Tzatziki Sauce. It’s the classic Greek sauce that goes with everything! Learn how to make it then pair it with your favourite Greek appetizers or enjoy it on a Mediterranean mezze board. Once you make this simple sauce, you’ll never go back to store bought!
During the summer, my go-to hot weather dinner cuisine is GREEK. Whipping up an authentic Horiatiki Salad (or Greek Village Salad) is so easy and flavourful. It goes so well with a platter of grilled Chicken Souvlaki and toasted pita. Pro tip: You can even use it as a salad dressing in a Greek-style Orzo Salad.
Homemade Tzatziki Sauce
One taste of this homemade Greek Tzatziki Sauce and you’ll be wondering why you ever bought it from a store! When you make it at home there are no weird ingredients or preservatives, only easy to find healthy ingredients filled with flavour.
This creamy dip is so simple to whip up and it tastes like a trip to the sunny Mediterranean. With a base of full fat Greek yogurt loaded with refreshing cucumber, earthy garlic, and loads of herby goodness from fresh dill you just can’t go wrong.
Once you add that fresh pop of lemon, you’ll be double dipping your pitas, calamari, and souvlaki like no one’s watching.
What is Tzatziki?
Tzatziki is a sauce or dip made from strained yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, salt, and olive oil. Many versions also include lemon juice and fresh herbs such as dill, parsley, and mint.
There are many ways to pronounce Tzatziki. Though I tend to say zza-zzee-key, it wasn’t always so. When our kids were small, our family cheekily pronounced it zack-zacky in honour of our eldest son.
This creamy yogurt-based sauce is so popular you probably have already tried it as a sauce or dip. However, did you know Tzatziki is sometimes also served as a side dish or soup? This style of serving Tzatziki is fairly common in Southeastern Europe and Middle Eastern cuisines.
Similar sauces include Turkish cacık which (in its most simplistic form) consists of garlic and fresh herbs in an often diluted yogurt base and tarator (Bulgaria and Albania) a thin yogurt sauce with nuts or other added ingredients. There are also variations of Tzatziki in Cyprus, Iran, Iraq, and raita in South East Asia.
Ingredients for Tzatziki
Simple is as simple does when it comes to this creamy Greek dip. There are only seven ingredients so it is important to buy them fresh so your dip is the best it can be.
- Greek Yogurt
- Fresh Dill
- Dried Oregano
For the creamiest dip, it is essential to use full fat plain Greek Yogurt which is made with whole milk. Look for yogurt that is at least 3-4 % milk fat.
When buying cucumbers, feel them for firmness and check for blemishes or puckering. I prefer to use an English cucumber as it contains fewer seeds, is usually ‘burpless’ and less acidic than field cucumbers. If you use a field cucumber, remove the soft central portion along with the seeds before grating.
I have made Tzatziki with dried dill. It works just fine because dried dill retains most of the flavour of fresh dill.
Yes, this is one recipe that requires ONE clove of garlic. Very rare, I know! However, adding more garlic would overpower the sweetness of the yogurt. It’s all about balance.
Not everyone adds lemon to their Tzatziki. I add both finely chopped lemon zest and lemon juice because I like the extra sourness from the citrus. You can skip it or use a bit of vinegar if you prefer.
Note that olive oil is omitted in this Tzatziki sauce recipe even though it is a traditional ingredient. I’ve never made it with olive oil but if you want to try it, use the best olive oil you have and start with a small amount to see how you like it.
What is Greek Yogurt?
Greek yogurt differs from regular yogurt because it is strained to remove whey protein. This means that Greek yogurt is thicker, creamier, and contains little to no lactose but has concentrated amounts of gut-friendly probiotics.
Greek yogurt comes in full fat and low fat varieties. Full fat Greek yogurt is made using full fat milk and therefore contains more saturated fats and calories than its low-fat counterpart. Both varieties are high in protein along with a host of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients including calcium and potassium,
How to Make Tzatziki
Traditionally, solid ingredients such as cucumber and garlic are crushed using a mortar and pestle before the yogurt and herbs are added. However, I tend to finely mince the garlic with a knife and grate the cucumber using a box grater.
Start by washing the cucumber well under warm water. There’s no need to peel the cucumber, unless you prefer it that way. Use a fine box grater to grate 2/3 of a long English cucumber. Reserve the remaining 1/3 for chef snacks later!
Next, you need to drain the cucumber to keep the Tzatziki from getting watery. Stack three paper towels together (or use a clean tea towel) and place the finely grated cucumber on top. Gently squeeze the juices out of the cucumber over a sink or bowl. The grated cucumber will be in a dry lump once all the juice is squeezed out.
Place the yogurt in a medium bowl. Break up the cucumber and add it to the yogurt. To the yogurt and cucumber, add chopped fresh dill, oregano, finely chopped lemon zest, and lemon juice (half only). Finally, stir the ingredients together, then season with salt (and pepper if you want).
What to Eat with Tzatziki
Tzatziki goes great with any grilled meat. I love it with chicken or pork souvlaki and even lamb. Though it is tasty on fresh grilled pita bread, it is especially wonderful on a burger, gyro, or in a wrap.
We love to use it as a dip for Greek appetizers such as fried calamari, dolmades, and spanakopita. However, it makes a fabulous dip for raw vegetables too.
Additionally, Tzatziki is usually found on a Mediterranean mezze platter along with marinated olives, grilled pita bread, halloumi or feta, dolmades, hummus or other dips.
More recently, I used a large amount of Tzatziki in place of creamy salad dressing for a Greek style orzo pasta salad.
Make Ahead and Storing Tzatziki
Ideally, this sauce is best made ahead of time so that the flavours have time to marry. However, the sauce may separate slightly in the fridge overnight. I like to make mine in the morning and let it sit for a few hours before dinner.
You can keep this creamy sauce in the fridge for 4-5 days. If it separates, just give it a good stir before using.
If you make this Tzatziki Sauce recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Pinterest for my latest recipes. Also, if you do make this recipe, please tag me on Instagram, I’d love to see what you guys are making! Thank you so much for reading my blog.
- 2 cups full fat plain Greek Yogurt
- 2/3 English Cucumber
- 1 clove Garlic; finely minced
- 1/4 cup Fresh Dill; chopped
- 1 Lemon; zested and juiced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Wash the cucumber well under warm water. Peel, or leave whole.
- Grate the 2/3 cucumber using a fine box grater. Reserve the remaining 1/3 for snacks later.
- Stack three sheets of paper towel together (or use a clean tea towel) and place the finely grated cucumber on top.
- Gently squeeze the juices out of the cucumber over a sink or bowl. The grated cucumber will be in a dry lump once all the juice is squeezed out.
- Place yogurt in a small bowl. Break up the cucumber and add it to the yogurt.
- Next, add the fresh dill, oregano, finely chopped lemon zest, and lemon juice (half only).
- Stir ingredients together, then season with salt.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 74Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 571mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 0gSugar: 4gProtein: 12g
Nutritional calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. For special diets or medical issues please use your preferred calculator.