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I’ve had my Instant Pot for a little over a year now and by far the one thing I have made the most in it is yogurt! Whenever I share a snippet of the process in my Instagram stories, I receive requests for the recipe.
So here we go!
Why Make Homemade Yogurt
First of all, maybe you aren’t convinced yet that making yogurt in the Instant Pot or homemade yogurt in general is even a good idea. So let me share the reasons why I make yogurt at home instead of just conveniently picking up yogurt containers from the store.
My absolute biggest reason for making pressure cooker yogurt is the fact that I can control the ingredients.
When we arrived here in Mexico I was quite shocked to read all the yogurt labels and realize that with the exception of 1-2 ALL yogurts here have sugar added! Even many ‘natural’ unflavored varieties.
And the same goes for added thickening agents. Almost all of them list some sort of gum in the ingredients list.
Now that I make homemade yogurt I can be sure that there ate no added sugar or thickeners.
PLUS: I can choose the quality of milk I use. Regular milk from the supermarket works just fine on a regular basis, but when I feel splurgy and want extra creamy yogurt, I buy the organic pastured milk from the farmers market.
No matter how you look at it, homemade yogurt will always be cheaper than store-bought. Dairy prices can vary significantly depending on where you live. But next time you are in the store just look at the price of a quart of yogurt (that’s usually the size of the big containers) and compare it to the prize of a gallon of milk.
One gallon can make 4 quarts of yogurt!
Control over flavor
I like my yogurt extra tangy. My daughter likes it just a little sweetened. And my husband prefers fruit flavored yogurt.
Instead of buying three different types of yogurt all the time, with homemade yogurt each of us can easily adjust it to our own liking.
How to Make Instant Pot Yogurt in 5 Simple Steps
Over all the process of making yogurt at home is simple and straightforward, it’s just not quick.
- Scald the milk (heat to 180°F/82°C). This kills harmful bacteria, destroys enzymes and denatures the proteins
- Let cool (to 105°F/40°C)
- Add starter yogurt and
- Incubate 8-14 hours.
- Chill the yogurt for at least 4 hours (or overnight) before using.
Now let’s get down into the more detailed instructions – they are quite important to yogurt success:
What Milk To Use for Making Homemade Yogurt
This recipe is for whole dairy milk. The higher milk fat percentage you can find, the thicker your Instant Pot yogurt will be.
My grocery store whole milk has about 3.25% milk fat. My Farmers Market milk is closer to 4%.
I definitely want to experiment with dairy-free Instant Pot yogurt – like coconut milk, almond or soy milk yogurt – but this post is only for dairy milk. The other ones will get there own post in time.
Instant Pot Yogurt Starter
I use fresh yogurt as starter (not dehydrated starter or probiotic powders). For your first batch of Instant Pot yogurt you’ll need to buy some natural, unsweetened yogurt from the store.
You need to make sure the ingredient list includes ‘active cultures’. Sometimes they are listed with their actual names: lactobacillus bulgaricus and streptococcus thermophilus.
Go with one you like the flavor of. I recommend thicker, full-fat Greek yogurt.
After you have made your first batch of homemade yogurt, you can use that as starter for the next batch. Be sure to use it within 7 days though for the strongest most active cultures.
I freeze a little bit of the fresh yogurt in ice cube trays to preserve the cultures for longer. According to Cultures for Health you can store starter yogurt frozen for 3-4 weeks, but it may lose some potency. So you may need to double the amount of starter to culture your batch of milk into yogurt.
Instant Pot Yogurt Incubation Time
Incubation refers to the process of letting the milk and starter sit at a warm (not hot) temperature. In this time the bacterial cultures are actively working to process the milk into yogurt.
Minimum incubation time should be 8 hours. As I mentioned before, I like really tart yogurt. So I go for 12-14 hours of incubation. Anywhere in this 8-14 hour time frame is good. You can always increase at your discretion.
To make sure the yogurt is at my preferred level of tartness, I will try a spoon full of the warm yogurt. Not the most pleasant, but better than a whole batch of not quite tart enough yogurt.
If it tastes tart enough, I will move the yogurt over to the fridge. The bacterial cultures will stop actively working at cold temperature. If I am not happy with the tanginess yet, I will add a couple more hours of incubation time.
For your first attempt at Instant Pot yogurt, I recommend to time it so that you can be there at the 8 hour mark to test the tartness.
2 Ways to make Instant Pot Yogurt:
1. How to make Instant Pot Yogurt in the Inner Pot
To make yogurt in the inner pot of your Instant Pot, pour the milk right into the pot and close the lid. Since there will be no pressurizing at all, you can use the glass lid (if you have one).
To scald the milk, press the ‘yogurt’ button and the display will show ‘boil’. How long this takes depends on the amount of milk you use. I usually do 1/2 gallon and it takes 30-40 minutes.
When the ‘boil’ cycle is finished, immediately whisk the milk and take the temperature. It should be at least 180°F/82°C. If it is not quite there yet, you can hit ‘saute’ and adjust to ‘less’. Carefully watch and whisk occasionally until the milk reaches the right temperature. Turn off the heat by hitting ‘cancel’.
Using your thermometer to check, let the milk cool down to 105°F/40°C. Adding the starter yogurt into too hot milk would destroy the bacterial cultures.
You can just let it cool down by itself, which takes about 30 minutes. To speed up the process, fill your sink with cold water and put the inner pot in there. Once cooled enough, remove the skin that may have formed on top of the milk.
Temper the starter yogurt – this means to heat it up slowly. To a bowl with the yogurt, add some of the milk and whisk until combined. Then whisk the yogurt mixture into the rest of the milk in the inner pot. Be sure to avoid scraping at the bottom, as some of the milk may have set up there.
Now it is time to incubate a.k.a. let the bacterial cultures do their magic. Close the lid and press the ‘Yogurt’ button. Using the ‘Adjust’ and ‘+’ or ‘-‘ buttons select your incubation time.
Anywhere from 8-14 hours may be required (see section about incubation time above).
Now let your freshly made homemade yogurt cool down in the fridge. Let it chill for at least 4 hours (or overnight) before using. During this time the yogurt will thicken and set up.
After that you can start enjoying the yogurt. Be sure to freeze some of it as starter for the next batch. Or move on to the steps below for making thicker Greek yogurt or how to flavor it.
How to Make Greek Yogurt at Home
If you prefer really thick Greek-style yogurt you need to strain some of the whey out of your homemade yogurt.
You can use a Greek Yogurt Strainer made specifically for this purpose. But if you have a cheesecloth and strainer you are good to go. That’s the setup I use.
Ladle the chilled homemade yogurt into a strainer that is lined with a cheesecloth and suspended over a large bowl. Take care not to scrape too much from the bottom of the inner pot. That way you may loosen bits of milk solids that have set down there during the scalding stage.
Let the yogurt sit in this setup to strain until it reaches desired thickness – in the fridge or on the counter is fine. I like mine best after about 2 of hours of straining.
Now you are ready to transfer the Instant Pot Greek yogurt into storage containers to keep in the fridge until ready to use. Or move on to flavoring the yogurt.
What to do with the whey
The whey that accumulates in the bottom bowl is super nutritious and full of protein. Don’t simply discard it. I like to use it for some of the liquid portion in my smoothies.
You can do the same when making bread or pancakes. Replace some or all of the liquid called for in those recipe with whey.
Whey keeps very well refrigerated. Some say up to 6 months, but I try to use it within 1-2 months.
How to Make Instant Pot in Jar – Pot-in-Pot Method (PIP)
Another great way to make Instant Pot yogurt is right inside little portion sized jars. It’s really super convenient.
That way your Instant Pot isn’t out of commission during the chilling period. And my daughter loves taking these little yogurt jars to her preschool even.
I am using the glass jars that one of the good brands of yogurt here in Mexico came in. You can find something very similar here.
You also can use little mason jars. To make sure they won’t break in the process check that they are suitable for canning.
There are also sets of plastic containers for sale just for the purpose of making yogurt in the Instant Pot. But I am not a fan of heating any kind of food in plastic – heating plastic makes it leach into the food.
The steps of making Instant Pot yogurt in jars are essentially the same, just a little differently executed.
Start by adding 2 cups of water to the inner pot, then add a trivet. Fill your jars with whole milk up to about 1/2 inch from the top rim.
Carefully place the jars on the trivet and close with the Instant Pot lid. Be sure to use an extra sealing ring dedicated to sweet recipes (to avoid onion, chicken or bean flavored yogurt).
Turn the pressure valve to sealing and select ‘Steam’ for 1 minute. The pot will take some time to pressurize (it took 8 minutes for me). When the minute is over, quick release (QR) the pressure by turning the pressure valve to venting.
Immediately check the temperature of the milk with your thermometer. At times I don’t get it to 180°F/82°C on the first try. In that case I close the lid again, and steam for another minute.
Other times the milk actually boils over a little bit. I haven’t figured out why that happens occasionally, but it’s not a big deal at all. Just proceed as usual.
Let the milk in the jars cool down to 105°F/40°C. Taking the jars out of the Instant Pot and placing them into a sink filled with cold water will speed up the process.
Once cooled, remove the skin that has formed on top of each little jar.
Add a little starter yogurt to each jar and stir really well. The amount of starter you need depends on the size of your jars.
Use a generous 1/2 teaspoon of starter per cup of milk. I have 1/2 cup jars, so I use a heaping 1/4 teaspoon for each.
You should still have water at the bottom of the inner pot. Place the milk jars on the trivet again.
Cover them loosely with their lids. No need to seal. Covering them will just keep condensation from dripping into the jars.
Cover the Instant Pot with a lid. You can use the glass lid now.
Press the ‘Yogurt’ button. Using the ‘Adjust’ and ‘+’ or ‘-‘ buttons select your incubation time. Anywhere from 8-14 hours may be required (see section about incubation time above).
To stop the incubation process place your Instant Pot yogurt jars in the fridge. Let them chill for at least 2 hours (or overnight) before using. During this time the yogurt will thicken and set up.
How To Flavor Homemade Yogurt
My favorite way to sweeten homemade yogurt naturally is maple syrup. Because it is more liquid than honey and doesn’t harden when it comes in touch with chilled yogurt, it is really easy and quick to incorporate.
Vanilla extract is my next favorite thing to add to yogurt. And of course you can use any other extracts that you have on hand.
Cinnamon and other sweet spice blends (pumpkin spice, apple pie, chai) are great healthy natural ways to flavor yogurt.
You can simply add fresh cut up fruit or berries to your yogurt. Or puree the fruit first for flavored yogurt without chunky textures.
And by far the easiest way to flavor and sweeten yogurt at the same time is jam! Use any fruit jam you like and have on hand. Or make this healthier chia berry jam.
You can add it at the bottom of little jars before filling in yogurt (not with the PIP method) for a homemade fruit at the bottom-style yogurt. Just stir well before consuming.
How Long Will Homemade Yogurt Last
If stored in the fridge, your homemade Instant Pot yogurt should keep for at least 2 weeks.
If you want to use the homemade yogurt as starter for your next batch, you should do so within 7 days. Or freeze some of the freshly made yogurt in an ice cube tray, to preserve the yogurt cultures for longer (see above Instant Pot Yogurt Starter)
Tools I Use to make yogurt in the Instant Pot
- Instant Pot with Yogurt setting
- Instant Pot glass lid
- thermometer: I use a simple culinary thermometer, but an instant read thermometer would be much faster
- extra sealing ring (only necessary for PIP method)
- glass jars
- cheesecloth/yogurt strainer
More Delicious Pressure Cooker Recipes
How To Make Homemade Yogurt – VIDEO
Instant Pot Yogurt
Learn how to make Instant Pot Yogurt two different ways - either in a large batch or in small individual jars. With detailed instructions on how to turn it into extra rich and creamy Instant Pot Greek yogurt and different ways to flavor the homemade yogurt to your taste.
- 2 liters whole milk *
- 2 tablespoons full-fat Greek yogurt with active bacterial cultures
Instant Pot Yogurt in the Inner Pot:
Fill the whole milk into the Instant Pot and close the (glass) lid. To scald the milk select the 'Yogurt' button. Display will show 'boil'. This will take about 30-40 minutes.
When the cycle is finished whisk the milk and immediately take the temperature. It should be at least 180°F/82°C. If it is not quite there yet, press ‘saute’ and adjust to ‘less’. Carefully watch and whisk occasionally until the milk reaches the right temperature. Turn off the heat by hitting ‘cancel’.
Let the milk cool down to 105°F/40°C. Either by itself (this takes about 30 minutes) or speed up the process by filling your sink with cold water and let the inner pot cool in there.
Remove the skin that may have formed on top. To a small bowl with the starter yogurt add some of the cool milk and whisk until combined (this is called tempering). Then whisk the yogurt mix into the rest of the milk.
Close the lid and start the incubation process. Press 'Yogurt' and adjust the time to 8-14 hours (see details in the Incubation section).
Afterwards, move the inner pot to the fridge and chill to let it set for at least 4 hours. Then the yogurt is ready to be enjoyed or move on to turn it into Greek yogurt.
Instant Pot Greek yogurt:
To make really thick and creamy Greek yogurt, transfer the chilled yogurt to a special yogurt strainer or to a sieve lined with a cheesecloth suspended over a large bowl.
This will remove some of the whey from the yogurt. Let it sit in the fridge for about 2 hours.
The Greek yogurt at the top of the strainer is ready to be enjoyed or transferred into storage containers.
Instant Pot Yogurt in jars
To make Instant Pot yogurt with the pot-in-pot method (PIP) fill 2 cups of water into the inner pot and add a trivet.
Fill little glass jars with whole milk up to 1/2 inch from the top rim. Place the jars on the trivet and close the Instant Pot lid.
Turn the pressure valve to sealing. Select 'Steam' for 1 minute. (Pressurizing time is about 8 minutes).
When the steam cycle is over, quick release (QR) the pressure by moving the sealing valve to venting. Quickly check that the temperature of the milk has reached 180°F/82°C. If not repeat the steam process for 1 more minute.
Let the jars cool down to 105°F/40°C. Speed up the process by placing the jars in a sink with cold water.
Remove the skin that has formed on top of the cooled milk. Stir starter yogurt into the jars and combine well (about 1/2 teaspoon of starter for 1 cup milk).
Return the jars to the Instant Pot which still has the water and trivet inside. Loosely cover the jars with their lids. Place the big glass lid on the Instant Pot.
To start the incubation process press 'Yogurt' and adjust the time to 8-14 hours (see details in the Incubation section).
Afterwards, move the jars to the fridge and chill until set (at least 2 hours).
Instant Pot yogurt lasts about 2 weeks in the fridge.
*The milk amount can be increased to up to one gallon