No, labneh is not dairy-free. Labneh is a Middle Eastern cheese made by straining yogurt to remove most of the whey. It’s a dairy product made from milk containing lactose and other dairy components. Therefore, it’s not suitable for people who are lactose intolerant or who have a milk allergy. However, there may be vegan or dairy-free versions of labneh made from non-dairy milk alternatives, but traditionally, it is not dairy-free.
Is Labneh Cheese Low in Lactose?
Like other fermented dairy products such as yogurt and kefir, Labneh may contain lower lactose levels than milk because bacteria break down the lactose during the fermentation process. However, the amount of lactose in the labneh can vary depending on the specific fermentation process and the length of time it is strained.
While it may be lower in lactose than other dairy products, labneh still contains lactose and is unsuitable for people with severe lactose intolerance. If you’re lactose intolerant and want to include labneh in your diet, starting with a small amount would be wise to see how your body reacts or consult a healthcare professional.
Best Dairy-Free Cheese Brands
This is one of the most popular dairy-free cheese brands. They offer a variety of products, including shreds, slices, blocks, and cream cheese. Daiya’s products are dairy-free but also gluten-free, soy-free, and free of other common allergens.
Violife produces a range of dairy-free cheeses, from cheddar and feta alternatives to cream cheese and parmesan. Their products are free from dairy, soy, gluten, lactose, nuts, and preservatives.
Miyoko’s offers artisan vegan cheeses made from cashews and fermented with traditional creamery cultures. They provide a variety of options, including mozzarella, cream cheese, and a range of flavored cheese wheels.
Follow Your Heart
Known for their Vegenaise, Follow Your Heart also produces a variety of dairy-free cheeses. Their selection includes shredded, sliced, and block options, and they offer a range of flavors, including provolone, American, and pizzeria blend.
Kite Hill is well-known for its almond milk-based cheeses. They make soft, fresh cheeses, cream cheese-style spreads, and ricotta. Kite Hill cheeses are all dairy-free, soy-free, and gluten-free.
Treeline offers French-style nut cheeses made from cashews. These dairy-free cheeses are fermented and aged for a tangy, rich flavor. They offer soft, spreadable cheeses as well as aged hard cheeses.
Always check ingredients and labels before buying if you follow a vegan or dairy-free diet.
Tips for Buying Dairy-Free Cheese
Check the Ingredients: Some products may be labeled lactose-free but still contain other dairy-derived ingredients. Make sure you read the label carefully to ensure it is completely dairy-free.
Nutritional Content: Check the nutritional content of the cheese, especially if you’re looking for a source of protein. Some dairy-free cheeses can be low in protein compared to traditional cheeses.
Look for Reviews: Before buying a new brand or type of dairy-free cheese, look for online reviews to see what others think of the taste and texture.
Consider the Purpose: Different dairy-free cheeses melt, spread, or slice differently. Consider what you’ll be using the cheese for before making your choice.
Try Different Brands: Each brand has a unique taste and texture, so if you don’t like one brand, don’t give up. Try a few different options to find one you like.
Dairy-Free Labneh Recipe
- 2 cups of dairy-free yogurt (almond or coconut yogurt are good options)
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- Large bowl
- Mix the dairy-free yogurt with the salt in a bowl.
- Place the cheesecloth in the strainer and the strainer over a bowl, ensuring enough space for the whey to drain.
- Pour the salted yogurt into the cheesecloth.
- Cover the yogurt with the edges of the cheesecloth and place the setup in the refrigerator.
- Allow the yogurt to drain for 24-48 hours. The longer it drains, the thicker the labneh will be.
- After draining, remove the labneh from the cheesecloth. It’s now ready to serve! You can drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle with herbs if desired. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Remember, this will yield a labneh-like consistency, but the flavor will depend on the type of dairy-free yogurt used.
Labneh vs. Standard Cheese
Preparation: Labneh is made by straining yogurt to remove the whey, whereas most standard cheeses are made by curdling milk with enzymes (rennet) and then processing and aging it.
Texture: Labneh has a creamy and spreadable texture, similar to cream cheese, while the texture of standard cheese varies greatly, from hard and crumbly (like Parmesan) to semi-soft (like cheddar) or soft (like Brie).
Taste: Labneh has a tangy flavor due to the fermentation process of the yogurt, while standard cheese flavors can range from mild to sharp, depending on the type and the aging process.
Lactose Content: Labneh, like other fermented dairy products, may have lower lactose content due to the fermentation process, while standard cheeses also vary in lactose content, with aged cheeses generally having less.
Ways to Serve Dairy-Free Labneh
Spread on Bread: Use dairy-free labneh as a spread on toast or bagels, just as you would cream cheese.
Dip: Serve it as a dip with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of herbs; perfect for raw vegetables or pita chips.
Salad Dressing: Mix it with lemon juice and herbs to make a creamy salad dressing.
Topping for Baked Potatoes: Use it as a healthier alternative to sour cream on baked potatoes.
In Wraps or Sandwiches: It can be used as a spread in wraps or sandwiches for a creamy, tangy flavor.
In Desserts: Sweeten with a bit of honey and serve it with fruit or use it as a topping for desserts like cheesecake.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is dairy-free cheese always vegan
Yes, dairy-free cheese is always vegan as it contains no animal-derived ingredients, which includes dairy products.
Is vegan cheese always dairy-free?
Yes, vegan cheese is always dairy-free, as vegan products do not contain any animal-derived ingredients, including dairy.
Is Labneh Healthy?
Labneh can be a healthy addition to a balanced diet. It’s rich in protein and probiotics and lower in lactose than other dairy products.
Is Labneh gluten-free?
Yes, traditional Labneh is gluten-free as it is made from yogurt. However, always check the label, as some flavored or added varieties may contain gluten.
Is parmesan cheese dairy-free?
Traditional Parmesan cheese is not dairy-free, as it’s made from cow’s milk. However, there are dairy-free alternatives available.
Is feta cheese dairy-free?
Traditional feta cheese is made from sheep’s or goat’s milk, so it is not dairy-free. Dairy-free versions do exist.
Is cream cheese dairy-free?
Regular cream cheese is not dairy-free; dairy-free alternatives are made from various plant foods like nuts and soy.
Is cottage cheese dairy-free?
No, traditional cottage cheese is made from cow’s milk. There are, however, dairy-free alternatives available.
Is goat cheese dairy-free?
No, goat cheese is made from goat’s milk and is not dairy-free.
Is ricotta cheese dairy-free?
No, traditional ricotta cheese is made from cow’s milk. However, dairy-free ricotta alternatives are made from ingredients like almonds or tofu.