Middle Eastern Cheese Varieties

Types of Cheese in the Middle East

  • Feta Cheese: Feta Cheese is easily one of the most popular types of cheese used in Middle Eastern cooking. Feta Cheese is usually made from sheep's or goat's milk and then aged. The great thing about Feta Cheese is its versatility. In Middle Eastern food it is used in everything from salads to deserts, or perfectly edible on its own.

  • Labneh Labneh is a soft, cream cheese made from strained yogurt. Labneh is easy to make and low in calories, making it the perfect alternative to traditional cream cheese. Labneh can be used just as you would normally use cream cheese, as a spread on bagels or a dip for your favorite fruit and vegetables.

  • Ackawi: Ackawi is a cheese made from cow's milk, originating in Palestine. Ackawi is semi-hard, making it a great cheese to eat by itself. The texture is smooth, with a mild, salty taste, which goes perfect with various fruits.

  • Nabulsi Cheese: Nabulsi cheese is a semi-hard brined cheese typically made from sheep's or goat's milk. It is commonly found in Palestine and surrounding areas. Nabulsi is often used as a table cheese and is the main ingredient in katayef pastry.

  • Jibneh Arabieh: A mild cheese common in Egypt. Originally, jibneh arabieh was made using goat's or sheep's milk, but today is typically made with cow's milk. It is used in a variety of dishes as well as a table cheese.

  • Testouri: Unique for being typically shaped like an orange, testouri hails from Egypt and is eaten lightly salted. It is made from goat's or sheep's milk.

  • Halloumi The perfect Middle Eastern cheese for grilling, halloumi is produced as a mixture of goat's and sheep's milk, and is similar to mozzarella cheese. As the cheese can be fried or grilled due to its high melting point, halloumi is often paired with salads and fruits, particularly watermelon.

  • Shanklish: Shanklish is a cheese common to Syria and Lebanon and made from sheep's or cow's milk. The most common use of the cheese is to form it into balls, allowing it to dry and age. Thyme is used as the main spice used in making shanklish. The cheese can be eaten fresh or aged. If fresh, the taste will be more mild with a soft texture, while an aged shanklish will be harder and a pungent odor.