It may sound weird to some people, but I LOVE plain yogurt, with no add-ins! And if you talk to anyone who’s from India or has grown up in an Indian family, you’ll probably hear the same thing. We eat yogurt as a side dish with our meals, and use it to make dishes including curries, sauces, desserts and drinks. A favorite food of mine as a kid was just plain rice and yogurt – I just loved it! When I had an upset stomach, I was given yogurt. While growing up, I remember every Indian household made homemade yogurt every day, and that’s the case even today. My dad once told me that the yogurt culture (starter) used in his childhood home was handed down through the generations! How cool is that?
So, I’ve pretty much felt like a failure (as far as yogurt goes!) my whole adult life because I bought my yogurt in the grocery store and I didn’t have much luck making homemade yogurt. Then, here comes the Instant Pot. And finally, success! On the first try. And now I get to eat homemade Instant Pot yogurt every day (which, by the way, was my new year’s resolution. “Eat more yogurt!”, along with “Drink more water!”)
Instant Pot yogurt is smooth, creamy, all natural and better than what I buy in the store. Another great thing is that I can use my own yogurt as a starter. Probably won’t be able to keep it going for a hundred years, but it’s a start, right? One thing I’m not sure about is how long my homemade yogurt will continue to perform well as a starter. Only time will tell, and I’ll update this post if I find out anything new.
I do have a tip from my dad, who’s a food scientist. He tells me that if the yogurt starter loses its potency over multiple batches, just add a tiny bit of lime juice to the starter. I haven’t tried this, but if you do, let me know how it turns out! And here’s a tip I just got from my mom. Equal opportunity tips here at Paint the Kitchen Red. She uses a spoon and smears the inside of her jar or bowl with the starter. She says that doing this gives her really good results. Haven’t tried this either, but I’m passin’ on the tips from mom and dad!
Homemade fresh yogurt is much better for you than yogurt that’s been on the shelves of the grocery store. You’ve probably heard about all the health benefits of yogurt. But in case you haven’t, here are some of yogurt’s health benefits:
- contains helpful bacteria (probiotics) for your gut
- aids your digestion
- helps to replace your gut bacteria after you’ve taken antibiotics
- is a good source of protein, vitamins (including B-12), potassium, calcium and more
Today I’m going to tell you how to make homemade yogurt using the Instant Pot pot-in-pot (PIP) method i.e. the yogurt is not made directly in the inner pot, but in jars or a dish placed on a trivet in the inner pot. I like to use the PIP method because it’s more convenient. If I make the yogurt directly in the inner pot, then while the yogurt cools in the fridge, I can’t use my Instant Pot. Not good. Plus, I prefer to make my yogurt frequently, rather than make a big batch and keep it in the fridge for too long. The potency of the bacteria diminishes the longer you keep the yogurt. So the quantity of yogurt I can make using the PIP method is just right for me. If you’d like to make a larger quantity of yogurt in the inner pot, try out this Greek yogurt recipe from This Old Gal.
For this Instant Pot yogurt recipe, I use separate canning jars, but you can just as easily use a larger oven-safe bowl that fits in the Instant Pot. If you’re using the larger bowl, use about 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of starter for 32 ounces (1 quart) of milk. The most important point here is to use oven-safe or canning containers. If you use something too thin, your milk can overflow or the container can crack. The other thing you’ll need is a simple kitchen thermometer to measure the temperature of the milk.
I use whole milk to make my Instant Pot yogurt, and it comes out thick and creamy. You should be able to substitute 2% milk, but if you want to try out 1% or skim milk, make a smaller quantity (so you don’t waste milk) and see how it goes. You might need to add some nonfat dried milk. For the yogurt starter/culture, I use the Fage brand of Greek yogurt. Fage has a mild taste, but if you like your yogurt tangy, try and experiment with other brands. Again, I use the full fat yogurt.
If your sealing ring has a lingering odor, just remove the sealing ring during the ‘Yogurt’ cycle. The Instant Pot doesn’t come to pressure in the ‘Yogurt’ setting, so you don’t need it. Finally, I don’t make Greek yogurt (because I like regular yogurt better.) But if you want to make Greek yogurt, once the yogurt has completely chilled and set, strain it through a double-layered cheesecloth or coffee filter.
If you’re new to the Instant Pot and aren’t familiar with how to use it, please read the Instant Pot Manual / Beginner’s Quick Start Guide blog post first and then come back here to learn how to make Instant Pot Yogurt.
Instant Pot Yogurt Ingredients
Instant Pot Yogurt Step-by-Step Instructions
- Fill four 8-oz. canning jars with milk up to 1/2-inch below the rim.
- Pour 2 cups of water into the Instant Pot inner pot and place trivet in the inner pot.
- Carefully place jars on the trivet and close the Instant Pot. You can choose to cover the jars loosely with aluminum foil.
- Close the lid.
- Press ‘Steam’ and ‘+’ or ‘-‘ until display reads ’1’ (1 minute).
- Instant Pot display will change to ‘On’.
- Once the Instant Pot is pressurized, the float valve will go up.
- The display will count down from ‘1’ to ‘0’ and it will switch to ‘Keep Warm’ mode and display ‘L0:00’.
- To open the Instant Pot, first move the steam release handle to ‘Venting’. I like to place a folded towel over the steam release handle and move it to the venting position.
- When your Instant Pot is depressurized, the float valve will be in the down position.
- Press ‘Cancel’ and open the Instant Pot.
- Carefully remove jars from Instant Pot. I just use the trivet to lift the jars. If you have trouble with this, use a mitt or towel to remove the jars from the Instant Pot. Or alternately, let the jars cool in the Instant Pot for a bit before removing.
- Let milk cool to a temperature of 110 degrees F.
- Remove skin (if present) from the top of the milk and discard.
- Add 1/2 tsp of starter yogurt to each jar and stir well.
- Place trivet back in Instant Pot and carefully place jars back on trivet. The inner pot should already have water in it from the previous run.
- Place lids over jars ( but don’t screw in the covers.) This will prevent condensation from dripping into the jars. You can also use aluminum foil.
- Close the Lid. Sealing valve can be in ‘Sealing’ or ‘Venting’ position. It doesn’t matter because the Instant Pot is not coming to pressure in the Yogurt setting.
- Press ‘Yogurt’ and ‘+’ or ‘-‘ until display reads 8:00 (8 hours).
- When the 8 hours are up, the display will read ‘yogt’. Open the Instant Pot and move the jars to the fridge for a few hours.
- Add fruit, honey, cinnamon and brown sugar or any add-in of your choice. Remember to save a few teaspoons of your plain yogurt for the next batch.