Labaneh is the Middle Eastern version of cream cheese, and making it is simple! You need a quality full-fat yogurt and a cheesecloth. Feeling fancy? Sprinkle some Za’atar and olive oil before serving, and enjoy with pita or crackers.
What Is Labaneh?
Labaneh (Labane), לבנה, is a Middle Eastern Lebanese strained yogurt. Labaneh is often classified as a “yogurt cheese.” It has a thick texture, similar to that of cream cheese, and a tanginess that lands somewhere between cream cheese and yogurt.
How Labaneh Is Made?
If you have a yogurt and a cheesecloth…you can make labneh. Making labneh involves straining it through cheesecloth until it reaches the desired consistency. Place your yogurt into the cheesecloth. Pick up the edges of the cloth and tie them at the top. Hang from a kitchen sink faucet to drain overnight (let time do the hard work) for up to 24 hours. Or, line a colander with cheesecloth, set it over a large bowl, and pour the yogurt. Leave it to strain. The longer you let it strain, the thicker the labaneh becomes—until it eventually reaches the texture of a block of cream cheese.
Choose the right yogurt: Labaneh is made by straining yogurt to remove excess whey, resulting in a thicker consistency. To get the best results, use full-fat or Greek yogurt, as they have a higher fat content and will yield a creamier labaneh.
Add flavorings: While labaneh is delicious on its own, you can enhance its flavor by adding various herbs, spices, and other flavorings. Try adding minced garlic, chopped fresh herbs like mint or cilantro, or a drizzle of olive oil for extra flavor.
Experiment with different straining times: The longer you strain the yogurt, the thicker and creamier the labaneh will be. You can experiment with different straining times to achieve your desired consistency. For a spreadable labaneh, strain for 12-24 hours, and for a firmer cheese-like texture, strain for 24-48 hours.
Once you’ve made labaneh, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep for about a week. You can also store it in olive oil, which will help preserve its freshness and add extra flavor.
Labaneh provides a blank canvas for toppings. Try adding a drizzle of honey, pomegranate seeds, a sprinkle of za’atar or sumac, or some toasted nuts for added texture and flavor.
Labaneh is versatile and can be enjoyed in many ways. Spread it on bread or crackers, use it as a dip for vegetables or pita chips, or incorporate it into recipes like salads, sandwiches, or wraps.
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Labaneh – Creamy Yogurt Cheese
- 1 lb (450 grams) regular or Greek yogurt (whole milk)
- For serving olive oil, za'atar, and pomegranate seeds (optional)
- Place the yogurt into the cheesecloth.
- Pick up the edges of the cloth and tie at the top. Hang from a kitchen sink faucet to drain overnight (let time do the hard work) for up to 24 hours.
- In the morning, the whey strains out, leaving you with a very thick (and delicious) cheese.
- Store in the fridge in a closed container for up to 10 days.