Anyone in my family will tell you I’m an ice cream addict. I love ending my days on a sweet note with a dish of chocolate ice cream topped with a bit of caramel and a touch of sea salt—it’s pure heaven. (Psst! You don’t need an ice cream maker to make it at home.) Sometimes though, ice cream is a little too rich and heavy. To lighten things up, I like to switch to frozen yogurt. It still provides that creaminess I love but with fewer calories and less fat.
Even more tempting is scratch-made frozen yogurt. With only a few simple ingredients, you can make a delicious treat that you can feel good about eating. Our Test Kitchen shows you how to make this easy dessert with only five simple ingredients. Let’s get churning!
How to Make Frozen Yogurt
3 cups reduced fat plain Greek yogurt (full-fat works, too!)
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cold water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
Ice cream maker (Be sure to pop it in the freezer the day before you make your froyo!)
Step 1: Strain and Stir
Begin by lining a strainer with four layers of cheesecloth and placing it over a bowl. Fill the lined strainer with the Greek yogurt, covering the yogurt with extra cheesecloth. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours. This step will help remove any extra liquid from the yogurt, which will help create a creamier, richer final product. If you don’t have cheesecloth on hand, feel free to use a single coffee filter. Just be sure to cover the yogurt with a bit of plastic wrap or waxed paper.
Once thoroughly drained, discard the extra liquid. Then stir in the sugar and vanilla extract until the sugar is dissolved.
As tempting as it is, do not skimp on the sugar! You may want to remove some of those less healthy ingredients when making better-for-you alternatives, but the sugar in this recipe serves an important purpose besides adding sweetness. Sugar helps give frozen yogurt its soft, creamy texture. Too little sugar and you’ll end up with rock-hard froyo—yikes!
Test Kitchen tip: Traditional yogurt also works in this recipe, but it does have a higher water content, so you’ll have to wait a little longer for it to drain. Also, avoid using flavored yogurts as a base. Due to the extra ingredients (namely stabilizers), these options won’t drain fully and you’ll end up with an overly icy end product.
Step 2: Let it Gel
In a small, microwave-safe bowl, combine cold water and lemon juice; sprinkle with gelatin and let stand for 1 minute. Once the gelatin has absorbed a bit, pop into the microwave for 30 seconds on high. After heating, give the mix a stir and let it cool slightly. Along with sugar, gelatin helps keep your frozen yogurt soft and scoopable.
Step 3: Cool Off
Stir the gelatin mixture in with the yogurt and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until completely chilled—at least 40 minutes. The colder your frozen yogurt base, the silkier the texture will be.
Step 4: Churn, Churn, Churn
Before starting, make sure the cylinder of your ice cream machine is completely frozen. With your canister ready, add the yogurt mix to your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. You’ll want to keep the yogurt mixing until it becomes thick and the temperature drops to 22ºF.
Test Kitchen tip: Making frozen yogurt is infinitely easier with an ice cream maker (we love this model from Cuisinart).
Step 5: Ice it Down
When the yogurt is done churning in the machine, transfer your frozen yogurt into a freezer container. Freeze for 2-4 hours, until it’s firm enough to scoop. If you’re antsy like me, you can definitely give your froyo a test right away, though it will have a texture more like soft serve. But having patience pays off. Once frozen, this dessert is craveably creamy.
This frozen yogurt tastes great served on its own, but I love it topped with fruit, nuts and even a few sprinkles.
If this has got you in the mood for something frosty, check out 30 more frozen desserts.