How To Make Frozen Yogurt: The Simplest, Easiest Recipe
When I started researching the best method for making frozen yogurt I suspected it couldn’t be any more complicated than making ice cream. What I found was that, while it’s not that difficult, there are a lot of ways to go about making this tasty, semi-good-for-you treat.
Sure enough, after trying out several frozen yogurt recipes and variations, I went with what seemed to me to be the simplest method: straight yogurt, churned in an ice cream maker, frozen until snack time.
How to Make Creamy Homemade Frozen Yogurt
If you want to make frozen yogurt, presumably you’re expecting to use yogurt for a good portion of your recipe. (It is the “yo” in fro-yo, after all.)
The problem is that yogurt, while creamy when you spoon it from the carton, actually contains a good amount of water and not a lot of fat.
When you freeze it, the water forms crystals that make fro-yo icy and decidedly non-creamy. The water also makes it challenging to freeze yogurt into something that’s actually scoopable and not just a solid ice cube.
While there are a few ways you can solve this dilemma (like hanging the yogurt in a cheesecloth overnight), in the end I decided to just embrace plain yogurt and turn to a few cooking tricks to ensure a spoonable, reasonably creamy, and totally satisfying dessert.
1. Start with whole-milk yogurt.
Start with whole-milk yogurt — either store-bought or homemade yogurt. If buying yogurt from the store, check the nutritional info and get yogurt with the highest fat content you can find. Why? Because fat is crucial to a non-icy frozen yogurt.
If you want a dairy-free frozen yogurt option I would check out this recipe for dairy-free raspberry and coconut frozen yogurt.
2. Add mascarpone or labneh.
When I asked Cheryl Sternman Rule, author of Yogurt Culture, about the dilemma of icy fro-yo, she recommended helping the yogurt out by adding another rich and creamy ingredient.
“Whole-milk yogurt ‘mounted’ with cream, labneh, or mascarpone results in richer, creamier, and more luxurious frozen yogurt than those that use just yogurt alone. Textures are smoother and there’s less iciness,” she says.
This said, if you just don’t want to fuss with another ingredient, it’s not the end of the world to leave this out. Cheryl adds, “Frozen yogurt without those added fats is just as delicious — just less over-the-top-creamy.”
3. Add a little sugar.
Sugar is crucial to making a creamier frozen yogurt because it inhibits the formation of ice crystals, which keeps the frozen yogurt creamy. Plus, freezing dulls sweet flavors, so even if you’re happy with the flavor of your yogurt straight from the carton, chances are you’ll want some sweetener once it’s frozen.
- Use at least 3/4 cup sugar per quart of yogurt for freezing purposes, plus more to taste.
- I stick with plain sugar, but you can experiment with other sweeteners, like honey, maple syrup, or agave.
- One more tip from Cheryl: A little bit of corn syrup can help prevent ice crystals from forming.
4. Whisk, churn, and freeze.
Because all the ingredients are already cold from the fridge — just whisk everything together until the sugar dissolves — there’s no need to chill this fro-yo base before churning it like you do with traditional ice cream. Pour it into your ice cream maker and have at it.
- For soft-serve-style fro-yo: Churn until the yogurt reaches the consistency of soft-serve ice cream and serve it right away.
- For scoopable fro-yo: Once it’s finished churning pack it into a freezer container, or cake or loaf pan; cover it with parchment paper; and freeze it until hardened.
The Best Container for Freezing Frozen Yogurt
I recommend freezing your frozen yogurt in a container that is fairly shallow and wide, like an 8×8-inch baking pan or a 9-inch cake pan.
Not only will this freeze a little more quickly (bonus!), but I also find that having a long runway is the best way to scoop frozen yogurt into tidy balls. This fro-yo is still going to be less dreamy and creamy than regular ice cream, and it can be rather brittle when you try to scoop it. The trick is to make long, shallow scoops.
Another scooping trick is letting the frozen yogurt warm for a good 20 to 30 minutes on the counter before serving. This makes it much easier to scoop and much less icy on your tongue.
How To Make Frozen Yogurt
Prep time 17 minutes to 20 minutes
Makesabout 1 quart
- 1 quart
(about 3 cups) whole-milk plain yogurt
- 1/2 cup
- 3/4 to 1 cup
sugar, honey, or other sweetener
- 1 tablespoon
corn syrup, optional for smoother frozen yogurt
Measuring cups and spoons
Ice cream maker
Freezer container, preferably something shallow and wide
Freeze the bowl of your ice cream maker 24 hours in advance.
Whisk together all the ingredients: Combine 3 cups yogurt, 1/2 cup heavy cream, and 3/4 cups to 1 cup sweetener in a bowl and 1 tablespoon corn syrup (if using). Whisk until heavy cream and the sweetener are fully mixed in, 1 to 2 minutes. If you're using granulated sugar, then the mixture should feel smooth between your fingers, not gritty.
Refrigerate, if needed: If your yogurt mixture has warmed at all or if you want to wait to churn it for any reason, cover it and place it in the fridge until it has cooled to fridge temperature again. If your ingredients have only been out of the fridge a few minutes, another chilling isn't necessary.
Churn the yogurt until thick: Pour the yogurt base into the ice cream machine. Churn until the yogurt has thickened to the texture of soft-serve or a thick milk shake (17 to 20 minutes on most machines).
Scoop into a freezer container: Smooth the top. Press a piece of parchment against the top of the yogurt to prevent ice crystals from forming.
Freeze until hard, at least 6 hours or overnight.
Serve the frozen yogurt: When ready to serve, let the frozen yogurt sit on the counter for 20 to 30 minutes, until just soft enough to scoop. Use long, shallow strokes to form balls of frozen yogurt. Serve right away.
This recipe only takes 5 minutes to come together and about 15 minutes to churn for a soft-serve consistency, but if you want fro-yo you can scoop add 6 hours of chill time in the freezer.