Make your own homemade yogurt the easy way with Instant Pot Cold Start Yogurt! Using only two ingredients, you can make creamy, delicious, and healthy fat-free yogurt. Even better, you can flavor your yogurt using simple sugar-free ingredients.
As soon as I got my Instant Pot, I quickly learned that everyone was making yogurt! So, of course, I had to give it a try. Many recipes called for using whole milk, which is high in calories. After some experimenting, I found an easy method that works for me using fat-free milk!
I also experimented with several different low-calorie and sugar-free flavoring options. In this post, I will show you how to make six different sugar-free flavors of yogurt. I'm not a huge fan of plain yogurt - I need some sweetness and flavor!
Instant Pot Cold Start yogurt is healthy, easy, and much cheaper than buying yogurt at the grocery store. Once you try it, you won't go back to store-bought yogurt!
- What is Cold Start Yogurt?
- Advantages of Cold Start Yogurt
- Which Instant Pots Have a Yogurt Button?
- What is a Yogurt Starter?
- How Long to Incubate
- How to Flavor
- How to Make Smooth Yogurt
- How to Make Yogurt Thicker
- How to Serve
- Calories per Serving
- More Instant Pot Recipes
What is Cold Start Yogurt?
Before starting the yogurt incubation process, you have to first eliminate the extra bacteria in the milk. You have two options:
- Use normal milk and boil it yourself ("Hot Start")
- Use milk that is ultra-filtered ("Cold Start")
Cold Start means that you do not have to boil the milk prior to making yogurt. You simply add the milk and starter to the Instant Pot and let the yogurt start incubating.
Advantages of Cold Start Yogurt
Overall, making cold start yogurt is much easier than boil-method yogurt. Here's why:
- Simpler and fewer steps! It literally only takes 2 minutes to mix together and start making yogurt.
- Less guessing on temperatures for boiling milk
- Fail-proof! You really cannot mess it up!
I highly recommend trying cold start yogurt in your Instant Pot, especially if it is your first time making yogurt! Making yogurt can sound intimidating, but I couldn't believe how easy it was using the cold start method.
Which Instant Pots Have a Yogurt Button?
Most of the popular Instant Pot models do have a yogurt button. I have an Instant Pot Ultra, which does have a yogurt button.
According to the Instant Pot Product Comparison chart, these models DO have a yogurt button:
While it is possible to make Instant Pot Yogurt without the yogurt button, it is much easier to make if you do have a yogurt button. The recipe in this post assumes that you DO have the yogurt button.
There are only 2 ingredients in cold start yogurt:
- 1 52 oz bottle Fairlife ultra-filtered milk (I like fat-free, but whole, 2%, or 1% will also work)
- 2 tablespoon plain nonfat greek yogurt (for your starter)
I highly recommend the Fairlife brand milk. I have tested it many times, and it always turns out perfectly. For cold start yogurt, milk must be Ultra-Filtered. Look for the words "Ultra-Filtered" on the label.
What is a Yogurt Starter?
To make yogurt, you need to have a "starter" yogurt containing the live active cultures needed to make more yogurt. You can use any brand of plain store-bought yogurt.
Here's what I look for in a yogurt starter:
- Plain yogurt (not flavored)
- Must contain live active cultures (look for this on the package)
- No additives or stabilizers (to improve consistency you want pure, plain yogurt)
- Nonfat (if you are making fat-free yogurt)
Once you make one good batch of yogurt, you can save 2 tablespoon portions in your freezer and use them to make your next batch of yogurt! Just defrost in the refrigerator for a day before you want to make a new batch of yogurt.
First, Pour the milk in the Instant Pot liner and whisk in 2 tablespoon of yogurt starter.
Place the lid on the Instant Pot (you can use the glass lid, silicone lid, or regular lid without the silicone ring). Yogurt does NOT cook at pressure so you do not have to use the regular lid with the silicone ring. If you are using the normal lid, you can remove the ring.
I usually use my glass lid to make yogurt. That way I can see inside while it cooks.
Press the Yogurt button and set it to the default Medium temperature. Set the time to 8 hours and hit start.
After 8 hours of incubation, put a lid on the Instant Pot liner and immediately put it in the refrigerator. The Instant pot silicone lid works great for storage! Cool for at least 8 hours or overnight.
After the yogurt has cooled, stir it up and mix in any flavoring if desired. If yogurt is a little lumpy, use a whisk to stir it for 2-3 minutes until completely smooth.
If desired, you can measure out 6 oz portions of yogurt and store them in individual containers (glass or plastic).
How Long to Incubate
Incubation time changes how tart the yogurt will taste. So this is up to your personal preference!
- Less tart - 7 hours
- Average - 8 hours
- More Tart - 9 hours
I always use 8 hours of incubation time, but you can experiment and decide what you like best!
How to Flavor
There are a lot of different ways you can flavor your yogurt. Popular options are sweetened condensed milk or natural bliss creamer. You can mix these in with the milk at the beginning of the yogurt making process.
While the sweetened condensed milk or creamer do taste good, I experimented to find some easy lower-calorie and sugar-free options!
To start with, I use a food scale and divide my yogurt into 6 oz portions (which are around 100 calories each).
I make several different flavors to make myself a variety of options!
All of the options below add very few calories to your yogurt if you use sugar-free varieties.
Any flavor of sugar-free jello mix is really good mixed in with yogurt! My favorites are strawberry or lime.
To flavor a 6 oz portion: mix in ¼ teaspoon jello mix
To flavor a full batch of yogurt: mix in 2 teaspoon jello mix
Jello Pudding Mix
Any flavor of sugar-free jello pudding mixes also make good mix-ins! The pudding mix will also slightly thicken your yogurt, which is an added bonus. My personal favorite is chocolate flavor, but you can use any flavor you like!
To flavor a 6 oz portion: mix in 2 teaspoon jello pudding mix
To flavor a full batch of yogurt: mix in 6 tablespoons jello pudding mix
Lemonade drink mix is amazing to make lemon-flavored yogurt! You could also use other flavors - fruit punch, strawberry lemonade, peach, etc.
To flavor a 6 oz portion: mix in ¼ teaspoon lemonade mix
To flavor a full batch of yogurt: mix in 2 teaspoon lemonade mix
Sugar-free fruit preserves are also another good option. I like raspberry or peach the best!
To flavor a 6 oz portion: mix in 2 tablespoon fruit preserves
To flavor a full batch of yogurt: mix in 1 cup fruit preserves
How to Make Smooth Yogurt
If your yogurt is lumpy after refrigeration, use a whisk to mix it up. This will help a lot in removing lumps to make perfectly smooth yogurt! Keep whisking and it will get smoother.
It also helps to be sure to use a plain yogurt starter (not flavored) with no additives or extra preservatives. Sometimes ingredients in your yogurt starter can mess up the consistency of your batch of yogurt.
How to Make Yogurt Thicker
To make the yogurt thicker, you have a few options:
- Strain your yogurt to remove extra liquid. You can buy a special yogurt strainer to create greek yogurt-like consistency.
- Fat-free milk is always going to make a little bit thinner yogurt than using milk that has some amount of fat in it. You could try using 1% or 2% milk instead.
- Use a pudding mix to flavor your yogurt. The pudding mix will thicken up the mixture nicely!
How to Serve
Unflavored yogurt can be use as a substitute for sour cream or mayonnaise. I typically keep some yogurt plain and flavor the rest of it in 6 oz portions. These make quick and easy grab and go breakfasts!
I like making a variety of flavors so that I don't have to eat the same thing every day!
Calories per Serving
If you follow this recipe exactly, one 6 oz serving is about 112 calories. This recipe has no added sugars, and if you use sugar-free flavoring options you won't be adding any extra sugar to flavor it.
To save calories, avoid adding anything to your yogurt with a lot of sugar in it. Sweetened condensed milk or natural bliss creamer are not good options if you want low-calorie yogurt!
More Instant Pot Recipes
Check out these other Instant Pot Recipes!
Hello. If I wanted to make a thicker consistency, do I strain before putting it in the fridge or after? I’m assuming after.
Hi Megan! Yes, I would strain after refrigerating. You want to let it set up first and then strain.
Hello, I’ve been looking for ideas on flavoring my yogurt made in my instant pot, I’m so excited to find your post! I was afraid of wasting a batch. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I divided my yogurt into 8-6oz servings and made 4 flavors with them, maple, apple cinnamon, raspberry and blueberry. I’m so excited, I can’t wait for my morning break to try one!
Hi Marla, I'm so glad enjoyed the post! I love having a different flavor every day. I hope you enjoy your yogurt!
Made my yogurt using cold start method last night, and it came out perfect this morning. I used Fairlife Whole Milk and 1/4 cup of Ouii yogurt. The taste is many, many times better than store bought. I used the Yogurt setting and set for 8 hrs as I do not like tart yogurt. Will not eat store bought yogurt again. Thank you for sharing your recipe.
I'm so glad you enjoyed the recipe!
If I double the recipe, should I add any extra time on the instant pot?
I’m excited to try this!
No, you shouldn't need any extra time if you double it. I hope you enjoy the yogurt!
Recipe looks great what if I wanted to cut it in half? Would I do 4 hours in the instant pot?
If you want to cut the recipe in half, you still need the full incubation time (about 8 hours).
Amy C Houfek
My ninja foodie only had high for 4 hours or low for 8... I'm going with the low for 8... Hope it works!! Can't wait!!
Amy C Houfek
Ok one more question. I did this recipe and when my 8 hours on low finished (my Ninja Foodie doesn't have Medium) it looks like the yogurt was cooked? It had a brown top to it.. Is that normal? Most of the pictures i've seen, it's white.. I used the exact milk and yogurt in your pictures.
Hi Amy! Are you sure you used the yogurt function and not the slow cooker function? It sounds like your yogurt was over-heated. I've only tested this recipe using the Instant Pot yogurt setting. I would recommend to check your manufacturer instructions and make sure you are in the yogurt setting.
I don’t like Greek yogurt, can I use regular yogurt instead?
Yes, you can use any type of yogurt as long as it contains live active cultures.
Is it possible to do this with a plant based milk? Regular milk tends to give me stomach aches, but I regularly eat Chobani Greek yogurt
This cold start method only works with ultra-pasteurized regular milk such as Fairlife. If you want to use plant-based milk, I would try searching for a recipe specific to the brand of milk you like. Sometimes with plant-based milk, the yogurt is too runny and you need to add a thickener.
Would i add flavoring before or after straining?
Add flavoring after straining
If my milk is nonfat and my starter is nonfat... but the nutritional info has 3g of fat per serving?
Thank you for pointing out the error! I have updated the nutritional information.
I've lost my glass lid to my instant pot, will the regular lid work okay?
Yes, you can use the regular lid.
I love anything pumpkin spice so another flavor I do is add a splash of Carmel skinny girl flavoring and a shake or two of my pumpkin pie spice . Stir it up and it’s like pumpkin pie 🥧
Yum! That is a great idea!
Do you leave the vent open or closed?
You can leave it open. You don't need any pressure for this recipe.
I use the Fairlife skim milk also, but I strain mine to make a greek yogurt. I strain at the same time as I refrigerate and it works out well. What I don't know is that since it's thickened a can't use the 6 ounce serving size to get a nutritional value. To get an idea on my calorie/protein count I would just need how many serving you make in your original recipe. TIA
Hi Ron! As written, this recipe makes 8.5 servings. You can weigh your entire batch when you're finished to get a better idea of how many ounces each serving is.
Hi! So excited to try this out! It looks like the fair life milk says “ultra-filtered” that is all I can find and that is what I see in your picture. Is that the same as “ultra-pasteurized”?
Ultra-pasteurized milk isn't the exact same as ultra-filtered. I would try to find Fairlife brand milk for best results with this cold start recipe.
What are your suggestions for storage? Fridge? Freezer? For how long?
I am excited to try this!
Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Does this recipe have to be strained? New to this! Read where some other recipes have to be strained?
This recipe does not have to be strained (I usually don't). You can optionally strain it if you want a thicker texture.