Tzatziki

Tzatziki is an awesome Middle Eastern mezze that compliments many dishes. It’s a fragrant and luscious dip-slash-condiment-slash-sauce. The Greeks put it on lamb gyros (not kosher, but tasty!). I usually serve it with meatless meals or as an accompaniment to fish. Tzatziki goes great with flatbread, pita bread, falafel, grilled veggies, stuffed grape leaves, grilled fish, or as a fresh vegetable dip. There are many, many more possibilities. It adds a lot of flavor to whatever you put it on, and it’s really healthy too! Healthy and yummy? You bet!

Tzatziki is often served with a sort of soupy texture– runny, if you will. That’s not the way I like it. Nope, I need a tzatziki with texture… something so thick and rich that you can eat it with a fork. What the secret to creating the perfect tzatziki texture? Strained yogurt! In yesterday’s blog, I shared the technique of how to strain yogurt to make thickened Greek yogurt and labneh. You’ll use the technique when you make this tzatizi. See? There’s a method to my madness. :)

I usually start the process with Greek yogurt, since it takes less time to strain than regular yogurt. If you’ve got the time, you can use plain yogurt, but you’ll need to strain it for 14-15 hours to get the thickened texture you’ll need for my tzatziki.

Make sure you use fresh herbs and lemon juice. I like using Persian cucumbers (the small, thin ones) in this dish because they have a nice flavor and they don’t have many seeds. If you can’t find Persian cucumbers, you may substitute English cucumbers—those are the long thin ones wrapped tightly in plastic. Avoid using regular fat cucumbers, they are coated with wax and prone to bitterness. Nobody wants a bitter tzatziki. Finally, if you’re a garlic fiend you can totally add more than the recipe calls for. I’m sensitive to garlic, so I don’t add very much, but this dip could easily stand 2 more cloves.

This dish is vegetarian, gluten free, heart healthy, high protein, low carb, lowfat, and totally delicious. Enjoy!

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups plain lowfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 lb Persian or English cucumbers, peeled and seeded
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped mint or dill
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed (or more to taste)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (or more to taste)
  • Fresh mint sprig for garnish (optional)

You will also need

  • Cheesecloth or clean dishtowel, colander, bowl
Prep Time: 2 - 3 Hours
Total Time: 2:15 - 3 Hours 15 Minutes
Servings: 1 1/2 cups tzatziki
Kosher Key: Dairy
  • Strain the Greek yogurt for 2-3 hours in the refrigerator. If you'd prefer to use plain yogurt and not Greek, you'll need to strain it for 14-15 hours to get the right consistency. If you don't know how to strain yogurt, you can find instructions here: How to Strain Yogurt
  • Pulse the cucumbers in the food processor or hand chop to desired texture. I like them chopped small, but not minced. Bigger chunks will result in chunkier tzatziki. It’s a matter of preference. You can also grate them, if you prefer.
  • Cut out an 18-inch rectangle of cheesecloth and fold into two layers. Place chopped cucumbers in the center of the double-layered cloth. Gather up the cheesecloth and twist at the top to form a bundle. Squeeze the bundle several times over the sink, twisting the bundle tightly to get rid of as much liquid as possible. If you don't have cheesecloth, use a thin dishtowel instead.
  • Place strained yogurt in a medium mixing bowl.
  • Add the drained cucumber pieces from the cheesecloth to the bowl along with the olive oil, chopped fresh mint or dill, crushed garlic, lemon juice, and salt.
  • Use a fork or whisk to blend the ingredients together. Taste the tzatziki; add more garlic, lemon juice, or salt to taste if desired. Serve cold. Store in the refrigerator.

Comments (40)Post a Comment

  1. Hit it right ion the Barrel head Hun… :).. Balanced Flavors… I like it.. Sometimes I use both.. Dill and Mint..:)… If I don’t see ya.. Shabbat Shalom…:)

  2. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Tori – this is GREAT! I was hoping you’d post this recipe soon! I have to say, I agree – I can’t imagine using anything but fresh lemon and it’s definitely worth noting!

    I love tzatziki and there’s a Greek restaurant a hop, skip and a jump from my house that makes home-made pitas. Their tzatziki isn’t awesome, so guess what I’m gonna do?

  3. I am in love with this one Tori. I have been craving this for days. Now I can make my own instead of buying it. I love this stuff. Used to work at a place that did their own gyro and tzatziki eons ago when I was a teeny bopper. Have loved it ever since. Thanks so much for sharing with us.

  4. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Mmm… gorgeous recipe! I love fresh ingredients as well and tzatziki is one of my favourite dips – delicious, light and versatile. You illustrate it so well.

  5. Lovely! I love the Persian cucumber, you are right, regular big ones are bitter.
    I like this dip, we make it more soupy and eat with spoon, mostly with rice. But next time will serve the dip!

  6. I love tzatziki. I love to keep some around for snacking and dipping. I’m going to have to make some soon because I’m craving it now! I’ve skipped the straining process in the past, but I think I’ll give it a try one of these days. I bet it makes a big difference.

  7. A little tip to share about garlic in this recipe: blanche the garlic briefly so that the flavor of the garlic is present without leaving your breath too garlicky.

  8. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    We made this tonight, amazingly delicious! We cut the recipe in half as is just two of us, big mistake! As we fought to lick the bowl. Thank you for the recipe!

  9. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Picked up honey flavored Greek God yogurt by mistake. Didn’t realize until cukes already in mix. OMG! The flavor is very contradictory, but delicious, none the less. Love your recipe.

  10. I have made this a couple of times. Everyone who tries it says that I make the best Tzatziki. Thank you for the recipe!

    1. Hi Heather! It should keep well for 3-4 days, but it will need to be stirred up again each time to keep it well mixed. So happy you loved it!

  11. Thank you for the recipe! Didn’t strain it as I was hungry but it was still awesome. You say to store it in the refrigerator but the problem was there was not any leftovers! Will make again as long as my fresh mint holds out then switch to dill. Again, thanks!

  12. The best tzatziki recipe I have ever tried! Thank you for the detailed instructions. We cleaned the bowl completely!

  13. i don’t know but mine was incredibly bland, couldn’t decide whether to add more salt, more garlic, more lemon, tried each one and there was still absolutely no flavor. Don’t know what I am doing wrong. I used my own garden cucumbers, garden garlic, and my own mint. Don’t know why the flavor lacked. I usually love Tzatziki, which is why I wanted to make it myself. Just couldn’t get the flavor out of this recipe. Any suggestions?

    1. Interesting, Jenny; I’ve never had that complaint with this recipe before. With tzatziki, the flavor comes from salt, garlic, lemon and and herbs. I would suggest stepping up all of those ingredients (maybe doubling the suggested amounts?) to find the flavor you’re seeking. Sorry it wasn’t what you had hoped for!

  14. I can’t tell u how happy I am to come across your blog! I find it to be informative and interesting, and despite the fact that I am not Jewish, just LOVE your recipes! Please keep up the good work!

  15. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Hey Tory and All.
    Just wanted to add a note regarding the earlier post/comment that the recipe lacks flavor.
    Firstly, I have made this dish 100+ times and my recipe is very close to Tori’s. My spin is that I cut my cucumbers into chunks and macerate them with kosher salt for 15-20 minutes refrigerated and rinse before I process them. This gives more of a seasoned “body” of flavor and I find it better that just adding salt. The verbiage addition to Tori’s ingredients (or more to taste) is actually the most important because we all taste the 4 basic profiles differently ( salty, sweet, sour, bitter). It’s up to the individual to take it upon themselves and taste, season, taste and reseason if needed. Tori I envy the time and effort you have put into your site and the recipes I have taken from here to refresh my memory, have all been spot on excellent guides for whatever I am creating. Great job and thank you for all the hard work you have put into this !!!
    All the best

    James

    1. So happy you are enjoying the recipes James! Yes, I agree that the “add to taste” note is SO important. I can’t predict how every person will respond to salt, pepper, lemon, spicy factor, etc… that’s why I let people adjust themselves. Thank you for the input.

  16. I don’t like mint, and my son has a dill allergy, but I love tzatziki! Are there any herbs or spices I can make it with instead?

    1. Hmm… you could try cilantro, which would give it a different flavor, or basil perhaps. Parsley will work too but won’t give it much of a flavor punch. Hope that helps!

  17. Excellent recipe, and thanks for the tips of using muslin and fresh lemon. We made home-made gyros from Serious Eats (Greek-American Lamb Gyros), and they’re actually perfect. Coming from Chicago, we’re very picky. But the sauce he recommends isn’t tzatziki sauce. THIS fixed it all. That gyros recipe is here (but it uses pork lardons or bacon or pork fat so may not be appropriate for this blog):
    link to seriouseats.com

  18. I love your recipes… please add me to the weekly email newsletter. Thank you kindly!

    God bless you and your family!

    P.S. We’re switching to organic whole milk, many thanks to you! :)

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