Watch Out, Pinkberry: I'm Making 3-Ingredient Frozen Yogurt at Home

August  4, 2015

There are those things we eat, make, read, and gush over that are just too good to keep to ourselves. Here, we resist the urge to use too many exclamation points and let you in on our latest crushes.

Today: Once you realize homemade frozen yogurt takes only 3 ingredients and 2 hours to make, will you ever set foot in one of those self-serve shops again? 

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If it were August of 2014, I would be writing about my obsession with Pinkberry (...and 16 Handles ...and Froyo World), and it would already be old news. One year ago, frozen yogurt stores were already so ubiquitous that pundits were predicting a bubble burst akin to the Great Cupcake Decline. But that didn't stop me from frequenting. 

But now it is 2015 and I'm a changed woman. I no longer spring for a $6 cup of "Original Tart" topped with shriveled blueberries or spend entirely too much time constructing the perfect cocktail of "Chocolate Love Affair," "Dunk Yo' Cookies," and "Peanut Butter Confession." These days, I only fro-yo when I'm in need of a squishy mochi topping (and I don't have a bag from Nuts.com in the refrigerator). 

This is not because I've joined the leagues of cynics who are more interested in matcha than frozen yogurt. It's because over the past year I received an ice cream maker as a gift from a generous aunt and familiarized myself with the recipes of Max Falkowitz, my favorite internet ice cream personality (see more evidence here). Equipped with just three ingredients, an ice cream machine, and Max's recipe, I can have frozen yogurt that's just as good, if not better, than what I would over-pay for at the store on every corner.

The first time I tasted homemade frozen yogurt, I was floored. While it can be hard to acheive shop-quality ice cream at home (here are some tips to help), it's simple to replicate the flavor and texture of frozen yogurt that I love. Simply whisk together full-fat plain yogurt, a fair amount of sugar (sorry, folks—sugar is what keeps the fro-yo soft and scoopable), and a bit of salt, chill the mixture until it's below 45° F, and then churn. Eat the frozen yogurt straight from the machine, soft serve-style, for a soupy, slurpy experience, or freeze it until solid (about 4 or 5 hours) and scoop it like ice cream.

Swap in Greek yogurt for a richer, creamier consistency (I like to use a mix of plain and Greek for something in between). Max says you can replace up to half the yogurt with fruit purée, peanut butter, jam, or even wine (please tell me if you try it with rosé!), and I've found that processing frozen blueberries or strawberies with the sugar before whisking it into the yogurt yields an intensely fruity variation. I have ambitions to flavor the yogurt with vanilla bean seeds, espresso grounds, and spices and to infuse it with grated ginger and mint leaves overnight. It should be noted that yogurt is not a neutral base: It will maintain its distinct yogurt quality even if you add peanut butter or Nutella.

Because frozen yogurt is so simple to make at home, I'm left with plenty of time to work on stocking my pantry with topping options. I'm almost ready to set up my own shop, but don't worry: If you want to come over and eat fro-yo with me, I promise I won't charge you by weight. 

Soft serve-style frozen yogurt, straight from the machine to the bowl.

Homemade Frozen Yogurt

From Max Falkowitz of Serious Eats

Makes 1 quart

1 quart (3 3/4 cups) plain full-fat yogurt (or use a mix of plain and Greek)
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here. 


Nutella Frozen Yogurt

Makes 1 quart

2 cups full-fat plain yogurt

cup full-fat Greek yogurt

cup Nutella

cup sugar

teaspoon kosher salt 

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Maggie
  • Yvonne Day
    Yvonne Day
  • Francesca
  • vrinda
  • Claudia
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


Maggie May 13, 2016
It's cheaper just to buy a 2L container of vanilla frozen yogurt at the grocery store.
CSM May 14, 2016


Yes. Cheaper. Here is the ingredient list of Haagan Dazs "the best frozen yogurt": Skim Milk [Lactose Reduced], Corn Syrup, Sugar, Egg Yolks, Cream, Vanilla Extract, Active Yogurt Cultures. 5.5 tsp (almost 2 Tbsp!) of sugars per half cup (8 Tbsp) serving No thanks. I prefer the best milk of my own choice, strawberries and sweetener of choice.
EL May 14, 2016
And I don't know about the "cheaper". Yes, it is cheaper to buy if you buy good quality yogurt at a store, but I make my own. As we have excellent quality fairly cheap local milk, this would be pretty cheap.
Maggie May 15, 2016
In my location it is cheaper to buy locally manufactured frozen yogurt than it would be to buy the ingredients for this particular recipe and make it at home. List of ingredients: Milk Ingredients, Sugar, Cream, Skim Milk Powder, Carrageenan, Natural Flavour, Bacterial Culture.
Depending on what brand of yogurt you buy to make the recipe listed above plus the amount of sugar, one is not necessarily any healthier than the other. Using your own milk is obviously a different matter.
Yvonne D. May 13, 2016
Can I make this in a Vitamix? I have no ice cream maker.
CSM May 14, 2016
Yes! 1-2 cups yogurt add sweetener of choice and as many berries as you want. You may have to stir it down because the base freezes before the top. I prefer to make in small batches.
CSM May 14, 2016
Meant to add that I use frozen berries to make it into an ice cream--that also supplies the "freeze."
mela May 14, 2016
Agreed about using frozen berries. And if freezing in the fridge freezer, a bit of alcohol will keep it a bit softer. Not too much, as that would inhibit freezing.
Francesca May 13, 2016
Why not make it totally from scratch and make your own yoghurt too. My simple recipe for a huge batch of yoghurt can be found here.

vrinda May 13, 2016
whats an instant pot ?
do you heat the milk in it and set yogurt in it ?
mela May 13, 2016
I've made yogurt for years on the stove top and your question made me curious whether a slow cooker would work. Googled sources say 'yes', and that it's simple. So I'm switching techniques - thanks for raising the question!
CSM May 14, 2016
Here is the instant pot: http://www.amazon.com/Instant-Pot-IP-DUO60-Multi-Functional-Pressure/dp/B00FLYWNYQ. It heats milk, then you allow it to cool, measure 115 degrees or less before adding culture then set the pot to culture as long as you want. The pot also pressure cooks, steams, slow cooks, rice cooks. Love it. Worth it!
Claudia May 13, 2016
I wonder if you could replace the sugar with xylitol?
CSM August 9, 2015
I use 2 cups of full fat homemade yogurt, about 1/2 tsp of Stevia liquid, a few drops of vanilla and about 1-2 cups of frozen strawberries in our Vitamix to make delicious strawberry soft serve.
cvillacarlos August 10, 2015
Could you please share your recipe for full fat homemade yogurt? Thanks!
CSM August 11, 2015
Yes, quick and easy in my Instant Pot. Heat 1 gallon of raw whole milk to 180 degrees (Cooler temps seems to make yogurt with a rather "slimy" consistency like egg yolk). Check with a thermometer as the I. P. only heats it to 170 degrees. Then allow to cool to 115 degrees or less. Put 1 cup of milk into a small container and whisk in 1 tbsp of organic full fat 'good' yogurt. Pour this into the rest of the gallon of milk. Set the pot to the yogurt setting and let it go for 12-18 hours. Delicious and no fail. Worth buying the pot just for the opportunity to make my own yogurt.

AntoniaJames August 7, 2015
What is the minimum amount of sugar required per quart of yogurt, to get an acceptable texture? I ask because my family really likes their not-frozen yogurt sweetened with good maple syrup and flavored with good, homemade (especially rum-based) vanilla extract. Would love to make them frozen yogurt, but am afraid that with sugar + maple syrup, it will be too sweet. Any ideas? Thank you so much. ;o)
cream C. August 5, 2015
Forgive me for being That Girl, but...has anyone tried using powdered stevia instead of sugar? I'm curious if the consistency will work out.
CSM August 11, 2015
I think it's a reasonable question in these days when our diet seems to be causing elevated blood sugars for so many people. I use liquid stevia (KAL brand) and just about one dropper full per pint makes delicious strawberry yogurt. See my comment above. Just taste and add more if needed.
Janice G. August 5, 2015
How can I do this without an ice cream maker? Maybe a food processor?
Janet S. August 5, 2015
I have a little cuisinart ice cream maker with the canister you keep in the freezer (no fussing with ice or salt). I just pour in my homemade yogurt (2%), a couple packets of stevia, and s drizzle of vanilla and in about 10 minutes I have a yummy treat. I make just enough for one sitting so I can skip the sugar that makes it scoop able.
Bella B. August 4, 2015
I am going to have to try this!

EmilyC August 4, 2015
My kids and I made the plain frozen yogurt about a month ago. Talk about easy!! We added chocolate chunks via this Alice Medrich column (https://food52.com/blog/13140-why-the-chocolate-chunks-in-your-ice-cream-are-gritty-how-to-fix-it). We definitely liked this best as soft serve. It gets hard and icy in the freezer.
EmilyC August 4, 2015
Forgot to add that I used 2% Fage Greek yogurt (it's what I had) -- I would say definitely use full-fat yogurt as suggested above!
Sarah J. August 4, 2015
I'm wondering why it was icy for you! I've never had that problem, but it might be something like the temperature of the freezer or the type of yogurt. Great idea to add those chocolate chips -- they're delicious!
EmilyC August 4, 2015
I'll bet it's because I didn't use full-fat yogurt. I should have known better! : )