≡ Menu
Yogurt Everyday

Yogurt Making Troubleshooting

The most common yogurt making problems are addressed below. Making yogurt is a fairly simple process, but occasionally problems do arise.

The following tips should help
you out.

A few common problems that people have with homemade yogurt are:

  • Yogurt is too thin and runny
  • Yogurt takes to long to set up
  • Yogurt doesn’t set up at all after 12 hours

Homemade yogurt has a different consistency than store-bought yogurt which is usually made partially from dry milk solids and contains stabilizers and starches.

For thicker yogurt you can either strain it or add powdered dry milk while heating milk.

Some Common Reasons for Yogurt Not Thickening

1. The quality and presence of live yogurt cultures is not adequate.

It is common for people making yogurt for the first time to discover that there are no cultures in the store-bought yogurt they are using for a culture.

If you are using a plain yogurt for your starter, it can be tricky to tell if it actually contains live cultures. It may list cultures in the ingredients, but
if it does not not have the live and active cultures seal, it probably has been heat-treated and will not work.

It can even say contains live cultures or made with live cultures on the container, but if it doesn’t have the seal, it does not contain a suitable amount and quality of live and active cultures.

Yogurt culture may be too old or not have enough viable culture in it to culture the yogurt quickly. For example a yogurt brand like Dannon which contains 2 strains of culture will take 6-8 hours to culture, while a brand like Stonyfield yogurt (containing 4 strains of cultures) will take 4-6 hours.

I highly recommend using Stonyfield Yogurt for a culture, it works great for me every time.

2. The kind of milk used is not sufficient.

It can be difficult to find regular pasteurized milk in some stores, but ultra-pasteurized milk will not support the yogurt cultures.
Lactaid milk or any other lactose-free milk also will not support the yogurt cultures since they need lactose (milk sugar). Any other kind of milk can be made into yogurt. Soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, coconut milk, goat milk, sheep milk, water buffalo milk… (just in case you happen to have a water buffalo in your backyard)

3. The yogurt is too cold during fermentation.

There are many methods of making yogurt that work well. It is a simple process, however if you live in a very cold climate you might find that some of the methods do not keep the
yogurt warm enough during incubation. The yogurt generally needs to be kept at around 100 degrees, but if it is a little colder, it just takes longer for the yogurt to thicken.
If it is too cold however, it will never thicken.

4. The yogurt culture is added too soon after heating the milk.

The scalded milk needs to cool to at least 110 degrees before adding the culture otherwise you risk killing the cultures.

5. Unclean utensils and containers have been used.

The live cultures in yogurt are bacteria and they can be affected by other bacteria that may be on your dishes and utensils. You should disinfect your yogurt pot, containers and utensils in boiling water before you make yogurt. I simply get out the pot I will be using and put everything else into it and fill with water. I bring it to a boil and then dump out the water and everything I need to use is clean. I don’t do this with my thermometer though, I just wash it in warm water.

I’d actually worry more about soap residue on my dishes than bacteria. If you use a dishwasher that leaves residue on your dishes, you want to be sure to get them rinsed clean. Not just for yogurt making, but in general that stuff is bad for you.

7 comments… add one

  • Victor L. Goldman

    What causes the yogurt to have a sort of grainy consistancy. Meaning, not smooth, not chunky, but smaller sized “clumping” This occurs to the point of making it an inedible consistancy. Overheating the milk? Not dissolving to the powdered milk in the heating of the milk? Over incubation of the yogurt?


    • Thank you for your question, Victor. The “clumping” you describe is caused by one of two things: either the starter you used is too old (from a previous batch also made from a previous batch etc.), or it was improperly incubated (bad bacteria got in from un-sterilized equipment/jar). So, if you get grainy yogurt again after making sure everything your milk and starter came in touch with was doused with boiling water, you will be in need of some new yogurt starter…thank’s again for your question. I’d love to know how things turn out for you.

  • When I stir in the starter yogurt it doesn’t all dissolve, so when I pour the mixture in the cups it is lumpy at the bottom. Extended stirring does seem to help. Any suggestions.

    • That’s a good question. If you have a mini blender or food processor, I’d try putting some of the yogurt in that with your undissolved yogurt starter and giving it a run. I’ve never been good at mixing things by hand very well, myself. I hope this helps.

  • Jennie

    Jennie e,

    I tried making raw coconut yogurt and kefir, but both turned pink on the surface layer. The rest are all white. Are the white parts safe to eat?

    Any idea why it turned pink? I left the kefir to sit out for 2days, and yogurt 10hrs. in the yogurt machine.

    Thanks for your help! Jennie

  • Jenna

    I am lactose intolerant and tried making yogurt with my new yogurt maker using almond milk. It was Blue Diamond Almond Milk, and I used Fage Total as the yogurt starter. I boiled it and let it cool then added the Fage and some cornstarch. I left it in the yogurt maker and then 10 hrs later found thick white spongy clumps on top of clear liquid in the jars. It tasted gross.
    I’m not sure what I did wrong but I was reading on your site about cleanliness, which is the only thing I could think that may not have been perfect as I didn’t boil the instruments ahead of time, though they were washed. Perhaps there are additives in the almond milk that don’t allow it to form yogurt? Or the cornstarch? I am very confused, and would love some advice.


  • I’ve sucessfully made homemade yogurt for years but always used powdered milk. I’m using the same yogurt maker I’ve had for a couple of years and I can’t get it to make yogurt from almond milk that I bought. Twice. Completely failed. It’s a little thick but still a pouring consistency with a lot of liquid on top. I used the same brand of starter as always. What’s the problem? Any suggestions would be appreciated. My recipe said 115 for cooling but I could try 110. Could also boil things, I guess.

Leave a Comment