Homemade Vegan Yogurt [In The Crock-Pot]

August 24th, 2010 - filed under: The Food » Recipes


Yogurt is an ancient wonderfood, brimming with beneficial bacteria to keep your gut running good ‘n healthy. But standard yogurt is made with dairy milks – blech – which contain hormones and carcinogens and acids and allergens and irritants. Oh my! But no worries, making your own alt yogurt is *super* easy and totally fun. It also saves a small fortune versus buying prepackaged products (which contain a slew of additives as well).

If you already have a yogurt maker you’re super stoked – and you can still use this recipe, but follow your machine’s directions when it comes time to culture. If you’re interested in making lots of yogurt at home, a yogurt maker may be a good investment for you. They’re really quite cheap – especially if you can find one secondhand (check Craigslist!).

But, a yogurt maker isn’t necessary! I make yogurt in my crock-pot, which is one machine that’s worth the money for all sorts of reasons. (I <3 my crock so much!) But even if you have neither a yogurt maker nor a crock-pot, you can *still* make yogurt at home! Just see the note at the end of this post.

Alright, yogurt time! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • One batch of homemade alt milk (about 4 cups) (you can try subbing store bought – let me know how it goes)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons tapioca starch (available at health food stores, specialty shops, or ‘ethnic’ markets)
  • 1 tablespoon organic evaporated cane juice (or sugar; I’ve tried maple syrup with no luck)
  • Some sort of culture (If this is your first time you have three options: 1 tablespoon store bought non dairy yogurt, 1 non-dairy probiotic capsule (refrigerated only, as the shelf stable ones are not alive), or a non-dairy yogurt starter.) (Every time you make a batch of yogurt, save some of it to use as a starter for your next batch. this will save you a lot of money!)
  • A small pot
  • A candy thermometer
  • A slow cooker
  • Dish rags/towels and a large blanket

IMG_0493Step One
Pour the entire batch of alt milk into the pot, over medium heat. Whisk in the tapioca starch and the sugar. Allow the milk to heat slowly until it reaches 180º F, whisking frequently. Don’t let it boil!

IMG_0498Step Two
When it’s reached 180º remove it from heat. Give it a good whisk, cover it, and set aside to cool. It will take 1 or 2 hours to cool down completely. You may be tempted to expedite the process by putting it in the fridge but I don’t recommend this. It can lead to tapioca lumps! Stir every so often to help prevent the lumpies.

At this point, place your crock-pot in the center of a blanket or big towel and turn it on to ‘low’. Leave the crock-pot on with the lid off while the alt milk mix is cooling.


Also, remove your starter, whatever it may be, from the fridge. You want it to be room temperature when you add it to the mix. I’ve tried various soy and coconut milk yogurts with equal success. Just make sure that whatever you use is plain, unpasteurized, and explicitly says “live active cultures”. If this is not your first batch of yogurt, you should be using the last few tablespoons of your previous batch!

IMG_0501Step Three
The mix needs to cool to below 110º F, but closer to 90º is better. If it’s too hot it will kill the starter cultures. When it has appropriately cooled, add your starter and whisk thoroughly to combine. Don’t add too much! More does NOT equal better – the bacteria need ‘room’ to grow. A full tablespoon of store bought yogurt or a few tablespoons of leftover homemade yogurt, or a single probiotic pill.

IMG_0509Step Four
Pour the entire mixture into a large glass jar. Cover with the lid but do not tighten it. It needs to be able to ‘breathe’.

Turn off and unplug the crock-pot. Wrap the jar in towels and put it in the crock-pot, put the lid on, and then wrap the whole shebang up tight in the blanket!

Now, leave it alone for a good 12-18 hours.

IMG_0512Step Five – Done!
You will know your yogurt has ‘yoged’ if it has a bit of a tang to it. The longer you let it culture, the more sour it gets. Be careful – it can get pretty sour! When it’s done transfer it to the fridge, without stirring or shaking, and let it set up in there for a few hours. It will thicken, but probably not as much as traditional yogurt.


Yay! Enjoy your yogurt! It’s awesome straight up with fresh fruit or nuts, or you can use it to make all sorts of incredible dishes, like . . . dairy-esque dips and dressings, labneh, tzatziki, raita, mango lassi, or frozen yogurt! It’s also delicious in – you guessed it – green smoothies! (Am I predictable or what? Ha!)

So have fun playing with it – it’s just so good for you, you can’t go wrong!


*** If you don’t want to use a yogurt maker or a crock-pot, you can try the heating pad method, or the cooler method

  • Annie

    I started doing this a while ago. At first, with no crockpot, I was keeping it in a bowl, covered in a tea tow with a rubber band over it, near the stove so that it was warmish; Australia never gets drastically cold anyway. Then my housemate found an EasiYo yoghurt maker and I use that. Awesome!! It’s pretty handy, sort of like a thermos. I wouldn’t go out and buy one brand new though.
    From what I’ve been told, you shouldn’t add anything to your mix except the yoghurt starter, your non-dairy milk and thickener (tapioca starch, arrowroot etc) and sugar. Adding any fruit, sweeteners (natural or not) can throw out the pH balance, which is bad considering yoghurt needs to be acidic.
    It’s SO much cheaper making your own. I buy a big tub of organic soy yoghurt at the Farmer’s Market (which is awesome, but pricey) and freeze it in ice cube trays. Then when I make a batch, I just defrost a couple of these. Sometimes the cultures can die out if you keep using them from each batch over and over.
    I use yoghurt on muesli (I think you call it Granola in America) and cereal instead of soymilk, in every place instead of sour cream, in dressings/dips and in baking. Yoghurt’s great for making amazingly fluffy thick pancakes – reminiscent of buttermilk pancakes.
    It’s also really great with leftover rice and some fruit as a sort of faux-rice pudding.
    I could go on all day…

  • http://contagioushealth.blogspot.com Melissa

    This recipe is amazing! I never think to use my crock pot so this is awesome! I can’t wait to try this:)
    Thank you for sharing!

  • http://kpapoulias.blogspot.com/ Kathryn

    why didn’t i take my crock pot to college with me? D:

  • http://www.creativeanomalie.com sarah

    Wow… crock pot. Such a good idea! I have made yogurt in the oven and this just sounds so must better.

  • Crystal

    would this work with a rice cooker?

  • Annie

    Crystal, I don’t think so. Unless you have one that’s got lots of settings (the one I scored from a sceond hand store has ‘Cook’ and ‘Warm’), it would probably be too hot.
    If you have an electric blanket, you could wrap that around the yogurt (in a jar, obviously!) on the lowest setting and then turn it off after an hour. My friend does this successfully with home brew in winter – electric blankets are like $5, customized home-brew warmers (which are electric blankets in a different packaging) are at least $30.
    You may need to experiment with that, though.

  • Melisa

    I am so excited to try this. Thank you for the FABULOUS tutorial!!

  • MathTutor

    If it doesn’t come out that thick, could you use corn starch after it’s made to thicken it up a bit?

  • Nahui

    I’m so excited to try this I just made my own alt milk for the first time and I’ll start making yogurt tonight. It’s so easy and inexpensive I don’t know why I hadn’t tried it before.

    @MathTutor: I’ve read in a spanish vegan forum that rice flour can be used to thicken yogurt. I haven’t tried it yet though.

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Annie – Yay for a fellow yogurt enthusiast! And that’s interesting about the pH, I wonder if that’s why my maple syrup was a no-go.

    @ Melissa – Very welcome! Crocks are the best!

    @ Kathryn – They are the best dorm tool! Ah well, live and learn.

    @ sarah – I’ve never tried the oven but I can vouch for the crock at least. =)

    @ Crystal – The key would be making sure it’s not too hot, but if you could get it between 90-110, then the blankie wrap method might work. I dunno . . . give it a try?

    @ Melisa – You’re welcome! =D

    @ MathTutor – You could certainly try, though too much might leave it rather chalky. Also don’t heat it or you’ll kill all the great buggies!

    @ Nahui – Yay, congrats on the alt milk and let me know how the yogurt goes!

  • http://easierthanyouthink.wordpress.com Ginger Baker

    Planning to try both the alt-milk and the yogurt making in the next week. (Btw, when you’re not in the mood to strain it, a few brazil nuts + maple syrup + cocoa powder + water = realllly yummy chocolate milk. I don’t know why but I find the brazil nuts the yummiest for that!)

  • TeanyTinyStar

    I cant wait to try this :)

  • Crystal

    thank you Annie and Sayward. I love yogurt and would love to make it to save on money because I am in college and it’s a little tough out there. I will let you know what happens for sure!

  • http://www.vegspinz.blogspot.com DJ Karma (VegSpinz)

    Love non dairy yogurt these days, but so expensive! Also love your spoon :)

  • http://thewitchykitchen.blogspot.com/ Stella

    Neat! I’ve heard of homemade vegan coconut yogurt before. And now I’m seeing this too. Maybe I need to try it (smile)?!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Ginger Baker – Let me know how it works for you! Also, did you know that 1 brazil nut has your entire daily rec of selenium (which can be hard to come by) I eat a brazil nut every day!

    @ TeenyTinyStar – Yay! Good luck!

    @ Crystal – Yes yes, please let us know how it works out.

    @ DJ Karma – Thanks, ain’t it a cutie? =D

    @ Stella – You should definitely try it! So fun!

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  • Sara B

    I just made some for the first time.
    I made a half batch, using store brand unsweetened soy milk, and some goats milk yogurt as starter. I whisked the dickens out of it, not being sure how much whisking was needed and let it sit for @ 18 hours. I made it in a mason jar, which was too tall to fit in the crock-pot with the crock-pot lid on top, so I made sure the whole thing was covered up well with a fleece blanket.
    It came out Very thick and creamy, with air bubbles suspended in it. It is fantastic! Especially with a sprinkle of wild blueberries on top.
    Thank you so much for posting this!!

  • PocketMouse

    You used tapioca starch in this, but would it be possible to use other thickeners like agar agar, arrowroot, irish moss, etc? If so, do you have any idea what the amounts would be to fit in with this recipe? Thanks!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ PocketMouse – Yes! I do believe it’s possible to use other thickeners (though it may change the consistency, especially something like agar agar) Alas, i have no experience and so I can’t guess at the conversions. Sorry! But, it’s a great excuse for kitchen experimentation, and eating a lot of yogurt! =D

  • http://livecompletely.blogspot.com/ kory

    Can I use coconut milk for this? I have a hard time digesting nuts, but totally can’t afford store bough coconut yogurt!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    kory – Coconut milk is pretty much all I use these days (the canned kind) and it is AMAZING. Makes the best yogurt ever!

  • http://livecompletely.blogspot.com/ kory

    OMG, Thank you, I’m super excited! And thanks for the quick response! I picked some canned up at the store today on impulse, can’t wait to try!!

  • Sage

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you! I am so excited to find this recipe and will be making it with the alt milk this week. I am allergic to dairy and corn and have been looking for a starter that would work and I think your probiotic capsule idea might be just what I was looking for! Will let you know how it goes…. can’t really could Indian food without yogurt!

  • Michelle

    what about rice milk?

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Michelle – I don’t use rice milk myself so I haven’t tried it, but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work. I say give a shot! (And let us know)

  • Brandy

    have you been able to find a brand of coconut milk that doesnt have sugar added to it?

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Brandy – I use canned coconut milk meant for cooking, not the boxed “beverage” type. The cans shouldn’t have any sugar – Thai Kitchen, Trader Joe’s brand, Native Forest – none of these have sugar. Hope that helps!

  • Raachel

    okay, I have tried this a couple of times. I don’t know if I’m getting what should be there, or messing it up. After 8-12 hours it’s thin cream on the top (and like 2/3 water on the bottom). Is this how it’s supposed to end up or am I doing something wrong? (At least the cream tastes good)

  • http://emilyscrueltyfreekitchen.blogspot.com/ Emily

    I want to try making this but I want to know if anyone has used white cane sugar. I’m not sure if this would work or not!

  • Sara B

    HI Emily, I just use white sugar. Like the cheap, buy a regular grocery stores in 5 pound bags, kind.
    -Sara B

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Raachel – If it gets tangy then it’s worked. The flavor (the tanginess) is more important that the thickness. Homemade yogurt is runnier than the store bought stuff, and plant-milk yogurt is even more so.

    @ Emily – Cane sugar will work!

  • http://kjoslyn78.blogspot.com ~Kris

    for people wondering about sugar free coconut milks, So delicious now has sugarfree milk (the carton beverage in the dairy coolers, not the canned type). Both plain and vanilla (in the USA, not sure about others).
    being lactose intolerant- i hope to try this method soon!! coconut or almond milk yogurts are expensive!

  • http://thewellstead.blogspot.com Amanda Joy Wells

    I recently made my first vegan cheeze recipe last week and I’m hooked! I LOVE yogurt…this will be the next thing I make. Question: Could you add a tsp. of agar powder (while the concoction is cooking) to thicken it up even more?

    BTW, Love your blog!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Amanda Joy Wells – Aw, thank you! I have tried using agar agar and I could never get it to fully incorporate, so I would always just end up with little gel balls in my finished yogurt. But I have definitely seen recipes that use it, so maybe they know something I don’t know? Some technique?

    If you play with it, let me know how it goes!

  • Emma

    Hi Sayward! Thanks for such a great blog.

    I guess there’s a good reason for heating it up to 180 at first? Is it just to dissolve the tapioca, or do you need to pasteurise it before adding the culture?

    I’ve *almost* decided to invest in a Vitamix, and was wondering if I could just add water+nuts+sugar+tapioca to the jug and blend until it heats up enough. Have you ever tried this?

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Hey Emma! The heat is just to pasteurize it – to kill any “bad” bacteria. However, raw foodists make yogurt all the time and skip this step (obviously), and I’ve always had success in doing so. I think that if thee IS bad bacteria, you will know (discoloration or odor). So I say go for it!

    But, you know, *disclaimer disclaimer*

  • Leah

    I used canned coconut milk. It came out quite watery. I expected to be watery since you have already warned us, but is there anyway I can thicken it so that it will be more like yogurt rather than milk?

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    Did you use full-fat coconut milk or skim? Are you sure the cultures grew? (is it “tangy”?)

  • Shakila

    I can’t wait to make this with coconut milk! Have you tried straining the final product through cheese cloth? I remember my mother making dairy yogurt when I was younger and she always used cheese cloth to make it nice and thick, similar to what is sold as greek yogurt these days.

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    With coconut milk, you don’t have to strain it. Just chill it in the fridge and all the cream rises to the top! It’s sooooo thick and so amazing. =)

  • bill

    how do you make the milk?

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal
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  • Anonymous

    Have you ever tried making vegan kefir? (Not the water kind – I’m looking for a dairy alternative.)

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    I haven’t tried it, but I know it can be done! Supposedly you can use water kefir grains but they die after a few rounds. You can also use milk kefir grains but then obviously, they’re milk-contaminated.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/BUB5HZ3BHTK27NWFKVSTOPJFK4 IanC

    Has anyone tried honey instead of cane syrup/sugar?

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  • Loral

    Would this work with homemade coconut milk?

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com/ Sayward Rebhal

    I haven’t tried it personally, but I assume that it would.