Homemade Yogurts Recipe

Homemade yogurts

The yogurt maker (yaourtière in French) is often used to illustrate the concept of an appliance that seemed like a good idea at the time of purchase (back in the seventies), but ends up collecting dust in the dark depths of a kitchen cabinet. It strikes me as terribly unfair a way to disparage a perfectly respectable peace of household equipment.

I grew up on the homemade yogurts my mother made using her yaourtière, so much so that she is probably the only individual on the planet who actually had to buy a second one when the first one got so much use it broke down. Homemade yogurts have a taste and texture that make them absolutely perfect for breakfast in my opinion, eaten as is or poured on cereal. I had one every morning for as long as I lived with my parents but had to go without for the two years in the Silicon Valley (where I drank Kefir -fermented milk-, an acceptable substitute).

When I moved back in France and into my own appartment, my grandmother offered to give me hers, that was collecting dust in the dark depths of her kitchen cabinet. I was thrilled (as such things do have that effect on me) and have been happily making my own breakfast yogurts about once a week since then, in keeping the tradition.

Originally, the way to make yogurts is to get yogurt ferment from the pharmacy. For the first batch, you mix the ferment with one liter of milk (I use part-skim) and pour this into the eight glass yogurt containers of the yogurt maker. Push the button, and don’t touch or move anything for at least 8 hours. After that time, tadaaa, home made yogurts. Put the lids on, store in the fridge (the rack half-way up the fridge door is where mine like to sit), enjoy.

Don’t forget to save (and hide at the back of the fridge so no one will eat it) one of the yogurts to act as the ferment for the next batch. You will then use the content of that yogurt and the volume of milk that’s equivalent to seven containers (875 ml, but you can use the empty yogurt seven times to measure this out).

The problem with pharmacy bought ferment is that the yogurts get tarter and thinner after a while, and you have to get new ferment. As an alternative, my mother and I use a plain store-bought yogurt as a starter (we use “Danone Velouté” yogurts – we always have plenty of these, because homemade yogurts are just for breakfast, you see). This makes for much better and fresher tasting yogurts every time.

  • Céline

    Aaaaah! Les yaourts de la yaourtière de Maman… la lecture de ton article m’en a donné envie ! Moi non plus, je n’en ai plus mangé depuis que je suis en Allemagne… Et à ma connaissance, Maman n’en fait plus non plus à la maison…

    Peut-etre que j’hériterai aussi de la sienne, quand je m’installerai chez moi, puisque Mamie n’en a plus ?
    On pérennisera ainsi la tradition yaourtiere familiale… :-)

  • Nassim

    hello Clo! coucou la soeurette !

    dans la meme veine je vous conseille les “home made bread & brioche” et pour cela il existe une machine assez géniale.
    Il suffit de mettre les ingrédients : oeufs, sel, levure, farine , sucre, raisins secs, chocolat…de programmer la machine disons pour 7h du matin et la machine pétrit, lève et cuit le pain ou la brioche pour le lendemain.
    Ca c’est la vraie recette du happiness: avoir son pain chaud dès le matin!

    je ne suis pas (encore?) représentant chez le fabricant de cet appareil ménager mais je le conseille fortement surtout que le prix est raisonnable (~100 euros).

    En plus ca fait aussi les confitures et les compotes!

    A quand les yaourts !?

  • Argggh, je n’ai vraiment pas besoin qu’on me fasse acheter encore un nouvel appareil électro-ménager, je vais me faire disputer! :) Mais ta description est *hyper* tentante. Ca prend de la place? Il faudra que tu me montres à quoi ça ressemble!


    j’habite aux usa depuis un an et je viens d’acheter une yaourtiere. Je sais que je peux faire des yaourts avec des yaourts du commerce en les utilisant comme ferment. Je souhaiterais acheter des ferments originaux afin de debuter mes yaourts maison de la bonne maniere.
    si vous pouviez me diriger vers un site ou un vendeur aux usa cela m’aiderait beaucoup
    d’avance merci

  • Nathalie – Peut-être pouvez-vous demander au magasin où vous avez acheté votre appareil? Ou sinon, si vous avez un Williams-Sonoma pas loin, il est possible qu’ils en vendent car ils vendent la machine…

  • Carlos Ortega

    Il existe un tres bon vendeur des ferments optimales pour le yaourt:

    Il faut le voire!

  • Vesna Markovic

    Hi Clotilde,
    This is a very neat blog that you have going on. It definitely sparks up my love for cooking. Keep going, for it is the joy for food and cooking enthusiasts.
    Couple years ago, I was taking the course about milk and dairy products at collage. Just after I finished the class about yogurt, I want home all prepared with a book knowledge about making a yogurt. The process was two days long, and I was impatiently waiting for the results. Along the line of my equipment improvisation I was trying to meticulously follow the achievement of optimal environment for the growth of bacteria. My goal was to produce yogurt that would taste like factory manufactured yogurt. However, I was poorly equipped, to say the least, so my results were below the taste standard that I set for myself in that matter. My approach was first and foremost scientific.
    Today, I make yogurt just about once a week. My mother-in-low thought me how to simplify the process of making it. I am using a Danone yogurt as a starter for bacterial growth. Milk is warmed in stainless steel pot to 40 C, afterward yogurt is added to milk and mixed with it. I wrap my pot into two layers of cotton cloth to sustain the 40 C temperature for as long as possible, than I place all in an oven for about 3 hours. The oven temperature is a few degrees above the room temperature. The ideal temperature would be 40 C, but cooking is partial about improvisation, is it not? After I see a change in texture I know it has been exposed long enough for protein to denature. Then, it goes into refrigerator over night. After that is ready for any type of recipes you want.
    This is just a general process of making yogurt. It should be in form of recipes for people to be able to follow it. I understand the importance of having this organized, but I like to improvise when cooking. :))
    If somebody expresses the interest in getting this in form of recipes, I will work on getting it done.
    Until then my best regards to you and all food lovers,


  • Brenda

    No need for fancy yogurt makers, I use a flask, it works perfectly well and is environmentally friendly! Being Irish, I of course use an Irish yogurt as my starter :-)

  • We love our yogurt maker and use it at least once a week; it’s a wonderfully useful device and the yogurt it makes is so tasty!

    One question – do you have a vanilla yogurt recipe? Your recent link to this post sounded so tempting, I’d really like to try it.

    • I don’t have a recipe for vanilla yogurt, but I understand the basic idea is to heat and infuse the milk with a fresh vanilla bean, sweeten it if you like, cool, and then proceed like you would for regular yogurts.

  • MaryAnn

    Hi Clotilde-
    I live in NY and I miss the flavor of real French yogurt… (ie. La Fermiere or Danon in the glass jars) you just cannot get anything like it here in the US. I am going to try to make homemade yogurt but what do you recommend as the best starter yogurt here in the US to get best results for this style and consistency of yogurt.

    • Nationally available brands won’t work for what you have in mind, but I know there are small producers here and there in the US that make excellent French-style yogurt, such as Saint Benoît Creamery in California. It may be worth your time trying to find one of those locally.

  • Kaley Y

    Hi Clotilde! I love your blog. It makes me dream of France and the amazing culinary delights to be found there! I was curious if you need to heat the milk first before you add the yogurt starter? Is the yogurt starter the acidophilus granules? I’ve bought some yogurt starter from my local health food store, and it is by Yogourmet and comes in a little packet. Is this the same as what you use? I have yet to make a decent batch but will keep trying! :)

    • In France, the yogurt starter is usually in liquid form. I haven’t used that in a while, though: nowadays I use a freshly store-bought organic yogurt (1/2 cup) as the starter for each batch of 1 quart milk. I find it works a lot better than using a yogurt from the previous batch every time. Hope that helps!

  • Alki Nea

    Ah, les bon yaourts maison…
    Je trouve qu’il est indispensable de faire chauffer le lait jusqu’à
    ébullition, puis le faire refroidir, pour avoir des yaourts moins
    liquide. Pour le starter un yaourt grec (plus consistant, sans gélatine surtout) donne de bons résultats.

    • Interressant comme observation, merci ! Comme j’utilise autant que possible du lait cru, je ne le fait pas chauffer, et le côté liquide ne me dérange pas personnellement.

      • Alki Nea

        Ha… du bon lait cru ! C’est l’idéal.
        Ma remarque s’applique si on n’en a pas. Je rajoute aussi une ou deux cuillère à soupe de crème liquide pour compenser.
        Pour le starter, comme ce n’est pas forcément disponible, je trouve que les yaourts grecs marchent bien.

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