Instant Pot Yogurt | Easy Cold Start Method

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Instant Pot Yogurt - Cold Start Method | Tangy, creamy, and easy homemade Instant Pot yogurt only requires 2-ingredients and requires no boiling! You'll never buy store-bought yogurt again!

Tangy, creamy, and easy homemade Instant Pot yogurt only requires 2-ingredients and requires no boiling! You’ll never buy store-bought yogurt again!

Have you ever thought about making your own yogurt? Making homemade yogurt can often be less expensive than buying store bought. Plus, homemade yogurt tastes fresh, creamy, and clean tasting.

Using the Instant Pot’s cold start or quick start method takes all the guess work out of making yogurt at home. It’s practically fool proof and only requires two ingredients!

Equipment Needed for Instant Pot Yogurt

Required Equipment

To make this yogurt, you only need two pieces of equipment:

  • Instant Pot with a Yogurt Button (see below)
  • Whisk

Recommended/Optional Equipment:

The equipment list below is optional, but it can make the yogurt making process even easier:

Instant Pot

My Instant Pot has a built in yogurt making function, and I love how easy it makes the process. It takes all the guess work out of making yogurt, plus it only takes one pot.

What Models of Instant Pot Are Suitable for Cold-Start Yogurt?
Which Models of Instant Pot Do Not Have a Yogurt Button?

Instant Pot Yogurt Ingredients

The base recipe for cold-start instant pot yogurt only requires two ingredients: ultra pasteurized milk and yogurt starter. Although, additional sweeteners and flavorings can be added to customize the yogurt to your taste preferences!

Ultra Pasteurized Milk

The cold start, or quick start, method requires ultra pasteurized milk (or ultra high temperature milk). Using these types of milk allows you to skip the boiling stage, in yogurt making. During the manufacturing process, the milk is heated to 280 degrees which inhibits growth of certain kinds of harmful bacteria.

In this recipe, do not substitute regular milk for ultra pasteurized or ultra high temperature milk. Prior to using in yogurt, regular milk should be heated and scalded to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria. If you are looking for a more traditional method for making yogurt, check out Freida Loves Bread’s recipe.

TIP: Ultra pasteurized or ultra high temperature milks should clearly state on the packaging or the label if it is ultra pasteurized or ultra high temperature milk.

A few brands of ultra pasteurized milk I recommend are Fairlife Whole Milk, Horizon Organic Whole Milk, and Darigold Fit Milk 2% Reduced Fat.

For this recipe, you’ll need about a half gallon of ultra pasteurized milk (52 oz – 64 oz).

Yogurt Starters

Types of Yogurt Starters

Yogurt starters contain living bacterial cultures that convert the lactose (natural sugars found in dairy milk) into lactic acid. This conversion reduces the pH of the yogurt which gives the yogurt its tangy taste and thick texture.

Typically, starters come in two varieties: single-use cultures or reusable cultures. Depending on what starter you use, it will affect the final taste and texture of your yogurt.

Several varieties of starters can be used. Personally, I have never used reusable cultures, but there are lots of other successful recipes using reusable cultures.

Even though they are classified as single use cultures, they can be used as a starter up to 5-6 times before they lose their potency. After a making a few batches of yogurt using a single-use culture, you will need to repurchase a new yogurt starter.

Single-Use Cultures

In this recipe, I am using single-use cultures that can be found in many store-bought yogurts. According to Milk Facts, the two main bacterial cultures in yogurt are Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus.

TIP: Use FRESH, previously unopened, yogurt containing live cultures. On the yogurt packaging, look for the text “contains live cultures” or “contains Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus“. For a full list of approved yogurts containing the National Yogurt Association’s Live & Active Cultures Seal, click here.

TIP: Be careful not to purchase yogurt labeled with the text “made with live cultures”. Yogurt with this label is incubated with live cultures. Then, those cultures were killed during processing.

To make a milder tasting yogurt, I recommend using Fage Total 2% Lowfat Greek Strained Yogurt. For a tangier tasting yogurt, I use Dannon Oikos Greek Fat Free Plain Yogurt.

For best results, avoid fruit or other flavored yogurts. However, vanilla flavored yogurt may be used. Flavored yogurts can inhibit the live cultures from incubating properly. Additionally, the flavor in the starters is not enough to flavor the a new batch of yogurt.

For this recipe, you will need 2 tablespoons of fresh yogurt for every half gallon of milk.

Yogurt Sweeteners

Spoonful of Instant Pot Yogurt - Cold Start Method

Personally, I prefer not to sweeten my yogurt as it incubates. However, I know many people like adding sweetness to their yogurt, so I am including the steps to incorporate sweeteners to the yogurt as it incubates.

For sweetening the yogurt, feel free to add one can of sweetened condensed milk or one bottle of Natural Bliss coffee creamer to the milk and yogurt starter. If using either of these ingredients, be sure to whisk the mixture well. Otherwise, the sweetener could form clumps in your yogurt, and the yogurt will not thicken as well.

If you will be straining the yogurt, I recommend adding the sweeteners after incubating the yogurt to avoid losing the flavor!

Additionally, yogurt can be sweetened after it has set up, using sugar, honey, fruit, lemon curd, and more! The sky is the limit to how you top and serve your yogurt. I love adding low-carb protein powder and peanut butter to mine. Also, the lemon curd from my Mini Raspberry Lemon Cheesecakes recipe is absolutely delicious on this yogurt!

Instant Pot Yogurt Cold Start Method

For the easiest, no-fail yogurt, add ultra pasteurized milk, yogurt starter, and sweetener (if using) to the Instant Pot. Using the yogurt setting, set an incubation time, cover the yogurt, and let it rip!

After the yogurt is done, the yogurt may be strained for a thicker yogurt. Then, chill in the fridge to allow the yogurt to set.

Spoon Test for Cold Start Instant Pot Yogurt

Covering Instant Pot Yogurt

When making yogurt in the Instant Pot, it is not required to pressurize the mixture. So, it will not matter if the pressure valve is set to “sealing” or “venting”.

After adding the milk, yogurt, and sweetener to the inner pot of the Instant Pot, I prefer to cover my instant pot with a large dinner plate.

Previously, I have used the Instant Pot lid to cover my yogurt. However, it picked up a subtle, savory flavor from foods I made before in the Instant Pot. It was totally gross!

If you would like to use the lid that comes with the Instant Pot, it is a good idea to pick up additional sealing rings dedicated to only making yogurt. That way, other flavors from food made previously in the Instant Pot will not end up in your yogurt.

Another option for covering your yogurt is to buy a glass lid specifically made for the Instant Pot.

Incubating Instant Pot Yogurt

After covering the yogurt, press the Yogurt button on the Instant Pot until the display shows 8:00. By pressing the + / – buttons on the Instant Pot, you can increase or decrease the incubation time.

Instant Pot yogurt begins to thicken and set around 5-6 hours. Although, the average incubation times is between 8-10 hours. Personally, I like to incubate my yogurt for 8 1/2 hours. For a more tart and tangy yogurt taste, add one or more hours to incubation time.

Once the yogurt is done incubating, try to handle the yogurt as little as possible. Additionally, do not stir the yogurt! If you stir the yogurt, it can become very thin and watery.

TIP: If yogurt is still runny after incubating, try incubating the yogurt again with additional, fresh, live cultures. If the yogurt does not set up the second time, freeze the mixture in ice cube trays and use to make smoothies.

Straining Yogurt

After incubating yogurt, you have the option to strain your yogurt. Straining the yogurt will remove the whey from the yogurt, and it will result in a thicker, greek-style yogurt. Additionally, removing the way will reduce the final amount of carbs and sugars in the yogurt.

To strain the yogurt, place a heat-proof bowl below a lined colander , and add the yogurt to strain the whey. Several suggestions for liners are several layers of cheesecloth , a nut bag , or large coffee filters.

Alternatively, if you make a lot of yogurt, you may want to invest in a Greek yogurt strainer which makes the straining process a lot simpler.

As an added bonus, the strained whey can be repurposed in so many recipes. Whey can replace milk or buttermilk in any recipe. Additionally, it works well as a liquid component in smoothies.

Reserving Yogurt for Starter

To save starter for future batches of yogurt, reserve 1 tbsp portions of yogurt, and place in ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, remove yogurt from ice cube tray, and store frozen in a freezer-safe plastic bag for up to 6 months.

TIP: Freezing the yogurt starter in smaller portions helps them thaw more quickly.

Just like freezing bananas (see my recipe for frozen chocolate peanut butter banana pretzel bites), the cultures are not killed, but freezing does slow down it’s replication rate.

When ready to use the frozen yogurt starter, allow the yogurt to thaw for at least 30 minutes before starting the recipe and incorporating the starter.

Chilling and Storing Instant Pot Yogurt

After incubating (and straining and reserving starter), the yogurt will need to be chilled in the fridge to allow it to fully set. Place a layer of paper towels or clean kitchen towels under the dinner plate to collect condensation from the yogurt as it chills. Alternatively, a silicone lid made for the Instant Pot can be used to cover the yogurt as it chills.

After chilling for four hours, feel free to stir the yogurt or strain again for a thicker texture. Store the instant pot yogurt in air tight, food safe containers. Storing yogurt in Mason jars is an economical and eco-friendly storage option.

The finished yogurt will last up to two weeks in the fridge if securely covered.

I really hope you enjoy the ease and simplicity of this recipe as much as I do! Be sure to leave me a comment if you have any questions! I’d also love to hear your favorite ways to top and serve your yogurt!

Instant Pot Yogurt | Easy Cold Start Method

Tangy, creamy, and easy homemade Instant Pot yogurt only requires 2-ingredients and requires no boiling! You'll never buy store-bought yogurt again!
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword Instant Pot, Yogurt
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours 30 minutes
Chilling Time 4 hours
Total Time 12 hours 40 minutes
Servings 8 Cups
Calories 140kcal
Author Clean Fingers Laynie


  • 52 oz Ultra Pasteurized / Ultra High Temperature Milk
  • 2 tbsp Yogurt, Containing Active Live Cultures
  • 14 oz Sweetened Condensed Milk* Optional


  • Open your Instant Pot, and pour milk into the inner liner**. Add 2 Tbsp of yogurt (or starter), and whisk very well!
  • Optional: If desired, add sweetened condensed milk*, and again, whisk very well until all ingredients are combined and mixture is the same consistency.
  • Cover the inner liner with the lid of Instant Pot, or use any plate, pie pan, or glass lid that completely covers the top of the inner pot.
  • Press the Yogurt button until the displays shows 8:00. If desired, press the + / – buttons to increase / decrease the incubation time. (I like to set mine for 8:30).
    Once set, the display will show 0:00, and it will start counting UP to the designated incubation time.
  • After the designated incubation time, the display will show: YOGT. Remove the inner pot of the Instant Pot. At this point, try to minimize handling of yogurt, and do not stir!
  • Optional: To save starter for future batches of yogurt, reserve 1 tbsp portions of yogurt, and place in ice cube trays and freeze. Once frozen, remove yogurt from ice cube tray, and store frozen in a freezer-safe plastic bag for up to 6 months.
  • Optional: Place a heat proof bowl below a lined colander, and add the yogurt to strain the whey.
  • Place a clean kitchen towel or paper towel beneath a large plate, and place on top of the inner pot (or straining bowl) to collect any condensation. Place the pot into the fridge to cool and set for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  • Transfer yogurt, in a food-safe air tight containers. Store yogurt in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. 
  • Add additional sweeteners or toppings to yogurt, and serve. Bon appétit!


Estimated Nutrition (per serving): Fat  7 g, Carbohydrate 7 g, Dietary Fiber g, Protein 12 g, Sodium 106 mg
Please read post above for troubleshooting tips! 
*Instead of sweetened condensed milk, you can substitute one bottle (16 oz) of Natural Bliss coffee creamer.
**Before starting your yogurt, make sure your Instant Pot & utensils are cleaned very well and free of soap residue.

Looking for More Breakfast Ideas?

Want more breakfast ideas? Be sure to checkout some of my other breakfast recipes:

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