Editor's Note: This post, brought to you by Chobani®, has been independently produced by the Serious Eats editorial team.
Like eggs, butter, and cream, yogurt is one of those incredibly versatile, easy-to-love dairy products—it can go on pretty much anything, and it can be used in sweet and savory cooking applications alike.
But there's regular ol' yogurt, the kind made by fermenting milk for four to 12 hours, and then there's Greek yogurt—the kind that's strained after fermentation to remove much of the milky whey, for a thicker, more protein- and lactose-rich product (yes, you can also make it on your own at home). Greek yogurt has all sorts of partisans among healthy eaters and the probiotic-obsessed. That stuff's all well and good, but what we're most excited about is how it tastes. And for those who love yogurt's lactic tang and rich, creamy texture, Greek yogurt's tough to beat.
Additionally, because of all that protein and lactose, it's particularly delicious in sweet baked goods. That's due to the flavor that lactose takes on when it browns and the way a specific milk protein, called casein, can lend a hand in moisture retention and adding volume to cakes (and cake-like baked products). The relatively low moisture content can also be helpful for making more cohesive sauces, since it means you'll need to cook off less water.
Without further ado, here are some of our favorite uses for Greek yogurt—beyond, of course, eating it straight from the tub.
Raisin Bran Muffins
This recipe packs in a seemingly gargantuan amount of cinnamon, but worry not: The spice ends up forming a gentle back note that complements the flavor of the bran. Greek yogurt pulls double duty here, helping to both cool the hot bran and keep the batter thick, resulting in a beautiful dome on each muffin. If bran and raisins aren't your thing, you can also use your yogurt in these pumpkin streusel muffins, where it performs a similar role.
Classic Banana Bread
This is not your nana's banana bread (unless your nana is Stella Parks, in which case, wow!). Our loaf comes out with a buttery crumb and a deep banana flavor that's coaxed out by the addition of nutmeg and clove. Yogurt and oat flour together help keep the bread incredibly moist; the latter also helps the batter rise higher and the loaf last longer than one made with just all-purpose flour.
Zucchini Bread With Walnuts
Zucchini bread, like banana bread, is typically pretty sweet, greasy, and heavy on the cinnamon. This recipe switches up the standard formulation, using brown sugar in place of the usual white sugar to provide a little more flavor, and adding Greek yogurt to keep the bread tender. It's zucchini bread you'll actually want to eat.
One-Bowl, Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
This recipe is a little dangerous, given how easy it is, how delicious the rolls are, and how simple the cleanup ends up being: You'll find yourself making cinnamon rolls ALL THE TIME. (Not one but two Serious Eats staff members have been persuaded to buy a stand mixer because of this recipe, despite having withstood the temptation through years and years of tantalizing cookie recipes.) Again, strained yogurt plays a pretty important role in hydrating the dough and keeping it thick.
Easy One-Bowl Coffee Cake
Sticking with the one-bowl theme, this coffee cake is easier to make than the cinnamon rolls above, and almost as delicious (seriously, those rolls are hard to beat). The crumb topping has a nice graham flavor from whole wheat flour and a strong hit of cinnamon that doesn't get lost in the cake, which is made tangy and light due to the strained yogurt incorporated into the batter. It's basically the platonic ideal of a coffee cake.
Whipped Greek Yogurt
Whipped Greek yogurt is basically what it sounds like: yogurt (mixed with some cream) that's whipped until it forms stiff peaks. It's perfect as a topper for other desserts (like, say, this easy, heavily spiced, and super-tasty gingerbread sheet cake, which, we might add, is perfect for a crowd), but it's also excellent when layered with seasonal fruits in a simple parfait.
DIY Donettes (Mini Sugar-Coated Doughnuts)
A trademark bit of culinary magic from Stella, these wee powdered doughnuts are uncannily similar to the little guys you buy in a box. While the addition of Greek yogurt gives them a slight tang and keeps them soft, the real star ingredient here is the fry oil: refined coconut oil.
White Wine Frozen Yogurt
Finally, the dessert that most readily comes to mind when you think of lightly fermented milk products: frozen yogurt. The thing about using Greek yogurt in a frozen application is that its lack of moisture—which, in other contexts, is a huge plus—becomes a downside; the result is a little too creamy, and eating it frozen can make you feel like you're chewing on sour cream. But, because all it needs is a bit of added liquid to get it froyo-ready, it offers a perfect canvas for any sort of flavoring, like citrus juice or a syrup. Our favorite flavor to add is dry white wine—it may sound weird, but trust us, it works.
Eggplant Spirals With Greek Yogurt, Tomatoes, and Cucumber
Grilled eggplant doesn't really need all that much to shine; a bit of salt and a squirt of lemon juice will usually do the trick. But if you want to add a little luxury to charred eggplant slices, you can't go wrong with smearing them with an herb-packed mixture of Greek yogurt and grated feta. We top these off with chopped tomato and cucumber, then roll them into spirals to serve.
Stovetop Eggplant With Harissa, Chickpeas, and Cumin Yogurt
This dish plays on the natural affinity that harissa, the North African spice paste, has for eggplant. Leaving the small Italian eggplants whole allows us to char them on the outside while their insides steam. A mix of harissa, tomatoes, and chickpeas forms a quick, spice-forward sauce, and the cumin-spiked yogurt served alongside is the perfect accompaniment.
Mini Grilled Gyro Burgers With Tzatziki and Pickled Peperoncini
These mini burgers would be fine to serve on their own, since they're basically super-flavorful sausages. But they get a huge assist from a cooling and flavorful tzatziki, which gives the pickled peperoncini a little cover before they surprise your tongue with zing and heat. (For what it's worth, using yogurt as part of a sauce-like concoction for meat is a feature that shows up again in our halal cart–style chicken and rice.)
Creamy Almond Mughlai Cauliflower
This creamy roasted-cauliflower dish gets a big boost of flavor from the caramelization of the florets and a healthy dose of warm spices. The creaminess of the sauce comes from cream, but thanks to the addition of yogurt, it's not half as heavy as it could be. Raisins and slivered almonds give the dish just the right amount of textural contrast.