Armenian String Cheese

Armenian string cheese. Photo by Pam

Doug and I love string cheese. That is to say, Armenian string cheese (tel banir), the kind that’s studded with nigella seeds and twisted into a braid – not the Italian-American snacking sticks that tend to be tough and rubbery.

We enjoy its mild, slightly salty flavor anytime – for breakfast, mid-day snack, a night-time tid-bit, or as part of a mezze platter to share with guests.

If you’re not familiar with Armenian string cheese, here’s some background information from Wikipedia: “In Armenia, traditional string cheese is made with a white base. The type of milk used usually comes from an aged goat or sheep depending upon the production methods of the area of choice. It includes black cumin and a middle-eastern spice known as mahlab, and it comes in the form of a braided endless loop. The cheese forms strings because of the way it is pulled during processing.”

We’ve never tried making Armenian string cheese for the simple reason that it’s impossible to find the necessary fresh curd here in South Florida. Fortunately, others have made it at home with much success, and have posted it on their own blogs.

One such source for making Armenian string cheese is the blog ‘Cave Cibum: Beware the Food’ by Pam from Lexington, MA. She provides a recipe and photo sequence, making it easy to visualize the steps involved in preparing the string cheese. Thanks Pam!

Perhaps this will inspire you to make your own Armenian string cheese. I’m ready to try, as soon as I find fresh curd.

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  1. Anonymous April 30, 2011 at 6:14 am

    It was actually Pam who inspired me to make string cheese. I got lucky and found the curds at an Italian importer locally. I made a dill version that turned out very well, but I tried another version a while back and think I over-melted the curd. That one was a disaster! 🙁 I'm thinking it's time to try again!

  2. Ara April 30, 2011 at 8:10 am

    Have you tried making it with Queso Blanco, which you should be able to find in a Latin or Cuban store?

  3. Robyn April 30, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Ara, have you tried making string cheese with Queso Blanco? If so, does it come out like the string cheese we're used to?
    This is certainly an option to explore. Thanks for the idea!

  4. Ara May 1, 2011 at 3:01 am

    To be hones with you, I have not tried it, but I think my Mom has done the "lazy" version, where you just boil it in salted water with mahleb, then fold it over a couple of times while sprinkling with nigella. Try the lazy version, and if it comes out OK, then you can go for the full-blown braid.

  5. Anonymous February 20, 2012 at 2:56 am

    my armenian friend made a pita bread sandwich with that string cheese and it was delicious! do you have nay suggestions of recipes ?
    i think she put in the pita … yellow peppers, mint and cheese …

    1. Robyn February 20, 2012 at 4:24 pm

      Hi Anonymous,
      Besides using string cheese in a grilled sandwich, which is delicious, it can be served with fresh melon wedges – the salty-sweet combo is very appealing. String cheese is most-often part of an appetizer (mezza) platter with olives, pickled veggies (tourshi), hummus, pita bread or chips, etc. Here's a link for a recipe using string cheese as a bagel-pizza topping: Hope this helps!

  6. Steve May 17, 2012 at 10:39 pm


    Does anyone know a producer of smoked Armenian string cheese in the United States or Canada?

  7. Anonymous May 24, 2012 at 5:47 am

    We would like to buy this string cheese in Florida…does it appear in Whole Foods or other grocers?

    1. Robyn May 24, 2012 at 3:24 pm

      My local Whole Foods in Wellington, FL does carry the Gharibian brand of string cheese, but I would suggest calling your local store just to be sure. If you'd email me your specific location in FL, I might be able to give you some other store options. Contact me at Thanks!

  8. Anonymous June 26, 2012 at 9:27 am

    I love eating my tel banit with some fresh watermelons!

  9. Anonymous September 13, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    I used to get Armenian String Cheese that was
    package in a salt brine the compenay that made
    it went out of business. I have tried other brands and was disappointed. Looking for that
    type of product. This was a dryer and a more
    saltie taste. Anyone know what I should try?

    1. Robyn September 15, 2012 at 11:11 pm

      You might want to try a string cheese from Karoun Dairies called ARZ. It's not packaged in brine, but it's somewhat firm and a bit saltier – at least to me. Their website is can be emailed at:
      Good Luck!

  10. December 12, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    I really like this kind of cheese because it has a very specific taste with some bitterness.


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