Make Light and Fresh Summer Desserts With Whipped Greek Yogurt

Whipped Greek yogurt with pistachios, cherries, and apricots in a white dish

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

When it's too hot to turn on the oven or stand over a stove, your dessert options can really start to dwindle. One of my favorite summertime tricks is to make a batch of whipped Greek yogurt, which is exactly what it sounds like—a cross between airy whipped cream and dense yogurt.

It's a combination that offers the best of both worlds. The tangy Greek yogurt provides some heft to the whipped cream, giving it a consistency that's somewhere between pudding and mousse, while simultaneously cutting through its richness (because, as much as I love whipped cream, I can eat only a few spoonfuls before tapping out). Meanwhile, the whipped cream aerates the heavy yogurt and mellows its acidic bite, transforming it into something more like dessert.

Side view of a dish of whipped Greek yogurt, flecked with vanilla seeds, topped with summer fruits and pistachios

For this recipe, it's important to start with true Greek yogurt, which is strained to reduce its water content. You can make it yourself, or else look for brands that list nothing more than milk and active cultures among the ingredients (my favorite brand is Fage). Brands that include gum, gelatin, or pectin thicken the yogurt artificially rather than through straining, which produces a thick but watery yogurt. Along those same lines, plain yogurt is a no-go as well; in order to whip up light and thick, this recipe requires a low-moisture foundation.

That said, feel free to play with different types of sweeteners. Baked goods may depend on the specific behavior and pH of sugar, but whipped Greek yogurt is amenable to flavorful alternatives like sorghum, maple syrup, honey, or even treacle. My personal favorite is golden syrup, as the rich caramel notes make a perfect counterpoint to the bright, fresh taste of the yogurt. The mixture can also be doctored with vanilla bean seeds or rosewater for a more aromatic approach.

Greek yogurt, cream, vanilla seeds, and golden syrup in a metal bowl

Whatever you choose, the recipe itself is laughably simple: Put all the ingredients in a bowl, and whip until nice and thick.

Whipped Greek yogurt flecked with vanilla seeds, in a metal bowl

It can be used right away as a topping, dolloped over French toast and crispy waffles if you're into the breakfast-for-dessert thing, or else refrigerated overnight until it thickens into something like a parfait.

Whipped Greek yogurt dolloped into a glass dish

Should you decide to fire up the oven after all, whipped Greek yogurt is also a perfect match for all sorts of baked goods, including angel food cake, blueberry pie, and sour cream pound cake.

Whipped Greek yogurt, almonds, and strawberries on top of a slice of pound cake

On top of that, this is one of my favorite accompaniments for fresh fruits that are too delicate for baking, along with a handful of toasted nuts for a bit of crunch. It's also a solid alternative to ice cream or frozen yogurt, and, buried under my crispy granola, it makes a pretty decadent brunch.