Turkish Homemade Yoghurt

Editor’s Note: In our continuing series on Yoghurt and similar food products, we are pleased to turn to Turkey and welcome Tuncay Güneş and Vildane Özkan (Alieva) through the good offices of Tatiana Minniyakhmetova of the Ritual Year Working Group.


Homemade yoghurt is a dairy product obtained as a result of fermentation of lactic acid in milk with yoghurt or probiotic yeasts. Homemade yoghurts in Turkish culture are usually fermented with yoghurt. Although their number is small, yoghurt is also made at home with ready-made probiotic yeasts.


Ingredients: milk (pasteurized milk or unprocessed milk from live animals), a few spoons of yoghurt or probiotic yeast.

1) Making homemade yoghurt with pasteurized milk

1 liter pasteurized milk, (liter quantity can be increased as desired) (see Fig. 1) is put to boil in a saucepan over medium heat on the stove (see Fig. 3). After it starts to boil, the fire is turned off and the milk is warmed (see Fig. 4). When it reaches 42 to 45°C, 1 or 2 tablespoons of whipped/mixed yoghurt per liter is added to the milk (see Figs. 5 and 6). The lid of the pot is closed, and the pot is covered all around with materials such as blankets or towels (see Fig. 7). The reason it is covered with a blanket is to keep the heat in the pot for a long time. For fermentation, it is kept in an environment that is not cold for about 5 hours. It is recommended to consume the resulting yoghurt (see Fig. 8) by keeping it in the refrigerator for 1 day.

2) Making homemade yoghurt with unprocessed/raw milk

Almost the same process is used as with pasteurized milk. The milk is first boiled and then left to cool. After warming, the yeast is added. The only difference here is that after boiling the unprocessed milk, it is necessary to continue cooking on low heat for 5 minutes. Since harmful bacteria and microbes in raw milk die at 130°C. In this way, brucella, anthrax, foot and mouth disease (FMDV), tuberculosis and other. diseases transmitted through milk are prevented.

3) Making homemade yoghurt with probiotic yeast

Almost the same procedure applies to pasteurized milk and unprocessed milk. For fermentation, purchased probiotic yeast (See Fig. 2) is used instead of yoghurt. 2 grams of probiotic yeast dissolved in warm water is added to 2-5 liters of milk whose temperature is reduced to 42-45 °C.

Note: The most basic rule of yoghurt making is using yeast. The yeast involved is either yoghurt itself or purchased probiotic yeast.

Fig. 1. Pasteurized milk. Bursa, in northwestern Anatolia in Turkey, 2023. Photo by Tuncay Güneş.

Fig. 2. Probiotic yoghurt yeast. Bursa, 2023. Photo by Tuncay Güneş.

Fig. 3. The milk is boiled. Bursa, 2023. Photo by Tuncay Güneş.

Fig. 4. The milk is left to stand until its temperature drops to 42-45 °C or until it warms up. Bursa, 2023. Photo by Tuncay Güneş.

Fig. 5. Preparing yeast. Bursa, 2023. Photo by Tuncay Güneş.

Fig. 6. Yeast being added to milk is mixed in with a spoon. Bursa, 2023. Photo by Tuncay Güneş.

Fig. 7. After the lid of the pot is closed, the pot is wrapped in a towel-like cover for fermentation. Bursa, 2023. Photo by Tuncay Güneş.

Fig. 8. The resulting homemade yoghurt. Bursa, 2023. Photo by Tuncay Güneş.


1) For Food and Nutrition

In Turkish cuisine, yoghurt is the main ingredient of many dishes. Homemade yoghurt gives tastier and healthier results when used in meals, soups, beverages, sauces, cakes etc.

A/ Served in a bowl or plate: optionally, plain or by adding honey, molasses, sugar, bread etc.

B/ Used as baby food: yoghurt mixed with sugar is put in a bottle and given to the baby as baby food. It is given undiluted with milk or water.

C/ As a beverage:

  • Ayran is a cold savory yoghurt-based Turkish beverage made by adding half a glass of water to half a glass of yoghurt, adding a varying amount of salt according to taste, and mixing.
  • Cacık is a drink that is consumed with a spoon in a bowl formed by adding half a glass of water to half a glass of yoghurt and adding small cubed/julienne-like cucumbers and some salt. It is consumed alone or along with meals, especially in summer.

D/ Used in many soups: soup is an important dish in Turkish culture and is used as the main ingredient or auxiliary in dozens of soups such as Turkish yoghurt soup, yayla çorbası, pirinçli yoğurt çorbası, erişteli yoğurt çorbası, terbiyeli yoğurt çorbası, yoğurtlu bulgur çorbası, yoğurtlu işkembe çorbası, şehriyeli yoğurt çorbası, yoğurtlu mantı çorbası etc.

E/ In meals: yoghurt is an important ingredient widely used in Turkish cuisine, and is used in many Turkish dishes, for example, as the main ingredient in Iskender Kebap (See. Fig 9), Pideli Köfte, Elbasan Tava, Salçalı Terbiyeli Sulu Köfte, Tavuklu Silor, Yoğurtlu Bakla, Karnabahar Graten, Kayseri Yağlaması, Patlıcan Beyti Kebabı, Kayseri Mantısı, Sinop Mantısı, Nevşehir Mantısı, Tepsi Mantısı, Yağ Mantısı, Bodrum Mantısı etc. It is also used in the dish called “liar ravioli (yalancı mantı)”, which is made by mixing grated garlic and yoghurt into pasta. These dishes are just a few examples of how yoghurt is used in Turkish cuisine in cold dishes, appetizers and alongside soups.

F/ Used as sauce, appetizer, side dish: It is used as an auxiliary ingredient, sauce and/or appetizer for hundreds of Turkish dishes such as Haydari, Borani, Acuka, Celery Appetizer, Eggplant Paste, Köpoğlu Appetizer, Mütebbel, Purslane Appetizer etc. It can also be served by putting strained yoghurt on sherbet dough desserts such as Baklava and Kadayıf.

G/ in desserts, cakes, pastry: yoghurt is used in many cakes and pastries such as Yoghurt Cake, Strawberry Yoghurt Mosaic Cake, Lemon Cheesecake, Medovik, Pineapple Revani Cake, Yoghurt Cotton Cake etc.

H/ Usage in Cake, Pastry, Cookies:  It is used in many cakes, pastries and cookies such as Saçaklı Poğaça, Yoğurtlu Poğaça, Yoğurtlu Göçmen Böreği, Yoğurt Böreği, Tepsi Böreği, Yoğurtlu Hindili Börek, Boşnak Böreği, yoğurtlu Anne Kurabiyesi etc. Please note that the tastes of these two categories are quite different.

Yoghurt is also an ingredient in Saçaklı Poğaça, Yoğurtlu Poğaça, Yoğurtlu Göçmen Böreği, Yoğurt Böreği, Tepsi Böreği, Yoğurtlu Hindili Börek, Boşnak Böreği, yoğurtlu Anne Kurabiyesi etc.

I) In salads: yoghurt is used in dozens of salads such as Yoğurtlu Tavuk Salatası, Yoğurtlu Tavuklu Arpa Şehriye Salatası, Yoğurtlu Közlenmiş Kırmızı Biber Salatası, Yoğurtlu Kereviz Salatası, Yoğurtlu, Bulgur Salatası, Yoğurtlu Arpa Şehriye Salatası, Közlenmiş Kırmızı Biberli Patlıcan Salatası, Közlenmiş Kırmızı Biberli Havuçlu Tarator etc. Moreover in case the entire Russian Salad is not desired with mayonnaise, half of the mayonnaise is added to yoghurt to add additional flavor.

Fig. 9. Iskender kebab, which is famous in Bursa. Bursa, 2023. Photo by Tuncay Güneş.

2) Yoghurt used in Health and Cosmetics

A/ To aid in digestion: thanks to the probiotics in it, yoghurt also strengthens the immune system and helps the digestive and excretory system.

B/ Treatment of low blood pressure: low blood pressure is increased by drinking salty buttermilk (ayran).

C/ Treatment of osteoporosis: calcium is an element beneficial to bones so osteoporosis patients consume plenty of yoghurt as a natural calcium supplement.

D/ Sunburn treatment: for sunburn due to direct exposure in summer, yoghurt is applied to heal the burned area and reduce the pain.

E/ For skin beauty: yoghurt applied to the face softens the skin, reduces and smoothes wrinkles and helps reduce skin blemishes.

F/ To burn body fat on the belly, hips, etc, to help burn localised body fat.


Since the tradition of making yoghurt at home is quite common in Turkish culture, people of various ages, genders and social classes may make homemade yoghurt at home. However, the tradition of making yoghurt at home is more common among women living in rural areas.

In the traditional Turkish family structure, since women are responsible for housework and cooking, the job of making yoghurt at home usually falls to women, but today, men can also participate in making yoghurt at home.

Also, making yoghurt at home in Turkey is not only common in rural areas and the tradition of homemade yoghurt continues among those living in cities, because it is a healthy and delicious alternative to store-bought yoghurt.

The Turkish tradition of fermenting yoghurt at home is not only carried on in Türkiye. The homemade yoghurt tradition continues in Turkish houses and families in many regions and countries where Turks have settled (the Balkans, European countries, Britain, Iran, Russia, Far and Central Asia, etc.).


Tuncay Güneş, Freelance Researcher

Vildane Özkan (Alieva), Sociologist, Asst. Prof. Dr., Vocational School of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work and Counseling, Gümüşhane University, Turkey.