Yogurt Sauces, Dips

Plain Yogurt

Plain Yogurt

by Cat, June 2008 (photo, right, from Cheesemaking.com (4))

There are many varieties of yogurt sauces and dressings:

These are great as salad dressings/accompaniments, dips and sauces for Middle-Eastern cuisine. I usually keep some of my Greek version on hand most of the summer. If I want more of the lebneh flavor, I add a few drops of toasted sesame oil to the Greek yogurt sauce.

Greek Yogurt Dressing & Sauce

This is an excellent Greek dressing to serve with souvlaki (skewered meat), dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), salad of fresh greens, and other appetizers.  This dressing is similar to Lebneh (Yogurt Sauce), below, without the toasted sesame.

Most people are familiar with Tsatziki (Cucumber Dip), which is a cucumber & yogurt dip or sauce, but this recipe doesn’t include cucumber and has a different flavor

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • 1 cup whole, plain yogurt (preferably homemade), or 2/3 cup plain Greek-style yogurt (not sweetened)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1  tsp Unrefined sea salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 5 – 6 leaves of fresh mint
  • ½ cup homemade mayonnaise


  1. If using plain Greed-Style yogurt, it has already been strained; otherwise, strain regular unsweetened yogurt, as for making cream cheese. Scoop strained yogurt into blender; save whey for another use.
  2. Add all other ingredients except mayo to blender.
  3. Blend at low speed until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl or jar.
  4. Whisk in mayo.  Serve, or cover jar and refrigerate until ready to use.

Lebneh with Sesame Seeds and Herbs (Yogurt Sauce)

This recipe is adapted from Epicurious.com (originally from Gourmet magazine, April 2005 (3)).  Makes about 3/4 cup.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • 2 cups whole-milk plain yogurt (preferably homemade), or ¾ cup plain Greek-style yogurt (not sweetened)
  • ¼ – ½ tsp Unrefined sea salt
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds (or 1 tsp toasted sesame oil), or more to taste
  • 1 ½ Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (or 1 Tbsp if using toasted sesame oil)
  • ½ tsp dried mint, crumbled
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme, crumbled
  • yogurt cheese sieve, or fine sieve lined with cheesecloth
  • small bowl
  • small cast iron skillet
  • small jar with lid
  • whisk


  1. Whisk yogurt and salt; if using Greek-style yogurt, you don’t need to strain – skip to step 2. Otherwise, spoon into sieve.  Let drain, covered and chilled, at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours. NOTE:  Reserve the liquid (whey) in a covered jar, for another use. However, if you want a more liquid dressing, you can skip this draining step. 5/27/19: Tested with local Greek-style yogurt; see Testing below.
  2. Meanwhile, toast sesame seeds in dry cast iron skillet, shaking skillet occasionally, until seeds are golden, about 2 minutes. OR add toasted sesame oil to the oil/herb combo in the next step. Cat’s note: I use 2 – 3 tsp of toasted sesame oil because I love the flavor.
  3. Whisk oil(s) and herbs in small jar (with lid), then add toasted sesame seeds (if using).  Chill, covered, up to 24 hours.
  4. Bring mixture to room temperature; drizzle over thickened yogurt just before serving.

Assembly or Serving ideas

  • Pour into small serving bowl.
  • Serve with grilled lamb, chicken, Lebanese sausage (kafta or other), or a Meza.

Testing Lebneh

8/5/2011: Made half recipe (to serve with Tabouli with Grilled Lamb & Chick Peas): I made as written, except I didn’t have sesame seeds, so I used 1/2 tsp toasted sesame seed oil in and reduced olive oil to 2 tsp for the half recipe. This is really good, and less work too! I modified full recipe accordingly.

5/27/19: Decided to try a local plain Greek yogurt (Kalispell Kreamery) so I wouldn’t have to strain regular yogurt.. Made about 1/3 recipe, using 1/3 cup plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt; added pinch of salt, about ¾ tsp toasted sesame oil, 1 tsp olive oil, and 2 leaves fresh mint chopped finely. Mixed all together in a storage cup with lid, and placed in fridge to chill about 1 hour before serving. I love this and so easy!


  1. A Passion For Vegetables, by Vera Gewanter
  2. The Vegetarian Epicure Book Two by Anna Thomas
  3. epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/MIDDLE-EASTERN-STYLE-YOGURT-231807
  4. Yogurt photo: cheesemaking.com/store/p/164-Yogurt-Bulgarian-1-packet.html

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