Labneh is both quick & easy to make at home from a pot of yogurt and will rapidly become a staple in your fridge. Serve on warmed bread or as a dip for crudites, this versatile item is also naturally gluten free and Keto friendly due to its low carb count.
What is labneh?
Labneh is yogurt that has been salted and strained, resulting in thick, solid similar to cream cheese, but with a mild yogurt flavour. It’s a great base for both savoury and sweet uses.
Where can I get labneh?
The easiest way to get some it to make it yourself; as we show below, it’s very simple. Should you be in a hurry, it’s available in many supermarkets and most Middle Eastern grocers.
How do I make labneh?
All you need to do is to salt and strain some Greek yogurt, and let the whey drain out.
First, add a good pinch of salt to 500g of yogurt, and stir it in.
Second, spoon the mixture into a cloth jelly bag, or onto a large square of muslin or cheesecloth and clip the corners together. Hang the bag over a bowl to let the liquid drain out.
You can strain at room temperature, if it were meltingly hot I might pop it in the fridge, but in the UK I’ve never had any need to.
Third, let it drain. The longer you leave it, the thicker the labneh will be. We leave it overnight at minimum.
Fourth, turn the labneh out of the cloth; simple as that, it’s ready. Oh, and don’t throw the whey away there are are sorts of uses for it!
How much labneh will I make
Yields vary dramatically – if you use a good quality thick, full fat Greek yogurt a 500g pot will result in about 350g of labneh and about 150ml of whey, depending on how long you leave it to strain. If you use a thinner lower fat yogurt the yield can be half the amount.
How long do I strain labneh for?
It depends! Strain it for less time and the labneh will be softer and more yogurt or creme fraiche like. Leave it for longer, and you have a denser result that’s more spreadable. We leave it between 12 and 24 hours, depending on the consistency we’re looking for. The solid block that is pictured was left for about 16 hours.
What do I do with labneh?
There are all sorts of ways to use it:
- The classic: sprinkle on some za’atar herb and spice blend, drizzle with olive oil and enjoy with some freshly baked flatbread or warmed pitta. Rip, dip and enjoy!
- Stir in some fresh herbs and serve with vegetable crudites. Add some lemon zest for hint of citrus kick.
- Roll into labneh balls, each about 2cm diameter. These can then be rolled in chili flakes, za’atar, dried fruit, herbs such as mint, or sesame or other small seeds.
- Use it as a topping for a spicy dish, to add a hint of coolness in contrast to the rest of the dish.
- Substitute labneh instead of cream cheese. How about labneh and cucumber sandwiches? Or labneh and smoked salmon rolls, with a sprinkle of dill seeds.
- Drizzle on some honey for a sweet treat.
- Serve with my easy beet salad
Can labneh be frozen?
Sadly not, freezing ruins the texture. However, it’s so easy to make there’s no real need.
How do I store labneh?
Keep it in the fridge for a few days. Or, if you’ve made labneh balls, you can transfer them to a clean jar, cover with olive oil for a week and keep the jar somewhere cool and dark about a month.
You could add fresh herbs to the olive oil, in which case the labneh balls will only keep for a few days, or a week or so in the fridge.
How to use the leftover whey from cheesemaking?
Once you start making labneh you will have lots of whey. Yogurt whey can be used in so many ways – and frozen until you are ready to use it.
- Add whey to bread in place of some or all of the water – the crumb will be beautifully soft – we like it in our slow rise no knead sourdough.
- Add it to classic daals like my zucchini daal.
- Add to smoothies
- Spread it on spiced flatbread
- Add leftover whey to soup
- Use it to water your plants – the whey contains lots of nutrients and is a natural fertilizer
- Give it to your pets – Herbert LOVES a bowl of whey to drink or freeze in a mould for whey cubes
Dog treats from leftover whey
Simple freeze the whey in silicon moulds, once frozen pop out and store in a plastic tub. Herbert adores crunching on these to cool down on a hot day.
How to Make Labneh
- 500 g Greek yogurt.
- 1 tsp Salt
- Add salt to yogurt, and stir it in.
- Transfer yogurt to a jelly bag or muslin cloth. Suspends over a bowl for 12-24 hours and let the whey strain out.
- Peel the cloth from the finished labneh and store in a covered container.
- Save the whey for adding to dahl. I usually freeze mine.
- There is no need to refrigerate when straining unless it is tropically hot. My labneh has always been fine in the UK on the hottest of summer days.
- The yield will be around half to two thirds the amount of yogurt used if you use a good quality thick Greek yogurt. Other yogurts can have a far lower yield.
- This item is 2 Weight Watchers smart points per portion
- For dog treats freeze the whey into small bite sized pieces.
This post is updated from 2007 in June 2018. My photography has improved quite a bit since then!