How To Make Ayran / Doogh (Salty Yogurt Drink)

5 from 6 votes
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How to make ayran (aka doogh, Dhallë, or tan), a refreshing salty yogurt drink enjoyed in Turkey, Southeastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East, using just 4 ingredients and ready in 2 minutes – perfectly refreshing during warm summer months or year-round with spicy meals!

A glass with ayran and ice cubes

Having just shared my recipe for Greek tzatziki, I had a little yogurt leftover and decided to make a quick ayran drink. As a Lebanese woman, I grew up eating (and drinking) yogurt daily: including thick labneh, natural yogurt, yogurt-cucumber sauce (Kh’yar bi laban), and – of course – ayran, a salty yogurt drink!

It’s funny how differently yogurt is enjoyed in the UK compared to Lebanon and the Middle East. I’ve noticed here that everyone likes very sugary, flavored yogurt, and there are aisles and aisles of options to choose from, and people don’t like the tangy flavor of natural yogurt (not everyone, of course!).

Ayran in a bottle

In fact, for some people, the idea of combining tangy yogurt with water and salt sounds like a nightmare – but believe me, it’s so refreshing, delicious, and healthy!

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What Is Ayran?

Ayran is just one of many names used to describe a chilled savory yogurt drink. Depending on where you are from, it might be called Ayran (like in Turkey), Doogh (in Iran), Dhallë (in Albania), and Tan (in Armenia).

In fact, I reached out to my followers on Instagram and they shared with me that you can also find this refreshing drink (or variations of it) in Greece, Bulgaria, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kurdistan, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Macedonia, Bangladesh, Iraq, Kuwait, Tunisia, Romania, Jordan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Yemen, etc!

It’s usually made up of a simple base of yogurt, water, and salt, optionally with added herbs (like mint!) or even carbonated water.

A bottle with ayran

The resulting diluted yogurt is really refreshing with a tangy, salty flavor. It is perfect for drinking in the hot summer months (even better with extra ice cubes!) and accompanying grilled meats and spicy foods! Although, to be honest, it’s a year-round drink for those countries where it comes from!

In fact, pairing a glass of ayran with a freshly baked simit is more than good enough for a quick lunch! It also pairs well with rice dishes.

Best of all, it’s healthy too – there are no added sugars, it’s primarily water-based, and the yogurt adds protein, beneficial gut bacteria, and calcium!

The Ingredients

The ingredients for ayran/ doogh laid on table top
  • Yogurt: you can use Greek yogurt or natural yogurt (the better option) for this. I prefer to use full-fat homemade natural yogurt for the best flavor, but any plain yogurt you have will work.
  • Water: you can use still or sparkling water (more often used with doogh). If you plan on drinking the drink immediately, then iced water is fantastic for an instantly refreshing summer drink. If you use Greek yogurt, you’ll need a little more water to water it down.
  • Mint: you can use fresh or dried mint for this ayran drink – or omit it entirely for plain ayran.
  • Salt: feel free to adjust the amount of salt to your personal preference.

Optional Add-ins and Variations

  • Cucumber: similar to tzatziki and Kh’yar bi laban, finely diced cucumber can be added to the ayran for a bit of crunch.
  • Dry edible Rose Petals: this is something added to Iranian doogh a lot for subtle extra flavor.
  • Thyme or rosemary: instead of mint, thyme or rosemary would also taste delicious within this ayran drink.
  • Kefir: for added tang (and healthy probiotics), substitute some of the yogurt with kefir.

And if you really can’t wrap your head around a savory yogurt drink recipe, then feel free to drizzle the top of the ayran with a bit of honey for a slight sweetness.

How to Make Ayran (Doogh)

There is really only one step to creating this recipe.

Add all the ingredients to a large jar (with a lid), close the jar, and shake it well.

Alternatively, add all the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth (this version makes it frothier, too, which some people prefer). You can even whisk it all in a bowl.

Steps for making ayran drink/ doogh

I like to add the mint on top of the yogurt before the water. I find this helps it spread throughout the drink and not just float on top.

That’s it – your ayran is ready! Enjoy it immediately (optionally with some ice cubes) and store any leftovers in the fridge.

How to Store

Store: The leftovers can be stores in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks. If you’re using fresh mint, it’s best to remove it and replace it after 12 hours. For that reason, I prefer to use dried mint.

Ayran with ice cubes in a glass - also called doogh

FAQs

What does ayran taste like?

Ayran basically tastes like the yogurt you used to make it, just in a thinner consistency and with a hint of salt. If you’re using natural yogurt, this means you have a tart, salty, savory yogurt drink.

Can I use non-dairy yogurt?

You sure can – to make vegan ayran just make sure to use dairy-free plain yogurt – like coconut yogurt. I’ve found that many dairy-free yogurts don’t have the ‘tang’ of dairy yogurt, though, so you may want to add a little lemon juice to mimic that flavor.

What is ayran vs kefir?

Ayran is a drink made up of diluted yogurt. Whereas kefir is made from milk and is fermented using kefir grains. Even if certain ayran brands use kefir grains in the yogurt, the two are not the same and have a different flavor.

Ayran/doogh in a bottle

Recipe Notes

  • Water to yogurt ratio: I’ve found that finding the ‘perfect’ ratio varies for different people. Feel free to experiment with the water amount if you want a thicker or thinner yogurt drink recipe.
  • Using herbs: if you plan to make a batch to keep in the fridge, it’s best to use dried herbs. If you use fresh herbs, they’ll need to be removed daily and replaced.
  • For frothy ayran: though the jar will create some foam, if you want really frothy ayran, use a blender. Blend until it’s super frothy.
  • Using low-fat yogurt: I always recommend using full-fat yogurt for homemade ayran. Not just for the creamier flavor but also because the lower fat content yields more tart/tangy flavor.

If you try this ayran recipe, then let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments. I’d also really appreciate a recipe card rating (below) and would love to see your recreations – just tag @AlphaFoodie.

How to Make Ayran / Doogh (Salty Yogurt Drink)

5 from 6 votes
By: Samira
How to make ayran (aka doogh, Dhallë, or tan), a refreshing salty yogurt drink enjoyed in Turkey, Central Asia, and the Middle East, using just 4 ingredients and ready in 2 minutes – perfectly refreshing during warm summer months or year-round with spicy meals!
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 2 minutes
Servings: 3

Ingredients 
 

  • 1/2 cup natural yogurt full-fat is best, Greek yogurt would also work but may require a little extra water.
  • 2 cups water flat or sparkling/fizzy
  • 1/2 tsp salt adjust this amount to personal taste
  • 2 sprigs fresh mint or 1 tsp dried mint
  • ice cubes optional

Instructions 

  • Add all the ingredients to a large jar (with a lid), close the jar, and shake it well.
    Alternatively, add all the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth (this version makes it frothier, too, which some people prefer), or whisk it all in a bowl.
    I like to add the mint on top of the yogurt before the water, as I find this helps it spread throughout the drink and not just float on top.
    That's it – your ayran is ready! Enjoy it immediately(optionally with some ice cubes) and store any leftovers in the fridge.

How to Store

  • Store: The leftovers can be stores in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks. If you're using fresh mint, it's best to remove it and replace it after 12 hours. For that reason, I prefer to use dried mint.

Notes

  • Water to yogurt ratio: I’ve found that finding the ‘perfect’ ratio varies for different people, so feel free to experiment if you want a thicker or thinner yogurt drink recipe.
  • Using herbs: if you plan to make a batch to keep in the fridge, it’s best to use dried herbs. If you use fresh herbs, they’ll need to be removed daily and replaced.
  • For frothy ayran: though the jar version will create some foam, if you want a really frothy ayran, then use a blender and blend until it’s super frothy.
  • Using low-fat yogurt: I always recommend using full-fat yogurt for homemade ayran – not just for the creamier flavor but also because the lower fat content you have in yogurt, the more tart/tangy it tends to be.
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Balkan, Lebanese, Middle Eastern, Turkish
Freezer friendly: No
Shelf life: 2 Weeks

Nutrition

Calories: 25kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 5mg, Sodium: 414mg, Potassium: 67mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 69IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 56mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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2 Comments

  1. Vera says:

    5 stars
    Delicious!! Thank you very much!

    Quick questions: Can you use ayran as a “base” to make more ayran? Or perhaps mix it with plain yogurt as part of the recipe?

    I live in California, USA. I’ve noticed that certain imported “authentic” ayran lists good bacteria strains not found in plain yogurt or even local store-bough ayran. I also notice it has a distinct taste that I really enjoy 🙂

    1. Support @ Alphafoodie says:

      Hi Vera,
      Thank you for your comment.
      Ayran is made with yogurt and water, so if you were to use that as the “base” and add more water, it would be too watered down. I hope this makes sense.
      Maybe you could try making homemade yogurt and use that to make ayran. 🙂