Homemade Labneh

If you're not already making labneh, now's the time to start! This creamy, tangy yogurt cheese comes together with just 2 simple ingredients.

Labneh dip

The hardest part of making labneh cheese is waiting. Everything else is simple. Mix together 2 ingredients – Greek yogurt and salt – wrap them in a cheesecloth, and hang it over a bowl to strain. Then, things get tough: you’ll have to wait 24 hours to open the cheesecloth and enjoy the thick, creamy yogurt cheese inside. But if you try this labneh recipe, I think you’ll agree that the wait is totally worth it.

If you’re not familiar with labneh, it’s a soft cheese made by straining yogurt to remove the whey. It has a thick, spreadable texture similar to soft goat cheese or cream cheese, and thanks to its yogurt base, its flavor is rich and tangy. Throughout the Middle East, it’s a common addition to mezze platters, where it’s served as a dip with olive oil and spices, but the uses for it don’t end there. You can dot it onto salads, dollop it onto pizza, slather it onto sandwiches, and more!

Labneh cheese

How to Make Labneh Cheese

For how delicious labneh is, it’s shockingly easy to make. Here’s what you need to do:

First thing’s first: choose your yogurt wisely. No matter what, look for Greek, whole milk yogurt. Don’t substitute low fat or fat-free yogurt in this recipe. And depending on the thickness of your yogurt, you may want to use two layers of cheesecloth instead of one. If your yogurt is quite thick, one layer works just fine. If it’s thinner, use two layers for the best results.

Adding yogurt to cheesecloth for labneh recipe

When you’re ready to make the labneh cheese, stir together the yogurt and salt. Mix them up in a small bowl, and then scrape the mixture into a layer of cheesecloth.

Yogurt cheese in cheesecloth

Next, tie the cheesecloth around a wooden spoon. Bring the edges of the cheesecloth together, and knot them around the spoon’s handle. Place the spoon across the top of a deep bowl so that the labneh hangs in the center without touching the bottom of the bowl. Chill for 24 hours, or at least overnight. The longer you strain the yogurt, the thicker your labneh will be.

Tying cheesecloth around a wooden spoon

The next day, your labneh will be ready! Remove it from the cheesecloth and enjoy it right away, or store it in an airtight container in the fridge until you’re ready to eat.

Labneh cheese in a cheesecloth

Labneh Serving Suggestions

My favorite way to enjoy labneh is simple. I drizzle it with olive oil, sprinkle it with garnishes like za’atar, everything bagel seasoning, fresh herbs, or lemon zest, and scoop it up with fresh veggies and warm pita bread. Served this way, it makes a fantastic addition to a crudité platter, but Jack and I would happily devour it for a light dinner or lunch too.

You can also use this homemade labneh cheese as you would a soft goat cheese. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Alternatively, it would be a great replacement for cream cheese on a homemade bagel topped with vegan carrot lox.

Labneh

More Favorite Spreads and Dips

If you love this labneh recipe, try making one of these spreads or dips next:

Then, check out this post for more of my favorite easy appetizers!

Labneh

rate this recipe:
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time: 5 mins
Resting Time: 1 d
Serves 4
Labneh is a soft Middle Eastern cheese made from strained yogurt. It's surprisingly easy to make, and it's really versatile. Serve it as a dip with good-quality olive oil and za'atar, or add it to salads, pizzas, sandwiches, and more!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
  • heaping 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

toppings & serving options

  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Za'atar, crushed pistachios, lemon zest, and/or red pepper flakes

  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Crisp veggies, pita, or crackers

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt and salt.
  • Scoop the mixture onto a layer of cheesecloth (or 2 layers, depending on the thickness of your yogurt). Bring the edges of the cheesecloth together, tie it around a wooden spoon, and place the spoon across the top of a medium bowl so that the labneh hangs in the center but does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Chill overnight.
  • Remove the labneh from the cheese cloth. Transfer to bowl and serve as a spread with desired toppings and veggies, pita, or crackers for dipping. It can also be dolloped, like soft goat cheese, onto salads, pizza, or flatbread.

12 comments

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  1. Sheila
    05.30.2020

    Thank you for sharing this. How long does this last on the fridge?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.30.2020

      I keep it for about 5 days, although it’s usually gone before then!

  2. Elsie
    05.31.2020

    Can the Whey be used in other recipes? I recently saw bread recipe that called for whey,is this the same thing?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.31.2020

      I’m not sure about the bread recipe you saw, I’d guess they were calling for whey powder? Depending on the thickness of your yogurt, there should only be a little liquid left behind. I don’t think it’s enough to reuse.

  3. Veronica Nessler
    05.31.2020

    Can I mix in homemade basil pesto and use it as a bread or cracker spread? How do you use it on pizzas?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.31.2020

      You can!

      I used it how I would use goat cheese – tear off small pieces and dollop it all over.

  4. Jennifer
    05.31.2020

    Could you use a vegan yogurt instead ?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      05.31.2020

      I don’t think it would be the same, vegan yogurts are different in texture and flavor (I often find they’re too sweet). If you have my cookbook, Love & Lemons Every Day, there’s a vegan almond cheese that’s on page 73. It’s not the same process, but it’s a super delicious cheese-like spread.

  5. Radu from basilbunch.com
    05.31.2020

    Very interesting! Thanks for this recipe. I will try it and come back to let you know how it was 🙂

  6. Catherine
    07.08.2020

    Tell me about the cheese cloth. Any special brand or material you recommend? I’m obsessed with labneh and you’ve got me hooked to make it!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      07.09.2020

      Hi Catherine, no special brand – you can just search on amazon, they’re all pretty much the same (I try to choose one that says organic). I’ve also seen it sometimes at high end grocery stores. Happy labneh making!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.