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how to make non-fat plain YOGURT more palatable??

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i just bought some very good quality non-fat plain yogurt today, mostly because i wanted the live cultures to help my digestion... and it is so very sour! i've been eating ultra sweetened yogurt for so long, i'm not used to this (although i've tamed my sweet-tooth quite a bit), although i knew to expect it. i want to include yogurt in my diet from now on for its health benefits.

i added some honey and sweet cereal to make it more palatable, but i still sort of gasp when i eat it (because it's so sour).

i keep it in the office. do you know a good way to eat it (what to add, besides a cup of sugar)? i don't know if fruit will lessen the sourness so much. or should i make it savory and use it as a dip?

i'll also welcome recipes to cook with it, etc.


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  1. Add a little vanilla or almond extract (perhaps 1/4 to 1/2 tsp per cup) along with the honey or sugar used for sweetener. I don't know why, but vanilla and almond extracts really tame the sourness so that you need very little sweetener to make the yogurt palatable. Or perhaps they enhance the sweetening power of the honey/sugar. They also make any added fruit seem sweeter.

    You might try yogurt in savoury concoctions as well. When I make curries, my husband and I love a yogurt-cucumber salad as a side dish--plain yogurt, diced cucumber, raw garlic, salt and pepper.

    13 Replies
    1. re: Colleen

      yes, i love those cooling yogurt/cucumber dishes. i don't recall the yogurt being so sour in those. is it the salt that does it? or perhaps my particular yogurt has been left out too long somewhere along the line? i have tried full-fat yogurt before that was not as sour. maybe it is the fat.

      1. re: anne

        Probably the fat smooths out the sourness.

        1. re: Colleen

          I find plain lowfat yogurt much better tasting than nonfat. My favorite is a very ripe banana sliced and topped with lowfat plain yogurt and a sprinkle of wheatgerm for texture.

          1. re: poundcake

            i love sliced strawberries and sliced almonds with my lowfat plain. my favorites are the 2% greek total and canadian liberte

            1. re: lynn

              That's *MY* favorite treat too! I mix the Total Greek yogurt with a bit of sugar or honey and it's better than whipped cream. Mmmmm.

              1. re: chococat

                TOTAL Greek yogurt is the BEST!! I eat quarts of the nonfat variety, very dense and creamy and mild, with cereal. I tried the 2% recently and it was SO creamy and delicious, it was almost like eating mascarpone. I can only imagine what the whole-milk stuff tastes like.

                Food & Wine magazine recently top-rated Total in a taste test of yogurts. You can get it at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, for about the same price, unusually.

                1. re: Sarah W-R

                  TOTAL's whole milk yogurt, with some honey drizzled into it, is like eating heaven on a spoon. The non-fat and the low-fat are a bit sour for eating straight out of the container, though. If I don't have honey, I usually stir some powdered sweetener into it and eat it with raspberries, strawberries or slices of very ripe pears.

                  1. re: Deenso

                    I've been eating plain nonfat with sliced banana and TJ's granolas. My yogurts have been generic Giant or Safeway brands, or Dannon, but now I'll look for Total Greek.

                  2. re: Sarah W-R

                    You know it!

                    I can eat the 2% plain, need a little yogurt for the 0%, but not much, and oh, is it good.

                    I'm curious, how much is the big tub at Trader Joe's? We don't have that chain here.

                    1. re: danna

                      The "big tubs" (not so big, really -- the 0 percent is 18 ounces) are $3.99 at TJ's. Still better than $1.59 for the little 5 ounce tubs!

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        AH HA! I suspected as much. I'm paying $4.99 for the 18oz ($2.29 for the 5oz) at the overpriced natural foods store which is the only place I can find it.

                        1. re: danna

                          And I pay 1.99 for 7 oz. of the Total sheep/goat yogurt at a market castigated as expensive.

        2. re: Colleen

          Yes, do shop among the brands, and perhaps try the lowfat, as people have suggested.

          I use both nonfat and regular in savory dishes. They make great salad dressings with some herbs and lemon juice. I also put a spoonful into vegetable soup, or-- weird as this sounds-- a glass of tomato juice or V8.

        3. try a different brand. there's a lot of variation in creaminess and sourness among non-fat plain yogurts. nancy's tends to be very sour. safeway brand can be extremely sour. alta dena, brown cow, stonyfield, horizon, dannon are more mellow, less sour.
          to mellow yogurt without adding sweeteners, try sprinkling some cinnamon flavored lecithin granules, banana slices, or spirulina flakes. Attached website compares various brands.

          Link: http://www.cspinet.org/nah/yogurt.htm

          1. We've always put in a touch of sweetener to the yogurt and eaten it with applesauce. It also goes great with stewed (and unfortunately sweetened) rhubarb.

            1. I'm not a person who likes sour/real tart yoghurt but with the really good tart and tangy ones, like Total, I enjoy puting it in a bowl and then pouring on a syrup like grade b maple, sorghum, or even molasses, etc. something with a robust flavor and sweetness. Then scoop up some some yoghurt and syrup in each spoonful, don't mix it in, then enjoy the combinations of tart and sweet and robust. Once you get used to it you will hate regular sweet yoghurts.

              1. I was in the habit of eating Stonyfield coffee and vanilla flavored yogurts but wanted to cut my sugar consumption. As others have suggested, find a brand of plain you like. Add sugar or jam to taste, then over a period of several weeks you can gradually reduce the sweetener to "retrain" your palate. Worked for me! Now I like it with some cut-up strawberries or mangoes and some Kashi 7 a.m. cereal (similar to grape nuts).

                There was a thread a few weeks ago about making your own yogurt. I have started doing that and my homemade yogurt is quite mild.

                1. I eat mine blended into a smoothie with bananas and fruit juice. I suspect you will get used to the tartness over time, sort of like how I got used to skim milk, when at first it just seemed like water compared to whole milk. I would start out by adding sugar or a sweet fruit juice like apple juice, and just gradually back off on the sweetener as you get used to it.

                  1. Similar to what others have suggested (but slightly different) try mixing in defrosted individual quick frozen fruits. When they defrost, they release so much liquid that it colors and sweetens the yogurt.


                    1. I eat my Total 0 percent fat with honey or maple syrup, or with a spoonful of good quality jam or preserves (or occasionally both: I had some pink grapefruit preserves from TJ's that were delicious but not very sweet, so I added just a couple of drops of honey). It's been really fun to dig through my stock of fancy jams (which I love but never had a use for before).

                      1. I like making a beet salad with nonfat yogurt, shredded cooked beets, some garlic, lemon juice, and some chopped up chives.

                        If anyone has some more savory ideas for nonfat yogurt (besides beet or cucumber salad recipes), I would love to hear them. I'm really bored with sweet yogurts (both the store-bought and the ones I make at home) and I can't make beet or cucumber salad all the time.


                        4 Replies
                        1. re: creepygirl

                          I do a riff on Indian raita. Admittedly it's got cucumber in it, but you could omit/substitute something else. (zucchini, fennel, jicama??)

                          I use a yogurt strainer and salt and drain some plain non or lowfat yogurt for a couple of hours or overnight. I use a NW product (from Oregon) called Nancy's organic.

                          Add some grated cucumber (wring out the water), chopped, seeded, diced tomato (again, drain a bit), a bit of grated onion and some chopped cilantro.

                          (I vary this combo depending on what I have on hand. Also, sometimes I use lots of veggies and have more of a yogurt dressed salad and sometimes it's more of a seasoned, creamy yogurt condiment.)

                          To this I add cumin and coriander (freshly roasted and ground if possible), a shake or two of cayenne, a pinch of turmeric, a glug of EVOO and S and P to taste. I adjust texture/flavor with lime juice or a bit of drained off liquid from the yogurt. It's best if it sits for and hour or so before eating.

                          1. re: creepygirl

                            If I have any recipe that calls for mayo...chicken salad, asian slaw, salmon cakes, you name it... I use about 1/3 mayo to 2/3 non-fat plain yogurt.

                            1. re: creepygirl

                              I found a Persian recipe that I have yet to try...
                              saute onion and garlic in veggie oil, butter or ghee, add fresh spinach to wilt - let cool, mix in yogurt, salt and pepper. Chill up to eight hours.

                              To serve it suggests garnishing with saffron water or dried rose petals which sounds fabulous but is probably not necessary.

                              1. re: creepygirl

                                Since I don't like the taste of low-fat ranch dressing (too sweet for me!), I make my own by mixing non-fat yogurt, a touch of low-fat mayo, fresh minced garlic, and ranch dressing seasoning (you might have to thin it out w/ buttermilk or water). I use it as a dip as well as on salads.

                              2. I like to use it in place of sour cream. It's great to accompany potato knishes, or to make an onion dip.

                                1. I like either Dannon or TJ's nonfat and drain it (a paper coffee filter put over the holes in a colander works well; reduces the liquid by about half overnight). This gives it a creamier texture and somehow makes it taste sweeter, plus makes it spreadable. [BTW, check the ingredients on some of the store-brand cheaper yoghurts - some are formulated so the water won't drain, and they're thickened with starch. The fewer ingredients, the better, IMO.]

                                  Sweet ideas: mashed or cut soft fruits like strawberries or peaches with a little sweetener work well, with or without granola. So does serving yoghurt Greek style, with a drizzle of honey & chopped walnuts as a sort of dessert or snack. Another good combination (light lunch/salad sort of thing) is honey, grated carrots, and orange (sectioned, cut in small pieces). Or if you like apricots -- stew some dried apricots til they're soft enough to be pureed by beating with a fork; put this in a jar in the fridge and use like jam on bread or add a spoonful to yoghurt...gorgeous color and tastes wonderful.

                                  Savory: raita (cucumber or other vegetables added plus pressed garlic, chopped scallions, dill or whatever) as a salad, dip, accompaniment to curries, etc. is very good. I also just like eating it plain, with kosher salt for crunch. It can also be stirred into roasted mashed eggplant with garlic, tomato, cilantro, and salt for a salad/side dish.

                                  Other cooking uses: marinate chicken in plain yoghurt & bottled tandoori paste mixed together; grill. Or marinate lamb in plain yoghurt, lime juice, garlic, and oregano. Use the leftover marinade as part of the liquid for plain rice as an accompaniment.

                                  Middle Eastern and Indian cookbooks have lots of other yoghurt recipes.