This Lebanese cucumber yogurt sauce, also known as khyar bi laban, is a refreshing yogurt salad made with mint, yogurt, fresh garlic, and cucumber. It's my favorite side dish for grilled kafta, stuffed cabbage leaves, fried kibbeh, kibbeh bil sanieh, and chicken biryani rice.
There are two secrets to making this recipe perfect: use freshly mashed garlic and use both dried and fresh mint. After making this Lebanese cucumber yogurt sauce at least a hundred times over the years, it's perfect.
What I Love About This Sauce
This cucumber yogurt sauce reminds me a little bit of tzatziki sauce, just not as thick. But what truly sets this yogurt sauce apart from all others is the combination of crunchy cucumbers, tangy mashed garlic, and refreshing fresh mint leaves. I have to make this sauce any time there's kafta, kibbeh, or biryani rice.
- Fresh mint and dried mint: I recommend using both types of mint for this cucumber mint yogurt. Dried mint has a different flavor profile than fresh mint and both complement this yogurt extremely well.
- Persian mini cucumbers: An alternative to Persian cucumbers is an English cucumber. I strongly suggest using either Persian or English cucumbers because they are crispy and less watery. Also, you do not have to remove the peel.
- Fresh garlic cloves: The garlic must be mashed with a mortar and pestle to make this right. The garlic needs to be completely mashed so it mixes into the yogurt well. If the garlic is chunky, the yogurt sauce will have chunky pieces of garlic.
- Yogurt: Use unsweetened plain yogurt either store-bought plain yogurt or homemade plain yogurt.
How To Make Cucumber Mint Yogurt
Using a mortar and pestle, mash the whole garlic cloves and salt together. Mash the garlic cloves very finely.
Chop the cucumbers finely. Remove the fresh mint leaves and chop finely. Add the yogurt, dried mint leaves, fresh mint leaves, chopped cucumbers, and mashed garlic into the same bowl.
Mix the yogurt together. Salt the cucumber mint yogurt as desired.
Tips and Tricks
- Use Persian cucumbers. Regular cucumbers are too watery to use for this recipe. The best cucumbers to use are either Persian cucumbers (baby cucumbers) or English cucumbers.
- Use high-quality plain yogurt. I prefer to make this sauce with homemade yogurt.
Use Greek yogurt or labneh in lieu of plain yogurt. This makes a thicker sauce, so some adjustments need to be made. If using Greek yogurt or labneh in lieu of plain yogurt, chop the cucumbers very finely. Because the Greek yogurt and labneh are thicker, reduce the quantity of labneh or Greek yogurt by half. Add a little bit of water if desiring a thinner consistency.
Yes, both cucumber yogurt sauces use herbs, yogurt, and cucumbers. Greek tzatziki uses Greek yogurt and dill whereas Lebanese cucumber yogurt uses plain yogurt and mint.
Yes. Substitute fat-free yogurt for full-fat yogurt.
Store in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
Cucumber Yogurt Sauce (Khyar Bi Laban)
- 1 quart full-fat unsweetened yogurt
- 3 Persian cucumbers
- 2 fresh mint sprigs
- 2 tablespoon dried mint
- 4 garlic cloves
- Salt to taste
- Mash the garlic with a mortar and pestle.
- Finely chop the Persian cucumbers.
- Remove the leaves from the mint sprigs. Finely chop.
- Add the mashed garlic, chopped cucumbers, fresh mint, and dried mint to the yogurt. Mix the cucumber yogurt sauce.
- Greek yogurt or labneh can be substituted in lieu of yogurt. Reduce quantity by ½ if using.
- This sauce can be made with either fresh mint or dried mint or both.