Hold onto your spoons, because we’re about to dive into a nutrient-dense, protein-packed snack – soy yogurt!

Whether you’re lactose intolerant or just looking for a protein rich treat, soy yogurt can be a versatile, nutritious add to your daily routine. We break down what soy yogurt is, its history, how it’s made and its nutritional profile before offering some recipe ideas to try.

What is Soy Yogurt?

Soy yogurt, often referred to as “soygurt,” is a yogurt alternative made from soy milk. It is a healthy fermented food that contains more calcium and protein than soy milk due to added calcium salts and cultures during production. Soy yogurt’s flavor and consistency closely mimic dairy-based yogurt, making it an easy swap in some of your favorite recipes.

Fun fact: fortified soy beverages and soy yogurt are the only nondairy milk products included as part of the dairy group in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Guidelines note that soy yogurt is similar to dairy yogurt in nutrient composition and in the way they are used in meals.

Brief History of Soy Yogurt

The creation of soy yogurt goes all the way back to the 1900s, when Li Yu-ying, a Chinese scientist and soy foods pioneer, first had the idea of making yogurt from soy milk. However, it wasn’t until 1977 that it first appeared on the market as an alternative to dairy yogurt. 

How Is Soy Yogurt Made?

Soy yogurt is made by heating up soy milk and mixing in a yogurt starter culture. Typically, the live cultures used in soy yogurt are the same as those used in traditional yogurt, such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. This mixture is left to incubate for several hours until it thickens and develops the sour yogurt taste. Then, the soy yogurt is cooled, and flavors such as fruit or honey can be added.

Can I Make Soy Yogurt at Home?

If you’d like to make soy yogurt at home, it’s super easy and requires only three simple ingredients: soy milk, a starter and a thickening agent (like agar agar). 

  • To get started making soy yogurt at home, preheat the oven to 120º F.
  • Next, heat up your soy milk and thickening agent in a saucepan until the temperature reaches 195º F (be sure it does not boil!).
  • Once heated, transfer the mixture to a bowl and let it cool to 105 º F or 120 º F.
  • Now, it’s time to add the starter and give it all a good stir.
  • Pour the mixture into glass jars or containers, turn off the oven and place them in the oven (without lids) to ferment for at least 8 hours. 
  • After the 8 hours are up, you can cover the jars and keep the yogurt in the fridge.  

What are the Different Types of Soy Yogurt?

Nowadays, you can find soy yogurt at your local supermarket or health food store. It comes in all different types of flavors, such as vanilla, strawberry or blueberry. You can even find soy Greek yogurt.

Soy yogurt comes in two different varieties:

Fermented Soy Yogurt: The first type is fermented, and it is made from soy milk in a similar process to traditional dairy yogurt. It has a similar texture and taste to dairy yogurt, making it a popular choice in the industry. This is the process that is described above.

Non-Fermented Soy Yogurt: The second type is non-fermented, which was once more popular, but is less commonly found today due to the rich health benefits fermented yogurt provides. Interestingly, the first soy yogurt to gain widespread attention in the U.S. was Jofu, a non-fermented product made from silken tofu by Tomsun Foods International. This type of soy yogurt is made by blending silken tofu with fruits and other ingredients until it reaches the smooth consistency of yogurt. However, it lacks the sourness and gut health properties of fermented soy yogurt.  

The Health Benefits of Eating Soy Yogurt

Not only is soy yogurt delicious, but it is also packed with nutrients.

Soy Yogurt Supports Digestive Health: Probiotic foods, like soy yogurt, contain live organisms that contribute to the healthy population of microbes in the gut. These beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics, play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy balance of gut flora, leading to better digestion and improved immune health.  

Soy Yogurt is Protein Packed: Soy is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids the body needs, making soy products, like soy yogurt, an excellent source of plant-based protein. 

Soy Yogurt Improves Heart Health: Soy products, such as soy yogurt, are naturally low in saturated fats and cholesterol. Regular consumption of soy yogurt may contribute to heart health by reducing the risk of heart disease. Soy is the only plant protein recognized by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for its cholesterol-lowering effects. It may reduce the risk of coronary artery disease. 

Soy Yogurt is Rich in Isoflavones: Soy foods are a unique dietary source of isoflavones, a phytoestrogen that may help alleviate hot flashes during menopause, reduce the risk of breast or prostate cancer, and improve skin health of postmenopausal women.

How to Eat More Soy Yogurt 

With a similar texture and nutritional profile to dairy yogurt, soy yogurt is the perfect alternative for those who want the benefits of yogurt without sacrificing the flavor or texture of its dairy counterpart.

Soy Yogurt Can Punch Up Your Daily Nutrition

If you’re a parent packing school lunches for your kids, consider adding soy yogurt to the menu for a tasty, portable, nutritious snack. Or, for an afterschool snack, use soy yogurt in a parfait with fruit, granola and honey.

As soy is protein packed, adding soy yogurt as a base to your workout smoothies, such as the Go Green Soy Smoothie, or post-workout protein smoothies, like the Mango Banana Soy Smoothie, is an excellent way to provide your body with the energy it needs before or after a workout!

Another delicious lunch idea to try with friends: soy chorizo tacos, featuring a zesty soy-based yogurt sauce!

When it comes to dessert, why not mix things up and try making refreshing soy yogurt berry pops? Or, if sundaes are more your thing, swap ice cream for soy yogurt and top it with chocolate syrup and cherries.

More Soy Yogurt, More Nutritious Fun

Whether you want to steer away from dairy, improve your gut health or simply want to add more plant-based protein into your diet, soy yogurt is an excellent nutrient-dense option!

Soy yogurt is just one of many nutritious soy food products. Click here to learn about the wide array of soy-based ingredients.