The good news: You can stop buying two different kinds of yogurt. Here's a simple kitchen hack that turns regular store-bought yogurt into thick, creamy Greek yogurt using equipment you've already got in your kitchen.

So Many Yogurts!

Stroll down any supermarket dairy aisle and you are likely to get lost in the many rows of different kinds of yogurt. Today, there are more choices than ever for this tasty treat – nonfat, low-fat, full fat, whipped, custard style, fruit mixed in and fruit at the bottom. The probiotics in yogurt - the "active cultures" you see listed on a container of store-bought yogurt - are behind some of the appeal. The health benefits of live cultures are more and more in the news.

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Photo by Peter Hershey on Unsplash

Greek Yogurt: So Delicious

The most popular arrival on the yogurt scene in the past decade is Greek yogurt, providing a denser creamier texture than its American counterpart. There are plenty of advantages of going Greek. Plain Greek yogurt has half the sodium and carbohydrates and twice the protein content of regular plain yogurt. Its creamy thick texture and tangy taste make it a great substitute for high-calorie fats including sour cream, mayonnaise and cream cheese.

But Also: So Expensive

Unfortunately, all that Greek goodness comes at a cost, especially if you already also purchase regular yogurt. Expect to pay twice the amount when buying the Greek variety, due to the extra straining which removes some whey.

The Simple Solution: Homemade Greek Yogurt

If you love the taste and texture of Greek yogurt but find it eats up your grocery budget, there is a simple solution. It’s easy to make Greek-style yogurt at home. This simple recipe for homemade greek yogurt, made from regular yogurt, saves time, money and a trip to the store. You don't need a special yogurt strainer for this - even a pasta strainer lined with coffee filters will work.

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Homemade Greek Yogurt is So Easy

This dead simple Greek yogurt recipe turns regular yogurt into Greek yogurt overnight (or faster). Supplies needed: 1 large glass bowl; a sieve or wire-mesh strainer; heavy paper towels, cheesecloth or an old T-shirt and plain regular yogurt.

  1. Line a sieve or wire mesh strainer with cheesecloth, coffee filter, paper towels or an old T-shirt.
  2. Place a glass bowl underneath the sieve to catch the whey.
  3. Fill the bowl with plain low-fat yogurt or whole-milk yogurt. Draining will take a few hours and should reduce the volume by half. One quart (four cups) of yogurt will yield two cups of Greek-style strained yogurt.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and transfer it into the fridge.
  5. When yogurt has reached the consistency you want, discard the whey that has strained into the bowl and enjoy your homemade Greek-style yogurt. The straining can take anywhere from a couple hours to overnight. (If you strain it for a full 48 hours you'll get labneh, aka yogurt cheese, which is thick enough to spread on toast or dip pita chips in.)

Ways to Enjoy Your New Homemade Yogurt

Whether you mix in honey and fresh fruit; combine it with mustard, salt, lemon juice and garlic to make a salad dressing; blend it with dill, chopped cucumbers and salt for a simple Tzatziki sauce; add it to create a higher-protein smoothie; stir it with grated lemon zest and horseradish for a spicy vegetable dip or eat it plain, homemade Greek-style yogurt is a delicious addition to your recipe collection.

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Photo by Alison Marras on Unsplash

But What About Making Yogurt From Scratch?

If your yogurt-making ambitions go beyond turning regular yogurt into the greek kind, you actually only need one more ingredient than the recipe above: Whole or low-fat milk to turn into yogurt. You don't need a fancy yogurt starter or a yogurt maker - just 1/2 a cup of store-bought plain yogurt does the trick as a "starter culture" and a heavy pot or dutch oven wrapped in a towel acts as a DIY yogurt-maker.

A Second, Slightly More Complicated But Still Incredibly Easy, Yogurt Recipe

  1. Heat 1/2 gallon of milk (skim milk does work, but the results aren't as creamy - we recommend whole or 2% milk) in a large pot or dutch oven to 200º F (very hot, but not boiling). Stir to keep the milk from burning on the bottom. Heating the milk like this changes the protein structure so it will set properly.
  2. Let the milk cool down to 112º F - lukewarm. If a skin forms, stir it back in before the next step.
  3. Mix 1/2 cup of plain store-bought yogurt (make sure the package says "live and active cultures" into the warm milk. Whisk out any lumps.
  4. Put a lid on the pot (or cover with aluminum foil) and wrap it up in towels - kitchen towels or even a big beach towel.
  5. Place the whole thing in a turned-off oven overnight. Turn the oven light on to keep things warm. Another option is setting the wrapped pot in a closed microwave next to a bottle of hot water.
  6. Let the yogurt set overnight (6 to 8 hours). Don't shake or stir it while it's setting.
  7. Once the yogurt has reached your desired consistency, store it in a glass container (mason jars work well) and refrigerate it.
  8. To make it into Greek yogurt, strain as above.