Thick, creamy, Greek yogurt in your Instant Pot. Easy, delicious, and way better than store-bought yogurt!
On a recent trip to Seattle, my husband and I stayed at the Ace Hotel, a historic hotel in the heart of Belltown. One of the amenities was a shared kitchen with free breakfast. I usually skip hotel breakfasts: packaged yogurt, subpar fruit, and Cheerios is not my favorite way to start the day. But I was famished after a long morning run, and the promise of DIY waffles and good coffee (we were in Seattle after all) drew me in. The coffee was excellent, but even better was the rich, creamy Greek yogurt with homemade granola. I don’t eat much yogurt at home, finding even the good brands of store-bought yogurt a bit bland. This yogurt reminded me of how amazing yogurt can be.
When I purchased my Instant Pot after that Seattle trip, homemade Greek yogurt was one of the first recipes I tried and I’ve been making it weekly since. My new favorite breakfast is this homemade Greek yogurt, frozen blueberries, and a dollop of peanut butter. I make up several jars at once and grab one every morning to eat at the office.
How to Make Instant Pot Greek Yogurt
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You only need two ingredients for rich, creamy, plain Greek yogurt: 1 gallon of milk and 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt with active cultures. I use the store brand of organic milk and Fage brand 2% Greek yogurt for my starter. I’ve used both 2% and whole milk and both work great. Other Instant Pot users have had great success with fat free milk as well. I love the tanginess of plain yogurt, but you can sweeten it with honey, maple syrup, or agave syrup, and add in fruit, nuts, or jam.
All of my instructions here are for the Instant Pot Duo 6qt. If you have a different model, make sure to refer to your manual for the settings specific to your machine. The basic process will still be the same. If you don’t have an Instant Pot and still want to make your own yogurt, you could try this recipe. I’ve never tried the recipe myself, but the New York Times Cooking recipes haven’t let me down before.
The basic process to make Greek yogurt is to:
1) Heat the milk to over 180 degrees F. This scalding denatures the milk proteins so they do not form curds.
2) Cool the milk to 110 degrees F. If you add the starter yogurt when the milk is too hot, you’ll kill the active cultures.
3) Add the yogurt with live active cultures and incubate for 8 to 10 hours for fermentation.
4) Strain for an hour or two using a cheesecloth in a colander.
5) Mix in any desired toppings or sweeteners, chill, and enjoy.
To follow these steps in your Instant Pot, start by pouring the milk into the Instant Pot stainless steel pan. Seal the lid and press the “Yogurt” button until it says “boil”. It takes about an hour for my Instant Pot to reach the boiling point. When it beeps, remove the lid. You don’t need to worry about releasing the pressure for this recipe since we don’t build up any pressure with the yogurt settings. Stir the milk and insert a thermometer. The goal is to get the milk just over 180 degrees F. If it’s not to that temperature yet, then click on the “Saute” button and stir occasionally until the milk is up to temperature.
Using oven mitts, carefully remove the stainless steel pan from the Instant Pot and set on a heat resistant surface. The goal for the next step is to cool the milk to below 110 degrees F. You can let it sit out for about an hour, checking the temperature occasionally. If you want to speed up the process, fill up your sink partway with cold water and ice and place the pan in the sink, making sure not to get any water into the pan. If you use this method make sure to dry the outside and bottom of the stainless steel pan before placing back in the Instant Pot.
Once the milk is below 110 degrees F, use a ladle or spoon to move about 1 cup of liquid to a bowl or cup. Add the two tablespoons of yogurt with live active cultures to the bowl and mix well. This step allows you to mix in the yogurt well rather than just sinking to the bottom of the full pot. Pour the yogurt/milk mixture back into the pan, mix together with a spoon, and put the stainless steel pan back in the Instant Pot. Seal the lid. Since this is not a pressure setting, it doesn’t matter if you’ve closed the pressure valve or not. Press the “Yogurt” button until it’s on the “Normal” setting and press the +/- buttons until it says 10:00 for 10 hours. For a less tart yogurt, you could change it to 8 or 9 hours.
After 10 hours, remove the lid and stir the yogurt. If you just want regular yogurt, then you’re done. Add any flavorings or sweeteners and transfer to a container to refrigerate. If you want Greek yogurt, set a large colander over a large bowl or over your sink and line the colander with a cheesecloth. Carefully pour the yogurt into the cheesecloth-lined colander and let it sit for an hour or two to strain out the whey. If you’re using a large bowl, you may need to occasionally pour out the whey and then continue to strain. You can save the whey to use for other purposes (recipe ideas coming soon), or just pour it down the drain.
While the recipe takes a while to finish, most of it is hands-off time. It’s the perfect recipe to start in the evening, leave to incubate overnight, and then strain in the morning. If you want to better understand how the yogurt making process works, check out this informative article from Saveur on the science of yogurt.
What’s The Difference Between Regular Yogurt and Greek Yogurt?
Greek yogurt sounds fancy, but it’s really just regular yogurt that’s been strained to remove most of the whey. This results in a thicker yogurt. Whey is the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained. When you see the yellowish liquid that forms on the top of store-bought yogurt after it’s been in the fridge for a while, that’s simply whey separating from the yogurt.
Greek yogurt is generally more expensive than regular yogurt because it requires more milk to make the same volume of yogurt. While prices for milk and Greek yogurt can vary, I did the math with the organic milk and organic Greek yogurt brands we like and this Instant Pot Greek yogurt is both tastier and cheaper than what we buy in the store.
If you try this recipe for Instant Pot Greek yogurt, leave a comment and review below and let me know how it worked out for you!
Instant Pot Greek Yogurt
- 1 gallon milk (I've used 2% and whole milk, other IP users have had success with fat free milk)
- 2 tablespoons plain yogurt with active cultures (I used Fage brand 2% plain Greek yogurt)
- Pour the milk into the instant pot stainless steel pan. Seal the lid and press the “Yogurt” button until it says “boil”. When it beeps, remove the lid (no pressure release is needed since there was no pressure built up). Stir and insert a thermometer. The goal is to get the milk just over 180 degrees F. If it’s not to temperature yet, then click on the “Saute” button and stir occasionally until the milk is over 180 degrees F.
- Using oven mitts carefully remove the stainless steel pan from the Instant Pot and set on a heat resistant surface. Let it sit out for about an hour, checking the temperature occasionally, you want it to get to 110 degrees F.
- Once the milk is below 110 degrees F, use a ladle or spoon to move about 1 cup of liquid to a bowl. Add the two tablespoons of yogurt to the bowl and mix well with a fork. Pour the yogurt/milk mixture back into the pan with the milk, mix together with a spoon, and put the stainless steel pan back in the Instant Pot. Seal the lid. Since this is not a pressure setting, it doesn’t matter if you’ve closed the pressure valve or not.
- Press the “Yogurt” button until it’s on the “Normal” setting and press the +/- buttons until it says 10:00 for 10 hours. For a less tart yogurt, you could change it to 8 or 9 hours.
- When the Instant Pot is done, stir the yogurt. If you just want regular yogurt, then move to the next step. If you want Greek yogurt, then set a large colander over a large bowl or over your sink and line it with a cheesecloth. Pour the yogurt into the colander and let it sit for an hour or two to strain out the whey. If you’re using a large bowl, you may need to occasionally pour out the whey and then continue to strain. You can save the whey to use for other purposes, or just pour it down the sink.
- Move the finished yogurt to a storage container, add any flavorings or sweeteners, and refrigerate.