How to Strain Yogurt (i.e. Make Greek Yogurt)

This may be one of the most anti-climactic posts we’ve had in a while – but it’s a question we are receiving more and more these days so we thought we’d share.

Greek yogurt is very similar to ‘regular’ yogurt (here’s how to make yogurt using a dehydrator) only it’s much thicker.  The thickness comes from the removal of the whey (it looks like cloudy water).

Separating the whey from the yogurt is simple – place a clean dishcloth in a strainer (a rice strainer is perfect), dump the yogurt into it, cover it in the fridge and wait.  Once you’ve got it as thick as you’d like, place it in a container and you’re good to go. 2-6 hours is generally enough but some people like to let it sit for longer (6 hours will remove about 0.75 cups of whey from 2 cups of yogurt).

How to Strain Yogurt (i.e. Make Greek Yogurt) Whey

You’ll notice that I used a cloth that has color in it – you may want to use an unbleached, uncolored piece of cloth instead.  I prefer a dishcloth to cheesecloth as it’s fiber only allows liquid through and you can reuse it many more times than cheesecloth which is often disposed after use.

Greek yogurt is thicker and more tangy than regular yogurt.  Here’s a few things you can do with it:

  • Eat it as is.
  • Sweeten it with honey or maple syrup (or the preserve of your choice)
  • add garlic and herbs (a freestyle tzatziki)
  • I love to add lime, chile flakes and herbes salees to make a great addition for tacos
  • Use it in the place of sour cream.

It’s just that simple!

And don’t throw out the whey – here’s a bunch of ideas on how to use it!


  1. charissa says:

    I confess I did this so often I invested in a “yogurt cheese” strainer thing. I know, it is a one-function utensil. I have a drawer of shame. I own a pineapple corer, an avocado slicer, a strawberry slicer, a strawberry stem plucker, a tomato corer, and the list of shame continues. But the strainer was awesome. It had some sort of filter that was sort of like a reusable coffee filter that fit in a container that fit in my fridge. I loved it. I added maple syrup and blueberries and strawberries to my yogurt cheese, which was yummy. I have been known to Hidden Valley powered ranch dip mix to it and made ranch dip for my veggies–not as fancy schmansy as you ;)

  2. So what suggestions do you have for using the leftover whey?

  3. Heck yeah! I’ve been making straining plain yogurt to make labneh–basically the same as Greek yogurt, but a little thicker–for ages. I use a couple fine-mesh nylon yogurt strainers that I found at Goodwill in their original box. So great for instant almost-cheese to spread on crackers!

    Laruse, I use my whey in soups or whip it into eggs before I scramble them. It might be good added to smoothies too.

  4. Mary Ann Slowka says:

    Love doing this! I use some of my less than jam-set jams (too runny for toast) to flavor the yogurt.

  5. I’m laughing because I happened upon this technique when I first lived in Toronto and couldn’t understand why the tsatziki I bought on the Danforth was so thick and creamy. I thought I was totally cheating by hanging my regular yogurt in a dishtowel. I also didn’t know that “Greek yogurt” was “a thing”.

    Now I know,

  6. Joel, is there any particular yogurt that’s better to use? Meaning, are there any additives that we should avoid?

    • hi Josh!

      We rarely buy yogurt; when we do it’s usually at farmers markets so I’m afraid I’m not a lot of use when it comes to brands. :( We’ve had a lot of luck with goat yogurt from our market in the past… :)


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