Easy Instant Pot Greek Yogurt (Thick and Creamy!)

Making your own creamy greek yogurt might seem tough, but with the instant pot, it’s actually pretty easy! This recipe/tutorial will walk you through everything you need to know to make your own gorgeously thick and creamy greek yogurt.

Instapot Yogurt | Homan at Home

Making your own yogurt just seems like one of those things reserved for the Pioneer Annies of the world, but it’s actually not that difficult at all. You can do it at home with just an instant pot, a thermometer, a colander, coffee filters, and a large bowl. The only thing I had to buy for this project was the coffee filters — everything else is just normal kitchen stuff at our house. 

Now, this is where I warn you. While this takes only about 15 minutes of hands-on time, it actually takes almost 24 hours total. You have to check in periodically, so if you’re planning to make this, you want to make sure you’re around at the important times, which I’ll cover below. The first time you do it, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re around all day. It’s no coincidence that I learned to do this during 2020. However, I make most of our yogurt now, even with a outside-of-the-house job, two kids, and a dog. You can definitely make this work in real life!

Ingredients

Homemade yogurt uses only two ingredients: milk and a yogurt starter.

  • Yogurt: You can use any cow’s milk you’d like. I think the best results come from whole milk — it makes a gorgeously creamy yogurt that is so much better than store-bought yogurt. However, you can even make non-fat yogurt using skim milk. If you use skim milk, your will need to double the amount of the starter, and your final product may be a little lumpier than if you used milk with a higher fat content.
  • Yogurt Starter: The yogurt starter is simply a few tablespoons of plain yogurt. For your first batch, you can buy regular yogurt from the grocery store, but do make sure that it has live cultures. You can check this on the label — it will either say “live cultures” or “active cultures.” Each time after your first batch, you can use a few leftover tablespoons from your homemade yogurt!

Tools

Having the right tools makes this recipe a breeze! You don’t need anything fancy, but I’ll give you a rundown and some product recommendations for each of these. 

Any link marked with an * is a sponsored link. I do receive a small commission if you buy something from that link. 

  • Instant Pot: I have the Instant Pot Duo*. You do not need a brand name pot, but you do need a electric pressure cooker with a yogurt function. 
  • Food Thermometer: You can use a candy thermometer, meat thermometer, or all-pupose food thermometer for this. This is my favorite*.
  • Whisk: You will be using this to whisk in the yogurt starter. You want a larger one* for this. 
  • Colander: You’ll need a standard-size colander for this. The Oxo Good Grip* is the one I use. 
  • Coffee Filters, Cheesecloth, or Nut Milk Bag: I’m a coffee filter* girl, but you can use any of these methods to line your colander. 
  • Large Bowl: Any bowl that you can fit your colander in will work here. I use a large mixing bowl.
  • Greek Yogurt Maker: This is an optional product you can use in place of the coffee filters, colander, and large bowl. I’ve never used one, but this one* comes very highly recommended by others.

Instructions (Please Read ALL Before Starting!)

Normally, this is the section of a recipe I’d skip. After all, I know how to mix ingredients, roll dough, brown meat, etc. This time, though, I recommend reading through all the steps to make sure that you know where you’re going with this. 

I’ve also included some rough times for each step to help you plan. You really only have to be involved at the beginning and end of each step, so during some of those longer times, you can feel free to leave your yogurt to do its own thing!

Step 1 | Boil the Milk (1-1.5 hours)

First, dump your gallon of milk into the pot of your instant pot. Seal the lid on with the top set to “Venting” and press the “Yogurt” button twice. Your display should now read “Boil.” 

Boil

Now, you leave it alone! The instant pot will boil your milk, which can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours, depending on your pot. When the pot is finished, it should beep and the display will change to “Yogt.” 

When that happens, remove the lid and use your thermometer to check the temperature. It should be anywhere from 180° to 200°. If your milk is too cool, just replace the lid, push the yogurt button twice, and let it boil a little more. I check in about every 10 minutes until the milk reaches the right temperature. 

Step 2 | Cool (1-1.5 hours)

When your milk has hit the 180°-200° range, you’ll remove the inner pot of the instant pot. Put it on the counter to cool. 

This is the part that requires a the most tending. You need the milk to cool enough, but not too much. The temperature you’re looking for is between 100° and 117°. I check every 15 minutes or so to make sure that I don’t miss the window. 

Step 3 | Skim and Add Starter (5 minutes)

Once your milk has cooled to 100°-116°, you’ll need to skim it. There will be a thin layer of milk skin on top that you can use a slotted spoon to remove. Just toss the skin. You don’t need it.

When the skin is gone, you’re going to create your starter. You’ll need 4 tbsps of yogurt in a small bowl. You’re going to add 1 cup of milk to the yogurt and whisk it together. This mixture is your starter culture. 

Next, pour your starter into the rest of the milk and whisk it in until it’s completely incorporated. This will get the culturing process started!

Step 4 | Culture (4-12 hours)

Return your pot to the instant pot and put the lid back on with the top set to “Venting.” Then, press the yogurt button once. You get to program the time in. You can incubate your yogurt for as little as 4 hours or as many as 12 hours. What’s the difference? Glad you asked. 

The longer the incubation period, the tangier yogurt you get. For a stronger flavor, choose 12 hours. For a very mild flavor, choose 4. My family prefers the milder flavor, so I only do 4 hours, but you can experiment and find where the sweet spot is for your family. That’s the best part of making your own yogurt — you get to customize your final result so much!

Once you’ve chosen how long you want to incubate, you can leave your yogurt alone until the instant pot beeps. Feel free to run those errands!

When the pot beeps, you’ll check to see if the yogurt is done. You can tell if it’s ready by sticking a spoon in it. If the spoon stands up on its own, your yogurt is good to go!

Note: If you actually want just regular yogurt, you can stop here and put your yogurt in large jars or a plastic container. Greek yogurt makers, we’ve got one more step!

Step 5 | Strain (2-8 hours)

The difference between greek and regular yogurt is this step: we’re going to separate the actual yogurt from the whey that’s mixed into it. 

For the separation step, you can buy a proper greek yogurt maker, or you can do what I do and get a little creative. I turn a small bowl over and put it inside a larger bowl, then balance my colander on top of the small bowl. This keeps the colander above the liquid whey that strains out and collects in the bottom. Then, I line the colander with coffee filters. This makes sure that no yogurt gets into the whey. You can also use layers of cheesecloth or a nut milk bag for this.

Once you’re set up, you’re going to spoon your yogurt into the colander. Cover the whole thing with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge. 

This is what it looks like when you start.

How long you leave the yogurt in the fridge depends on how thick you want the final product. The longer you leave it, the thicker yogurt you will have. I typically leave mine in the fridge overnight, and the finished yogurt is the consistency of cream cheese.

Here’s what the finished product looks like. You can really see how thick it is at the edges!

Step 6 | Refrigerate

Put your instant pot greek yogurt into an airtight container and refrigerate it. I use mason jars for mine. You can use glass jars or any large container with a lid.  It will last about 2 weeks in the fridge. I love to add a little fruit puree to flavor it!

Instapot Yogurt | Homan at Home

Troubleshooting

My yogurt is too runny!

There’s a few possibilities here: 

  • You need to strain it more. If your yogurt has set up properly, but is just a little too thin for you, you can simply leave it to strain for a few more hours until it reaches the desired consistency.
  • Your milk does not have enough fat in it. If you choose skim milk, or even sometimes 1%, you will get a softer set. If the lower fat is important to you, than this is just the way it is. You can try to increase the thickness by straining. Otherwise, I recommend using a milk with a higher fat content. 
  • You need to incubate your yogurt longer. Typically, 4 hours is enough for your yogurt to get a firm set, which will turn into a nice thick yogurt after straining. However, as with any recipe, altitude, humidity, and other environmental factors can affect things. Try culturing your yogurt longer and see if that makes a difference. 

My yogurt didn’t set up!

There are two major reasons for this. Either your starter did not have live active cultures, or you need to incubate your yogurt longer. 

  • Try a different starter. Not every store-bought yogurt is made with active cultures. Double check the label of your starter to see if it says either “live cultures” or “active cultures.” If it doesn’t, try another brand. I have used Great Value brand and Dannon with success. They might be a good place to start if your store carries them.
  • You need to incubate your yogurt longer. Typically, 4 hours is enough for your yogurt to get a proper firm set, which will turn into a nice thick yogurt after straining. However, as with any recipe, altitude, humidity, and other environmental factors can affect things. Try culturing your yogurt longer and see if that makes a difference. 

My yogurt is too thick!

Typically, this happens because you’ve strained it a bit too much. This is an easy fix! Just take some of the whey that has collected in the bottom of your bowl and whisk it back in until you get the right consistency!

How to Use Your Greek Yogurt

Homemade greek yogurt is super versatile. Here are few ways you can use your yogurt: 

Instapot Yogurt | Homan at Home
  1. Plain with Honey or Maple Syrup: Serve fresh Greek yogurt plain with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup for a simple and delicious treat.
  2. Smoothies: Use Greek yogurt as a base for smoothies by blending it with your favorite fruits, vegetables, and a splash of juice or milk for a creamy and nutritious drink.
  3. Toppings for Pancakes or Waffles: Use plain Greek yogurt as a topping for pancakes or waffles instead of whipped cream or syrup. Add a dollop of yogurt along with fresh fruit and a drizzle of honey for a healthier alternative.
  4. Salad Dressings and Dips: Use Greek yogurt as a base for creamy salad dressings or dips. Combine it with herbs, spices, and lemon juice to create a delicious dressing for salads or a dip for vegetables and crackers.
  5. Tzatziki Sauce: Make homemade tzatziki sauce by combining Greek yogurt with grated cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, and dill. Serve it with grilled meats, gyros, or as a dip for pita bread.
  6. Baking: Use Greek yogurt as a substitute for sour cream or buttermilk in baking recipes. It adds moisture and richness to cakes, muffins, and bread while keeping them light and fluffy.

Uses for Leftover Whey

Don’t throw away all the liquid whey you strained out of your yogurt. It’s full of nutrition. The Spruce Eats has a definitive list of ideas of using it — did you know you can use it to make homemade soda? So cool!

FAQs

Can I make this with just a half gallon of milk?

Yes, you can make greek yogurt with just a half gallon of milk. Adjust the yogurt starter to 2 tbsps of yogurt and 1/2 cup of milk. Everything else stays the same!

Can I double the recipe?

Yes, you can double the recipe for making greek yogurt in an instant pot. Just make sure that your instant pot can accommodate the increased volume. Your starter will change to 8 tbsps of yogurt and 2 cups of milk, but the rest of the process is exactly the same. 

Can I use plant milk for this recipe?

No. However, this recipe from Aegean Delight might help you out. Gönül does a fantastic job walking you through how to make a variety of instant pot yogurts from a variety of plant-based milks. 

Can I make this with organic milk? Raw milk?

Yes, you can make instant pot greek yogurt with organic milk or raw milk in an Instant Pot. However, it’s important to note that using raw milk carries a higher risk of bacterial contamination and is not recommended, especially for young children and pregnant or nursing mothers. 

Instapot Yogurt | Homan at Home
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Instapot Greek Yogurt

Make deliciously creamy yogurt in the instant pot!
Cook Time 15 minutes
Hands-off Time 12 hours
Total Time 12 hours 15 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 203kcal
Cost $4.00

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon whole milk pasteurized
  • 4 tbsps plain yogurt with active cultures

Instructions

  • Pour milk into your Instapot and place the lid on with the top set to "Venting."
  • Hit the "Yogurt" button twice. The display should read "Boil." Allow the Instapot to boil your milk. This will take approximately 30-45 minutes. When the Instapot is finished, it will beep and the display will change to "Yogt."
  • Remove the lid and check the temperature with a food thermometer. The milk should be 180 degrees. If the milk is lower than 180 degrees, close the lid and press the "Yogurt" button twice to boil the milk more. Check again after 10 minutes.
  • Remove the inner pot from your Instapot and allow it cool on the counter. When the temperature reaches 116 degrees, you're ready for the next step.
  • There will be a thin layer of milk skin on the top. Gently remove it with a spatula or slotted spoon.
  • In a small bowl, place the 4 Tbsp of plain yogurt. Add 1 cup of warm milk and whisk to combine.
  • Pour the contents of the small bowl into the rest of the milk and whisk to combine.
  • Return the inner pot to the Instapot and close the lid. Press the "Yogurt" button once. Program the pot for anywhere between 8 and 12 hours. The longer you leave the yogurt to incubate, the tangier it will be.
  • Begin checking your yogurt every hour after 4 hours of incubation. Your yogurt is done when you can insert a spoon into the pot and it will remain standing on its own. You can continue to incubate the yogurt after this time for tangier yogurt.
  • Using either a greek yogurt maker or a colander placed in a large bowl and covered with coffee filters or cheesecloth, strain your yogurt. Place the yogurt in the yogurt maker or colander and place in the refrigerator for 2-8 hours. The longer you leave it to strain, the thicker the result will be.
  • Place your finished yogurt in an airtight container and store in the fridge. It will remain good in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Tried this recipe?Mention @homanathome or tag #homanathome

Nutrition

Calories: 203kcal | Carbohydrates: 14.9g | Protein: 11.2g | Fat: 10.7g | Saturated Fat: 6.7g | Cholesterol: 40.3mg | Sodium: 168.5mg | Potassium: 7.2mg | Sugar: 14.8g
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4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    love the precise instructions.
    Question – why boil the milk if you just going to cool it to 116. Any way to just do this without denaturing the milk protiens first?

    1. That’s an excellent question! There’s 2 major reasons — to kill any unwanted bacteria that might stop the culture, and to denature the proteins, which makes the final product firm, rich, and creamy. You have to cool it before adding the starter because you don’t want the heat to kill your “good” culture bacteria.

      I did try skipping the heating process once, and I got sort of a thick milk. It was runny and dust have that tell-tale yogurt tang. I’m not sure if there’s anyway to avoid denaturing the protein while still getting a firm set.

  2. 5 stars
    Back in India we make yogurt (we call it curd, there) all the time. But I have never got it right here in the UK – it gets stringy. Making it in an IP sounds like the trick I have missed all along! Thank you for the detailed recipe.

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