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Labneh Yoghurt "Cheese" Balls

These traditional Middle Eastern labneh yoghurt balls are simple yet pack a punch! The lemon zest adds a zingy, fresh flavour, while the chilli brings the heat to this tangy snack.

Labneh yoghurt cheese balls in a bowl with infused olive oil

Impress your guests by adding these easy-to-make labneh yoghurt balls to your next mezze or Christmas snack platter. Chances are you already have all the ingredients for this simple recipe in your kitchen!

Labneh is a thick, cheese-like spread used in Middle Eastern cuisine, made by separating yoghurt solids from whey liquid. These liquids gets released from the yoghurt when strained and left overnight in a muslin or cheesecloth. 

And if you’re waste conscious, then let no ingredient go unused! We suggest taking the whey liquid that is left behind and using it for extra protein in your next smoothie.

With almost half the fat and calories of standard cream cheese, we love this healthier alternative this festive season. Spread it over toast or crackers, or use the infused oils as a dip with pita bread and enjoy.

If you try this recipe, let us know how it goes! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag your photo #theculinarycartel on Instagram so we can see what you come up with. See our Instagram recipe video here

Wow your guests and try more of our Jams, Dips, and Sauce recipes for your next snack platter.

Labneh yoghurt cheese balls in a bowl with infused olive oil on toasted bread

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this gluten-free?

This dish is naturally gluten free! Enjoy with gluten-free bread or crackers.

Do I have to use a muslin?

Nope, you can also consider using a cheesecloth or nut milk bag to strain the yoghurt.

Can I make this vegan?

We have not tested this recipe with non-dairy yoghurt. If you give it a go let us know how it turns out! 

Labneh yoghurt cheese balls in a bowl with infused olive oil
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Labneh yoghurt cheese balls in a bowl with infused olive oil

Labneh Yoghurt “Cheese” Balls

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  • Author: Jess Bunn
  • Total Time: 20 active cook time, with an overnight rest for the yoghurt
  • Yield: 10-12 balls, serves 6-8
  • Diet: Vegetarian


These labneh yoghurt balls, a traditional Middle Eastern snack, are simple to make yet still pack a punch!



For the balls

  • 450g Thick set natural yoghurt (We used fage 2%)
  • 1 tsp Sea salt flakes

For the oil marinade

  • 1 cup (250ml) Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3g Parsley
  • 2g Thyme
  • 4 Strips of lemon zest (optional but recommended)
  • 4 Garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1/21 tsp Chilli flakes (add to preference or leave out)
  • 1 tsp Peppercorns
  • 1 tsp Salt

Toast or crackers for serving


  1. Combine the yoghurt with the salt flakes in a bowl. Transfer to a sieve lined with muslin (or cheesecloth) and set over a small bowl, one which is able to fit in the fridge. Fold the cloth over and tie with string or an elastic band to close. Refrigerate overnight, allowing excess liquid to drain from the yoghurt and thicken it into labneh.
  2. While the yoghurt is resting, make the infused oil. On a low heat, add 250ml of oil, garlic, lemon peel and all the dry ingredients. Do not add the fresh herbs. Heat the oil until warm over a medium heat, then turn off the heat and leave to infuse. Once the aromas have released and the oil is cool add the fresh herbs. Leave in a glass jar overnight ready to coat the balls.
  3. The following day, either discard the liquid released from the yoghurt or use it in another recipe*. Unwrap the muslin, and divide the yoghurt into golf ball-sized portions. With slightly damp hands shape the yoghurt into balls.
    *Chefs tip: Whey can be added to meals for extra protein; smoothies, porridge, and baked goods.. Get creative!
  4. Nestle the balls into a suitably sized container, then pour the oil over them and allow them to marinate. Leave the labneh in the fridge for 30 mins, or ideally overnight. If left overnight in the fridge the oil may turn cloudy but will clarify again once at room temperature.
  5. Once ready to serve. Remove the labneh balls from the fridge, and allow them to sit out until the oil is clear and at room temperature.  Spread the labneh balls over toast or crackers, or dip crusty bread into the infused oil and enjoy.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Overnight rest: 6-8 hours
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Category: Snacks
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern


  • Calories: 232.7kcal
  • Sugar: 2.16g
  • Sodium: 454.49mg
  • Fat: 24.3g
  • Carbohydrates: 2.93g
  • Protein: 1.71g
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5 Responses

  1. When properly stored in the fridge covered completely in oil, the labneh balls will last 1-2 weeks. Be sure to use a yoghurt with a “best before” date that’s quite far in the future

  2. Hi Sherree, I used a nice fruity and mild olive oil. Any oil worthy of dipping bread into will work here (even an olive oil blend) so long as it tastes good! A peppery pungent olive oil might overpower the other flavours

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