A simple savory breakfast, Cilbir (Turkish Eggs) is perfectly poached eggs, served over a delicious garlicky yogurt, and finished with a warm spicy butter or olive oil sauce with red pepper flakes. Enjoy with fresh bread, like Simit or Barbari!
What is Çılbır?
Turkish Çılbır, pronouned chil-bir, is basically poached eggs served over a bed of thick, garlicy yogurt and finished with a generous drizzle of warmed butter (or, in my case, a robust extra virgin olive oil) with a good dash of Aleppo pepper (or similar red pepper flakes).
Most people's idea of yogurt for breakfast is something sweet like a parfait topped with fruit or a couple tablespoons of granola. But if you’re ready for something new, this savory yogurt breakfast from Turkey is so worth a try!
I first encountered Çılbır in Izmir, Turkey back in 2006. I was impressed by how few ingredients--many of which are the same ingredients in my favorite Soft Scrambled Eggs--make this perfectly decadent breakfast.
For such a simple dish made of a few staples--eggs, yogurt, garlic, olive oil (or butter)--this savory Mediterranean diet-friendly breakfast is delicious and comforting in the best way.
These Turkish eggs are best served immediately with simit or some chunky rustic bread to wipe every last bit of the rich and silky yogurt!
Since poached eggs are the star of this Turkish eggs breakfast, you'll want to poach your eggs perfectly so that you have firm whites encasing or covering a beautiful runny yolk on the inside.
How to poach an egg?
If you've never poached an egg before, no worries. It's simple but there are a few things to keep in mind. People have different ideas for how to make perfect poached eggs but I'll be sharing what's worked for me:
- Boil the water. In a saucepan, bring your water to a boil. I add a very little bit of vinegar to the water, which helps keep the egg white together (it looks better that way). This is optional, you can poach an egg without vinegar but I recommend it, especially for your first few times. Unless you add a large amount of vinegar, the taste won't transfer to your egg!
- Crack the egg and drain the egg whites. Instead of cracking the eggs directly into the water, I prefer to crack one egg at a time into a small fine mesh sieve first. Give the sieve a little shake to allow the liquidy part of the egg whites to drain, giving you neater-looking poached eggs.
- Create a vortex in the water. Once the water is boiling, use a wooden spoon to stir the water to create a vortex. This helps create spherical poached eggs.
- Cook the egg for no more than 3 minutes. Quickly add the egg to the middle of the vortex (you can only cook one at a time) and cook for just 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with parchment paper or paper towel.
What you'll need to make Turkish eggs
A handful of simple ingredients and seasonings is all you need to make !
- Greek yogurt - Choose plain, whole milk Greek yogurt. Be sure to allow it to come to room temperature for this recipe.
- Garlic - a clove or two of fresh garlic, minced finely.
- Extra virgin olive oil - Traditionally, these eggs are finished with a drizzle of melted butter, but I prefer to use a robust extra virgin olive oil. You can see my favorites here, and if you like an olive oil with a peppery finish, try the Greek Early Harvest EVOO or the Spanish Hojiblanca EVOO.
- Aleppo pepper - Aleppo pepper flakes are not terribly spicy, although they provide a good kick and a subtle sweetness. You can use other red pepper flakes you have on hand. Or, if you're a big fan of spice, try try finishing with a sprinkle of Urfa Biber in addition to the Aleppo pepper–you can learn all about this earthy, wine-like spice in our guide.
How to make Turkish eggs (Çılbır)
Though the final dish may look a little fancy, making this poached eggs and yogurt breakfast is surprisingly easy. Breakfast for two can be ready in just 10 minutes!
- Prepare the garlicky yogurt sauce. Whisk together yogurt (at room temp), garlic and salt. Divide between the two serving bowls and set aside.
- Poach the eggs. Poach each egg in boiling water for about 2 to 3 minutes (see tips for how to poach eggs just above). When the second egg is cooking, begin the next step.
- Make the warmed olive oil sauce. In a small pan, gently heat a good 3 tablespoons or so of extra virgin olive oil with 2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper flakes over medium heat.
- Assemble. Immediately transfer to poached eggs to the prepared yogurt bowls and drizzle with the heated olive oil. Serve with your favorite rustic bread.
Tips for success
If this is your first time preparing this dish, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- The yogurt must be at room temperature. You'll want to use thick whole milk yogurt (that's why I chose Greek yogurt) and you'll need to allow it to come to room temperature before stirring in the garlic and other ingredients. Do not refrigerate the yogurt mixture while you are cooking the eggs.
- Don't overheat the olive oil. The olive oil and Aleppo pepper should be heated quickly until warm but not left on the stove at high heat.
- Serve Cilbir immediately. Cilbir should be served as soon as the eggs are finished cooking.
- Add fresh herbs. This is optional and not traditional, but I love a sprinkle of fresh herbs like dill or mint on top of the dish before serving.
As mentioned above, cilbir should be served immediately, when all ingredients are warm. Turkish eggs are traditionally served with rustic or crusty bread to scoop up the egg and every last bit of the olive oil and yogurt sauces.
How to store
There is really no good way to store leftovers for this recipe, so you want to make just as much as you will be eating. If you are just preparing breakfast for one, simply cut the recipe in half and only prepare one dish of the yogurt sauce. Poached eggs should not be refrigerated or frozen.
More egg recipes:
- Vegetable Frittata
- Za'atar Eggs Fried in Olive Oil
- Pesto Eggs with Tomato and Mozzarella
- Menemen Recipe (Turkish Scrambled Eggs)
- Easy Vegetarian Egg Casserole
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Cilbir: Turkish Eggs in Garlicky Yogurt Sauce
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the room-temp yogurt and garlic, a good pinch of kosher salt and whisk well. Divide the yogurt mixture between two serving bowls and set aside for now.
- Bring a medium saucepan full of water to a boil. Stir in the vinegar.
- Meanwhile, crack an egg into a small fine mesh sieve over a small bowl. Gently swirl the eggs in the sieve to drain the liquidy part of the egg whites (this gives you a neater-looking poached egg). Transfer the egg to a ramekin.
- When the water is ready, using a wooden spoon, stir the water to create a vortex. Quickly add the egg to the middle of vortex and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. When ready, using a slotted spoon, transfer the egg to a plate that’s been lined with parchment paper.
- Prepare and cook the second egg exactly as you did the first.
- While the second egg is cooking, quickly make the olive oil sauce. In a small skillet, warm the olive oil and Aleppo pepper over medium heat.
- Immediately transfer the poached eggs to the prepared yogurt bowls (simply place each egg on top of the yogurt mixture) and drizzle with the heated oil.
- Serve immediately with your favorite rustic bread.