This homemade Greek yogurt recipe makes a decadent, creamy yogurt that is a family favorite. We enjoy it plain, topped with fruit or as a base for other delicious recipes.
My mother-in-law has been making this scrumptious Greek yogurt that has been handed down for generations in her family since she was a girl. For years I’ve indulged in bowls of the deliciousness and for years she’s suggested that I learn how to make my own. Recently we spent an afternoon in my kitchen as I watched her in action and saw for myself how she makes the magic happen.
With her thick Greek accent she explained to me, step by step, just how her daddy would make batches of the yogurt in their modest kitchen. I traveled back in time with her to Crete, as she spoke of the old days and the precious memories of her island life. I drank in every last detail as she shared her daddy’s techniques that he had lovingly shown to her. Things like testing the temperature of the milk with her pinky and singing as she stirred to keep the milk from burning. We shared coffee and conversation, we laughed and we cried, as she recalled memories that have been tucked away for years. I scribbled down notes of her instructions as she talked me through the steps and I made a mental promise to myself to share every detail with my two girls one day.
Her recipe produced mounds of divine, thick, creamy yogurt with that slightly sour bite that only Greek yogurt can deliver. I’ll cherish that afternoon spent with Yaya always. I’m so grateful to have finally learned her daddy’s recipe through her eyes. And while the yogurt was amazing it can’t hold a candle to the magic that was in the making.
Here’s a favorite family recipe that uses Greek yogurt ::
- 1 gallon 2% milk
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- Pour milk into a large pot and stir constantly over high heat until it reaches boiling point.
- Turn down to low and cook 15 more minutes. While the milk is cooking, fill one side of the sink (or a large enough bowl to fit the large pot into) with cold water and ice.
- Submerge the pot into the ice bath and let sit until you can stand your pinky in the water till the count of 9 (this is the old school Greek way), or a thermometer reaches 130ª.
- Stir the 1 cup of yogurt until smooth and slowly add a little bit of warm milk at a time until the yogurt is perfectly smooth with no lumps. May use up to a 1/2 a cup or so to achieve right consistency.
- Turn oven to lowest setting (mine is 150ª) and wait for it to heat up and turn off. This is to get oven warm for the yogurt to set.
- In the meantime, get 2 large glass bowls ready by surrounding them with a towel that’s nestled into a plastic bag (we used grocery store bags).
- Once bowls are ready pour the milk/yogurt mixture into the big pot of milk and give a good stir and divide the milk mixture evenly into the 2 separate bowls.
- Cover each bowl with a lid, wrap the towel around each bowl and tie the handles of the bags closed.
- Place a dish towel on the rack in the oven and place the 2 bags with the milk mixture on the towel in the oven and leave for 12 hours.
- After 12 hours, open up the bags, wipe the condensation off the inside of the lids and let sit counter for a 1/2 hour.
- Take bowls out of bags and put in the fridge for 6-8 hours.
- Next line a metal colander with paper coffee filters and place over a bowl (to catch the liquid) spoon one of the bowls into the colander and place in fridge.
- In the beginning, check bowl every 1/2 hour (for about an hour and a 1/2) and pour out the liquid that has been released from the yogurt.
- Drain the yogurt in the fridge for 6-8 hours total.
- Repeat the draining process with the second bowl of yogurt.
- Place the finished yogurt into a covered container and keep in fridge up to 3 weeks, if it lasts that long!