What Made It Best: Sous Vide Yogurt vs. Multi-Cooker Yogurt

We whipped up homemade yogurt in the Nomiku Sous Vide Immersion Circulator and the 3-quart Instant Pot Duo to see which makes it best

Two spoons of yogurt, on the left yogurt made from a sous vide and on the right yogurt made from a multicooker.
Yogurt made with a Nomiku sous vide machine (left) and yogurt made with an Instant Pot multi-cooker.
Photo: Pertty Santanachote/Consumer Reports

It’s easy enough to make homemade yogurt using just your stovetop and oven. All you need is a culture starter, some milk, and a warm spot to let the bacteria ferment the milk.

But will kitchen gadgets like sous vide machines and multi-cookers, which can provide a more controlled environment for fermentation, offer more convenience and consistency? 

I whipped up homemade yogurt using both these appliances to determine which one makes it best.

Yogurt in the Nomiku Sous Vide Immersion Circulator

In addition to the sous vide circulator, you need a couple of pots (a large one and a medium one), a whisk, a thermometer, and a glass container with a lid. For the purposes of this experiment, I used my trusty Nomiku, which is no longer on the market. A similar option available now is the Anova Sous Vide Cooker.

The process: Boil half a gallon of milk in a medium pot on the stove for 10 to 15 minutes, then let the milk cool down to 110° F. Whisk the warm milk with 3 tablespoons of yogurt in a glass container, cover, and place the container in a large pot. Clip the sous vide device to the pot and fill the pot with water up to the circulator’s water line. Set the temperature to 110° F.

The results: The stable temperature was so efficient at incubating the yogurt, it was ready in 5 hours—that’s half the time required using the oven method. The yogurt was aromatic, thick, and silky. For more tang, I kept the sous vide running for 3 hours longer, and the result was perfectly creamy and tart yogurt.

Yogurt in the Instant Pot Multi-Cooker

The appeal of making yogurt in a multi-cooker is everything happens in one pot with no need for much extra gear (just a thermometer). Plus there’s a designated button that’s designed to make the most hands-off yogurt possible. 

The process: There are two stages for making yogurt in the Instant Pot. The first cycle boils the milk—a process that takes 40 minutes. Once the milk cools down to 110° F, whisk in 3 tablespoons of yogurt and start the second yogurt cycle, which incubates the yogurt (it automatically sets to 8 hours but you can adjust the timing if you want a thicker or tangier yogurt). I used an Instant Pot Duo.

The results: At 8 hours, the yogurt still looked like milk and it wasn’t tangy. After 15 hours, it thickened up but the texture wasn’t consistent throughout—there were chunky parts and runny parts—and it wasn’t tangy. We could have incubated it even longer, but at that point, why bother? The sous vide yogurt was already ready to eat!

What Made It Best: The Sous Vide

Anyone who’s made a lot of homemade yogurt knows that repeatable consistency is difficult to achieve. The temperature of the environment—that cozy 110° F we keep referring to—plays a big role in how the yogurt turns out and how much time the process takes.

By holding that temp steady, the sous vide delivers a consistency that other methods can’t match.

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Headshot of Perry Santanachote, editor with the Home editorial team at Consumer Reports

Perry Santanachote

A multidimensional background in lifestyle journalism, recipe development, and anthropology impels me to bring a human element to the coverage of home kitchen appliances. When I'm not researching dishwashers and blenders or poring over market reports, I'm likely immersed in a juicy crossword puzzle or trying (and failing) to love exercise. Find me on Facebook