As far as kids are concerned, summer means sweet, icy treats. They might eat popsicles all day long, if their parents would let them. But parents don’t love all that sugar, and we don’t blame them. That’s why we searched for homemade popsicle recipes made from yogurt and fresh fruit. While these sweet, icy treats may not be as simple as tearing open a box and discarding plastic wrappers, they’re more nutritious and lower in sugar. We think they’re worth the effort.
A Touch of Sugar
Before we begin regaling you with recipes, we need to disclose that these recipes aren’t sugar-free. As Food52 explains, sugar is added to frozen treats to make them both sweet and creamy. Adding sugar lowers the freezing point of your mixture, which helps prevent ice crystals from forming. We discussed this sugar science in our post about sorbet.
But yogurt popsicles don’t require the same level of precision as sorbet. That’s because the fat in yogurt also helps make these treats creamy instead of icy. Simply put, there’s less water in your mixture, so fewer water molecules can turn into ice crystals. You can make yogurt popsicles with nonfat yogurt, but full-fat yogurt will yield creamier pops, with less sugar required to counteract ice crystal formation.
Also note these recipes don’t contain corn syrup, which is an invert sugar. Invert sugars are liquid at room temperature, which means they don’t crystallize. Because you want popsicles to freeze solid, it’s not necessary to use invert sugar. Your results will be fine using granulated sugar, honey, or simple syrup.
Simple Yogurt Popsicles
Let’s start with the easiest recipes we could find. This one from Kirbie’s Cravings only calls for mangoes, plain nonfat Greek yogurt, and sugar. Because the yogurt is both nonfat and plain, we encourage you to add sugar to keep these pops creamy. Blend all the ingredients together, and scoop the mixture into popsicle molds or disposable cups. Kirbie notes that she used manila mangoes for their taste and texture. We agree they would be ideal, or you can use Ataulfos, which are similarly sweet and creamy.
Another recipe to try is from our longtime favorite, Sally’s Baking Addiction. Toss a couple cups of blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, or other diced fruit into a blender, and mix until they’re smooth. The recipe calls for agave or honey as the sweetener, but you can also try simple syrup or granulated sugar. However, because the recipe also calls for vanilla Greek yogurt, you may not need as much sugar to achieve the desired sweetness and texture. Sally does note that she made two test batches, and the sweetened batch was preferable. You can blend the yogurt thoroughly with the fruit and sweetener, or you can gently stir them together for the “tie-dye” look in Sally’s pictures.
Finally, this recipe from Vitamix may have been created especially for Vitamix blenders, but you can use any blender you like. Add Greek yogurt, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, a cup and a half of chopped fruit, and two bananas. Use the smoothie program on a Vitamix blender, or start your blender on the lowest speed and slowly increase it as you blend. You may find you prefer to strain the raspberry seeds before you freeze your popsicles, both in this recipe and the one above.
Fancy Yogurt Popsicles
Ready to take it up a notch? We found three more yogurt popsicle recipes that may be a bit more involved, but they’re also worth serving to guests or on special occasions.
Start with this recipe from Serious Eats. It’s meant to evoke the flavor of orange creamsicles, and it includes both fresh-squeezed orange juice and orange zest. Mix with full-fat plain yogurt and sugar. This recipe calls for three-quarters of a cup of sugar, which may sound like a lot. Consider starting with less, and tasting it as you mix to see how much more sugar is needed. Then alternate adding quarter-teaspoons of lemon juice and salt, tasting along the way, until you’re satisfied with the balance of flavors.
We also like this recipe from Damn Delicious that’s perfect for the 4th of July. You’ll need to make three batches of yogurt mixtures for the red, white, and blue layers in these pops. Each layer includes Greek yogurt and honey. Add strawberries for the red layer, and blueberries for the blue layer. Puree each batch separately in your blender, and freeze each layer briefly in your popsicle molds before adding the next one.
This last recipe from Cooking Light will take more time and effort, but it’s an elegant dessert option that’s fun and whimsical too. Start by cooking blueberries and sugar on the stovetop. The berries should burst, and the juices will combine with the sugar. Then, in a separate saucepan, boil honey, water, lavender, and lemon rind. Take the pan off the burner and allow it to sit for 15 minutes before straining the mixture. Once both mixtures have cooled completely, combine the lavender and lemon syrup with plain, full-fat yogurt. Then gently stir the yogurt mixture with the berry mixture before adding to your popsicle molds and freezing.