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Labneh is a soft and creamy Middle Eastern cheese made from strained yogurt. Easy to make at home, it’s deliciously creamy, tangy and luscious, and makes for the perfect dip.
I’ve been obsessing over our homemade labneh and pita bread lately. Warm and toasty pita bread is down right heavenly scooped into this creamy homemade Labneh! Oohs and aahs all around!
When I was a kid, there was always yogurt straining on the counter. My mom would make homemade yogurt from scratch, then season it and strain it again in layers of cheesecloth over a bowl, until all the liquid ( called whey) drained out and it was ultra thick and creamy. We called yogurt cheese, or labneh cheese. It was her version of cream cheese. Tangy, thick and flavorful, it was a staple in our home and used in many ways!
What is Labneh?
Labneh is essentially, a soft and creamy Middle Eastern cheese made from strained yogurt with consistency of cream cheese, but with a little more flavor, complexity and tang. And the best part? It has all the healthy probiotics of cultured yogurt. In a nutshell, labneh is creamy dreamy heavenly goodness! The perfect canvas for all your creative toppings. And I can’t wait to see what you do with this!
- Full fat whole-milk yogurt, Greek yogurt, thick plain yogurt, or make our homemade yogurt!
- Other optional additions: lemon zest, finely minced garlic, pepper, herbs
How to make labneh (in a nutshell)
- Season full-fat yogurt with salt, then strain for 24-48 hours until it is the thick and creamy in consistency.
- 4 cups yogurt will yeild 2 cups labneh
- Add 1/4 teaspoon salt per cup of yogurt
- Labneh will last 3-4 weeks in the fridge.
Step by Step Instructions
Step 1: Place a thin kitchen towel or several layers of cheesecloth (triple layer) over a strainer, and set this over a medium bowl.
Step 2: Season the yogurt with salt and pour it in the towel set over the strainer.
I like to place a weight on top of this ( like a can) and stick this in the fridge for 24 hours.
You can also strain the yogurt over the sink faucet, overnight, the way my mom often did. This works great if you don’t have a strainer.
Step 3: After 24 hours, the liquid ( whey) will have collected in the bowl (save it!). Check the consistency and decide if your labneh is thick enough for your liking. Usually, 24 hours is perfect for a “dip”, but sometimes for a thicker, cheese-like version, I’ll let it strain for an additional 24 hours. Up to you.
With 4 cups of whole milk yogurt to begin with, you’ll end up with roughly 1 ½- 2 cups of Labneh.
See how thick and creamy this is? Isn’t it incredible?
Store labneh in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.
How to serve Labneh
To make a labneh appetizer dip, spread out the labneh in a shallow bowl, dish or plate.
Using the back of a spoon, make a “well” for the extra virgin olive oil.
LAbneh Dip Toppings
- Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
- Zaatar Spice for sprinkling- or use dukkah, sumac, Aleppo chili flakes, or Urfa Fiber
- Fresh herbs: dill, parsley, basil, or cilantro… or a combo!
- Warm roasted garlic, or melted leeks, or sautéed mushrooms
- Olives– kalamata, nicioise, Castelvetrano, etc.
- Veggies- cucumber, tomatoes, radishes,
- Smoked salmon and Everything Bagel Spice
- Honey and fresh figs, or warm roasted fruit.
Labneh Serving Suggestions
- Serve with warm pita bread, pita chips, Rustic Seed Crackers or Sourdough crackers.
- Add to a mezze platter along with hummus, baba ganoush, veggies, olives and nuts
- Use as a sandwich spread or a spread in wraps, or on bruschetta.
I can’t wait for you to try Labneh. Thicker, creamier, and more luscious than Greek yogurt- it is like the consistency of cream cheese, with the tangy flavor of yogurt and all the beneficial and healthy probiotics of yogurt! It’s hard not to love!
Let us know what you think in the comments below.
How to make homemade Labneh from scratch- a creamy Middle Eastern yogurt cheese ( or dip). A tasty appetizer, dip, or spread.
- 32 ounces plain, full-fat yogurt (4 cups yogurt makes 2 cups labneh)
- 1 scant teaspoon salt
Optional additions: splash lemon juice (for extra tang), lemon zest, fresh or dried herbs, garlic, finely minced
- Stir salt into the yogurt, right in the container, mixing well.
- Place 3 layers of cheesecloth or a thin kitchen towel inside a large fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl.
- Pour the salted yogurt into the cheesecloth or towel. Gather the towel corners together, twist to close and set a canned good, overtop, for weight. Set the bowl and strainer in the fridge or cool place in your kitchen for 24 hours. Save the whey (setting it aside) and check the consistency.
- If using as a dip, I find 24 hours is enough time. If you want a thicker cheese-like consistency (like cream cheese) feel free to strain for another 24 hours.
- To make the dip, spread out the labneh into a shallow bowl or plate ( you should have about 2 cups). Make a well in the center with the back of a spoon for the olive oil. Drizzle with olive oil and add fresh herbs and sprinkle with spices. Add any additional toppings you like olives, pinenuts, tomatoes… have fun with it!
- Serve with bread, pita bread, crackers
- If going the sweet route, skip the oil, add a drizzle of warm honey and add fresh roasted fruit (figs, grapes, plums, etc) sprinkle with chia seeds – really nice for dessert, or for a brunch affair ( with muffins, scones or morning breads.)
Allow 24-48 hours “straining” time.
Labneh will keep up to 3 weeks in the fridge.
The strained liquid, called whey can be used to make our Beet Kvass! I always make this at the same time!
Optional Labneh Dip Toppings:
- Serving Size: ¼ cup
- Calories: 110
- Sugar: 4.5 g
- Sodium: 330.4 mg
- Fat: 5.7 g
- Saturated Fat: 2.7 g
- Carbohydrates: 4.5 g
- Fiber: 0 g
- Protein: 10.2 g
- Cholesterol: 14.7 mg
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