Can you freeze yogurt to make frozen yogurt?

Freezing yogurt to make frozen yogurt may seem like an indisputable logic, and it is actually, but only within the boundary that suggests “frozen equals frozen”.

So yeah, freezing a regular yoghurt will definitely result in a frozen yoghurt, but not the actual FROZEN YOGURT you and i are familiar with.

You can never freeze a regular store bought yogurt and get a frozen yogurt, because let’s face it, regular yogurt is mostly made up of milk which in turn is made up of water which consequently never freezes into a dense, scoopable base but rather an icy, rock-hard solid bound to resist the metallic edges of your scoop.

Even Greek yoghurt having much of its water content strained by means of centrifugation still doesn’t produce a frozen yogurt capable of rivaling the texture and consistency of store bought frozen yoghurt. And this is for two reasons actually,

  1. Greek yogurt is strained, but somehow, it still has enough water content to cause those annoying ice crystals to form during freezing.
  2. Frozen Greek yogurt gives an exacerbated gritty texture which is nothing short of a byproduct from the destruction of proteins resulting from the water straining process itself. Whew, a typical case for where good intended results in harm!

So whichever yogurt you pick up from the shelves and freeze up, you’re always bound to end up with a mess that feels more like a solid rock that a frozen yogurt, unless there’s the extra effort to make sure such doesn’t happen.

We’ll discuss how to properly make frozen yogurts without sacrificing much in density and creaminess in the next few paragraphs, but before that, let’s fully understand why a regular yogurt just never freezes into a frozen yogurt.

Why you can’t get a frozen yogurt from freezing yogurt.

Everything all boils down to water, the universal ingredient that’s nearly present in almost everything on earth, including yogurts! In fact, yogurts contain an enormous quantity of water in them (about 81%) which usually settles at the bottom of finger bowls should you ever attempt to strain them using cheese cloth — we’ll get to that in a moment.

It’s all general knowledge that water turns into ice the very moment you pop it into a freezer and let it sit for some time. And the kind of crystals you get from regular home freezers are large, which causes the frozen product to adopt a rock hard consistency. This is why yogurts don’t freeze well, and why you’ll never be able to get a frozen yogurt from freezing a regular yogurt!

The best method to make frozen yogurt does these two things.

First, it’s straining as much water from the yogurt as possible to limit the quantity of large ice crystals that are formed, and secondly, it’s depressing the freezing point of the water or managing the formation of large ice crystals or of crystals in general using special ingredient around the kitchen, because a little quantity of water will still be worked back into the yogurt for the recipe to work!

So how do we strain water from a yogurt?

It’s easy, we use cheese cloth and a bowl or cup. The former allows water to seep through from the yogurt and the latter collects the water at the base. For the method, we place three layers of cheese cloth over a Pyrex cup or anything that works best as a container, and then tuck on it to create a depression. Next, we empty four cups of yogurt onto the cheese cloth, and then place a layer of plastic wrap over and around the rim. We refrigerate the cup for at least 8 hours (but overnight still works fine) and there we go, a properly strained yogurt that looks like yogurt cheese. It also begins to dry around the edges.

Why un-sweetened and unflavored whole milk yogurt is essential

When it comes to making your very own frozen yogurt, you want to opt for a whole milk yogurt as opposed to any other type of yogurt because it contains that extra amount of fat that gives better texture, creaminess and also add richness to the mix. Greek yogurts should be out or bottom of the list when choosing yogurts for making frozen yogurts because we’ve already talked about how they produce an even worse chalky texture when frozen.

With homemade frozen yogurt, you also want to avoid starting with sweetened or flavored yogurt since you’ll be incorporating sugar (alongside other flavors) which plays a pivotal role in the final texture of the frozen yogurt, and if I may guess, you still wouldn’t enjoy a too sweetened frozen yogurt in as much as you won’t enjoy an icy rock hard frozen yogurt.

So start with unsweetened yogurt and subsequently have a great flexibility with flavors when it comes to adding the control ingredients.

Adding gelatin

While it may seem counterintuitive to add any water into a yogurt we just strained water out of it, this extra step is crucial for a properly frozen homemade frozen yogurt. The key ingredient there is the gelatin which immobilizes the liquid so it doesn’t turn into ice crystals there by helping with the overall goal of the project which is to mimic a store bought frozen yogurt. So we’ll be sprinkling one teaspoon of unflavored powdered gelatin to about half cup of the same strained water and then letting it to soften for 5 minutes and then microwave for 30 seconds to dissolve the gelatin.


Next, you can add your favorite flavorings to the gelatin mixture and then let sit for some minutes. Then add to the strained yogurt and add one cup of granulated white sugar which helps to depress freezing point and arrive at the desired consistency.

Alternatively, you could use 3 quarters a cup of granulated sugar plus Lyle’s golden syrup to reduce the sweetness of the frozen yogurt yet increase the softness by further depressing the freezing point due to introduction of more molecules.


Mixing the mixture ensures that everything comes together, and the key thing to watch out for is a properly dissolved sugar crystals. After mixing, cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate until 40F. Use a thermometer to verify that.

Freezing to 40 makes churning faster and therefore cause the formation of small ice crystals in the frozen yogurt rather than large crystals.

Churn in an ice cream maker

Ensure to have frozen the frozen the insert base at least 48 hours prior to time, then pour in the cold mixture and churn until it turn 21 degrees, around 25 to 30 minutes.

Next, transfer into a freezer safe container and freeze as soon as possible, preferable at the back of the freezer compartment since that is usually the coldest spot of the freezer.

And that’s how to make a frozen yogurt according to a recipe from Americans Test Kitchen.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you put yogurt in the freezer?

The water in the yogurt frees and turns into large ice crystals which gives the yogurt a rock solid texture.

Final Verdict

As stated above, you can’t get a frozen yogurt from freezing store bought yogurt. The 81 percent water content present in the yogurt will freeze into large ice crystals which will turn the entire yogurt rock solid, rather than dense, scoop able and creamy as observed with frozen yogurt.

To make a frozen yogurt, you’ll have to play around with the water content of the yogurt and also introduce some additives into the yogurt which will depress freezing point of water and also limit the formation of large ice crystals. The instructions are outlined above.