While looking at different recipes to make "yogurt sauce" commonly found in Middle Eastern cuisine, I noticed a descrepancy between the type of yogurt the recipe calls for. Some recipe calls for plain low fat yogurt, others calls for plain Greek yogurt, and then in this recipe, it calls for strained plain yogurt: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/tzatziki-sauce-yogurt-and-cucumber-dip/.

What type of yogurt should be used to make the most authentic yogurt sauce? Is there a specific type of yogurt or specific brand that most closely resemble the yogurt used in the Middle East?

  • possible duplicate of What is the difference between Greek yogurt and plain yogurt?
    – TFD
    Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 20:04
  • 1
    @TFD I dont think its a duplicate since I'm not asking the difference between Greek yogurt and plain yogurt, I am asking what type of yogurt most closely resemble the yogurt used in authentic Middle Eastern cuisine.
    – Jay
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 0:48
  • You might not want to be asking about brands. It leads to answers like Anagio's.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 23:19
  • Dana or Labne are middle eastern brands right
    – Anagio
    Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 23:29
  • They key, for me, is checking the "contents" list and not getting anything with added emulsifiers, gum, thickeners or gelatin, more than any specific type or style. Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 15:24

6 Answers 6


Greek yogurt is simply strained yogurt. It was only fairly recently that Greek yogurt was widely available in the United States, so prior to wide availability, a simple substitute was to strain normal yogurt.

The type of sauce you are trying to make would definitely use a strained yogurt. Whether you wanted to strain your own or buy strained yogurt (aka Greek yogurt) is really up to you. In Greece, sheep's milk was traditionally used for yogurt, but now there's a lot more cow's milk too, so either would be authentic. I would think that full fat would be the most authentic, but not the healthiest, as I doubt low fat varieties were used traditionally (if they even existed).

The American use of the term Greek yogurt is really just one of branding. Many other areas in the middle east use the same style of strained yogurt. The Greeks also have plenty of normal (unstrained) yogurt.


Actually "Greek Yogurt" is a bit misleading of a name. The Levant region, the area around Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Jordan is where this type of yogurt is from and consumed. Less so in Southwestern Europe (Greece), where it is used mostly as a dessert. It is actually called Labneh which is derived from the Arabic word Laban (yoghurt), and it is simply instead strained yogurt. The term Greek Yogurt probably came about from marketing purposes to the western world. My mother is Lebanese and I grew up eating Labneh almost everyday and it is very easy to make, you should give it a try. Just take plain yogurt (lowfat unflavored) and put it in a cloth bag, you can make one out of muslin fabric. Leave it hang in a sink overnight or a bit longer and you are done.

Also, if you are looking for a middle eastern brand there are plenty but you might need to visit a Middle East import store, I have seen Labneh at Whole Foods also. Sometimes it goes by the name of Lebni as well. Hope it helps!


Strained plain yogurt (here's a good tutorial for doing this at home) or Greek yogurt will both work well. Some brands of 'Greek' yogurt in the US contain gelatin or other thickeners; if you choose this route, try to find one containing only milk and cultures.

You might also consider making your own yogurt.

  • 2
    @zanlok: Dangerous how? Homemade yogurt is very easy to make, and quite popular. I've been eating it all my life, and know many others who do as well.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 22:25
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    @zanlok: I tend to have the opposite impression... Home-made food is usually safer, because it has fewer preservatives or other additives, and higher nutritional content.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 22:53
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    @zanlok: While that may be a technically true statement, it's effectively meaningless, as it doesn't take into account the relative risks. The risk of finding a toxin or harmful microbe in home-made yogurt in quantities capable of causing illness or death are incredibly miniscule, unless you're just stupid in your kitchen. Furthermore, one of the reasons yogurt in particular is touted so often as a health-food is because of the numerous beneficial microbes it contains. If you're eating microbe-les yogurt, then what's the point? Food is not meant to be sterile.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Mar 6, 2012 at 23:55
  • @Flimzy comments removed in favor of chat or a separate question
    – zanlok
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 7:44

I am not an expert, but I have just been to Crete. Authentic Greek yogurt uses goat milk or sheep milk, or a combination of both; and full fat. From what I have read, most commercial yogurts are just Greek-style, and without thickeners and additives. That recipe probably means Greek-style, which is strained, whatever percentage milk-fat is used. Plain just means it is not flavored. Some traditional Greeks do not even strain their yogurt.


Fage strained Greek Yogurt is pretty much the best around.

  • 2
    The question is asking about types of yogurt, not specific brands.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 19:11
  • I'm Greek, it's all I use.
    – Anagio
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 19:12
  • Then let me be more clear: the question wasn't "what brand of (Greek) yogurt do you use, Anagio?", it was "what type of yogurt is most similar?"
    – Cascabel
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 19:23
  • Actually please re-read their question it asks specifically about a brand Is there a specific type of yogurt or specific brand So my answer is valid and doesn't server a down vote. Fage the brand IMO
    – Anagio
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 23:10
  • @Anagio, I am asking what brand most closely resemble the kind used in Middle Eastern cuisine. You are answering what brand of yogurt you think is the best. Not quite the same.
    – Jay
    Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 23:21

Greek or greek style is the best, if you can't find that look at plain natural yoghurt.

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