Easy Tzatziki Sauce (Cucumber Yogurt Sauce)

May 20, 2020 (Updated: May 28, 2020) By Aneesha |

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This authentic Tzatziki recipe is made with creamy yogurt, cooling cucumber and fresh herbs to highlight those Mediterranean flavors. It makes a wonderful chilled sauce, spread, dip or dressing for grilled meats, gyros, vegetables, salads and warm pita to enjoy as part of a sensational Greek meal.

Greek tzatziki dip recipe in black bowl with fresh vegetable on black plate

Authentic Tzatziki Sauce Recipe

It’s impossible to order from any Greek restaurant and not see tzatziki on the menu. It’s quintessentially Greek.

And let me tell you, making it at home is just as easy (and if not more delicious!) than ordering it out at your favorite Greek restaurant – or searching for it in the dip aisle at Trader Joe’s.

But even though it is typically associated with Greece, cucumber yogurt sauce is popular in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, usually in different forms and with slightly different names. I like to think of Cucumber Raita as the Indian equivalent of tzatziki.

It’s a wonderfully refreshing and versatile cucumber yogurt recipe you can serve as a sauce, dip or spread with grilled meats, gyros, sandwiches, roasted veggies and more.

This authentic tzatziki sauce recipe is ready in 10 minutes and makes a great addition to your Mediterranean spread.

What Is Tzatziki?

Tzatziki, also called Cacik (Turkish for “kind of edible herb”) or Tarator, is a creamy and delicious Mediterranean sauce or dip that is made primarily with salted, strained yogurt and grated cucumbers.

Depending on the region and cuisine, it is further mixed with garlic, salt, vinegar or lemon juice, olive oil and herbs such as mint, dill, parsley and thyme.

How To Pronounce Tzatziki

According to the International Phonetic Alphabet, this cucumber yogurt sauce is spelled /tsaˈtsiːki/.

When speaking, the correct pronunciation is tuh-zee-kee or tsaht-ZEE-kee, for a stronger emphasis on the “T”. You can hear the correct pronunciation here.

Ingredients & Substitutions

The ingredients to make this traditional Greek dip include Persian (or English) cucumbers, Greek yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, mint (and/or dill) and olive oil.

homemade cucumer yogurt sauce in black bowl with fresh vegetable on black plate
  • Cucumbers: I prefer to use Persian or English cucumbers for their thinner skin and lack of seeds. Since the skins are so thin, there is no need to peel. If a regular cucumber is all you have on hand, make sure to peel and scoop out the seeds.
  • Yogurt: Whole milk Greek yogurt is my preferred yogurt base. It is thicker and richer than American-style yogurt. See Yogurt Notes and Nutrition for more info. Note: Some recipes call for the addition of sour cream. I have never tried tzatziki with sour cream, but my recommendation would be to replace 1/2 cup of the Greek yogurt with full-fat sour cream. If you try it, let me know how it goes!
  • Herbs: Dill is more traditional, but I love the cooling sensation of fresh mint. Use one or both and adjust the amount to your liking. Fresh parsley can also be used.

Yogurt Notes & Nutrition

Tzatziki is traditionally made with drained sheep or goat’s milk yogurt, but it’s difficult to find those here in the U.S. Greek yogurt, on the other hand, is easily available in supermarkets and has already been strained (that’s why it’s thicker and higher in protein).

I make this dip a lot with store-bought Greek yogurt, as well as my homemade yogurt that I make in the Instant Pot. The consistency of my homemade yogurt is between Greek yogurt and regular.

That being said, feel free to use any yogurt that you like. I have not found a difference in texture when using whole milk, low-fat or non-fat yogurt.

When it comes to nutrition, tzatziki sauce is mostly yogurt and cucumber, so you can dollop a generous amount on your food. Plus, the Greek yogurt is a healthy addition to your diet as it is:

  • High in protein
  • Packed with probiotics
  • Good source of vitamin B-12

It’s creamy yet light, meaning more is always better (and better for you too!).

How To Thicken Greek Yogurt for this Dip

Greek yogurt is thicker than regular yogurt, but you can strain it for an even thicker sauce or dip. To do so, simply:

  1. Place a few layers of cheesecloth in a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl, add the Greek yogurt, cover with the ends of the cheesecloth and set in your fridge.
  2. Allow it to strain for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

Note that the longer you allow the Greek yogurt to strain, the thicker it will become. So adjust the time based on how creamy you want your tzatziki to be.

Straining the cucumber prior to mixing into the yogurt sauce also produces thicker tzatziki.

How To Make Restaurant-Style Tzatziki with Greek Yogurt

An authentic tzatziki sauce is quick, easy and ready in 10 minutes! All you have to do is gather a few fresh ingredients, grate and mix it together in a bowl.

two hands grating cucumber, straining cucumber, grating garlic, squeezing lemon, grated cucumber and yogurt in glass bowl
  • Finely grate cucumbers over paper towels or a clean kitchen towel, wrap tight and squeeze out the excess juice with your hands over a bowl or the sink. Discard liquid. If you have the time, you can drain it in cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve overnight (Pics 1 & 2).
  • Add yogurt to a mixing bowl, then add the drained grated cucumber and grate in ½-1 garlic clove, depending on how garlicky you like your sauce (Pic 3).
  • Add lemon juice, salt, pepper and chopped herbs. Stir till everything is well combined. Check seasoning and adjust to taste (Pics 4-6).
  • Refrigerate till ready to serve. Just before serving, stir in extra virgin olive oil (optional). Enjoy as a dip with pita bread or veggies, or as a sauce with your Mediterranean meal.

Storage Instructions – How Long Does Tzatziki Last?

Greek tzatziki should be kept in an airtight container in the fridge. When properly stored, it will last up to 5 days, but is best eaten within 2 days. (I’ve noticed that the garlic gets a little funky after 4 days or so)

After the two-day mark, the yogurt sauce will become a little runny since the cucumbers start to release their water. Simply enjoy as is or add a tablespoon or two of Greek yogurt to thicken it up. Adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

homemade cucumer yogurt sauce in black bowl with fresh vegetable on black plate

Uses For Tzatziki

This delicious Greek yogurt sauce can be paired with a wide range of dishes. Some of my favorite uses include serving it as:

Sauce or Dip

Spread

Dressing

  • Salad Greens
  • Roasted Vegetables
Tzatziki spooned over a pita sandwich

Use it as Gyro Sauce – A Creamy Greek Feast Addition

I always make this easy tzatziki sauce recipe whenever I make Chicken Shawarma or Grilled Lamb Chops. My kids love building a shawarma gyro wrap and drizzling a generous amount of tzatziki on top to act as a homemade gyro sauce! 🙂

To complete our Greek Feast, I pair grilled meats, roasted vegetables and tzatziki with:

Make-Ahead Party Dip

Since it is vegetarian and gluten-free, tzatziki sauce makes a great dip for parties and get-togethers. The sauce holds up well and the flavor of the garlic mellows after a few hours, so I always prep it a few hours (and up to 1 day) in advance.

Easily double or triple the recipe and serve it as a party dip along with:

  • Crackers, pita chips, pita bread or potato chips
  • Fresh cut carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, celery and peppers
homemade tzatziki sauce in black bowl with fresh vegetable on black plate

Recipe Tips:

  • Squeeze the excess juice from the cucumber before adding to the yogurt. Feel free to do this with a few paper towels or a clean kitchen towel over a bowl or the sink. If you have the time, drain the grated cucumber in a piece of cheesecloth or sieve set over a bowl overnight in the fridge.
  • Use any variety of your favorite yogurt. Whole milk Greek yogurt works best, but you can also use whole milk, low-fat or non-fat regular yogurt. Follow the steps in How To Thicken Yogurt if you’d like an even thicker consistency.
  • Allow the ingredients to meld together for a few hours for a milder garlic flavor. The astringency of garlic will mellow after sitting in the yogurt mix for a few hours.
  • The olive oil is optional but highly recommended. It adds that final touch of richness at the very end. Try not to skip it!
  • Prepare up to one day ahead for a party dip or appetizer spread. Simply double or triple the recipe and store it in an airtight container in the fridge. Serve it in a bowl alongside crackers, pita chips, pita bread, potato chips and fresh sliced vegetables.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge. The yogurt dip will keep for up to 5 days, but is best eaten within 2 days.

More Sauce & Dip Recipes From My Kitchen

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Greek tzatziki dip recipe in black bowl with fresh vegetable on black plate

Easy Tzatziki Sauce

An authentic Greek Tzatziki recipe made with creamy yogurt, cooling cucumber and fresh herbs that makes a wonderful chilled sauce, spread, dip or dressing.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate Recipe
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 8 Servings
Calories: 41kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 Persian cucumbers finely grated (or ½ English cucumber)
  • cups plain Greek yogurt or thick yogurt (full-fat is best)
  • ½-1 clove garlic grated finely (adjust to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice fresh
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or dill (or both)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (optional)

Instructions

  • Finely grate cucumbers over paper towels or a clean kitchen towel, wrap tight and squeeze out the excess juice with your hands over a bowl or the sink. Discard liquid. If you have the time, you can drain it in cheesecloth or fine mesh sieve overnight.
  • Add yogurt to a mixing bowl, then add the drained grated cucumber and grate in ½-1 garlic clove, depending on how garlicky you like your sauce.
  • Add lemon juice, salt, pepper and chopped herbs. Stir till everything is well combined. Check seasoning and adjust to taste.
  • Refrigerate till ready to serve. Just before serving, stir in extra virgin olive oil (optional). Enjoy as a dip with pita bread or veggies, or as a sauce with your mediterranean meal.

Video

Notes & Recipe Tips

  • Squeeze the excess juice from the cucumber before adding to the yogurt. Feel free to do this with a few paper towels or a clean kitchen towel over a bowl or the sink. If you have the time, drain the grated cucumber in a piece of cheesecloth or sieve set over a bowl overnight in the fridge.
  • Use any variety of your favorite yogurt. Whole milk Greek yogurt works best, but you can also use whole milk, low-fat or non-fat regular yogurt. Follow the steps in How To Thicken Yogurt if you’d like an even thicker consistency.
  • Allow the ingredients to meld together for a few hours for a milder garlic flavor. The astringency of garlic will mellow after sitting in the yogurt mix for a few hours.
  • The olive oil is optional but highly recommended. It adds that final touch of richness at the very end. Try not to skip it!
  • Prepare up to one day ahead for a party dip or appetizer spread. Simply double or triple the recipe and store it in an airtight container in the fridge. Serve it in a bowl alongside crackers, pita chips, pita bread, potato chips and fresh sliced vegetables.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge. The yogurt dip will keep for up to 5 days, but is best eaten within 2 days.
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates and include olive oil.  If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.

Nutrition

Calories: 41kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 87mg | Potassium: 81mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 68IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 47mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Greek, Mediterranean
Keyword: easy tzatziki sauce, tzatziki recipe, yogurt cucumber sauce
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HEY! NICE TO MEET YOU!

Aneesha holding a glass of white wine Hi, I'm Aneesha, a foodie by birth and the mind, body and soul behind Spice Cravings. Here I share quick, easy & healthy Indian & global recipes that are low in effort and big on taste! A recipe doesn't make it on the blog unless it is tested multiple times and gets a thumbs-up from my taster-in-chief, my husband, and my teen-chefs, my twin girls!

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