Making Yogurt from Raw Milk (Includes Greek Yogurt Instruction)

Sneak Preview: Learn about making yogurt from raw milk with this picture tutorial. The instructions are for making regular yogurt and Greek yogurt.

homemade Greek yogurt, raw milk, strainedPin

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

No cows hang out in my backyard or the back forty. Raw milk is not available commercially in my town, but my son and daughter-in-law love yogurt made with raw milk. So they encouraged me to try it.

I may be entering treacherous territory. Recently I’ve had several inquiries about making Greek yogurt with raw milk (unpasteurized milk) on my Homemade Greek Yogurt post, so I decided to try it to say I did.

Please note:  As a home economist, I’m not advocating adding raw milk to your diet. It’s a controversial practice not advised by the USDA. I encourage you to do the research.


Why Do I Need to Heat the Milk?

I have read that some people don’t heat their raw milk to 175˚F initially, either because they want to save time or because they don’t want to kill certain bacteria. However, after doing side-by-side experiments, I observed that milk heated to 175˚F produces a thicker yogurt, whether raw or pasteurized, at the outset.

High heat helps to unravel the proteins that aid the yogurt-making bacteria. However, I wouldn’t say I like to drink my yogurt, and I’m not comfortable letting unheated raw milk sit at 100˚F for 12 hours. So, I stick with the method for high heat, then a cool-down, before adding a yogurt starter.

As it turns out, making Greek yogurt with raw milk is the same process as pasteurized milk. What follows is a condensed tutorial. If you still have questions, check out my original post on making yogurt for more details.


How To Make Greek Yogurt with Raw Milk

a clean, microwave-safe bowl and milkPin
Use a clean, microwave-safe bowl like this 2-qt Pyrex dish.
heating raw milkPin
Heat the milk to 180˚F.
cooling milk in a bowl of icePin
Allow the milk to cool on the counter or speed up the process by setting it on ice.
taking the temperature of the milkPin
Allow the milk to cool down to 100-110˚F.
adding starterPin
Add a tablespoon of starter per quart of milk.

adding starterPin
Whisk well, cover loosely, and set in a warm place. (100-110 degrees)

Once you prepare your yogurt by heating it, cooling it, and adding a starter, find a place in your house to incubate your yogurt. See this post for more ideas about how to incubate.

DO NOT DISTURB!!!!!!

If you peek too often, too much heat may escape. Also, if you move or stir the milk mixture, the incubation process will stop, and no more thickening will occur.

After 10-12 hours, go to the next step. If you are not available, then it is OK to let it incubate for up to 24 hours, based on my experience. In general, the longer yogurt incubates, the tangier the yogurt.

See the pictures below for an example of what your yogurt should look like after incubation. We made three batches using different milk in each. First, the pasteurized skim milk was the thickest, followed by the raw skim milk. Finally, whole raw milk made the thinnest yogurt. 

comparing yogurt, pasteurized milk was the thickestPin
Pasteurized nonfat milk was the thickest.
comparing thickness of skim raw milkPin
Raw skim milk was thinner.
comparing thickness of raw whole milkPin
The whole raw milk was the softest.

How to make Greek yogurt

You could eat your yogurt at this point– once it chills, but if you prefer Greek yogurt as I do, proceed.

straining raw whole milk to make Greek yogurtPin
Use cheesecloth or a coffee filter to line a colander or sieve.
whey collected from yogurtPin
The liquid in the bowl is the whey drained from the yogurt.
whisking yogurtPin
After straining, use a whisk to whip the yogurt until smooth.
showing shiny yogurt after whiskingPin
See how smooth and shiny our yogurt turned out. Of course, it will be even thicker when chilled.

If you chill the yogurt before straining, you may not need to use a cloth to line your strainer if your strainer is fine enough. Then, after 1-3 hours (your choice, depending on the yogurt itself and how thick you like it),  set the drained whey aside for other purposes and whip the remaining yogurt with a whisk. Use some muscle behind that whisk; your reward will be creamy yogurt.

Add flavorings before or after chilling. Enjoy!


If you run into difficulty, leave your question in the comment section.


Recipe Help at Your Fingertips: For questions or suggestions, email Paula at saladinajar.com. If you need help, I’m happy to troubleshoot via email (faster than leaving a comment). Attach pictures and as many details as possible for the best advice.

yogurt made from raw milk with strawberries.Pin
Yield: 8 servings

Making Greek Yogurt with Raw Milk

A guide to making your own Greek yogurt at home using fat-free, 1%, 2%, or whole milk.
5 from 4 votes
PRINT RECIPE PIN RECIPE SEND EMAIL

Video

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 6 hours
Total time: 6 hours 20 minutes

Ingredients
 

  • 1 quart (946 g) unpasteurized dairy milk )
  • 1 tablespoon yogurt commercial or your own homemade

Instructions

  • Fill a Pyrex 2-qt microwave-safe bowl or pitcher with milk. Alternatively, pour milk into a heavy-duty pot to heat on the stove.
  • Heat in the microwave until bubbles begin to appear around the edge. The temperature should reach 170-180˚F after you stir it. (In my microwave, it takes about 11 minutes on HIGH). Check at 9 minutes.
  • Allow your milk to cool until the temperature drops to between 100-110˚F.
  • Whisk in fresh unflavored yogurt (the starter). You may use yogurt from a previous batch of your homemade yogurt.
  • Cover the milk and place it in a warm environment where the temperature stays around 100-105˚F.
  • Allow the inoculated milk to incubate for 4-8+ hours or until set.
  • At this point, you could chill the yogurt and eat it as is. Or you can decide whether to pour off the whey or stir it back in. Straining yogurt to make it thicker will result in Greek yogurt.

From Regular Yogurt to Greek Yogurt:

  • Carefully pour yogurt into a bouillon strainer or chinois. If the mesh is fine enough, you won’t need to use a cheesecloth or paper towel. Or use a
    or a commercial size paper coffee filter inside a cheap strainer or colander.
  • Let yogurt sit in the strainer until the yogurt is reduced by approximately a third. Time will vary according to the thickness of the yogurt out of the oven and your own preference regarding texture and sourness.
  • Empty whey from the batter bowl and pour yogurt out of strainer back into the original bowl. Use a good whisk to beat until smooth. Thin with milk or leftover whey if yogurt is too thick.
  • Now is a good time to add any flavorings or sweeteners.
  • Chill.

Notes

Nutritionals are only an estimate. Numbers will vary according to how much you strain your yogurt.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 74kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 12mg | Sodium: 52mg | Potassium: 160mg | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 194IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 137mg | Iron: 1mg

All images and text ©️ Paula Rhodes for Salad in a Jar.com

5-Star Ratings Are My Favorite!Help others find this recipe in search results on the web.
logo for saladinajar
Join our community of adventurous cooks, and start creating homemade food worth sharing.

If you want inspiration and exclusive tips, add your email and press the button. (Don't worry. I won't sell your email.)

My Amazon Store

4.75 from 4 votes (4 ratings without comment)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




32 Comments

  1. I am new at making yogurt. My first batch worked but I added 1/2 cup of starter per 3.5 cups of milk. This seemed like a lot of starter so I began to search just how much starter is needed and found your article Jan 15, 2023.

    For my second batch, I only added 1 tbsp of starter per half gallon of milk. At eight hours, it looked like half turned into yogurt and the rest was still milk. There was no whey (yellowish watery liquid). I didn’t know that the incubation period ended once stirred and I did stir it. I decided to add more starter and try again. This time I doubled the amount of starter. I am waiting to see if this works.

    My question to you is, since some of the milk did turn into yogurt, is it most likely I needed more starter or perhaps I should have just left it alone for a few more hours. In your starter experiment, time made the 1/4 tsp measurement thicken.

    Any input would be appreciated.

    1. Hi Nanette,

      Eight hours should be plenty long enough to produce yogurt. (Mine only takes 3½ hours, but I like a mild-tasting yogurt.) This makes me wonder if the incubation temperature is holding steady.

      Also, how old was the starter? The fresher, the better, and it’s best if your starter is no more than 7-10 days old.

      Did you indeed use raw milk? Did you heat and cool according to the directions given here? All of these details can make the difference between success and a fail.

      It can take a while to figure out your incubation system and timing using the milk and starter you have available. I’m confident you’ll get it soon.

  2. warren frost says:

    warren frost
    Thu, Feb 1, 8:18 PM (2 days ago)
    to info@nwferments.com

    When I make yogurt with unpasteurized raw milk the yogurt has a bitter taste and bad odour.After sitting in frig for 1 week this odour and taste disappear.Did bad bacteria/enzymes in raw milk cause problem.I have tried using a mother batch and boiling utensils.In the past this problem only occurred occasionaly.Pasteurising the milk 180 F for 1 hour sometimes fixes the problem.I use yogurt powder in sachets for starter.

    1. Hi Warren,

      So nice to hear from you.

      I’m not a food chemist, so I don’t feel qualified to answer your question. All I know is that I would never recommend eating anything that smelled bad. Always heat the milk to 180˚F when making yogurt, then let it cool back to 110˚F before adding your sachets of starter powder.

  3. Assuming raw milk has some good bacteria not normally found in pasteurized milk…

    I’d love to make some yogurt using a mixture of any and all raw milk I can find (goat, cow, sheep, camel, etc), but I wonder if the bugs would play nice together? For example would one type of colony crowd out the rest when heated to make the yogurt?

    Also, Mad Cow disease is so scary, is there any way to lower the number of potentially bad germs?

    1. Ben,

      I’m not a food scientist so don’t feel qualified to answer your question. So sorry. paula

  4. You say that you are”not comfortable letting unheated raw milk sit at 100 degrees for 12 hours” but with raw milk to does not go bad. It just gets more and more sour. Raw milk is a living thing. I know someone who left raw milk out for several weeks to see what would happen. It never went bad.

  5. Thanks for the info! A lot of people say that it is a complete waste to use raw milk if you will be pasteurizing it, but here in California the raw milk we can get comes from 100% grass fed cows, which to me is better milk than the stuff from grain fed cows. I think that the fat in the grass fed milk is of better quality.. Opinions?

  6. wow. thanks for the how-to! i’m a bit confused though – this seems so simple, so why are there ‘yogurt makers’? i was going to buy one on amazon, but it looks like it really isn’t needed-?

  7. Very helpful-although I’m with Daniel if you are spending money to get milk raw-heating it over 112 doesn’t make sense. Also-using the microwave really changes the chemical structure of the foods heated. From what I’ve researched it really makes the food unrecognizeable to the body.

    1. Hi Sara,
      Welcome. If you have read much of my blog, you probably already realize we don’t agree on the whole microwave issue. My research shows much different results than you found. But that’s OK. It depends on who you believe. Hopefully, we can agree to disagree on this point.

      Regarding the whole heating of the milk thing, it has nothing to do with the taste and everything to do with food chemistry. Heating changes the structure of the proteins and makes a thicker yogurt. I prefer very thick yogurt which is why I will do anything to make it thicker. Honestly, I’m no expert on raw milk. It scares me because of the risks involved with disease–especially for people with compromised immunity systems. I wrote the post because my kids love it and wanted to make yogurt with it.

      Thanks for writing.

      1. Daniel Rogers says:

        comprimised immunity systems seems to be an ever increasing percentage of the population. Seems to me that the further away from nature we get the more prevalent it is. Refering to “Raw milk scares me” comment, Marie Curie once said “nothing in life is to be feared only to be understood”. The risks you speak of are unfounded and something that has been said over years and years for generations and people just accept it. Ideas like this need to be rethought and reexamined over time as technology and sanitation methods improve.

  8. Hey just so you know pastuerised milk means to be heated to 161 degrees for 20secs. If you pay heaps of money for raw milk only to heat it up then it kinda defeats the purpose of raw milk. im still trying to find a way to thicken it without heating it.

    1. Hi Daniel, Thanks for writing. I’m not into raw milk myself but my daughter-in-law thinks the yogurt it makes tastes better so heating it doesn’t change that for her. pr

    2. Susan Hagen says:

      If you are looking at the benefit of raw being only the good bacteria and losing that when you heat it, then you are right, don’t waste the raw milk money. Don’t forget all the antibiotics and hormones that is in store milk. If I can avoid those but lose the good bacteria with the heating process, it is still worth it to me. Raw milk is not only about drinking to get what store milk does not have, but also what Raw Milk does not have it in too.

      1. Daniel Rogers says:

        So you are assuming now that raw milk doesn’t have antibiotics and hormones. Raw doesn’t mean organic. If you want to know for sure ask the farmer directly assuming the farmer isn’t going to lie. a poor farmer will try to cut costs by using more cows per area of land thus increasing diseases and thus the need for antibiotics or hormones for faster growth. Unless the farmer is poor for not doing this.

      2. I would just like to add that all milk you purchase in the store has no antibiotics in it! All milk is tested before it is even unloaded at the processing plant. If any milk has a trace of antibiotics in it they will not use the milk and it is spread on a farm field. ANY milk you buy in a store is free of antibiotics!

  9. Cari Jimison says:

    Paula,
    I am lactose intolerant. I drink lactose free milk but I can eat cheese that is aged and greek yogurt from the store. My question is, can I make yogurt @ home from lactose free milk?
    Cari

    1. Cari, Sorry, I have never tried it but it’s on my list.

    2. Probably not. The lactobacillus acidophilus (bacteria in your starter yogurt culture) need the lactose in regular milk to turn it into yogurt. However this will not be a problem for lactose intolerant people (including myself) as the process of making milk into yogurt uses up the lactose in the milk. If you have a little gastric distress after eating your homemade yogurt try just letting it sit another day in the fridge before you eat it…the live yogurt cultures will continue to “eat” any remaining lactose in your homemade yogurt.

  10. Hi Paula,

    WOW I have been converted to the greek yougurt craze!! I have been making my own yougurt with the cooler and warm water incubation to great results using raw milk from my family farm. I stumbled across your website when researching how to make it greek. SO SO SO easy, make yougurt, incubate, then strain through cheescloth, that’s it!! I think I can put the very local Chobani out of my house for ever! Yes chobani is literally 3 miles away, they employ hundreds of people locally ( great for the depressed NY state economy), work 3 shifts, and are still having a hard time getting all the product out that the demand calls for. SO I took your advice and put some bananas on the bottom of sevring size of yougurt, added some pomegrante seeds, topped with half a teaspoon of brown sugar and a shake of cinnamon! Heaven! gee let’s see…..saved at least $10 a week, and to make it, cost me literally pennies! Thank you so much for your blog. Same day with the cream off the top of milk can made the condensed cream of mushroom soup, then added the cream to serve as the best cream of mushroom soup I ever had!, again saving more moola, no more campbells for me! Looking into the salad in a jar, hoping to get some gift cards for Christmas so I can purchase the Food Saver.

    Thank you so much,
    Best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving!
    Jen

    1. So glad to hear from you Jennifer. Sounds like you will save a boatload. Paula

  11. Hi Paula, Thanks for steering me in the right direction…This time I did not continue heating my milk in the microwave for the additional 15 minutes (as I mentioned above in my note) and happy to say my yogurt came out perfect! That really saved me some time. Looking forward to your next yogurt experiment with the non-dairy milks. Wonder if Almond and/or Coconut milk would make good yogurt? Thanks again for all your hard work!!!

  12. I’m the founder/moderator for Punk Domestics (www.punkdomestics.com), a community site for those of use obsessed with, er, interested in DIY food. It’s sort of like Tastespotting, but specific to the niche. I’d love for you to submit this to the site. Good stuff!

  13. Betty @ scrambled hen fruit says:

    My daughter in law wants a goat so she can have a source of raw milk. I wonder if making yogurt with goat milk would be different? Very interesting- I’ve been wanting to try this for a while. 🙂

    1. Betty, I’m guessing the process would be exactly the same. I’ve also heard one can make yogurt with soy milk and oconut milk. Guess that will be my next project.

  14. TheKitchenWitch says:

    I’m in love with the picture above! And now I’m off to check out the evil brownies…

  15. The Café Sucré Farine says:

    Paula, Wow! Thanks for taking all the time to document all this! Have you though of writing a book? I would buy it! You are amazing!

  16. Informative as always. You really are becoming the yogurt making guru, which I think is kind of cool. My chiropractor would be loving the raw milk suggestion since he advocates no milk unless it is raw due to all supposed meds. the cows are on to keep them healthy to produce milk. He is a bit extreme as expected of chiropractors. Great post Paula.

  17. Hi Paula! I have learned more great things through your website. Question: I read somewhere that after heating my milk up in the microwave (I was taught to take it up to 180 but I don’t know if it makes that much difference or not) that I should try to hold it at that temperature for another 15 minutes (in the microwave) before starting the cooling process…I assume it has something to do with the speed of stovetop vs microwave and not having enough time to loosen the proteins. Have you ever heard of doing this and do you think it is necessary?

    In one of my experiments with using “nonfat dry milk” I tried skipping the 180 degrees and went for just below 120 (since it was already homogonized and dried) and then I added my starter …but it did not work… upon final inspection I saw it did not set…it was very runny and was already 10 hours old had to throw it out… so I found heating it up to approx. 180 (ish) a necessary step..I just don’t know if I need to keep it at that temp for 15 minutes.

    Thanks again for all your laboratory work…I always earn so much! 🙂

    1. Maggie, I have never heard of holding the higher temperature for another 15 minutes. Of course, anything heated in the microwave will continue to cook for several minutes but that’s expected. I see no reason to do it longer on purpose. Maybe an old wives’ tale? (There are many of those concerning the making of yogurt because so many people do it how their mother or grandmother did without the slightest idea why.)

      As you already figured out, not heating nonfat dry milk to the higher temps of 175 or 180 means those proteins don’t get unraveled and your yogurt will not be very thick. Some people like runny yogurt but not me! paula

  18. Mal @ The Chic Geek says:

    This is so interesting! I’d never thought of making my own yogurt