This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)
If you like yogurt and spreads, you’re going to love labneh! This scrumptious, simple, tangy, creamy dip is a century old crowd pleaser originating in Middle Eastern cuisine.
Labneh can be found at many Middle Eastern grocery stores across the globe. However this dish is actually really easy to make at home. Just like with most dishes, making labneh at home will always taste the best.
Let me show you how to make traditional Middle Eastern labneh with this step-by-step recipe.
What is Labneh?
Labneh (also spelled labaneh) is a creamy cheese obtained from straining yogurt. Topped with olive oil or za’atar spice, this tangy, creamy cheese dip is an all-time favorite for breakfast in countries like Jordan or Lebanon.
During the straining process, the whey is extracted from the yogurt which results in a creamy spread. The consistency of labneh is thicker than conventional yogurt, which makes it the perfect dip.
There are various varieties of labneh in the Middle East. It can be made from goat’s milk or cow’s milk. The taste of labeh largely depends on the type of milk. Goat’s milk will give your labneh a stronger taste, while labneh made from cow’s milk has a milder flavor. Same as unstrained yogurt, labneh has a pleasant salty taste.
To make labneh, you’ll only need two ingredients:
- Yogurt: Fresh goat’s milk or cow’s milk yogurt. Greek or Turkish yogurt are most suitable. Make sure to use whole-milk yogurt. Depending on your country, this can be labeled as full-fat yogurt, 10% yogurt (Germany).
- Salt: A pinch of salt is needed for the straining process and to enhance the taste of your labneh.
You can enhance this basic recipe by adding toppings such as:
- Olive oil: Olive oil is traditionally added when serving labneh. Be sure to use extra virgin olive oil (highest quality).
- Za’atar: A Middle Eastern herb mixture. Sprinkle some zaatar when serving to enhance the taste. If you don’t have zaatar, you can use thyme or mint.
- Parsley: Finely chopped parsley is an all-time favorite garnishing.
- Pomegranate seeds: A great addition to labneh to add some sour taste.
Note: Quantities can be found in the recipe card at the end of this recipe and can be adjusted according to the amount of servings you’d like to make.
How to Make Labneh (Step-by-Step)
Step 1: Mix yogurt and salt
Combine yogurt and salt in a large mixing bowl. Stir well.
Step 2: Transfer yogurt mixture in a cloth
First, place a cloth in a fine-mesh strainer. Transfer the yogurt mixture onto the cloth. Use the sides of the cloth to cover the yogurt mixture.
By the way, the best cloth type is a linen cloth as this will allow the whey to pass through. Don’t use paper towels as these will break.
Step 3: Place strainer on a bowl
Place the strainer with the yogurt mixture onto a large bowl. The bowl should be large enough to absorb the whey which is liquid (similar to water) without touching the strainer. Place in the fridge and strain for at least 12 hours (better 24 hours).
After that time, the liquids will be in the bowl, leaving behind a creamy spread in the towel. Remove the labneh from the towel to serve or store for later use. Dispose of the liquids.
How to Serve Labneh
Scrape into a flat bowl or small plate. Garnish with plenty of olive oil and za’atar spice mix (or other herbs in case you don’t have zaatar). You can also top with pomegranate seeds instead of zaatar / herbs.
How to Eat Labneh?
Labneh is very popular with bread. Simply spread on fresh pita bread, sprinkle with herbs (za’atar, thyme or mint) and roll up. In Egypt, labneh is often eaten with honey (which gives a great combination of salty and sweet).
To create a Middle Eastern breakfast platter, serve with hummus, pita bread, olives and slice some vegetables like tomatoes and cucumber.
Here are a few ideas on how to eat labneh:
- Labneh sandwich: Spread onto a flatbread and fold or roll up
- Mezze platter (in combination with hummus and falafel)
- Sprinkled with honey (Egyptian style) and nuts (e.g. walnuts, pistachios…)
- Manakeesh (dip your manakeesh in labneh)
- Raw vegetables (as a dipper for carrots, cucumbers…)
Do you want to eat labneh the Arab way? Break a piece of bread using your hands, dip it into the labneh, and eat.
Make Ahead & Storage
Labneh can perfectly be made ahead of time. Whenever I buy a large amount of yogurt, I take some of it to prepare labneh for the coming week.
The spread (without olive oil and other garnishings) can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least 7 days.
Any Questions or Feedback?
If you liked this recipe, I’d appreciate it if you could leave a star rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ below. In case you’ve any questions or feedback, please leave me a comment (down the page). I’m happy to help you make delicious Middle Eastern food at home.
Labneh (Strained Yogurt)
- 500 g yoghurt whole milk
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 3 tsp olive oil for garnish
- 1 pinch zaatar for garnish
- Mix yogurt and salt in a large bowl. Stir to combine.
- Place a linen cloth on a fine mesh strainer. Add the yogurt mixture onto the cloth. Cover with the sides of the cloth.
- Place the strainer on a large bowl. Strain for at least 12 hours.
- Remove the strained yogurt from the cloth to a flat bowl or plate. Garnish with olive oil, za’atar and finely chopped parsley leaves.
- Labneh is traditionally made from goat’s milk. Since goat’s milk yogurt isn’t widely available outside of the Middle East, my labneh recipe uses conventional yogurt (made from cow’s milk) that you’ll find in any grocery store in the US and Europe. The result will be the same. The only difference is that cow’s milk tastes milder when compared to goat’s milk.
- The traditional method uses a straining cloth which is hung onto a kitchen kabinet or other. Most modern households don’t have such cloth. My method with the strainer and the cloth is a simple workaround with equipment that most people already have in their kitchen.
- Equipment (for my method): A large bowl, a strainer, a cloth (ideally a linen cloth).
- The nutrition facts are rough estimates and can vary according to the exact weight, brand and type of ingredients used.
FAQ & Tips
Below you’ll find the answers to the most commonly asked questions on labneh from fun facts to preparation tips and tricks.
Is labneh healthy?
Yes, labneh is very healthy! Labneh is an important source of protein. Due to its healthy bacteria it’s considered a probiotic dish which boosts the immune system. Furthermore, labneh has less lactose than unstrained yogurt which makes it lower in sugar.
What to eat with labneh?
Despite labneh being a simple dish, there are countless ways to combine it. It’s a popular ingredient for Middle Eastern breakfast, along with hummus, pita bread and olives. Spread on a flatbread and roll up to create a labneh sandwich.
Where to find labneh in grocery stores?
Labneh can be found in any Middle Eastern or Turkish grocery store. Some large chains like Trader Joe’s also sell it. It’s usually kept in the dairy compartment near the yogurt and milk. However, homemade labneh clearly beats store bought labneh. Make sure to try out my recipe.
How long does labneh last?
Labneh can be stored in the refrigerator for at least a week.
Does labneh have lactose?
Yes. However, it’s lower in lactose when compared to unstrained yogurt.
What is labneh made of?
The creamy cheese is made with just two ingredients. Yogurt is the star in Labneh, salt is the back-up singer. Middle Eastern Labneh is traditionally made of goat milk yogurt. This type of yogurt is a little stronger in taste when compared to conventional yogurt.