Easy And Healthy Instant Pot Yogurt: Plain and Vanilla

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Making easy and healthy instant pot yogurt: plain or vanilla is a fun project that everyone should try. If you have an instant pot that has the yogurt button feature then you are in luck. I have used various methods for the incubation time and method and the instant pot is the clear winner. It easily maintains a temperature of 110 degrees F for as long as you want your yogurt in the fermentation process.

Health Benefits For Homemade Yogurt

There are so many benefits to making and eating your homemade yogurt but at the top of that list are all the health benefits. All the good bacteria found in homemade yogurt are great for your gut health and can reduce inflammation. It is very nutritious and loaded with Vitamin D, B2, B12, Iodine, and zinc. Your skin and nails will be strong and healthy.

Read the ingredient list of store-bought yogurt you will find a lot of added sugar. There is none of that here, just real simple ingredients for our yogurt mixture (milk and plain yogurt). And there is a HUGE cost saving to making your own. I get about 9 full cups of yogurt for the cost of one gallon of milk.

Ingredients And Equipment Needed To Make Yogurt

  1. Gallon of milk
  2. 1/4 cup of yogurt starter
  3. Optional – vanilla if making homemade vanilla yogurt
  4. Instant pot with the yogurt button setting
  5. Collanders and cheesecloth
  6. Mason jars

Selecting The Milk For Instant Pot Yogurt

For our homemade yogurt, I stick with regular pasteurized vitamin D milk (whole milk). There are other low fat milk choices and ultra-filtered milk (fairlife milk) that can also be used but the results may not be the same. The ultra-filtration process heats milk to a very high temperature making it sterile and can be used for a cold start method.

I will use a whole gallon of regular milk and prefer the boil method. This method has always given me a nice creamy yogurt.

Selecting The Starter For Instant Pot Yogurt

To make a batch of yogurt, you need to have a yogurt starter or a yogurt culture. It is as simple as going to the grocery store and buying a small cup of plain yogurt. However, the yogurt you select must-read active live cultures (or live active cultures). This is the bacteria that will multiply during the long incubation period to turn your milk into yogurt.

glass bowl with plain yogurt and a spatula

You can choose any brand of plain yogurt or Greek yogurt, there are a lot of good options out there. My go-to is Fage – a plain and simple thick Greek yogurt. It is non-GMO and has a high number of natural proteins, as well as low in calories. This one small cup of Fage will make three to four different batches (one after another). Each batch only needs 1/4 cup – which isn’t much starter. And you can save some from each batch to make your next batch.

Deciding on Flavoring

Most of the time I leave the yogurt plain – just the milk and the yogurt starter. But sometimes I add some of my homemade vanilla extract. Vanilla is a great way to add character and a sweeter taste to your homemade yogurt without adding in sugars. Other different flavors that would be good would be almond extract, cinnamon, and cardamom.

pot of milk next to a bottle of vanilla and a dish of yogurt

Making homemade vanilla extract is easy and delicious. Buy some Madagascar vanilla beans put them into mason jars and cover them with vodka. The hardest part is waiting! You need to wait six months to a year at the minimum and can let it go up to two years. It’s WORTH IT! Just keep jars going all the time and you will always have a good supply.

mason jar of homemade vanilla

Instructions On How To Make Easy And Healthy Instant Pot Yogurt: Plain and Vanilla

Scald The Milk

  1. Pour a gallon of milk into a large 8-quart pot on the stove over medium-low heat. Milk will scorch the bottom of the pan so take it slow – alternatively, you can use a double boiler.
pouring a gallon of milk into a pot

2. Stir the milk often and bring it to a temperature between 185-195 degrees F. Maintain this temperature for 10-20 minutes stirring off and on. (This is right before boiling. If it boils, that’s ok just back off the heat until it’s the right temperature.)

thermometer reading 190 degrees in a pot of milk

The reason we heat milk first is to kill off any competing bacteria while the whey proteins come together to give us a thicker yogurt. 10 minutes of heating will produce a thinner yogurt while 20 minutes will give us a thicker yogurt. After the milk has been heated, set it aside to come down to somewhere between 100 degrees F and room temperature.

adding yogurt starter to room temperature milk to make Easy And Healthy Instant Pot Yogurt: Plain and Vanilla

3. Add In The Starter. After your milk is at the right temperature, add 1/4 cup of the yogurt starter. If you are making vanilla yogurt mix three tablespoons of vanilla into your starter before adding. Stir well then pour it into the inner pot of your instant pot. Also, be sure to remove the silicone ring from the lid. The ring can hold residual smells and you don’t want that in your yogurt.

pouring milk and into instant pot liner to make Easy And Healthy Instant Pot Yogurt: Plain and Vanilla

4. Incubating The Yogurt- Put the inner pot into the instant pot and put on the lid. It doesn’t need to be set to sealing because we are not using any pressure to incubate. Next, push the yogurt button to start the process and set the time. I incubate my yogurt anywhere from 16-18 hours – usually, this will run overnight.

yogurt button being pressed by a fingernail with black polish

During this time try to leave it alone, don’t take the lid off and on, just let it rest and let the magic happen. There is not a lot of hands-on time to make yogurt, but the whole process takes a bit of downtime.

Straining The Yogurt

5. Strain the yogurt. After the time is up your yogurt will have separated from the whey and it is ready. You do not have to strain your yogurt if you like it runny – just scoop it into jars with a slotted spoon.

finished yogurt in the instant pot liner

I prefer to let it strain for one hour. Line two colanders with cheesecloth (or unbleached coffee filters if you don’t have cloth). I use 100% organic unbleached cotton. You can buy a pack of three for just a few dollars.

2 metal colanders lined with cheesecloth

Set the lined colanders over a large bowl /pan /measuring glass, anything to collect the whey. Make sure the colander isn’t sitting too low in the bowl so the yogurt isn’t in the whey. From one gallon of milk, I usually end up with 3-4 cups of whey. Gently transfer the yogurt from the instant pot insert to the lined colanders.

scooping yogurt into cheesecloth

Cover the top with the extra cloth or use these silicone lids (a gift from my mom that I can’t live without). Let it sit for an hour. By this point, the yogurt should have an excellent and creamy consistency. The longer you strain it, the firmer and tarter it will become.

2 bowls of cheesecloth with yogurt straining

Saving The Whey

Save the whey from this process to use for many other recipes! Whey is full of lactic acid – a compound that is formed during the fermentation process of lactose by bacterial culture. You get a by-product of whey when you make cheese, cream cheese, and yogurt.

mason jar with whey close up

Use the whey in pasta or rice water to boost nutrients, in place of water in baked goods, or in smoothies. You can even soak grains and beans/peas in it.

Storing The Easy And Healthy Instant Pot Yogurt: Plain and Vanilla

Now that your homemade yogurt is ready, you can transfer it to storage jars. I love my quart-size mason jars for this – the yogurt will fill three of them for a total of about 9 cups. (This amount will vary depending on if you strain it or not and for how long.)

filling mason jars with homemade yogurt

Using a spoon, scoop the yogurt into the jars and fit them with a lid. If you have plain yogurt and are planning on making more batches, reserve 1/3- 1/4 cups of yogurt in a smaller jar for next time. You want to keep this new starter healthy and away from other bacteria.

3 quart sized mason jars with Easy And Healthy Instant Pot Yogurt: Plain and Vanilla

Transfer the jars to the refrigerator and let them chill for at least six hours for the perfect flavor and texture. And that is it! You have easy and healthy instant pot yogurt!

Wrapping Up Easy And Healthy Instant Pot Yogurt: Plain and Vanilla

My kids love this Easy And Healthy Instant Pot Yogurt: Plain and Vanilla. They eat it for breakfast and an after-school snack. The yogurt is a little tart so we add a generous pour of my homemade no-sugar fruit jams and sprinkle with chia seeds. I usually make it plain (you can always add a splash of vanilla flavor to your dish) because then it is so versatile.

2 beautiful glass bowls with Easy And Healthy Instant Pot Yogurt: Plain and Vanilla with fruit jams and chia seeds with 2 spoons on a cloth

How To Serve Homemade Yogurt

There are so many ways to use this yogurt. Here are some suggestions…

We use it in place of sour cream, to dip veggies in, and as a side for many dinners – including Indian dishes or to use in salad dressings. It is also delicious in muffins, cakes, and pancakes. The kids and I voted that this is truly the best yogurt.

boys hand with a spoon full of Easy And Healthy Instant Pot Yogurt: Plain and Vanilla with strawberry jam in a white mug
My son’s favorite breakfast

This is one of the funniest kitchen tasks that we do- and easy. The yogurt will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, but I would use the starter within 10 days. Our three jars last about a week.

Cheers, Sarah

Easy And Healthy Instant Pot Yogurt: Plain and Vanilla Recipe

Yield: 9 cups

Easy And Healthy Instant Pot Yogurt: Plain and Vanilla

Easy And Healthy Instant Pot Yogurt: Plain and Vanilla

This creamy and delicious homemade plain yogurt is easy to make and pairs perfectly with sweet or savory dishes.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 20 hours
Total Time 20 hours 30 minutes


  • 1 gallon of whole milk (vitamin D)
  • 1/4 cup of Fage (or another plain yogurt that has active and live cultures)
  • optional - 3 tablespoons of vanilla


  1. Heat the milk in a large pot over medium-low heat being careful not to scorch it. Bring the milk to a temperature between 185-190 degrees F and maintain this temperature for 15 minutes.
  2. Remove the pot from heat and let it cool down to 100 degrees F or room temperature.
  3. Stir in the 1/4 cup of yogurt starter and mix.
  4. Pour into the instant pot liner and put into the instant pot (remove the silicone ring). Place the lid on and press the yogurt button and set the timer for 18 hours. Leave it to rest.
  5. After it has rested, set up 2 colanders lined with cheesecloth and set these atop large bowls to catch the whey. Scoop the yogurt into them, cover them, and let them strain for 1 hour.
  6. Fill up mason jars with the yogurt with a spoon and fit them with a lid.
  7. Place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours and enjoy!


Stays fresh for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Use it in place of sour cream, to dip veggies in, and as a side for many dinners - including Indian dishes or to use in salad dressings. It is also delicious in muffins, cakes, and pancakes.

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