Make Your Own Yogurt and Cream Cheese

How to Make Homemade Yogurt

You can make your own yogurt and cream cheese, and it is not hard!  You don’t have to have any fancy equipment (and when you see my pictures, you’ll believe it!).  Not only will this save you money, you’ll have yogurt and cream cheese that is very good for you!  Try making this yogurt, then add your own fruit, sweetener (I recommend stevia or real grade B maple syrup) and a touch of vanilla.  YUM!

Here’s what you need to do to make yogurt:

1 quart of whole milk (I use unpasturized milk from a farming friend)
3/4 cup plain yogurt or this yogurt starter

Pour the yogurt into a quart jar (using a glass container is important).  Heat the milk on the stove in a saucepan until it is just under 100 degrees.

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Pour the milk over the yogurt in the jar and shake.

Place the jar into a cooler of hot water, cover and leave in the cooler for seven hours.

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There, you just made yogurt!

Now, you can eat the yogurt as I mentioned before, or you can take your yogurt and make cream cheese (and impress the socks off of someone!).

To make cream cheese, line a strainer with a tea towel.  Pour the yogurt into the tea towel.

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You need to secure the tea towel full of yogurt and hang it for 7-10 hours (I usually do this overnight) so that the whey can drip off.  I’m sure there must be a more impressive way to hang your yogurt, but what we’ve come up with works just fine!

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Here are the secrets to my effective cream cheese-hanging-whey-dripping process (I know, you’re on the edge of your chair!):

I fold over the top of the tea towel and hold it closed with a couple of rubber bands.  Then, I use several more rubber bands to attach a long wooden spoon to the wadded up tea towel.  Then, I use a rope to dangle the tea towel from a cabinet door.  And, of course I leave a bowl under the whole contraption so that whey doesn’t drip all over the floor (because then, my process would not be nearly as cute).

Then, after you can tell that the whey has all separated from the cream cheese (you can tell it’s finished if it isn’t dripping any more), then you pull the whole thing down and scrape the cream cheese into a jar.  And that’s it.   It is so simple.

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Sure, you can tell people that it took you hours and hours to make yogurt and cream cheese (because technically it DID take hours to make), but the part you actually played in it took about 10 minutes.

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Comments

  1. Tabitha Teeter says

    Thanks. I was wondering if I had to buy another CrockPot since it’s often being used for bone broth or beans, but now it’s safe to keep holding off. I own all the supplies to this cooler method. Awesome.

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  2. Amanda says

    Do you know what the ratio is approximately? If I use 1c of yogurt, for instance, how much cream cheese will I end up with?

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    Laura Reply:

    I would guess that one cup of yogurt would make about a half cup of cream cheese. Don’t hold me to that though!

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  3. Kathryn says

    Wow…I am spending way too much money on organic yogurt from the grocery store and I am going to try this!
    Three questions…
    1 – when you say, “cooler of hot water” I’m assuming this is just the hottest temp of regular tap water? My tap gets pretty hot so I’m assuming this will do
    2 – as long as the cooler is big enough, can you put more than 1 quart jar in there?
    3 – instead of buying “starters” can I just reserve 3/4 cup yogurt from what I have made to use next time?

    Many thanks!

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    Jill Reply:

    Same questions for me, plus
    4-is pasteurized or homogenized milk ok also?

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    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    You can use those kinds of milk. Laura uses raw because it is healthier.

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    Jamie Reply:

    http://www.culturesforhealth.com/expert-advice

    This is CfH’s index on expert advice/recipes. It is a treasure trove of info!

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    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    The answers are yes, yes and yes! :)

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  4. sana says

    thank u so much for such an easy way…i was so worried because of the complicated and twisted methods mentioned in different websites.
    so cream cheese is actually the residue of yougurt…huh…thanx again

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  5. Wendy says

    I’m also curious to know the temp of the water in your cooler. I tried this method for the first time today and got the water too hot. My “yogurt” was over 120 degrees when I took it out 9 hours later! Obviously the cultures were killed!

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    Laura Reply:

    Shucks – I guess I just try to keep my water at just under 100 degrees when I put it into the cooler. That seems to work well.

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  6. Stephanie says

    Help! I (thought) I followed your recipe for yogurt, but the top 2/3 of the jars were filled with a yellowy/clear liquid. What did I do wrong? I used bought lowfat plain yogurt, but used raw milk (that had most cream skimmed off before I bought it). I think the temp. on my thermometer did get up to 105 before I took it off the burner. It was still completely runny after 8 hours in the cooler–was the water too hot? The water still seemed quite hot so dumped some out and added more and left it over night, but not much change. The bit left at the bottom did seem to taste like yogurt, but was still very runny.

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    Laura Reply:

    It sounds like the whey separated from the rest of the yogurt. No prob – just shake it up and it should all be fine! :)

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  7. Stephanie says

    Forgot to say that the water was hot almost boiling from the tea kettle so I wondered if that was the problem.

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    Laura Reply:

    Yes, the hot water may have killed the culture, so that could be why it remained so runny – it may have never quite made it to that yogurt thickening point. Although I have found that no matter what I try, homemade yogurt is runnier than store bought.

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  8. Cindy says

    How thick does the yogurt starter make your finished yogurt? I have been making yogurt in a crockpot for a couple years, and ideally it would be thicker. But I normally use one tablespoon of purchased yogurt as a starter per quart of milk, and I make 3 quarts at a time (we go through that amount in a week). I already add 1/4 c powdered milk to the milk in the crockpot, to help thicken it, and it does help some. But overall… I’d change to the powdered starter if it makes thicker yogurt.

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    Laura Reply:

    I haven’t found that the powdered starter makes my yogurt as thick as store bought – typically though, that’s because store bought yogurt has fillers added.

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    lenora Reply:

    I used FAGE as a starter 2 tab. to 4 cups of milk, it turned out perfect thick n creamy. now I have my own starter from my batch and it is the same, perfect. I have been using a maker ,stovetop method I cant wait to save more time with this method. It only took 3-4 hrs in the maker. not bad for a first timer. thanks hope this helps

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    Sarah Reply:

    I also use a Greek yogurt starter for my homemade yogurt, the Stonyfield one, and it comes out nice and thick, then I reuse it until I go on vacation or forget it and let it go bad. but if you don’t want to do that you can just strain your yogurt until it is the consistency that you want. Store bought yogurt is so thick because pectin is added or because it is strained. To strain it I don’t bother with cheesecloth I just used a double mesh strainer and haven’t had problems, the yogurt stays in but the whey drains out, I just set it over a bowl in the fridge.

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  9. Amanda says

    Hello, I cant wait to try the yogurt and crean cheese recipes!! But I have a question. If I cant get milk from a farmer :( what is the best milk to buy at the store?(Organic or almond…) And for the yogurt instead of buying the yogurt stater kit is using plain greek or fage just as healthy?? Thank you so much!! I love your website!!

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    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    Organic milk would be best. Yes, plain greek or fage would be good!

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  10. Hazel Tibbetts says

    My yoghourt cream cheese looked good but was too sour to taste – made with Yeo Valley plain yog. – I had added a little salt to the yoghourt before beginning – any advice?

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    Laura Reply:

    I’m not sure – I’ve only used homemade yogurt to make this. :)

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    Michelle Reply:

    The salt may have caused problems with to the culture. I know salt causes problems with yeast if there is no barrier, so that could be the problem. Cultures need a sugar to stay alive (like lactose or fructose). HTH

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  11. Lisa says

    I got watery yogurt, I can use it for a smoothie, it tastes good, but really disappointed, wanted this to work. I used Hood whole milk and a stoneyfield vanilla yogurt for a starter, used my therometer and tested everything 100 degrees. Wonder why it did not work.

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    Laura Reply:

    I’m not sure, although I will say that mine is always runnier than storebought yogurt. They usually add fillers to thicken theirs.

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    Shawna Reply:

    I just made this for the first time last night, followed the directions to a T and it still came out very runny. Used grass-fed raw milk and plain greek yogurt as the starter. Heated to just under 100 degrees and put in a cooler with hot water for 7 hours. Will it thicken up more in the fridge? I hate to throw it away. But I know my kids and this stuff is too runny. Any advice on thicking it up? I realize it is runnier than store bought but this is the consistency of milk. I really wanted this to work:(

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    Laura Reply:

    Sorry I’m just now getting around to answering this! If it doesn’t thicken within 7 hours, it’s okay to leave it in hot water for another hour or more until it does thicken up.

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    Sarah Reply:

    Possible solution is that is wasn’t warm enough, I have been making both coconut and cow milk yogurt for years and have always added mine to my yogurt maker once it cooled to between 100 and 110 degrees. For dairy yogurt I use stonyfield greek yogurt as my starter and it comes out pretty thick, not as thick as the greek yogurt but if I want that consistency I just strain it for a couple of hours.

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    Linda Reply:

    The trick with yoghurt is that, in order to get the thicker consistency, to heat the milk till 160F ffirst and then cool down to 100F.

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  12. lenora says

    love your idea easy way to make yogurt. I wiil try it. I will let u know what happens. mine is always thick n creamy, I use stovetop n maker with fage starter.I make homade cereal with yogurt, by soaking the grains overnite which are nuts and gluten free flour, it breaks down things the gut cannot. this will save me time. thank you

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  13. KC says

    I am feeling a bit confused. You need to buy store bought yogurt to make homemade yogurt? Is that every time or just the first time and then you use a little of your homemade stuff each time after that instead?

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    Laura Reply:

    Just the first time. After that, you use the last of your homemade yogurt to make more homemade yogurt. :)

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  14. Barbara says

    You can thicken up any yogurt and even make it “Greek style” by just putting it in a strainer lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter over a bowl for a few hours or even overnight in the fridge (depending on how thick you want it). I love Greek yogurt, but don’t want to pay the high price for store bought, so I just make my own. Very yummy!

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  15. Daphne says

    I don’t know if I missed it somewhere, but how long does the yogurt or cream cheese stay fresh in the refrigerator?

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    Laura Reply:

    Mine stays good for about two weeks.

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  16. Colleen says

    Hello ;)
    I’m excited to try to make our own yogurt. I have 4 boys (9,5,3,1) and we have a bit of a strange situation. 2 of my kids are Deaf which is not an issue at our house anymore – it’s become the norm ;) The eldest one also has ecezmea (I know I spelled that wrong!!), the 5 year old has a sensitivity to milk or something to the point of vomiting every time he has milk – so soy or almond has always been safer for him. Not sure why this is – but any ice cream or mac and cheese anywhere and that’s the outcome. The 3 year old is just Deaf, and the baby we just found out is allergic to strawberries – but now I’m wondering if it is the pesticides in the strawberries he is allergic to. He also gets weird rashes at strange times so I think we are at the tip of the iceberg as far as his allergies. Anyhow – we got introduced to coconut kefir pudding and it has done wonders for the 5 year old. I want to make this yogurt but I am afraid of using whole milk. None of the house has ever done ok with whole milk. Can we do 1% organic or soy/almond? Just switched to organic produce and milk so that’s what I have.

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    Laura Reply:

    I’ve never tried it, but I would imagaine that this would work just fine with 1% milk. I’m not sure on the almond. :)

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    Sarah Reply:

    I make coconut yogurt because my kids have a dairy allergy, I make homemade coconut milk and then I heat it to 180 degrees, I use agar agar to thicken it, if you don’t thicken it it will be very thin.. You have to add sugar so that it will culture, I use about a tablespoon of honey. You heat it to 180 with teh agar agar (or other thickener) and honey, then cool to between 100 and 110 degrees, then I put it in a yogurt maker, but you can find some other way to hold it at the right temp. I use so delicious coconut yogurt for the starter. Good luck!

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  17. Dena says

    I just found your site and I love it! I’m wondering if anyone here can answer some questions for me? We just began buying fresh, raw milk from a local farmer, because I have recently found out I’m allergic to pasteurized dairy products.

    1) Is raw milk *with the cream* still in it considered/referred to as WHOLE milk?

    2) If the answer to #1 is yes, is the milk *with the cream removed* considered/referred to as skim milk?

    Thanks to anyone that can answer these questions. Since all of this is new to me, I may have more questions as time marches on.

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    Laura Reply:

    Yes, raw milk with all its cream is considered “whole” milk. You can remove part of it, and it would become like 2% or all of it and make it skim. :)

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    Dena Reply:

    Thank you very much, Laura.

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    Meghan Reply:

    To add to this question:
    1. how do you skim the cream?

    2. And I’m a little confused on the greek yogurt part. I have a greek yogurt started from CFH. Can I use it and do this method for making greek yogurt? (I think you already answered yes to this, but just want to be sure in the greek yogurt starter)

    3. Can i make whey from greek yogurt, or does it meed to absolutely be plain yogurt for whey?

    Thank you so much! I get my first raw milk tomorrow! :)

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    Laura Reply:

    I use a small gravy ladle to skim off the cream. Yes, I believe you can use this same method to make Greek yogurt. I’ve never made Greek so can’t say for sure on the whey. :)

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    Linda Reply:

    For Greek yoghurt: Drain your ‘normal’ yoghurt in a colander lined with a tea towel for about2-4 hour:done

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  18. Karen says

    Hello, thanks for explaining how to make homemade yogurt. This is my first time making some and i might have put too much starter yogurt? ( a store bought plain greek yogurt which is 142 g for 4 cups of milk). Anyhow once the milk had cooled, i put the yogurt in and mixed it with the milk but already there was small little curds along with the milk. I placed the mixture in little containers and placed them in the yogurt maker. I left them for about 15 hours and i noticed then some liquid ( the whey) and little chunks. Does this mean that the yogurt turned out good? Anyhow i was scared that it wasnt good so i still put 3 containers in the fridge to cool before tasting and tried to make some greek yogurt like u showed. It kind of looks like ricotta cheese. Then i let the rest sit some more to extract the whey to make some cream cheese. It is now in the fridge cooling down. Im wondering if i managed to do it right and if the yogurt should have that chunky liquidu look to it. Kind of gross to say but it kibd of looks like vomit!? Thanks for your reply

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    Laura Reply:

    Interesting, I’m really not sure since I can’t see it myself. Does it taste and smell okay? Sounds like the curd already started separating from the whey, which is fine.

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  19. Erin says

    So, you mention that you like cream cheese quite a bit. Do you make all the cream cheese that your family eats or do you buy some as well? If you buy it what kind do you buy?

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    LindseyforLaura@HHM Reply:

    Laura often buys Philadelphia cream cheese.

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  20. Linda says

    To make cream cheese, I don’t use yoghurt at all. I think it would be too sour to my taste.
    All I use is full fat fresh raw milk at room temp. On 2 gallons I use 1 tsp of cheese culture and 1/8 tsp rennet. Let stand overnight. Then in the morning it is a nice solid mass. You have to cut that with a large knife into 1 inch pieces (just slash a couple times through it, and then it all goes into a pillow case. I tie the pillow case closed and put everything in a colander in the sink. After 7-10 hours, depends how dry you want to have it, the whey is out. Put the cream cheese in the fridge or freeze what you don’t use.

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  21. Rebecca Jacobson says

    For those of you making greek yogurt, do you have any idea of the protein content? I usually choose greek yogurt at the store because I like the low sugar/high protein content. I am new to the process and not quite sure how that works. Thanks!

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  22. Hannah says

    I’m confused. If you are only using a quart size jar to make the yogurt why would you need 1-2 quarts of milk. Wouldn’t that be too much milk or am I missing something?

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    Laura Reply:

    No wonder you’re confused! I wrote terrible directions. I’ll go back and edit the post to make more sense. To clarify for you though, ultimately you can do this with 1 or 2 quarts of milk at one time and achieve the same result. :)

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  23. Lynzy says

    My Mother makes great yogurt. To make it thick and set-up without getting slimy-strands, she adds 1 tablespoon (for about a gallon of milk), of gelatin dissolved in a bit of cold water, right before she pours it into the jars. She has found that pouring the jars half full on the first round, then finishing filling them in a second round, works best for us. We have had troubles with the first (or might have been last) jar not setting up properly, because the gelatin wasn’t evenly spread.

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  24. Chasity says

    I tried the yogurt recipe last night and my yogurt is runny. When I opened the jar there was yogurt in the bottom of the jar, I’m thinking that I didn’t shake it long enough. I’m going to try again, but I also wondering how hot the water in the cooler needs to be? Also, what is in my jar smells good and is creamy, would it still be ok to use in smoothies? Thanks!

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    Laura Reply:

    I just use very hot tap water – it is usually steamy. You can definitely use the contents of your jar for smoothies and it will be just fine!

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  25. Tara says

    So when making cream cheese do you do something with the whey or just discard it?

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    Laura Reply:

    I usually discard it because I don’t get much whey in this process.

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  26. Stephanie says

    1. Have you ever tried freezing some yogurt to use later, say like after vacation or something? Would that kill the cultures or would it still work?

    2. Can you repeat this process indefinitely just using some of your last batch of yogurt, or do you eventually need to start over with a fresh starter?

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    Laura Reply:

    I haven’t tried freezing so I’m not sure how that works. Eventually, you’ll need to start over with fresh starter, but I make batch after batch after batch (for months or even a year) before I notice that my culture isn’t working as well any more. :)

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