Tzatziki sauce is a creamy yoghurt and cucumber dip packed with flavour which lifts up any Mediterranean dish. It can be used as an appetizer dip, a spread, or as a condiment with grilled meat and veggies. And on top of all, it’s very easy to make with just a few ingredients.
I grew up in a mining city with lots of immigrants, of which a large amount were/are from Greece. This means that I basically grew up with Greek food. Tzatziki has become kind of a staple food. I hardly ever serve appetizers without my creamy Greek tzatziki sauce.
What is Tzatziki sauce?
The word tzatziki is derived from the Turkish word cacik, which in turn comes from the Armenian word cacig. The word tzatziki (also often written as tsatsiki or tzaziki) should be pronounced as ‘sat-see-kee‘. In Mediterranean cuisine there are various yoghurt and cucumber dips each slightly different. This homemade tzatziki sauce recipe is the Greek variation of this Mediterranean and middle-eastern dish.
What ingredients are used to make a tzatziki dip?
- What yoghurt to use to make tzatziki dip: Greek yoghurt is what you should use to make tzatziki. It is regular yoghurt which is strained, making it thicker and higher in protein. If you use another type of yoghurt, the tzatziki will be too runny and watery. If you don’t find Greek yoghurt you can use double cream or any other thick yoghurt. Just keep in mind that the tzatziki might come out different when using a different type of yoghurt.
- Cucumber: I always use an English cucumber to make tzatziki. The taste of this cucumber is refreshing and has a mild taste of melon. The advantage is that you can use the skin, which is high in fibre.
- Garlic: Tzatziki needs to have a taste of garlic, but the garlic should not be too overpowering. You should still be able to taste all the other refreshing ingredients, like the cucumber, lemon and yoghurt. I use 1 clove of garlic for 500 g (1¾ cups) of yoghurt. When the dip is made in advance, the yoghurt has time to absorb the flavours and it mellows out the strong zingy taste of the raw garlic. Also make sure to grate the garlic in the tzatziki, since you don’t want to have to bite on little chunks of raw garlic.
- Fresh herbs: Traditionally a handful of fresh dill is used to finish off the tzatziki. I also add some fresh parsley and sometimes some fresh mint.
- Acidity: Authentic tzatziki recipes state to use white wine vinegar, although I prefer to use fresh lemon juice instead. So basically, if you want to divert from this recipe, feel free to use some vinegar or a combination of lemon juice and vinegar in equal quantities. Don’t poor in too much acidity. First of all because it can make your tzatziki sauce too runny and it can overpower the overall taste. Rather use a teaspoon to start off and then taste it. You can always add more afterwards.
- Olive oil: Poor a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil over the tzatziki before serving. It looks nice on the dip and it adds to the Mediterranean flavour of the condiment.
How to make tzatziki sauce
I know many people will buy ready made tzatziki sauce at the grocery store, but you will be surprised how easy it is to make homemade Greek tzatziki.
The most important thing is to properly prepare the cucumber. A cucumber consists of around 95% water, so it’s important to properly drain the moisture from the cucumber. I always coarsely grate the cucumber to make tzatziki which gives a nicer texture to the Greek yoghurt dip. I don’t peel the cucumber as I think the peel provides a nice bite, is healthy and adds extra colour to the dip. But I do remove the inner seeds since they contain a lot of moisture. So cut the cucumber lengthwise in half, scoop out the seeds and grate the cucumber halves.
Then it’s important to remove the rest of the excess moisture from the cucumber. There are various ways to drain it:
- Sprinkle salt over the cucumber, which will retrieve the moisture and let it drain in a sieve. This will take a while, so if you have time you can use this method.
- Put the grated cucumber in a clean cheesecloth and wring the moisture out.
- Squeeze the grated cucumber gently with your hands over the sink to drain the water.
Now take a bowl, add the Greek yoghurt, grate in the garlic, add the salt, pepper, lemon juice and the strained cucumber and mix well. Taste and add extra seasoning and lemon juice according to taste and refrigerate. Just keep in mind that when the tzatziki sits for a while in the fridge, the yoghurt will absorb all the flavours, so you might want to wait with extra seasoning until right before serving.
Add the fresh herbs, like dill or even mint and drizzle some olive oil on top just before serving.
How to store Tzatziki dip
When refrigerated, tzatziki can keep up to 3 days in an airtight container. I would not keep it longer than 3 days, since the cucumber will still release some water and the tzatziki will not taste as good anymore. I would also make the tzatziki sauce a few hours in advance if you can. It will bring out great flavours when it sits for a little while.
What to serve with homemade tzatziki dip:
as a dip:
- Flatbread, pita bread, crackers, bread sticks and grissini
- Raw vegetables like cucumber, carrots, radish, cauliflower and celery sticks
as a spread:
- in pita pockets
- in sandwiches or wraps
as a sauce:
- with meat skewers
- with gyros meat
- with calamari rings
Homemade tzatziki sauce recipe
- 1½ cups cucumber or 1 medium English cucumber grated
- 500 g (1¾ cups) Greek yoghurt
- 1 clove garlic grated
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil extra virgin
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill
- Slice the cucumber in half and take out the seeds. Grate the cucumber halves with the peels. Put the grated cucumber in a sieve to let the moisture drain. This can take a while, so you can also squeeze the moisture out by hand over the sink or in a cheesecloth.
- Take a large bowl, add the Greek yoghurt, the grated and drained cucumber, the grated garlic, lemon juice, pepper, salt. Mix well.
- Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Add the fresh dill and refrigerate.
Inspired to prepare this recipe? Don’t forget to pin it to your Pinterest board for later.