Greek Yogurt’s Creamier, Milder Cousin Comes from Iceland

published Sep 22, 2016
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(Image credit: Izy Hossack)

If you love Greek yogurt for its thick, creamy richness, it’s time you try Icelandic skyr.

What Is Skyr?

Skyr is a cultured dairy product that hails from Iceland. Even though it was only introduced in the U.S. relatively recently, it’s been a staple in Icelandic cuisine for thousands of years, and is a strong element in the country’s national identity and culture (no pun intended).

How Skyr Is Different from Yogurt

True skyr is not actually yogurt. I talked to John Heath of Icelandic Provisions who explained that skyr is made from different cultures than those used to make yogurt. He said to think of it this way: cultures are to skyr (and yogurt) as hops are to beer, or as starter is to sourdough. While skyr and yogurt both include many similar ingredients and produce a similar result, the uniqueness of the cultures result in a unique product.

Skyr is most similar to Greek yogurt, although it has a thicker, creamier consistency. Some skyr varieties also boast equal or more protein and less sugar than regular and Greek yogurt.

The Taste of Skyr

Taste is where you’ll immediately notice the difference between skyr and yogurt. Skyr is densely concentrated with a super-thick and creamy texture, and a softer flavor that lacks the tangy sourness of many yogurts.

Some producers also pay homage to Iceland by using native ingredients, like cloudberries, lingonberries, and bilberries to flavor their skyr.

Are you a fan of Icelandic yogurt?