labneh cheese balls

From left to right : labneh rolled in sumac, in crushed nuts (a mixture of toasted sesame seeds and peanuts), and in Aleppo pepper.
Have you ever thought about making your own cheese, but worried that you don't have the right gear; that it's too difficult or technical?

Well you can make your own tangy, cream cheese with simply a pot of natural yoghurt, a bit of salt and a couple of kitchen dishcloths. It really is that simple, all you really need is a few hours.

I use labneh cheese in lot's of different recipes, from my salad of 
grilled honeyed figs, to stuffed nasturtium flowers or nutella and chorizo crostini.

Skill level: Easy and fun!

500ml natural yoghurt
½ tsp salt
2 clean, cotton dishcloths or J-cloths
spices (sumac, Aleppo pepper or za'atar)
chopped nuts or sesame seeds


  1. Stir ½ tsp salt into a large 500g pot of natural or plain yoghurt.
  2. Place a metal sieve over a large bowl. Line the sieve with 2 layers of J-cloths. Line these cloths with a clean, cotton dishcloth. (Of course, if you have cheese muslin or cheesecloth, then use those instead.)
  3. Spoon some of the salted yoghurt onto the cloths lining the sieve. You don't want to tip in so much yoghurt that it starts to leak over the top of the cloths or the sieve, so you may need to do this in increments, allowing some of the whey to drain away before adding the rest. However, you can speed it up by giving the yoghurt a bit of a squeeze so that the way drains more quickly.
  4. Leave the yoghurt for at least 4 hours (or overnight in the fridge) to drain. Eventually the whey will drain off and you will be left with a soft creamy cheese, which is thick enough to hold its shape.
  5. Roll the balls in za'atar, sumac, chopped nuts or Aleppo pepper (or chilli flakes).


  • If you place the balls in a jar and cover with olive oil, the cheese balls will last for several weeks (if not months).

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