Making Lactose-Free Yogurt is Easy
If you are a fan of cow’s milk yogurt and on the low-FODMAP diet, then you have few commercial choices. You can seek out lactose-free yogurt versions, such as Green Valley Organics, or perhaps you can tolerate Greek yogurts, of which there are many.
This post may include affiliate links. Please see our complete disclosure here.
Greek yogurt has less lactose than traditional yogurt, due to the draining and straining process that eliminates excess whey and lactose.
The straining technique is also what makes Greek yogurt so nice and thick. FYI on average Greek yogurt will have approximately 4 to 8 grams of lactose per serving compared to 13 to 18 grams for regular yogurt.
Steer clear of Greek-style yogurts, which might have fibers and thickeners added and are not the same thing.
If you haven’t tried Challenging yourself with Greek yogurt, we encourage you to do so.
Want to Go Lactose-Free?
But Greek yogurt is not lactose-free and maybe that is what you want or need. We think that with the popularity of the diet increasing that perhaps other commercial brands will appear, but we decided to make our own so that we could share the experience with you.
You can make yogurt by beginning with a prepared yogurt as a “starter”, that is, the ingredient you need to provide the helpful bacteria that create the yogurt. But we figured that if you had access to a lactose-free commercial brand that you could just buy it and making it from scratch would be low priority.
We did our testing with lactose-free whole milk; you could try lactose-free 2% or even those lower in fat. You can also make your own with our DIY Lactose-Free Dairy instructions!
Try Belle + Bella Yogurt Starter
We used Belle + Bella brand Yogurt Starter, which is formulated to work with non-dairy milks. It is billed as “America’s First Non-Dairy Yogurt Starter” and is vegan, non-GMO and gluten-free, contains no preservatives and does contain 2 billion live cultures.
The reason we use this starter is that most starters use a lactose base and we wanted to make a lactose-free yogurt!
Other Yogurt Starter Options
There are some other options for you that might be more easily accessed, depending on where you live, but note that we have not tested them. Green Living Australia offers a Non-Dairy Yoghurt Culture with Probiotics.
Talk to your dietitian about the extra probiotics, which they may our may not want you to have, depending on your individual issues and/or where you are within the low FODMAP diet.
If you are in the UK, Cultures for Health has a vegan based starter, which is also available in the U.S. as an alternative to the Belle + Bella.
One caveat: If you make your yogurt with regular cow’s milk and allow your yogurt to cure for the longer period of time (24 hours), it is possible that any lactose present might be consumed in sufficient quantities to make the yogurt digestible to those on the low FODMAP diet.
The image above shows the firmer set that you get with a longer processing time. It would not make the yogurt dairy-free. You can try different milks with this recipe and decide for yourself. Read our article that addresses Fermentation.
The image below shows the softer set of the yogurt when it is processed for a shorter period of time.
Get Your Good Bacteria!
Belle + Bella starter does contain non-GMO maltodextrin, s. thermophilus, l. bulgaricus and l. acidophilus. Maltodextrin, by the way, is considered to be low FODMAP.
I made a batch of plain yogurt and also a batch lightly sweetened with maple syrup, one of our favorite low FODMAP sweeteners.
We did use a yogurt maker and the entire process was easy and the results were smooth, creamy and delicious. I hadn’t made yogurt in years and I have to admit it was kind of exciting to see the transformation and that it was as simple as it was.
Two recommendations for yogurt makers– both very highly rated. If you make alot of yogurt you might want to consider the Cuisinart model – for ease, consistency and it automatically cools your yogurt.
If you prefer the kind of yogurt maker with the individual serving glass containers, and a prefer a lower price point this maker is also very highly rated and super simple to use.
You do need a thermometer. We like the Maverick CT-03 Digital Oil & Candy Thermometer.
Making Lactose-Free Yogurt at home is easy. We tried Belle + Bella starter and it worked so well!
- 1 quart (960 ml) lactose-free whole milk
- 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup (60 ml) maple syrup, to taste, optional
- 1, (5 g) packet Belle + Bella Starter
Make sure yogurt making machine is prepared as needed, such as cleaning the receptacle(s), etc.
Heat the milk in a saucepan, with maple syrup if using, to 180°F (82°C). Allow to cool to between 108°F to 112°F (42°C to 45°C). It is imperative that it is not above 115°F (45°C) or the cultures will be killed.
Add 1 packet of the Belle + Bella starter and gently but thoroughly whisk to combine. Pour warm milk into yogurt maker and process according to manufacturer’s instructions. We like to make small 6 ounce (180 ml) portions. Typically you will be setting the machine to 112°F (44°C) and incubate for anywhere from around 8 hours to 24 hours depending on how thick and tangy you like your yogurt.
When the yogurt is “done”, cover and refrigerate for up to two weeks. Enjoy!
- Homemade yogurt is so much easier to make than you think. If you follow our instructions step by step you will be rewarded with creamy lactose-free yogurt to eat with fruit, granola or for use in savory cooking.
All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more. For a more detailed explanation, please read our article Understanding The Nutrition Panel Within Our Recipes.
Tell Us What You Think
38 comments for “How To Make Lactose-Free Yogurt”
Can you use a small amount of the yogurt as a starter for next batch? Or do you have to use a new starter packet
You can. The point of this article was mostly for folks who do not have access to the lactose-free yogurt in the first place. But yes, start a cycle with your homemade!
thanks – important information. I’d offer that I want to make LF yogurt at home to reduce plastic , so it will help to use my own yogurt rather than purchasing products.
Whatever your motivation, we are thrilled that our recipe can help you achieve your goals!
Hold back a proper amount of non flavoured to start next batch
Great idea! Most economical, too.
Just for clarity… so i can use lactose free (LF) milk for warming and use the LF cultures as you mentioned?
Yes, Patricia the recipe calls for lactose-free cow’s milk and then this special starter. The result is lactose free but dainty-rich yogurt! All low FODMAP in proper portions.
This is a question: Can organic sugar replace the maple syrup and if so how much would you suggest. Also, I would like to use vanilla or infuse the milk while heating with a vanilla bean. Would that work or should I just use vanilla when the cool down process is finished before putting it in the yogurt maker. Also, do the caps go on during the processing in the yogurt maker? Thank you
Hi Beverly. The addition of sugar would be fine. I would start with the same amount and see how it works during that batch. I think infusing vanilla bean with the milk would be awesome! Or stir in vanilla extract when it comes off the heat. I would not add the vanilla at the end of processing as agitating the yogurt at that point might loosen it up too much. As far as the caps, you should follow the directions for your particular machine. With my unit you leave them off and then put them on when you are ready to place in the fridge.
I’m Freezing some of my lactose free yogurt that I just made using the Bella starter in ice cube trays. My question is, how many ice cubes of starter do you need to make a new batch of yogurt?
I do not have a yogurt maker, but I have used my oven (with only the light on) to “proof” my home make yogurt. Is this recipe amenable for this? Also, I like my yogurt thick….can I let it proof for 12-24 hrs?
Thanks, Cary B
Hi Cary. I miss my old gas oven with the pilot light. I used to proof pizza dough that way! However you used to make yogurt should work with the low FODMAP ingredients. A longer setting time would be fine, too. Let us know how it goes.
Using the oven w/ light on worked perfectly! I also wrapped my jars with a towel. This first batch I used the Belle starter. Next batch I’ll use some Fage greek yogurt as a starter and compare.
Hello! This is an odd question…my son cannot eat yogurt while he has a Central IV line because he once got a blood infection that was caused by L. Bascillus (spelling?), one of the main cultures found in yogurt. We were told that the culture somehow attached to his IV line inside and caused a very serious infection, so the doctors recommended he does not eat it.
In step 2 of the recipe, you say “It is imperative that it is not above 115°F (45°C) or the cultures will be killed.” If I DID heat it over 115 and killed the cultures, would the yogurt still come out ok? That way, my son could still eat it 🙂
Thank you for any clarification!
Danielle, I am so sorry your son experienced this! It sounds like an unusual and dangerous situation and one that you should discuss with your medical team. For now, I would err on the side of caution and if you have been told that your son cannot eat yogurt, then I would steer clear of it.
Thank you , Dede…..I’ll wait until his line is removed to try this. Yes, it stumped his medical team as well; apparently it’s nearly unheard of! Strange, right? Thank you again for your advice.
Good luck to you you both.
Hi! I have known that yogurt itself it is naturally lactose-free because the bacteria “eats”
lactose. Can you please enlighten me?
Only yogurt that is “lactose-free” is considered lactose-free.
I have the Cuisinart yogurt maker and you cannot set the temp. Shall I just set it to 24 hours?
You won’t know until you try! That’s what I would do. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Can you also use Lactose Free cream? What would the difference be between using LF milk?
Hi Amanda, most yogurt recipes begin with milk, not cream, hence the call for milk.
I’ve been using the “cold start” method in my Instant pot to make my yogurt lately. Soooo yummy! My research suggest that lactose free milk is steady ultra pasteurized so that the initial hearing step is unnecessary ?
Either way, it’s been working! I like the tang of 24hrs, my kids like the smooth ice cream flavor of 15hrs. 🙂
I add stevia and vanilla after straining.
Great tips for others! Love the creativity. Thank you so much for sharing your experience.
Just curious, what does the bacteria consume when lactose is not in the milk? How does the ferment process work?
Great question! If you look at a label on a lactose-free milk container you will see about the same amount of sugar as the labels on conventional dairy milk, which might seem odd. This is because the LF milk is NOT made by removing the lactose, it is made by Adding an enzyme. Lactose is made up of glucose and galactose, the enzyme splits these into two components, making the milk easier for us to digest. But the sugars are still there.
Hi This is David from Green Living Australia.
For lactose free dairy yoghurt directions please check out our site here – https://www.greenlivingaustralia.com.au/yoghurt/yoghurt-directions/dairy/lactose-free-yoghurt
For lactose free non-dairy yoghurt check out this link – https://www.greenlivingaustralia.com.au/yoghurt/yoghurt-directions
I hope this is helpful.
These look like interesting products for those interested in making LF and alt milk yogurts.
Can I use skim milk and Digest Gold with probiotics to make lactose free yogurt?
I have no idea if it will work. You can try.
I am making this recipe today, exactly as written except with 2% lactose-free milk, in my new Euro-Cuisine YM-80 Yogurt maker. My question is this: I have a new electric kettle/pot which can be used to heat milk. However, of the various preset temps, there is no setting for 180 degrees F; only 175 or 185. Is it okay to heat the milk to 185? I’m not sure how to get around these settings to get it to automatically heat to 180. I’m sure I can cancel it when it gets to 180, but then I won’t be able to maintain that temp. I have read that maintaining the milk temp at 180 for 30 minutes before cooling it to 110 will help it thicken it. Alternately, I guess I could cook it down slowly (without the ice bath)??? I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks
Hi Renelle, I do not have enough experience deviating from the temperatures listed. Whether anything would become denatured at a higher temp, I couldn’t tell you. I suppose this wouldn’t be that expensive an experiment, although it will take your time. I would go for the 185 and see what happens.
I’ve been making plain lactose free yogurt at home for a over year, before I got on the FODMAP diet, since I am lactose intolerant.
I do not have a yogurt maker, so I just go with my grandmother’s traditional recipe of making yogurt at home. For the first time, I purchased plain yogurt, and Lactose Free milk. I boiled the milk on the stove, once it starts boiling, I turn off the heat, and transfer it to a container (with a lid, as I use the lid later). I let the milk cool down a bit. since i do not have thermometer, what my grandma taught me is, I insert my pinky in the warm milk and count to 10. if i can tolerate the heat until i get to 10, then i’m ready to add the yogurt to the milk. Then i add the yogurt to the milk, and mix very well. Close the container very well, by releasing any air, and wrap the container with a blanket and let it sit overnight overnight.
After around 12hrs passed, the next morning, I remove the container from the blanket and transfer to the fridge, and let it sit for a whole day before trying it.
The more yogurt I add to the milk, the thicker it will come out.
I always keep around 2 cups of yogurt on the side, to use at a later time when I want to make yogurt again.
To make what looks like a cream cheese (very familiar in the Mediterranean countries), I put the yogurt in a cloth bag, in a strainer in a bowl, and let it sit in the fridge for 2 days. This process will drain the water from the yogurt and the result a spreadable cream cheese.
Celine, you are a LF yogurt pro! I love your tips. I love strains yogurt’s texture as well. This will help and inspire others!
Thank you Dédé! The first time I tried to make the yogurt at home, i thought it will be very hard, but turned out to be super easy and quick. I usually use around 3 Liters of Milk and add between 1 to 1.5 cups of yogurt. the reason i make 3 Liters, because half of the quantity I strain to get the Labné (like a cream cheese).
I’ve always used the 2% fat LF milk, the yogurt will come out delicious and healthy at the same time.
Thank you for letting use know! This will help others for sure.