Labneh Recipe

If you know cream cheese then you’re familiar with the texture and consistency of this yogurt cheese, which can be used as a lower-fat alternative.

| May 2019

Using a hanging apparatus to make labneh. Photo by Ellen Silverman.

Makes 1 3/4 to 2 cups

Here are two methods for turning yogurt into the thick, creamy, spreadable Mediterranean and Middle Eastern “yogurt cheese” called labneh. If you think of Greek-style yogurt as strained yogurt, think of labneh as ultrastrained yogurt. Labneh is strained either under weight (or compression) or by hanging. I provide both methods below. While labneh is traditionally strained at room temperature, I’m more comfortable straining it refrigerated.


  • 4 cups plain whole-milk or low-fat yogurt
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Set a colander in a large, deep bowl. Line it generously with cheesecloth (with plenty of overhang), a nut milk bag, or two large crisscrossed paper towels that cover all the holes in the colander and hang generously over the sides.
  2. Mix the yogurt with the salt and scrape it into the colander.
  3. Cover gently with the overhang (or pull the bag’s drawstring closed).
  4. To compress, set a pot lid slightly smaller than the colander’s diameter on top of the cloth-covered yogurt. Cast iron is ideal because it’s naturally heavy, but you can use a stainless-steel lid with a few cans on top.
  5. Cover the top of this apparatus with plastic wrap.

Labneh photo from Adobe Stock


  1. You may also create a hanging apparatus. (This is far easier with a nut milk bag than with cheesecloth and impossible with paper towels.)
  2. After filling the bag with the salted yogurt, tie the drawstring to the center of a wooden spoon’s handle, so that the top of the bag is close to the handle.
  3. Balance the spoon over a deep bowl or jug.
  4. The yogurt-filled bag must hang clear of the bottom by several inches so the whey has someplace to accumulate.


  1. Refrigerate for 36 to 48 hours, until 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups whey have drained away and you’re left with thick, spreadable yogurt cheese.
  2. When your labneh is ready, transfer it to a covered container and refrigerate until needed. Labneh will keep for 10 days to 2 weeks.

Yo! If you’re straining yogurt with any frequency, consider investing in a $10 fine-mesh nut milk bag with a drawstring. It’s less messy and cumber-some than using cheese-cloth.

Yo! If your labneh is lumpy, whisk in a touch of cold water to smooth it out.

Labneh wrap photo by Adobe Stock

More from Yogurt Culture: A Global Look at How to Make, Bake, Sip, and Chill the World's Creamiest, Healthiest Food

yogurt-cultureLong celebrated as a versatile ingredient in cuisines across the globe, yogurt has recently emerged as a food of nearly unparalleled growth here in the United States. The time has come for a modern, far-ranging cookbook devoted to its untapped culinary uses. In Yogurt Culture, award-winning food writer Cheryl Sternman Rule presents 115 flavorful recipes, taking yogurt farther than the breakfast table, lunchbox, or gym bag. Rule strips yogurt of its premixed accessories and brings it back to its pure, wholesome essence. In chapters like Flavor, Slurp, Dine, and Lick, she pairs yogurt not just with fruit but with meat, not just with sugar but with salt, not just with herbs but with fragrant spices whose provenance spans the globe. She provides foolproof, step-by-step instructions for how to make yogurt, Greek yogurt, and labneh at home, though all of her recipes can also be prepared with commercial yogurt. Rule explores yogurt from every angle, explaining how to read a label, visiting producers large and small, and gaining entry to the kitchens of cooks from around the world. Deeply researched and peppered with stories, interviews, and full-color photographs, Yogurt Culture offers a fresh, comprehensive take on a beloved food.

Excerpted from Yogurt Culture: A Global Look at How to Make, Bake, Sip, and Chill the World's Creamiest, Healthiest Food© 2015 by Cheryl Sternman Rule. Photography © 2015 by Ellen Silverman. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.



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