We’ve all heard of fro-yo, but can you really freeze your leftover yogurt as a way to store it for longer? Will the yogurt have a different texture once it has thawed? Is the taste affected in any way? What’s the best way to defrost it to preserve its yogurty-yumminess?
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Seeing as most yogurt contains dairy and the live bacteria that comes with it, it’s no surprise that there are a lot of people who have questions about the safety of freezing yogurt.
Well, we’re here to assure you that it’s perfectly fine to freeze yogurt to consume at a later date.
The short version is: you can freeze yogurt for around 1 month before it’s past its best. Even if you defrost and eat it within this time, it’s only fair to warn you that the yogurt you thaw won’t be the exact same as the yogurt you froze, namely in texture, taste, and consistency.
There are ways to disguise these subtle differences, like using frozen yogurt in baking or cooking where the finished result would never give away the fact that it hadn’t been added fresh. We’re here to teach you all of this and more in this ultimate guide to freezing yogurt.
We’ll walk you through how best to preserve yogurt, what to expect when it comes to defrosting it, some of the best ways to use it after being frozen, and how to use leftover yogurt to make your own home-made fro-yo! Spoon at the ready? Let’s dip in!
Before you start clearing out some space at the back of your freezer, we’ll talk you through some of the alternative ways you can stretch the life of your yogurt without having to go to the extra trouble, although freezing is unavoidably the best method for long-term storage.
If, for example, you’re thinking about freezing yogurt that you haven’t finished from a family-sized pot, you can use the following method for preserving your yogurt and keep it fresh for as long as possible.
- Make sure it’s properly sealed. Allowing air to come into contact with yogurt via a broken seal once it’s been opened will speed up bacterial growth and can soon absorb the flavor and bacteria from the air which will affect the taste and quality.
Always replace the lid if storing it in the original container, or for even better results, store the yogurt in a glass airtight container as these tend to have a better seal.
- No matter how tempting it is to dip your spoon into the tub for a sneaky mouthful of yogurt when you can’t figure out what snack to make yourself, don’t eat yogurt directly from the container.
Double-dipping, especially, will immediately reintroduce new bacteria to the pot and can contaminate or damage the healthy probiotic cultures. Plus, if it’s family-sized, it’s likely your whole family will be eating the same yogurt, so to avoid cross-contamination and spreading germs transfer it to separate bowels to eat it.
- Your fridge door might seem like the ideal place to store your yogurt, but the fluctuating temperature in this area of your fridge due to the constant opening and closing of the door creates an unstable environment for the bacteria in the yogurt.
It’s best to store yogurt in the center of the fridge instead, where the temperature remains more consistent.
Knowing how to freeze yogurt will be a huge advantage next time your local supermarket has a good offer on, so you can cash in on a bargain and buy in bulk without worrying about wasting it when you admit defeat and realize it can’t all be eaten before the expiration date.
The good news is that freezing yogurt is actually really, really simple. Your biggest problem will be trying to find room in your fridge now you know you can freeze this stuff, and you’ll be able to make sure you always have yogurt on hand when you need it without having to run to the grocery store to get some!
It almost seems silly to write a step-by-step guide on how to freeze yogurt because it’s just so easy, but to make sure there’s 0 chance of anything going wrong we’ve decided to write one anyway in the hope that some of you may find it useful.
After all, if you’re googling whether or not you can even freeze yogurt in the first place, it’s safe to assume that you’re not already an expert.
- Lay a piece of parchment paper over a cookie sheet.
- Transfer the yogurt onto the paper in equal portions either by using two large spoons to scoop the mixture or by investing in one of these awesome ice cream scoopers which will make this part a lot quicker and easier. Make sure to leave around ½-inch to 1-inch of a gap between each scoop of yogurt.
- Place the tray in your freezer. Try to keep it flat so that the yogurt portions don’t spill or run into each other. You can now leave them for a few hours or for a full night.
- Once the yogurt balls are fully frozen, you can remove them from the parchment paper and transfer them to an airtight container which can be stored in the freezer to keep your yogurt fresh for up to 3 months.
If your yogurt is too runny to stay in place without the individual portions all running into each other, you can also freeze it by spooning it into a freezer cube tray which will keep them separate and prevent you from ending up with one big yogurty mess.
Hints and Tips
You should always try to freeze yogurt in small portions because this helps it to retain as much of the original taste and texture as possible. For precise portions, you can freeze it in ice cube trays which would make each portion approximately 1 ounce or 2 tablespoons.
This is a great idea if you know in advance that you’ll be using the frozen yogurt in baking or cooking, but if you want to freeze it in larger portions then there are products like the Souper Cubes freezing tray that can hold up to 1 cup in each cube.
If you’re freezing a fruity flavored yogurt that has chunks or pieces of fruit in it then remember to give it a good stir before you pop it in the freezer so that they’re well dispersed and won’t all sink to the bottom of the container. You want to get a bite of the good stuff in every spoonful!
Without getting too sciency, yogurt is partially a liquid and will therefore expand as it freezes, so it’s a good idea to make sure you leave some room at the top of the container for this to occur as otherwise it could leak out and lead to a mess in your freezer drawer.
What Happens To The Yogurt When You Freeze It?
It pretty much gets really cold. To be more exact, freezing yogurt slows down the bacterial growth process which helps to keep it healthy and fresh for longer periods of time, even past the advised expiration date.
So, you can hardly expect your yogurt to go through all this and come out unchanged. Here are the three main things that happen to yogurt when you freeze it:
Unless you’re freezing lactose-free or vegan yogurt, it probably contains dairy which causes the fat and water to separate.
Because this happens as the yogurt freezes, when it comes to thawing it you might notice that the defrosted yogurt is slightly grainy where before it may have been a lot smoother and creamier. The exact effects will vary depending on the brand and type of yogurt you use.
There are so many different flavors of yogurt available today that there’s literally something to suit everybody’s taste, but how do these flavors change after a stint in the freezer?
The sour-ish tang you sometimes find in yogurts is often down to the healthy live bacteria that are inside yogurt and, after eating it, inside you for a happier, healthier gut, but this is affected by the freezing process which also alters the taste.
Freezing interferes with the bacterial growth process and enhances this tang, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, although it’ll depend on your personal preferences and whether or not you enjoy yogurts that are slightly sweeter instead.
Like the texture, the consistency of yogurt that’s been frozen is also altered because of the separation between fat and water. You can do your best to thoroughly mix the yogurt once it’s thawed which should help re-bind it a little, but it will never be the same as it was before.
As a result, be prepared for your yogurt to come out a bit thinner and more watery. Certain types of yogurt are better than others at retaining their consistency and will fare better after being frozen, like Greek yogurt, for example.
What Are The Best Ways To Use Frozen Yogurt?
We’d understand if, after seeing all the ways in which frozen yogurt can change during the freezing process, you’re a little skeptical about how nice it would be on its own after it’s been thawed, hence our earlier explanation that there are many other uses for frozen yogurt.
Some of these uses include:
- Baking: Because the yogurt is being baked into whatever recipe you’re making, the fact it’s been frozen will make no difference to the outcome. We’re confident that you wouldn’t even notice, which makes this a great way to use up frozen yogurt.
- Cooking: Again, the cooking process alters the yogurt anyway so using frozen yogurt will yield the exact same results as if you were using fresh yogurt instead. The factors that make yogurt taste funny after freezing don’t apply here, therefore this is another excellent use for frozen yogurt.
- Sauces, spreads, and dips: Any recipe that calls for stirring, whipping, or blending yogurt is a perfect way to use up leftover yogurt that you’ve frozen. The method of incorporating yogurt into the rest of the mixture means the texture will change anyway, so you won’t be able to tell if it was frozen or fresh.
Frozen Yogurt – Hashtag Food Inspo
It can hardly be classed as an ‘ultimate guide’ if we didn’t at least include a few recipes.
We touched on this at the start of the article, but frozen yogurt is different from yogurt that has been frozen as a way to store it. Yogurt has a higher water content which means it freezes instead of becoming creamy and scoopable, so you can’t pop a container of regular yogurt in the freezer overnight and expect it to turn into the perfect fro-yo.
If you want to make frozen yogurt rather than just freeze yogurt, you’ll need to work a little bit harder for it, although this is a great way to use up leftover yogurt in a slightly more exciting and interesting way. After all, there’s no end to the number of ingredients and different flavor combinations you can experiment with. We’ve put together two recipes to get you started.
This is easier done with a frozen yogurt machine or an ice cream maker, but not every home will have one of these lurking in one of the kitchen cupboards. If you have a high-powered blender, you could also use this to achieve similar (although not as consistent) results. One of the recipes requires an ice cream maker, but the second recipe you can make without.
We encourage you to try out a number of different recipes and to find what flavors you enjoy the most, but if you need a little bit of inspiration, here are 2 of our favorite fro-yo recipes.
Chocolate Frozen Yogurt Recipe
For this recipe, you’ll need an ice cream maker. If you don’t have one of these, check out the next recipe which doesn’t require one.
- Choose your yogurt base – the higher the fat content, the better, so look for Greek yogurt or whole-milk yogurt if you find the former a little too tart.
- Add more fat – this is what gives the fro-yo its creamy texture and makes it easy to scoop. The best ingredients to use are heavy cream, coconut cream, cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, or pretty much anything with over 30% fat content. Choose your preferred poison!
- Add some sugar – adding sugar to the yogurt mix will keep it from icing up in the freezer. White sugar will do the trick nicely, or you can use something sweet like honey or maple syrup which will enhance the flavor at the same time.
- The chocolate element – while these ingredients alone would probably turn out something delicious, to make your chocolate frozen yogurt you’ll need to add a chocolate element. Because of the high sugar content already, it’s best to use unsweetened cocoa powder to hit the sweet spot between too sweet and too bitter.
- Add the mixture to the ice cream maker – you can add everything to the ice cream maker as soon as you’ve measured it all out as you don’t need to chill it first, then you can let the machine do all the hard work and churn it for you until it reaches the desired consistency. At this point, you can transfer it to an airtight container ready to be stored in the freezer, although we wouldn’t blame you for sampling a mouthful first.
The ratios of each ingredient should look something like this:
- 4 cups (1 quart) of high-fat yogurt
- ½ cup of full-fat cream or cheese
- ¾ cup of sugar or syrup
- ⅓ cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
Strawberry Frozen Yogurt Recipe
For those without an ice cream maker, we’ve got you covered with this delicious strawberry frozen yogurt recipe. Don’t be confused by the quantities we’ve used – you’ll just have to trust that we’ve tried and tested it many, many times. All in the name of science, isn’t it?
We’ve actually used more strawberries than yogurt, which might seem silly when it’s called “frozen yogurt” and not “frozen creamy strawberries”, but it’s all key in achieving the perfect consistency. The larger amount of strawberries also means that you can reduce the sugar you add in and leave out the heavy cream altogether, making this a lighter alternative, too.
You don’t really need the steps for this one – simply chop up the strawberries, preferably once which are frozen themselves, and add them with the other ingredients to the blender. Press the blendy button and boom, you have yourself some frozen yogurt. The quality of the consistency and the creaminess will depend on the blender you use and how powerful it is.
Here are the exact ingredients and their quantities:
- ½ cup of high-fat yogurt
- 2-4 tablespoons of sugar or syrup
- 4 cups of strawberries, preferably frozen
Once you’ve made this a few times for yourself and you feel ready to tackle a new flavor, you can replace the strawberries with pretty much any fruit you can get your hands on. Why not try choosing something seasonal and seeing what difference it makes to the flavor quality? Watermelon is the only fruit we don’t recommend due to its incredibly high water content.
It’s worth noting that frozen yogurt that has been mixed together in a blender is more likely to split as the fat and water separate when it goes back into the freezer.
This runs the risk of the yogurt freezing into a block rather than a scoopable substance, so it can be a good idea to freeze the yogurt into individual portion sizes rather than in one large container.
Using your freezer for long-term food storage is a great way to minimize food waste in your household as you’re able to freeze items that would otherwise turn bad before you get a chance to eat them.
Now, you can confidently add yogurt to the list of items you can store this way. It’s easy, convenient, and while the changes in taste and texture may put you off eating it plain after it’s been defrosted, it means you can always have a supply on hand to add to your baking and cooking recipes when you run out of fresh yogurt.
So, no more last-minute trips to the grocery store when you realize there’s just one ingredient you don’t already have in!
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take for yogurt to freeze?
There are a few variables that can affect the answer to this, including portion size and the type of freezer you have. Here are some examples of typical timings to expect:
- 1-ounce portions can be frozen in an ice cube tray which can freeze completely after spending as little as 1 hour in the freezer.
- 1-cup portion sizes will require slightly longer before they’re fully frozen and shouldn’t be removed from the freezer before 3 hours have passed.
- 1-quart portions or more need to spend much longer in the freezer and should really be left alone in there for 6 hours at least or even overnight to fully freeze through.
Can you put a popsicle stick in a yogurt pot to make a frozen yogurt lolly?
Yes, and no. Technically you can do this, but don’t expect it to turn into a creamy type of lolly as the yogurt will simply freeze in a solid block. It’ll still taste good though!
Can you freeze probiotic yogurt?
Whilst all yogurt contains some form of live bacteria, not all of these are probiotics. If you’ve specifically bought a particular type or brand because of its probiotic benefits, you probably don’t want to kill them all off by storing the yogurt in the freezer.
Luckily, it’s been scientifically proven that freezing yogurt does not lead to the death or detriment of probiotic bacterias, so you can keep them in the freezer without damaging the health benefits they can provide.
Can you freeze Greek-style yogurt?
Greek-style yogurt is another type of yogurt you can freeze, and it actually comes out better on the other side as the higher fat content means it’s better able to retain some of its original taste and texture. It’s perfect for using in smoothies or for following recipes like frozen Greek yogurt pops.
Intrigued? These are basically just a mixture of yogurt, some fruit or berries, a pinch of sugar or syrup, portioned out into an ice cube tray or on a cookie sheet with a layer of parchment between them.