Tzatziki is hard to pronounce but so easy to put together. This Greek condiment uses simple ingredients and is fresh, healthy and delicious, a true crowd-pleaser. Use it as a sauce with grilled meats, sandwiches, gyros, tacos, and salads. It's also a great dip with pita chips and raw vegetable platters.
What is tzatziki sauce?
It's a Greek yogurt cucumber sauce, made with Mediterranean staples like fresh herbs (dill and mint), garlic, and lemon.
It's eaten cold as a sauce or dip, and is very popular in the Middle East and parts of Europe. Or where Greek food is popular.
That's how my Greek friend Sotiris pronounces it. So it's how I say it.
sat·see·kee is another way I sometimes hear it pronounced, with a silent t at the beginning.
Can you make it in advance?
Yes! And it's encouraged to allow the flavors to meld. So make it the day before you plan to serve it. It keeps well for a day in the refrigerator before the herbs wilt too much. You can keep it longer in the fridge in an airtight container, but the fresh dill and mint will not be as bright or fresh.
- English cucumbers: these are the most common ones, long, slender and dark green, somewhat similar to a zucchini.
- Greek yogurt: use natural, plain whole milk yogurt for best and tastier results.
- Fresh herbs: dill and mint. Dried ones don't deliver the best flavor.
- Lemon juice: fresh.
- Garlic: fresh, minced.
- Salt: I like using kosher salt. But regular table salt works just fine.
For quantities see the recipe card towards the end of this post.
What type of yogurt should you use?
The yogurt should always be natural Greek-style. What can vary is the consistency or thickness depending what you use this yogurt sauce for.
- When making tzatziki dip or sauce, you need thick Green yogurt with a creamy texture and dense consistency that holds up well with the other ingredients. Plain Greek yogurt is the first choice. If unavailable, strain natural yogurt until it thickens almost like sour cream.
- A natural yogurt might work better if you want to make a more fluid sauce (for gyros or a dressing). Or look for a runnier Greek yogurt. They have different consistencies depending on the brand.
- You can make homemade yogurt. Good sources for this are Serious Eats and Daring Gourmet.
How to choose English cucumbers
- Appearance: they should have a vibrant, dark green color. Avoid dull or yellowish ones, which may indicate overripeness or poor quality. The skin should be smooth and free from blemishes or soft spots.
- Firmness: gently squeeze the cucumber. It should feel firm but not too hard. Avoid soft or mushy cucumbers, as they may be past their prime.
- Weight: a good-quality cucumber should feel relatively heavy for its size. This indicates that it contains a higher water content and is likely to be more crisp and juicy.
How to make tzatziki
This creamy sauce is very simple but you need to prepare the cucumbers.
The only step that can be considered elaborate involves grating, salting, and letting the cucumber drain.
Fresh cucumbers contain a high water content (sometimes bitter), and removing excess moisture is crucial to avoid a watery tzatziki sauce.
Tzatziki herbs: fresh dill and mint are traditional and contribute a unique flavor. I don't recommend using dried ones as they lack freshness and vibrance. You could use fresh parsley as a substitute, but it won't be the same.
Draining the cucumbers
Place the grated cucumber in a fine-mesh sieve or colander, sprinkle it with a pinch of salt, and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes. The salt will draw out the excess moisture.
Using clean hands or a kitchen towel, squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the cucumber before adding it to the yogurt mixture.
Mixing the sauce
The rest of the ingredients are added to the natural yogurt in a bowl and stirred. The amount of salt, pepper, and herbs is a personal choice, so start small and adjust if needed.
Vintage Kitchen tip: if Greek yogurt is unavailable, strain regular natural yogurt until thick and creamy.
What to eat with tzatziki
- Dip: pita bread, pita chips, or raw vegetables like carrot sticks, cucumber slices, and bell pepper strips can be dipped. Use it as part of a Mediterranean crudite (fresh veggies) platter.
- Condiment: it pairs well with grilled meats like chicken, lamb, or beef. You can spoon it on kebabs, gyros, souvlaki, or burgers to add a tangy and refreshing element.
- Spread: use it on sandwiches, wraps, or pitas with chicken, turkey, roasted vegetables, lettuce, and tomatoes, and enjoy a delicious Mediterranean-inspired sandwich.
- Salad dressing: Thin out tzatziki with a little lemon juice or olive oil to create a creamy dressing for salads. Toss it with a Greek salad consisting of fresh vegetables, feta cheese and olives.
- Marinade: it can be used for marinating meat, especially chicken or lamb as the yogurt helps tenderize it. Marinate for a few hours before grilling or roasting.
Can you freeze tzatziki?
I don't recommend freezing tzatziki, though you technically can. The cucumbers and herbs lose the freshness that is characteristic of this Greek sauce.
Can you eat tzatziki on keto?
Yes you can! The ingredients are low-carb, high in protein, low-sugar and healthy.
Tzatziki sauce with sour cream
A twist on the traditional recipe below, you can substitute the Greek yogurt with sour cream. It'll be denser, as this spread is less fluid than yogurt.
Depending the sour cream you use, it can also be tangier.
It's a good alternative for those who don't like yogurt or if it's unavailable where you live.
Related recipes you might like:
Let me know in the comments below if you made this recipe and loved it and if you had issues so we can troubleshoot together. I love to hear what you think, always. Thanks for being here. It's much appreciated.
You might also consider subscribing to our FREE email series to Boost your Home Baking Skills! And our regular newsletter.
And let's connect via Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read my disclosure policy.Print
- 2 cups full-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 cup coarsely grated cucumber, seedless (about 1 large cucumber)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (plus more to serve)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- If you have regular yogurt, let it drain for several hours to a day to thicken. Place a cheesecloth-lined colander (or fine mesh sieve) over a bowl, cover it, and let it sit in the fridge. When ready to use, discard the water collected at the bowl's bottom.
- For the cucumber: peel it if you want to (I don't), cut it in half lengthwise and then in half again to make quarters. With a kitchen knife, remove the seeds by cutting them downwards (similar to removing the core of a pineapple).
- Grate it using a coarse or large-holed grater, add ½ teaspoon salt and place it in a medium mesh colander over a bowl that contains it. It should have space for the liquid to collect. Let it sit for 30 minutes. Drain it well by squeezing it with clean hands or a kitchen towel. Or place it on paper towels and blot to remove excess water.
- Place the yogurt in a medium bowl and add the drained cucumber, minced garlic, chopped herbs, lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, salt, andblack pepper to taste, and stir to combine.
- Check the seasonings, adjust if needed, and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to a day, covered with plastic wrap or in an airtight container to avoid dryness.
- Serve cold with extra cucumber slices, pita chips, lemon wedges and fresh herbs.
- Grating: use a large-holed or coarse grater (a box grater also works). You can also dice it small, but squeezing the excess liquid is harder.
- Yogurt: if Greek yogurt is unavailable, strain regular natural yogurt until thick and creamy.
- Storage: it's encouraged to make it a few hours to a day before to allow the flavors to meld. It keeps well for 1-2 days in the refrigerator before the herbs wilt too much. You can keep it longer in an airtight container, but the dill and mint will not be as bright or fresh. I don't recommend freezing tzatziki, though you technically can. The cucumbers and herbs lose the freshness that is characteristic of this Greek sauce.
- Prep Time: 45 minutes
- Category: Sauces - Dips
- Method: Mixing
- Cuisine: Greek
- Serving Size: ⅛
- Calories: 89
- Sugar: 3.2 g
- Sodium: 316.6 mg
- Fat: 5.4 g
- Carbohydrates: 4 g
- Fiber: 0.1 g
- Protein: 6.6 g
- Cholesterol: 9.3 mg
Keywords: tzatziki, cucumber yogurt sauce
Adapted from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan