Over one third of the yogurts sold in most grocery stores are Greek or Greek-style yogurt, taking over shelf space where “traditional” yogurts once sat. Greek yogurts are thick and tangy, with a distinct natural yogurt taste that isn’t covered up by too much sugar or additional flavorings. Greek-style, for reference, typically means a thick or strained yogurt that isn’t made with milk that has actually come from Greece, and you’ll see that the products are similar even if the names are different from brand to brand. As Greek yogurt becomes more prevalent in the marketplace, you may have also noticed an increase in the number of recipes that call for it.
Greek style yogurt is much thicker, higher in protein and contains less water than regular yogurt. They are typically excellent for baking. Their tangy flavor contrasts well with the sweetness of a dessert recipe, leading to a more balanced finished product, like sour cream does. Their dense, creamy texture can also give baked goods a better consistency and a finer crumb. This is because some of the “regular” yogurt brands are thickened with gelatin and/or have a very high water content. This gives them a pourable consistency that is much thinner than that of Greek yogurt. This additional liquid can have an impact on gluten development in a recipe, so you can actually get a tougher or more irregular crumb when using regular yogurt.
In a recipe that calls for Greek yogurt, you should be able to use any brand. It is best to work with a brand that you like the flavor of when it is plain, since it will carry through to the finished product. This might not have much of an impact on a chocolate cake recipe, but you will be able to tell the difference between a yogurt you like and one you don’t when you are baking a cheesecake or making frozen yogurt!
I almost exclusively use Greek yogurts when I bake with yogurt and I will always specify in the directions that I am using it. That being said, if you have a recipe that you were making with regular yogurt, you may find that you need to make some modifications to it if you try to substitute Greek yogurt. For instance, because Greek yogurt is so dense, you may find that your batter is unusual thicker and you may need to add a little additional yogurt to moisten it slightly. Greek yogurt is also available in far fewer flavors than regular yogurt, so if you typically use a strawberry yogurt to add extra strawberry flavor to a cake, you will probably need to get that extra flavor boost from something besides the yogurt.