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

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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


Heidi i had completely forgotten about this kind of sieve..In India that's what most people use and I remember we using it as well for lot of purposes..you are right it is really good! Gosh i need to tell my mother to send me some from India now! I gave Indian yogurt but that's is from milk..never made labneh before! Bit it looks very very good here!


If you make the labneh with Greek yogurt, how long does the straining process take? Also, does using non-fat yogurt make a significant difference in the texture?


Labneh, fresh figs, sprinkled with rose water... Maybe a few chopped pistachios... mmm!


One of my very favourites and some excellent ideas of how to use it. Thanks Heidi!


I've used it in vegetarian Lasange instead of ricotta delicious


I've never made labneh but after reading this I must give it a try! The open faced sandwich with radicchio (one of my favorites!) looks so tasty!

la domestique

As a lazy cook, I can't resist saying that I've made labne starting with Greek yogurt (non-fat) to speed the draining process along. Thanks to all who've given great techniques, and great uses for the resulting labne!

Susan from Pleasanton

I have been making this for quite a while but didn't know it was labneh. I just called it yogurt cheese. I put the yogurt in a dish towel and tie up the ends with a string dangling from a kitchen cupboard, with a bowl beneath it to catch the whey. I've made it plain or with smoky hot pepper flakes, or lots of fresh dill, or toasted caraway seeds or HOT chiltepin pepper.


I'm actually Lebanese, and my family makes this all the time! We actually start from milk, boil it to make the yogurt, and strain it from there. I remember my mother always telling me to watch the pot and make sure the milk doesn't boil over when I was little! I have to say, though, I've been eating labneh with olive oil, mint, zaatar, and pita bread for breakfast for as long as I can remember, but I would never have thought of all those delicious variations! Thanks for the insight, Heidi! :)


It is sometimes the cheapest contraptions that do the trick, right? I still have a small knife with a plastic handle me and my dad bought at a market in Paris because we couldn't wait to slice into a ripe melon we had just bought - it cost us about 1 EUR and it is still my favourite knife for slicing tomatoes. I love all of your ideas for the labneh - I think I would also try mixing it with chopped cherry tomatoes, basical, garlic, salt and pepper to have with bagels. Or with a freshly made blueberry compote for dessert. And yes, it sounds like a wonderful alternative to cream cheese for frosting.


I am drooling. Will definitely try a million iterations of this. I want to ask the same question someone else did: Is there something that can be done with the liquid? My understanding is that the liquid from yogurt contains a lot of the probiotics. I'd like it not to go to waste!


We use a metal coffee filter to drain the yogurt (we don't use it for coffee). Just set the filter in the empty yogurt container and drain away. Great for morning berries and granola


That gives me so many ideas. I'm going to try it with plain goat yogurt.

Fiona Tavernier

It's been a couple if years since I've been hooked to your blog, but I'm so internet shy, never could chime in. After Zaatar and now with Labneh I just have to! Both are the base for a Lebanese breakfast of champions! Whether it's cold Labneh added on a sizzling Zaatar Manoucheh with tomato olives cucumbers and mint, or just eaten with bread; these are the base for our every day breakfast. So happy you're enjoying it! As Maureen suggested above, preserved Labneh in olive oil is delicious. You can add to it Zaatar or red pepper. I usually use Labneh as a base for dips. As I can't find any sour cream, your recipe for the delicious onion dip has become Labneh + Caramelized onions in my house. Also, for a nice dip to have with crudités, just some Labneh with fresh cilantro and curry, salt and pepper to taste and a little lemon. The colors are fabulous and the taste is very refreshing. I've also used Labneh to stuff fresh zucchini flowers right out of the garden before dinner. Last but not least is stuffed vine leaves preserved in oil, stuffed with Labneh of course. As a little side note, 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. I'm sorry this post is so long, guess I'm very excited to contribute! Thank you for everything you've been sharing with the world, reading (and tasting!) had been a weekly pleasure!


Fave use of strained yogurt for me is a layered fresh fruit parfait/trifle using TJ triple ginger cookies as base and middle layer. Low fat plain stony field yogurt is strained thru funky more than 30 yr old cone strainer with fine nylon mesh screen inside and small hole at base of cone to release fluid. When yog is right consistency a small amount of maple syrup is stirred in. Bottom of single or multiple small bowls is covered with single layer of ginger cookies. This is covered with layer of yogurt then layer of fresh or frozen unsweetened berries then another layer of cookie, yogurt, and berries. Good instantly or later when yog & berry have soaked into and softened cookie layers. Sometimes I add a layer of low sugar fruit jam on top of first layer of yogurt.


Thank you for posting the recipe... As a Lebanese and this is one of our staple food. I love eating Labneh on a warm french bread drizzled with some salt and EVOO. or I use it instead of mayo in some recipes and u can eat it with olives and cucumbers. in our home Labneh doesn't stay long so the more the better.


Labneh can replace mayo in potato salad, tuna sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches and deviled eggs. Better for you and tastes great. Good on toasted everything bagels. Julie

Julie in San Diego

We call it Lebanese fast food in our house. My mother-in-law always made her own yogurt. When it had set overnight and had thickened, she would pour it into a very clean old pillowcase. An elastic band would be wound around the top and then hung on a cabinet handle over a large bowl to drain until the whey finished dripping. Stored in glass jars in the fridge it was also ready for a quick snack spread on Lebanese bread for a "starving" family. I like to carry on her tradition!

Kathleen Haboush

Such inspiring ideas! I use a jelly strainer for making ricotta and I think it would work equally well for this. I picked mine up at my local farmers co-op, it was with the canning supplies. It has a handle so you can hang it over a bowl and it's very easy to clean. Running out to get some yogurt right now!


Love labneh with mint and garlic and olive oil.... Thanks for the other ideas!


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