20 Delicious Ways to Transform Plain Yogurt Into Something Extra Special

instant pot yogurt
Photo: Kirsten Frances

Sure, you can enjoy it just as it is, but we think plain yogurt is so much better gussied up. Here are 20 recipes that utilize this staple to make something even better.

01 of 20
multicooker yogurt in glass jar with spoon
Kirsten Frances

Sure, yogurt is great as a healthy, probiotic-rich breakfast or snack, especially when it's mixed with fresh fruit and granola. However, it can also serve as magic, understated ingredient in so many different sweet and savory recipes. Next time you find yourself with an abundance of plain yogurt on your hand, try mixing it into one of these recipes.

While store-bought plain yogurt will work great in all of our recipes, you can also try your hand at making your own yogurt in an Instant Pot, the results of which are pictured here. It's a genius and totally innovative take on a basic dairy aisle staple. From here, try whipping it into a sweet frozen dessert such as popsicles or frozen yogurt. We have a couple of colorful recipes that the entire family is sure to love, thanks to their creamy, indulgent texture, vibrant colors, and fruity flavor. Yogurt is also a fabulous addition to panna cotta, a chilled gelatinous Italian dessert. Using yogurt will make this extra-special treat creamier than you ever could have imagined—plus, it's healthier, too!

Yogurt also achieves great things in savory recipes, whether as a dipping sauce, salad dressing, or burger topping. And whether you use plain regular yogurt or strained yogurt, it adds a touch of tang and plenty of decadence that you'll love. Looking for something energizing? Plain yogurt is one of our go-to ingredients for a balanced smoothie. Dozens of nutritious yogurt-based smoothie recipes have been published in Living over the years, but here we're sharing just one of our favorites.

Plain yogurt is absolutely worth celebrating and we have not one, not two, but 20 ways to make use of it.

02 of 20

Turn It Into a Dipping Sauce

Yogurt-Ranch Dipping Sauce
Kate Sears

Stir together a rich and creamy combination of mayonnaise and Greek yogurt—plus fresh herbs—for this tantalizing sauce that you can serve with crispy chicken tenders, crudités, or chips.

03 of 20

Serve It with Salad

Bryan Gardner

Use plain yogurt in this fragrant salad dressing, which is drizzled over a simple and vibrant salad made from bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, thinly shaved fennel, plum wedges, and toasted almonds.

04 of 20

Tuck It Into a Pita Bread Sandwich

Cauliflower-and-Chickpea Pitas with Creamy Yogurt Sauce
Chris Simpson

Tangy strained yogurt blended with jalapeño peppers, cilantro, and lime juice is a punchy addition to these otherwise simple vegetarian protein-packed pita pockets.

05 of 20

Make Frozen Yogurt

No-Churn Raspberry Frozen Yogurt
The Morrisons

Skip a trip to the froyo shop and make your own at home using just three basic ingredients—frozen raspberries, sweetened condensed milk, and plain strained yogurt.

06 of 20

Serve It for a Savory Breakfast

olive oil fried eggs with yogurt
Marcus Nilsson

Yogurt fruit parfaits are a classic breakfast treat, but this savory spin is also worth trying. Plain strained yogurt is spread over the bottom of a bowl and is then topped with an energizing combination of roasted vegetables (use leftovers!), fried eggs, and plenty of fresh herbs.

07 of 20

Use It as a Burger Topping

grilled lamb burger yogurt feta sauce
Christopher Testani

Move aside, ketchup! The tanginess of yogurt cuts through the gamey flavor of lamb burgers in this recipe for a spectacular, balanced bite.

08 of 20

Spread It on Toast

fruit yogurt honey toast
Ngoc Minh Ngo

Upgrade how you serve yogurt (and toast!) at breakfast time with this colorful bite. Top a slice of toasted whole grain bread with strained yogurt, clementine segments and raspberries, plus a drizzle of honey for a sweet start to your day.

09 of 20

Swirl It Into Soup

gingery beet soup
Johnny Fogg

Two genius ingredients—plain yogurt and a Yukon gold potato—make this eye-catching soup ultra-silky without adding tons of extra fat or calories.

10 of 20

Turn It Into a Festive, Stunning Dessert

Basil-Yogurt Panna Cotta with Grapefruit Gelée
Con Poulos

It looks luxurious, but this fruity panna cotta doesn't have a long ingredient list. Plain yogurt is whisked into a mixture of whole milk, fresh basil, gelatin, and fresh grapefruit juice, which is then poured into ramekins and chilled until set. It's topped with grapefruit-infused honey syrup for a hint of sweetness.

11 of 20

Top Waffles with It

whole wheat waffles
Linda Pugliese

Instead of the usual maple syrup and butter, take a healthier approach to your morning waffles. Here, we've topped whole wheat waffles with strained yogurt and an assortment of fresh berries for a better-for-you breakfast.

12 of 20

Serve It with Poached Eggs

poached eggs with yogurt spicy butter
Ryan Liebe

This yogurt-based recipe delivers some serious heat. Smoked paprika and a pinch of cayenne pepper adds a kick to plain yogurt and jammy poached eggs.

13 of 20

Turn It Into a Cheese Spread

Kate Mathis

Similar to Boursin but healthier, our garlic-herb yogurt cheese is creamy, herby, and highly addictive. Draining the yogurt gives it a thicker consistency; adding garlic and herbs turns it into the perfect accompaniment for crudités and crackers.

14 of 20

Blend It for a Smoothie

Cantaloupe Yogurt Drink

Just three ingredients (four, if you count the ice)—cantaloupe, plain yogurt, and honey—make one delicious drink.

15 of 20

Make Ambrosia

Linda Pugliese

Our twist on the classic creamy fruit salad swaps out cream for whipped plain Greek yogurt.

16 of 20

Use It in a Tart

Fresh Orange and Yogurt Tart

In lieu of a traditional custard filling for a tart, try this yogurt-based version.

17 of 20

Make Chaas

Jonathan Lovekin

Lassis aren't the only Indian yogurt beverage. Chaas, a refreshing drink popular in the country's northern region, is thinner than a lassi and just as delicious. Try three of these delicious variations: Curry-Leaf and Cumin Chaas, Salty Lime Chaas, and Sweet Lime Chaas.

18 of 20

Mix It Into Cake Batter


Working plain Greek yogurt into this batter ensures a moist cake with a tender crumb.

19 of 20

Freeze It for a Cool Treat

Frederic Lagrange

It doesn't get any easier—or more delectable—than this. Simply fold strawberry jam into plain Greek yogurt, pour into ice-pop molds, and freeze.

20 of 20

Serve It on Pasta

Spaghetti with Caramelized Onions and Yogurt
Kate Mathis

Yogurt on spaghetti? You bet! Instead of pasta with alfredo sauce, try this creamy but light dish with slow-cooked onions, a touch of white wine, parsley—and a dollop of yogurt to bring it all together.

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