Does Freezing Yogurt Kill Probiotics? (Is It Safe)

Does Freezing Yogurt Kill Probiotics

The question of whether or not freezing yogurt kills probiotics is a popular one. In this post, we will talk about whether or not freezing yogurt is fine.

So, does freezing yogurt kill probiotics?

No, freezing yogurt will not kill probiotics. Freezing actually preserves many live cultures as long as you let it thaw slowly in the fridge so that those strains have time to return to normal temperature before eating. When frozen quickly, many strains die off because they cannot survive cold temperatures.

You will still get some live cultures from good quality yogurts even if you freeze them though!

You should also be sure to eat your frozen yogurt before the “best by date” if it is dairy-based. Most yogurts also have a sell-by date that is usually several days before the best by date, so you’ll want to make sure you eat them all by that point!

If you’re using homemade raw yogurt (which I hope you are!),  you will want to consume that within 2-3 days before the best-by date. It should be fine for an extra day or two but after 3 days, you might see some changes in texture and flavor.

If you’re using coconut milk yogurt then it is a little different! I’ve heard from many people who have frozen full-fat coconut milk yogurt and had it last for months before they consume it.

At what temperature do probiotics die?

There are several different strains of probiotics, and each has a slightly different tolerance to temperatures.

Many strains die at around 112°F-122°F (44°C-50°C). At higher temperatures, they start dying off even more quickly until you reach about 140°F (60 C) where the majority have died off.

At this temperature, any strain that survives will be killed when it is cooled back down to room temp. At lower temperatures, many strains can survive for longer, but I would still recommend consuming those within 2 months before tossing them out to avoid food-borne illnesses.

Lastly, some probiotics actually hate salt! You’ll want to avoid adding any salt or salty ingredients right before eating your yogurt if possible because the bacteria could die off before you even get a chance to eat it.

How to Freeze Yogurt? (The right way)

Although freezing yogurt won’t kill the bacteria, it does affect the texture and taste of your yogurt. How much it changes depends on how long you leave it out.

Here’s how to freeze yogurt the right way:

1.) Get some good quality probiotic-friendly yogurt.

2.) Put ¼ to ½ cup into small plastic containers in about 1 inch of each compartment (double layer them if necessary).

3.) Freeze for a few hours at a time so that the yogurt has time to get solid before adding another layer. You’ll want to leave about an inch or two open at the top when going this route.

4.) Keep frozen until ready to eat and then let sit out on your countertop for 20 minutes or so before eating so that it doesn’t shock your stomach when you eat it.

5.) Enjoy!

What to look for in yogurt?

When looking for a good quality yogurt, you’re going to want to keep an eye out for the following:

  • What to look for in yogurt?

When looking for a good quality yogurt, you’re going to want to keep an eye out for the following:

How many strains of probiotics does it have?

More is always better!  Many store-bought yogurts contain up to 3 different types while homemade yogurts will usually contain 6 or more.

  • How much sugar is in it?

You can sometimes find brands with no added sweetness but many times those are not as flavorful and do require some sweetening on your end. Homemade raw yogurt is usually lower in sugar since you’ll use less fruit when making your own recipe (and if you don’t add extra before eating).

  • How thick is it?

This is just preference but I like my yogurt to be fairly thick and creamy. How much it actually changes when frozen will depend on the type of yogurt as well as your personal taste preferences.

  • Is there any added milk or sugar in it?

I try to consume only dairy-free probiotic foods, so when I buy store-bought yogurts I look carefully at the ingredients list to make sure that it is free from all added milk products such as whey or casein.

Can you thaw yogurt at room temperature?

In a word, yes! In fact, it is recommended that you thaw your yogurt at room temperature as opposed to thawing and refreezing.

By thawing at room temperature, you are helping the bacteria in your food thaw more quickly which will keep them alive longer.

How long does it take yogurt to thaw?

The amount of time it takes for yogurt to thaw depends on how warm your home is. How warm the food is will affect how quickly bacteria die off as well, so you’ll want to make sure that your yogurt isn’t sitting out for too long (3 hours max).

Most people recommend letting it sit out overnight, but you can also speed up the process by placing your container in some cool water and stirring it every once in a while. 

The coldness from the ice-cold water will help keep bacteria alive longer than if left alone at room temp. I usually just let mine sit out for a few hours in the morning and it’s good to go.

Final Thoughts

Freezing yogurt won’t kill probiotics, but it might reduce the number of live bacteria. If you’re looking to preserve all or most of your gut’s healthy flora then freezing is not advisable.

However, if you are simply wanting to enjoy a frozen treat and don’t care too much about preserving the maximum amount of probiotic content in your food, then feel free to freeze away!

If you want to learn more about freezing foods, visit this page. Thank you for reading.


USDA: Food Safety and Inspection Service