Homemade vegan yogurt doesn’t have to be complicated! This simple & affordable recipe requires just 3 ingredients: cashews, soy milk, and probiotic culture.
- What is Vegan Yogurt Made From?
- Is Vegan Yogurt Healthier?
- What You’ll Need (Equipment & Ingredients)
- How to make vegan yogurt at home
- How to make yogurt without a yogurt maker
- Expert Tips for Success
- Flavours and Add-ins
- Serving Suggestions
- Storage Instructions
- Recipes that use Vegan Yogurt
- 3 Ingredient Vegan Greek Yogurt (easy, cheap & healthy!)
What is Vegan Yogurt Made From?
Instead of cow’s milk, vegan yogurt is made from plant-based milk. This recipe uses soy milk. The process is the same as making dairy milk. It involves introducing live cultures or yogurt starters to the plant-based milk, allowing it to ferment and develop the distinct yogurt flavor and probiotic benefits.
Is Vegan Yogurt Healthier?
Regarding probiotic benefits and gut health, vegan yogurt can be as beneficial as dairy-based yogurt. The live cultures in vegan yogurt contribute to a healthy gut microbiome, aiding digestion and overall well-being. Additionally, vegan yogurt is free from cholesterol and lactose, making it suitable for those with dietary restrictions or lactose intolerance.
However, the nutrition profile of vegan yogurt will depend on the type of milk used to make it. For example, coconut yogurt is often popular as it is creamy and thick and replicates the mouthfeel of dairy very well. However, it is high in saturated fat and low in protein so that it wouldn’t be a nutritional equivalent for dairy yogurt. In contrast, if you make your yogurt using fortified soy milk, it will have a protein and micronutrient value similar to dairy yogurt and can be just as healthy. The choice is up to you!
Suppose you prefer an extra silky, creamy mouthfeel. In that case, coconut yogurt might be the perfect choice for you. Keep in mind that you should view it as more of an occasional food or dessert rather than a yogurt eaten by the bowlful for breakfast. Soy may be a healthier choice if you enjoy regular portions of yogurt or look for a nutritional equivalent for dairy.
What You’ll Need (Equipment & Ingredients)
To make your vegan yogurt, you will need the following equipment and ingredients:
- Yogurt maker, instant pot, or large, sterilized glass jars
- Thermometer (not 100% essential, but helpful)
- Soy milk
- Raw cashews (see substitutions if you are allergic)
- Culture (either plant-based yogurt or a sachet of dry yogurt starter)
How to make vegan yogurt at home
Making homemade yogurt seems intimidating, but it comes down to just 4 simple steps.
- Blend – blitz soaked cashews with a cup of soymilk until smooth.
- Heat – combine blended cashew mixture with remaining soy milk and starter culture. On the stove, heat on low temperature until lukewarm at 30°C/86°F.
- Ferment – transfer the mixture to a yogurt maker or sterilized glass jars. Cover and leave to ferment for 4-6 hours at a consistently warm temperature of 42°C/108°F.
- Chill – once the yogurt is tangy and thick, transfer it into the fridge to chill and thicken further. Add flavors and toppings as desired.
How to make yogurt without a yogurt maker
Don’t have a yogurt maker? Don’t worry! You can still make delicious homemade yogurt by using clean jars and finding a warm spot in your house.
For yogurt to ferment, we must keep it at a consistently warm temperature of around 42°C/108°F for ~4-6 hours. This gets the bacteria active and gives the yogurt its tangy flavor. We mustn’t get the yogurt too hot; otherwise, it will kill the bacteria – anything over 49°C/120°F won’t work. It’s also important that the yogurt is not too cold or won’t ferment. The lowest temperature it should be is 32°C/90°F.
Creating this consistent temperature without a yogurt maker is a delicate balance, but it definitely can be done! I recommend using a thermometer to monitor the temperature until you’ve got a good practice down pat.
How to create the perfect environment for yogurt:
- Hot climate? – if you’re lucky enough to live in a warm climate between 32°C/90°F – 42°C/108°F then you can leave your yogurt out to culture. Make sure it’s not in direct sunlight, or it will get too hot.
- Oven – flash-heat your oven to 200°C/400°F for a few minutes, then turn it off. Place your yogurt in the oven, leave the light on, then close the door (don’t open it!). Check the temperature of the oven every hour or so, and if needed, intermittently turn the oven on and off its lowest temperature so it stays between 32°C/90°F – 42°C/108°F.
- Use a heater – place your yogurt near a radiator, fan heater, or ducted heating. Just be careful not to get it too close to direct heat (we don’t want to kill the bacteria) and to rotate it if needed so it is evenly exposed on all sides.
- Heat a small room – if you have a small toilet/powder room/closet or laundry that can be heated inexpensively, that’s a great way to provide a cozy, stable environment for your yogurt. I have tried this successfully in the laundry by running my clothes dryer with the door mostly closed and letting it heat the room.
Expert Tips for Success
- If possible, sterilize your jars by boiling them in a pot of water or ensure they are very clean at a minimum. We don’t want anything funky growing in our yogurt.
- It would help if you used a blender, not a food processor. Food processors will need to blend the cashews better, and you will have a gritty texture throughout the yogurt.
- At least for the first few times, follow this recipe closely until you have succeeded. Fermenting is a simple process, but temperature control is crucial. I often make this recipe and occasionally fail when I have yet to pay close attention to the temperature.
- The cashews MUST be softened by either boiling or soaking overnight. This is important to get that super silky consistency. If your blender is not strong, this step is extra important. I recommend overnight soaking as this will soften the cashews better than boiling.
- Blend the milk and cashews until completely smooth and creamy. There should be no bits of cashews. Don’t underdo it!
- Be sure to scoop out the yogurt before it is done fermenting. It will prevent it from getting that delicious thick, pot-set Greek yogurt consistency. The yogurt gets even thicker once it has been chilled after fermenting. Don’t worry if it’s not super duper thick initially.
- If there is some water separation on top of the yogurt after chilling, mix it back in.
You MUST use soy or another high protein plant-milk
A high-protein plant milk is essential for this recipe to work. I use soy milk as it is naturally a good source of protein (so any brand/variety of soy milk should work). One of my lovely followers who has experimented told me that high-protein almond milk also works. Do NOT use regular almonds, oats ri,ce, etc, as they do not have sufficient protein content, and the yogurt won’t gel. You will end up with separated water and curd, which will be pretty unappealing (speaking from experience with my own oat-yogurt fail here – see photo below). In theory, this gluggy mixture will still have all the probiotic benefits of yogurt (as it has the added good bacteria and has fermented), but it is way too gross to eat! There is a workaround for this using a gelling agent like agar-agar to thicken, but until I experiment further and create another recipe, I suggest sticking to the high-protein milk 🙂
More ingredients tips
- It seems counterintuitive to buy store-bought yogurt to make homemade yogurt; however, if you reserve a 1/4 cup of your first homemade batch, you can use this as the starter for your next batch, and so on and so on. If you make yogurt regularly (once a week or so), you can continuously use your yogurt. Alternatively, buying the dry or frozen sachets of yogurt starter can be a very convenient way to add the bacteria to the yogurt.
- Don’t add anything to the yogurt mixture until after it is fermented (berries, maple syrup, etc.).
Flavours and Add-ins
After making your yogurt, you can stir through any syrups, fruits, or flavorings you would like. Layering it with chia jam, fresh berries, or even simply stirring through vanilla and maple syrup are all delicious sweet options. I prefer to keep it natural and unsweetened as I use my yogurt for savory cooking in pasta sauces, cakes, and topping onto soups and curries. But if you’re a fan of sweet yogurt, below are some ideas for optional add-ins. Do not add these before you have fermented and chilled the yogurt, though, as it will disturb the fermenting and setting process 🙂
- Berry chia jam
- Maple syrup
- Vanilla bean paste
- Passionfruit pulp
- Fresh or thawed berries
- Fruit compote (e.g., apple, rhubarb, mango – any fruit you’d like)
- Cinnamon sugar
- Protein powder – stir through a scoop of protein powder to make your yogurt extra filling and add a protein boost to your day. It also creates a delicious mousse-like consistency.
- Up the indulgence – crumble Oreos, speculoos, or another vegan-friendly biscuit on top of your yogurt to make a quick creamy dessert
- Layer your yogurt in a glass or jar with fruit, granola, or chia pudding to make a cute breakfast parfait. Check out my Layered Breakfast Cup recipe here to see what I mean. Making it in a jar is a very convenient way to take breakfast to the office!
- Bake with your yogurt – I love this Lemon Pound Cake from Nora Cooks Vegan.
- Chia pudding – stir yogurt through your chia pudding to add some gut-friendly probiotics. You could add some yogurt to my viral Chocolate Chia Mousse recipe.
- Overnight oats – add yogurt to your overnight oats mixture for a tangy flavor and gut health benefits.
- Cook – keep the yogurt natural and unsweetened and stir it into pasta sauces, dollop on top of curries or soups. It is delicious as a topping on my Tofu Butter Chicken or Creamy Tomato Soup. For the pasta idea, check out this Yogurt Pasta Hack from @healthygirlkitchen on TikTok to see what I mean!
Regular dairy yogurt (including Greek yogurt) is not vegan. However, vegan yogurt can easily be made by substituting dairy with plant-based alternatives such as soy, coconut, almond, or oat milk, like in this recipe.
Contrary to some misconceptions, vegan yogurt is indeed natural yogurt. It replicates the creamy texture and tangy flavor of traditional yogurt, provides similar probiotic benefits, and promotes gut health.
You can substitute the cashews with sunflower seeds or omit them altogether. The yogurt will have a slightly different texture but will still be delicious.
If the yogurt has separated slightly, you can stir the liquid on the top or bottom back into the mixture. If it’s very thin once stirred, it might mean the temperature wasn’t consistent and hadn’t been set properly. It’s still perfectly fine to eat, but you should try again to get that thick pot-set consistency.
Usually, issues with consistency are due to varying temperatures during fermentation, or it needs to be within the right temperature range. It needs to be between 32°C/90°F and 42°C/108°F and be as stable a temperature as possible. Give it another go and pay close attention to the timing and temperature, or invest in a yogurt maker for foolproof success. I thrifted a Luvele yogurt maker for $20, and it’s been so handy! It’s one of those appliances people always use or will get bored of and move on after a few uses so that you can pick them up cheaply second-hand.
Unfortunately, no, you need to use high-protein milk for the yogurt to gel. Unless you fortify the oat or almond milk to make it extra high in protein, it won’t work. See explanation in ‘Expert Tips’ above for further advice on why this happens and choosing the right plant-milk 🙂
Yogurt should smell slightly tangy, but if it smells sour, like rotten eggs, or not quite right, throw it out and start again. It could be due to the milk used or leaving it out for too long.
You can use store-bought yogurt as a culture, or if you’d prefer to have some long-life options on hand, you can buy frozen or dry starters online. I used these vegan Belle & Bella sachets from iHerb, which worked perfectly. But the most affordable way to do it is to reserve a ¼ cup of your batch of yogurt to culture the next one. If you love this recipe and regularly make yogurt (about once a week), then you can form quite a nice little yogurt lifecycle in this way.
Keep your vegan yogurt in sealed jars in the refrigerator. It will keep for about a week and continue developing a tangier flavor. You might find there is some separation towards the end of the week; if so, stir it back in. I haven’t tested freezing this yogurt, but I doubt the consistency will be nearly as thick and creamy and may split when thawed. You could give it a try, though; you never know!
Recipes that use Vegan Yogurt
Here are some of my recipes that you can use your vegan yogurt with as a topping or ingredient:
I hope you enjoy making this vegan yogurt. It takes a couple of goes sometimes to master the perfect consistency, but once you know what you’re doing, you can make it blindfolded! I make this once a week with soy milk as it’s much more affordable (and healthier) than buying store-bought coconut yogurt. Let me know how you go in the comments below 🙂
3 Ingredient Vegan Greek Yogurt (easy, cheap & healthy!)
- Yoghurt maker
- 1 litre unsweetened soy milk
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 1/4 cup plant-based yogurt or a sachet of dry yoghurt starter
- Soak cashews. If you're organised, cover them in water overnight and leave in the fridge. If you're in a rush, boil them for 10 mins.
- Drain cashews. Blitz 1/2 a cup of soy milk and cashews in a high speed blender.
- Add blended mixture, remaining soy milk and culture/yoghurt to a saucepan. Heat on low, stirring constantly. The aim is to bring the mixture to a lukewarm ~30C. If you don’t have a thermometer, can test the temperature as you go with a couple of droplets on the inside of your wrist.
- Transfer to clean glass jars or your yogurt maker container. Cover with lids.
- To ferment the yoghurt, we need to keep it at a consistently warm temperature for ~4-6 hours. This gets the bacteria active and gives the yoghurt its tangy flavour. It's important we don't get the yogurt too hot though otherwise it will kill the bacteria. Leave the jar in a sunny spot, or intermittently turn your oven on and off on its lowest temperature. If you have a yoghurt maker, then you don't have to do this – just set it for 4 hours and forget.
- After 4 hours, taste test. It should have a mild tang, and a smooth, thick pot-set texture. You can make it more tangy by leaving it for an extra 1-2 hours. Don't go over this time as it may cause the yoghurt to split.
- Chill the yogurt in the fridge for a few hours, it will get even thicker.
- If desired, stir through a teaspoon of vanilla and syrup to taste.