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instant pot labneh
Photo credit Emily Paster

Instant Pot Labneh

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5 from 1 review

You’ll never go back to store-bought. 

  • Total Time: 2 days
  • Yield: 2 cups


  • 2 quarts whole milk
  • ½ cup cream
  • 2 Tbsp plain yogurt with live and active cultures
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • juice of one lemon
  • extra-virgin olive oil, za’atar and fresh herbs for serving (optional)


  1. Pour the milk and cream into the inner pot of the Instant Pot and cover. Select the Yogurt function and press the Adjust button until “more” is illuminated. The word “boil” will appear on the display. The Instant Pot will heat the yogurt to 180°F. This can take as long as 30 minutes.
  2. When the milk reaches 180°F, the machine will beep and the display will read “Yogt” Remove the lid.
  3. Press Yogurt and then Adjust until the display once again reads “boil” Set a timer for 5 minutes. The Instant Pot will hold the milk at 180°F, which will help thicken the yogurt.
  4. When the timer is done, turn off the Instant Pot and remove the inner pot. Cool the milk down to 115°F. You can place the pot on a rack and allow it to cool naturally, which can take approximately 30 minutes. Alternatively, place the pot in an ice bath, which will speed up this process considerably, and stir the milk until it reaches the target temperature.
  5. When the milk has cooled to 115°F — if you don’t have a thermometer, it should feel hot to the touch but not painfully hot — remove 1/2 cup of milk and whisk it with the plain yogurt in a small bowl to inoculate it with a starter culture.
  6. Return the milk-yogurt mixture to the pot and place the inner pot back in the Instant Pot making sure to dry the bottom of the pot was in an ice bath.
  7. Select the Yogurt function followed again by the “adjust” button until “normal” is illuminated. Set the timer for 10 hours.
  8. At the completion of the yogurt cycle, turn off the Instant Pot and remove the inner pot. You will have a large amount of runny, tangy yogurt.
  9. The next step is to strain the liquid whey out of the yogurt. Place a large, fine-mesh strainer over a deep bowl and line the strainer with a paper towel, coffee filter or several layers of cheesecloth. Depending on the size of your strainer, you may need to use two strainers and two bowls.
  10. Ladle the yogurt into the strainer or strainers. Place the bowl or bowls in the refrigerator. Allow the yogurt to drain for 4-8 hours. At this point, you will have approximately a quart of much thicker yogurt and a substantial amount of clear, yellowish whey in the bowl.
  11. Transfer the yogurt to a small bowl and mix in the salt and lemon juice. Return to the yogurt to the sieve. (If you were using cheesecloth to line the sieve, you can reuse the same cloth; if using a coffee filter or paper towel, place a fresh one in the sieve. Also, if you had to use two sieves before, you should now be able to combine the yogurt into one sieve.) Drain off the whey and set it aside for another use.
  12. Return the bowl to the refrigerator and allow to drain until the yogurt is spreadable and similar in texture to cream cheese. This can take 24-48 hours.
  13. Remove the labneh from the sieve and, if not serving right away, place in a covered container and refrigerate.

To make yogurt cheese balls:

  1. To make labneh balls, line a dinner plate with a paper towel. With clean hands, form the labneh into eight or ten equally-sized balls and place them on the plate. Cover with another paper towel. Refrigerate until the balls are firm and dry, approximately 8 hours.
  2. Transfer the balls to a clean quart jar. Cover with olive oil. You can also add whole cloves of garlic, sprigs of fresh herbs – such as thyme or oregano – strips of lemon zest or dried red chiles to the jar.
  3. Allow labneh balls and oil to come to room temperature before serving.


Labneh in oil will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.

  • Author: Emily Paster
  • Prep Time: 1 day 5 hours
  • Cook Time: 10 hours 30 minutes
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Instant pot
  • Cuisine: Israeli