Cacik is a Turkish yogurt and cucumber dish that's usually served as an appetizer or side dish. It's ready in 15 minutes and calls for just a few ingredients.
My love for Turkish cuisine is deep and old, as I moved to Istanbul years ago before I came to the US. We have some lovely Turkish recipes on the blog such as Turkish simit, Lahmacun (Turkish pizza) and Turkish white bean salad which are all very tasty and a great way to introduce a new cuisine to your family.
What is cacik?
Cacik, pronounced ja-jik is a Turkish yogurt and cucumber dish that's very common in almost all regions in Turkey. It's a simple dish that you often see in restaurants, especially self-service ones called Lokanta. There are similar dishes in the area such as Greek tzatziki and Persian mast-o khiar however each recipe has its own twists and uniqueness.
This Turkish yogurt and cucumber dish is perfect for warm summer days and is a great addition to a Turkish table.
Yogurt in Turkish cuisine
Turkish cuisine calls for yogurt in so many savory recipes such as cilbir Turkish eggs, ayran (Turkish yogurt drink) and yayla corbasi Turkish yogurt soup and it's also common to serve yogurt with pasta, rice and kabobs. There are different types of yogurt available in Turkish supermarkets such as goat or sheep's milk yogurt but the most common yogurt is made form cow's milk.
- Yogurt: Whole milk yogurt works best for this recipe. You can use Greek yogurt or regular yogurt. If you own an instant pot, check out my tutorial on how to make yogurt in instant pot.
- Cucumbers: It's best to use fresh cucumbers that are firm and bright in color. I always use mini cucumbers or Persian cucumbers because of their fresh flavor and very tiny seeds.
- Garlic: This is optional. However. I always use it because it gives a great flavor.
- Dried mint: Dried mint is a staple in Turkish cuisine. It has a stronger aroma and flavor compared to fresh mint and mixes better with the yogurt.
- Start by whisking the yogurt to make sure it's smooth. Then slowly add the water and keep whisking until smooth and runny.
- Add in grated cucumber (no need to squeeze out the excess water in the cucumbers) and minced garlic.
- Finish by adding enough salt and dried mint to the yogurt and cucumber.
- Divide between bowls and pour some extra virgin olive oil over them if desired.
There are two ways to serve this dish:
- If it's thick like tzatziki or Persian mast-o khiar, then it can be served as a side dish, dip or sauce with some bread such as lavash or homemade pita.
- If the cacik you made is more runny like the one in this recipe, then same as Persian abdoogh khiar or gazpacho, it should be served as an appetizer in a bowl with a spoon, and maybe a side of bread.
You can serve this delicious Turkish yogurt and cucumber as an appetizer or a side dish in a bowl. It's common to serve it with dishes like karniyarik (stuffed eggplant), beef shish kabob or chicken shawarma. It also works great with Turkish bulgur or other grains such as rice.
Frequently asked questions
Even though tzatziki and cacik are very similar (both have the base of cucumber and yogurt), they are different from each other. Tzatziki uses dill whereas cacik uses dried mint and tzatziki is thicker than a traditional cacik. It's common to add a bit of lemon juice to the Greek version.
If you're wondering about the consistency of cacik, you're not alone. There are different consistencies out there and what you do depends on your preference. The recipe that we have here has 1 cup of water so it has the consistency of soup or gazpacho which is how Turkish restaurants usually serve it.
That being said, some tend to leave out the water and make this dish as thick as tzatziki. That works too if you would like to serve it as a dip.
We usually make this recipe with grated cucumber however I have also tried it with chopped cucumber in some restaurants and that works too.
You can definitely use non-dairy yogurt in this recipe as long as it's not flavored.
More Turkish recipes
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Cacik Turkish Yogurt and Cucumber
- 2 cups plain yogurt
- 1 cup water
- 4 Persian cucumbers or mini cucumbers
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon dried mint
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Whisk the yogurt in a large bowl to make sure it's smooth. Add water to the yogurt and whisk until it's completely incorporated.
- Grate the cucumbers in another bowl and if they're too watery, squeeze out the excess water. If they're not too watery, add the directly to the yogurt and water.
- Mix well and add garlic, salt and dried mint. Taste and add more salt if needed.
- Chill cacik yogurt and cucumber in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving.
- To serve, divide it between 4 bowls and top each with a little bit of olive oil.
- Use mini or Persian cucumbers for this recipe because they have very small seeds. English cucumber has bigger seeds which would change the texture and flavor.
- If you would like to have a thicker cacik, leave out the water.
- You can store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Give it a nice stir before serving.
- You can use non dairy yogurt for this recipe as long as it's not flavored.