Yogurt is a delicious and nutritious dairy product that has become a staple food for many people. It’s a great source of protein, calcium, and probiotics. Yogurt comes in a wide variety of flavors and styles, from traditional plain yogurt to fruited and creamy varieties.
With its short shelf life, you may wonder if you can freeze yogurt to help it last longer. The answer is yes, you can freeze yogurt! Freezing is an effective way to extend the shelf life of yogurt while preserving its taste and texture. Here is a detailed guide on how to properly freeze and thaw yogurt:
Should You Freeze Yogurt?
Freezing yogurt can be advantageous if you:
- Buy yogurt in bulk or large containers but can’t finish it before expiration date
- See yogurt on sale and want to stock up
- Make your own yogurt but end up with more than you need right away
- Want to meal prep smoothies or parfaits ahead of time
Freezing allows you to enjoy yogurt past its usual 1-2 week shelf life. It also saves you from having to throw away spoiled yogurt and wasting money.
What Type of Yogurt Freezes Well?
Plain yogurt freezes the best. Flavored yogurts with fruit or syrups may separate upon thawing. The extra ingredients make the yogurt more prone to texture changes.
Greek yogurt also holds up better in the freezer than regular yogurt. Its thicker, creamier texture stays consistent. Nonfat and low-fat yogurts freeze fine too. Whole milk yogurt may become more icy and grainy.
Avoid freezing artificial yogurt products like yogurt tubes or drinks. The liquid separates and results in a watery, unappetizing mess when thawed. Stick to traditional tub yogurt.
How to Freeze Yogurt
Follow these simple steps for freezing yogurt:
- Make sure the yogurt is not past its expiration date. Freeze it while still fresh.
- Check the container. Yogurt sold in plastic tubs specifically made for freezing works best. If using another container, transfer the yogurt first so it doesn’t crack in the freezer.
- Stir the yogurt first. This prevents texture changes from developing later.
- Portion into small reusable containers or freezer bags if not freezing the whole tub. Lay the bags flat in your freezer to save space.
- Remove as much air as possible before sealing the containers. This reduces iciness.
- Label the containers with the type and date of the yogurt. Add any other description like flavors.
- Place the sealed yogurt flat in the freezer. Do not stack containers while freezing.
- Allow at least 24 hours for the yogurt to completely freeze solid. Then you can stack or rearrange containers.
How Long Does Frozen Yogurt Last?
Frozen yogurt maintains optimal taste and texture for 2-3 months in the freezer. After that, it slowly dries out and absorbs freezer odors. Freezing cannot make yogurt last forever.
For best quality, use your frozen yogurt within 6 months. Discard any old containers even if still frozen solid. The probiotics and nutrients degrade over time.
Can You Freeze Yogurt Twice?
It’s best to only freeze yogurt once. Refreezing and thawing multiple times affects the taste, texture, and culture activity. The yogurt becomes more icy and watery each time.
If you thawed yogurt but didn’t use it all, you have a couple options:
- Keep refrigerated for 1-2 days to finish it off quickly
- Refreeze only after mixing it into a recipe like smoothies or baked goods
- Cook it into an icicle pop or yogurt bite appetizer
- Add as an ingredient in overnight oats or chia pudding
Avoid a full second cycle of freezing and thawing plain yogurt in a container. The quality just won’t be the same.
Thawing Frozen Yogurt
To properly thaw frozen yogurt:
- Take the yogurt out of the freezer and leave it in the fridge overnight. This slow thaw prevents large ice crystals from forming.
- You can also thaw in the microwave if in a pinch. Use defrost mode and stir every 30 seconds. Watch carefully to avoid melting.
- Let the yogurt sit on the counter for 30-60 minutes. Only do small containers to prevent prolonged exposure to warmth.
- Do not try to accelerate defrosting under running water or heat. This affects the taste and texture.
- Once yogurt looks soft and thawed, stir it vigorously with a spoon. This smooths it out.
- If any separation occurs after thawing, simply mix the watery whey back in.
- Consume thawed yogurt within 3-4 days. Do not refreeze after opening.
How to Use Thawed Yogurt
Thawed yogurt remains a versatile ingredient and healthy snack. Use it:
- As a topping for fruit, granola, or toast just like fresh yogurt
- Swirled into oatmeal or chia puddings
- Mixed into smoothies or protein shakes
- As the base for yogurt parfaits
- In place of sour cream on top of baked potatoes or chili
- In marinades, dipping sauces, salad dressings, or creamy soups
- Baked into muffins, quick breads, or other treats
The probiotics may not be as strong after freezing, but the nutritional benefits remain. Thawed yogurt tastes refreshingly cool and makes an easy breakfast or snack.
Potential Changes After Freezing Yogurt
Know what to expect when freezing and thawing yogurt. While not harmful, some types of yogurt are more prone to separation, iciness, or texture changes:
- Whey may separate and need stirring back in
- Consistency may become thicker and slightly grainy or icy
- Tartness can intensify as sugars break down
- Fruit bits can soften or look watery
- Nonfat and Greek yogurts better maintain a smooth, creamy texture
- Probiotic count may decrease but not disappear completely
As long as you freeze yogurt correctly in suitable containers, it remains safe to eat with very minimal changes. Allow time to fully thaw yogurt in the fridge, not on the counter. Overall, freezing is an easy way to cut down on waste and yogurt expenses.
Storing Thawed Yogurt
Once thawed, yogurt has a short shelf life. Store it properly:
- Keep refrigerated below 40°F at all times. Do not leave yogurt out once thawed.
- Eat within 3-4 days for peak quality, before it re-souring occurs.
- Do not return to the freezer after thawing. Consume what you’ve thawed.
- Discard any yogurt that smells odd, is moldy, or has changed consistency after thawing.
With some simple preparation, freezing yogurt at home is easy. Thawed yogurt remains a tasty and healthy treat. Follow these tips to successfully freeze yogurt and use it in recipes even after its expiration date.