Fresh berries

Lactose-Free Yogurt Recipe

Make homemade lactose-free yogurt without the high sugar levels and additives that are often found in commercial products.

Regular milk and classic live cultures create a delicious, pure yogurt with a naturally tart flavor. For several less tart lactose-free yogurt options, scroll down.

Our “High-Low” method works beautifully in the Proofer to create a smoother yogurt than machines that only culture at one constant temperature. And heating milk to a higher temperature than other recipes denatures more protein for a thicker texture. To eliminate the lactose in regular milk, we use a long, carefully controlled culture in the Proofer to give beneficial bacteria enough time to consume the milk sugars. This creates a yogurt that works well for most lactose-sensitive individuals.

A bowl of yogurt with berries and granola
Milk (volume)4 C / 1 liter
2 quart / 2 L
1 gallon / 4 L
2 gal / 8 L
Milk (weight)1 kg / 2.2 lbs2 kg / 4.4 lb4 kg / 8.8 lbs8 kg / 17.6 lbs
Yogurt* (volume)2 Tbs / 30 ml¼ cup / 60 ml½ cup / 120 ml1 C / 240 ml
Yogurt* (weight)30 g / 1.1 oz60 g / 2 oz120 g / 4 oz240 g / 8 oz
*Either store-bought plain yogurt with live cultures or homemade yogurt reserved from a previous batch. Learn more about how to maintain a yogurt culture.

Equipment: Brød & Taylor Folding Proofer, thermometer, glass mason jars or other heat-proof containers with a capacity of one quart or less. Everything that will touch the milk should be thoroughly clean and dry.
Note: When using the Folding Proofer to make yogurt, be certain there is no water in the water tray. The water tray is not needed for making yogurt. You can remove it from the Proofer, if you like, or leave it empty. But do not add water because it will affect temperature settings.

Scald the Milk. Using either the microwave or stovetop, heat the milk to 200 °F / 93 °C. If using the stovetop, stir frequently to prevent scorching. Once the milk reaches 200 °F / 93 °C, remove it from the heat. Cover and keep warm for ten minutes. Tip: Whisking the milk to cover the surface with bubbles will prevent the milk from forming a skin during heating and cooling.

Cool the Milk to 115 °F / 46 °C. Uncover the milk and allow it to cool until it is 115 °F / 46 °C or lower. For faster cooling, set the container of milk into a pan or sink full of cold water. While the milk is cooling, set up the Proofer with the rack in place and the temperature at 120 °F / 49 °C.

Add Live Culture Yogurt. To inoculate the milk, add the yogurt with live cultures to a small bowl. Gradually add enough warm milk to the bowl to thin the yogurt and stir until smooth. Add the liquefied culture back into the larger container of milk and stir gently to combine. Pour the milk into culturing jars, cover the jars and set in the Proofer. Tip: For the best heat circulation and most accurate culturing temperature, arrange the jars so that they are not directly over the center of the Proofer.  

Culture at 120 °F / 49 °C for an Hour, then Lower the Heat to 86 °F / 30 °C. Set a kitchen timer for one hour, then turn the heat down to 86 °F / 30 °C. It’s important not to let the yogurt remain at 120 °F / 49 °C for more than an hour in order to avoid the whey separation and lumpy texture that can come from culturing too hot.

Set Aside Yogurt to Make the Next Batch. After about three hours (one hour at 120 °F / 49 °C plus two at 86 °F / 30 °C), remove enough yogurt to serve as the starting culture for your next batch of yogurt. Store it in the refrigerator and consider labeling it “contains lactose”. It is important to remove some yogurt early so that your culture will still have enough food (lactose) to last until it is time to make your next batch. Tip: It is convenient to include one small container among your larger culturing jars, so that it can be easily removed early to serve as the seed culture for your next batch of yogurt.

Yogurt jars in the Proofer with a jar of milk and fresh fruit on the table

Culture for a Total of 19 Hours. In order to allow the yogurt cultures to consume all of the lactose in the milk, culture for a total of at least 19 hours (one hour at 120 °F / 49 °C and 18 hours at 86 °F / 30 °C). This is the point at which our tests showed that acidity stopped increasing, indicating that all of the available lactose had been consumed by the culture. When the culturing is complete, chill the yogurt thoroughly in the refrigerator.

Mild, Kid-Friendly Options for Making Lactose-Free Yogurt

Honey-Vanilla Lactose-Free Yogurt
The 19-hour culture creates a lactose-free yogurt that is thick and creamy but quite tart. To create a mild, lightly sweetened honey-vanilla yogurt, start with the long-cultured, tart yogurt above. Stir in the baking soda and allow to sit for a few minutes while some of the acid is neutralized. Then stir in the vanilla and honey (or sugar) to taste. The yogurt will thin slightly after stirring, but is still delicious.

Printable Multi-language Recipes for the Honey-Vanilla Version

Pouring honey over a bowl of yogurt
Plain lactose-free yogurt1 C / 250 ml
Baking soda¼ tsp / 1 g
Vanilla extract¼ tsp / 1.25 ml
Honey (or sugar)2-3 tsp, to taste / 10-15 ml

Custard-Style Lactose-Free Yogurt
For a mild, slightly sweet yogurt without added sugar, another option is to make our original Custard-Style Yogurt recipe using lactose-free milk and lactose-free, live culture yogurt from the grocery. That will create a mild, naturally sweet yogurt with a subtle “cooked sugar” taste. The extra sweetness comes from the lactose-free milk, in which lactase enzymes break down lactose into other sugars (glucose and galactose), which have a naturally sweeter taste than lactose.

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