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How to Make Instant Pot Coconut Yogurt

Overhead shot of Instant Pot coconut yogurt in a white bowl, garnished with mixed berries and seeds, and a drizzle of honey
Recipe At-A-Glance
Vegan, Instant Pot24 hours
Making Instant Pot Coconut Yogurt is fool-proof and way cheaper than buying yogurt at the store. Plus, you have full control over the thickness, flavor, and probiotic levels!

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Overhead shot of a bowl of Instant Pot coconut yogurt garnished with mixed berries, seeds, and honey; with a text overlay

The very first time I dabbled with the dairy-free lifestyle was back in 2014. When my daughter was born, she was pretty quickly diagnosed with a Milk and Soy Protein Intolerance (MSPI, for short), meaning that even the slightest bit of cheese or tofu eaten by me would come through my breastmilk and cause her incredible stomach upset. Thankfully, most babies grow out of MSPI relatively quickly—Juni was done with it by her six-month mark—and go on to happily eat grilled cheese sandwiches.

But that six months sans dairy really helped teach me something about my own body—it really functions better when I’m off the cow juice. Ever since I stopped eating dairy for Juni’s sake, I’ve been very careful to limit my own intake—and that meant I started experimenting with dairy-free alternatives to my favorite dairy products. That’s how I discovered the amazing versatility of cashew cream. And that’s why I started making my own dairy-free Instant Pot coconut yogurt.

Side angle shot of wooden spoon scooping coconut yogurt from an Instant Pot

Making yogurt in the Instant Pot (dairy-free or otherwise) is so incredibly fool-proof. If you’ve ever been intimidated by making your own yogurt before, the Instant Pot is your answer. It makes it so hands off and so simple—it’s honestly almost easier than just going to the store to buy premade coconut yogurt.

And my gosh, can you save some serious cash by making your own yogurt at home—especially the dairy-free stuff. At our local grocery store, a five-ounce cup of coconut milk yogurt runs about $1.99. You can make an entire quart—32 ounces worth—of Instant Pot coconut yogurt for less than $4. It’d cost you $12.74 to buy that much pre-made! And when you go through as much yogurt as we do, that adds up fast.

Another (huge) added benefit: you can control everything about your yogurt—the thickness, the tanginess, and most importantly to me, the probiotic levels. Most store-bought yogurts are barely fermented at all—some sources say that yogurt from the store can be fermented for as little as one hour! One hour does not get you much healthy bacteria, but you know what does? Using your Instant Pot to ferment for 24 hours or more. Yogurt that is fermented for 24 hours has more healthy probiotics per cup than any over-the-counter probiotic pill—we’re talking billions of good guys helping to keep your gut happy! And it’s way more delicious than popping a pill.

The one caveat with Instant Pot coconut yogurt—it’s never going to get as thick as cow’s or goat’s milk yogurt without some help. That’s because coconut milk just doesn’t have the lactose and proteins that transform the texture when fermented. If you love good thick yogurt like I do, I highly recommend using any or all of these three ways to get there:

  1. Use the right coconut milk. Full fat coconut milk from the can (not “Lite” coconut milk or the coconut milk from the refrigerated cartons) is going to give you the thickest, creamiest yogurt. In fact, if you can find straight up coconut cream (this is what I usually use), you’re going to get the best results.
  2. Go for a long ferment. Yes, coconut milk won’t thicken like cow’s milk during fermentation, but it will thicken some. The baseline time I recommend to turn your milk into yogurt is eight hours—but that’s not going to thicken your yogurt at all. If you set your fermentation time for closer to 24 or even 36 hours, you’re going to get a naturally thicker yogurt.
  3. Use a thickener and chill. This is absolutely optional, but I usually thicken my yogurt using unflavored beef gelatin (I’ve also had good results using agar agar for a vegan version). I just add enough to give it a little bit of body—and not turn it into yogurt Jello—and then I chill until completely cold.

It might take you a bit of experimentation to figure out the right combo that makes your family happy. But once you land on it, you’ll never go back to buying yogurt again!

Side shot of two tall Ball mason jars filled with coconut yogurt, with berries off to the side

Side angle shot of a spoon and bowl of Instant Pot coconut yogurt topped with mixed berries, seeds, and honey

When you’re making your yogurt, you will need to inoculate your batch with either yogurt starter culture or pre-made plain yogurt from the store. I’ve done both, and they both turn out beautifully. If you choose to use a yogurt starter, this Yogourmet starter is my absolute favorite. It has very specific strains of bacteria that are great for your tum-tum—my naturopath has actually recommended I eat yogurt only when it’s made with the strains in this yogurt starter to protect my gut health.

The way easier (and cheaper) route is to use premade yogurt as your starter. Just take three tablespoons of whatever plain yogurt you’d like (dairy, soy, coconut, almond—all fine) that has live, active cultures in it—and whisk that in to innoculate your batch of yogurt. Then, when your batch is done, reserve about 1/4 cup of it to make your next batch. You’ll never have to buy yogurt again! It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Overhead shot of a spoon scooping Instant Pot Coconut Yogurt out of a Ball mason jar, with another jar, berries, and seeds in the background

Of course, you absolutely don’t have to have an Instant Pot to make yogurt. You can do it in the slow cooker or on a heating pad (my preferred method pre-Instant Pot) or even under the light in your oven—basically, any way you can consistently keep your yogurt around 100°F for 8-36 hours while it ferments will do the trick. The Instant Pot just makes keeping the temperature there SO FLIPPING SIMPLE. It removes all the variables and just makes for perfect yogurt every. single. time. Happy yogurtmaking!

Instant Pot Coconut Yogurt

Instant Pot Coconut Yogurt

Yield: About 1 quart
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 days
Total Time: 1 days 1 hour

Making Instant Pot Coconut Yogurt is fool-proof and way cheaper than buying yogurt at the store. Plus, you have full control over the thickness, flavor, and probiotic levels!

Ingredients

  • 1 quart of full fat canned or boxed coconut milk (I get best results from this coconut cream, but any full fat coconut milk will work)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (do not sub in honey—it has its own bacteria that will fight the yogurt culture)
  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt with live active cultures (dairy, soy, coconut, almond—all fine) OR one packet of freeze dried yogurt culture (I like this one)
  • OPTIONAL THICKENER: 1 to 2 teaspoons unflavored grass-fed beef gelatin OR 1/2 to 1 teaspoon powdered agar agar

Instructions

  1. Pour the coconut milk and maple syrup into the pot of the Instant Pot. Whisk well, then press the “Yogurt” button, and then adjust the setting until you see “boil.” Let the Instant Pot run through the process (it’s getting the milk up to a temperature of around 185°), whisking occasionally. No need to place the lid on the Instant Pot during this stage.
  2. When the Instant Pot beeps that it is finished, allow the milk to cool until it is between 100º and 110º. This can take upwards of an hour.
  3. If using starter yogurt: When the milk is at the correct temperature, ladle out about 1/2 cup of the warm milk into a small bowl, and whisk with the 3 tablespoons plain starter yogurt until smooth. Pour the mixture back into the Instant Pot and whisk well.
  4. If using freeze-dried yogurt culture: When the milk is at the correct temperature, sprinkle on one packet of the starter culture and then whisk very well to combine.
  5. If using a thickener, sprinkle on top of the warm milk, and then whisk very well to combine.
  6. Close the lid of the Instant Pot (no need to seal), and press the “Yogurt” button. Adjust the setting until you see the time display. Set for the desired amount of fermentation time. Eight hours is bare minimum, but I *much* prefer yogurt that has been fermented closer to 24-36 hours. This results in a naturally thick and tangy yogurt—very like regular Greek yogurt. Plus, it has more probiotics!
  7. When the fermenting time is up, transfer the yogurt to a glass storage container (I use a wide mouth quart jar) and keep in the fridge. It will thicken up considerably as it cools.

Notes

If you like thicker, Greek-style yogurt, I recommend using either the gelatin or the agar agar. However, if you want to leave those our, the longer you ferment, the thicker the yogurt gets naturally.

If you do use the thickeners, the upper range will get you a thicker, Greek-style yogurt, while the lower will just thicken to a “normal” yogurt consistency.

Since coconut milk doesn’t have the same kind of sugars that cow’s milk has, the added maple syrup is to give the bacteria a jump-start meal—they eat almost all the sugars and the resulting yogurt isn’t sweetened at all.

Some people recommend using opened probiotic capsules as yogurt starter, and it can work—depending on your probiotic. Proceed with caution though, as some can make yogurt taste really not good.

When you spoon your yogurt into a container for storage, make sure to reserve a little bit for the next batch of yogurt in a small jar (I just fill one of these quarter-pints). That way, you’ll never be without yogurt starter.

I love my Thermapen for yogurt-making (and honestly, everything else in the kitchen), but if you don’t have a thermometer, it’s not a big deal. Another trick is to place a (clean!) finger in the milk—when you can hold your finger in the milk while counting to ten, it’s cool enough to pitch in the yogurt starter.

 

 

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

Leave a Reply

73 Responses
  1. Katie

    Do you think the beef gelatin would work in cow milk yogurt? I’ve strained it with cheesecloth before and it was so messy/reduced SO much!

    1. Cassie

      For the boiling stage, you can just use the saute function (or whatever will get your yogurt up to 185°). For fermenting: it *might* work on the warm function. What I’d do is fill the IP with water, and then turn it on warm and just test the temp at regular intervals. If it stays between 95-105°—you can use that to ferment your yogurt!

  2. This homemade coconut yogurt sounds so delicious, and yes so much better than buying pre-made, you get to control everything about it, love the final presentation with all the berries!

  3. Jen R

    Hi! I’m making this as we speak! Does it matter whether the vent is on the “vent” or “seal” setting? I assume not but just checking!

  4. Nandita Dhuri

    Such a nice recipe CASSIE!
    It seems very delicious thanks for sharing I can’t wait to make it at my home..

  5. Lisa

    So I used 3 cans of full fat coconut milk from a can, real maple syrup as it called for, I used the yogurt starter you suggested when it cooled to 110 degrees, and followed the directions to a T with my instant pot. I let it ferment for 24 hours. The result is milk consistency and it’s sweet… like the syrup didn’t get eaten up by the probiotics. I waited to put those in when the milk cooled to 110 degrees and mixed well before selecting yogurt again for 24 hours countdown. ? any suggestions of what else I might have done wrong or to check before starting another batch? Thanks.

    1. Cassie

      You’re right, it sounds like your probiotics didn’t take off! I wonder if maybe you had a bad or old batch? I’ve had that happen sometimes!

    2. Krista

      Mine did that, too! I don’t want to ruin another batch, but I want to try again. Would it help to pour out some of the “watery” stuff from the coconut cream, and only use the hard cream part of it? Advice, please! 🙂

      1. Cassie

        Just using the coconut cream would make for a super thick (and delicious!) coconut yogurt. But I don’t think it’ll help with the non-fermentation problem—my only thought is that maybe your yogurt starter wasn’t active?

    3. Renee M Carlson

      I make bread with wild yeast and I have found that if my yeast is placed in any liquid hotter than just above room temperature, it is killed off. I use the same cooling off method for yogurt as I do for bread. Maybe your mix was a bit too hot for the probiotics to do their thing? Whenever dealing with active organisms that consume sugar, I swear by allowing it to cool more than the recipe asks for. BY THE WAY, I’m in no way judging this recipe! It’s the most versatile I’ve found online! It’s just that I have become cautious after personal experience, and I am considered a yeast serial killer in the microbiotic world!

    4. Kim

      I had this issue as well. I used coconut cream from Trader Joe’s, made sure the coconut milk boiled and got to 185 degrees, cooled it down to about 105, and used Oikos plain greek yogurt as a starter that says it has live cultures in it. After fermenting for 32 hours, the result is still runny and very sweet. Is there any way to fix this batch or do I need to toss?

  6. Jill

    Ok, Cassie, you are my newest, biggest fan! I have been trying instant pot coconut yogurt recipes for months now, and none of them worked. But YOURS DID! I have a beautiful jar of yogurt in my refrigerator right now that I can’t wait to eat! It turned out perfect. Thanks and I’m looking forward to checking out more of your recipes!

    1. Cassie

      I wouldn’t leave out the sweetener—it’s not acting as a sweetener (there is no sugar in the final product), it works as food for the bacteria. I’ve never tried it with date syrup, but it might work!

  7. Yori

    I’m excited to try this! I have some sweetened coconut yogurt in the fridge. Do you think I can use that to start? You mention plain yogurt, so I wanted to ask if it would matter. I love ALL your recipes, thanks!!

  8. Sara

    Hi—-I made coconut milk from coconut and used that as the coconut milk, so it had plenty of fat. I used 3tb brown cow plain yogurt for starter. 16 hours in it is just as watery as when it started. I have it scheduled for a 36 hour ferment, is there some point where it should start to thicken up? If not, can I add the beef geletin at the end?

    1. Cassie

      Sometimes coconut milk just won’t quite thicken on its own. If it has the fermented (tangy!) scent and flavor to it, you’re good to use it. Go ahead and feel free to add gelatin if you’d like it thicker.

  9. Boni

    After hitting the boil option in the yogurt setting , it beeped when complete and then I measured temp with a thermometer and it was only around 150. I’ve tried several times with the same result. Is the 185* essential to the process?

    1. Rebekah

      I’m getting frustrated. I’m on my third failed batch. I used the recommended freeze dried starter for the first two and the low setting on the IP. They turned out yogurt-y (tangy and quite tasty) but still VERY sweet. I used a plain coconut yogurt of high quality as starter for the third batch and set it to the “normal” temp. I changed the temp setting after measuring temperatures of both settings with water in the pot. The normal setting was around 106 (low was below 100). This third batch is less tangy and super sweet, so it seems absolutely nothing happened. Any tips?

      1. Cassie Johnston

        Hi Rebekah: If you’re finding the yogurt is turning tangy and still sweet, you can either let it ferment longer, or just cut back on the sweetener. Good luck!

  10. Lorie

    My Instant Pot has Low Medium and High settings on the Yogurt feature. When I tried making this I did everything exactly right and waited for 30 hours, but it did not thicken at all. I used the Low setting, maybe should have done a higher temp? I know the yogurt starter I used was fine… what do you think?

    1. Cassie

      Do you know what the temperatures each setting correlates to? Because that could definitely make the difference. If the low setting is too cool, the bacteria wouldn’t have multiplied.

  11. Ryan

    Hey,

    Great recipe, but doesnt quite make enough for our household. Can this recipe be doubled? Moving up to 1/2 cup maple syrup seems like a lot to me so not sure if the recipe would need to be altered if doubling…

    Thanks?

      1. Diana Galindo

        Why didn’t I read this before?! I just doubled the recipe and threw in 1/2 c of maple syrup. Is it going to be crazy sweet? Should I ferment longer than 24 hours? Also, where are you buying your coconut milk? You said it cost you $4 per 32oz. Mine is definitely not that low in price. Thanks! Did a single batch before and loved it!

  12. Denise

    I followed the recipe as written. I used 3 tablespoons of a store bought yogurt. I fermented for 22 hours and then refrigerated overnight. The yogurt thickened pretty well but has a rancid taste to it. It smells fine though.
    My IP yogurt function has a low, medium and high temperature setting for fermentation. I used medium it said it was like 108 degrees. Should I use a different fermentation temperature?

    1. Cassie

      108 degrees seems just about perfect to me. My only thoughts were that maybe the batch got contaminated by something—a bad bacteria on a spoon or the pot can cause a rancid flavor.

    2. happyathome

      To get the right functions on IP, first push the yogurt button, then push the ADJUST button. It will say boil on your screen! Hope this helps!

  13. Jessica

    I have made this twice now, with agar agar and the freeze dried yogurt starter. The first batch smelled super tangy, but was really runny. I let that one go for 32 hours. The second batch I added a little more agar agar than the recipe called for and let that go for 36 hours. It just beeped and I put it in containers in the fridge, but it was SUPER runny too. Ugh. What could I be doing wrong? I want, no I NEED, this recipe to work. I have a brand new IP.

  14. Elysia

    Hi! So happy to found this article which seems more informed than a lot I’ve been reading. Question: I have a ton of coconut sugar – would that work in place of the maple syrup?

    I actually don’t have an IP but am thinking a sterilized jar inside my crockpot, either on warm or low (I’ll test it with a jar of water 1st to see what temp that gets to – thanks for the suggestion!).

    1. Cassie

      I haven’t tried it with coconut sugar, but my only concern is that it tends not to dissolve super well.If you can dissolve it in some hot coconut milk first, it might just work!

  15. Christine Vandervoort

    I just made this recipe and the coconut fat did not stay incorporated. It tastes like yougurt but the fat pieces make it unenjoyable to eat. What did I do wrong?

    1. Cassie

      Different brands of coconut milk work a little differently. You can probably just blitz it for a bit in a blender to get it all whirled back together and be good!

  16. Kelsie

    Hi! Thank you for this recipe. I’ve been looking for an IP coconut milk yogurt recipe for a long time. When you reserve some of the final product to save for the next batch — how long does it keep in the fridge? Thanks.

  17. CB

    I used 1 can of Aroy-D coconut milk and 1 can of Natural Value coconut cream which is about 4 oz less than a quart so I reduced the amount of maple syrup slightly. I only had 1.5 tbsp of a good quality store bought coconut yogurt so I supplemented with the powder of 3 probiotic capsules. The end result definitely smelled and tasted tangy but it’s also a little sweet. Did the probiotics just not eat all the maple?

    I added the gelatin at the end and blended it in my Vitamix. After refrigerating overnight it was super thick!

  18. Zephyr

    Oh man what clear instructions! You and I have the same mind! I saw a lot of other confusing recipes for this out on the web but this was the best & beautifully written! And now I will finally try it with your clear guidance…❤️

  19. Renee M Carlson

    My instant pot is making my first batch as we speak :-). I was reading at the bottom of the recipe where it says the yogurt will not be sweet. Is there specific method or recommendation you have for sweetening the finished product? Thanks!

    1. Melissa

      I haven’t tried making coconut yogurt yet only cows milk yogurt. But I sweeten that with some melted honey and then pop it in the refrigerator and it thickens up good.

  20. maddy

    My yogurt is still sweet, which it sounds like was maybe because the starter didn’t take off- I’m wondering if I could add more plain yogurt and re-ferment the whole batch? It doesn’t taste rancid, just still sweet

  21. Karenb

    Have you made the yogurt using almond milk before? I bought almond milk from Trader Joe’s thinking I recalled a recipe for Instant Pot almond milk yogurt but I’m being told I can only use homemade almond milk in that commercial almond milk is too watery. Thoughts?

  22. Olivia

    I just made my first batch and it is DELICIOUS! However, my yogurt separated. The top layer is this beautiful thick, cream but about half of it is still liquid and clear underneath the cream layer. Has this every happened to anyone? I didn’t use a thickening agent this time. Wondering if that would keep it all mixed together?

    1. Cassie

      I’ve had it happen before (different coconut milks perform differently!) and a quick go-round in the blender solved the problem for me.

  23. Loretta

    Just curious if I could replace some of the coconut milk with heavy whipping cream? Would that help thicken it up? When I make cows milk yogurt, I put in heavy whipping cream in place of some of the milk and my yogurt gets so thick that I don’t even have to strain it and there is very little whey. I’m not necessarily looking to be dairy free..just trying to cut out as my carbs as I can… that’s why I was looking at the coconut milk option.

  24. Jess

    Thanks so much for this! I’m excited to try it out. Question… I noticed the freeze dried yogurt starter you posted has skim milk as the first ingredient- is there a vegan option you recommend?

    1. Cassie Johnston

      As far as an actual vegan starter, I’m not sure about that, but I’ve used plain coconut, almond, or soy yogurt from the store as a starter with good results.

  25. Jessica Harris

    HELP! I was so excited to use your recipe and it flopped, but I’m sure the problem was on my end. I used a Trader Joe’s full fat coconut cream and probiotic capsules. When the 24 hours ended, my yogurt smelled good and looked fairly thick and i thought it would thicken up to a very nice consistency once chilled. When I got back to it in the morning, the cream had separated into a thick block on top and it was nothing but water on the bottom. Nothing that could be stirred together. What went wrong?

  26. Holly F Mannchen

    Is there a way to make flavored coconut yogurt, like Vanilla, strawberry or blueberry in the cooking process? Or does that have to be added at the end?

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