How to Make Yogurt Thick and Creamy

Creamy, full-fat yogurt. Tastes delicious!
Creamy, full-fat yogurt. Tastes delicious!

In my Hub on how to make yogurt at home, I explained how to turn milk into your own homemade yogurt. I've had some questions on how to make yogurt that's thick and creamy, so here's how you do it.

There are two ways to make yogurt that's thicker and creamier than ordinary yogurt:

  • use whole milk—the full-fat method
  • strain it (remove some of the liquid/whey)—the Greek method

Brown Cow's "Cream Top" yogurt has a taste and texture that's difficult to beat.
Brown Cow's "Cream Top" yogurt has a taste and texture that's difficult to beat.

The full-fat method

Using whole milk instead of lowfat or nonfat milk will certainly make your yogurt richer and creamier. Milk fat gives yogurt, and other dairy products, a rich mouth feel and enhances its creamy taste. Of course, the same thing that gives yogurt that wonderful mouth feel and taste is what's full of calories, so I can understand people's hesitation at keeping the fat level high. Full-fat yogurt derives half (yes, half) of its calories from fat, most of it saturated.

However, if you're like me, and don't freak out at eating natural fat (even the saturated kind), then try making yogurt with whole milk. If you can get your hands somehow on non-homogenized whole milk, try that, too—it will make "cream-top" yogurt, which, after it's cultured, can be mixed with a spoon and, in my opinion, yields a far tastier, creamier version of full-fat yogurt than yogurt made from homogenized whole milk.

Also, unlike lowfat or nonfat yogurt, full-fat cream-on-top yogurt does not pool whey (liquid) on top when mixed (something I've always found a little stomach-turning, even though it's perfectly harmless).

Straining yogurt to yield thick, rich Greek-style yogurt
Straining yogurt to yield thick, rich Greek-style yogurt | Source

The Greek method

The Greek method of making thicker, richer yogurt involves straining the yogurt, removing some of its whey. For those who don't mind an extra step in their yogurt-making, this method is good if you want to make a thicker yogurt but still want to avoid fat (you can use lowfat or nonfat yogurt in this method). You can, of course, also use it with commercial yogurt.

This style of yogurt is sold commercially in the US as Fage and Choban. Trader Joe's has a Greek-style yogurt, too.

The process is fairly simple:

  • put a strainer, lined with either a couple of layers of cheesecloth, or a large paper coffee filter, over a bowl
  • emulsify your yogurt (mix it up well)
  • pour your yogurt into the cheesecloth or coffee filter, and allow it to slowly drip whey into the bowl
  • scoop out the thickened yogurt when it has reached the desired consistency

Note that the resulting whey doesn't have to be thrown away. It's full of protein, vitamin and minerals, with a relatively neutral dairy taste, so you can incorporate it into your cooking as you would a mixture of milk and water (baked goods, soups, stews, etc.).

Fun fact: The dairy-loving Swiss and Dutch even make a soft-drink out of whey, called Rivella. In the Netherlands, its advertising tagline is "een beetje vreemd, maar well lekker" (a little strange, but still delicious). I lived in the Netherlands, and saw ads for it constantly, but was never compelled to try it!

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Comments 15 comments

Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 5 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland

Very informative, thanks.

vic profile image

vic 5 years ago

They all sound very delicious. Full fat is the only way to go! Thanks

Sinea Pies profile image

Sinea Pies 5 years ago from Northeastern United States

Is the acidophilus alive in the homemade version? I like yogurt but I eat it more for the probiotic qualities.

upal19 profile image

upal19 5 years ago from Dhaka

I like curd than yogurt. Are those same thing?

Sinea Pies profile image

Sinea Pies 5 years ago from Northeastern United States

Don't think so. Acidophilus and probiotics are the friendly bacteria found in natural yogurt that promote good intestinal health. Nutritionists recommend that we eat some every day.

Jamie Brock profile image

Jamie Brock 5 years ago from Texas

That yogurt looks great! I love yogurt. I've gotten on a kick of eating low fat vanilla yogurt with grapenuts lately. It's sooo yummy!

Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 5 years ago from San Francisco

Niiiice! I don't know where to get / how to clean cheesecloth, but using coffee filters is so smart - I'll have to give that a try! Thick yogurt rocks.

Anjili profile image

Anjili 5 years ago from planet earth, a humanoid

Sound info on my favourite weekly dose of yoghurt. I particularly like the thick creamy type from whole milk and not homogenised milk. It enables me to dilute it then smoothen it in a blender. I also vary the flavours between vanilla and strawberry. Mmmmmm, the kids love it too

kafsoa profile image

kafsoa 5 years ago

This is really useful and deserves to hop up.

Rudra profile image

Rudra 5 years ago

great tips. will be making mine thick..

KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

I love Greek Yogurt. I will definitely be trying your mthods. Thanks for sharing.

RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada

We can get Greek yogurt, sweetened with honey, at the supermarket, and in several flavors, so we are rather spoiled. Love yogurt!

collegegirlie profile image

collegegirlie 5 years ago

I love yogurt more than ice cream. Especialllyyyy greek yogurt

livelonger profile image

livelonger 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

I love it, too, although it's neck-and-neck between yogurt and ice cream for me!

tilinaoita profile image

tilinaoita 5 years ago

I wasn`t a fan of yogurt until about a year ago when I started a weight diet. Now can`t imagine 2 days without it.

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