Friday, October 11, 2013

Homemade Cream Cheese – The Labneh Way

This recipe video is inspired by a Lebanese yogurt cheese spread called Labneh, but I decided to call it homemade cream cheese because my sources deep inside Google tell me that “cream cheese” is searched for more often than “labneh.” In fairness, and with apologies to my Lebanese fans, it really is almost identical in texture and mouthfeel.

Like I say in the video, the taste is a bit bolder and tangier than that stuff from Philly, but when is that ever a bad thing? Michele found some amazing sheep’s milk yogurt at a local farmer’s market, and it was incredible in this, but I've used regular yogurt and it works wonderfully as well.

You can use it as you would any commercial cream cheese, but the honey and pistachio variation I tacked on to the end would make for a memorable holiday brunch addition. On the savory side, you can’t beat simply drizzling over some olive oil and eating as a spread with crispy bread or pita chips.

Most recipes for this say you can eat it after one day, but I really think the two-day “aging” and pressing process does great things. The taste mellows out a bit, and the texture gets even denser and richer feeling. Besides, if you don’t press it, you won’t get those signature, and ultra sexy cheesecloth fabric marks! I hope you give this homemade cream cheese a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for about two heaping cups of cream cheese:
1 quart yogurt, try to get something really nice from a dairy, or use Greek-style
1 tsp kosher salt or to taste
cheesecloth
*If needed, use a paper towel to blot off any additional moisture that come to the top during the 2-day pressing in the fridge.
Note: I’ve only made this one way, so I’m not sure what happens if you deviate from the recipe and use low-fat yogurt, etc. Let me know if you try something different!

48 comments:

bdwilcox said...

You are the Veronese of your cream cheese.

Chef John said...

Nice.

Coleens Recipes said...

Recipes don't HAVE to be economical in order to have value, some times, it's just the fun of experimentation!! Well done.

Billy Rodriguez said...

You think this will work well with those little fruited yogurt cups? In which case, would you go with the salt as usual, or no salt?

Roland Konlechner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roland Konlechner said...

Hello Chef John!

So the yellowish liquid that dripped out of the yoghurt was whey proteine?

Michael said...

If I wanted to add crushed garlic to make a Boursin-style cheese, would that be added at the salting stage, or after the 2-day ageing?

Katha said...

oh thats funny, i just posted about labane as well =) http://wrappedtroubles.blogspot.co.il/2013/10/how-to-make-and-preserve-labane.html israelis eat lots of labane. one question: why would it be more expensive? because you have to buy the yoghurt? what about making the yoghurt yourself? ;)

mays hannoun said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mays hannoun said...

you know you can just tie the cloth to the water faucet and let it drain all the excess water on the sink , the old fashioned way :)

Matthew said...

While I am aware of the answer to my question, I will ask anyway, at the stage you put through the salt, it should be possible to perhaps put through some spices, correct? Perhaps some paprika or maybe some fresh herbs as basil?

Chef John said...

Yes! At that point, anything goes flavor-wise.

Lisa said...

Will low-fat, non-fat and also low sodium Greek yogurt work just as well using the same exact procedure?

Lisa said...

Will low-fat, non-fat and low-sodium Greek yogurt work just as well using the same exact procedure, and if so would the amount of Kosher salt need to be adjusted?

Chef John said...

Those fruit yogurts have sugar, so no idea how that would work.

Same goes for low-fat or non-fat. I've only tried with full fat yogurt! Probably would still work.

Unknown said...

You're amazing.

Daisy said...

Hi Chef John! Would this cream cheese work out to be much healthier as opposed to a store bought cream cheese as well, considering it's made wholly from yoghurt?

hershey said...

Chef John, since this is a bit tangier than the philly cream cheese, can i use this in making cupcake frostings?.. :)

hershey said...

Chef John, since this is a bit tangier than the philly cream cheese, can i use this in making cupcake frostings?.. :)

Ellinor Leistad said...

Can you use it in cheesecakes? :)

BBQChick said...

My mom has made this since i was little. We just called it yogurt cheese :-) We we lucky though, my dad worked for a dairy company, and we would get the outdated yogurt for free. And we always made it with low-fat yogurt, so yes it does work. Adding roasted New Mexico green chilis is my favorite.

Rita said...

I'm wondering if this will work with Greek yogurt. It should, do you think?

Gerdan Hellslash said...

That would be damned nice with cucumber and a touch of lemon, with grilled lamp and pita breads. Might give this one a bash, excellent website.

Darren Tran said...

off topic but I'm hoping for some more of your sous vide videos :D... hope more are coming!

Chef John said...

Yes, this is great for cheesecake and frosting! :)

Athena Smith said...

Do you think this will work with dairy free soy yogurt? Or will that interfere with the cheese forming process? I'm thinking about making my own lactose free cream cheese.

Chef John said...

Sorry, but I don't know! I'm guessing not.

Bogdan Belcea said...

As I am working for the last ~5-6 years on a Carrot Cake recipe, I seem to have stumbled upon another way to make it even more Awesome!, work-intensive and expensive :D

Will let you know who it turns out.
Thank you Chef!
You are pure awesome.
-Bogdan-

alw said...

Oh great! Another thing to add to my bucket list. At this rate, I'll never be able to die.

Btw, re Halloween Hobo, no -- you weren't the only one.

wildscarlet said...

Hi chef John! What happens if you let it press/age for 3 days instead of 2?

Sandra from Montreal said...

Yep...hobo and ghost costumes (using an old sheet), were frequent costumes growing up...Can't wait to try this recipe!

gremliniuke said...

Hi John. I tried this thing. It was kind of hard to do because i choose 2.5 % fat yoghurt and i used a sock :D Yes , sock. I didnt had a cloth but it worked very well. And the taste... Man. I have never made my own cheese but it is worth to try guys. That taste was amazing and i felt so happy for my self as you said in the video :D Thank you and goo luck.

Rose Chigwada said...

I have to make it because cream cheese is not available all the time where we come from. Been missing you. Am so busy I have not been here often enough.

Magdalena Predki said...

I really love listening to your voice.

Unknown said...

chief John, does the yogurt cheese can used to make baked cheese cake?

Kevin McHugh said...

A few ideas:

-I didn't use string or a wooden spoon, I just wrapped the cheese cloth in a knot and stuck 2 chopsticks through the middle. It was a small elimination but made a big psychological difference ^_^

-If you're wondering what to do with the whey, it can be used to make ricotta.

-I didn't have a heavy marble stone like CJ...c'mon, who does? So I used a slightly larger bowl (whose base fit over the top of the cream cheese mould) filled with water. It was heavy and did the trick.

-You can re-use (expensive) cheesecloth after washing in plain hot water, so I didn't cut mine up.

Greeter said...

My Albanian friend makes her own yogurt (Me too! It's sooOOoooo easy!) and uses a cutting of fabric from her former slip (under her dress type) in place of cheese cloth. Before adding the salt, it is basically sour cream.

addingzip said...

I am in the process of making some now using non-fat Greek yogurt. I am also going to mix in some green onions and chives before I "age" it. I plan on serving it with some hot pepper jelly I made a couple of weeks ago on whole wheat crackers. I'll let you know how it turns out, but it should be a killer combination.

Visit me at http://addingzip.wordpress.com

addingzip said...

As antipated, the non-fat, Greek yogurt version was fantastic. Greek yogurt already has much of the whey removed. Hanging for 24 hours really did not extract much more. I did find that I needed to put a shallow bowl under the mold. Pressing did extract additional whey which had no where to go but over the side.

I added Chives and Green Onions to the mixture before molding and used more salt than Chef John. I served mine with some hot fish pepper jelly I made a few weeks ago on some bruschetta toasts. The tanginess of the cheese, the bite of the onions and chives, the sweetness and heat of the jelly and the crunchiness of the toast was a fantastic combination.

See my blog at http://addingzip.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/homemade-cream-cheese/

Rafizzzz said...

Will this cream cheese work for dessert things like new york cheesecake?

Rafizzzz said...

Chef John, Will this kind of cream cheese work with dessert things like new york cheesecake?

lorena castillo said...

Hi Chef John, i'm wondering for how long could you keep this cream cheese once is done ? P.s. : I LOVE your viedo

Chef John said...

not sure, but at least a week!

MoonLight said...

I just watched your whole video with open mouth. Please never stop those little (sarcastic) remarks! Do you have a fanclub yet? ;) I might need to make one now.
And yes, I won't be able to rest now until I've made this time-consuming and expensive cream cheese!

jia surana said...

Can I use d normal yogurt which are easily available in d market
Pls reply

shidoshi said...

Do you think this will work with homemade, unpasteurized goat yogurt, or is the pasteurization important?

Unknown said...

Do you think this would work with homemade, unpasteurized goat milk or is the pasteurization important for the cheese forming?

TBG said...

Hillbilly BeerSnob here aka TBG. I asked you on twitter about cheese cloth remember? Anyway, I've made homemade queso fresco but this by far is better when it comes to cheeses you just want to curl up with while watching some late night flix. I was going to take a pic but, I wanted to taste it first and before I knew it I ate the whole thing. Sorry. Anyway, this is among my top list of comfort foods out there. I can't wait to try it on some bagels or more Ritz crackers. Oh man, forget that! I bet those cheddar crackers you made could use some of this. IMO you can never have too much of cheese.