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… with only 2 main ingredients : triple-strained and thickened Greek-style yogurt (as thick as Lebanese labneh but not salty) combined with sweetened condensed milk and a few little extra hints of the flavorings that you choose to use, whether it’s fresh lemon or lime juice, vanilla extract, floral waters such as orange blossom or rose or geranium, a hint of alcohol or my personal favorite, a few mastic resin crystals (natural mastiha from Chios) that I crush into a fine powder with some sugar and mix with the orange blossom water.

The proportions for this recipe are ridiculously simple. Since 1 can of sweetened condensed milk weighs 397 grams, all you need is to add double that weight in triple-strained yogurt and add some flavorings.

The first time I officially ate labneh or yogurt cheese was when my dear neighbor brought some little labneh balls packed in olive oil and herbs, from Lebanon. The second time I had unsalted labneh was accidental. I had bought a 1 kg plastic tub of Turkish double-strained yogurt which I accidentally dropped and cracked on the bottom without realizing it and placed it in the fridge. A few days later, there was a puddle of water around the tub and it had thickened even more. I mixed it up with a lttle bit of salt and lemon juice and strained it some more and used it as a dip with some olive oil and zaatar.

Interestingly enough and unknowingly, this is also how I’ve always prepared tzatziki. I usually only had single-strained Greek-style yogurt (with 8% fat content) on hand so I strained it really well overnight or up to one day until only half was left, before turning it into tzatziki. Using double-strained yogurt (with 10% fat) is easier and faster and adding salt and some lemon juice speeds it up even more.

Plain unflavored yogurt is available around the globe, in a multitude of varieties and thicknesses. Regular yogurt is looser and more liquid and usually has a fat content of 2,5%–5%. Strained yogurt (often referred to as Greek-style yogurt but actually exists throughout the Balkan, Eastern Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Central Asian regions with different names) is strained once (or single-strained) to remove at least 25% of its water or whey and has a fat content of 8-9% and is obviously thicker. Double-strained yogurt is even thicker and more compact, with 50% of its liquid whey removed and has a fat content of 10%. Triple-strained yogurt or yogurt cheese or labneh as we often call it, is the thickest version possible, mixed with the addition of salt, anywhere from 1 tsp to 1 tbsp per kg, depending on its intended use and then strained until it resembles soft cream cheese.

Ideally, you should use double-strained yogurt at 10% fat, add some salt (but not too much) and strain it further for 24-48 hours until it loses at least another 20%-25% of its liquid which will raise its fat content to 12,5%-13,5% and be better suited for making a dense ice cream with little or no ice crystal formation.

Using sweetened condensed milk in this recipe, which is a very stable product that will not crystallize nor separate, will allow you to add sweetness and smoothness to the ice cream mixture and is also the best option if you don’t have an ice cream maker to churn it.

Churning the mixture will add air and lighten it without creating ice crystals or a crunchy ice cream, but is not obligatory. You can also use an electric mixer and whip it several times as it is freezing or decide to leave it as is for a very dense version that will require some extra thawing time before enjoying.

The flavorings are all optional of course. You could opt for the plainest version with nothing or just add some lemon or lime juice or a hint of vanilla. Most extracts are made with alcohol and adding some alcohol and extracts will keep your ice cream softer if you decide not to churn it at all but don’t add too much, 1-2 tbsp should do the trick without affecting the flavor too much and if you prefer, you can use a neutral alcohol like vodka, but since I churned mine in my ice cream maker, I used no alcohol at all.

About mastic resin crystals, usually from the Greek island of Chios, they add a wonderful fresh flavor and I use them often in many preparations instead of vanilla. In this recipe, since no heat is used in any of the steps, it is best to crush the crystals with some sugar, otherwise they can melt and become sticky and then let them almost dissolve in the orange blossom water but 1 tbsp of neutral vodka could be used too. 

Anyways, enjoy the hot summer and see you soon … :)

P.S.: today is my dad's birthday who will be 84, healthy, strong, active and full of life and with the appetite of an ogre so HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD, i wish i could have sent you all of this ice cream just for you ! xo

frozen strained yogurt / sweetened labneh ice cream


1,2 kg total or 12 x 100 grams


dairy mixture :

  • 790 grams (3 ¼ cups) triple-strained Greek-style yogurt (strained at home from an initial weight of 1 kg (4 cups) double-strained authentic Greek-style yogurt at 10% fat or increase to 1,5 kg (6 cups) if using regular single-strained Greek-style yogurt at 8% fat)
  • 1,25 grams (¼ tsp) fine sea salt
  • 395 grams (1 ¼ cups) sweetened condensed milk

flavorings options : 

  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) fresh lemon or lime juice (or 1 tbsp limoncello)
  • or
  • 7,5 ml (½ tbsp) vanilla extract + 7,5 ml (½ tbsp) cognac, whisky, rhum or vodka
  • or
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) floral water, rose or geranium or orange blossom
  • and/or
  • 1 gram (½ tsp) whole mastic (mastiha) resin crystals, combined with 1 tsp sugar and crushed into a fine powder with a mortar and pestle


  • if using an ice cream maker, place the freezer bowl recipient in the freezer for at least 24 hours before (if using one) and if not, you will whip it several times at the end
  • mix the thicker single or double-strained yogurt with the salt and lemon juice
  • use a cheesecloth, muslin or thin kitchen towel, placed inside a colander with a bowl underneath, to strain the yogurt for at least 24 hours in the refrigerator, until it becomes as thick as light cream cheese and loses at least 20% of its whey liquid (if using 1 kg double-strained yogurt at 10% fat) or almost 50% of its whey liquid (if using 1,5 kg single-strained yogurt at 8%-9% fat)
  • prepare your flavorings and combine with the room-temperature sweetened condensed milk and set aside (if using mastic resin, place the resin crystals with some sugar inside a mortar and pestle and crush into a fine powder and then mix with the liquid flavoring(s) to dissolve the powder and combine the flavors and then set aside for at least 15 minutes before adding to the sweetened condensed milk
  • *note : whatever flavorings you decide to use, please remember that colder preparations have less intense aromatic flavors than warmer preparations so if your mixture with the flavorings you choose is not intense enough when at room-temperature, then increase the quantity of the flavorings …
  • chill your kitchen tools in the freezer before using, such as the mixing bowl, storage containers or jars with lids and whisk or mixer blades
  • use an electric whisk or electric mixer to combine the strained yogurt and flavored sweetened condensed milk for 5 minutes until smooth and creamy and more aerated and refrigerate for 30 minutes 
  • if using an ice cream maker, transfer the chilled mixture to the ice cream maker and churn for 30-45 minutes until thickened and then transfer to a large container or smaller individual containers (I used 12 little ½ cup volume glass jars with a metallic lid that I froze beforehand) and place in the freezer for several hours until hardened
  • if you don’t have an ice cream maker, transfer the mixture to a large container with a lid or cover with plastic cling film, place inside the freezer for 30-45 minutes, then remove, use an electric mixer to mix again, then place back in the freezer and repeat 2-3 more times every 30-45 minutes (3 times total) to aerate the mixture while it is slowly hardening
  • to serve, remove the ice cream from the freezer and let it sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes until slightly softer before eating.