A simple, delicious recipe for homemade Instant Pot yogurt. Strain for thicker Greek yogurt.
I’ve been making Instant Pot yogurt for months. I started off using the boil method, then decided to experiment with “cold start” yogurt and even vegan yogurt. The “boil method” is still my go-to yogurt recipe, since it is the cheapest and foolproof. But when I’m short on time, cold start is perfect! Read on for the differences between the boil method and cold start and when you might want to choose one over the other.
What is “Cold Start” Yogurt?
In the typical stovetop yogurt making process, one starts the yogurt by first boiling milk, cooling the milk, adding the yogurt starter with active cultures, and then incubating. “Cold start” yogurt skips the first boiling and cooling steps and starts by mixing together the cold milk and yogurt starter and then incubating. It’s faster and a bit easier than the “boil method”.
When Can I Use the “Cold Start” Method?
There is one catch with the “cold start” method. You must use UHT (ultra-high-temperature processing) or ultra-pasteurized milk. Look for those words on your milk container. Regular pasteurized milk or raw milk will not work with the “cold start” method.
Some of the most popular brands for “cold start” are Fairlife (sold in the US) or Natrel (sold in Canada). Those two brands are both ultra-pasteurized and ultra-filtered. You’ll get thicker yogurt without straining if you use one of these ultra-filtered milk brands. There are many other brands of ultra-pasteurized milk that work with “cold start” as well. I like using my store brand of organic milk – I’ve found that the gallon size is pasteurized and not suitable for “cold start” yogurt, but the half gallon size is ultra-pasteurized and perfect for “cold start”.
With the “boil method” on the other hand, you can use any kind of cow milk – raw, pasteurized, or even ultra-pasteurized. See detailed instructions on the “boil method” with this recipe here.
How to Make Instant Pot Cold Start Yogurt
Pour the ultra-pasteurized milk into the Instant Pot stainless steel pot. Make sure to use ultra-pasteurized milk. Then add two tablespoons of yogurt with live active cultures.
I’ve found that the brand of yogurt you use impacts the final taste and tartness of your yogurt. Brands like Chobani make a tangy and tart yogurt. Using Fage as a starter leads to a milder and less tart yogurt.
Whisk together the milk and the yogurt starter together. Make sure to whisk well. Then cover the Instant Pot. You can use the Instant Pot lid, a glass lid, or even a plate to cover since no pressure cooking is used in this recipe.
Press the “Yogurt” button until it’s on the “Normal” setting and press the +/- buttons until it says 10:00 for 10 hours. You could do anywhere from 8 to 12 hours – I’ve found that 10-12 hours leads to the best results with the milk brand that I use.
When the Instant Pot is done, remove the lid and test the thickness. If the yogurt is thick enough for you, then pour into a storage container and refrigerate for a few hours.
If you want thicker yogurt (more like Greek yogurt) then you’ll need to strain the yogurt. My favorite method is to use a yogurt strainer like this one. Pour it in the strainer, cover, and refrigerate. You can also set up a large colander over a bowl or your sink and line it with cheesecloth or coffee filters. Pour the yogurt into the colander and let it sit for an hour or two to strain out the whey.
Move the finished yogurt to a storage container, or divide among serving containers. Then add your desired flavorings or sweeteners and refrigerate. Here are some popular choices:
- Maple syrup
- Sweetened condensed milk
- Fresh fruit
- Fruit compote (I used a homemade raspberry compote for this batch)
- Peanut Butter
- Lemon curd
- Instant pot dulce de leche
- Instant pudding mix
Let me know what flavor combinations you love by leaving a comment below!
Instant Pot Cold Start Yogurt
- 1/2 gallon ultra-pasteurized milk 52 oz is ok if using a bottle of Fairlife or similar milk
- 2 tablespoons plain yogurt with active cultures
- Pour the milk into the Instant Pot stainless steel pan. Add the plain yogurt and whisk in well.
- Seal the lid. Since this is not a pressure setting, it doesn’t matter if you’ve closed the pressure valve or not. You could also use a glass lid or even put a plate on top if you prefer.
- Press the “Yogurt” button until it’s on the “Normal” setting and press the +/- buttons until it says 10:00 for 10 hours. You could do anywhere from 8 to 12 hours.
- When the Instant Pot is done, remove the lid and test the thickness. If the yogurt is thick enough for you, then pour into a storage container (or just leave in the Instant Pot stainless steel pot and cover with plastic wrap) and refrigerate for a few hours.
- If you want thicker Greek yogurt, then you have a few options. You can set up a large colander over a large bowl or over your sink and line it with a cheesecloth or coffee filters. Pour the yogurt into the colander and let it sit for an hour or two to strain out the whey. Alternatively, you can use a yogurt strainer. After pouring in the strainer or colander, refrigerate.
- After the yogurt is thick enough, add your desired flavorings or sweeteners (see note) then move the finished yogurt to a storage container or individual serving containers. Refrigerate.