Homemade Labneh Recipe

How to make labneh, lots of ideas for how to enjoy it, different strainers you can use to make it, and a labneh recipe.

Homemade Labneh Recipe

I've been straining yogurt, aka making labneh, quite a lot lately. Labneh is an Arabic yogurt cheese often made by draining yogurt. But I started making it more often after receiving a package from Jaipur, India. The package was cloth-covered and hand-stitched at the seams. My address was in massive black penmanship. It was the most intriguing package I've received via post in recent memory, sent by my friend Melissa. (Some of you might remember) I met her after sitting down for lunch at the Anokhi Cafe. Melissa runs the cafe, and we hit it off from there.
labneh in a white bowl on a marble countertop

Special Equipment: A Good Strainer

I remember Melissa telling me about her favorite strainer. She described it as an unattractive plastic piece of crap, but one that does a fantastic job on the yogurt front. She sent me one (pictured below)! And she was right, this strainer has a very fine, double lining, which allows the liquid whey to flow from the yogurt leaving a thick silky white yogurt cream behind - perfect for spreading, rolling, and blending. It is a Krishna brand “Marvel/Super Delux" and hard to find online for some reason.

If you don’t have a friend who will mail you one like the strainer pictured below, no worries! Multiple people in the comments love this Cuisipro Yogurt Cheese Maker. For example, in the comments, Patrice is a pro and has some great insight related to this strainer, “I’ve been making labneh for about 25 years and I absolutely LOVE it! I have two of them because I often have more than one batch straining. Oh, and I never use Greek Yogurt for my labneh… the texture just seems not right. My favorite at the moment is the Brown Cow yogurt which I get at Whole Foods. I love all of the suggestions for using labneh. I use it just about anywhere that cream or sour cream is called for, but of course, just as a dip (lots of herbs and sea salt) is as good as it gets!”

Lee said, “made my first labneh this week using the cusipro-donvier strainer that I purchased from Amazon. It was no muss, no fuss and the container fits easily in the refrigerator and cleans up very easily. We had kalamata olive bread slathered with it with chopped arugula and some Za’atar I made. It was marvelous !!!”

And many people simply use a traditional handkerchief or fine cotton cloth, a clean pillowcase, or a couple layers of cheese cloth. Nitza mentions, “ I just use a colander lined with a paper coffee filter and a bowl underneath to catch the liquid. I’ve also used my “Pour over” ceramic coffee filter (with #2 or #4 filter paper) and the mug catching the drippings. I leave it in the fridge at night, have it in the morning or later.” All in all a bit more messy, but they’ll all do the job!

yogurt being strained into a bowl to make labneh

What To Do With The Whey?

Before we brainstorm ideas related to labneh, let’s talk about whey. The liquid that drains off the yogurt in the labneh process is whey. And it is a wonderful, nutritious by-product and ingredient. Don’t throw it out. You can do all sorts of things with it. You can keep whey in the refrigerator for a week or so. And beyond that, it freezes well.

Some ideas:

  • I like to use leftover whey from the ricotta making process as well. It can be used as a base for soup, like a broth. Just season and spice it to your liking. I especially like to make it spicy and then float stuffed pastas or dumplings in it and top with lots of chopped herbs.
  • In the comments, Linda mentions, “I use the whey from making goat cheese for the liquid in bread and quick bread recipes.”
  • Norma suggests to us, “use it in cornbread and pancakes, soups and smoothies.”
  • Love this suggestion from Arti, “We mix yoghurt back into the whey ( to the desired thickness) and add salt, some finely chopped cilantro and green chillies to get a lovely spicy buttermilk. However it’s tasty even without the chillies if you don’t like the spice.”
  • Kate suggests a drive down the fermentation lane, “make lacto-fermented kimchi, salsa, mustard, and many other things. Just search for “lacto-fermented recipes” and lots of options will pop up.”

labneh smeared into a piece of sourdough and topped with an egg and other ingredients

Ways To Enjoy Labneh

Ok, let’s do this! There are a million ways to enjoy labneh. Some traditional, others not so much. I’m going to share all the things I made with my last round of labneh. Then I’ll jump into some of your amazing ideas. And beyond that, I'll highlight a few ideas from favorite cookbooks and authors.

  • The above open-faced sandwich was on of the first things I made - a fast A+ lunch. Thin toasted bread, a layer of labneh, pan-fried hedgehog mushrooms, poached egg, shredded radicchio and tarragon, sea salt.
  • Smashed a few threads of saffron with brown sugar in a mortar and pestle added a bit of labneh, and used it to fill pitted dates.
  • Spread across a shallow bowl, drizzled generously with olive oil, fragrant Mexican oregano crumbled across the top, served with toasted pita wedges.
  • Shaped into small balls, rolled in za'atar, drizzled with lots of olive oil.
  • Served a dollop alongside an asparagus frittata with loads of fresh herbs and a drizzle of lemon olive oil.
  • Slice of rye toast, bit of salted butter, layer of labneh, layer of jam.
  • I've made it with less salt and used it as a beautiful frosting. It kind of ends up being in the realm of a cream cheese frosting. Sweeten the labneh with honey, sugar, sifted powdered sugar, etc - whatever your preference.

Labneh Ideas: From the Comments

There is so much great inspiration and knowledge in the comment section down below. I’m pulling a few to highlight here, but dive in for more ideas. And keep adding as well! Please give a shout in the comments if you make labneh or strained yogurt and do interesting things with it!

  • Nina mentioned, “One of our favorite ways is spreading on rye bread (plain or toasted), topping with thinly sliced cucumbers or radishes. It is simple and wonderful. Great after a trip to the gym, especially in summer time.”
  • If you have access to goat milk yogurt, Ioanna enthusiastically weighs in, “goat Labneh is heavenly! If you can find goat yogurt or make your own, you need to strain it a lot longer and you’ll have the traditional goat Labneh (here we strain it in a special cheesecloth bag hung over the sink). It is then either shaped in small balls dipped in olive oil or in logs. It is very tangy, and usually saltier, blended with a generous amount of olive oil before degustation.” Sheep milk is fair game as well.
  • Megan C notes that she likes it as an alternative to ricotta in lasagna.
  • Another person in the comments mentioned this, “by adding onions, yellow chilli powder, corriander leaves, saffron threads, roasted chick pea flour, sugar, salt, cardamom powder & garam masala to it. Shape them into thick roundels & shallow fry on non-stick pan till golden brown on both sides.”

Labneh Inspiration from My Cookbook

  • In the comments Gemma mentioned, “there’s an amazing recipe for spiced labneh in the Moro cookbook. It uses fenugreek seeds, green chile, garlic and nigella seeds. It’s incredible, I recommend you seek it out! I usually make it that way but sometimes shape some into balls and roll them in something (cumin seeds/rosemary and garlic) and keep them covered in olive oil in a jar in the fridge.
  • Colu Henry caught my attention in Easy Fancy Food with her Lemon Curd Labneh Popsicles. She calls them, “a tart, lemony answer to a Creamsicle.”
  • In the NOPI cookbook Yotam weighs in with a smoked labneh! If you have a stovetop smoker (or a smoker donabe), this is one to try. The smoked labneh is served with baby carrots and mung beans along with crisp pita. Flavors like mint, caraway and thyme also represent.
  • If it’s peak summer and you’re reading this, take the recipe on page 73 of Suzanne Goin’s The A.O.C. Cookbook for a spin. It’s heirloom tomatoes with marinated labneh, purslane, and green harissa.
  • There’s a labneh cheesecake in Sami Tamimi’s Falastin. It features roasted apricots, cardamom, orange blossom water, and orange zest.
  • Diana Henry wrote a book years ago, Crazy Water Pickled Lemons: Enchanting Dishes from the Middle East, Mediterranean, and North Africa. I’ve been making a labneh-centric recipe (Bulgar and Spinach Pilaf with Labneh and Chili Roast Tomatoes) from it for the better part of twenty years. She has you bring all the components of this Turkish dish together over bulgar, but I’ve  enjoyed it over couscous, stuffed pastas, and orzo.
  • And, Carla Lalli Music includes a beautiful fruit compote with labneh, maple syrup, and olive oil in Where Cooking Begins.

Please let me know any other labneh faves in the comments below! Let's keep this going.

labneh smeared into a piece of sourdough and topped with an egg and other ingredients

More Yogurt Recipes


101 Cookbooks Membership

Premium Ad-Free membership includes:
-Ad-free content
-Print-friendly recipes
-Spice / Herb / Flower / Zest recipe collection PDF
-Weeknight Express recipe collection PDF
-Surprise bonuses throughout the year

spice herb flower zest
weeknight express

Homemade Labneh

5 from 5 votes

This recipe uses a large container (1 quart) of yogurt, which strains down quite a lot. That said, if you think you'll have a hard time using this much labneh, half the recipe. The longer you let the yogurt strain, the thicker it gets.

  • 32 ounces plain full-fat yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  1. If you don't have a strainer like the one pictured above, don't worry, you can use cheesecloth in its place. Simply line a deep bowl with a double layer of cheesecloth.

  2. Stir the salt into the yogurt and pour into the cheesecloth. Bring the cloth together into a bundle and secure with a string. Hang the bundle over a bowl (or wide pitcher), making sure the bottom of the cheesecloth is suspended in air (you don't want it sitting in the liquid). I used to do this by securing the bundle to a wooden spoon. Cover the whole contraption, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, but go longer if you like - it's all about personal preference. Much of the liquid will drain out and the yogurt will thicken.

  3. Remove from the cloth and proceed with one of the above suggestions.


Makes about 2 cups of labneh.

Prep Time
7 hrs
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

Post Your Comment

Recipe Rating


I use a melitta coffee cone with a coffee filter to strain my yogurt. When it is thick you can just pick up the filter and peel it off the yogurt in a bowl. My favorite use is as a dip with fresh lemon juice & zest plus some fresh dill leaves. I am lucky enough to make my own yogurt from raw milk from the neighbor cows!


I've used it as a sour cream substitute, and I love spreading it on pancakes or waffles and topping it with fresh sliced strawberries. For straining, I have some very old, thin flour sack towel that I use to double-line a wire mesh colander.


LOVING all the great comments! Keep them coming. -h


You can even use a clean pillow cover to drain the yogurt.

Mona Amiri

I like to strain the yogurt overnight so the remaining labneh becomes somewhat firm. I then scoop small balls of it and place them in a jar of really good olive oil along with peppercorns, thyme sprigs, bay leaves and sliced garlic. I let everything marinate for at least a week. Really good olive oil is a key here as when you scoop up a ball of labneh it comes with olive oil attached. A fabulous, mouthwatering spread on crackers a leaf of romaine or some crusty bread along with a slice of tomato. After reading your suggestion, Heidi, I'll add some za'atar to the olive oil mix next time as well.


this makes a wonderful cream cheese/mascarpone substitute in most recipes! I use this in my favorite banana bread recipe.


If your beloved plastic "piece of crap" ever breaks, you can also get good results if you put a coffee filter into a regular metal (not so fine) strainer.


There is a Lebanese cafe I used to frequent in London that serves labneh on Saturdays for breakfast with a special type of bread baked/sprinkled with a sumac mixture. I cannot recall the name of the bread but it is round and about ten inches wide. It is served with sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, so you can top the bread with the labneh, then the toms and cukes. I used to order extra bread and take it home in order to reheat the next day.


drool... on the look out for (the beginner) strainer.

Chanda, I'll try to find one for you. And one for Bonni too. Strainers all around!


i do it my mom's way---using a large square of thin muslin (i use pieces of her old saris) and gather up the ends and tie it to the oven handle and let the whey drop into a bowl.

HS: Love this.


Labneh is a great sub for creme fraiche and cream cheese. Also, I like to swirl the oil and za'atar into the labneh when it's done. Yes, great w eggs. Use a fine mesh colander and cheese cloth set in a larger bowl. No contraption required! 24 hours. Best Labneh ever - Druze village in the Golan Heights.


I had a German roommate who taught me how to make this! We just called it yogurt cheese but it's the same thing. And I still make it, using a coffee filter and my Melitta pour-over coffee thing, resting on top of a jar in the fridge.. yummy :) Here's a different question, though.. what can you do with the liquid that's left over?


    Posting some ideas up above Elena!

    Heidi Swanson

Years ago Progressive made a yogurt strainer, and luckily I bought two sets. They are flat bottomed, cone shaped plastic, with 6 very fine fabric-y mesh inserts between the plastic ribs. After 15 years (maybe more) of use, one of the cones has a tiny tear at the top of one of the mesh panels. So far it hasn't effected the straining process, but I worry. A favorite recipe for strained yogurt around our house is an Afghan recipe for "Quroot". It calls for 'a ball of drained, salted and dried yogurt, rehydrated with water, worked to form a thick sauce'. Afghans living abroad have substituted 2 cups of 'Chakah' (drained yogurt), 1/2 cup grated mature cheddar cheese, and salt to taste, to make a version of Quroot. The easiest way to mix is to take a little of the Chakah and mix into the grated cheese with the back of a spoon until completely blended. Then stir in the rest of the Chakah, adding salt to taste. I let this sit for about 30 minutes, then stir again to incorporate any whey. A wonderful dip for both pita and veggies. I use the 32 oz container of yogurt to finish with the 2 cups of strained yogurt needed for this recipe. If anyone here has any pull with Progressive, ask them to please offer their yogurt strainers again!

Tami in Ruidoso

Ahhhh labneh, the Lebanese flavor-maker! It belongs on nearly every plate we make, and especially on its own with some Lebanese flatbread and an olive. Heaven. Heidi, I love that strainer and have to get one. Here's something about Lebanese labneh preserved in olive oil.

Thank you Maureen! xo

Maureen Abood

Labneh is one of my most favourite things to make and eat. Yum.

Emma Galloway

Labneh and Za'atar are like Pb&J. Nothing better than dipping a piece of pita bread into a marriage of the two. Also, I recently started using labneh as in the most delectable gluten-free lemon muffin recipe. It adds incredible moisture to GF baked goods. Thanks for sharing your labneh tips :)


I never add salt to mine, and I use it for lots too. One of my favorites is a nut mousse - mix in enough nut or seed butter (even peanut butter tastes great) to thicken it into a mousse texture, dish it into pretty bowls and drizzle maple syrup on top.


Open faced sandwiches were always my favorite, as it's very popular in Poland. It makes me feel like at home :)

Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today

What an inspiring list of ideas! I think I'm going to throw some yogurt in the strainer right now....

Katie (A Fork in Hand)

I add a little minced garlic and salt and use it as a dip, instead of cheese spread. I also make the Indian yogurt based sweet called Shrikhand with it, my favourites are the dry fruit, mango versions of it.


More Recipes

101cookbooks social icon
Join my newsletter!
Weekly recipes and inspirations.

Popular Ingredients

Use of this site constitutes acceptance of its User Agreement and Privacy Policy.

101 Cookbooks is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Any clickable link to amazon.com on the site is an affiliate link.