Make a homemade Tzatziki with this versatile recipe! With variations for Tzatziki Sauce and Tzatziki Dip, it’s cool, tangy, and refreshing.
Out of all the wonderful Greek recipes featured here, from our Greek-inspired Couscous Salad to the comforting Greek Meat Sauce or Moussaka, one that stands out as my frequent favorite is Tzatziki. And if you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing this creamy Greek yogurt dip, get ready for a delightful treat like no other!
What is Tzatziki Made Of:
Tzatziki, often pronounced tah-zee-kee, is a refreshing sauce or dip common in Southern European and Middle Eastern cuisines. Its ingredients include Greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic, olive oil, fresh herbs, and either lemon juice or vinegar. These components blend to create a flavorful mixture with creamy textures, tangy and herbaceous tones, and a satisfying crunch. Whether used as a sauce or a dip, tzatziki enhances various dishes, weaving together unique tastes and textures that many people enjoy.
Why This Recipe Works
- Balanced Creaminess: The harmonious blend of Greek yogurt and sour cream provides a luxurious creaminess that perfectly complements the crisp texture of shredded cucumber, creating a delightful contrast in every bite.
- Lively Freshness: The addition of lemon juice, zest, and grated garlic infuses the tzatziki with a zesty brightness that awakens the palate, making it a versatile companion to various dishes, from grilled meats to roasted veggies.
- Herbal Symphony: The marriage of mint, parsley, and dill introduces a captivating herbal symphony that adds depth to the dip’s profile, making it a flavorful accompaniment that effortlessly enhances a wide range of culinary creations.
Recommended Ingredients & Substitutions
Greek Yogurt: Opt for full-fat Greek yogurt for the creamiest result. Low-fat or non-fat versions can be used but may affect the overall texture. Look for Greek yogurt in the dairy section of your grocery store.
Cucumber: English cucumbers are ideal due to their mild flavor and thin skin. Regular cucumbers work well too, but peel them if the skin is thick. You can find both types in the produce section.
Sour Cream: The addition of sour cream is optional as it diverges from the traditional ingredients. If you prefer a closer-to-tradition approach, you can omit the sour cream and replace it with extra Greek yogurt. However, including sour cream brings a luxurious richness and tanginess to the tzatziki, contributing a delightful layer of flavor. The choice is yours, depending on your desired taste and texture.
Choose regular or light sour cream based on your preference. The dairy aisle is where you’ll locate sour cream.
Olive Oil: Extra virgin olive oil adds the best flavor. Look for it in the oil aisle.
Lemon Juice: Freshly squeezed lemon juice is preferable. Bottled lemon juice is a substitute if needed. Lemons can be found in the produce section.
Garlic: Use fresh garlic cloves for optimal taste. I promise it’s worth the extra work.
Fresh Herbs (Mint, Parsley, Dill): Fresh herbs provide the best aroma and flavor. If unavailable, dried herbs can be used, but In my opinion, if fresh herbs weren’t available, I wouldn’t make the dish until they were.
Salt & Pepper: Regular table salt is suitable. Ground black pepper adds a good kick.
Step By Step Instructions
Preparing The Cucumber
If the cucumber skin is thin, you can leave it on for added texture and color. However, if the skin is thicker, peel the cucumber, leaving some stripes of green for visual appeal. If the cucumber has a waxy coating, peel it to prevent any undesirable texture in the dip.
To ensure the tzatziki isn’t too watery, remove the cucumber seeds using a spoon.
Then shred the cucumber using a grater or food processor. You’ll need about 2 cups/250 grams for a thick dip or 1 cup/125g for tzatziki sauce.
To prevent the tzatziki from becoming watery, take the shredded cucumber and sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of salt over the cucumber. Gently stir the cucumber to distribute the salt. Leave it to sit for around 10 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
After 10 minutes, wrap the cucumber in the towel and squeeze it firmly to remove as much water as possible. This step ensures the tzatziki maintains a desirable consistency and prevents it from being too watery. You’ll be amazed at how much liquid is released.
Making The Tzatziki
Add the shredded cucumber to a mixing bowl with 2 cups/480g of Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup/60g of sour cream, 1 tablespoon/15ml of extra virgin olive oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 teaspoon/5g of lemon zest, 1 to 2 grated garlic cloves, 3 chopped mint leaves, 1 tablespoon/3g of flat-leaf parsley, and 2 tablespoons/6 grams of fresh dill. Then season with salt and pepper.
I recommend starting with only one clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon (5ml) of lemon juice, and just a pinch of salt. Then once the Tzatziki is mixed, taste and add more as needed according to your pallet.
Thoroughly mix all the ingredients in the bowl.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tzatziki for at least 1 hour. This chilling period allows the flavors to meld together. After chilling, your homemade tzatziki is ready to be enjoyed as a dip with pita bread and veggies or as a condiment for various dishes.
- Choose the Right Cucumber: Opt for English cucumbers, which have a milder flavor and thinner skin. If you use regular cucumbers, peel them if the skin is thick. This prevents any bitterness and ensures a pleasant crunch in your tzatziki.
- Squeeze Out Excess Moisture: After salting the shredded cucumber, make sure to give it a gentle stir and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Then, firmly squeeze out the excess moisture using a clean kitchen towel. This step is crucial to avoid a watery tzatziki.
- Greek Yogurt Consistency: If your Greek yogurt seems too thick, you can add a small amount of milk to achieve the desired consistency. This ensures that your tzatziki is neither too thick nor too runny.
- Herb Chopping Technique: When chopping the mint, parsley, and dill, use a sharp knife to ensure clean cuts. This prevents bruising and releases the full aroma and flavor of the herbs.
- Chill for Optimal Flavor: Let the tzatziki chill in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. This gives the flavors time to meld together and enhances the overall taste.
- Flavor to taste: I recommend starting with only one clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon (5ml) of lemon juice, and just a pinch of salt. Then once the Tzatziki is mixed, taste and add more as needed according to your pallet.
- Make Ahead: Tzatziki tastes even better the next day as the flavors further develop. Consider making it a day ahead for a more intense taste experience.
- Experiment with Variations: While this recipe is classic, feel free to experiment with additional herbs or spices like cumin or paprika for your unique twist on tzatziki.
Storage & Freezing Instructions ❄
Storage: Store tzatziki in an airtight container in the fridge. Consume within 3-4 days for peak freshness; expect slight wateriness as cucumber releases moisture.
Freezing: Freeze tzatziki, noting texture changes upon thawing due to yogurt separation. Freeze in a freezer-safe container with space for expansion; seal, label, and date.
Thawing: Gradually thaw tzatziki in the fridge. Avoid microwaving to preserve texture. After thawing, stir to recombine; flavors remain delightful, if texture less creamy than fre
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Let’s Make Tzatziki
- 2 cups shredded cucumber seeds removed and peels based on thickness
- 2 cups Greek yogurt 1 cup/125g if making Tzatziki sauce
- ¼ cup sour cream optional, see notes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 to 2 garlic cloves grated
- 3 mint leaves chopped
- 1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley chopped (optional)
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill chopped
- Salt & pepper to taste
- To ensure the tzatziki isn’t too watery, remove the cucumber seeds using a spoon. If the cucumber skin is thin, you can leave it on for added texture and color. However, if the skin is thicker, peel the cucumber, leaving some stripes of green for visual appeal. If the cucumber has a waxy coating, peel it to prevent any undesirable texture in the dip.
- Transfer the shredded cucumber to a bowl lined with cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel. Sprinkle the cucumbers with ½ teaspoon of salt and gently stir them. set aside for 10 minutes.
- Firmly squeeze out the excess moisture using the cheesecloth or kitchen towel into a bowl or over the sink (see photo in the post for an example).
- Add the shredded cucumber to a mixing bowl with the yogurt, sour cream, olive oil, and 1 teaspoon the lemon juice.
- Gently fold in the lemon zest, half the grated garlic, chopped herbs, freshly grated pepper, and a pinch of salt.
- Thoroughly mix all ingredients, taste and add more lemon juice, garlic, or salt as needed. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the tzatziki for about an hour before serving.
Tips + Notes
Erren’s Kitchen is written and produced for informational intentions only. We are not certified nutritionists, and the nutritional information found on this site has not been assessed or authorized by a nutritionist or the FDA. The nutritional information found in our recipes is offered as an estimate and should not be considered a guarantee or fact. The estimated data is provided as a courtesy and calculated through a third-party online nutritional calculator, spoonacular API. Although we do our best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered rough estimates. Many factors, such as brands or products purchased and the nutritional fluctuations that naturally occur in fresh produce, can alter the effectiveness of the nutritional information in any recipe. Furthermore, various online calculators provide different results depending on their particular algorithms and nutrition fact sources. To obtain the most precise nutritional information in a provided recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the exact ingredients you are using when preparing the recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.