How to Make Yogurt in an Instant Pot

How to Make Yogurt in an Instant Pot

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Homemade yogurt is delicious, nutritious, and a great step toward self-reliance. It also saves a lot on packaging waste! Did you know that you can use your Instant Pot to make an awesome batch of yogurt? We love this method because it is reliable, easy, and almost fool proof.

​If you haven’t yet tried making yogurt, or if you’ve tried unsuccessfully, this post is for you.

Why Make Yogurt at Home?

First, let’s talk about why you’d want to make your own yogurt at home.  Here are my top reasons, in no particular order:

homemade yogurt with berries
Homemade yogurt is so creamy and delicious it barely needs sweetener.
  • It tastes amazing.  I know, you think yogurt is yogurt is yogurt but until you make it at home you might not realize how good it can really taste when its made fresh. 

  • It saves on waste.  If you eat as much yogurt as we do you might find yourself with a towering stack of quart-sized yogurt containers. While yogurt containers can be re-used or recycled, it still feels wasteful to use this many.  Make your own yogurt in mason jars and those days are over!

  • It saves money.  One quart of yogurt = one quart of milk plus some starter, which can either be the yogurt you made last or a packet of starter.  Depending on the milk you buy this means you can cut the cost of yogurt consumption about in half.  Plus, if you buy your milk in glass jars you’ve basically just eliminated the waste associated with your yogurt habit.

  • Its easy.  I promise.  Read on to learn more.

About this Method for Making Yogurt

After making yogurt dozens of times without the Instant Pot, we switched to this method and found it to be very reliable. The instant pot helps keep the yogurt at the right temperature, and it helps you accomplish all of the steps in just one container. We had to experiment a few times to get our Instant Pot yogurt recipe right. I’ve finally landed on what I think is the best combination of steps for a pleasing result every time.

Here’s the thing – the directions in our Instant Pot manual did not get us the results we wanted.

While those directions are a good starting point they don’t exactly get you there in a foolproof way.  First, they don’t really tell you how long its going to take.  Second (at least in my version) they give two options but don’t tell you which is better.  Third, they leave out a couple of steps that, in my opinion, get you closer to that nice thick consistency we’re all looking for.

Warning: my choice method is the longer method, but most of the time is passive, so don’t give up yet. I thought I would like making yogurt right in the bowl of the Instant Pot be cause the process can be faster, but every time I tried that it turned out kind of cottage cheesy instead of nice and creamy thick. So we make our yogurt in a mason jar placed inside the Instant Pot.

How Long does it take to Make Yogurt in the Instant Pot?

In all, about 10 hours to make yogurt with your Instant Pot. Most of that time is passive (just letting the yogurt do it’s thing). But you’ll want to plan out your process so that you know you have time to deal with each step.

Here’s a hint a timing – start the yogurt-making process right after you finish dinner, then let the milk pasteurize (phase one in the Instant Pot) while you clean up and get the kids ready for bed; then, take it out and let it cool while you’re actually getting the kids to bed (at least that’s how it works in my house!), then let it ferment overnight.  You’ll get a rhythm down.

Instant Pot Yogurt-Making Supplies

1 quart-sized mason jar
1 quart of milk (your choice, but we prefer 1% or 2%)
1 packet yogurt starter OR 2 T greek yogurt (you can also use the yogurt you made the last time around)
Your Instant Pot

Instant Pot Yogurt-Making Process

  1. Grab a clean quart-sized mason jar and fill it about 90% full with the milk of your choosing (you can use any fat percentage; we prefer 1%).

  2. Place the mason jar on the rack that comes with your Instant Pot (do not put a cover on the jar).  Put about 1 cup of water in the bottom of the Instant Pot.  Close the top, set to the sealing position.

  3. Select the STEAM setting and set the time for 2 minutes.

  4. When the pressure has been reached and the 2 minutes are up, let the steam release naturally (here’s where you’ll be tempted to rush things and let the steam out manually, but trust me its better to wait the 10 minutes or so for the float valve to drop – it allows the container to cool down naturally, which you’ll need for the next step anyway).

  5. Remove the jar of milk from the Instant Pot using canning jar lifter and place onto a wire rack.  If it’s cold outside, consider placing the jar on your cool porch or front step to help aid in the cooling process.  Do NOT be tempted to place the jar in cold water (or snow) as you might do if you were making yogurt in metal (it will crack).  

  6. Wait.  You need to wait, now, for the yogurt to get down to 108-111 degrees (my Instant Pot directions say 115, but I find it works better to let it cool down just a bit more).  This is probably going to take 30-45 minutes depending on how cool your environment is.  Set your timer for 15 minute intervals and check the yogurt with a meat or candy thermometer.  Alternatively, you can go with your gut and wait for it to reach “warm body temperature.”  Get some other stuff done while it cools!

  7. Once your milk is down to about 108 degrees, pour a small portion of the milk into another container.  Into this milk add either 2 Tablespoons of yogurt you’ve made previously (we also find that a nice thick Greek Yogurt does the trick) OR one package of yogurt starter.  Mix this thoroughly into your “sample” then gently stir the separated milk back into the jar.  My Instant Pot skips this step and has you add the starter directly to the whole mix, but I find that mixing it separately lets you get it better integrated and temperature adjusted without disturbing the whole quart of milk.

  8. Now, place your quart container back into the Instant Pot on the rack (still uncovered). Add another cup of water. Cover the Instant Pot and select the Yogurt program for the maximum amount of time (about 7.5 hours or overnight).

  9. After the yogurt cycle is done, take the yogurt out of the Instant Pot, and put it in the fridge to set.  You’ll be able to enjoy it about 4 hours later!

Yes, you can double this recipe and make two quarts at once.  Very efficient thinking of you.

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Carrie Williams Howe
Blogger & Homesteader at The Happy Hive
Carrie Williams Howe is an educational leader by day and an aspiring homesteader by night and weekend. She lives on a small homestead in Vermont with her husband, two children, and a rambunctious border collie. She is a Founder and Editor of Homestead How-To and also blogs about her family's homestead life at The Happy Hive.

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