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Home » What is French Style Yogurt & Who Can Eat it : Ultimate Guide

What is French Style Yogurt & Who Can Eat it : Ultimate Guide

French Style yogurt is more like Greek or regular yogurt. It’s a lot thicker and creamier than the two other types, with a higher concentration of good bacteria called lactobacillus acidophilus. This strain is known to help keep your digestive tract operating smoothly and aid in your immune system.

The body only has specific amounts of those “good” bacteria and can be destroyed by antibiotics, so replenishing it is essential. The thicker consistency also means less lactose (milk sugar) linked to digestive problems in those who are intolerant to lactose.

Is This Kind of Yogurt for Everyone?

Some brands may use low-fat milk or skimmed milk to cut down on calories and fat. While this may seem like a good thing, it makes the yogurt less thick because of the lack of fat. It makes it taste more like regular yogurt than natural french style yogurt–it’s missing that richness, making you eat more to get packed. You also won’t be getting all those great benefits of high-fat yogurt because it’s been stripped of them.

French-style yogurts can be found in most supermarkets, but the best option would be to find a place that sells local products such as cheese shops and delis. They have more options available for you to choose from, like flavors (here are some suggestions if you need them) and brands and the yogurt is fresher. It will cut down on the added sugar found in most supermarket brands as well.

Most of the time, French-style yogurt should be suitable for 5-7 days, depending on how long it’s been sitting out at your local store. As with all products, there are a few things to check for when you purchase them. The yogurt should be creamy and smooth, not chunky or watery. It should also have some substance to it; if the cup of yogurt feels light, avoid buying it since it may go bad before you can finish eating it.

Remember, it is a very different type of yogurt from what most Americans are used to, so taste test before you buy to see if it’s for you! If not, there are other options available. Natural grocery stores sometimes carry different brands of regular yogurt from small companies, which could be a better fit.

If you still don’t like the taste or texture of French-style yogurt, make your own at home using this recipe. It’s in the traditional style but can be eaten like regular yogurt. Learn how to make it here!

Looking for a Way to Make Your French Style Yogurt?

French Style Yogurt

If you are looking to make it at home, here is a recipe that works well:

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Homemade French Style Yogurt


  • Line the bottom of an oven-proof bowl with a coffee filter or paper towel.
  • Place yogurt in the prepared bowl, cover with a lid and place in an oven set to the lowest setting.
  • If using a gas stovetop (with no pilot light), wrap the bottom of a frying pan with aluminium foil and put it on a burner over a medium flame for 10-15 minutes until it is hot enough. 
  • Line the bottom of an oven-proof bowl with a coffee filter or paper towel.
  • Place yogurt in the prepared bowl, cover with a lid and place in an oven set to the lowest setting.
  • If using an electric stovetop, preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit (no need for a pilot light).
  • Wrap the bottom of a small skillet with aluminium foil and place over low heat for about 10 minutes until it is hot enough.
  • After the yogurt has been incubated in the oven for 6 hours, remove from heat and let cool at room temperature. Refrigerate overnight (or up to two days).
  • To speed up thickening time, place a pot of yogurt into an ice bath for 10-15 minutes or until cooled to the point where the yogurt sets into a soft, gel-like consistency.
  •  Transfer to another container and refrigerate for at least 8 hours before eating (or up to a week).
  • Sprinkle with honey, fresh or dried fruits, cinnamon, cocoa powder, etc., for different flavours!

Tips for Making a Good Yogurt Culture

  • Use whole milk (NOT 2% or skim) and preferably pasteurized.
  • Do not use ultra-high temperature (UHT) pasteurized milk!
  • Pasteurization time is essential; the longer, the better, but do not exceed 20 minutes. 
  • If using raw milk, heat it gently to 160 degrees F for a maximum of 20 minutes.
  • Do not use ultrapasteurized (long shelf life) milk; it does not work well as the starter culture.
  • Yogurt culture is available in most health food stores and some speciality grocery stores.
  • Directions vary by manufacturer; follow the directions on the package if there are any.

What is the Difference Between French-Style Yogurt and Greek Yogurt?

French Style and Greek Yogurt

There are two significant differences between typical Greek yogurt and the French-style yogurt often found at your local grocery store.

Density: Traditional Greek-style yogurt is usually strained to remove any excess liquid. It has a much higher concentration of protein than regular yogurt since this helps it thicken more and gives it texture closer to that of Greek yogurt.

French-style yogurt, however, is left with more moisture than the typical Greek variety due to its long incubation time and lack of straining and thus has a much lighter consistency when eaten alone.

The result? A very creamy texture can be used to make healthier desserts such as fruit smoothies or frozen yogurt. It’s also the secret behind many of my recipes, including delicious butterscotch pudding, instant chocolate mousse and yogurt-based ice cream!

A few notes on this recipe before we get started: I’ve used thick, Greek-style whole milk yogurt as my starter culture to make the French version pictured in this post. You can alter this recipe to use thin, standard whole milk plain yogurt by simply leaving a longer incubation time (up to 24 hours).

I’ve also experimented with non-dairy yogurts such as soy and coconut; they were decent but didn’t taste quite as good as dairy versions. The best results I had were from using thick Greek-style yogurt as the starter.

Recipe using French Style Yogurt


  • Homemade Yogurt (French-Style) 2 cups thick
  • Plain whole-milk Greek-style yogurt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 3/4 cup
  • 1 tablespoon cane sugar OR honey Mix-ins of your choice  (fruit, nuts, cereal, chocolate chips, etc.) optional


  • Bring the milk to a simmer in a small saucepan (pour in one cup of milk).
  • Remove from heat and let excellent to 115 degrees F (not recommended for non-pasteurized milk). 
  • Pour into a glass or plastic container, cover with a lid, and sit at room temperature for eight hours (at least 8 but up to 24 hours).
  • After incubation, add the vanilla extract and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar or honey.
  • Mix well with a spoon.
  • Cover and let sit at room temperature for another four hours until thickened (up to 12 hours total). 
  • Line a strainer with a cheesecloth and place it over a tall measuring cup. 
  • Pour the mixture into the strainer, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours (overnight is best).
  • Once it has completely cooled, stir vigorously to loosen the yogurt from the sides of the container or strainer, then spoon into serving containers and place in the refrigerator for at least a few hours

Additional Tips:

  • Add mix-ins, wait until yogurt has chilled and then spoon to avoid stirring up too much air. 
  • If your home is warm, pre-chill the serving containers before pouring in the hot yogurt – this will keep it from melting off your ice cream scoop.
  • Leftovers should keep for a few days in the fridge but eventually thicken to more Greek-like consistency, so only make as much as you plan on eating!

Savory Homemade Yogurt Recipe

  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt with active cultures
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice or white wine vinegar


  • Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl with a fork, cover, and sit for 2 hours at room temperature.
  • If desired, add any mix-ins of your choice (chives, dill weed, garlic powder, etc.) before serving.
  • It will keep for around one week in the fridge.

Additional Tips:

  • The longer you leave it before eating, the more sour and tangy it will get (up to a few weeks).
  • This recipe also works great as a substitute for mayonnaise since it keeps so much longer than store-bought versions!
  • It is beneficial if you have food sensitivities or allergies which prevent you from eating the store-bought versions.

Tips to Make Perfect French Style Yogurt

  • If your home is warm, pre-chill any serving containers before pouring hot mixture into them – this will keep the yogurt from melting off your ice cream scoop.
  • Leftovers should keep for a few days in the fridge but eventually thicken to more Greek-like consistency, so only make as much as you plan on eating!
  • Yogurt is also known to prevent allergies from developing – I recommend giving it to your kids whenever you can (made with homemade yogurt, of course)!

Yogurt Expert Sonia Uvezian was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon. A renowned expert in Middle Eastern and Caucasian cooking and winner of a James Beard Award, she is the author of six other highly acclaimed cookbooks, such as Recipes and Remembrances From An Eastern Mediterranean Kitchen, Cooking from the Caucasus along with The Book of Yogurt.