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 need 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)
  • 1/2 a 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 topping with 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.


76 thoughts on “Cold-start Yogurt in the Instant Pot

  1. Pingback: Homemade Granola | The Perfect Bite

  2. I made this with 1% organic milk , 2tbs Greek off brand yogurt with the bacteria, 2tbs of vanilla extract, and 1/4 cup of honey and at 8hrs 30mins on yogurt (also putting it in the fridge for hours 4+) and my kids love it!!! When I was moving it to the fridge it was setting up nicely! Thank you!! First time making yogurt In my instant pot and it’s a hit!

      • I made this in my Lux IP. I do not have the yogurt setting, so I followed the directions provided for the non yogurt setting. I used Fairlife whole milk, Oui yogurt for a starter, SC milk for sweetener and 1 Tbsp of vanilla extract. I let it incubate for slightly over 8 hours and left it in the refrigerator overnight to chill. I did not stir or disturb it during incubation. It was not thick at all this morning. I put the sweetener and vanilla in, but it is no thicker. It tastes ok, but yogurt soup is not what I had in mind. Do you have any suggestions?

      • I’m sorry – I wish I did. I just haven’t made it that way before. Are you on Facebook? There’s an official Instant Pot group on there and I bet you can ask and a bunch of people will chime in!

  3. Hello have you tried putting the mixture into the jars prior to putting it on yogurt then it would be ready when you are done?

      • I have made cold start yogurt and put it into jars covering them with aluminum foil or in small canning jars with lids and stacking them. It will set up just fine and it is all ready and portioned out.

    • I have never done that but I can only guess that it would cook your fruit – so it would depend on how you want it to end up? I have made a fruit compote and put it in the bottom of the jar before putting my finished yogurt in there. You could do the same with fresh fruit.

  4. How would I make a lemon yogurt similar to Oikos lemon chiffon? I have made plain cold start in my 3Qt successfully many times. One time I used the SCM but was too sweet for me. Adding lemon after the fact doesn’t seem to work and I HATE lemon flavoring (extract or artificial). Thank you!

    • I’ve not had the Oikos lemon chiffon before… do you mean the lemon meringue one? I looked at the ingredients and it uses lemon juice concentrate. I love lemon so I plan to make this lemon curd recipe and put it in the bottom of the jar of yogurt similar to the Oui lemon yogurt.

      Otherwise, you might want to make a small batch and experiment. I would worry that adding freshly squeezed lemon juice to the milk might make it curdle. Maybe try frozen lemonade concentrate (thawed)?

    • Absolutely! It’s just there for the flavor and sweetener. Just remember if you use something like hazelnut the entire batch will be that flavor so you better like it. 🙂 I use vanilla mainly because it’s my favorite flavor but it also pairs well with granola and fruits. Have fun!

  5. I just found your post on pinterest and would love to try making yogurt in my IP, however, mine does not have a yogurt setting. Can I still attempt your recipe using the “manual” setting? And if so, do I need to adjust the recipe or times?

  6. If my instant pot doesn’t have the yogurt setting, what should I do? I bought all the ingredients today and pulled out my IP and discovered it didn’t have the setting.

  7. Hi! Thank you for this amazing recipe! How do you recommend adding the sweetener after so that I can have both tangy and sweet? My last batch I followed this recipe and it turned out great, but there was so much sweet yogurt, it was hard to eat it all before it went bad! I’d like to do as you recommended and mix the sweetener in with half of the yogurt after it’s made so I have some tangy kind too for other cooking recipes. How much sweetener should I use, and can I just mix it together without affecting the consistency of the yogurt? Thank you!

    • Actually I recommend mixing the sweetener in with half of the milk just so that it blends better and then you add the rest of the milk. You could do a couple of different things… Only use half of the sweetened condensed milk to reduce the level of sweetness. But you couldn’t add it in after the yogurt is made because it won’t mix properly. It needs to be part of the incubation time. You could make it without any sweetener at all including the vanilla creamer and just make plain yogurt. You would need to add a starter still… So I would just grab some plain yogurt from the grocery store and use 2 tablespoons of that. Then if you want to sweeten the yogurt after it’s made you could drizzle it with honey or mix in some fruit compote or something like that. Or split your ingredients in half and make two batches one sweet and one plain.

  8. I made the cold start yogurt. It went for 8hours but then I forgot and left
    It in the instapot on my counter overnight. I live in a cool climate It looks amazing. Thick and perfect. Is it safe to eat? I did refrigerate it this morning.

  9. I’ve followed this recipe before and it’s always turned out great. Wondering if this could be given to my 8 mo old as a starter for yogurt? Thoughts?

  10. Can you make just a half batch? I follow your recipe to a “t” and LOVE it but it’s really more than I can eat within 2 weeks. Would you reduce the cooking time or would it still need the full 8 hours?

  11. I made my first batch ever today. I did a taste test at the 6:30 mark and ohboy ig was so good. So I have Now placed in fridge but my IP is not at the 1/2 mark. What would have caused this? I have a 6 art.

    • I’m not sure what you’re asking? You should have just placed the inner 6 quart liner in the fridge with a cover on it and leave it in there for eight hours or overnight. I’m not sure what you mean by your IP is not at the 1/2 mark… Once you pull the liner out and put it in the fridge you can unplug your IP and you’re done using it.

      • Yes I know to remove the liner. I may have misunderstood on one of your previous response to someone else about the amount that was in your pot. So even if it is over half full after adding all ingredients, it ferments down in volume. O figured it out later. But thanks for your response. This is really good yogurt. My family loves it.

  12. Hi, does the no-fat sweetened condensed milk work for the cold start?
    I’ve always used regular SCM.
    My Daughter accidentally bought me the no fat, I’m hesitant to try it because we all love it with regular.
    Thank you

  13. My husband doesn’t ever eat yogurt but he tasted this and absolutely loves it! So does my 10 month old grandson, he can’t get enough. Thank you so much for this awesome recipe.

  14. I’ve never made yogurt. Which do you prefer to add, sweetened condensed milk or True Bliss? And which has more Sugar?

    • This recipe calls for both. 1 cup Bliss vanilla creamer and the can of SCM. Neither are “required” it’s all a matter of taste. The Bliss gives the vanilla flavoring – I use Bliss because it’s actual milk. Other creamers tend to have additives that mess with the yogurt a bit. The SCM adds sweetness but you could less of it or replace it with a few tablespoons of honey or leave out altogether if you don’t like sweet yogurt.

  15. My IP has a yogurt setting but only has time and temp for options. Would 8 hrs at medium temp be ok? I have options of low, medium, high and custom temps.
    Thank you!!

    • I’m not sure what model you have but I have the Duo Evo Plus when I hit the yogurt button it will flash “customize”, I push the knob in again and it defaults to 8 hours, push again and it defaults to 91 degrees F, and I’ll push the knob in again and it will start. I use the defaults. My old model you just hit Yogurt and then start. – it didn’t allow you to adjust. I have not had a model that gave you the medium or high options. I would double-check with the Instant Pot community group on Facebook or do a google search. Be sure to say what model you have then someone with the same can chime in. Sorry I can’t be more help!

      • It’s the Instant Pot Ultra, 6qt.- think I got it at Kohl’s a few years ago. The lowest temp on custom is 104, so I’ll try that!

  16. My IP has a yogurt setting that has only time and temp- should I set the temp to low, medium, high or a custom temp (and what temp of custom)?
    Thanks in advance!

  17. I made the yogurt with the 1/2 can of Sweetened condensed milk and vanilla extract and let it cook for 10 hrs. I find it too sweet and will probably either try less SCM or another sweetener next time. My question is that I’ve read where you can freeze tablespoons of the yogurt you made in ice cube trays yo use as starters for the next time you make yogurt. Does the flavor of the starter effect the flavor of the next batch? I don’t want that sweetness to be evident in next batch, but am guessing that such a small amount won’t effect anything. (It was such an easy recipe. Thanks!)

    • Hi there… glad the recipe worked for you. Yes, sweetness is all subjective. 🙂 I don’t know if the flavor of the starter would affect it or not – it it may depend on how sensitive your palate is. I always make vanilla yogurt and use the starter from my previous batch. You might just want to buy some plain yogurt and start a new batch – then you will always have plain and can add flavor when you want.

  18. Hello! I make this recipe nearly weekly and the whole family considers it essential! Thank you!

    I notice that it only comes about halfway to the max level of the IP. Is it possible to double the recipe? Since it takes so long and I make it so often, I’d love to double it, but I’m not sure what adjustments might be required if I did.

    Thank you,

    • Hi Casey – I have never doubled the recipe since it’s just me…. but I don’t see why you couldn’t. I would go with all the same settings/timing – it shouldn’t make a difference. Obviously, if you get to 8 hours and it needs more time then just give it more time. You may have to experiment with the first batch.

  19. Hi! I love this yogurt! I have made a couple of batches with honey to have less sugar, but I find it stays clumpy. Any suggestions for blending it better before starting? It seems to mix well during yogur process but not sure if it just been luck LOL

  20. I’ve never put the SCM in mine. And I only use 1-1/2 cups of the Natural Bliss Creamer Vanilla. I add 3 TBL of good vanilla. Incubate for 9.5 hour and it’s perfect!
    Any way to figure out the nutritional value?

    • Calm down… there’s no “theft” here. I’ve never even seen her site! 🙂 I actually learned how to do this from the Instant Pot Facebook Community. I don’t think she created the recipe she just trademarked the term Cold-Start. And my recipe here varies from hers so…. not stealing. But thanks for leaving folks her link so they can see that she trademarked the term and can see how to do a cold start without the Yogurt Button.

  21. Can you use any milk or is the Fairlife lactose free essential to the consistency?
    Could I use 1/4 c maple syrup instead of honey to sweeten it?

    • Hi Virginia, the cold start method doesn’t really work with regular milk. The Fairlife is ultra-pasteurized and ultra-filtered which affects the way the yogurt sets up. I’m not sure what the science is but all the reviews I’ve read say regular pasteurized doesn’t work for the cold start method. And yes, you can use maple syrup!

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