Cold-start Yogurt in the Instant Pot

Cup of yogurt

This recipe is for what is called a “cold start yogurt” process. It omits the need to boil the milk first because you use Fairlife milk which is ultra-filtered. This really is a very simple process – however, there are some important details to know in order to successfully achieve creamy, delicious yogurt – so you’re going to want to read this whole post before you get started.

What is Fairlife Milk?

  • Fairlife Milk is an ultra-filtered product, which runs through “soft” filters to concentrate the Milk and remove impurities
  • There is more natural protein and calcium which comes directly from the Milk.
  • Because of the Filtration process, the Milk is higher in protein and calcium.
  • There is less sugar and the Milk is Lactose-Free!
  • Fairlife Milk is not organic but is ultra-pasteurized.

DISCLAIMER:  This is not an advertisement for Fairlife. This Instant Pot cold-start yogurt recipe is not to be used with milk that hasn’t been through an ultra-filtration process, like Fairlife which is different than ultra-pasteurized. Regular milk has some bacteria that needs to be brought up to 180 degrees prior to making yogurt.

Okay – back to our regularly scheduled program: I wanted a vanilla-based yogurt for this batch and opted to put the vanilla creamer and the sweetened condensed milk in the mix at the beginning of the process to get a more intensified vanilla flavor (and boy did I!).  Because this makes about 96oz of yogurt (I filled 12 8oz jars) you might want to do it at the end and divide your yogurt in half so you can have both vanilla yogurt and plain yogurt for savory purposes.

IngredientsCast of Characters

  • 1-52oz Fairlife whole milk (Fairlife does have skim milk but it will definitely change the consistency)
  • 1-cup of natural bliss creamer (or use two tablespoons vanilla extract – omit if you want plain yogurt)
  • 1-can of sweetened condensed milk (you can substitute 1/4 cup of honey – omit if you want plain yogurt)
  • *2-Tablespoons of store-bought yogurt (this is the starter – you can save 2 tablespoons from this batch for your next one).

*It’s critical for you to check the ingredient list of the store-bought yogurt when you’re shopping for a yogurt starter. It must have active bacterial cultures for it to work as the yogurt starter.  A live culture usually contains at least 2 types of bacteria (L. bulgaricus and S. thermophilus). I used Oui for this recipe but Oikos and Fage are both good options and have unflavored plain yogurt if you’re going that route.  Dairy-free yogurt will not work.

Ready to Cook?

Add all the ingredients and whisk really well until completely blended. PRO TIP: Add only two cups of the milk at first so you can blend everything easily, then blend in the rest of the milk.

We are using the yogurt setting and not pressure cooking so you can use your glass lid if you have one. If you don’t have a glass lid that fits snuggly use your locking IP lid and leave the knob to venting.  You can usually find the Instant Pot glass lids for less than $10. It’s a good investment.

Once your mixture is thoroughly blended, place the lid on and press the yogurt button. It should say “Ygrt” and automatically set to “normal” and to 8 hours. PRO TIP: The longer the incubation time the tangier the yogurt. 6.5 hours is the minimum you need to incubate – but it will have a very mild taste. 10 hours is the max you should go and you’ll get a pretty tart yogurt. I went for 8.5 hours for this recipe because it’s sweetened. When I make plain yogurt I will set it for 7.5 hours. It’s really up to your tastebuds! Adjust the time using the + / – buttons.

Tempting Jarsas it is, do not disrupt the fermentation process by moving the Instant Pot or opening the lid. Wait until yogurt is set (roughly 6:30 hours) before opening the lid.  At 6:30 you can open the lid for a taste-test to determine how much longer you’d like it to go based on tanginess. 

NOTE: When using the IP as a pressure cooker, the timer counts down. But for the yogurt setting the timer will count up.

Once the yogurt has reached your desired tangy level (do NOT mix the yogurt at this time – it will not set up), remove the inner pot of yogurt and place it in the fridge a minimum of 4 hours – this halts the fermenting.  I left mine in overnight because I was waiting for my cute little 8oz yogurt jars from Amazon to be delivered the next day.

PRO TIP: Before putting the pot in the fridge, remove the lid alidnd place a clean kitchen towel over the opening and place the lid back on. This will keep condensation from dripping into your yogurt. If you were using the original IP lid during incubation, replace it with a dinner plate over the towel for refrigeration.


The Perfect Bite

Once refrigeration is complete carefully remove lid and towel. Do the spoon test. If you can stand a spoon up in your yogurt then you did it right!

Now give your yogurt a taste and prepare for your tastebuds to sing!

Spoon in yogurtThe Perfect Pairing

Try adding seasonal fresh fruit such as blueberries, strawberries, peaches slices, raspberries, and so on.

It’s also a perfect vehicle for homemade granola. Try my recipe for that HERE.

The Perfect Health

Many of us have yogurt for breakfast as a healthy means to start the day. But consuming store-bought yogurt may or may not be benefiting you as much as you hoped.

A number of variables affect the quality of the commercially produced yogurt you buy from the store. Depending on the quality of the milk and the methods used to transform it into yogurt, your body may receive several healthy benefits or possibly no benefits at all.

High-quality yogurt contains scores of beneficial bacteria that boost your gut health. The problem is that most store-bought varieties miss the quality mark for three main reasons. Read more HERE.


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