Ways to Make Thicker Homemade Yogurt

Something that comes up again and again about homemade yogurt is how to make it thicker, more like store-bought. Actually, thin runny yogurt loses its appeal very fast, so let’s talk options.


  • MILK– Before making yogurt at home, take a look at the kind of milk you are using. You can make yogurt with whole, or 2%, or non-fat milk. Milk with higher fat content will definitely give you a thicker, creamier yogurt. Also, avoid milk that has been Ultra High-Temperature pasteurized (UHT). UHT pasteurization tends to break down the proteins necessary to set milk into yogurt.
  • Longer Initial Heating– Warm the milk to around 200°F before cooling it down and adding the yogurt culture. In this step, try holding the milk at 200°F for 20 minutes or longer. This allows some of the moisture in the milk to evaporate and concentrates the solids.
  • Let the Yogurt Sit– The longer the yogurt has to set the thicker it will become. The trade-off is that it also gets sour the longer it sits. A balance between thickness and sourness is at around the 7-hour.
  • 4. Strain the Yogurt– There is a lot of whey suspended in the yogurt then straining some of it out for making Greek-style yogurt. You can strain for anywhere from a few minutes to overnight depending on how thick you want your yogurt.
  • Add Non-fat Dry Milk Powder– Try adding 1/2 cup of dry milk powder per quart of milk. Mix it into the milk before you start heating it. This is especially helpful for making thicker yogurt from non-fat milk.
  • Add Gelatin– A little gelatin helps make yogurt surprisingly creamy and thick. Start experimenting with one teaspoon of gelatin per quart of milk. Mix it in a bowl with a little milk and let it bloom. Then stir into the pot of milk as it starts to heat. If you want to avoid gelatin, try pectin.

Homemade Yogurt

NOTE– Using different brands of commercial yogurt to culture your homemade yogurt made much difference in terms of texture. Some brands will have different strains of active culture, which will give your yogurt slightly different flavors and health benefits. But it seems like the thickness is more dependent on the type of milk you use and your process.

Troubleshooting in Homemade Yogurt

Does your homemade yogurt is runny, separate, foamy, too sour, too liquid?  Here is a list of the most common troubleshooting while making homemade yogurt and working with starter cultures when things go a little awry.

Homemade Yogurt

Why Homemade Yogurt Runny?

A runny or liquid texture is the natural state of raw milk yogurt; However, Homemade yogurt is runny for two reasons:

  • Raw milk is rich in food enzymes and these food enzymes will continue to digest the milk and produce runny or liquid yogurt.
  • Raw milk’s proteins have not been denatured through heat. Pasteurizing milk denatures its proteins to some extent, and this allows them to be reorganized and better coagulated during the culturing process.

Why Did Homemade Yogurt Separate Or Turn Lumpy?

Culturing yogurt for extended period of time at too high temperature or with compromised starter culture can cause yogurt to separate or turn lumpy.  If your yogurt turns lumpy, strain it to remove the whey and beat the yogurt solids in a bowl with a whisk until it turns smooth.  Also, make sure to culture thermophilic yogurts at temperatures of 108 to 112 F and room temperature yogurts at 68 to 78oF.

Why Yogurt Is Too Sour Or Not Sour Enough?

The hotter the temperature at which yogurt cultures and longer it cultures, the sourer it will be. The typical culturing time is 8 to 12 hours.  If your yogurt is too sour, culture it at the lower range of temperatures listed for your starter, and for a shorter duration until it acquires the flavor you like.

Why Homemade Yogurt Is Foamy or Stringy And Smell Like Beer?

If homemade yogurt is foamy, stringy or smells like beer or bread, it is likely contaminated by yeast.  This can be wild yeast naturally present in your home and on your hands.  To prevent it from happening, make sure to practice good hygiene in the kitchen using clean equipment.

Why Homemade Yogurt Grainy Or Gritty?

If your yogurt tastes fine, but has a weird gritty or grainy texture, this typically indicates that you heated the milk too fast. Allow the milk to come to 1800F more slowly next time.

Why Is Homemade Yogurt Moldy?

Rarely, someone experiences mold on the surface of yogurt when making at room temperature.  This can be due to:

  • Poorly cleaned jars and utensils
  • A compromised starter culture
  • Very old milk that wasn’t properly heated and then cooled down prior to culturing