Homemade Yogurt Cheese {Almost Cream Cheese}

Today’s recipe was new to me, but it turns out it’s been around a long, long time.  What I thought was a new and interesting way to make homemade cream cheese is really just . . . Labneh.  And labneh is certainly nothing new.

Labneh is the traditional Lebaneese way to make something that is like cream cheese and it is oh so simple to make.  It’s just plain yogurt with the liquid (whey) allowed to drain away from it for several hours. What you’re left with after the liquid has drained off is a “yogurt cheese” with a much firmer consistency and a flavor much like cream cheese.

Learn how to make yogurt cheese, a quick and simple homemade substitute for cream cheese (also known as Labneh)

Learning to make yogurt cheese (or homemade cream cheese or labneh or whatever we will call it) is still a work in progress for me, although I’ve decided there’s not too much you can do to screw things up. It’s just a matter of using appropriate yogurt (see below) and having patience as the liquid whey drains away.

Where the work-in-progress part comes in is deciding what seasonings or flavorings might be good additions to the final product.  It tastes fine plain, but I suspect it could be even better with some tasty goodies stirred in.  A few ideas I’ve come across in my initial research are:

~ Salt
~ Lemon Pepper
~ Garlic and Chives
~ Pepper and Dried Basil
~ Chopped Tomatoes, Cucumbers, and Olives
~ Ranch Dip Powder
~ Honey

So there’s definitely room to be creative with with this cream cheese and turn it into a flavorful spread just by adding different veggies or spices.

I made my homemade yogurt cheese using the Dannon yogurt that was labeled as “All Natural Plain Yogurt”.  Apparently some yogurt you purchase in the store can have a form of gelatin in their product which my research showed might affect your results.  So I purchased a yogurt that showed the ingredients only as “Cultured Grade A Milk” so I knew there would be no other ingredients in there that might mess things up.

Learn how to make yogurt cheese, a quick and simple homemade substitute for cream cheese (also known as Labneh)

Here’s how to do it:

Homemade Yogurt Cheese {almost Cream Cheese}

You Will Need:

  • Plain Yogurt (I used Dannon All Natural Plain Yogurt)
  • Flour Sack Towel or a piece of other lint-free lightweight material
  • Colander and a Bowl

Method 1:

Line the colander with the towel or whatever light weight material you are using (I had a piece of plain white muslin fabric that I used).  Put the colander over a bowl. This will catch the liquid whey that is draining off.  Put the yogurt in the material-lined colander (I used about half of a 32 oz container).   As soon as you do this you will see some liquid starting to seep away from the yogurt. Place everything in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours (or even up to 24 hours) while you wait for the liquid to drain away from the yogurt.

Learn how to make yogurt cheese, a quick and simple homemade substitute for cream cheese (also known as Labneh)

One issue I had as I tried this was that the bowl I had my colander over wasn’t really deep enough. There was slightly over a cup of whey that was drained off when it was all said and done.  My colander ended up kind of sitting in the liquid in the bowl about halfway through the process so I switched to this alternate method.

Method 2:

Take the towel or fabric with the yogurt in it and gather up the edges to form a kind of “bag”. Then hang this bag from something to let the liquid whey drain off.  I used my banana tree for this and put a plastic container under it to catch the liquid.  My research showed people often use this method too and are pretty resourceful, using cupboard door handles and faucets as ideas of what to hang their bag of yogurt from as it is draining.  (Things should be OK for a few hours this way unrefrigerated).

Learn how to make yogurt cheese, a quick and simple homemade substitute for cream cheese (also known as Labneh).

Once you have let the liquid whey drain away from your yogurt for several hours, you will be end up with a ball of soft “cheese” that has a nice tangy flavor and thick consistency that is spreadable like cream cheese.

Learn how to make yogurt cheese, a quick and simple homemade substitute for cream cheese (also known as Labneh)

You can add the flavorings of your choice and then eat with crackers, veggies, or spread on bagels.

Learn how to make yogurt cheese, a quick and simple homemade substitute for cream cheese (also known as Labneh)

 

Have you ever tried making this type of cream cheese?  Feel free to leave me a comment – I’d love to hear your experiences and advice!

 

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5 Comments

  1. Beverly, I very much like your blog but was surprised to note that you buy your yoghurt. I have been making homemade yoghurt more than 20 years. I am sure i have saved a lot of money that way as yoghurt in Australia is quite expensive. We pay on average A$ 7.00 for one ltr.

    1. I tried homemade yogurt back in the early days of this blog, and it turned out very soupy. (maybe because I was using my crockpot to do it?) But you’re right, that’s something I need to get better at!

      1. I make crockpot yogurt all the time and it is not liquidy. I use powdered milk and and 1/2 cup extra of the powdered milk. turns out beautiful every time with very little whey. and I have made the cream cheese and it is delicious.

          1. I was just going to ask what you think about using homemade yoghurt to make this, and would you have a recipe for it, then I saw the comments 🙂 This blog is very timely for me, because I have just seen Cloud Bread recipes online, and they all call for cream cheese, which can be quite expensive where I live. But yoghurt is much more affordable, and with this cheese recipe, I think I can learn to make Cloud Bread now. Thank you!