How Long Will Homemade Yogurt Last in the Refrigerator? 

 December 1, 2020

By  Diane Miles

Making your own homemade yogurt is an easy, affordable way to stay healthy. You’ll get to customize your own flavors and make enough for yourself or your family while saving money. However, many people often wonder how long it lasts in the refrigerator.

Homemade yogurt can keep for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. It should be stored properly in an airtight container, and the freezer temperature should be below 40F. If yogurt has been kept in room temperature (40-140F) for over 2 hours, it will no longer be safe to eat.

There are a few things to learn about the proper storage conditions for homemade yogurt. Read on to learn more.

It’s important for yogurt to be kept cold because of these bacterial cultures, also known as probiotics. They can only survive in a certain temperature. The primary reason people drink yogurt is for these probiotics because once consumed, they help stabilize the digestive system and keep the gut healthy. Yogurt, as well as any other drink that contains probiotics, should be stored following specific storage conditions as well as temperatures so that these organisms don’t die.

When yogurt is not refrigerated or is exposed to room temperature for over 2 hours, the probiotics don’t just die off but it can also cause the growth of harmful bacteria and mold. As a result when you consume expired yogurt or one that’s gone bad due to improper storage and temperature, you can get sick from food poisoning or diarrhea.

Here’s what you should know about keeping yogurt fresh:


The refrigerator temperature should be 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below when stored. Once it’s in there, avoid opening the container until you actually need to consume it.


The location of yogurt in the ref as it’s being stored plays a role in how long it keeps. Yogurt stays fresher for longer when you keep it at the back of the refrigerator, since this is where temperatures are stable and cool. Yogurt is delicate, and even the mildest temperature changes can easily affect its shelf life. Having said that, the worst place in the ref for yogurt is at the door of the fridge since it’s always exposed to temperature changes every time you open it.


If your mixture contains fruit and sugar, then it will go bad much quicker. Mold and yeast can develop on fruits within just a few days, causing its taste and quality to degrade fast. Additionally, yogurt can spoil quicker even in the refrigerator if you omit the use of preservatives. There are many different kinds of preservatives that you can use to help keep it fresher for longer without altering its taste.


In order for homemade yogurt to last longer, use unpasteurized milk. Once it’s done, refrigerate it ensuring temperatures are under 40F until it reaches a good, thick consistency. This helps make sure that it will last you around 2 weeks.

Air exposure

Constantly opening the yogurt container while it is in storage, or even worse – dipping a licked spoon into the container – will make the yogurt rot quickly. Invisible microorganisms in the air as well as the bacteria from your mouth will negatively impact its flavor and shelf life.

If you’ve made a large batch of yogurt that you don’t intend to consume all at once, divide the portions into smaller containers so that you don’t unnecessarily expose it to microorganisms every time you open the lid to scoop some out. Always use a clean and dry utensil to scoop some out or separate portions.

What If I've Already Left My Yogurt Out?

Accidents happen, and if you’ve left out yogurt at room temperature, you can still eat it within two hours. Once this time has passed, it won’t spoil yet but it will already have gotten rancid and acidic, while all the beneficial bacteria has already died off. However, if it’s been out of the refrigerator for under two hours, you can still put it back and it will be safe to eat later on. Keep in mind that this will still shorten its longevity.

There are certain ways you can check if yogurt has already gone bad despite your best efforts to ensure it’s in the proper storage conditions:

  • Rancid or strange odor
  • Layer of liquid on top of the container
  • Bad taste
  • Presence of mold

Once expired, don’t toss your yogurt out; you can still make use of it if it’s sour or rancid as long as not if it’s already developed mold. Here are some ways you can use expired yogurt:

  • Mix yogurt with hot coffee
  • Make homemade heavy whipped cream
  • Bake, use yogurt as a substitute for butter
  • Make yogurt-based dips for bread and crackers
  • Make salad dressing
  • Marinate meats in it
  • Use it as a compost additive

However, if you intend to use homemade yogurt as a starter for creating another batch, the yogurt should not be more than 7-10 days old.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can homemade yogurt be kept in the freezer instead of the refrigerator?

You can freeze yogurt, but it’s going to change its texture once thawed because it will separate. Stirring can help improve its texture, but it won’t go back to its original form. However, you can use frozen yogurt after it’s thawed in various cooking and baking recipes. It will last for a month or two in the freezer for as long as you use an airtight or freezer-safe container.  Also keep in mind that some kinds of yogurt freeze better than others. For example, Greek yogurt freezes better than plain yogurt because of its thicker consistency.

Can you keep yogurt starter in the refrigerator?

It’s best to keep the yogurt starter in the freezer instead of a refrigerator. Ref temperatures aren’t usually cold enough, and the defrost cycle can result in the growth of ice crystals on the starter. Ice crystals ruin the cell walls of the healthy bacteria.

Longer freezing times tend to kill the healthy bacteria, which is why shorter freeze cycles are recommended for starters. To preserve your starter, pre-chill it in the coolest area of your refrigerator then move it to the freezer. Make sure to use a storage container with a large surface area since this promotes quicker freezing.

How long can homemade yogurt sit out of the refrigerator?

Yogurt should not be kept out of the refrigerator for longer than two hours. But if the temperatures are a scorching 90F or higher, you only have a one hour window to safely consume the yogurt that’s been out of the refrigerator.

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