Labneh is a tangy yogurt cheese made with olive oil and whole milk yogurt. It’s perfect for serving with crisp veggies and warm pita.
This simple recipe uses yogurt to make a delicious dip that’s the perfect Appetizer Recipe. For more delicious dips to make, try out Beer Cheese Dip, Ultimate Spinach Artichoke Dip, and Easy Garlic Shrimp Dip.
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About Our Labneh Recipe
This is a traditional dish with a creamy texture and salty, sour flavor. It makes a wonderful dip that you can serve along with veggies, fruit, crackers, pita, and other types of bread. When serving Labneh, spoon it into a serving bowl with olive oil and seasoning on top. Then you can put it out on a platter with all your favorite dipping options.
It’s great for a party or to munch on while you get dinner ready. It will make a delicious addition to a classic Charcuterie Board. Labneh is also a great snack to enjoy between meals, along with some veggies, the same way you might snack on hummus. In the Middle East, it’s often traditionally served as a breakfast dish, so if you want a change from a typical bowl of yogurt, this is a great place to start.
“What is Labneh?”
Labneh, also spelled Labnah and Labne, is a traditional Middle Eastern dish that dates back thousands of years. It’s a yogurt cheese made from strained yogurt. By putting whole milk yogurt over cheesecloth and allowing the liquid to strain out, you can create a thick, creamy, and tangy mixture that’s perfect for serving as a dip. This is similar to the process of creating Greek yogurt, which is also strained. However, Labneh is strained more thoroughly than Greek yogurt to create a thicker consistency.
“Can you make Labneh in advance?”
This is a great recipe to make in advance, and it’s important to start it at least 24 hours in advance as it takes that much time to strain the yogurt. After straining the yogurt, you can add it to a bowl with a lid or an airtight container. Then keep the mixture in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. When you’re ready to serve, transfer the mixture to your serving bowl. Then mix in the salt and add the olive oil and paprika topping.
Prepping the yogurt mixture a few days in advance makes it easy to get the recipe ready for a party or get-together with no extra stress on the days leading up to the event. Add the olive oil and spice at the last minute to ensure the freshest flavor when you serve the Labneh recipe.
- 2 cups Plain Whole Milk Yogurt: To make Labneh, you’ll need to start with whole milk yogurt. You can use most kinds of whole yogurt to make it. Goat milk yogurt would probably be the most traditional option, but regular cow milk yogurt will also work well. You just don’t want to use Greek yogurt, as it is already partially strained and won’t result in the same flavor or consistency. Also be sure to use plain yogurt rather than any flavored yogurts, vanilla or otherwise.
- ½ teaspoon Kosher Salt: After straining the yogurt, add ½ teaspoon salt to the creamy mixture. Labneh has a distinct tangy and salty flavor that sets it apart from yogurt. When adding the kosher salt, be sure to mix enough to ensure that it’s mixed evenly throughout the yogurt-cheese mixture.
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil: Labneh is traditionally served with olive oil drizzled over the top. The olive oil provides an earthy, herby, and slightly peppery flavor. It also helps to soften the Labneh when you use vegetables or bread to dip into the mixture.
- 1 pinch Paprika: You’ll get some nice warm, savory flavor with paprika, but it also has a slight sweetness to it as well. It is a perfect seasoning to sprinkle over the top of your Labneh. It will also bring some nice color to the dip.
- Dippers: Use any selection of veggies or bread that you choose for the dip.
Kitchen Tools & Equipment
- Cheesecloth: You’ll use cheesecloth to strain the yogurt of extra water. This will give you a nice, thick texture. Cheesecloth is a woven cotton fabric kind of like gauze and is used for lots of things in the kitchen so it will be handy to have some on hand.
- Colander: The colander will be lined with cheesecloth and will hold the yogurt. This will allow the water to drain away from the yogurt.
- Large Bowl: Your colander will rest in the bowl so make sure it is large enough to hold it. If you have a footed colander, you’ll want it to rest securely in the base. Test it out first before filling with yogurt. If you aren’t using a footed colander, you want your colander to be suspended above the bottom of the bowl so it won’t rest in the water you’re trying to strain out.
- Refrigerator: Make sure you have room in your refrigerator for the large bowl so you can chill the dip for at least 24 hours while it strains.
- Dip Bowl & Spoon: Use any size dip bowl that you like, along with the appropriate spoon. You’ll use the spoon to smooth out the top of the dip, and then you can leave it with the bowl if you’re having a party, so that guest can spoon some of the dip onto their appetizer plate.
- Platter: Grab a platter to hold whatever variety of dippers you plan to set out.
How to Make Labneh
Time needed: 5 minutes.
- Prep Time
Add two layers of cheesecloth to a colander. Then add the whole milk yogurt and spread it out in an even layer over the cheesecloth. Cover the yogurt with plastic wrap and place the strainer in a large bowl. Then refrigerate the yogurt for 24 hours.
- Add Toppings
After the refrigeration time, spoon the yogurt from the strainer into the dip bowl. Then stir the kosher salt into the yogurt. Use the back of a spoon to make a decorative back-and-forth swirl shape in the mix. Then drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top and add a pinch of paprika.
Place the homemade Labneh on a serving platter with your choice of vegetable or bread dippers.
How to Store Labneh
- Serve: You shouldn’t leave Labneh sitting at room temperature for more than 2 hours, or it will start to go bad and not be safe to eat.
- Store: To keep the recipe fresh, you can cover a bowl in plastic wrap or transfer the yogurt dip to an airtight container to store in the fridge. Kept carefully sealed the recipe will keep well for up to 2 weeks.
- Freeze: Labneh, like many dairy products, doesn’t freeze well. While the homemade dip will freeze, its texture changes when you defrost the recipe. Because of this, it’s better to enjoy the creamy homemade yogurt cheese fresh.
Ideas to Serve Labneh
You should serve your Labneh recipe when the yogurt is chilled and fresh from the fridge. Keep the strained yogurt in a medium bowl and serve it along with crisp, fresh veggies like carrots, grape tomatoes, bell pepper strips, or cucumber spears. Set out any kind of bread for dipping that you like. Cut triangles of pita, try sliced naan, sliced french bread, toast some crostini, or slices of sourdough. Create a full Middle Eastern meal by serving Labneh as the appetizer or side along with Middle Eastern Meatballs, Ground Middle Eastern Beef Bowls, or Falafel as the main course.
FAQs for Labneh
Labneh starts with yogurt as the base ingredient. However, it’s different from typical yogurt because it is strained to remove most of the liquid for a thicker consistency. Labneh also includes salt in the mixture and has an overall tangier flavor than traditional yogurt recipes.
You can serve Labneh as a dip recipe with an assortment of fresh vegetables, olives, and warm pita bread. It also makes a delicious spread to add to sandwiches or wraps. You could even serve creamy Labneh over salad or spread it over toast.
Labneh is considered a yogurt cheese. Because of how the dairy product is stained into a thicker consistency, it’s considered cheese, but it retains a sour flavor that’s more similar to yogurt.
While both Greek yogurt and Labneh are strained yogurts, Labneh is strained much more thoroughly. More liquid whey is removed from Labneh than in Greek yogurt, so they are not quite the same.
Labneh has been around for thousands of years, so it’s hard to know exactly where it originated. However, it came from the Levent region, an area that includes parts of historical Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Syria.
- 2 cups plain whole milk yogurt , do not use Greek
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pinch paprika
- vegetables and pita bread for serving
- In a colander add two layers of cheesecloth.
- Add the yogurt and spread evenly.
- Cover with plastic wrap and place the strainer into a large bowl.
- Refrigerate for 24 hours.
- Spoon the yogurt into a dip bowl, and stir in salt.
- With the back of a spoon, make a decorative back and forth swirl.
- Drizzle with olive oil and add a pinch of paprika.
- Serve on a platter with vegetables like carrots, grape tomatoes, bell pepper strips, cucumber spears, and toasted pita cut into 6 triangles.
- Lemon Juice: There are lots of ways that you can flavor this soft cheese recipe, and one easy way is by adding a zesty citrus flavor with fresh lemon juice. You can squeeze fresh lemon juice over the Labneh while you add the olive oil topping, and sprinkle some lemon zest over the top as a finishing touch.
- Labneh Balls: A popular way to prepare Labneh is in Labneh Balls. Start by straining the yogurt as usual. Once the mixture is firm to the touch, transfer the yogurt from the cheesecloth to a deep bowl. Then use a tablespoon scoop and your hands to roll the mixture into small balls. Place the Labneh Balls in the fridge to firm up overnight. Then season them how you’d like by rolling the balls in your choice of seasoning. Add the seasoned balls to a jar and pour olive oil over the top to cover.
- Seasonings: You can add a variety of herbs and spices to yogurt cheese. Try topping the recipe with garlic powder, Za’atar spice, everything bagel seasoning, black pepper, or red pepper flakes would all make delicious additions to this recipe.