Labneh dip is strained yogurt that has a cream cheese sort of texture. I grew up on homemade labneh; pretty much every Lebanese kid does. And after so many years eating labneh, I never tried to make it myself. I asked my father how to make our family's homemade labneh recipe. It's simple and doesn't need any fancy equipment. He told me this is how my Tayta Lily (my Lebanese grandmother) used to make it.
If you like Greek yogurt, you are going to love labneh! I give a few ways further down the post on how to eat labneh, so you can maximize your labneh experience.
Ingredients You'll Need:
All you need to make labneh is a starter plain yogurt and whole milk. I use a full-fat plain yogurt as my starter yogurt. If you want to speed things up a bit, you can start with store-bought plain yogurt. Just skip over the steps for making your own yogurt from scratch.
How to Make Labneh Dip From Scratch
Homemade yogurt is really easy, but it takes some time. If you are short on time or want to simplify this recipe, you can use store-bought yogurt. I prefer to make labneh using homemade yogurt, but that's my personal preference. If using store-bought yogurt, jump directly to straining the yogurt.
Step 1: Make Homemade Yogurt
- Put the milk in a large pot. Set heat to high until the milk just starts to boil. Immediately remove from heat.
- This is important! You have to watch the milk, otherwise, you will run the risk of the milk boiling over and making a mess.
- Let the milk cool down to a temperature that you can stick your finger in for 10 seconds. Yes, I'm not joking. This is the step in the recipe. You see back in the day, they didn't have fancy kitchen gadgets to read temperatures. They had to use their fingers!
- If the milk is too hot, then come back until you can keep your finger in the milk for 10 full seconds.
- Add the starter yogurt to the milk. The ratio is 1 cup of yogurt to 1 gallon of milk.
- Cover the pot and wrap it with a towel. Let yogurt sit at room temperature for a full 24 hours.
Step 2: Strain the Yogurt
- Once the yogurt is made, strain out the excess water.
- Place a thick paper towel (add 2 layers of paper towel) or cotton cloth fabric in a strainer with a bowl underneath. I prefer cotton cloth fabric because it doesn't break. However, if all you have is a paper towel, that will work as well.
- Add the yogurt on top of the paper towel or cotton cloth fabric. Strain at room temperature for around 8 to 10 hours.
- The liquid in the bowl that has strained from the yogurt is whey. Both the paper towel and cotton cloth fabric work effectively in removing the whey.
- The labneh is ready once it sort of sticks together. Labneh has more moisture than cream cheese, yet less moisture than sour cream. It's in a camp of its own.
Labneh vs. Greek Yogurt
Labneh dip and Greek yogurt are similar in texture but very different in taste. Labneh is a more tangy and creamy version of Greek yogurt. Both are strained yogurt, however, the process for making either from scratch is slightly different.
Traditionally, Greek yogurt was made with goats milk whereas labneh is made with cow's milk. Another difference is the process for straining the different yogurt. The reason labneh has the tangy flavor is because it is made and strained at room temperature (rather than in a cold environment like the fridge).
Labneh Zaatar Bowl
I normally eat labneh in a bowl with zaatar, olive oil, and salt sprinkled on the top. My preference for dipping is fried pita chips or regular pita bread. Labneh zaatar is the best way to eat labneh if other people are around because it's easy to share. Add a side of fresh mint, sliced cucumbers, and olives for the ultimate feast.
My childhood way of eating labneh was as a sandwich. Now, over the years I've made some amazing labneh sandwiches. This is the best labneh sandwich.
- Split a large pita bread.
- Spread the labneh in a thin layer all over the inner part of the pita bread (the rough side).
- Sprinkle zaatar and salt.
- Drizzle some olive oil.
- Add fresh mint leaves, Lebanese olives, and Persian cucumbers. If you have really delicious tomatoes, add those too in thin slivers. Enjoy!
- Roll the pita bread like a thin burrito.
How To Store Labneh
Store the labneh dip in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Labneh cannot be frozen.
Try Some Other Delicious Dips
- Better Than Baba Ganoush Eggplant Dip
- No Tahini Hummus Recipe
- Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
- Easy Black Olive Tapenade