Homemade yogurt, Lebanese laban: the recipe
Oct 31, 2012, Updated Jan 17, 2023
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.
Here’s a simple post for a simple recipe for homemade yogurt. You can do this! You want to do this! There’s something deeply satisfying about homemade yogurt—the making of it, and above all, the eating.
Your yogurt can be as thin or as thick as you like; thickening is achieved by straining the yogurt. I always make some of each: thinner for using as an ingredient in other dishes or eating a lovely, pure bowlful; thicker for spreading and pairing with just about every other Lebanese dish there is. It’s our crème de la crème, our flavor-maker, the delight of every plate.
How to Make Yogurt
- 1/2 gallon milk (skim, 1%, 2%, or ideally, whole organic milk)
- 1/4 cup yogurt (plain yogurt with live active cultures; ideally whole milk), room temperature
- First, heat the milk: Rinse a large heavy saucepan (3-quart or larger) with cool water. Add the milk. Bring the milk o just below a boil (210 degrees) at medium low heat, about 15 minutes. Stay nearby, because the milk will froth up and as it begins to boil it will rise up swiftly in the pan. Remove from the heat immediately.
- Next, cool the milk: Allow the milk in the pan cool down to 110-115 degrees, stirring occasionally. If you are not using a thermometer, the equivalent is when your pinkie can just withstand being swirled in the milk for ten seconds. Arriving at this temperature can take an hour. If the milk cools below 110 degrees, gently warm it up to 110-115 degrees. If in this process of reheating, the temperature goes above 115 degrees, wait again until it comes back down to 110-115.
- Spoon a few tablespoons of the milk at this temperature into the yogurt (rawbi) starter, then stir that starter yogurt into the milk. You will notice a skin forms on the surface of the milk; that can be stirred right in with the starter, or spooned out.
- Cover the pot with a lid and lay a kitchen towel over that to promote warmth. Set the pan aside, undisturbed, in a warm spot for anywhere from 8 to 10 hours, or overnight. An ideal incubator is the oven, turned off (the oven can be heated on the lowest setting for a minute before placing the pan in, just to encourage warmth, but be sure to turn it off immediately).
- Chill the yogurt: Remove the pot from the oven. The milk will have thickened into yogurt. Place, undisturbed as of yet, into the refrigerator for 1-3 days to further set the yogurt before eating or straining to thicken.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.