How to Cook with Greek Yogurt

How to Cook with Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt must be one of the most important ingredients we all have in the fridge.

This Mediterranean food is the base for the lightest and healthiest breakfast treats when combined with granola, fruits, and honey. In addition, its acidic nature is the secret weapon to super-fluffy pancakes and ultra-moist banana bread. But Greek yogurt’s magic is not limited to sweet treats only - it contributes its tangy taste to a number of savory dishes as well, from salads to soups and pasta.

Besides its versatility and creamy texture, Greek yogurt has one more important quality to offer: healthiness. It contains high levels of protein in addition to calcium and several other nutrients, including B vitamins.

Cooking with Greek yogurt is the best way to incorporate its health benefits into your everyday diet. We offer a few tips to help you make the most of this refreshing ingredient in the upcoming hot summer days.​

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General Greek Yogurt Tips

What type of Greek yogurt is the best for cooking? First of all, make sure it is plain and unflavored. When it comes to texture, opt for whole milk, full-fat varieties.​

However healthy non-fat yogurt may sound, it is actually packed with additives and stabilizers so it is best to avoid it. Plus, the lowered amount of fats will reflect on the dish’s richness. This rule applies to both sweet and savory dishes.

In addition, try to find healthier, organic, locally-sourced Greek yogurt varieties. This is not only important for health reasons. Many added artificial sweeteners, thickeners, gums, and gelatins don’t react well when heated, resulting in altered flavor or a completely ruined final product.

Draining the yogurt. To make your yogurt thicker and more luxurious in taste, drain it off the excess liquid. Here is how to do it: Use either coffee filters or paper towels to line a strainer (double or, even better, triple layers). Place the strainer over a bowl and pour the yogurt. Cover and place in the fridge for a few hours (until the yogurt has thickened to your liking). Generally, the longer it sits in the fridge, the thicker the yogurt will be.​

Temperature is very important. Abide by the following rule: the warmer, the thinner. However, adding cold yogurt into a hot dish will result in curdling. Bottom line: use chilled yogurt in cold dishes like dips and pastas, but bring it to a room temperature and add it at the end of the cooking process into warm dishes like soups.​

General Greek Yogurt Tips

Using Greek Yogurt in Savory Dishes​

Yogurt as a marinade. Greek yogurt makes the meat tender and results in a very juicy final product. For a simple yogurt-based marinade, mix it with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Optionally, you can also add garlic, fresh herbs, and spices to your taste. Choose your favorite meat (fish, chicken, beef, or pork) and let it soak in the marinade for at least two hours (even better overnight), then roast or grill it.​

Use Greek yogurt as a substitute for sour cream and heavy cream. Yogurt can replace sour cream in dips (like tzatziki and nacho) and toppings (for instance, on top of baked potatoes, along with fresh chives and onions), in a 1:1 proportion. It also replaces heavy cream in pastas and soups to make them thicker and creamier. However, unlike heavy cream, Greek yogurt doesn’t ‘overburden’ these dishes, making them light enough for hot days.​

Whisking for richness. Lightly whisk the yogurt before adding it to your soups, stews, or sauces to make them creamier and richer. To make these liquid dishes thicker, add a teaspoon of flour (or cornstarch) to a cup of Greek yogurt and gradually add this mixture to the simmering pot. Cook for 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly.​

Substituting mayonnaise with Greek yogurt. To make your dish a bit healthier (for instance, tuna salad), adding freshness and extra tanginess at the same time, use Greek yogurt in place of half of the usual amount of mayonnaise.​

Using Greek Yogurt in Sweet Treats and Baked Goods​

Yogurt for ice cream. Mix in some berries and put your Greek yogurt in the ice cream maker to obtain a lighter summer dessert. The best part? The good probiotic bacteria found in yogurt survive low temperatures, so your ice cream will be absolutely healthy.​

Avoiding aluminum kitchenware. When baking Greek yogurt goods, avoid using aluminum cookware. Greek yogurt contains acids that result in an unpleasant reaction with this metal.​

Greek yogurt as a substitute in baked goods. Greek yogurt is used as a substitute for buttermilk, sour cream and heavy cream in baked goods. To substitute buttermilk with Greek yogurt in baked goods like banana bread, combine 2/3 cup Greek yogurt and 1/3 cup milk for each cup of buttermilk called for in the recipe. Whisk them together and let stand for about five minutes before adding to your recipe. When substituting sour cream and heavy cream in desserts, the proportion is 1:1 due to the similar texture and taste.​

What are your favorite ways to cook with Greek yogurt?​

How to Cook with Greek Yogurt
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