Homemade Greek Yogurt

published Jul 13, 2022
Greek Yogurt Recipe

Learn how to make Greek yogurt, a creamy balm for a multitude of meals.

Serves2 to 3

Makesabout 1 1/2 cups

Prep15 minutes

Cook10 minutes

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A photo of a bowl of greek yogurt with strawberries, pecans and honey over the top.
Credit: Tara Holland

I am ashamed to admit I’ve never been a huge fan of eating a bowl of Greek yogurt on its own, even with fresh fruit or honey. Don’t get me wrong — I do understand the attraction, and I really want to love it, but I sometimes find it a little too sour and cloying when eaten plainly. I prefer Greek yogurt stirred into sauces or a large dollop served on top of a spicy curry, but that is as far as it goes for my taste.

However, I’ve been converted after making my own Greek yogurt. Although making it from scratch creates the same thick and creamy texture Greek yogurt is famous for, it’s more delicate in flavor. It’s deliciously tangy without the sour harshness found in some store-bought brands. Making it from scratch will now be a regular project, and although it does take time, it is surprisingly easy to make! 

How Do You Make Greek Yogurt at Home 

There are a few ways to make yogurt at home, including using only the stovetop, Instant Pot, or an immersion sous vide circulator, but this method uses the oven. You only need three ingredients to make your own yogurt: ice, milk, and a starter culture (plain yogurt that contains live and active cultures). The ratio is 1 cup of milk to 1 tablespoon of live yogurt, so you can make as much or as little as you need. 

Can You Turn Regular Yogurt into Greek Yogurt?

To make Greek yogurt, you essentially make plain yogurt first. Once you strain the plain yogurt slowly through a cheesecloth-lined fine-mesh sieve for two hours (or up to overnight, depending on how thick you like it), it drains all the liquid (whey) from the solids, ending up with a deliciously thick strained Greek yogurt. 

Credit: Tara Holland

What Equipment You Need to Make Yogurt in the Oven

  • Medium saucepan
  • Large and medium bowls (to create an ice bath)
  • Wooden spoon
  • 1-cup measure for scooping 
  • Candy or instant-read thermometer
  • Medium to a large-sized fine-mesh strainer
  • Cheesecloth
  • Mason jars or covered heat-proof containers
  • Baking sheet 

The Process of Making Yogurt

You start by first scalding the milk by getting it to a temperature of 180°F and holding it between 180°F and 190°F for 5 minutes, which not only kills some of the unwanted bacteria in the milk, but it also denatures the whey protein (which, long story short, and without getting too scientific, helps prevent a lumpy texture and creates more of a smooth mass, which is paramount when it comes to making yogurt).

Then, stir the milk over an ice bath to lower the temperature to 110°F. You temper a little of the warm milk into the live yogurt (which prevents too much heat from killing the good bacteria for the fermentation process), then the tempered yogurt is stirred back into the warm milk and ready to transfer to jars. The jars are then kept in a warm oven, only heated by the oven light for 4 to 8 hours to ferment, then strained in the fridge to transform it Greek yogurt. 

What Difference Does It Make If You Ferment for 4 or 8 Hours?

I’ve made batches of both 4-hour fermented and 8-hour fermented yogurt, and both were perfectly creamy and thick after straining. However, the 8-hour fermentation was more tangy and authentic tasting to Greek yogurt. 

Greek Yogurt Recipe

Learn how to make Greek yogurt, a creamy balm for a multitude of meals.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Serves 2 to 3

Nutritional Info



  1. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice. Sit a medium metal bowl on top of the ice and pour a few inches of cold water into the large bowl, so the ice reaches halfway up the inner bowl. Make sure the bowl is sitting securely.

  2. Arrange a rack in the bottom third of the oven.

  3. Place 1/4 cup whole milk live plain yogurt in a small bowl. Heat 4 cups whole milk in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent it from burning on the bottom of the pan, until 180℉, steaming, and slightly frothy at the edges, 5 to 8 minutes.

  4. Reduce the heat to low so the milk maintains a temperature of 180 and 190℉ for 5 minutes; stir continuously with a wooden spoon. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200℉ for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat but keep the oven light on.

  5. Pour the milk into the medium bowl sitting in the ice bath. Stir until the milk cools down to 110℉, 2 to 4 minutes.

  6. Remove the bowl from the ice bath. Transfer 1/2 cup of the milk into the bowl of yogurt and whisk until smooth. Transfer the yogurt mixture back to the medium bowl of warm milk and stir to combine.

  7. Cover the bowl with a plate that fits snugly on top. Run 2 clean kitchen towels under hot tap water and squeeze out the excess water. Lay one warm damp towel on a baking sheet. Place the bowl in the center and wrap the towel up and around the bowl. Completely cover the bowl with the second damp towel.

  8. Place the baking sheet in the warm oven, keeping the oven light. Let sit until the yogurt is set and separated from the whey at the edges of the jar, 4 to 8 hours (the longer it sits, the tangier the yogurt).

  9. Remove the bowl from the oven. Double line a medium or large fine-mesh strainer with cheesecloth, leaving about 3-inches overhang; fit over a medium bowl. Pour the yogurt into the strainer, then lightly fold over the overhang of cheesecloth to cover the yogurt. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. The longer you strain, the thicker and more concentrated the Greek yogurt will be. When it has reached your desired consistency, the liquid (whey) does not need to be discarded; you can repurpose it for other uses.

  10. Transfer the strained Greek yogurt to a clean, airtight container or mason jars. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Recipe Notes

Cheesecloth substitution: If you do not have any cheesecloth, you can line the strainer with coffee filters, or paper towels. Lightly cover the yogurt with a paper towel before refrigerating.

Low-fat Greek yogurt: Use low-fat plain live yogurt and low-fat milk to achieve a low-fat Greek yogurt.

Storage: Greek yogurt can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.