Easy Ways to Make Greek Yogurt at Home

Save money, get all the protein

Greek yogurt is easy to make. Cultura DM/Diana Miller/Getty Images

If you love the creamy texture and high protein content of Greek yogurt but are less thrilled with the higher price and potential additives on the ingredient list of this popular food, you're in luck.  There are easy ways to make pure Greek yogurt in the comfort of your own home, saving money without sacrificing taste or nutrition.

What makes Greek yogurt unique?  Though there isn't a firm legal definition, Greek or Greek-style yogurt is plain yogurt which has been strained to drain off some of the liquid whey, leaving thicker fermented milk solids behind.

  Greek yogurt has more protein than regular yogurt because it's more concentrated. 

You can make a batch at home either by preparing yogurt from scratch and then straining it in a two-step process, or by simply straining commercially-prepared plain yogurt in a variety of ways.

1.   Two Steps: Make the yogurt, then strain it 

First step (long):  In a nutshell, yogurt is milk which is fermented in a warm environment using a starter culture of bacteria.  It involves pre-heating milk to a temperature of about 180°F (82°C) to help break down the milk proteins, and letting it cool a bit to about 110°F (43°C) before adding either a purchased starter culture or some plain yogurt from a previous batch.  Then, keep it warm: your mixture will take anywhere from 6-11 hours to ferment, with lower-fat and non-dairy milks at the longer end.​

You can do it without a yogurt maker​ by keeping the canister wrapped in a heating pad, or warming in a slow-cooker.

A yogurt-making device will keep the batch incubating around 110F (43C) without your monitoring it until you either turn it off or the countdown timer shuts the machine down.​

There are a number of commercial yogurt makers on the market. While many use small jars with lids, I far prefer machines with one big canister which is easily moved straight from device to fridge once complete.

  Here are my reviews of the Dash Greek yogurt maker and Cuisinart's electronic yogurt machine which offers the lovely feature of switching to chilling mode as soon as your yogurt is ready.

Second step (short):  Once your yogurt is ready, all that you have to do to make it Greek, is strain it.  Commercially-available strainers boast a fine mesh to drain out the whey without reducing the thicker components of the yogurt.

Some of the yogurt strainers on the market are called "yogurt cheese makers", because if you leave your yogurt to drain for longer than an hour or two, that's what you'll end up with: something similar in texture to a soft ricotta or goat cheese.  If you simply prefer a thick Greek-style yogurt, aim for 1-2 hours of straining.

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2.   One Step: Buy the yogurt, then strain it

This is my method of choice when I find plain yogurt on sale at the grocery store; I can stock up with several containers and then strain them one at a time to have Greek-style yogurt at a fraction of the price.  Just watch the expiry date to make sure you'll be able to consume it in time, and check the label to ensure the yogurt has as few ingredients as possible: no sugars, fruit, gelatins, or starch additives as thickeners which may interfere with the straining process.

Again, there are strainers on the market made out of plastic (such as Euro Cuisine's strainer) or metal (like Cuisipro's Donvier yogurt cheese maker), but you can also drain your yogurt in the traditional manner using cheesecloth over a bowl in the fridge, or even a paper coffee filter lining a colander.

Bottom line:  If, like a growing number of consumers, you love Greek yogurt, there are a few different options for making it yourself.  It's a worthy addition to your anti-aging diet, especially for adults over the age of 70 who require even more protein each day.