How To Make Vegan Yogurt Without Funky Additives

Whether you're lactose intolerant or just avoiding dairy, it can be a bummer to go without. Here's how to get the best alternative, without the weird stuff.

April 1, 2016
diy yogurt
1/7 Stephanie Eckelkamp

I'm in a minor predicament: My favorite smoothie recipes call for yogurt. The regular milk-based stuff makes me feel like absolute garbage, but most nondairy yogurts taste like crap and contain sketchy additives (e.g. controversial carrageenan) to give them that traditional yogurt texture. Blech.

So what's a yogurt-lovin' clean-eating foodie to do? Roll up your sleeves, grab some mason jars, and get ready to DIY.

Related: The 20 Highest Calcium Vegan Foods

After plenty of Googling and raiding my kitchen cabinets, I realized I had everything I needed to whip up a batch of wholesome (crap-free) coconut milk yogurt. The coolest part: Turns out you can actually use probiotic capsules in place of a proper yogurt starter, and you certainly don't need a yogurt maker. Who knew?

So, after a little trial and error, here's my simple (although a tad bit time-consuming) process for making nondairy (and vegan-friendly) yogurt without the funky additives. 

Here's what you'll need to whip up a batch of nondairy coconut milk yogurt that serves 4:

2 (14 ounce) cans full-fat coconut milk (I like Native Harvest and Thai Kitchen)
1 tablespoon sugar, maple syrup, or honey
2 tablespoons tapioca starch, or 2 teaspoons gelatin (to thicken) 
4 probiotic capsules (containing one of the following strains: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streprococcus thermophilusBifidobacterium lactis)

diy yogurt
2/7 Stephanie Eckelkamp

First, sterilize four Mason jars with boiling water; set aside. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine coconut milk and sweetener (this aids in the fermentation process—and don't worry, it's still below your recommended sugar intake), and whisk to eliminate chunks. Bring to a boil and immediately remove from heat.

diy yogurt
3/7 Stephanie Eckelkamp

Spoon a bit of the warm coconut milk into a small bowl along with your thickener of choice (gelatin or tapioca starch) and whisk until combined. Once dissolved, add thickener mixture to saucepan and stir. 

Related: Grain Milk To Take Over Nut Milk?

When coconut milk mixture reaches 115 degrees (measure this with an instant-read kitchen thermometer), pour the contents of your probiotic capsules into the saucepan and stir to combine.

diy yogurt
4/7 Stephanie Eckelkamp

Immediately pour mixture into Mason jars and screw lids on tightly (have extra? Try these 8 Crafty Ways To Upcycle Mason Jars).

diy yogurt
5/7 Stephanie Eckelkamp

Now for the slightly annoying part: culturing, or fermenting, the yogurt for 12 to 24 hours (the longer it cultures, the tangier it will be). For this step, you have four different options, depending on the supplies you have on hand. Choose one of the following:

1. Place the jars in a cooler filled with hot water between 105 degrees and 115 degrees for 12 to 24 hours. You'll have to replace the water multiple times to keep the temperature up (measure temp with instant-read thermometer). 
2. If your oven has a proofing cycle, set it to around 100 degrees, put your yogurt jars in the oven, and allow the yogurt to culture for 12 to 24 hours.
3. If your oven doesn't have a proofing cycle, but it has a light: wrap jars in a towel, place wrapped jars in the oven with only the light on (do not turn on the oven!), and allow the yogurt to culture for 12 to 24 hours. 
4. Place yogurt jars on top of a heating pad set to medium, cover jars with a towel to insulate, and allow yogurt to culture for 12 to 24 hours.

diy yogurt
6/7 Stephanie Eckelkamp

Next, chill the yogurt at least 6 hours to stop the fermentation process and thicken the yogurt.

diy yogurt
7/7 Stephanie Eckelkamp

Serve! I topped mine with some homemade granola.

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