This cucumber mint yogurt salad, also known as cacik in Turkish and khyar bi laban in Arabic, is a very refreshing and creamy summer dish. It is super simple, requiring only a few common pantry ingredients and just 5 minutes. Pair it with your favorite grilled meats, or enjoy it with pita chips for a delicious and healthy snack!
In Arabic, the word khyar means cucumber, and the word laban means yogurt. The phrase khyar bi laban literally translates to cucumbers in yogurt. Arabic recipe names are so straightforward, if you speak Arabic that is!
Cacik is the Turkish name for this recipe, pronounced jajik. Being half Armenian with a Turkish speaking grandfather, my Armenian side of the family always refers to this sauce as cacik or jajik. It's basically the same thing as khyar bi laban.
What Is The Difference Between Cacik and Tzatziki?
This Lebanese and Turkish cucumber mint yogurt salad may remind you of another popular cucumber yogurt dip known as tzatziki. Cacik is made with yogurt, chopped cucumbers, garlic, and mint. On the other hand, Greek tzatziki is made with grated cucumbers, vinegar, and fresh dill.
Also, cacik, or khyar bi laban, is not considered a dip. We usually serve it in small individual bowls and eat it with a spoon, rather than dip food in it. That's why it's considered more of a salad than a dip.
Turkish cacik can also be consumed as a refreshing, cold soup. It is made the same way as Lebanese cucumber yogurt salad but is thinned out a thinned out with ice cold water. Cacik soup is served in bigger bowls and enjoyed with bread on the side.
Whether you want to call it cacik, khyar bi laban, or Lebanese cucumber yogurt salad, you'll want to make a big batch of this to cool down in this weather.
And if you are a fan of yogurt and Turkish cuisine in general, then you will love my Turkish eggs (cilbir).
- Yogurt: Whole fat, plain, natural or Greek yogurt are best for this recipe.
- Cucumber: The smaller varieties of cucumbers, often referred to as Persian cucumbers, are the best kind to use. They have thinner, tender skin, sweeter flavor, very few seeds, and are less watery.
- Fresh garlic: Just a little bit for added flavor, but not an overpowering amount.
- Dried mint: This is the traditional way to make it and it holds up better than using fresh mint.
First, place the yogurt in a medium bowl and whisk it until it is smooth and there are no lumps.
Then grate or mince the garlic clove and add it to the yogurt along with some salt. Whisk until fully combined.
Next, chop the cucumbers. Cacik is made with chopped cucumbers, not grated. I like to quarter the cucumbers lengthwise, then slice them. But you could slice them into half moons or dice them if you prefer. Just make sure they are not too big.
Mix in the dried mint and add the chopped cucumbers to the yogurt mixture. Stir everything together until the cucumbers are evenly coated. Give it a taste and adjust the salt and dried mint to your liking.
You can prepare this cucumber mint yogurt salad about an hour in advance and chill it in the fridge until you're ready to serve it. Ideally, let it marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge before serving.
The longer it sits, the more likely you will see some liquid whey appear on top which doesn't look appetizing but is completely fine to eat. You can either drain it or give it a quick stir and you're good to go. Don't make it too far in advance as the cucumbers will lose their crunch and get soggy.
How To Serve Cacik (Cucumber Yogurt Salad)
Feel free to garnish the cacik with some more chopped cucumber, fresh mint leaves, and a sprinkle of dried mint. You can also drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over the top of the cucumber yogurt salad.
Enjoy this creamy and refreshing cacik on the side with baked chicken and potatoes, grilled meats and veggies, beef and lamb shawarma, kibbeh, or with chips for a cooling dip. You could even use it as a spread in your sandwiches or dolloped on rice with vermicelli. It's honestly so versatile, serve it however you would enjoy it!
Or rather than enjoy it as a side, you can serve cacik as a cold soup by whisking in ice cold water and adjusting it to your liking. It makes for a super refreshing and light meal and is great with bread!
Substitutions and Variations
Khyar bi laban, or cacik, is naturally gluten-free, eggless, and vegetarian.
- Vegan: You can make this cucumber yogurt salad vegan by substituting a dairy-free, plant-based yogurt.
- Herbs: Dried mint is the traditional herb used in Lebanese cucumber yogurt salad, but you can experiment with other dried or fresh herbs of your choosing.
- Spices: We don't typically add anything else to cacik, but you can add some aleppo pepper for a little bit of smoky heat, sumac for extra tanginess, or customize it however you like.
- Soup: Yep you read that right! In Turkey, cacik is also a cold soup. It consists of the same ingredients, but is thinned out with ice cold water and enjoyed as a cold soup in the summer.
Tips On Making The Best Cucumber Mint Yogurt Salad (Cacik)
- Use Persian cucumbers. Like I mentioned earlier, these Middle Eastern cucumbers have thinner skin, sweeter flavor, less seeds, and less water content. Other varieties of cucumbers are more watery, resulting in a watery and mushy cucumber salad. Also the thicker skin makes it less pleasant to eat.
- Carve out the cucumber core. You generally don't need to do this if you're using Lebanese/Persian cucumbers. But if you're using the larger varieties, cut the cucumber in half and use a spoon to carve out the center which will be very watery and have a lot of seeds and no flavor.
- Salt the cucumbers. If your cucumbers are large and watery, chop them and them in a strainer and sprinkle them evenly with salt. Let them sit for about 30 minutes to drain excess water, then use them in this recipe.
- Let it marinate. If you can, let the cucumber yogurt salad sit for about 30 minutes to let the flavors meld before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Use Persian cucumbers or salt the chopped cucumbers and place in a strainer to drain the excess water for 30 minutes before using.
No they are not. Cacik, as with khyar bi laban, is made with chopped cucumbers, yogurt, garlic, and dried mint. Tzatziki is made with grated cucumbers, yogurt, garlic, fresh dill, and vinegar.
Cacik is best enjoyed the day it is made. If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days. Note that the longer it is stored the more watery it will get and the cucumbers will lose their crunch.
See My Latest Recipes For More Delicious Ideas
- Lebanese Red Lentil Soup (Instant Pot & Stovetop)
- Two-Ingredient Pita Bread
- One-Minute Homemade Mayonnaise (Immersion Blender)
- Cucumber Mint Yogurt Salad (Cacik)
- Smoked Tomato Confit
If you’ve tried making this Cucumber Mint Yogurt Salad (Cacik) or any other recipe on Forks & Foliage, then please don't forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below! I would be so happy to hear how it turned out for you. And if you took any photos or videos, please share them with me on Instagram @forksandfoliage so I can see the deliciousness you made!
Cucumber Mint Yogurt Salad (Cacik)
- Place the yogurt in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth and there are no lumps of yogurt.
- Add the grated garlic and salt, and stir to combine.
- Mix in the dried mint and chopped cucumbers until fully combined. Taste and adjust the salt and dried mint to your liking.
- If you have the time, let the cacik marinate for 30 minutes in the fridge before serving. Garnish with fresh mint and olive oil if desired.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and may vary.