How to Make Easy Instant Pot Yogurt (No Yogurt Button Required!)

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yogurt in three different bowls

Yes! You can make Instant Pot (Electric Pressure Cooker) Homemade Yogurt Without Using or Having the Yogurt Button!

Instant Pot Homemade Yogurt Without Using the Yogurt Button! Does that sound too good to be true?? This 2-ingredient yogurt is fresh and homemade in just 5 easy steps. This is a plain whole milk yogurt recipe that makes the most creamy yogurt you’ll ever put in your mouth.

**Please note: When making yogurt in the Instant Pot (or any electric pressure cooker), the milk is not cooked under pressure. Instead you use the saute setting to bring the milk to a boil then proceed as directed below. Just an FYI right up front on thisno pressure is used when making Instant Pot yogurt!

bowls of yogurt with granola

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Howdy! Chef Alli Here. Let’s Get You Cookin’…… 🙂

So you want to make homemade yogurt in your Instant Pot, eh? But maybe you have an Instant Pot (or any electric pressure cooker, no matter the brand) that either doesn’t have the yogurt button?

OR, maybe your Instant Pot does have the yogurt button but it seems too complicated to figure out the whole yogurt-making process by doing it that way.

That’s exactly how I felt, and then I realized that (DAH) we can totally do it THE EASY WAY using our Instant Pot! We don’t NEED the yogurt button at all! And once you learn how to do this, I promise you’re never going to buy yogurt again.

While we are on the subject, what are some other delicious dishes that we can easily make under pressure? If moist and dense cakes are your game, you will definitely enjoy Instant Pot Apple Cake with Rum Sauce or Pumpkin Cake with Chocolate Chips and Cider Glaze, my personal fav.

And if you’ve never experienced cheesecake made in the Instant Pot, just wait! We make this Instant Pot Key Lime Cheesecake a lot, right along with Instant Pot Rice Pudding….both of which are so creamy and rich you’ll want to roll around in them.

And, other personal favorite (and speedy!) Instant Pot recipes that I make all the time for my hungry family would include Instant Pot 5-Minute Pepperoni Pizza Pasta, Sweet and Tender Baby Back Ribs, Instant Pot 2-Minute Corn on the Cob, and Instant Pot Broccoli Cheese Noodle Soup….just to name a few favorites! I love how versatile the Instant Pot is for cooking all kinds of things.

3 Solid Reasons You Should Make Homemade Yogurt

  • IT’S CHEAP.
  • IT’S EASY.
  • IT’S ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS.

The 5 Easy Steps to Making Homemade Yogurt the Easy Way (No Instant Pot Yogurt Button Required)

  1. Bring the Milk Up to Temperature
    Place the milk into the inner pot of the Instant Pot. Turn on the saute setting; bring the milk to a boil, stirring it occasionally, until the milk reaches 180 degrees F. when tested with an instant-read thermometer. (It should take about 12-15 minutes for the milk to reach 180 degrees F. when using the saute setting on the Instant Pot- I timed it!)
  2. Cool the Milk Back Down A Bit
    Remove the inner pot of the Instant Pot to a hot pad so the milk can begin the cooling process more quickly. Let the milk cool to 110-115 degrees F;
  3. Inoculate the Milk (Just Stir in the Yogurt Cultures)
    Once the milk has cooled to 110=115 degrees F, it’s time to stir in the active yogurt cultures, aka the “starter yogurt”. (Yes, you are reading that correctly….we need some yogurt to MAKE yogurt!)
  4. Incubate the Milk (Let it Rest for 8-10 Hours so it Can Turn Into Yogurt)
    Cover the Instant Pot with the lid, locking it into place; set the valve to the sealing position. Wrap the Instant Pot in a thick towel; set it in a cozy place on your kitchen counter to incubate for 8 hours.
  5. Strain the Yogurt to Thicken it
    Stir in the vanilla. If you prefer a thicker yogurt such as Greek yogurt, strain the yogurt to let some of the whey drain off, then refrigerate.

What 2 Ingredients Are Needed to Make Delish Instant Pot Yogurt?

  • Whole or 2% Milk
  • Starter Yogurt Made with Milk and Live Active Cultures
  • Pure Vanilla Extract, optional ingredient
bowls of yogurt with granola

What Tools Will I Need for Making Yogurt?

Trouble-Shooting Tips for the Process of Making Yogurt

Wait. You’re telling me that Greek yogurt is nothing more than regular yogurt that’s had the whey drained off?

  • Yes, I am. (Don’t kill the messenger!) Greek yogurt is super thick and therefore a more “concentrated” form of yogurt than regular yogurt. When the whey drains off during the straining process it leaves behind a lot of protein in that thick Greek yogurt – yum!

So if my Instant Pot yogurt is runny or doesn’t set up once I’ve made it, I haven’t totally ruined it?

  • Not at all. It just means that you need to strain the whey from the yogurt to get it to the consistency and thickness you prefer!

And I need yogurt to MAKE yogurt?

  • Yes, that’s correct. Anytime you are trying to turn a batch of milk into homemade yogurt, you’ll need some live, active yogurt cultures to make it work.
  • The first time you make yogurt at home, grab a plain Greek yogurt made from MILK (not almond milk or the like) at the store ahead of time to begin this yogurt-making process. Check the label and you’ll see that live, active cultures are part of the ingredient list.

Each and every time I make yogurt, I need to keep some yogurt back as my “starter yogurt”? I’m afraid I’ll forget to do this part.

  • Yes, if you hold some yogurt back, you’ll have some to use next time as your starter.
  • I can never remember to do that, so I usually take some of the yogurt I’ve made and put it into ice cube trays. Once the yogurt is frozen, I place the cubes into a freezer bag, storing this bag in handy place in my freezer. (**Note: most ice cube tray compartments hold 2 Tbs.)
  • When I’m making yogurt next time, and need the starter yogurt, I just add a couple of yogurt cubes, stirring until they are fully melted.
Frozen yogurt cubes in a bowl beside an ice cube tray.

What if I don’t happen to own an Instant Pot? Can I still use this same yogurt-making method by using a pot on my stove-top?

  • Yep. Just follow the same 5 steps, immediately placing a lid on the pot, wrapping it in a towel and placing it on the counter in a draft-free spot. (Sometimes I put the pot of milk into the oven to incubate as long as I know that nobody is going to come along and turn on the oven!)

What is whey and what should I do with the whey that is drained from the yogurt? Is whey healthy?

  • Whey is a by-product liquid that is strained from milk once it is curdled, such as during the process of making dairy products like cottage cheese or yogurt.
  • Whey can be used for many things. Add it to protein shakes, use it for cooking if you like a tangy flavor in your pancakes and biscuits, feed it to your tomato plants in the garden – they like the added calcium, use it to store ricotta cheese, or do like we do and pour it over dogfood for you babies – they go nuts! Whey is also great for brining chicken and pork so they are super moist and juicy.
  • Whey is actually quite good for us and there are lots of health benefits. Just to name a few of them, whey is a good source of protein, can help with inflammation, promotes muscle growth, and can also help lower blood pressure.

What happens if I drain to much whey from my yogurt? Am I just stuck with super thick, dry yogurt that I don’t like?

  • Glory hallelujah! No, you are NOT stuck with super thick yogurt that you don’t really care for. All you have to do is stir some of the whey right back into the yogurt until it reaches the consistency you enjoy. Ta-dah – you’re rescued!

How should I store the whey if I want to keep it?

  • We store our whey in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid in the fridge. The biggest problem with keeping whey in the fridge is that it looks JUST LIKE lemonade. If somebody takes a big swig of whey thinking it’s nice sweet lemonade, it will come spewing right out of their mouth. #BeenThere #DoneThat
green bowl of yogurt topped with berries and honey.

Are there other ways to incubate yogurt?

  • Yes. Some people like to place their warm milk into a slower cooker that they then wrap with towels to let the yogurt incubate for the 8-10 hours it needs.
  • Using a cooler is also handy. Place the warm yogurt into warm glass jars, wrapping them in t-towels, then into the cooler and close the lid to let the yogurt incubate for 8-10 hours.

So instead of heating my milk to make yogurt in an Instant Pot or in a pot on my stove, can I just heat it in the microwave?

  • Well, you can, but I sure don’t recommend this method in any way. It’s very dangerous to heat milk to 180 degrees in a bowl in the microwave – too many things can go wrong….please just don’t do it!

I’ve noticed that it seems to take a very long time to get my milk up to 180 degrees F. when using the saute setting on my electric pressure cooker. What’s up with that?

  • Depending on the brand of electric pressure cooker you own (Cuisinart, Instant Pot, etc), there are some brands that simply don’t heat up as fast as they should. This doesn’t mean that they don’t work, it’s just a slower process.
  • I have found that both the Cuisinart electric pressure cooker and the Instant Pot electric pressure cooker can have a half gallon of ice cold milk up to 180 degrees F. in 12-13 minutes using the saute setting. The cooling down of the milk (back down to 110-115 degrees F) takes about 32 minutes, just sitting on the counter, stirring often.

How do I temp the yogurt using an instant-read thermometer?

  • Insert the stem of the instant-read thermometer into the center of the hot milk, taking care to touch the bottom or the sides of the pot since this can give you a false read.
  • Hold the stem submerged until the temperature on the gauge comes to a stop; this will take just a few seconds. When the rising temperature comes to a stop, that is the final internal temperature of the milk.
  • When bringing the milk up to temperature to make yogurt, you are going to a temperature of 180 degrees F.
Instant-read thermometer taking the temperature of hot milk.

Can I use chocolate milk to make chocolate yogurt? 🙂

  • You sure can and we do it all the time! We like to use chocolate or strawberry milk for making yogurt – super delish and my boys go crazy for it. We are also fans of using root beer or orange crush milk to make yogurt.

When is the best time of day to make yogurt?

  • Late evening! This way your yogurt can do the 8-10 hour incubation process (when the milk becomes yogurt) while you sleep. In the morning, you can either strain it if you have time then, or you can pop the yogurt into the fridge and strain it at a later time.

Why do you wrap the Instant Pot in a towel to incubate the milk? Is that really necessary?

  • To be honest, the Instant Pot (and most all electric pressure cookers actually) are very well insulated and hold in heat very well. I’ve tested it both ways and the yogurt turns out just fine whether the Instant Pot is wrapped in towel or not.
  • When I’m using just a large pot to make yogurt, I always wrap it in a towel, or even place it into a cooler, to hold in as much heat as possible. (The yogurt doesn’t have to stay fully warm, it just can’t be ice cold for the process to work.)
  • Also, the towel wrapped around my Instant Pot for making yogurt is a BIG RED FLAG to me, giving me a big reminder that I need to finish the yogurt process!
Instant Pot wrapped in a blue towel tied with a string.

Which option for straining yogurt is the easiest?

  • Well, for either method, an extra set of hands is really useful. It’s super helpful if one person can hold the coffee filters back against the strainer while you’re pouring the yogurt into them, just as it’s helpful if that extra set of hands can hold the top of the milk nut bag open as you pour in the yogurt. I personally like the milk nut bag option, mainly because I nerd out watching the whey drip through the bag and into the bowl, but in reality the coffee filter method (especially if you’ve layered them into the colander at least 2 layers thick) is the easiest.
Whey straining from yogurt over a bowl.

What is the best method for getting the strained yogurt out of the coffee filters or the nut milk bag?

  • If you’ve lined the strainer with a couple thicknesses of coffee filters as directed in the recipe, it’s pretty easy to use your hands to pick up the coffee filters and all, simply “flopping” the whole thing in your hands upside down into the bowl you want to store the yogurt in. Then, just peel off the coffee filters that will be on top.
  • If you’re using a nut milk bag for straining the whey off, simply tip it over into a large bowl, letting the yogurt pour out, pressing all the yogurt down and out of the nut milk bag.

What’s the best way to serve yogurt? I need some fun and creative ideas for toppings and stir-ins.

  • I have a favorite granola that I like to make to have on hand. It’s a great combination – the ultra-creamy yogurt topped with crunchy granola. And, I like it that the granola can be customized when you make it for how your family will best enjoy it.
  • Sometimes I serve yogurt in the morning topped with fresh fruit or even some warm strawberry jam.…also made right in the Instant Pot.
  • If you’re a warm steel cut oats or cinnamon quinoa fan (also made in your Instant Pot), you’ll enjoy using the cool and creamy yogurt as a topping for either breakfast or a mid-afternoon healthy snack.
  • Any dressing that calls for mayonnaise can be made a bit more healthy by making it with half mayonnaise and half plain Greek yogurt.

Should I sweeten the yogurt after I’ve made it? And what sweeteners are good for yogurt?

  • You can, but I always opt to leave it unsweetened. This is because I sometimes use plain Green yogurt for cooking and I need it unsweetened for that purpose. And, my family can easily sweeten a bowlful of yogurt to their liking anytime.
  • As far as sweeteners go, you can use honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, monk’s fruit, or even plain ole granulated sugar. I actually sweeten my own bowl of yogurt with Splenda and it’s totally delicious.

Can I add flavorings to the yogurt?

  • Surely, and I hope you will. You can add all kinds of flavorings to the yogurt, by using extracts or oils. We love such as Banana Cream, lemon, strawberry cheesecake extracts for flavoring yogurt. The sky is the limit!
yogurt parfait sitting on a stack of bowls

Printable Recipe for Making Instant Pot Homemade Yogurt

yogurt in three different bowls

Hot to Make Instant Pot Yogurt…Without a Yogurt Button

Instant Pot Homemade Yogurt Without a Yogurt Button! Does that sound too good to be true?? Well, it IS! And, it's a 3-ingredient Instant Pot yogurt that is fresh and homemade in just a few easy steps. This is a plain whole milk yogurt recipe that is the creamiest thing you'll ever put in your mouth!
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 8 hours
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 8 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 12 1 cup servings
Calories: 198kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon whole milk or 2% milk
  • 1/4 cup live active milk cultures, which is contained in most yogurt made with milk, check the label to be sure
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract

Instructions

How to Make Yogurt in an Instant Pot….Without Using the Yogurt Button

    Bring the Milk up to Temperature (Pasteurizing the Milk)

    • Pour the milk into the inner pot of the Instant Pot. Press the saute button to begin heating the milk, bringing it to a boil, stirring occasionally. This will take 10-15 minutes.
      When the milk begins to simmer, use an instant-read thermometer to begin checking the temperature of the milk until it temps at 180 degrees F. Lift the inner pot from the Instant Pot to a cooling rack or hot pad to begin the cooling process.

    Cool the Milk

    • Allow the milk to cool down to 110-115 degrees F. Stirring the milk often will help with this process. (I also speak softly to the yogurt at this point, smiling down upon it to calm my soul.)
    • Use an instant-read thermometer to check the milk during the cooling-down process. This will take 15-20 minutes. Don't let the milk cool down below 110 degrees F!

    Inoculate the Milk

    • To me, this sounds as if you're giving the yogurt it's immunizations or something. It's really just the step of adding the live yogurt cultures aka the "starter yogurt".
      Place the starter yogurt into a medium mixing bowl; add 1/4 – 1/3 cup of the milk to the yogurt, whisking them together, then pour this mixture back into the pot of warm milk.

    Incubate the Milk

    • This is my favorite step because it involves using a big, fluffy bath towel to snuggle your Instant Pot full of yogurt!
      Cover the Instant Pot with the lid, locking it into place. Make sure the Instant Pot is set to the sealing position.
      Wrap the towel around the Instant Pot, then place it in a cozy part of your kitchen on the counter or even in your oven; let the milk incubate for 8-10 hours to become yogurt.

    Strain the Yogurt

    • After you've incubated the yogurt for 8-10 hours, it's time to strain the yogurt if you want it to be a thicker consistency or if you prefer Greek yogurt.
      Place several coffee filters all around a large strainer or colander, at least two layers thick, overlapping them as needed to fully cover it; place the prepared colander/strainer over a large bowl. Now, carefully and slowly pour in the prepared yogurt.
      To use the nut milk bag to strain yogurt, place the bag into a bowl then pour the yogurt into the bag (an extra set of hands is so useful here!). Tie up the top of the bag using kitchen string, leaving a long tail. Tie the bag to an upper kitchen cabinet handle hanging over a bowl so the whey can drip down.
      Remember that letting the yogurt strain removes some of the why that will make it thicker in texture. Once the yogurt is the desired consistency that you prefer, store it in the fridge a glass bowl or large glass jars with tight fitting lids.
    Course: Breakfast, Snacks
    Cuisine: American
    Keyword: instant pot, No Yogurt Button, yogurt

    Nutrition

    Calories: 198kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 137mg | Potassium: 422mg | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 511IU | Calcium: 361mg | Iron: 1mg

    Let’s Get You Cookin’, 
    Chef Alli

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    yogurt in bowls with a red napkin.
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    Chef Alli

    Chef Alli is a home-grown Kansas girl on a mission to strengthen families through enabling kitchen confidence, educating the family cook, and encouraging better food relationships. She believes with her whole heart that time spent with our loved ones and our overall quality of life is greatly enhanced by nutritious food made at home with simple, wholesome ingredients. She loves being able to connect and share this passion with others through her website, her social media presence, and her coveted speaking engagements.

    Blog Comments

    Chef Alli, I have heard people adding sweetened condensed milk to their yogurt. Any thoughts on this and when you would add it?

    Thanks

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