Za’atar Labneh Balls Recipe

Adapted from “The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen” by Amelia Saltsman

These labneh balls are heavenly and addictive! I incorporate the whey (which remains after draining the yogurt) into my morning smoothies so that nothing is wasted.


2 lbs. full-fat Greek yogurt

½ tsp. coarse kosher salt

New Mt. Sinai Cemetery advertisement

About ¼ c. za’atar (can be found at Penzey’s in Maplewood or Global Foods in Kirkwood)

½-1 c. extra virgin olive oil

Pita bread, sliced bread or bagels, for serving

Thinly sliced or finely minced red onion (optional)

Fresh chopped mint or parsley, for garnishing (optional)


Mix yogurt and salt in a bowl. Set a strainer over a bowl and line it with cheesecloth. 

Add the yogurt mixture to the strainer, cover it with plastic wrap, and set it into your refrigerator for two to three days.

Place za’atar into a small bowl; set aside. Have a quart-size plastic container or jar ready on your counter.

Remove yogurt from refrigerator and lift it out of the strainer with the cheesecloth; set it into a small bowl. Using a melon baller or teaspoon, form yogurt into balls and roll each one in za’atar until completely covered (this can be a bit messy but so worth it). Carefully transfer rolled balls into a container or jar.

When finished, cover the balls with extra virgin olive oil. Refrigerate them for at least one hour, and up to two weeks. 

To use, remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Using a small spoon, scoop out one ball; smear it on a pita, a slice of bread or a bagel. Drizzle some of the olive oil over the top, and garnish with thinly sliced or chopped red onions, and mint or parsley, if desired.

Makes 10-12 balls.