Labneh Cheese Substitutes: The 5 Best Options to Consider

Labneh cheese has become increasingly popular in recent years. This rich, creamy cheese originating from the Middle East has a tangy flavor and smooth texture that makes it incredibly versatile. It can be used as a dip, spread, or even formed into little balls and grilled on skewers.

Labneh Cheese Substitutes The 5 Best Options to Consider

However, labneh can be difficult to find and is usually quite expensive. So you may be looking for some good substitutes that can mimic its unique taste and texture.

What Is Labneh Cheese?

Labneh cheese is a strained yogurt product that originated in the Middle East, primarily Lebanon. To make it, regular yogurt is drained of excess water in a cheesecloth overnight. This results in a very thick, creamy texture similar to sour cream or cream cheese.

The tangy, acidic flavor comes from the fermentation process involved in culturing the yogurt. Labneh can range from soft and spreadable to firm enough to roll into balls.

It has a sour taste reminiscent of sour cream or greek yogurt but with a richer, creamier mouthfeel. The high protein and probiotic content of strained yogurt make labneh an excellent nutritional choice as well.

Labneh cheese is very versatile. It can be used:

  • As a dip for bread or crackers
  • Spread on sandwiches
  • Swirled into soups
  • Added to pasta dishes
  • As a base for dips and spreads
  • Formed into little bites and grilled
  • Baked into savory pastries or flatbreads
  • Stirred into salad dressings
  • Dolloped onto pizza

So when you can't get your hands on authentic labneh for these types of recipes, what are the best substitutes?

The 5 Best Labneh Cheese Substitutes

Here are the top options for mimicking the unique texture and tangy flavor of labneh cheese:

1. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is an excellent substitute for labneh cheese. Like labneh, greek yogurt is a strained yogurt product that has much of the water content removed.

This gives greek yogurt its signature thick, rich texture that mimics labneh very well. Though not quite as creamy, it can easily stand in for labneh when used:

  • As a dip
  • Spread on flatbreads or sandwiches
  • Swirled into dressings, dips, or soups
  • As the base of veggie- or fruit-filled wraps

Greek yogurt also has the tangy, sour flavor notes of labneh. For best results, choose a full fat greek yogurt. This will give you greater creaminess than low or non-fat varieties.

You can make greek yogurt even more labneh-like by straining it further overnight in a cheesecloth. This removes more moisture, resulting in a thicker consistency.

2. Cream Cheese

Another excellent labneh substitute is cream cheese. It has a mild tang and a rich, creamy texture quite similar to labneh cheese.

Cream cheese can be used in place of labneh when making:

  • Dips and spreads
  • Stuffed pastries like knishes or samosas
  • Frosting and fillings for cakes and cupcakes
  • Cheesecakes or mousse
  • Savory tarts
  • Soft cheese balls

For savory applications, use a plain cream cheese without any added flavors. Whipped or light varieties won't have the right consistency.

Cream cheese makes an especially good swap when you want that thick, spreadable texture labneh is known for.

3. Sour Cream

Sour cream is an excellent choice when you want both the tangy flavor and luscious texture of labneh cheese.

Made from cultured cream, sour cream has a similar mild acidity and richness that mimics labneh well in recipes like:

  • Dips - especially when seasoned with herbs
  • Salad dressings
  • Sauces and gravies
  • As a garnish for baked potatoes, tacos, or chili
  • Cheesecake crusts
  • Vegetable or cheese fillings for crepes or blintzes

For best results, choose a full-fat sour cream. Low or non-fat varieties will lack the thick, creamy texture needed in place of labneh cheese.

Some additional tanginess can be achieved by adding a bit of lemon juice to the sour cream. This gives it even more of that signature labneh zing.

4. Ricotta Cheese

Ricotta cheese is a fresh Italian cheese made from whey, similar to labneh's origins as a byproduct of cheesemaking.

Ricotta has a creamy, dense texture and mild flavor that works wonderfully in place of labneh. It shines when used:

  • In lasagna, manicotti, or ravioli fillings
  • As the base of savory spreads or dips
  • Stirred into gnocchi or stuffed shells
  • Baked into quiche or savory pies and tarts
  • Dolloped onto pizza or flatbreads

For best results, look for whole milk ricotta. Low-fat varieties won't provide the rich creaminess needed in recipes calling for labneh.

You can make ricotta even more labneh-like by draining the excess whey. This makes it thicker and gives it more of that distinctive tangy flavor.

5. Mascarpone Cheese

Mascarpone is an triple-cream Italian cheese made from cream. Its soft, thick texture makes it a perfect stand-in for labneh in recipes needing that signature creaminess.

Mascarpone can be seamlessly substituted for labneh when making:

  • Tiramisu or trifles
  • Panna cotta or creme brulee
  • Frosting for cakes or cupcakes
  • Fillings for cannoli or profiteroles
  • Risotto, pasta, or polenta
  • Savory tarts

Though sweeter than labneh, mascarpone works well in savory dishes too. Its rich smoothness mimics the mouthfeel of labneh beautifully.

For best results, use full-fat mascarpone. Low-fat or light varieties will lack the thickness required.

Key Takeaway: Greek yogurt, cream cheese, sour cream, ricotta, and mascarpone all make excellent labneh substitutes due to their similar textures and tangy flavors.

How to Replace Labneh Cheese in Recipes

When substituting for labneh cheese in recipes, there are a few simple guidelines to follow:

  • Use a 1:1 ratio. Replace labneh measured in cups, tablespoons, or grams with the same amount of your chosen substitute.
  • For spreads, dips, or fillings, greek yogurt, cream cheese, ricotta, or sour cream tend to work best.
  • In desserts, sweeter cheeses like mascarpone or ricotta are preferable over very tangy options.
  • For savory dishes, tangier choices like greek yogurt and sour cream better mimic labneh's flavor.
  • Make sure to use full-fat varieties of yogurt, cream cheese, ricotta, etc. for proper texture.
  • Draining the substitute further or mixing in a bit of lemon juice can increase tanginess.
  • Opt for plain, unflavored varieties rather than fruit-flavored or whipped.

With a simple 1:1 swap using a nicely tangy, creamy cheese, you can mimic labneh in just about any recipe.


What's the closest substitute for labneh cheese?

Greek yogurt is likely the closest readily-available substitute. Its strained texture and tangy flavor closely mimics that of labneh. For an even closer match, drain greek yogurt overnight in cheesecloth.

Is sour cream a good substitute for labneh?

Yes, full-fat sour cream makes an excellent labneh substitute in dips and spreads. Its tanginess and thick, creamy texture is very similar.

Can I use cream cheese instead of labneh?

Absolutely. Full-fat cream cheese can be used in place of labneh 1:1 in dips, spreads, fillings, frostings, etc. Its richness mimics labneh well.

What can I use if I don't have labneh or Greek yogurt?

Cream cheese, sour cream, and ricotta are all easily accessible and provide great alternatives with similar texture and tang. Mascarpone works too for sweeter recipes.

Is cottage cheese a good substitute for labneh?

Not really. Cottage cheese is too loose and wet compared to the thick, creamy texture of labneh. Other fresh cheeses like ricotta work much better.

Can I make my own labneh cheese?

Yes! You can easily make labneh at home by lining a strainer or colander with cheesecloth. Fill with plain yogurt, then let drain overnight in the fridge. The next day, you'll have homemade labneh cheese ready to use.

What's the difference between labneh and greek yogurt?

Both are strained yogurts. But labneh is typically drained much longer - up to 24 hours. This makes it even thicker and more concentrated than greek yogurt. Labneh also often has herbs, spices, or olive oil added for flavor.

Is labneh good for you?

Definitely! Like other probiotic-rich yogurts, labneh provides protein, calcium, and gut-healthy active cultures. Its high protein and nutrient density make it a great addition to a healthy diet.


Labneh cheese has grown quite popular for its luscious texture and unique tangy flavor. Luckily, if you can't find any, there are several excellent labneh substitutes available at most grocery stores.

For best results, go for a full-fat, creamy cheese like greek yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese, ricotta, or mascarpone. Use them as a 1:1 substitute in spreads, dips, fillings, or desserts.

Drain the yogurt or cheese further to remove moisture for an even thicker labneh-like consistency in your recipes.

AGAH Productions
AGAH Productions