Home Articles What is Labneh Cheese? (And How to Make It)

What is Labneh Cheese? (And How to Make It)

What is labneh cheese? It’s a delightful soft cheese, perfect for those who love exploring international cuisines.

For home cooks and foodies alike, labneh will be your new favorite thing.

What is Labneh Cheese? (And How to Make It) featuring Homemade Labneh Cheese Dip in a Bowl Topped with Olive Oil and Spices

Labneh is a creamy Middle Eastern soft cheese. It has a rich, tangy flavor and is guaranteed to bring freshness to many dishes!

And the best part? You can make this delightful treat with just two ingredients and simple steps at home.

Ready? Read on to discover what is labneh cheese!

What is Labneh Cheese?

Labneh cheese is a delightful culinary gem hailing from the Middle East. It’s a creamy concoction that has captured the taste buds of foodies worldwide. 

This tantalizing treasure is created by straining yogurt to remove excess whey.

The result? A thick, velvety cheese that dances between the realms of yogurt and cream cheese.

Nutritionally speaking, Labneh is a superstar, boasting a healthy dose of protein, calcium, and probiotics. 

It’ll keep your gut feeling fabulous. It can also increase immune function, improve mental health, and help manage weight.

And the best part? This guilt-free indulgence is perfect for people with lactose intolerance. That’s because it contains lower lactose levels than other cheeses.

Choose Labneh cheese for a healthier option without sacrificing taste!

Two Bowls of Labneh Cheese, One Drizzled with Oil and One Topped with Za'atar and a Bowl of Olives in the Background

Labneh Origin

Labneh is a satisfying soft Middle Eastern cheese that mimics cream cheese.

Or rather, I should say the opposite. Labneh cheese is around 2,000 years old. So, it definitely came first. 

Regardless, the texture is similar, and it has won the hearts of food lovers everywhere.

With many spellings like labneh, lebnah, labaneh, labne, or labni, this cheese embraces diversity. 

Now, are you ready for a cheesy story? Good. 

The word “labneh” comes from “laban,” which means white or milk. Labneh’s exact origin is a bit of a mystery. But it is most famous in the Levant region.

In the past, places with hot weather couldn’t keep fresh milk from going rancid. 

But they found a delicious solution – the milk would curdle and turn into yogurt.

It would then become soft cheese when mixed with salt. And that, my friend, is how Labneh came to be!

How to Make Labneh

Making Labneh cheese at home is a breeze!

Follow these simple steps to create your very own scrumptious, creamy delight:

Start with good-quality plain yogurt. You can use any plain yogurt you like. But full-fat cow milk yogurt or natural goat milk yogurt will yield the best results.

  1. Mix 1 cup of yogurt and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Mix well until the salt dissolves.
  2. Place a clean cheesecloth over a separate large bowl. Scrape the salted yogurt into the cheesecloth.
  3. Gather the edges of the cheesecloth. Tie them together to form a bundle. 
  4. Rest a wooden spoon, or other kitchen utensil, on the bowl’s rim. Tie the cheesecloth bundle to the spoon, so it hangs. Make sure that the cheesecloth doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl.
  5. Chill and leave the yogurt to drain in the fridge for at least 12 hours. The longer you leave it, the thicker the labneh will become.
  6. Remove it from the cheesecloth once the labneh has reached the desired consistency. Transfer it to a container and enjoy!
Large Bowl of Labneh Cheese Dip with Olive Oil and Seasonings

How to Use Labneh

  • Use it as a spread: Use labneh as a spread on toast, bagels, or crackers. Want an extra tasty and healthy snack? Top it with sliced tomatoes, cucumber, or olives.
  • Serve as a dip: Labneh makes an excellent dip for vegetables or pita chips. You can add herbs, garlic, or spices to the labneh to make it more flavorful.
  • Use it as a substitute for cream cheese: You can use labneh as an alternative to cream cheese in baked goods. It doesn’t curdle fast when heated, making for a smoother texture.
  • Labneh parfait: Layer labneh with fresh berries, granola, and honey for a delicious and nutritious breakfast.
  • Labneh pizza: Use labneh as a creamy and tangy pizza sauce. Top it with your favorite toppings, such as roasted veggies, olives, and feta cheese.
  • Labneh salad dressing: Whisk labneh with your favorite herbs, spices, and flavorings to create a flavorful salad dressing.

How to Store Labneh

Do you want your labneh to last longer?

Pop it in an airtight container in the fridge. It will stay fresh for a week.

Or, for even longer-lasting goodness, keep the surface covered in olive oil! Submerging the labneh in olive oil will help it stay fresh for a few months!

  • Pro tip: roll it into bite-sized balls for easy single servings.

And if you need a little more time, you can freeze it! Frozen labneh will last for up to six months. There should be no space in the container. 

You can defrost it in the fridge over night. 

Whatever you do, don’t defrost it in the microwave to keep the velvety texture.

Greek Yogurt in a Clear Bowl with a Spoon

Labneh Substitutes

Don’t have labneh at the ready? Give these substitutes a try and experience the joy of innovative culinary creations:

  • Greek Yogurt: Rich, creamy, and packed with protein, Greek yogurt is the go-to substitute for labneh. It’s perfect for dips, dressings, and desserts alike.
  • Sour Cream: A household staple, sour cream can replace labneh in many recipes. Its smooth, tangy flavor complements both sweet and savory dishes.
  • Ricotta Cheese: Light and fluffy, ricotta cheese brings a touch of Italian flair to your cooking. It’s perfect for sweet or savory dishes.
  • Cream Cheese: Cream cheese is an indulgent Labneh substitute thanks to its rich, velvety texture.
  • Mascarpone: You can use mascarpone cheese as an alternative to making sweet treats or baked goods. 

What is Labneh Cheese? (And How to Make It)

What is Labneh cheese? Come find out! Learn about Labneh’s origin, taste, how to make it, and more. This is the ultimate guide to the Middle Eastern staple.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup plain yogurt

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 clean cheesecloth

Instructions

  • Mix 1 cup of yogurt and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Mix well until the salt dissolves.
  • Place a clean cheesecloth over a separate large bowl. Scrape the salted yogurt into the cheesecloth.
  • Gather the edges of the cheesecloth. Tie them together to form a bundle. 
  • Use a wooden spoon or other kitchen utensil, and rest it on the bowl’s rim. Tie the cheesecloth bundle to the spoon, so it hangs. Make sure that the cheesecloth doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl.
  • Chill and leave the yogurt to drain in the fridge for at least 12 hours. The longer you leave it, the thicker the labneh will become.
  • Remove it from the cheesecloth once the labneh has reached the desired consistency. Transfer it to a container and enjoy!
What is Labneh Cheese?

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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