This recipe for homemade labneh (yogurt cheese) will give you a creamy, smooth, and delicious healthy cheese. Serve it for breakfast, snack or as an appetizer.
What is Labneh?
Labneh is a delicious cream cheese made from yogurt. Because Labneh is made from yogurt, it is low in fat and high in protein content. It is also rich in probiotics, the live bacteria that help your gut function better and stay healthy. The first time i tried to make Labneh I was a bit skeptical because I always found the taste of yogurt too tangy for my taste. That’s why I usually sweeten it with some honey, like in this recipe for yogurt parfaits with honey and fruits. But to my surprise, labneh tuerned out to be a delicious creamy fresh cheese with just the right amount of tang. It is probably because of the salt, which helps to cut down any excessive tanginess.
How is Labneh cheese made?
Labneh cheese is nothing more than strained yogurt. I use Greek yogurt to make it, but you can actually use whatever type of yogurt you prefer the most. Since each type or brand has different moisture content, the only thing that may change is the time you let it strain. For most recipes, 24-36 hours will be enough to give you a thick, creamy cheese you can spread over your bread or use as a dip. I have seen recipes that let the Labneh strain overnight over the counter, hanging from the nob of a kitchen cabinet but I like to place mine in the fridge, since it preserves it better.
How long does Labneh last in the fridge?
As with most foods and fresh cheeses, Labneh is best preserved when it is stored in the fridge inside an airtight container. It will last at least 2 weeks or even longer (I use the expiration date on the container of the yogurt as a reference, and if that date has passed I check the smell and the look of the labneh to determine if it is spoiled )
How to make Labneh balls
If you want to make Labneh balls, then the cheese should be thicker so that rolling it into balls is easier. The only thing you have to do differently is to strain it for a little longer (36- 48 hours will be enough). The longer you strain it, the more whey and liquid will come out and the cheese will be harder. You can preserve the labneh balls inside a jar with olive oil and some herbs of your preference.
How to serve Labneh
Labneh is great for breakfast slathered on a piece on toast and maybe with some fruit preserves on top.
Make hors d’oeuvres with sliced bread, labneh and ham or smoked salmon and fresh dill, or just used it in your salads to make them creamier.
You can also serve it as a dip with carrot, cucumber and celery sticks on the side. Toasted pita bread and bread sticks also go very well.
A simple and easy recipe with Labneh cheese
Briefly toast in a skillet some of your favorite nuts and mix them with dried herbs (oregano or thyme are always great options) to sprinkle over a bowl with labneh. Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil an top and serve with pita bread. If the pita bread is baked in the oven it will be even better!
- 4 cups (1 kg) Greek yogurt (it can be full-fat or light)
- 2 teaspoons (10 grams) fine sea salt (start with 1 teaspoon)
- cheesecloth or kitchen towel, strainer, bowl
- 4 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 4 tablespoons dried oregano or thyme, or a mix of both
- 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes
- a few tablespoons e.v. olive oil
Make the labneh cheese: Place a colander over a large bowl and cover it with a kitchen towel. Mix the yogurt with 1 teaspoon salt, taste and add more salt according to your preference. Transfer it to the kitchen towel. Fold the towel over the yogurt and cover with a plate. Place the bowl in the fridge for 24 hours. For thicker labneh you can leave it up to 48 hours.
Transfer the labneh cheese to an airtight container and keep refrigerated.
Make the topping: Optionally, briefly ground the sesame seeds. Mix all the ingredients for the topping in a bowl, except the olive oil.
Place some labneh onto a plate or a serving bowl and sprinkle over the topping. Drizzle with some olive oil and serve with baked pita bread.
Instead of pine nuts you can use toasted almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, or pistachios.
Salt can be adjusted to your liking. Keep in mind that because some of the moisture will be drained, the final cheese will be saltier than the yogurt mixture you will start with.
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