The Simple Way To Turn Yogurt Into Cream Cheese

Making cheesy products at home often sounds like more trouble than it's worth, but if you've ever wanted to try it out, turning yogurt into cream cheese is quite simple. Here's what you'll need: Greek yogurt, salt, cheesecloth, a piece of string, and a rubber band (or a hair tie) — That's it! A little patience won't hurt too because, even though this process is easy, it takes about a day to complete.

Start off by thoroughly mixing salt into your Greek yogurt, about ¼ teaspoon of the former per cup of the latter. The salt serves to enhance the flavor, but primarily to draw out the liquid so it separates out. Scoop the mixture into your cheesecloth, and secure the edges together at the top with a rubber band so that it resembles a dairy-filled dumpling. You'll want to find somewhere the liquid can strain out of the cloth overnight; this can mean hanging it up over a bowl in the fridge or tying it to the faucet in your sink. In the morning, all you'll have to do is open up your wrapper and scoop your cream cheese into a bowl. Wondering how your yogurt got so thick and creamy? It's because you've taken an already-strained dairy product (Greek yogurt) and strained it once more to squeeze out any remaining liquid.

Straining out whey is the way

Technically, you can use any type of plain yogurt to make cream cheese, including whole milk and even nonfat. However, since the Greek version is already strained, as we mentioned, it will produce the thickest spread possible. The result is a type of cream cheese called labneh or "yogurt cheese," which originally came from Middle Eastern countries like Lebanon and Jordan. While you can absolutely spread it on your bagel in place of your regular schmear, it's also eaten as a dip, a meat accompaniment, or even a mix-in for cheesecake and lasagna.

Once your yogurt has blossomed into a thicker dairy product, feel free to season it however you like. If you want to use it like traditional cream cheese, you can mix in ingredients like DIY everything bagel seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, chives, and scallions; or sweet additions like cinnamon and brown sugar. But you can also add olive oil, Za'atar seasoning, honey, lemon zest, chopped herbs, tomatoes, olives, or tapenade for a Mediterranean take. Labneh is so simple to make, you have room to test out a variety of flavor combinations.