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Homemade Raw Milk Yogurt

Have you ever made yogurt using a heating pad? It’s my favorite method!

I’m continually amazed how many dairy products can be made at home with very little effort or difficulty. There’s this misconception floating around that making dairy products is too difficult for the average Joe. I’m hoping to dispel these myths and talk you into giving a DIY dairy product a try!

For starters, how about making yogurt from scratch? It’s probably one of the easiest dairy recipes to start with…well, second to milk kefir!

The supply list is small and the hands-on time minimal…however, this isn’t one you can walk away from. It will require a watchful eye and a couple hours of your time. But don’t let that scare you off! All you have to do is keep a watchful eye on the temperature! That’s easy enough, right?

Why make homemade yogurt?

First off, the cost savings is HUGE! The average price for organic yogurt (in our neck of the woods) is 64 oz. for $8.80 ($5.45 for 64 oz. of non-organic). Since I make yogurt by the gallon, I get 128 oz. for $6.58. Or, to compare apples to apples, 64 oz. for $3.29 (depending on the current raw milk prices).

This also allows me to make yogurt from raw milk, which yields additional health benefits and produces a fresher product.

Ready to get started?

Homemade Yogurt Recipe

homemade yogurt with heating pad



  • Hands-on Time: 10 minutes
  • Hands-off Time: 24 hours
  • Yield: 1 gallon yogurt


  1. First things first, be sure you have a couple hours set aside for the first part of the yogurt making process…taking your time will yield the best results and you’ll be glad you weren’t in a hurry!
  2. Remove yogurt from the fridge, allowing it to come to room temperature. Gather your jars and fill them with hot water so the target-temperature of the milk isn’t reduced once you pour it in.
  3. Pour milk into a large pot and begin to heat slowly! Heat and stir continually until your milk reaches 180℉. Don’t walk away once your milk reaches 160℉, it can quickly get too hot, causing milk to boil out all over your stove (ask me how I know!).
  4. Let milk cool to 115℉ (but no less than 110℉…if it drops too low, heat it back up to 115℉ before proceeding).
  5. Remove one cup of hot milk and place into a bowl. Add 1/4 cup yogurt and mix well. Return milk/yogurt mixture to the pot and stir well.
  6. Carefully pour into warm jars and secure lid.
  7. Incubate your yogurt (see methods below) for 8-24 hours.
  8. Refrigerate and enjoy!

Incubation Methods

  • Method 1 – Using a heating pad, a large towel and a 3 gallon stock-pot, lay a towel out on the kitchen counter and center the yogurt-filled jars on the towel. Wrap the towel snugly around the jars and wrap the heating pad (turned to low) around the towel. With a little finesse, invert the stock pot, covering the heating pad/towel wrapped jars creating an incubator (see photos).
  • Method 2 – Pre-heat your oven for just a few minutes, then turn oven off. If your oven has a “warm” setting, you may turn this on to incubate your yogurt (mine warms at 100℉). Using a towel and a 3 gallon stock-pot, place the towel into the stock pot and carefully arrange your jars inside, wrapping the towel snugly around the jars. Cover the stock pot with the lid and place in the oven with the light on.
  • Method 3 – Using a dehydrator, set yogurt filled jars into the dehydrator and set the temp to 110-115℉.
  • Method 4 – Keep your yogurt in the pot, put the lid on and keep the yogurt at 110℉ on the stove top for 3 hours. This method is not recommended as results can vary and makes for more “hands on” time to be sure temps stay within range. After 3 hours, transfer yogurt to jars and refrigerate.

Yogurt Making Tips:

  • If you heat your milk slowly, your finished product will be better. The faster you heat the milk, the grainier the end result will be. Heating too quickly causes the proteins in the milk to congeal, leaving an unpleasant final texture.
  • Heating the milk kills off any competing bacteria that can hinder the introduced cultures (as well as altering the structure of the milk protein, casein) to make a nice, thick and firm yogurt.
  • It’s possible to make a truly “raw” yogurt by omitting step 3. The final result will be thinner with a shorter shelf-life, but it will still contain many of the benefits of raw milk. If you’re wanting to make raw yogurt, simply heat your milk to 115 degrees and proceed to step 5.
  • If you want an even thicker yogurt, this is somewhat of a bonus step! Hold the temperature at 180 degrees for 10-20 minutes allowing some of the milk to evaporate. This traditional step is one that yogurt manufacturers omit and try to imitate by adding milk powders or other thickening agents. No thanks!
  • To speed up the “cool down” step, fill your sink with cold water and carefully place your pot of milk into the sink. Watch the temperature and be sure to remove it when it reaches 120 degrees as it tends to continue cooling. If you’re in a hurry to make yogurt, this is a great option.
  • When storing your milk, choose whichever containers work best for you. I like to use two half-gallon mason jars, but occasionally I’ll divide them into pint containers for easy grab-and-go breakfasts! Just add your mix-ins and head out the door! (Just be sure your containers will fit under your stock-pot if you’re using method one or method two for incubation!)
Homemade Yogurt Pin

Hopefully a 9-step process hasn’t scared you off!

Allow me to summarize: Heat the milk to 180℉, cool the milk to 115℉, mix in some yogurt and incubate. It really is that simple!

Did you ever think you’d be making your own homemade yogurt? We love hearing your success stories, and answering questions if things don’t go “quite as planned”.

Thanks to The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz and The Splendid Table for such helpful yogurt making tips and tricks!

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Showing 8 comments
  • Avatar

    Kelsey you’re going to do great on the feta (one of my favs) just get started!!! Tracey, I didn’t know how healthy it was either!!!

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen

      Thanks for the encouragement Beth! Getting some raw milk tomorrow, maybe I’ll give feta a try this week! How long would you age your feta for? I’ve read six months or more to fully develop the flavor? Ill document my steps in case it’s successful, then I can share the results in a blog post!

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    When using method 2 in the oven, is the incubation time still the same? Since the oven is turned off now. And my oven has a 150 degreee setting, is that too hot to leave it on at?

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen

      Incubation time would need to be at least 8 hours since it won’t be as high a temp. I let mine go a full 24 hours. Definitely don’t heat your oven all the way to 150. But you could turn it on for a few minutes until it feels warm inside, just to help the yogurt out. If you wrap up your jars of hot milk in a couple towels and put them in a large pot, they should hold the heat pretty well. Just be sure the milk is at 115 when you transfer so it doesn’t lose too much heat. It really is way more simple than the instructions elude to. Heat milk, cool, add yogurt and incubate. No matter what, you’ll end up with yogurt. The specific directions above are just tried and true to yield a nice thick creamy yogurt. But everything I’ve made not following these exact steps still makes edible yogurt!

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    I miss your cows too Beth! Didn’t know what you were spoiling us with until I really started to learn more about homemade foods!

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen


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    Oh, this makes me miss our cows and fresh milk and making yogurt!!!! Oh!! And the home made cheese!!!

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen

      Oh I’ll bet it does Beth! Knowing more about milking cows now, I’m impressed ya’ll did the milking just the two of you! It’s a huge commitment! There’s just nothing quite like homemade dairy products! Once you get the hang of it anyway! I miss your cheeses too! I haven’t ventured too far into cheese making, just mozzarella, chevre (or farm cheese?) and cheddar…I have some feta culture in the freezer, but the first time is always the most intimidating and I haven’t built up the nerve yet!

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