The 4 Best Yogurt Makers for Home Kitchens
Yogurt is a satisfying, versatile ingredient that you can stir into many sweet or savory dishes or enjoy on its own. Fresh, homemade yogurt is arguably more delicious than anything sold at the grocery store, and making yogurt at home means you can control the ingredients and tailor the flavor to your tastes. You can customize flavors (we like to stir in any flavorings, like fruit, after the fermentation process is complete) or create different styles of yogurt, including plain yogurt, strained Greek yogurt, or Vietnamese yogurt with sweetened condensed milk. Homemade yogurt is also more affordable than store-bought: all you need is milk, starter, and six to 12 hours.
While yogurt can come together with or without a yogurt maker, buying one can make the process easier and less intimidating for home cooks who are new to fermentation. Fermentation expert Katsu Lask says that when making yogurt, "it is important to keep the inoculated milk warm and that the glasses are not moved during incubation. Otherwise yogurt will not become firm," which is why a yogurt maker might come in handy, as it holds the temperature steady.
In addition to consulting experts, we considered factors like capacity, features, electric versus non-electric models, and accessories to narrow down the market before selecting the EuroCuisine YM650 Electric Yogurt Maker as our top choice. Learn what we like about it and find more of the best yogurt makers below.
Our Top Picks
Yogurt makers allow you to easily produce consistent batches of high-quality yogurt at home. The EuroCuisine YM650 Electric Yogurt Maker combines functionality with ease of use, while other options like the Instant Pot Duo have settings for yogurt along with many other uses, and the Kilner Yogurt Making Set is ideal for small kitchens and doesn't require electricity. The best yogurt maker for you is one that fits well into your kitchen and has the capacity and features you need.
Factors to Consider
Consider how much yogurt you typically go through, and make sure to get a machine that's large enough to meet your needs. Think about the space you have to store it, too. A smaller kitchen may benefit from a non-electric model that takes up very little space, but if you've got the room, you may want to buy a model that can make multiple jars at once.
Functionality and Features
Knowing what you want out of your new yogurt maker is an important step in choosing the right machine. Do you want a stand-alone yogurt maker or a multi-cooker like the Instant Pot that can make yogurt and much more?
Also, know which features you want when considering a yogurt maker. Does a yogurt maker automatically shut off or keep your yogurt warm until you're ready to store it? Are there multiple time and temperature settings or just one?
Electric Versus Non-Electric
All yogurt makers are, basically, insulated chambers that keep milk consistently warm so it can culture into yogurt. Electric yogurt makers do this with a built-in heating element, while non-electric yogurt makers simply create an insulated environment, which reduces a loss of heat but does not heat the milk itself.
Think about which option better fits your lifestyle: making yogurt without electricity uses less power, while electric models ensure a more consistent temperature throughout the culturing process.
Starters and Extra Equipment
Some yogurt makers come with everything you need to make yogurt right out of the box, including jars and lids. Make sure you check the box's contents and buy extra equipment like jars before trying to make your first batch.
You'll also need to purchase a starter or get one from a generous friend. Some people have luck using their favorite yogurt (plain, without preservatives or other additives) as a starter, too.
You can also buy starters online from places like Cultures for Health, or you may be able to get some from a local kitchen store or farmer's market.
To find the best yogurt makers, we drew on our own fermentation experience as well as input from fermentation experts. We consulted Katsu Lask, a Harvard University-certified fermentista and founder of Fermentation Love; Aimee Corbyn, a fermentation enthusiast with 10 years of experience; and Jenn Thomson of Jenni Ferments, who has been making yogurt for over 10 years. We then researched the market for yogurt makers that would be user-friendly and produce a high-quality product.
What Didn't Make the List
There are many great yogurt makers on the market, some weren't user-friendly, weren't high quality, or had poor reviews. Here are two that we liked but that ultimately didn't make the final cut.
Pro Panel Q+A
Q: What is the yogurt-making process?
A: The (optional) first step is heating milk to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Thomson. Second, cool milk to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, stir in starter yogurt. Keep the milk and starter at around 110 degrees Fahrenheit for eight to 12 (or more) hours. After, cool to room temperature for about two hours. Strain it (optional) then refrigerate it, and it's ready to eat.
To make yogurt in the Instant Pot, use the boil setting to heat your milk to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, which pasteurizes it, then allow it to cool to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Thomson. Whisk in your starter, and allow it to incubate on the yogurt setting. This method will work for most starters you encounter, however, "there are mesophilic starters (like Skyr) that have a different process," she says.
Whichever method you use, save some of the finished yogurt to be the starter for your next batch. "I set aside two tablespoons of yogurt for my next starter and eat the rest," she says.
Q: What should people look for in a yogurt maker?
A: "Prioritize simplicity and ease of use, as well as a setup that would be easy to clean and not too bulky for storage," says fermenter Aimee Corbyn, who has been making yogurt for 10 years. Thomson says she "prioritizes temperature control and indicators. It's important to know what temperature your yogurt maker is capable of holding, and if possible, allow you to have some control over that for variation in recipes."
Q: What is Greek yogurt, and how is it different from other yogurts in the store?
A: Greek yogurt is extra thick, thanks to straining, which removes some liquid from the yogurt, and the liquid you strain off is great in smoothies and sauces. "I strain my yogurt so I don't have the need to ferment it in individual jars. I prefer to ferment and strain in one big batch, and then I can transfer it into single servings after the fact," Thomson says. She recommends the Euro Cuisine GY50 or the Hatrigo Greek Yogurt Maker to strain your yogurt. You can also make Greek yogurt without a special strainer using a colander and cheesecloth.
Q: How do you make vegan yogurt?
A: Non-dairy yogurt can be as delicious as its milky counterpart, and you can experiment with a number of non-dairy milks to find your favorite. Making non-dairy yogurt is essentially the same process as dairy yogurt and can be made in a yogurt maker, except you use a vegan yogurt starter. Some people stir in some store-bought soy capsules; others use probiotic capsules. You can also purchase a vegan yogurt starter online.
Q: What does a yogurt maker do?
A: "A yogurt maker holds your milk at the correct temperature, which provides the ideal environment for the microbes to ferment and transform milk into yogurt," Thomson says. This is important because the temperature "favors the growth of selected bacteria in order to culture yogurt that is more pleasing to the palate and less likely to be over- or under-fermented," says Corbyn.
Q: Do you need a yogurt maker to make yogurt?
A: While yogurt makers can be useful, you don't need one, according to Thomson. "In fact, when I began making yogurt years ago, I used my oven with the pilot light on. My mom wraps a heating pad around a pot, and Sandor Katz [of Wild Fermentation] uses an insulated cooler full of warm water. All of these methods can hold your milk at the appropriate temperature, so it's really up to you which way you want to do it," she says.
While a yogurt maker isn't necessary, it may have another benefit, according to Lask. Depending on the model, you may be able to use it to sterilize your jars prior to using them to inoculate yogurt (for example, in a hot water bath in the Instant Pot Duo).
Q: Do you need a yogurt starter to make yogurt?
A: Since yogurt relies on the inoculation of specific beneficial microbes, you need a starter culture to make the magic happen, and you have many options. You can add either a couple of spoons of existing yogurt or freeze-dried cultures to a new batch, according to Lask.
"Feeding the starter is not a separate process from making yogurt. By making a new batch of yogurt, you are giving it food in the form of fresh milk, thereby 'feeding' the starter," Thomson says. "Be sure to buy plain, unflavored yogurt and preferably one without the addition of sugars, starches, and other stabilizers."
Q: What advice do you have for someone making yogurt for the first time?
A: "Start by reading others' experiences, using the most basic setup possible in order to decide whether this is an activity that you enjoy and won't mind investing time in regularly. Use whole milk, locally sourced if possible, and try your first batch using plain yogurt or a culture bought online as your starter. Follow any directions given on the package if you buy a culture. This way, you set yourself up for success and will be more likely to continue this lovely practice," Corbyn says.
"My advice is to just give it a try. Humans have been making and eating yogurt since the Neolithic age, so don't get too caught up in gadgets and gizmos. I think yogurt is a fantastic food to make for yourself and your family because it doesn't require much hands-on time, and it will not only be more nutritious but also less expensive than store-bought yogurt," Thomson says.
Julia Skinner, PhD, is a writer, food historian, home fermenter, and avid gardener, who educates the public on food waste reduction and fermentation through her Atlanta-based business, Root, which offers online fermentation classes, a recipe newsletter, and more. She is the author of Our Fermented Lives: How Fermented Foods Have Shaped Cultures and Communities. For this piece she interviewed Katsu Lask, a Harvard University-certified fermentista and founder of Fermentation Love; Aimee Corbyn, a fermentation enthusiast with 10 years of experience; and Jenn Thomson of Jenni Ferments, who has been making yogurt for over 10 years.