How to make coconut yogurt (two ways)

Homemade coconut yogurt

Today we’re making coconut yogurt, from scratch. And – lucky for you – because I’m insanely indecisive, I’m giving you two recipes: one that’s a bit lighter and thickened with universal pectin and another that’s hella rich and contains only three ingredients: (guar gum-free) full fat coconut milk, pure maple syrup, and some good ol’ fermentation-promoting bacteria.

To say these recipes have been a long time coming would be an understatement. I’ve been working on them since this past April and, as of Saturday, I’ve tested 37 different versions.. and wound up with two that I liked enough to share here. I’ve learned what I like (guar gum-free coconut milk, maple syrup, etc.) and what I don’t (cooked tapioca, store bought-starters, etc.), and now I’m here to share my yogurt-making knowledge so that you can confidently venture into your kitchen and whip up some coconut yogurt, too.

So let’s start with the coconut milk, seeing as how 1) it’s the main ingredient and 2) the kind of coconut milk you use will determine the overall quality of your yogurt. As always, my favorite brand is Aroy-D, and that’s because it contains two ingredients: coconut and water (no weird preservatives or guar gum). While it’s not organic (SIGH) and the cans don’t claim to be BPA-free, most companies (organic or not) that are BPA-free just replaced the BPA lining with another toxic lining. So pick your poison, people.

Coconut milk brands you need to avoid: Native Forest (I know it’s organic but it’s also oily as fuck) (which is no bueno) and Natural Value. Coconut milk brands I’ll use if Aroy-D isn’t available: 365 Everyday Value and Thai Kitchen.

On to the bacteria.

While you can ferment the yogurt with store-bought yogurt (or a store-bought starter), it’s not my favorite method. So I use the contents from a probiotic capsule instead. If you can’t find the brand I use, look for a probiotic supplement that contains Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus – which are the two main fermentation-promiting bacteria most commonly used in yogurt production (and for good reason: they work). One thing I’ve noticed is that sometimes the powder doesn’t like to release from the capsule (which makes me crazy) so, should that happen to you, just grab a (clean) toothpick and give it a good poke.

Now that we’ve taken care of the coconut milk and bacteria, I’m sure you’re wondering how the hell to actually make the yogurt. The good news is – if you don’t have a yogurt maker or multi-cooker (I have this one, as well – but prefer the former) – you can use your oven (assuming it’s equipped with a light). And honestly, although I do have a multi-cooker (and love it in a pinch), the oven is always my go-to incubation method. The only problem with using an oven is that it tends to run on the cool side (mine sits right around 102˚F) so the fermentation process takes a bit longer. Whereas if you’re using a device that has a yogurt setting, the incubation temperature is typically 110˚F and yogurt can be made in 12-18 hours (my device is auto-programmed to 8 hours but it’s never enough time for coconut yogurt).

Alright. I feel like you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and make some yogurt. But before I release you into the wild – here are a few more things to keep in mind:

– Use one probiotic capsule per can of coconut milk (or per 215g of coconut cream).
– If your yogurt develops a gray or yellow film during incubation, PITCH THAT SHIT.
– Make sure everything that comes into contact with the yogurt is properly sterilized.

PS – I’m currently working on an almondmilk version for those of you who’d prefer something a liiiiittle less fatty. Cross your fingers it doesn’t take me almost-five months to get it *just* right.


Things you’ll need (that you may not already have on hand)
+ Universal pectin (Pomona’s is the only brand that will work)
+ Live cultures (I use probiotic capsules)

Other things you’ll need
+ Candy thermometer
+ Yogurt maker, multi-cooker, or an oven with a light (if going the latter route, you’ll also need a few oven thermometers to ensure your oven reaches the proper temperature)


P R O B I O T I C SHomemade coconut yogurtHomemade coconut yogurtBlueberry-swirled coconut yogurtBlueberry-swirl coconut yogurt

Notes: For super thick yogurt, use 14 ounces of coconut cream or increase the pectin (and calcium water) to 1 teaspoon each. You don’t have to add the tapioca starch but it does make for a slightly thicker yogurt than one that’s thickened with just the pectin. If you’d rather use store-bought coconut yogurt as a starter, use 2-3 tablespoons per can of coconut milk. Recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, etc.

COCONUT YOGURT (PECTIN-THICKENED)

1 (14 oz) can full fat coconut milk
2 teaspoons (12g) pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon (1g) universal pectin

1/2 teaspoon calcium water (comes with pectin)
1 teaspoon (2g) tapioca starch, optional (see notes above)
1 (20 billion CFU) probiotic capsule

Before starting this recipe, you need to decide how you’re going to prepare the yogurt and plan accordingly. If in your oven, you’ll need to make sure your oven is preheated to ~105˚F (anything between 100-115˚F is acceptable for yogurt making), which you can do by turning on your oven light. If making the yogurt in a in a yogurt maker or multi-cooker, you’ll need to make sure it’s nice and warm by the time you put the yogurt inside. Once you decide how to make it, proceed.

Add the coconut milk and maple syrup to a small saucepan set over medium-low heat, and stick a thermometer on the side of the pan (you’ll need to heat the mixture to 180˚F to ensure ensure the final product doesn’t separate). Once the coconut milk starts to gently boil, add the pectin and calcium water and whisk vigorously (for about one minute) to ensure no clumps remain. Continue heating the milk (it should start to really boil) and once it reaches 180˚F, off the heat and give it another good whisk. Remove 1/4 cup of the warm coconut milk and place it in a small bowl. Sift in the tapioca starch and whisk until the mixture is clump-free, then add the tapioca mixture back to the coconut milk and whisk to combine. Monitor the coconut milk until the temperature drops to 108˚F, then empty the contents of the probiotic capsule into the milk and whisk until combined. Pass the milk through a sieve and into a sterilized jar (if you catch a tiny bit of the pectin or tapioca, that’s fine) (if you catch more than a tiny bit, that means 1) you didn’t whisk well enough and 2) your yogurt won’t be nearly as thick as the varieties pictured). Seal the jar with a lid and proceed with your incubation method of choice. If going with a yogurt maker or multi-cooker, incubate for 12-18 hours, depending on how tart your like your yogurt (the longer it incubates, the more tart it will be). If using an oven, go for a full 24 hours (or 36 if you like it super tart).

Once the yogurt’s finished incubating, give it a good stir (with a spoon, whisk, immersion blender, etc.) then seal it again and pop it in the refrigerator. It needs to chill for a full 24 hours before consuming. Yogurt will keep refrigerated, in an air tight container, for up to two weeks.

Yield: About 14 ounces

Homemade coconut yogurt

Notes: While coconut milk chilled for 24 hours is suitable for making coconut whipped cream, it is not suitable for yogurt making. You need to separate as much of the water from the cream as possible, and that requires a longer chilling time. Although you can make coconut yogurt with coconut milk that has chilled for a mere 24 hours, it won’t be nearly as thick – but as long as you’re ok with that going into it, go on with your cans of insufficiently chilled coconut milk. If you’d rather use canned coconut cream, I had success using Thai Kitchen’s coconut cream (though the guar gum gave the yogurt a light texture, similar to the texture of coconut yogurt you’d buy at the grocery). Also, if using coconut cream you still have to refrigerate the cans for 2-3 days to fully separate the water and cream. If you’d rather use store-bought coconut yogurt as a starter, use 2-3 tablespoons per 215g of coconut cream. Recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, etc.

COCONUT YOGURT (NO ADDED THICKENER)

2-3 (14 oz) cans full fat coconut milk, refrigerated for 2-3 days
4 teaspoons (24g) pure maple syrup
2 (20 billion CFU) probiotic capsules

Before starting this recipe, you need to decide how you’re going to prepare the yogurt and plan accordingly. If in your oven, you’ll need to make sure your oven is preheated to ~105˚F (anything between 100-115˚F is acceptable for yogurt making), which you can do by turning on your oven light. If making the yogurt in a in a yogurt maker or multi-cooker, you’ll need to make sure it’s nice and warm by the time you put the yogurt inside. Once you decide how to make it, proceed.

Open the cans of coconut milk and spoon the thick layers of cream off the top (if the cream isn’t nice and firm, that means the coconut cream didn’t set up properly and that your yogurt will be on the runny side). You need to end up with 430-445g coconut cream, though the amount of cream available varies from can to can (which is why I called for 2-3 cans). Add the coconut cream and maple syrup to a small saucepan set over medium heat and stick a thermometer on the side of the pan (you need to heat the mixture to 180˚F to ensure ensure the final product doesn’t separate). Once the cream reaches 180˚F, off the heat and give it a good whisk. Monitor the coconut milk until the temperature drops to 108˚F, then empty the contents of the probiotic capsules into the milk and whisk until combined. Pass the cream through a sieve and into a sterilized jar, then seal the jar with a lid and proceed with your incubation method of choice. If going with a yogurt maker or multi-cooker, incubate for 12-18 hours, depending on how tart your like your yogurt (the longer it incubates, the more tart it will be). If using an oven, go for a full 24 hours (or 36 if you like it super tart).

Once the yogurt’s finished incubating, give it a good stir (with a spoon, whisk, immersion blender, etc.) then seal it again and pop it in the refrigerator. It needs to chill for a full 24 hours before consuming. Yogurt will keep refrigerated, in an air tight container, for up to two weeks.

Yield: About 8 ounces


VARIATIONS
To use agar-agar – Once you’ve heated the coconut cream to 180˚F, whisk in 1/8-1/4 teaspoon agar-agar powder depending on if you’re using coconut cream (1/8 teaspoon) or coconut milk ( 1/4 teaspoon).
Blueberry-swirled coconut yogurt – Reduce 1 cup of blueberries (or any fruit) until the juice turns syrupy. Let cool then swirl into yogurt.
Cacao coconut yogurt – Sift 2-4 tablespoons of cacao powder into the yogurt and mix until smooth. May need to add additional maple syrup, if desired.
Vanilla bean coconut yogurt – When the yogurt has finished incubating (and just before it’s chilled), stir in 1/4-1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean powder.

Blueberry-swirled coconut yogurt

46 Comments

  • Reply dixya @food, pleasure, and health 16 August 2016 at 7:15 AM

    a lot of people have asked me about vegan yogurt..now i know where to exactly point them to. my mom makes homemade yogurt with good old milk and its really good. i really enjoyed learning all about yogurt, esp with culture, coconut milk!!

  • Reply Anya 16 August 2016 at 10:32 AM

    This is really great and so thorough! I’m very curious to try, maybe after my kitchen is renovated. Thanks Ashlae :)

  • Reply Joyce @ Sun Diego Eats 16 August 2016 at 10:37 AM

    Truly appreciate all the recipe testing and perfecting that went into this, we can always use more of this type of dedication in the food blog world. And also love that you can use a probiotic pill as a starter! I initially saw the title and thought about how I would love to make this but probably would have to go buy yogurt culture god knows where. Luckily have the same kind of probiotic pills in my fridge right this second :)

  • Reply Becca @ Two Places at Once 16 August 2016 at 11:35 AM

    Oh my gosh, I’ve never seen a recipe like this before! Didn’t even know homemade coconut yogurt was possible! Thank you for sharing.

  • Reply Molly 16 August 2016 at 12:11 PM

    This is amazing! I can’t wait to make my own yogurt!

  • Reply Jordan 16 August 2016 at 3:34 PM

    Dedication! Whew. If this is anything like the coconut oil crust, I can guarantee that this yogurt is on point and will work every time. My husband is into fermentation, so I’m going to show this to him. ;)

  • Reply Jane 16 August 2016 at 4:35 PM

    Yesss!! SO excited to try this. Thanks for posting

  • Reply Jess @Nourished by Nutrition 16 August 2016 at 5:24 PM

    Ohhh man that blueberry swirl has me weak in the knees!!! I’m thoroughly impressed by your dedication to this coconut yogurt perfection! 37 times…damn! I can’t say I’m much of a coconut yogurt fan since I’m not so keen on the coconut flavor. Plus, am always wishing coconut yogurt had more protein, but this recipe and easy to follow recipe may change my mind! I am looking forward to the almond milk version so fingers crossed it comes to perfection quickly! Thanks for sharing and I love following along on snapchat :)
    xx, Jess

  • Reply Camille 16 August 2016 at 6:06 PM

    This looks amazing – thank you! Is the maple syrup an essential element for thickening the recipes? I’m always desperate to find a less sweet vegan yogurt that can go with Indian food or Middle Eastern food as a semi-savory accompaniment and I’d love to be able to make this without the sweetener!

    • Reply Ashlae 16 August 2016 at 6:20 PM

      Hi Camille –

      Sugar is crucial to feed the bacteria during the fermentation process. 2-4 teaspoons of maple syrup lends hardly any discernible sweetness.

  • Reply Abby 16 August 2016 at 6:48 PM

    I am totally trying this with TJs coconut cream. I’m ‘aight with the stabilizer. Califia Farms and other almond milks have them too and I do just fine digesting them.

    Thanks for your LABOR OF LOVE.

  • Reply Tori//Gringalicious 16 August 2016 at 7:58 PM

    Wow, thank you so much for taking the time to share this. I’ve had a lot of questions about making coconut yogurt and now I feel like I’m ready to conquer this area of the food world! Yay!

  • Reply Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land 16 August 2016 at 10:31 PM

    Here I am all the way over in crazy Vancouver, Canada, walking two blocks to my favourite green grocer store (called Norm’s Fruit and Salad) and it’s AROY-D for life, for life. I’ve been AROY-D-ing it for years and years. So that makes us twins and part of the ALL CAPS AROY-D club. Also, can I note that Universal Pectin feels like it would be a very good band name. You make me want to eat healthier and also to make coc-yog because it looks amazing!!! XO

  • Reply Julia 18 August 2016 at 1:59 AM

    Your timing is just perfect! I was thinking about making coconut yogurt again, but wasn´t so sure about the recipe… I´ve tried some variations before but sometimes it turned out nice and thick and sometimes not! Now I´m going to try the version with agar from this recipe, just boiled the milk and now I´m waiting for it to cool down to stir in the probiotics. So excited how it will turn out :) Thank you for sharing and WOW testing it 37 times is a lot! Thats great! <3

  • Reply Harry Bowden 18 August 2016 at 8:11 AM

    These different options are really helpful. Thanks so much for testing out all the different options and being so thorough. The end result looks great!!

  • Reply Dawn 19 August 2016 at 1:43 AM

    You rock! Now just have to buy some the probiotic capsules, gosh I hope they sell it here in Sweden. Where do you find these in the US, health food shops?

    • Reply Ashlae 19 August 2016 at 7:11 AM

      Hi Dawn –

      You can purchase probiotic capsules at nearly any grocery store in the States, but health food stores are sure to have them. Just make sure you find a probiotic supplement that uses the proper strains of bacteria.

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  • Reply Jennifer 19 August 2016 at 12:12 PM

    This looks amazing – I am a bit of a coconut yoghurt addict so this looks like a fun weekend project!

  • Reply Inês 19 August 2016 at 3:21 PM

    Hey Ashlae,

    You are finally giving me the courage to venture into the coconut yogurt world. :) I was wondering… if I use coconut cream instead, should I just add the same quantity?

    • Reply gladys 21 September 2017 at 2:20 AM

      I made it yesterday with coconut cream… Totally works. So smooth, creamy and decadent..

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  • Reply Kate 20 August 2016 at 8:07 AM

    Okay, this is super awesome and I can’t wait to give it a try. On another completely unrelated note. I’m getting ready to make your salted hot fudge sauce for the second time. That stuff is ridiculously good! Have a great weekend!

  • Reply Heather 20 August 2016 at 12:24 PM

    Aroy D is the best coconut milk! Any time I make whipped coconut cream with it, it turns out perfect every. single. time. Can’t say the same for other brands which is why I’ll be an Aroy D customer for life. :) As for this coconut yogurt, mine is currently incubating in my oven. Counting down the hours until I can dig in!

  • Reply Genevieve 21 August 2016 at 8:19 AM

    Girl, I seriously love your commitment to testing stuff over and over again until it is perfect. So much respect and one of the reasons I love your recipes so much. The kitchen I work in was using Aroy-D cans to make whip for the longest time, and we recently switched to Native Forest. Leaving me to deal with the oily as fuck mess. I actually really love the 365 coconut milk- I think the first time I used it I wasn’t expecting it to be great but I was so pleasantly surprised! Can’t wait to fill my fridge with all this homemade coyo <3

  • Reply Ashley Rodriguez 24 August 2016 at 12:55 PM

    I just adore your ambition.

  • Reply ale 11 September 2016 at 11:44 AM

    I’ll do this today! Will a dehydrator work?

    • Reply Ashlae 17 September 2016 at 7:51 AM

      Hi Ale –

      Sorry, couldn’t tell ya!

  • Reply Dana 14 September 2016 at 9:11 AM

    So excited to give this a try! The dairy free yogurts that are in the market are either disgusting or loaded with sugar. No bueno.

  • Reply Winter 21 September 2016 at 6:59 PM

    I just wanted to comment that I made the no thickener version of this recently and oh dear lord it was phenomenal. Thank you for rhis tried and tested beauty! Got 52683 tins of coco milk chillin now ♡♡

  • Reply Julie 25 September 2016 at 4:23 AM

    Hi Ashlae. Just wondering. Why take the cream out of a can of coconut milk and go through the whole process of refrigerating overnight and scooping it out – when you can buy a can of coconut cream instead.. isn’t it the same thing?? i’d love to try make it at home but i’m looking for shortcuts! thanks for your advice

    • Reply Ashlae 25 September 2016 at 6:14 AM

      Hi Julie –

      I touched on using coconut cream in the notes section. :) Long story short: nope, it’s not the same thing. And if you want a faster method, use the recipe that uses a thickener (and a can of coconut milk that doesn’t need to be chilled).

  • Reply Jess 7 April 2017 at 11:04 AM

    Hi Ashlae! I’m a newer fan of your site- it’s amazing! Thank you SO MUCH for this recipe and all the testing that went into it – just tried it and had great success – the yogurt is so tasty! I incubated in my instant pot for the full 18 hours, although I think next time I want it tangier so I might let it go longer – is there a max?

    Also – I refrigerated my Aroy-D cans for legitimately 2 weeks but the cream was still not super firm like Thai Kitchen or 365 usually are at room-temp for me… do you think I got a bad batch of Aroy-D? That was the first time I’d used that brand so not sure.

    Another question – have you ever tried with Trader Joe’s coconut milk or cream? I think it only came out within the last year (after you wrote this post). I live in SF and in the last year started buying TJ’s brand for cooking because it is organic and no guar gum. That said – it’s from Sri Lanka so I think it’s not as sweet/flavorful as the ones that come from Thailand but since I like my yogurt tart, I think I may try it next time… just wondering whether you have any insight on this!

    Thanks again!!! So excited! I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of/tried Anita’s Coconut Yogurt (only available in NYC area) – it’s amazing and this is the closest I’ve tasted to that! Next time you’re in NY, seek Anita’s out – it’s the thickest and creamiest ever!

    • Reply Ashlae 15 April 2017 at 10:19 PM

      Hi Jess –

      I’m not sure what the max is, but I do know the longer you incubate it the tangier it will be. :)

      Aroy-D doesn’t get super firm/hard like other brands. That’s what I love about it! Also, the firmness of coconut cream will depends on the temperature of your refrigerator. If you want the Aroy-D to be on the firm side, simply lower the temperature of your refrigerator (or chill the can for 1+ month). I have used both TJ’s coconut milk/cream and I am not a fan. Aroy-d 4 lyfe.

      And Anita’s! I’ve been dying to try it. Crossing my fingers she makes it outta NY. ;)

  • Reply Aiden 12 May 2017 at 12:36 PM

    Hi Ashlae!

    I just discovered your blog recently through Bloglovin’ and how I have survived until this point without your naturally sweetened coconut granola in my life is a mystery to me.

    Thank you for sharing your perfected cocoyo process! I am really keen to try the version without the added thickener, but have a question about the incubation temp. I tested out my oven light and even after a few hours it seems like it only JUST hits 100F. I don’t have (and can’t currency afford to invest in) a yogurt maker or multicooker. Since 100 is the bare minimum you suggest, am I risking inadequate fermentation with my oven? Could I potentially let it go for longer or umm wrap the bowl in foil or something…?

    Thank you for your insight!

    Aiden

    • Reply Ashlae 20 May 2017 at 6:59 AM

      Hi Aiden –

      I’d wrap the container in foil. And let it incubate for the full 18 hours. If it still hasn’t thickened after 18, I’d shoot for 24. Mine oven is only two degrees warmer and makes excellent yogurt, so I don’t think you’ll have any issues. Happy yogurt making!

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  • Reply Jennifer Bull 2 June 2017 at 4:21 AM

    Hello! I have just discovered your blog and am so happy that I have!

    This looks phenomenal and I can’t wait to try it. The link to the multi cooker seems to go straight to the Amazon page with coconut milk. Can you re-post the link or share the info regarding which multi cooker you use?

    Thank you!

    • Reply Ashlae 2 June 2017 at 7:22 AM

      Hi Jennifer –

      Sorry about that! The link has been updated. :)

  • Reply Debby 10 July 2017 at 9:19 PM

    Hello! Do you know if raw honey would work in this recipe? That’s the only sugar I have in my house. Thank you!

    • Reply Ashlae 11 July 2017 at 7:54 AM

      Hi Debby –

      I’m not sure but it wouldn’t hurt to try!

  • Reply Molly Iarocci 29 August 2017 at 9:58 AM

    Hello! I am trying to make my own coconut milk yogurt and need help with the coconut milk. I am on the bi-phasic SIBO diet, which means I have to be specific carbohydrate diet compliant. That means no guar gum, and no pectin. I tried to make coconut milk yogurt the other night and found out the hard way that you need as full a fat milk as possible or it doesn’t turn out. Is the Aroy-D product you recommend thick enough in milk fat to make a thick yogurt on its own (no pectin)? If not, do you recommend a coconut milk that is as close to 100% milk fat as possible without guar gum or other additives? Thanks so much! -Molly

    • Reply Ashlae 29 August 2017 at 10:08 AM

      Hi Molly –

      Follow the instructions for the no thickener yogurt and your yogurt will turn out fine.

      • Reply Molly Iarocci 29 August 2017 at 4:05 PM

        Thank you, Ashlae! One more question – I cannot use honey. Do you know how much stevia (pure) I should use instead? Appreciate the help!

        • Reply Ashlae 31 August 2017 at 7:01 AM

          Hi Molly –

          The recipe doesn’t call for honey. I don’t use stevia so unfortunately I can’t be of assistance. Good luck!

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