If you're looking for the perfect low carb appetizer or snack, Labneh Cheese Balls are the perfect solution for your cravings. Serve it with your favorite veggies as a dip or as a low carb spread on a lettuce wrap or sandwich.
What Makes These Labneh Cheese Balls So Great?
- Low Carb. Only 7 carbs per serving.
- High Protein. One serving packs 14 grams of protein.
- Vegetarian. Serve with veggies for a great vegetarian snack or appetizer.
- Flavorful. Packed with flavor from the oil and herbs.
What Is Labneh?
Once you start making homemade greek yogurt, it opens the doors to making Labneh Cheese Balls, which is a yogurt cheese with multiple uses.
Labneh is a thick and creamy yogurt-like cheese that is made by straining Greek yogurt until it is almost completely rid of all liquid.
Where Did Labneh Originate From?
While there is no specific evidence to prove where Lebneh originated, many people believe that it came from a large area in the Middle East that includes Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan, and Palestine.
Is Labneh The Same As Cream Cheese?
One way to think of it is as a substitute for cream cheese, except I've typically not seen it used as a sweet substitute, but rather more of a savory one. You can of course combine it with honey, cranberry chutney, or peach chutney for a sweet treat.
Is Labneh Healthier Than Cheese?
Labneh is often compared to cream cheese because of its tart flavor and texture. However, it is a healthier alternative to cream cheese. Here's why:
- Lower Sodium
- Fewer Calories
- More Fat
- Higher Protein Content
How To Make Labneh Cheese Balls
Making Labneh is not complicated, but it does require patience.
- Place regular greek yogurt in your yogurt strainer or in a coffee filter with a container below to catch the liquid as it separates.
- Allow to strain 2-3 days.
- Create Labneh Cheese Balls or a simple Labneh spread.
- Enjoy with your favorite dipping items or on a sandwich.
See what I mean about patience?
How To Strain The Yogurt To Make Labneh
There are two popular strainers that I can recommend for making the Labneh Cheese Balls.
- If you have a small amount of yogurt to strain, say about 2 cups or so, the Donvier Cuispro works like a dream. It doesn't take up half your fridge shelf space, the grid is tilted, so the bottom of the yogurt stays clean. It also washes up no trouble. I use this to make Greek Yogurt as well.
- If you have a larger quantity to strain, then the Eurocuisine strainer works wonderfully. It's sturdily built, holds a lot, washes clean, and keeps the yogurt out of the whey entirely.
But if you're not sure about any of this or want to try out this Labneh recipe without waiting for your new kitchen gadget to come in the mail, you can use a large coffee filter to strain the yogurt.
Tips and Tricks For Making Labneh
- The longer you let it sit, the firmer the yogurt balls. If you get impatient, remember you don't have to be able to roll them into balls and preserve them. You can just spread the strained labneh onto a plate and garnish it with some good olive oil.
- Decide whether you will be eating them fresh, or preserving them. I wanted to create Labneh Cheese Balls that would be preserved for a bit, so I created cheese balls that I could put into a jar and cover with oil that I am infusing. This meant I had to drain them for longer.
- Decide what herbs and spices appeal to you. Traditionally you could use Zaa'tar.
- You can use whatever herbs and spices you want. Just start with these as a template to make your perfect Labneh.
How To Serve Labneh
- If you choose to make a sweet version, with honey or the pomegranate molasses, you can serve it as a light dessert
- Savory Labneh can be used as a dollop on top of steamed greens. Steamed Spinach + toasted garlic + toasted pine nuts + Labneh = Total Deliciousness
- Labneh + roasted red peppers = totally new flavor
- Chives + labneh = sandwich spread instead of mayonnaise
- Labneh + honey/sweetener + cardamom = Indian twist Labneh
- Labneh + savory spices = dip for grilled meats and vegetables
Does Labneh Go Bad?
Labneh, as it is made by just straining the greek yogurt doesn't have a long shelf life. After the liquid is strained from it, it only has about three days of high quality life.
There are ways to preserve Labneh in oils, but that is something we'll discuss on a different day. This recipe makes a relatively small amount of Labneh so you should have no trouble finishing yours before it's time to toss it.
If you try making your own Labneh Cheese Balls and love what a delicious snack they turn out to be, make sure you share the recipe with your friends on Facebook and Pinterest so they can try their hand at making them too.
For the Flavored Oil
For the Labneh
- 4 cups (800 g) Full-Fat Greek Yogurt
- 1 teaspoon (1 teaspoon) Kosher Salt
- 3 tablespoons (3 tablespoons) chopped dill
- 3 tablespoons (3 tablespoons) Chopped Mint
For the Flavored Oil
- In a clean, 1 pint mason jar, pour in the olive oil. Add garlic and chilis and set aside and let is sit for 2-3 days as the yogurt drains.
For the Labneh
- Place Greek Yogurt in a strainer, and allow it to drain for 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
- When ready, chop the mint and the dill finely, mix together, and spread across a plate.
- Remove the yogurt from the strainer and mix with 1 teaspoon salt.
- Shape the yogurt into small balls. Roll the balls into the minced dill and mint.
- Place each ball into the jar of flavored oil.
- Add additional oil if needed. You want the yogurt balls submerged into the oil so they stay preserved, and not exposed to air.
- When ready to serve, remove 1-2 balls carefully and place into a bowl or plate.
- Serve with raw vegetables, crackers, or pita bread triangles, or pita chips.
- Not sure what is in Greek Yogurt after the whey is drained.
- Depends on how much oil you use to spread across your cheese.
- Greek Yogurt is high in protein so I felt comfortable labelling this High protein Labneh
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Originally Published August 7, 2017