A Beginner’s Guide to Icelandic Yogurt includes answers to your questions and instructions for making it yourself at home. If you want to know more about this cousin of Greek yogurt, keep reading.
We eat Icelandic yogurt for dessert almost every night at our house. It’s rich, creamy, high-protein and so filling. No midnight snack necessary!
Here’s the scoop on Icelandic Yogurt:
Icelandic yogurt, also know as Skyr, is a popular style of yogurt originating from Iceland. According to the Icelandic Provisions (a commercial brand available locally) carton, “it has been enjoyed for centuries in Iceland.” They describe it as “a combination of milk and cultures that is rich and creamy…simplicity on a spoon.”
On a side note, low-fat milk is listed as the first ingredient on the Icelandic Provisions container. Another popular brand called Siggi’s lists pasteurized skim milk as the first ingredient.
What’s this about rennet?
Neither brand lists rennet. Although rennet is advocated by some, I have it on good authority that rennet (used to thicken) is not necessary if your live cultures are plentiful and active.
Skyr is thicker than Greek yogurt and contains a higher level of protein than other yogurts. This makes sense when you consider it takes 4 cups of milk to make one cup of Skyr. Traditionally, Greek yogurt requires 2 cups of milk to make one cup of yogurt.
Want to try making it yourself?
If you want to try making it for yourself, check out my method below. Compare it to others online, and I think you’ll find this method easier and less complicated than most.
Maybe you’re not like me but I find I won’t make something very often if it’s too involved. Of course, the first few attempts may take longer until you get your system figured out. But in my opinion, it’s so worth it.
Video: How To Make Greek Yogurt (Same as Icelandic Yogurt except for straining time)
4 Random Observations about Making Icelandic Yogurt
You can use skim, 2% or whole milk to make Icelandic yogurt.
The fat adds creaminess. So does whipping the final product (optional) and/or adding a bit of heavy cream.
Go ahead and take it into ice-cream-like territory with some sweetness if you want. A few colorful sprinkles might even convert the kids in your life.
When using milk with increased solids…
Braums (and probably others I’m not aware of) uses a special evaporative technique to increase the solids in their lower-fat milk. This causes their milk to be higher-protein and better-tasting right out of the carton.
Consequently, it will be difficult to strain this yogurt down to 1/2 of the original volume because of more solids. No worries. Even if you get it down to 1/3 of the original volume, it will be very thick and totally delicious.
Which brand of starter should I use?
I purchased Siggi’s plain yogurt as a starter for one batch and Icelandic Provisions Skyr for the other. Both batches turned out similar with only the slightest difference in tartness. The particular strain of cultures used in each brand is listed on their respective cartons. Interestingly, they are different.
Which starter you use is not as important as how fresh it is. That’s why the best starter is often the fresh yogurt you make yourself. Of course, you won’t have that available in the beginning.
Note: You can use either Greek yogurt or regular yogurt as a starter so long as it is fresh and has no additives.
Why is my yogurt too tart (or too mild?)
Some people consider Icelandic yogurt more tart than Greek yogurt. My experience is that it is milder than Greek or regular yogurt. Although many people prefer the sour taste, I like a milder yogurt with less tartness.
Since the “tartness” of any homemade yogurt can be affected by the length of incubation and type of milk used, I go for the shortest incubation period possible that still produces a firm product – mine usually takes about 4-5 hours to set.
I strain it on my kitchen counter for about 3-5 hours using a Kleynhuis yogurt bag as seen in the picture below. The yogurt is perfectly safe at room temperature for several hours because of the acid content.
My yogurt turned out similar to what I have always called yogurt cheese. As you can see in the picture below, 2 quarts of milk reduced down to a generous 2 cups of yogurt and lots of whey. If you’re wondering what to do with all that whey, see this post for 18 ways to use yogurt whey.
- Icelandic yogurt is more filling/satisfying because it’s more concentrated!
- Speaking of treats, try some Icelandic yogurt mixed with a small serving of Halo ice cream (our new fave) or any ice cream for that matter. I think it tastes like soft-serve frozen yogurt.
- For the record, both brands of commercial yogurt I purchased claim 17 grams of protein, 6 carbs and approximately 100 calories in a 5.3 ounce serving. I’m assuming the stats on my homemade Icelandic yogurt are similar.
How to make Icelandic Yogurt at Home:
Allow milk to cool down to 100-110 degrees F.
Remove any “skin” formed over the top.
Add approximately 1 tablespoon of starter to cooled milk.
Whisk well to distribute starter evenly.
Incubate at 100-110 degrees F. until set.
Strain. Check out my posts about various ways to do it. See links below.
Allow to yogurt to strain until it reaches the thickness desired.
- 2 quarts skim or low-fat milk (or whatever milk you prefer)
- 1 generous tablespoon plain, non-flavored commercial Icelandic yogurt (once you make your own yogurt, you can use it as a starter)
- Fill Pyrex batter bowl (my preference) or 2-quart microwave-safe glass container with milk.
- Heat on HIGH in microwave until bubbles begin to appear around the edge. Temperature should reach 175-180 degrees after you stir it. (In my microwave, it takes 17 minutes on HIGH). You can also heat milk on the stove if you prefer. It will take a lot longer and be careful not to scorch it.
- Allow milk to cool until temperature drops to between 100 and 115 degrees. This is the step (more than any other) where more people ruin their yogurt. In the beginning of your yogurt adventures, get yourself a thermometer and check!! Too hot and the little yogurt bodies will be murdered!
- If a skin forms, remove it.
- Whisk in 1 tablespoon unflavored commercial Icelandic yogurt as a starter or use yogurt from a previous batch of your own homemade yogurt. No need to heat or warm it ahead of time.
- Cover milk and place in a warm environment where the temperature stays around 100 degrees.
- Allow to incubate for 5-12 hours. The longer you incubate, the more tart your yogurt will be.
From regular yogurt to Icelandic yogurt
- Strain thickened yogurt. (If yogurt has not set, it will not readily strain.) I use this method. No cheesecloth required. I highly recommend it.
- Let yogurt sit in the strainer till the yogurt is reduced down to a quarter of the original volume. Time to strain may be as long as 8-10 hours. Tip the strainer or stir very gently if whey has pooled on top while straining.
- Empty whey from batter bowl and pour yogurt out of strainer back into the original bowl. Use a good whisk or portable mixer to beat until smooth or leave as is. Chill.
- I'm told it will stay fresh for 3 weeks. We eat it too fast to know.
Serving Size:5.3 ounces
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 100 Carbohydrates: 6g Protein: 17g
If you are new at making your own yogurt, check out these posts for tips and secrets that make the whole process easier. Shoot me an email or leave a comment if you run into trouble.
If you make this and enjoy the recipe, it would help me and others if you would return to this post and leave a rating (on the recipe card itself underneath the picture). Although always appreciated, no comment is required. Thanks so much! Paula
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