Labneh Yogurt Cheese

November 2, 2018



Recipe excerpted from Syria © 2018, Emily Lycopolus. Recipe and

images  by DL Acken reprinted with the  permission of  TouchWood



Labneh, Strained Yogurt Cheese


This Arab version of mascarpone, ricotta, and Greek-style yogurt is

salty, and it’s next to impossible to find here in North America.

Luckily it’s easy to make.


Unlike homemade ricotta, it doesn’t require cooking, just a long

draining period. The Lime-fused olive oil lends a creaminess to

the cheese, and a bit of tang to give this a little extra personality.


Ingredients, Makes 2 cups


21/2 cups full-fat, Greek-style

thick yogurt

1 tsp fine sea salt

1 large piece of cheesecloth

2 Tbsp Lime infused olive oil

Serving Suggestion


2 Tbsp Harissa infused olive oil
or Lime infused olive oil

1 Tbsp freshly torn mint leaves

2 radishes (preferably watermelon, if they’re in season)

1 seedless cucumber, sliced

1/2 cup pitted black olives


To make the labneh..


In a large bowl, stir the yogurt and the salt together, ensuring that

the salt is incorporated evenly through the yogurt. Fold the

cheesecloth into a 16-inch square at least two layers thick.


Spoon the yogurt into the center of the cheesecloth and pull the

corners together. Tie the opposite corners together, not too tightly,

so the yogurt can breathe, but tight enough that it will stay closed.

Place the cheesecloth in a strainer with large holes over a large

bowl and place a weight on top to help it drain.


(My favorite way to drain it is to loop the knots over the tap in the

kitchen sink, so the whey can easily drain. Pros: you don’t need

to place a weight on top. Cons: your sink is out of action for quite

some time.).


Let sit and drain for at least 12 hours, and no longer than 24 hrs.

To store the labneh, spoon the mixture—it will be thick—into a

clean jar with an airtight lid. Smooth the top and drizzle the

olive oil over to seal.


The Harissa infused olive oil can be quite spicy, so if you want to

store this for a longer period, I would advise using the Lime

infused olive oil here.


When you’re ready to serve the labneh, spoon it into a serving

dish, plate, or shallow bowl, and drizzle with your choice of

additional olive oil, top with mint leaves, and serve alongside

thinly sliced radishes, cucumber, olives, and flatbread.


You can store this in an airtight container in the fridge for up to

10 days. Labneh is also often scooped into small balls and rolled in

sumac, za'atar, pistachios, nigella (onion seeds), sesame seeds, or

Aleppo pepper.


These little balls are then perfect to add to a bowl of soup, spread

on fresh toasted flatbread (page 25), or decorate a salad. To make

labneh balls, scoop tablespoons of the cheese into your hands and

gently form a ball. Roll each ball in your spice of choice, nuts, or



These will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week in the

fridge, ready to enjoy at a moment’s notice.


For more of Emily's Syria Recipes click HERE



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