Homemade labneh with za'atar

This recipe is such a treat, there's nothing quite like the tangy, creamy taste of labneh. The taste makes my mind wander to a breakfast I once had in rural Jordan near Umm Qais, surrounded by rolling hills and the distant sound of bleating goats and their bells that clatter as they travel across the fields.

Breakfast in Jordan, is a rather savory affair. Picture plates of hummus, labneh delicately dusted with za'atar, crispy falafel, soft flatbreads and black olives that are wrinkled, shriveled and briny, but provide the perfect relief from days spent perspiring in the heat.

The only sweet element of a Jordanian breakfast is usually a dollop of tart apricot jam. On this note, despite the recipe below being savory, labneh can be paired with honey-roasted peaches, pears or other fruits as a dessert.

Labneh is essentially made of thick yogurt which is strained to become a thick, cheese-like texture. The whole process takes about 12 hours, with little effort required, just a little bit of patience and imagination.


*you will need a cheese cloth for this recipe

  • 1kg of thick Greek yogurt

  • 3/4 teaspoon of za'atar

  • 1 Cheese cloth

  • 6 tbsp of za'atar

  • 150 ml of olive oil

  • 1 tsp of Pul Biber or chili flakes


  1. Mix the yogurt with the salt and spoon into the muslin cloth, then fold the cloth in and tie the sides together in a knot so you have a sealed little bag of yogurt. Tie this pouch with an elastic band onto the taps on your kitchen sink and leave to strain overnight. This may seem a little absurd at first but it's totally worth it. 12 hours later the majority of the liquid should have drained and the consistency should be thicker. I'd recommend putting the pouch directly into the fridge so it can thicken some more, ready to be rolled into balls.

  2. With your hands roll the sticky labneh into balls then sprinkle with za'atar and drizzle with plenty of olive oil. Serve as part of a mezze selection or as a meal by it's self, flatbreads are an essential accompaniment though bear in mind.

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