Turkish eggs, or çilbir, is a dreamy breakfast consisting of perfectly poached eggs on a bed of creamy, garlicky yogurt, and drenched in a warm spicy butter. If you thought you love eggs, wait till you try this version of an egg breakfast. Do note that bread is mandatory to mop up all the delicious sauce off the plate.
Çilbir, or more correctly çılbır, (pronounced chil-bir) is a popular breakfast in Turkey which dates back to the 15th century. Somehow, though, I lived most of my life not knowing about it. Imagine all the Turkish eggs I could have eaten all these years...
If you're obsessed with eggs like I am, then you also need to try my aparagus puff pastry tart with eggs and feta. I assure you, there will be many more egg recipes coming soon to my blog. It's just a matter of time.
- Eggs: This dish is traditionally made with poached eggs, but you can could also make it with fried or soft-boiled eggs.
- Yogurt: A thick, whole-fat yogurt is best so it can hold up to the warm eggs and spicy oil.
- Fresh mint: Mint brings a beautiful herby and fresh flavor to the yogurt.
- Lemon: We will only use the zest to add bright flavor to the yogurt base.
- Olive oil and butter: You could use one or the other to make the chili oil, but I love combining the two for best flavor.
- Aleppo pepper: This pepper is less spicy than red chili flakes, but it has a delicious tangy and smoky flavor which infuses the oil that will be drizzled on top.
Place the yogurt in a small bowl. Grate the garlic and zest the lemon on top of the yogurt. Finely chop the mint and add it to the yogurt bowl.
Add a pinch of salt and whisk until fully combined and smooth. Spread the herbed yogurt in two plates and set aside.
Fill a saucepan with 3 to 4 inches of water and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a bare simmer.
Using one egg at a time, crack it into a small bowl or ramekin, then hold the ramekin as closely as possible to the surface of the water and gently drop the egg into the water. If you drop it from a distance, the yolk could separate from the whites.
Wait for the whites to set a little bit, about 15 seconds, before you add the next egg, repeating the steps above.
For a firm white and a runny yolk (soft poached), set a 3 minute timer. If you prefer a medium poach, set a 4 minute timer. For hard poached, set a 5 minute timer. But I really hope you stick to 3 minutes or so. I mean, runny yolks... you know?
While the eggs are poaching, place the olive oil and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter melts, add the aleppo pepper and stir to incorporate. Turn off the heat and set the pan aside - you don't want the pepper to burn.
When the eggs are done to your liking, use a slotted spoon to remove them carefully. Use a paper towel to dab them dry.
Place two poached eggs on each plate, then top with the spicy oil. If the oil is still hot, it will sizzle when it touches the yogurt.
Garnish with fresh mint and some flakey salt, then dig in and mop up the delicious runny yolks, garlicky yogurt, and spicy oil with a chunk of crusty bread or even pita bread.
Substitutions and Variations
This recipe is naturally vegetarian.
- Dairy-free - Use a plant-based yogurt instead.
- Herbs - Parsley, dill, and other tender herbs would go great as well.
- Aleppo pepper - if you don't have aleppo pepper, you can substitute it with sweet paprika and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Smoked paprika with crushed red pepper would be a good substitute as well.
- Eggs - Poaching is traditional, but feel free to fry them or soft-boil them instead.
Tips on Making the Best Turkish Eggs (Çilbir)
- Use thick yogurt at room temperature. A thick yogurt such as Greek yogurt will hold up better with the rest of the ingredients rather than a thin yogurt that may get too runny. Room temperature yogurt helps in not cooling down the poached eggs and chili butter too much.
- Buy the freshest eggs possible. The most important factor when it comes to making the best poached eggs is to use fresh eggs.
- Use cold eggs. Keep the eggs in the fridge until you're ready to poach them. Cold eggs hold their shape better when poached and the yolk is less likely to overcook.
- Serve immediately. You want to enjoy Turkish eggs while the poached eggs and spicy oil are still warm. So while you're waiting for the water to come to a simmer, make the herbed yogurt and spread it on the plates and set aside. Then prepare any garnishes and toast your bread and set aside. Once the eggs are poached and the chili oil is ready, assemble everything quickly and serve.
Frequently Asked Questions
An acid such as vinegar or lemon juice helps the whites to set faster so you don't have lots of wispy whites floating around, which are more common with older eggs. Simply add a splash of white vinegar or lemon juice to the water and stir before adding the eggs. However, you can poach eggs in plain water, which is what I most often do if I'm using very fresh eggs. For more information on how to poach eggs, check out this detailed post by Lisa.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the egg from the water, then gently press on the yolk with your finger to check how soft or firm it is. If you like runny yolks, you want it to be a little soft and have some bounce. If you like firm yolks, return it to the water and continue cooking until it is firmer to touch. Usually 3 minutes will yield a soft poached egg, 4 minutes will yield medium, and 5 minutes will yield hard.
Absolutely. For best results, wait about 15 seconds before placing the next egg to allow it enough time to start setting and also to not drop the temperature of the water too much at once. If poaching several eggs at once, you may need to increase the heat a bit after adding all the eggs.
Turkish eggs are delicious with toasted, crusty bread. Choose a bread that is soft in the center so it can absorb all the delicious sauce. If you toast it too long, it will be crunchy and won't pick up the saucy goodness.
Turkish eggs are best enjoyed immediately while still warm. This is not the recipe to make a big batch of for leftovers. If you do have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge and consume the next day.
See My Latest Recipes For More Delicious Ideas
- One-Minute Homemade Mayonnaise (Immersion Blender)
- Cucumber Mint Yogurt Salad (Cacik)
- Smoked Tomato Confit
- Lebanese Mint Lemonade (Limonana)
- The Best Lebanese Lemonade
If you’ve tried making this Turkish Eggs (Çilbir) 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!
Turkish Eggs (Çilbir)
- 1 cup plain yogurt, room temperature
- 1 garlic clove, grated or minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped, plus more for garnish
- 1 small lemon, zested
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 large eggs, cold
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons aleppo pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin, optional
- 1 pinch flakey salt, optional
- Fresh cracked black pepper
- Crusty bread, for serving
- Fill a saucepan with 3 to 4 inches of water and place on high heat to bring it to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to a bare simmer.
- In the meantime, combine the yogurt, garlic, mint, lemon zest, and salt in a small bowl, and whisk until smooth. Spread it equally between two plates then set it aside at room temperature.
- Once the water is at a steady, bare simmer, crack the eggs into small bowls or ramekins, then gently slide them into the water one at a time. Wait about 15 seconds between each egg. For firm whites and a runny yolk, set a 3 minute timer from the moment you drop the egg in.
- While the eggs are poaching, place the olive oil and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter melts, add the aleppo pepper and a pinch of cumin if using, and stir it or swirl the pan for a few seconds. Turn off the heat and set the pan aside.
- Once the eggs are cooked to your liking, remove them with a slotted spoon and dab them with paper towels, place two eggs on each plate, then pour the spicy oil all over the eggs and yogurt. Garnish with more fresh mint, flakey salt, and fresh cracked pepper, and serve immediately with bread.
- Use the freshest eggs possible.
- If using older eggs, add a splash of white vinegar or lemon juice to the water.
- Do not let the water simmer a lot while poaching the eggs. Make sure it is barely simmering.
- If poaching intimidates you, you can serve this dish with fried or soft-boiled eggs instead.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and may vary.