Made with 2 simple ingredients, this creamy Middle Eastern Labneh recipe is fabulous served as a dip with a generous drizzle of olive oil. This strained yogurt is known for it’s thick appearance and is often compared to a soft cheese in texture and Greek yogurt in flavor. Keep reading for my notes on making this with dairy free yogurts.

A bowl of labneh with oil and za'atar

While it’s most traditional to serve labneh with a drizzle of olive oil and simple toppings like za’atar, fresh herbs, or tomatoes, I find myself using it on everything.

It’s fabulous spread over a piece of bread, served like yogurt with honey and fresh fruit, smeared on a plate topped with a perfectly grilled piece of chicken, and in so many other ways (scroll for a complete list of ideas).

In Middle Eastern countries like Palestine and Lebanon, you’ll see this strained yogurt served on mezze platters. Often served alongside hummus, olives, fresh vegetables, pita, and more, it’s definitely the best way to enjoy it if you’ve got the time to make the full spread.

This recipe is incredibly simple to make, requiring just plan, full fat yogurt and salt. The two ingredients are mixed together then strained overnight, ideally for 2 days. The longer you strain, the thicker the labneh.

It’s a super traditional recipe that’s basically foolproof! You won’t mess this up.

If you’re dairy free and devastated about not being able to join the party, I did some recipe testing with you in mind. I found that this recipe lends best when using a soy based dairy free yogurt and a longer straining period. More on that later.

Whatever yogurt you decide to use, whether plain, Greek, or dairy free, you’ll be impressed by the silky smooth texture of the end result. It’s ability to hold stiff peaks and spread so smoothly is totally addicting.

Other recipes you’ll love: Whipped Feta, Turkish eggs, Tahini dressing, and Moroccan-style shakshuka.

a container of yogurt and a bowl of salt

2 Easy Ingredients

Find the full ingredient list with exact quantities in the recipe card below.

  • Plain full-fat yogurt – can also be Greek yogurt
  • Salt

Also include any important notes I learned while testing different ingredients!

Step by Step Instructions

Storage: Once your labneh is strained and stored in an air tight container, in can keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Store topped with a drizzle of olive oil to help preserve the quality.

A container of labneh

Special Equipment

There are a few tools you’ll need to make labneh:

If you don’t have a mesh strainer, you can tie your cheesecloth to a wooden spoon and hang the cloth above the bowl, so the yogurt is elevated, giving the liquids space to strain. You could also place a trivet or medium sized glass bowl in the base of the larger bowl, to help separate the solids from the liquids.

If you can’t get your hands on cheesecloth, I’ve also had success using paper towels in a pinch.

labneh in a strainer with cheesecloth
A bowl of labneh with oil and za'atar

How to Enjoy Labneh

This strained yogurt is like a combination of cheese and yogurt. It’s perfectly spreadable, full of tangy flavor, and easy to use.

Here are some ideas to get you inspired:

  • Smear a spoonful on a plate and top with your favorite protein or tagine
  • Keep it simple and spread on your favorite bread
  • Serve like you would yogurt, drizzled with honey and topped with granola and fresh fruit
  • Add it to a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and your favorite spices (hello za’atar) and scoop with pita chips
  • Top with olives, toasted pine nuts or pistachios, or poached eggs (check out this Turkish eggs recipe!)
  • Dollop on top of your favorite pasta dish
  • Use as a topping in place of feta cheese or other cheeses (like in these stewed chickpeas)

And if you’re looking for some of my favorite recipes to serve it with, here are some ideas:

a chip with labneh
A bowl of labneh

Tips for Straining

Some more traditional recipes strain at room temperature, but I like popping the entire straining contraption (a bowl and strainer with cheesecloth) in the fridge just to be safe.

It’s really important to let your labneh strain for 12+ hours. 24-48 hours is my recommendation for that thick and creamy texture it’s known for.

If you end up using Greek yogurt, the straining process can go a little quicker thanks to the thickness.

Just know that the longer you let it strain in the fridge, the thicker the end result!

Labneh Balls: Once you’ve stored for 48 hours, your labneh should be thick enough to mold into cheese balls, a log of cheese, or any shape you want.

Dairy Free Labneh?

I tested oat, coconut and soy yogurt as options for dairy free labneh. I really can’t recommend the oat or coconut as the flavor didn’t feel at all similar to traditional labneh. Soy based yogurts are the best dairy free alternative here.

Here are some more notes to consider when making labneh with dairy free yogurt:

  • You can make labneh using a dairy free yogurt following the same instructions
  • Note that you need to strain for several days/hours longer than you would a traditional yogurt, as many dairy free yogurts are thinner in nature. This recipe required 7 days to reach my desired thickness when using Forager Cashew Yogurt.
  • Remember: the longer you strain it, the thicker it will be
  • Also note that using a dairy free yogurt with a unique flavor (like coconut yogurt) will impact the flavor of the labneh
  • I recommend using a dairy free alternative with neutral flavor like a plain soy or cashew yogurt
A bowl of labneh

Thanks for being here,

Salima written in cursive
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A bowl of labneh with oil and za'atar

2 Ingredient Labneh (Strained Yogurt)

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  • Author: Salima Benkhalti
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Passive Time: 12 hours
  • Total Time: 12 hours
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: side dish, snack, appetizer
  • Method: Strained
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Made with 2 simple ingredients, this creamy Middle Eastern Labneh recipe is fabulous served as a dip with a generous drizzle of olive oil. This strained yogurt is known for it’s thick appearance and is often compared to a soft cheese in texture and Greek yogurt in flavor. Keep reading for my notes on making this with dairy free yogurts.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 (24 ounce) container of plain full-fat yogurt (can also be Greek yogurt)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Mix the yogurt & salt. Mix the yogurt and salt together, in a bowl or in the yogurt container to save dishes.
  2. Strain the yogurt. Add the yogurt to the center of a piece of cheesecloth resting in a mesh strainer. Set the mesh strainer over a bowl, making sure it’s elevated enough to keep all strained liquids from touching the cheesecloth.
  3. Chill. Add the bowl with the strainer and yogurt to the fridge and chill for overnight or up to 48 hours. The longer it strains, the thicker the labneh.
  4. Enjoy! Scoop the strained yogurt out of the cheesecloth and enjoy! Store any leftovers in an airtight container. 

Notes

Storage: Once your labneh is strained and stored in an air tight container, in can keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Store topped with a drizzle of olive oil to help preserve the quality. 

Dairy Free Labneh? You can make dairy free labneh using a dairy free yogurt. Just keep in mind that you will have to strain the yogurt for a few extra days – for at least 3+ days. I also recommend using a soy or cashew yogurt, to avoid any undesirable flavors that came with coconut and oat milk based yogurts when recipe testing.