The past few days have been weird.

From what it seems, you’d think that I’ve been riding the creamy white waves of exhilarating… homemade frozen yogurt. But behind the coolness and calm, there had been an underground storm of anger and injustice.

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A few days ago I received something utterly under-delivered that really, really pissed me off.

It was a lousy, disappointing, half-assed bowl of frozen yogurt from a tourist-trapping hutong (Chinese for “traditional alleys”), that tasted more like grainy and watered-down mockery. You call this “frozen yogurt“?! This pile of white, soppy sadness? If you were gonna steal someone else’s idea at least do it fucking right. The sheer thickness of people’s skin to even be able to charge money for this crap, purely because they deal with and profit from ignorance, is the very poisonous root where this country ROTS. I mean did I mention I was pissed?

The day was warm and my yogurt blew.


I came home with a mission to find an answer, but how? A dive in the ocean of frozen yogurt-recipes online left me no satisfaction for one reason only. They all, for reasons beyond me, resembled just hard-frozen ice cream. Why? If I wanted ice cream I’d gotten myself ice cream. The justice of frozen yogurt should and only be soft-served. But HOW?! Try the simple logic of eating churned yogurt right out of the ice cream-maker, and the grainy substance will melt faster than any grand expectations. Mine did. So again. How? How did Pink Berry do it, you say? By using anything but yogurt plus additives you wouldn’t find in your local groceries that’s how.

Back to square one. How?

Then by pure chance, I ran into an article on the notorious one-ingredient ice cream that is simply pureed frozen bananas, and found a clue to why something that should have ended up as a puddle of brown water, could miraculously become “ice cream” instead. The clue is pectin. A gelatin-like substance found in plants (also in the 20-something ingredients in commercial frozen yogurt), especially high in bananas, that acts as a binding-agent that… holds the bashed bananas together against the world. But I wasn’t familiar with pectin… instead, I had a box of long-neglected gelatin on the shelf that all of a sudden looked very friendly. Of course, if I hadn’t been such a narcissist… I would’ve found a lot of frozen yogurt-recipes online using gelatin before I even conducted my own test. BUT, in a way I’m glad I didn’t. I just got out my frozen yogurt maker (by which I mean myself) and got to work.

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Most of those recipes uses too little gelatin, and sugar (instead of honey) that require cooking and a long time of chilling, and then again in the end, hard-frozen for no apparent reason! Soft serve! Soft serve!! That’s the only purpose of frozen yogurt, is it not?! Why did you think it was healthier?! Plus when you freeze gelatin, it looses its gooey-ness and thickness, and become nothing but ordinary homemade frozen dessert filled with large ice-crystals.

Save yourself some crunch-time and try this.

This recipe requires minimal cooking and no pre-chilling which could take several hours, and the result is extremely creamy and thick, mildly sweet frozen yogurt that could out-stand room-temperature and holds its shape. The gelatin does a fine job binding every single molecules together so that there is virtually no ice-crystal or unpleasant graininess, a perfect welcoming bed for all toppings to come. For example, but not limiting to, this buttery and nutty walnut and digestive cookie crumb.

There’s too much injustice in this world but the pure bliss of frozen yogurt should not be one.

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Don’t be scared, gelatin is natural and a great source of amino acids.

I strained plain yogurt to make my own Greek-style yogurt which I would assume was full-fat. You could use 2% or non-fat Greek yogurt if you’d like. But I wouldn’t go completely low-fat on both the Greek yogurt and plain yogurt because… well, it won’t taste good. The use of honey as the sweetener, instead of sugar, is quite important as well. It adds flavours, and it doesn’t require any cooking to dissolve which means no chilling-for-6-hours before hitting the ice cream-machine, which means this recipe will be served in an hour from start to finish.

Soft-serve frozen yogurt:

  • 12.8 oz (363 grams) of whole-milk Greek-style yogurt
  • 3/4 cup (184 grams) of plain yogurt + 1/4 cup (61 grams)
  • 3 tsp of unflavoured gelatin
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tbsp (150 grams) of honey

Keep the Greek-style yogurt and 3/4 cup of plain yogurt in the fridge until the moment they’re needed in order to keep them cold. Add 1/4 cup of plain yogurt and sprinkle 3 tsp of unflavoured gelatin over the top in a small pot. Warm the mixture over low heat while stirring constantly with a spoon or whisk, until the gelatin has completely dissolved. You should only warm the yogurt just enough to melt the gelatin but never boil it. Add 3/4 cup of cold plain yogurt in a large bowl and pour the yogurt/gelatin-mixture over it while whisking with your other hand (you can use a hand-held mixer for this). The mixture should be smooth, thick but lump-free. Add the honey and whisk to combine, then finally the Greek-style yogurt. Whisk again until lump-free.

Churn the yogurt-mixture in an ice cream-maker according to the manufacture’s instruction. If you are using an ice cream-maker with a compressor, it’s important to let it pre-chill for 20 min before you pour the yogurt-mixture in. Enjoy the soft-serve frozen yogurt right out of the ice cream-maker with your favourite toppings. Such as the following digestive cookie crumbs.

To make the soft-serve frozen yogurt WITHOUT ice cream-maker (UPDATED: 2014/04/04):

Since yesterday, I’ve been wondering if you could treat the gelatin-yogurt as frozen bananas ice cream for people who don’t have an ice cream-maker. And guess what? You can. Just make the yogurt-mixture exactly the same way as above, then instead of feeding it to an ice cream-maker, pour it into a shallow baking-dish and freeze until hard (at least several hours). Remove the hard-frozen yogurt and cut into small chunks with a knife (this is why it’s better to have it as a shallow slab for easy cutting). Add the chunks into a food-processor, then pulse. At first they will tumble, then they will break down into small pieces, then into breadcrumb-like consistency. And it may seem that they’ll never come together as a creamy mixture, but they will. Once they reach the breadcrumb-consistency, keep the food-processor running on high until eventually smooth and creamy. There. Magic soft-serve frozen yogurt.


Walnuts and digestive cookie crumbs (can be made days ahead):

  • 1/2 cup (58 grams) of walnuts
  • 1/3 cup (61 grams) of brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (34 grams) of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp of ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp of ground clove
  • 1/3 tsp of salt
  • 1 cup (75 grams) of crushed digested cookies
  • 6 tbsp (85 grams) of unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven on 375ºF/190ºC.

In a food-processor, pulse the walnuts, brown sugar, all-purpose flour, ground allspice, ground clove and salt together until they resemble coarse crumbs. Then add the crushed digestive cookies and pulse again until coarsely processed. Add the melted butter and pulse just a few times again until combined. Scatter the mixture in an even layer on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 12 ~ 15 min until golden browned. Let cool completely, then store in an air-tight container until needed.


  • Belinda@themoonblushbaker

    April 3, 2014 at 8:05 PM Reply

    You said it, I know this is not normal but when I make frozen yoghurt; I do use stabilizes. It is honestly way too hard to do without it, the water content always kills me in frozen yoghurt. This is the first time I seen Pectin, as I normally use xanthan gum (once again not evil, it is in gluten free stuff)

    I never go reduced fat for frozen yoghurt because the fat helps it stay soft but stable too. So true about the taste too; there is a difference!

  • cynthia

    April 3, 2014 at 11:33 PM Reply

    This. Is. AWESOME.

  • Kathleen

    April 4, 2014 at 12:11 AM Reply

    This looks fantastic – can’t wait to try! Btw, congrats on the Saveur nomination!

  • Sophie

    April 4, 2014 at 12:13 AM Reply

    NO WAY you posted this Mandy because just last weekend for a dinner party, I made fro yo for the first time at home! Methodically pretty much what you did here, but minus the gelatin and with the addition of saffron. And, obviously, I made your peanut sugar and put that on top. SO AWESOME my guests and I loved it! (But everything we didn’t finish eating while soft-serve and put in the freezer til later?….. rock solid frozen hard. Yeah. I expected it, but it didn’t make it any less sad.)

  • Katrina @ WVS

    April 4, 2014 at 12:54 AM Reply

    I am not afraaaaaaid!! I love you for this. Hard.

  • Aubrey

    April 6, 2014 at 1:28 AM Reply

    Do you think I could use ALL Greek Yogurt? I don’t usually have both on hand…

    • mandy@ladyandpups.com

      April 6, 2014 at 2:14 AM Reply

      Aubrey, Greek yogurt may be too thick to melt the gelatin? Or you could try using 1/4 cup whole milk to melt the gelatin then whisk into the Greek yogurt.

  • Darcie

    April 6, 2014 at 5:24 AM Reply

    Your photos are beautiful! And the thought of soft-serve ice cream…yum!

  • charlene

    April 6, 2014 at 11:28 PM Reply

    Another killer recipe! I love your site! I look forward to reading your blogs every time! You always leave me laughing and inspired to try new things!

  • ATasteOfMadness

    April 7, 2014 at 10:21 AM Reply

    This is genius! I have GOT to make this sometime!

  • Irene @ {a swoonful of sugar}

    April 8, 2014 at 3:47 PM Reply

    Wooooow, finally a recipe for actual soft froyo! Cheers for this Mandy and all your hard research/frustration, will try this soon :)

  • Christine

    April 10, 2014 at 4:12 AM Reply

    I was so bummed when I returned to Beijing after 20 years away and found that the amazing old-style tart, non-custardy yogurt that used to come in little, returnable ceramic pots was nowhere to be found. Instead, shops were selling nasty, neon-colored, overly sweet stuff.

    • mandy@ladyandpups.com

      April 10, 2014 at 12:54 PM Reply

      CHRISTINE, I think they may still have something like that in the traditional hu-tong. In little glass jars labeled “old beijing yogurt”. But I’m not sure..

  • Lynna

    April 14, 2014 at 3:21 PM Reply

    Omg, Mandy. You`re incredible. Thank you for going through the trouble in experimenting to get this perfect frozen yogurt consistency!

  • Rhonda

    April 18, 2014 at 12:42 AM Reply

    This looks absolutely scrumptious. I live in the states. Can you give any suggestion what I can use as a substitute for the Digestive/Leibinz cookies?

    • mandy@ladyandpups.com

      April 18, 2014 at 1:18 AM Reply

      I think any store bought cookies, the ones without creamy filings, will do. Try a different brand of digestive cookie is a good start.

    • Kae

      July 24, 2015 at 9:35 PM Reply

      A whole year after the fact, but… Digestives are known as “graham crackers” in the US. Same product. :)

  • pd

    May 22, 2014 at 9:55 PM Reply

    Glad to have stumbled on you site. Really enjoying the recipes.

    Just a small niggle about using gelatin – its is derived from collagen which is the main structural protein of the various connective tissues in animals. Not really desirable for vegetarians

  • sharli

    October 13, 2014 at 3:56 PM Reply

    thanks for the recipe. cant wait to try it out. would you add fruit to this, to change up the flavour? if so, what quantity and at what point of the process? thanks!

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      October 13, 2014 at 4:15 PM Reply

      Sharli: I would replace the 3/4 cup of plain yogurt completely with thick greek-style yogurt (with higher fat content) if you want to add fruits to the mixtures to compensate the higher level of water. You can mix in pureed blueberries during mixing, or swirl it into the ice cream maker to have a swirl effect.

  • niki

    April 22, 2015 at 4:31 AM Reply

    thank you for this recipe! you have an excelent cooking site

  • angie

    August 14, 2015 at 12:16 AM Reply

    i think i might have cried a little bit. i dont know why i didnt know of this banana magic either, but it all makes sense ! love a lil science in my recipe reading. thanks so much for sharing this! i’ll definitely give it a go once my fam finishes up the 2.5 tubs of ice cream sitting in the freezer…

  • Dale Brunton

    October 8, 2018 at 11:20 AM Reply

    Hi Mandy,

    Gelatin or Pectin can add body to your frozen yogurt or Ice cream, but neither one can discourage the formation of those stubborn ice crystals and over time, your you frozen mix will harden. Guar will help you somewhat, but but the gold standard in controlling free water in frozen desserts is naturally occurring locust bean gum made from the milled endosperm of the carob seed. Besides discouraging the growth of large ice crystals, it results in a property called cryogelation allowing water to occur below freezing in a gel state at a temperature below freezing,

    If you to plan to eat it in its soft state, pectin certainly can do the the job, as long as you use the right type of pectin. Despite being a ‘natural’ product derived from fruit peels, commercial grade pectin undergoes a hydrolysis process (acidic) to derive its final properties. Depending on the extent of this process you can get a pectin that works great for some application, yet not for others. Most pectin sold in retail stores for making a jam or jelly but not the one for soft serve ice cream or yogurt. That should be an LMA pectin.

    We work using hydrocolloids to the food industry, usually on an industrial scale. Reply if we can help you find the right ‘stabilizer’ for your needs.

    Your dogs are lovely!

    Dale //Hong Kong.

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      October 8, 2018 at 12:55 PM Reply

      Dale, that is such great information!! And you guys are in HK! I will definitely hit you up whenever I need.

  • Nadia

    June 24, 2020 at 3:29 AM Reply

    Hi! Do you think this can be made with agar agar? I can’t use gelatin unfortunately.

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      June 24, 2020 at 2:01 PM Reply

      Nadia, sorry but I’ve never worked with agar so I can’t say for sure :)

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