May 30, 2023

Labneh

lab·neh | ˈlebnā | (noun)
Creamy, thick Middle Eastern style strained yogurt. Labneh is typically served with savory garnishes as a dip or spread.

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.

WHAT IS LABNEH?

Originating the in Middle East labneh 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.

HOW TO SERVE LABNEH?

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.

  • Za’atar and olive oil
  • Harissa tomatoes
  • Fresh herbs (mint and dill)
  • Roasted beets
  • Nuts and seeds (crushed pistachio is a great option)
  • Everything bagel seasoning. (not traditional in any way but damn delicious)

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).

ingredients for labneh;  greek yogurt, salt, lemon, and a cheese cloth

WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO MAKE LABNEH

  • Greek Yogurt – Get unflavored thick whole milk Greek yogurt. Fage is a fantastic option here.
    • Can I substitute for regular yogurt? There are some recipes that call for any whole milk yogurt, however in my experience it is best to start with Greek yogurt. You can strain regular yogurt to a thicker consistency , but remember strained yogurt is Greek yogurt. It is going to take you much longer to strain past that. Save yourself the time and hassle and start with Greek. If you want a thinner consistency then yes start with regular whole milk yogurt.
    • Can I use reduced fat yogurt? You can, it won’t taste the same as full fat, but it is still pretty good.
  • Salt – I like to use course kosher.
  • Lemon – Completely optional to make it more tangy. Only use fresh!

TOOLS NEEDED

  • Cheesecloth – For the whey to easily drain out of the yogurt, you are going to need a cheesecloth. Luckily cheesecloths can be found in most large supermarkets, and even places like Target. HERE is an online option if you are looking to order it. For successful and easy draining a cheesecloth is the best option, however if you want to make this without it then use a thin hand towel (the thiner the better).
  • Hand Strainer or Large Spoon – The yogurt needs to hang in order for the whey to strain out. The easiest method is balancing a hand strainer over a large bowl. If you do not have a hand strainer you can also tie the cheese cloth to a large spoon and hang it over the bowl, keep in mind the bottom can not touch the bowl.

STEP BY STEP LABNEH

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.

STORING/REHEATING

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.

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May 30, 2023

Labneh

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Creamy, tangy, and fresh, delicious homemade labneh only requires 2 ingredients and a little time and is ridiculously easy to make.
Course Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Keyword Mezze, Spread, Yogurt
Prep Time 5 minutes
Draining Time 1 day
Total Time 1 day 5 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

  • 32 oz unflavored Greek yogurt full fat
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice optional

Instructions

  • In a bowl combine the Greek yogurt, salt, and optional lemon juice.
  • Place Greek yogurt in a cheese cloth and twist to close. Place in a hand strainer over a bowl or tie it to a spoon over a bowl, ensuring that it is hanging to allow the whey to drain.
  • Drain for 12-24 hours for dip consistency, 24-34 hours for cream cheese consistency.

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