Instant Pot Coconut Milk Yogurt (Vegan!)

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Coconut milk yogurt can be expensive and full of additives when you buy it in the store, so I’m super-excited to share this fool-proof method for making your own dairy-free Instant Pot Coconut Milk Yogurt. (If you don’t have an Instant Pot, don’t worry– I’ve got you covered further down in this post.)

two cups of dairy free coconut milk yogurt topped with berries

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Making Yogurt in the Instant Pot

Using an Instant Pot makes this process easier when it comes to keeping a proper temperature for fermentation, but you can also use a simple glass jar in a warm area of your home for similar results. I’m still in minimalist-mode after living in tiny apartment kitchens for so long in Los Angeles, so I aim to keep my kitchen appliances to a minimum.

That’s why when I decided to finally take the plunge and buy the Instant Pot, I wanted to get the model with the yogurt-making function, so it could multitask. Using the yogurt function did NOT come intuitively to me, but I finally figured out a one-pot method that makes the yogurt-making process as easy as possible.

How to Make Instant Pot Coconut Milk Yogurt

Creamy coconut milk (the culinary or canned version, not the type found in the refrigerated section) makes a natural substitute for dairy milk in yogurt-making, but it won’t thicken up like the creamy yogurt that we’re used to on its own. It needs some sort of thickener added to it. The common thickeners used in yogurt making include:

I tried using tapioca starch first, but I found it difficult to achieve the results I wanted. I needed to use about 1/4 cup of tapioca starch per 2 cans of coconut milk to get the thickness I was looking for, and the resulting mouthfeel was a bit “off” to me. If you’ve ever tasted store-bought yogurts with a lot of gums and thickeners, the tapioca-thickened yogurt reminded me of that.

a spoonful of coconut milk yogurt, next to a cup of coconut milk yogurt topped with berries

How to thicken Coconut Milk Yogurt

To keep this dairy-free yogurt vegan I decided to use agar agar flakes instead. If you’re not familiar with Agar Agar, it is a dried seaweed that acts very similar to gelatin. I bought in the “exotic foods” aisle where they sell Nori sheets for making sushi in my local Whole Foods, but if it’s not available to you locally you can also order it on Amazon. One bag will last you quite a while, and you can use it to make other recipes like my Vegan Strawberry Cream Pie or Vegan French Silk Pie.

There’s also the possibility of using no thickener if you want to use straight coconut cream (the part that thickens up when chilled in a can) to make your yogurt instead. I don’t care for the taste or texture of the yogurts made with only coconut cream, as I think they taste too rich and fatty, but feel free to go that route if you’d like to.

As written, this coconut milk yogurt recipe produces a very thick result, similar to a Greek-style yogurt, thanks to the thickener and fat content of the full-fat coconut milk. The yogurt will be very thin and runny when it’s in the Instant Pot fermenting, but it will thicken up perfectly once you transfer it to the fridge to chill.

spoon in runny coconut milk yogurt in the Instant Pot

Here are a few other things to keep in mind when making Coconut Milk Yogurt in the Instant Pot:

  1. Make sure you sanitize everything well before getting started. Usually a dishwasher can sanitize everything for you (mine has a sanitize setting) but otherwise you can use boiling water to sanitize the bowl of the Instant Pot and your whisk.
  2. I could never get the “boil” function on the Instant Pot to actually make my coconut milk boil. Maybe it’s just my machine, but I thought I’d share. I read that you want the coconut milk to reach 180-degrees Fahrenheit to make sure no bad bacteria develops, and when I used the “boil” function that is built into the Instant Pot, my coconut milk never reached higher than 150ºF. So, to get around that I realized I could simply use the “Saute” function instead! The saute function brought my coconut milk to a boil in just a few minutes, and the temperature on my thermometer shot past 180ºF once the milk reached a rolling boil. So, if you don’t have a thermometer, I think it’s safe to assume that if your coconut milk reaches a rolling boil, it has safely reached that 180ºF mark. 
  3. If you want to make yogurt without a thermometer, I’ve now done it several times by simply using my finger to test how warm the coconut milk is. Ideally, you want to keep your yogurt fermenting at a temperature of 110 to 115ºF so that the good bacteria can populate. Think of this temperature as feeling warm to the touch without burning your finger. If the liquid burns your finger, it will burn and kill the good bacteria, as well. So, when determining if the milk has cooled enough after boiling, be sure to stir the coconut milk well (to avoid any “hot spots” in the pot) and then use your finger to determine if it’s the right temperature. Your finger should be able to stay comfortably in the liquid, feeling warm but not hot. (And make sure your finger is clean so you don’t introduce any bad bacteria into the batch.)
  4. Be sure to set your Instant Pot’s yogurt function for longer than you need, just to be on the safe side. While testing several batches of yogurt, I think the sweet spot for getting a tangy yogurt is about 18 hours of fermentation. However, you might not always be home when the 18 hours are up, or you might be sleeping, so if you set the Instant Pot for only 18 hours it will turn off the warmer when the timer goes off. I’d hate for your yogurt to spoil while you’re out of the house or sleeping, so set the timer for at least 24 hours, or a time that will ensure you hear it beep when it’s done. That way you can check on it and transfer it to the fridge when you are satisfied with the tart flavor of your yogurt.
  5. The maple syrup called for in this recipe is required as food for the good bacteria to thrive on (so don’t be tempted to skip it!), but when you let it ferment the yogurt becomes very tart– so don’t worry about the sugar content in that maple syrup. If you want a sweet yogurt, you’ll need to add more sweetener after the fermenting process is complete.

What does Coconut Milk Yogurt Taste Like?

I think it’s also important to note that if you don’t care for the taste of coconut milk, you probably won’t care for the taste of this yogurt. It definitely tastes like coconut milk, though you can adjust the flavor however you like when it’s done fermenting, either by adding some sweetener or fruit. Coconut milk can also have a slightly grainy-texture from the desiccated coconut, so don’t expect the coconut milk yogurt to be quite as silky-smooth as dairy-based yogurts are.

I have been enjoying this yogurt served with my Grain-Free Pumpkin Seed Granola as quick breakfast or snack, so I hope you’ll enjoy this probiotic-rich yogurt just as much. I think it tastes similar, if not better, to the store-bought brands and costs just about $1 per serving, to help fit into your healthy eating budget!

two cups of coconut milk yogurt topped with fruit and a spoon

coconut milk yogurt in glass container with berries
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4.64 from 22 votes

Vegan Coconut Milk Yogurt

This INSTANT POT COCONUT MILK YOGURT is an easy and affordable dairy-free yogurt you can make in your electric pressure cooker. I love how thick it gets!
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword coconut milk
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 16 hours 40 minutes
Total Time 16 hours 50 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 262kcal

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Be sure that all of your equipment is sterilized by using boiling water or sterilizing your equipment in the dishwasher. This helps prevent bad bacteria from forming on your yogurt. 
  • In the bowl of your Instant Pot, combine the coconut milk and agar flakes and bring the mixture to a boil. (I press the Sauté button to do this.) Use a whisk to stir, helping the agar flakes to dissolve as the coconut milk boils. Once the milk has reached a rolling boil (or has reached 180ºF on your thermometer), turn off the Instant Pot and stir well, making sure all of the agar flakes have dissolved. Stir in the maple syrup, then let the mixture cool to 110-115ºF for proper fermentation, which feels warm to the touch without feeling like the temperature will hurt your finger. You can speed the process by placing the instant pot bowl in an ice water bath, but be sure that it doesn't cool too much. Use a thermometer or a clean finger to judge when the coconut milk has reached 110-115ºF.
  • Once the coconut milk has cooled to the proper temperature, add in the probiotic powder and stir well. Press the "Yogurt" button on the Instant Pot, and then use the arrows to set the amount of time you'd like the yogurt to ferment. I recommend letting it ferment for 18 to 24 hours for tartness, but you can do it in as little as 8 to 10 hours if you don't want a tart yogurt. Place the lid on the Instant Pot to help keep the yogurt clean and at the proper temperature. (The pot will not be pressurized, so don't worry about the vent position.) 
  • Once the yogurt has fermented, be sure to taste it to make sure it has become tart enough to your liking. The texture will still be watery and separated, with a possible cream-colored film on top, which is normal. (If there is a pink or gray colored film on top, that's a sign that the yogurt has gone bad and you should discard it in that case. When yogurt doesn't ferment correctly, it smells VERY bad and is nearly impossible to miss. Trust me on that one.) Pour the yogurt into a clean jar with a lid, and store it in the fridge to set. The yogurt will thicken when chilled.
  • The coconut milk yogurt may separate a bit when stored in the fridge, so stir it well before serving. It can keep well in the fridge for at least a week, if not longer.

Video

Notes

If you don't have an Instant Pot, make this yogurt on the stove top. Simply bring the milk to a rolling boil on the stove top and dissolve the agar flakes by stirring with a whisk. Pour the mixture into a very clean jar, add the maple syrup, and allow to to cool to 110-115ºF. Stir in the probiotic powder, seal the jar with a lid, then wrap the jar in a towel to keep it insulated. Store it in a warm place, such as in your oven with just the light on. (Some ovens have an option to stay warm at 100º, if you have that.) You can also use a yogurt maker, a dehydrator, or a heating pad set to very low to keep your yogurt warm. Be sure the temperature doesn't exceed 115ºF or you'll risk killing the good bacteria. Just like the recipe above, you'll want to ferment the yogurt for 18-24 hours for the best tart flavor.

Nutrition

Calories: 262kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 24g | Sodium: 17mg | Potassium: 297mg | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin C: 1.2mg | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 4.4mg
Per 1/2 cup serving: Calories: 262, Fat: 27g, Carbohydrates: 6g, Fiber: 0g, Protein: 2g

Need more healthy Instant Pot recipes?

Be sure to check out The Fresh & Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook. You can see a sneak peek here!

healthy instant pot cookbook

Substitution Notes:

  • I used agar flakes when testing this recipe, because they were locally available to me. If you can only locate agar powder, you’ll need to use less than this recipe calls for. (Probably closer to 1 teaspoon of powder.) If you’re not vegan and would prefer to use gelatin, I would start with 1 teaspoon of gelatin, too. If you try this substitution, please leave a comment below letting us know how it worked you. Also, if you prefer a thinner yogurt, you might just want to use 1 teaspoon of agar agar flakes in this recipe, rather than the full tablespoon. (I like my yogurt to be thicker.)
  • If you need to be strictly dairy-free and vegan, be sure to check that your probiotic powder is dairy-free and vegan, as some brands do contain dairy. I bought my probiotic powder from the refrigerated section at Whole Foods, but I imagine that any high-quality probiotic powder will work well in this recipe. (You can empty probiotic capsules into a measuring spoon if you would prefer.)
  • I tested this recipe using a bottle of store-bought almond milk, and I did not care for the results. (It wasn’t creamy, and had more of a jello-like texture from the agar flakes.) The fat in the coconut milk definitely contributes to the classic creamy yogurt texture, so other non-dairy milks will most likely not produce ideal results. (The same goes for the refrigerated type of coconut milk. The full-fat canned version and boxed culinary coconut milk produce the best results.) If you use the culinary milk to avoid using canned coconut milk, I’d recommend adding 1/2 cup of water to the pot before boiling, as this coconut milk is thick and a bit grainy.

I hope you’ll enjoy this more affordable coconut milk yogurt. Let me know in the comments below if you give it a try!

Reader Feedback: Have you tried making Coconut Milk yogurt before? Let us know in the comments below if you have any additional tips or tricks! We can all benefit from your experience.

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Comments

Bethany

Do you think this would work with hemp milk? We have but allergies

    Megan Gilmore

    I’ve tried making it with almond milk and didn’t like the results. I imagine hemp milk would be similar, so I wouldn’t recommend it unless you don’t mind more of a jello-consistency.

Kathryn

This was my first attempt ever at making yogurt. My colouring turned out good, but I had a hard time knowing if the smell meant it had gone bad, or was just the typical fermenting smell. Any other pointers with that?

    Megan Gilmore

    If you can’t tell, then my guess is that it’s probably okay. It’s normal for it to smell sour. When I had a batch go bad, there was NO MISTAKING it. The smell was totally overwhelming and gag-worthy. Hope that helps!

Jennifer Rodney

HI Megan. I have made your coconut milk instant pot yogurt many times now and it always works except for this time around it didn’t solidify and there was one quarter size circle of pink, which I know you mentioned means the yogurt has gone bad. I scrapped the pink circle out and the smell is fine and the taste is yummy…but it is still soupy like milk. Will it thicken up in the fridge? Should i toss it all together? Should I just use it as milk instead this time around??
Thanks for your help. And thanks for the recipe. Normally its awesome and my whole family loves it!!!
Thanks
Jen

Jody

Hi Megan do you think I could use a children’s probiotic ?
Thank you

C

Do you happen to know if you can use date syrup in place of maple syrup? Thank you so much!

Marian

Maple syrup and even honey cause inflammation in my joints. Surely, sugar will do?

Shane McRae

I make this coconut yoghurt every week and can’t imagine my mornings without it. I don’t have an Intant Pot but I do have a little yoghurt maker that makes a liter at a time. I use it in smoothies, as a snack with fruit and sometimes as a substitute for sour cream. It’s yummy stuff.

Ashley Summers

My yogurt came out absolutely perfect the first time. Love it! I wanted to save money on yogurt and not create so much plastic waste – this recipe is so good, I won’t have to buy yogurt again!

Eva

I made your coconut milk vegan yogurt yesterday and my entire family is in love with it. I think I can save money next time by replacing the agar gelatin, with organic, grass fed, beef gelatin. And I also wonder if my probiotic with prebiotic powder should be replaced with just a straight probiotics powder. I’m also going to try to find a better price on coconut cans ($1.99 at whole foods- but I love the high fat content). I used 6 cans for your recipe and my family of 5 can eat that in just two days! Congrats on a GREAT recipe!

Adeana Estoll

Followed directions using agar, but mine turned solid! Now what to do with solid yogurt 🤨

Cheryl

I finally made this yesterday & so far, I think it worked.
I only couldn’t figure out how to change the default yogurt time of 8 hrs to 18? I had to do 2 sets of 8 hours because it wouldn’t accept the time change I put in. Instead, it would zero out & count up to 8 hours. Thankfully I was home when it happened. Any ideas how to fix that?

Pam Calabrese

I just bought an Instant Pot and will now try to make Coconut milk yogurt for the first time.
Your recipe calls for “2 cans” of coconut milk. What size (ounces) are the cans?
thank you.

Kimberley niec

Thank you so much for posting not only the recipe but some important tips (ex. sauté button for boiling). I purchased my Instant Pot specifically because i could use it to make vegan yogurt but could not find a recipe that worked until this one. I tried so many times and had almost given up! Now I make it often and am varying what I add once the yogurt is completed and have found a great many delicious options. Thank you again!

Sabena R Westreich-Brown

I’m very excited about doing this but I’m a little concerned because have sensitivities toward coconut meat and butter. It goes by dosage though. I can eat about tsp of coconut butter in my oatmeal or straight into my mouth. I can also eat store bought coconut yogurt without any problem. Do you think then using the recipe ready coconut milk will not be a problem for me? Thanks so much

AbiKale

I used 365 brand coconut creme but couldnt find agar agar. It turned out great! I’m following a Paleo AIP diet. This recipe was perfect!

Becky D Alvarado

Just got home with my ingredients. Excited to try. However I just noticed my agar agar powder has a prob 65 warning label. Said it contains lead!

Dana

How would I thicken it with gelatine? How much should I use? We aren’t vegan, just dairy free, and gelatine is much easier to get hold of here. Thanks!

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