Out of all the Middle Eastern dips and spreads labneh takes the cake. It is tangy, fresh, and an excellent canvas for countless savory or sweet garnishes. If you have been following for a while, specifically on social then you know I use labneh in a ton of recipes. Every time I post a recipe that uses this ingredient I get asked the same thing, “where can I buy it?” Truth is you aren’t going to find labneh, or good labneh in your local supermarket. Labneh hasn’t hit the commercial level like hummus or baba ganoush has, and honestly the homemade version of those two are better as well. So if you have been looking to try or make labneh look no further this is the recipe you have been searching for.
Originating the in Middle East labneh ( or labni, lebni) is yogurt that has been strained until it is a soft cheese consistency. If the first thing that you think of when you hear that is Greek yogurt you aren’t far off. Greek yogurt is yogurt that has had whey strained out or removed, which gives it its thick consistency. Labneh is strained even further. Don’t be fooled, while some people refer to labneh as cheese, it is not cheese. While this spread is traditionally made with goat’s milk, it can easily be made at home with cows milk, in this case yogurt.
Below are some ideas on how to enjoy this tangy and fresh dip / spread. Remember the longer you strain it the less whey, the thicker the consistency.
Treat it as a Dip – My absolute favorite way to enjoy it, with a stack of hot pita. While good extra virgin olive oil is all you need below are some garnish ideas.
Use as a Spread– If you would use cream cheese, chances are you can easily replace it for labneh, excluding baking with it. Enjoy as a base for toast, on a bagel, or crackers. It is also a great add to a mezze board or cheese board.
Make Cheese Balls – Strain the yogurt for long enough and you will be able to roll the labneh into small balls. Roll them in a spice of choice (ie Aleppo pepper or za’atar).
Labneh is SO easy to make it almost doesn’t even need a detailed step by step, but incase you need a little more detail than what is written in the recipe card see below.
Combine + Drain – In a bowl add the Greek yogurt, salt, and optional 1/2 tsp of fresh lemon juice. Mix thoroughly. Place the yogurt in a cheese cloth, fold the corners together and twist. I like to do a first squeeze before I let it hang. Either place the twisted cheese cloth in a hand strainer over a bowl or tie the cheese cloth to a wooden spoon over a bowl, making sure it is still hanging so it can drain.
Wait for Consistency – Depending on how much whey drains away will dictate the consistency for the labneh. 12-24 hours gives you the perfect thick smooth consistency for dips, however if you want it to be thick like cream cheese drain it for 24-48 hours.
WAIT! Before you toss that whey, it can actually be used for other recipes. Whey is a great addition to baked goods (sub out for water or milk), to soak beans and grains, and even to cook pasta, potatoes, and rice. While there are a ton of other uses for whey this whey will have been salted so that does limit its uses (a.k.a maybe don’t add it to that smoothie).
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks. While it isn’t included in this recipe you can preserve labneh by submerging in olive oil. The best way to do this is rolling it into balls first then adding to a jar of olive oil to ensure there is no exposure to oxygen. Linking Simple Lebanese for reference incase you are interested in saving it for months instead of weeks.
Looking for other dips? Check out the below recipes
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