Homemade Greek Yogurt

March 17, 2010

Yogurt Cheese/Greek Yogurt

I caught Mark Bittman’s column today which reminded me of the batch of yogurt cheese I made last week. If you’ve never tried this before, and like Greek yogurt, give it a shot. We usually turn it into dips made with olive oil and the Middle Eastern spice blend za’atar (recipe included) or tahini, lemon juice and garlic. You can control the thickness and consistency depending on how long you allow the yogurt to drain. I usually drain my yogurt for 24 hours, yielding a cream cheese consistency. Draining for 8-12 hours would yield a consistency more similar to Greek yogurt. Omit the table salt if you enjoy Greek yogurt with sweet pairings, such as fruit and granola or drizzled with honey or jam. No special tools required, provided you own a colander, bowl and cheesecloth (or flour sack kitchen towel). It’s the easiest homemade cheese you will ever make.

Yogurt Cheese

  • 1 quart good quality plain yogurt (I use reduced fat or lowfat. I don’t recommend using nonfat here.)
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • Za’atar* or seasonings of choice
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt

In a medium bowl combine yogurt and table salt.

Line a colander with 2 15-inch squares of fine mesh cheesecloth. Place colander inside a large bowl to collect whey. Pour yogurt and salt mixture into cheesecloth-lined colander. Gather up sides and tie together with twine, creating a sealed, tight package. Cover colander/bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Allow yogurt to drain in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. The longer you allow it to drain, the thicker your yogurt cheese will be. I drain mine for 24 hours and am left with about 1 1/2 cups.

Serve as is, or stir in your seasonings of choice. I add about 2-3 T za’atar to 1 1/2 cups labneh and serve with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkling of kosher salt, additional za’atar and warm pita. Or stir in a few tablespoons of tahini, a minced garlic clove, freshly squeezed lemon juice and kosher salt.

*You can find za’atar at Middle Eastern specialty grocers or make your own.

8 Comments
  1. allison

    March 17, 2010 at 9:53 pm


    I love how easy this recipe is. I LOVE Greek yogurt. I am going to try this recipe soon. Maybe I can even make my own yogurt rather than pay a premium for Fage yogurt! woo hoo!

  2. the wicked noodle

    March 18, 2010 at 7:26 am


    I’m actually making yogurt cheese balls from Greek Yogurt right now, but I didn’t make the yogurt myself. Nice to know how to do it for next time – thanks!

  3. Tracy (Amuse-bouche for Two)

    March 18, 2010 at 7:55 am


    Nice recipe. We’re always looking for something different to have with salad after our nightly bowl of pasta. A nice spread of yogurt cheese on toasted baguette with a little drizzle of olive oil…I’ll have to give this a try.

  4. I read M. Bittman’s column as well yesterday and that made me want to make Greek-style yogurt as well. Since I am making my own yogurt, it will be a great way to use it in other recipes, including savory ones.

  5. Katie @ Cozydelicious

    March 18, 2010 at 9:27 am


    I have never done this but always mean to. I spend a fortune on greek yogurt and this would probably be a big saver! It sounds so easy! I’m going to try it this weekend. Mixed with tahini and lemon like you mentioned – sounds amazing!

  6. M.

    March 19, 2010 at 9:57 am


    I spend fortune on my yogurts every week and keep promising myself to try making my own…..I just might be finally convinced…is seems so easy….
    I like the idea of yogurt cheese, I imagine it would also taste great as a spread on toasted bread with chives and radish….for savory breakfast.

  7. allison of "a for aubergine"

    March 19, 2010 at 12:36 pm


    i’m making this today. just placed it in the fridge! anticipation builds….

  8. Carolyn, I just posted the recipe to make your own yogurt. Since it’s so easy, you might want to try it yourself. But keep in mind that, as you mention in your post, when making Greek yogurt, you loose about 50% of the initial yogurt.

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