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Easy Instant Pot Cold Start Yogurt

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With only 2 ingredients, you can make yogurt right in your own home. Better tasting and less expensive than store bought yogurt, this easy instant pot cold start yogurt is so good, you will be making it again and again.

3 jars of instant pot yogurt.

I love it when I can make my own food at home and save money. Especially when it is so easy.

This instant pot cold start yogurt is so easy that I wish I’d started making it years ago. Here, in Canada, it costs me about $5 to make 2 litres of fresh, homemade yogurt, which is about half the cost of buying it at the store.

In addition to being cheaper, it also tastes so much better. When making it at home you can control how tangy it is, as well as how thick it is, and you can be sure that it has no hidden ingredients, such as thickeners and sweeteners.

How to make easy instant pot cold start yogurt

Making cold start instant pot yogurt is so easy. There are really only 3 steps that you have to follow, and a few other steps that are optional.

It’s important to note, this recipe is for cold start yogurt using an instant pot that has a yogurt setting.

The required steps are:

  • Mix the milk and 2 tablespoons of yogurt in the pot
  • Turn the pot on the yogurt setting for 8 hours and let it incubate
  • Chill the finished yogurt overnight to allow it to set

That’s it! That is all you have to do to make yogurt.

Spoon standing in a pot of instant pot yogurt.

Optional steps include straining the yogurt to make it thicker, and sweetening the yogurt.

I prefer to keep my yogurt plain and unsweetened. That way my yogurt can be used in savoury dishes, such as my Cilantro Avocado Yogurt Dressing, or the yogurt dressing used in this Apple Cranberry Goat Cheese Salad.

Bowl of instant pot yogurt with strawberries, almonds and cranberries

One of my favourite ways to enjoy this yogurt is simply with berries, nuts, or granola. But this yogurt is also fantastic as a base for smoothies and smoothie bowls, such as this Cranberry smoothie bowl.

What kind of milk do I need for cold start yogurt?

To make cold start yogurt it is important that you use the right type of milk. You will need to use either ultra pasteurized milk or ultra filtered milk.

Ultra pasteurized milk (or U.H.T Pasteurized milk)has been heated to a high temperature to kill the bacteria. While all milk purchased at the grocery store (at least in Canada and the USA) will be pasteurized, most are not ultra pasteurized. So it is important to look for that declaration on the carton.

You can also use Ultra Filtered Milk. Ultra filtered milk is milk that has been pushed through a fine sieve. This process separates components of milk, such as fat, protein, calcium and lactose. After the filtration process some of the components are recombined to form the product. Generally the lactose is filtered out and the final product is higher in protein and calcium than regular milk.

Spoonful of instant pot yogurt over a bowl with strawberries and almonds.

How do I make homemade yogurt thicker?

There are a few things you can do to make your homemade yogurt thicker.

  • Start with milk that has higher fat percentage
  • Use ultra filtered milk instead of ultra pasteurized milk
  • Strain the yogurt after it has chilled

Both milk that has a higher fat percentage, and milk that has a higher protein content (ultra filtered) will naturally yield a thicker yogurt.

However, if you want your yogurt even thicker, you can line a strainer with coffee filters, pour the chilled yogurt into the lined strainer and place it over a bowl. Allow it to strain for a few hours, or until your yogurt is your desired consistency.

Things to know & helpful tips

  • How long does homemade yogurt keep? This yogurt should keep in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks if stored in an airtight container.
  • How can I use homemade yogurt? Use it just like you would any store bought yogurt; snacks, smoothies, sauces and dressings. The options are endless.
  • How do I make homemade yogurt sweeter? I prefer leaving my yogurt unsweetened and adding a bit of honey, maple syrup or pureed fruit when I serve it. If you want to sweeten the yogurt while it is incubating you can add a can of sweetened condensed milk when you mix the milk and yogurt.
  • How do I make my homemade yogurt tangier? If you want your yogurt to have more bite, you can let it incubate a little longer. Try letting it incubate for 9 hours instead of 8, if you still want it tangier, you can let it go a little longer.
  • How do I clean my instant pot before making yogurt? My favourite way to sterilize my pot is by simply wiping it out with plain white vinegar and allowing it to dry. You can also add 2 cups of water to the pot, set to high pressure for 2 minutes, then vent, dump the water and start the yogurt.
  • What kind of yogurt do I need to start my first batch? Any type of plain yogurt will work as long as the label reads that it has active cultures. After you make your first batch of yogurt, you can use 2 tablespoons of your homemade yogurt for following batches.
spoonful of yogurt with a strawberry

Other recipes you might like

Cilantro avocado yogurt dressing

Chunky blue cheese dip

Apple cranberry & goat cheese salad (with yogurt dijon dressing)

Easy Instant Pot Cold Start Yogurt

With only 2 ingredients, you can make your own easy instant pot cold start yogurt right in your own home. Better tasting and less expensive than store bought yogurt!
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Resting Time: 8 hours
Servings: 16
Calories: 61kcal
Author: Deanna

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 2 Litres (1/2 Gallon) 2% Milk ultra pasturized or ultra filtered
  • 2 Tbsp Yogurt with active cultures

Instructions

  • Pour 1 cup of milk into your clean, sterilized instant pot.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of yogurt and whisk to combine
  • Add remaining milk and stir
  • Place the lid on the instant pot (you can use a glass or metal lid if you like) and press the yogurt button. It should read "normal". Set for 8 hours.
  • After the 8 hours are complete, remove the inner pot, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight to set.
  • After the yogurt is set you can transfer to airtight containers for storage.

To thicken your yogurt

  • If you want your yogurt thicker, you can strain it after it has been chilled.
  • Line a sieve with coffee filters and place over a large bowl.
  • Pour the yogurt into the lined strainer.
  • Allow to strain for a few hours, or until the yogurt is your desired consistency.
  • Transfer strained yogurt to airtight containers for storage.

Nutrition

Calories: 61kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 57mg | Potassium: 169mg | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 120IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 145mg | Iron: 1mg
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K

Friday 15th of January 2021

A note to anyone considering using goat milk: Meyenburg ultra pasteurized yields a yogurt that is more or less a drinkable yogurt (kefir) texture. It's not bad with cereal, but I doubt it's possible to strain out the liquid well enough to get a true Greek style yogurt.

It should be noted that, as far as I know, my soupy yogurt was in no way the result of a bad recipe. Goat's milk just doesn't thicken up quite as well as cow's milk. So don't be discouraged; this recipe should work well for making conventional dairy yogurt.

Deanna

Tuesday 19th of January 2021

Thanks for the tips. I've never used goat's milk so I honestly can't provide feedback on how to make it work best for yogurt.

Colleen

Sunday 27th of December 2020

Hi Deanna, With 2 cups of plain yogurt, we have been making Instant Pot vanilla (and caramel) yogurt using Katie and Valerie's Vietnamese Yogurt recipe with a can of either Nestle La Lechera Sweetened Condensed Milk or Nestle Dulce de Leche (for the caramel kind), 1 TBS vanilla paste and 1/2 gallon of whole milk. After the milk and vanilla mixture has been heated to over 175 degrees and held for 20 minutes to denature the milk proteins (you will need to keep resetting to BOIL the Yogurt function on Instant Pot to maintain temperature over 175 degrees for the 20 minutes), we cool on the counter to 110 or so stirring frequently before we mix the yogurt culture (@2 TBS for plain or @2 cups for the vanilla/caramel version) with some of the cooled milk and then stir back into Instant Pot. This prevents the yogurt cultures (bacteria) from being killed when heated above 120 degrees. Then we use the Instant Pot Yogurt setting to culture for 12 hours (8 hours plus reset for 4 more hours). And before refrigerating the finished yogurt, we stir the mixture well to mix vanilla bean seeds throughout.

Deanna

Tuesday 19th of January 2021

You certainly can go to all that work if you prefer, this cold start method is just and easy no-fuss method for people who want to save time.

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