Cacik is a delicious Turkish side dish that can be served alongside most Turkish and Middle Eastern main dishes. It is super delicious, healthy, and very simple to make!
Yogurt is probably one of the foods that are part of most Turkish meals. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Yogurt and yogurt-based side dishes can always be found on the table.
One of the most classic and well-known side dishes is cacik. Cacik is a side dish that combines plain yogurt, cucumber, herbs, and garlic. It is served with most meals as it perfectly pairs with Turkish red pepper paste and red chili flakes, two ingredients that are found in many dishes.
This authentic cacik recipe is the one we use in my family. The cacik is super flavorful, refreshing, and seriously delicious!
Cacik vs Tzatziki
Time to address one of the most common questions: what’s the difference between cacik and tzatziki?
Tzatziki is a Greek yogurt-based dip that is very similar to Turkish cacik with some differences.
While cacik is often served in separate bowls as a side dish for your main dish, tzatziki is served as a dip or sauce. For this reason, cacik is also a lot thinner than tzatziki.
Another difference is the ingredients that are used. Compared to Greek tzatziki, Turkish cacik usually doesn’t use white vinegar, lemon juice, and olive oil. It’s made with plain yogurt instead of Greek yogurt and uses dried mint instead of only fresh dill. So while both have similar ingredients, there are a few differences.
Another difference is the preparation method for the cucumber. Tzatziki almost always uses grated cucumber. Cacik can be made with grated cucumber or diced cucumber.
So if you’re looking for a delicious yogurt-based dip, I’d recommend making Greek tzatziki as it is thicker. But if you want to make a side dish that can be served with Middle Eastern main dishes, I’d suggest trying this cacik recipe!
To make cacik, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Plain yogurt: To make cacik, use regular plain yogurt. Greek yogurt can be used as an alternative, but since it’s thicker you’ll need to thin it with more water than I used in the recipe box below.
- Cucumber: Just use regular medium-sized cucumbers. You can also use Persian cucumbers if you prefer them.
- Fresh dill: Fresh dill is definitely needed to make authentic cacik! So make sure to not forget it.
- Garlic: Another key ingredient is garlic. If you want to skip the garlic, you definitely can. But this dish tastes a lot better when you use garlic, so I’d recommend using it.
- Dried mint: Another key ingredient is dried mint! It’s one of the most delicious ingredients in this recipe, so I’d highly recommend using it.
- Extra virgin olive oil and red chili flakes (optional): These two ingredients are totally optional and can be used as a topping. So if olive oil and red chili flakes sound good to you, feel free to add some!
How to make cacik
Preparing cacik is super easy and takes less than 10 minutes! Just follow these steps:
- Grate and drain the cucumber: Grate the cucumber and remove any excess moisture using a fine-mesh sieve or nut milk bag. Then place the cucumber in a bowl.
- Combine: Add the yogurt, water, fresh dill, garlic, dried mint, and salt to the bowl. Stir until everything is combined.
- Serve: Serve the cacik in small bowls and garnish with olive oil and red chili flakes (optional). Enjoy!
Tips & Notes
Here are a few quick tips that you can check out before trying this recipe.
- It’s totally okay if the cucumber has some moisture left. When you make tzatziki, you don’t want any moisture to ensure that the dip stays thick. With cacik, it’s okay if there is some moisture left as it’s thinner anyways.
- Check and add more of the ingredients according to your taste. The recipe is great as is, but you might prefer your cacik thinner, with more dried mint, or saltier. So check it and add more of the ingredients if needed.
- Serve some bread with your meal. Although cacik isn’t necessarily meant to be a dip, I really like to dip some bread into my bowl of cacik (and my main dish). So if you’re preparing a Turkish meal, feel free to serve it with some lavas (flat Turkish bread) or toasted pide ekmek (Turkish pide bread).
The cacik recipe you’ll find in the recipe box below is how I like to make it and how I’ve most often eaten it in Turkey. But there are different ways to make authentic cacik. So feel free to use one of the following modifications when you try this recipe.
- Thin it with water until it is soup-like. I personally like cacik thicker, but some people like it very thin. So feel free to add water until it turns into yogurt soup.
- Peel the cucumber. Many people peel the cucumber before using it. I personally love the crunch of unpeeled cucumbers so I skip this step. But feel free to peel it if that sounds more delicious to you!
- Cut the cucumber into cubes. Some people like grated cucumber and others like it cut into cubes. Feel free to pick the shape you like most.
- Use less fresh dill and more dried mint. If you don’t like dill as much, you can use less fresh dill and add more dried mint. It makes the cacik taste different but nonetheless delicious!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, it is! It’s how my family likes to make it and how it is usually served in Turkey.
It can be served as a side dish alongside most Turkish and many other Middle Eastern dishes. My favorites are stuffed bell peppers, stuffed grape leaves, stuffed eggplant (karniyarik), and Turkish stews.
Yes, you can. The only ingredient you’ll need to replace is yogurt. I think cashew yogurt probably works best as it is fairly neutral.
You can store any leftovers in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to 3 days. The garlic can become quite pungent, so you might have to add more yogurt before serving the cacik.
More simple and delicious Middle Eastern recipes
If you love Middle Eastern recipes, I recommend checking out the following recipes.
- Batata Harra (Spicy Potatoes)
- Menemen (Turkish Scrambled Eggs)
- Garlic Yogurt Sauce with Eggplant and Carrots
- Kisir (Turkish Bulgur Salad)
- Turkish Lentil Soup
- 1 medium cucumber grated and drained
- 1 ½ cup plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons water more if needed
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 1 garlic clove minced
- ½ teaspoon dried mint more to taste
- ½ teaspoon salt
- extra virgin olive oil and red chili flakes (optional) for garnish
- Grate the cucumber and remove any excess moisture using a fine-mesh sieve or nut milk bag. Then place the cucumber in a bowl.
- Add all other ingredients to the bowl. Then stir until everything is combined. Check if you want to add more dried mint, salt, or water to thin the cacik.
- Serve the cacik in small bowls alongside the main dish. Garnish with some extra virgin olive oil and red chili flakes (optional). Enjoy!
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