Real Recipes From Real Home Cooks ®

instant pot cold-start yogurt

a recipe by
Seattle, WA

Using ultra-pasteurized milk makes it possible to skip the first step normally done in yogurt making! For those that are lactose-intolerant, lactose-free milk is usually ultra-pasteurized! I used Green Valley Organics lactose-free yogurt as my starter yogurt for the first batch. Now I use my home-made yogurt for starter. Green Valley Organics has a nice ingredient list with about 5 different strains of live active cultures, and no fillers like guar gum. DON’T USE the lactose-free milk that has added calcium, and a bunch of filler ingredients. Will ruin the yogurt.

serves Varies
prep time 10 Min
cook time 9 Hr
method Pressure Cooker/Instant Pot

Ingredients For instant pot cold-start yogurt

  • half gal
    (half gallon) ultra-pasturized milk (lactose-free milk is usually ultra-pasteurized) do not use calcium-added versions with filler ingredients like guar gum.
  • 9 tsp
    plain, unsweetened yogurt with active live cultures
  • 7
    canning jars (optional)
  • instant pot duo (with yogurt function)

How To Make instant pot cold-start yogurt

  • Example of Ultra-Pasteurized milk.  Lactose Free milk is usually Ultra-Pasteurized.  Look for Ultra-Pasteurized, usually in smaller print, on the label.
    Make sure you use ultra-pasteurized milk, not just regular pasteurized milk, if you use this cold-start method. Regular milk requires the extra step of boiling/heating the milk to a certain temp. for a certain amount of time first, then waiting for it to cool to a cerain temp. before adding the yogurt culture. Plenty of other Instant Pot recipes tell how to do that. This is a cold-start method, and skips those steps. Use only ultra-pasteurized milk. Most lactose-free milk has been ultra-pasteurized.
  • Instant Pot filled with canning jars containing finished yogurt.  (Normally the lid rings would not be on when making the yogurt.)
    I use 2 wide-mouth pint sized canning jars (16 oz.) , and 5 small 8 oz. canning jam jars. They maximize the space in my 8 qt instant pot, and leave me with the yogurt already in convenient containers. You can pour the milk directly in the Instant Pot, instead, if you prefer.
  • Instant pot filled with 2 cups water & the trivet placed in.
    Fill the clean jars (I sterilize in my dishwasher) with the ultra-pasteurized milk. Stir/whisk in 1 tsp. of yogurt per cup of milk, with sterilized utensils. (1 tsp. in the small jars, 2 tsp. in the big jars.) Fill the Instant Pot with 2 cups water, place the trivet in, then place the jars on top of the trivet. Cover the jars loosely with lids (I don’t put the canning rings on until after the yogurt is done.) Or pour the whole carton of milk directly into Instant Pot liner, and stir 3 Tbsp. yogurt into that.
  • Instant pot showing “normal” yogurt setting, with 9 hour time set.
    Put the IP lid on, and turn steam release valve to sealing. Now press the yogurt button once. The light will show it at “normal” setting. Adjust the time, using the + and - buttons, to be set to 9 hrs. A longer time will result in more tart yogurt, so feel free to do longer if that is your preference. Once the time is set to 9 hrs, leave it, and it will start the yogurt process on it’s own. It basically keeps the temperature at the optimal yogurt growing temperature for those 9 hours. When it is done, wipe any water off the outside of your jars, secure the lids, and then refrigerate & enjoy. You can use the yogurt you just made, as the starter yogurt for your next batch. If you made it directly in the pot, just spoon the yogurt into whatever container you want to keep it in.
  • 5
    Remember to start your yogurt in the morning, or right before you go to bed, so it’s not finishing in the middle of the night. If it is not refrigerated when the time is up, it will continue to get more tart/sour tasting.
  • 6
    Plain yogurt is a great replacement to sour cream on top of tacos, quesadillas, burritos, enchiladas, etc. Stir in some canned chipotle peppers that have been pureed, for a delicious kick. It is also great for a refreshing sauce for Indian & Middle Eastern food, if you mix in some combination of herbs (choose from marjoram, oregano, basil, thyme, black pepper, mint, and/or garlic), chopped onion or chives, and/or chopped cucumber. You can skip the onion and cucumber if desired. Great on gyros, or as a compliment to kabobs or Indian curries & rice dishes. Alternatively, for a lightly sweet tasting treat without all the sugar in commercial yogurt, stir in a bit of vanilla, lemon & almond extracts (all three together are delicious), add some blueberries and/or other fruit, and optionally add a handful of cashews or almonds, and enjoy! For extra indulgence, add a drizzle of honey on top of the nuts. The nuts are best added right before eating, so they don’t absorb moisture and loose their crunch. The extracts add to the sweet flavor, without adding sugar.