Jewel Box Labneh Balls

A bowl of colorful Jewel Box Labneh Balls

Today we’re making Jewel Box Labneh Balls ~ these little gems are made with homemade yogurt cheese rolled in colorful herbs and spices.  Serve with a fresh sliced baguette, then let everyone have fun choosing their favorites and spreading them onto the bread…it’s the perfect way to get your next party started! 

Jewel Box Labneh Balls in a silver bowl with fresh mint sprig

Recently I posted How to Make Labneh (Yogurt Cheese.)  That post was all about the basics: how to make a gloriously creamy strained yogurt cheese without any special equipment.  Homemade labneh is a healthy fresh cheese that’s beloved all over the Middle East, from Iraq to Israel.  You just drain plain yogurt until it becomes thick and spreadable.  Eat it as a dip, use it as a spread, or roll it into balls and marinated in oil.  In that post I promised you a very special Part 2, and now I’m delivering!  I’m turning those silky little balls of yogurt cheese into a truly spectacular appetizer.

Let me call out at the top of this post that these are really REALLY good.  I even surprised myself today, and that’s hard to do after all these years of food blogging.  I highly recommend trying them, they’re not only fun to make and pretty to look at, but when you spread them on good crusty bread they’re absolutely delicious.

Jewel Box Labneh Balls in a silver bowl with spreading knife

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty ~ you’re going need fresh made labneh balls (here’s the recipe for labneh from my earlier post)  and you’re simply going to roll them in different herbs and spices to coat them.  The choice of coatings is up to you, but I think the more varied the better.  You probably have several of these already in your spice cabinet, and you may want to purchase a few more if you get turned on by this idea like I did.

I chose to use a mix of common spices and more exotic ones, everything from dill and chili flakes to sumac and lavender.  I love the variety but I think this would work just as well with one type of coating, if you have a favorite.

Making Jewel Box Labneh Balls

The coatings I used for my jewel box labneh balls (I kept to a Middle Eastern/Mediterranean theme) ~

  • red chili flakes
  • dried dill
  • cumin seeds
  • crushed pistachios
  • crushed walnuts
  • nigella seeds 
  • sesame seeds, both regular and black
  • rose petals
  • lavender
  • za’atar
  • dried mint
  • dried cilantro
  • sumac
  • aleppo pepper
  • poppy seeds

Tip: Labneh cheese can be anywhere from soft to firm, depending on how long your drain your yogurt.  Make sure your labneh cheese is firm enough so that these balls will hold their shape.

A bowl of colorful Jewel Box Labneh Balls

A few of my coatings might not be available in your regular grocery store, so I suggest a gourmet store, or buying them online.

Rose petals ~ this is a culinary grade and you can find them here.

Lavender ~ also specifically culinary grade, here.

Za’atar ~ a Middle Eastern spice blend (also the name of a specific thyme-like herb) that you can find here.

Aleppo pepper, a bright red zesty Syrian pepper, you can find it here.

Sumac ~ one of my favorite Middle Eastern spices, it’s a deep crimson and has a tangy citrusy flavor, find it here.

Nigella seeds ~ a smokey/oniony black seed that look like black sesame seeds, you can find them here.

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Making spice and herb coated Jewel Box Labneh Balls

Jewel Box labneh Balls spread on crusty bread

Serving couldn’t be simpler…set our a bowl of the labneh balls, and some great bread, then let everyone have fun hunting for their favorites.  The cheese spreads beautifully, and each ball is perfectly sized for a single serving.

Jewel Box labneh Balls in a silver bowl with spreading knife

These jewel box labneh balls are such a great idea for host gifts…instead of a bottle of wine bring along a little container of these gems, you’ll get invited back, for sure!

~ I first encountered the concept of these beautiful cheese balls on sbs.com.

Jewel Box Labneh Balls

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Category: cheese, appetizer

Cuisine: Middle Eastern

Yield: makes approximately 20 balls

Serving Size: 1 cheese ball

Calories per serving: 20

Jewel Box Labneh Balls

Jewel Box Labneh Balls ~ these little gems are made with homemade yogurt cheese rolled in colorful herbs and spices.  Serve with a fresh sliced baguette, then let everyone have fun choosing their favorites and spreading them onto the bread...it's the perfect way to get your next party started! 

Ingredients

    assorted coatings such as:
    seeds
  • sesame seeds
  • cumin seeds
  • poppy seeds
  • nigella seeds (black sesame seeds)
    herbs
  • dried mint
  • dried cilantro
  • dried parsley
  • dried thyme
  • dried dill
  • za'atar
    spices
  • red pepper flakes
  • Aleppo pepper
  • sumac
  • ground cumin
  • black pepper
  • white pepper
    nuts
  • ground pistachios
  • ground almonds
  • ground wlanuts
    floral
  • lavender
  • rose petals

Instructions

  1. Roll each labneh ball in the coating of your choice. If the coatings don't adhere well, lightly coat your hands in olive oil and roll the cheese between your palms to leave a thin film of oil behind. The herbs and spices will stick to the cheese more easily.
  2. Serve the cheese with fresh crusty bread or crackers. You can also serve the balls as a part of a cheese or mezze platter, or on top of a salad.
  3. To store, put the cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Best used within 24 hours, but the plain cheese will last a week or so.

Make these jewel box labneh balls your own ~

  • Make them ahead ~ the coated balls will keep nicely in the fridge for a day, well wrapped.  Put them in a single layer so nothing gets squished.
  • Make one large ball or log shape ~ just like an old fashioned cheese ball, you can form the whole batch of labneh into one ball, or a log shape, and coat it as you like.  A coating of fresh pomegranate seeds would be nice for the holidays.
  • Mix and match the coatings together to make blends, like red pepper and dill, or sesame and sumac.
  • Make this with fresh herbs like dill, cilantro, parsley, and chive, very finely chopped (a small food processor comes in handy for this.)  In this case plan to serve them asap.
  • Make it with goat cheese or cream cheese ~ just roll and coat in the same way.

 

Jewel Box Labneh Balls ~ these little gems are made with homemade yogurt cheese rolled in colorful herbs and spices.  Serve as an appetizer with bread, or as a colorful garnish on salads. #labneh #cheese #recipe #healthy #appetizer #yogurt #glutenfree #Syrian #MiddleEastern

 

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Jewel Box Labneh Balls ~ these little gems are made with homemade yogurt cheese rolled in colorful herbs and spices.  Serve as an appetizer with bread, or as a colorful garnish on salads.  #labneh #cheese #recipe #healthy #appetizer #yogurt #glutenfree #Syrian #MiddleEastern

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Leave a Reply

22 Comments

  • Reply
    Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen
    September 13, 2018 at 3:44 am

    These are so pretty Sue! I love the colors of the coatings. What a great idea for an appetizer.

  • Reply
    cynthia
    September 12, 2018 at 4:17 pm

    Sue, did you use regular yogurt or greek yogurt?

    • Reply
      Sue
      September 12, 2018 at 4:22 pm

      I used regular yogurt, full fat. But you don’t have to, Greek will work, and low fat will work too.

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    September 11, 2018 at 5:14 am

    Wow! Those colours are fabulous :) I could do some serious damage with a bowl of these!

  • Reply
    Lisa Brink
    September 10, 2018 at 7:08 pm

    I absolutely LOVE this idea and, as I live in Israel, I can just pop across to any supermarket and buy ready made labneh balls to roll in different spices. Sumac and zaatar and nigella seeds are as easy to find here as salt and pepper too so it’s going to be a breeze to put this together.

    One shared inspirational pin deserves another. I especially loved your cheese balls as I am planning a milestone birthday party and will also be serving up these spectacular ‘rainbow’ dips found online https://www.foodiesofsa.com/bean-dips-4-ways. Enjoy the same thrill of discovery I felt when I stumbled across both your cheeseballs and this dip idea.

    God bless the bloggers who so generously share!

    • Reply
      Sue
      September 10, 2018 at 8:26 pm

      Great comment Lisa, love the rainbow dips, I’ve got more than a few post-it notes leading me in that direction. Enjoy your birthday :)

  • Reply
    Mary
    September 10, 2018 at 5:09 pm

    Sue they look absolutely beautiful. What a wonderful lunch they make. I want to just grab one and gobble it up.

  • Reply
    angiesrecipes
    September 10, 2018 at 11:21 am

    They are such a great party food! Love all the different coatings…really amazing!

  • Reply
    Tricia
    September 10, 2018 at 9:50 am

    These are gorgeous gems Sue! I don’t know how you make everything look so beautiful – and these little balls of Labneh are fantastic. What a wonderful, enticing appetizer these would be!

  • Reply
    Renee | The Good Hearted Woman
    September 10, 2018 at 8:23 am

    This is a totally new concept for me, and I Love it! There are so many possibilities, and what a beautiful presentation for a party!

  • Reply
    Denise P
    September 10, 2018 at 8:21 am

    Wow, Sue! These look just gorgeous. Love beautiful food. I cannot wait to make these – I need to plan a party!

    • Reply
      Sue
      September 10, 2018 at 8:32 am

      It’s such a great party idea Denise.

  • Reply
    Elaine Benoit
    September 10, 2018 at 8:15 am

    I need to make labneh balls so I can make your delicious recipe. They look fun, colorful and beautiful! Hopping over to check your labneh recipe!

    • Reply
      Sue
      September 10, 2018 at 8:17 am

      You’ll love making the cheese Elaine, it’s practically effortless.

  • Reply
    Sally Humeniuk
    September 10, 2018 at 8:15 am

    Wow, how clever! This is a gorgeous jewel box of goodness, to be sure! I really can’t wait to wow my guests with this one.

    • Reply
      Sue
      September 10, 2018 at 8:17 am

      They’re little conversation starters, for sure :)

  • Reply
    camila
    September 10, 2018 at 8:04 am

    this wins recipe of the day for me! So creative and beautiful!

  • Reply
    Holly N @ Spend With Pennies
    September 10, 2018 at 7:37 am

    These are so pretty!!

  • Reply
    Lisa
    September 10, 2018 at 5:52 am

    This looks so tasty! <3

    • Reply
      Sue
      September 10, 2018 at 7:24 am

      I can attest, Lisa, these are such fun and very tasty. Even the lavender ones, they were delightful!

  • Reply
    Chris Scheuer
    September 10, 2018 at 5:35 am

    I love this idea, so fun and so very pretty! They’d be wonderful to tuck in a lunch box too – I would look forward to that all morning!

    • Reply
      Sue
      September 10, 2018 at 7:26 am

      Thanks Chris, I think there’s a lot of possibilities. I’d love to do a beautiful cheese plate and scatter them around.

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