Easy Tzatziki Sauce
Traditional Greek Tzatziki sauce with cucumber, dill and mint!
Flavorful and easy Tzatziki Sauce, a Greek yogurt and cucumber sauce with traditional tzatziki seasonings - garlic, cumin, black pepper, lemon, and fresh herbs. If you have never tried Tzatziki? then this yogurt sauce is a must try. It needs 15 minutes to make a big batch! Tzatziki is also a healthy, gluten free, carb-free, low-fat, and very refreshing side.
Tzatziki sauce is a versatile dip. Serve it on the side of the grilled meats, or kabobs like I served it with Chicken Souvlaki, or serve it with veggies chips or pita as you see in pictures. All dippers go great with garlicky creamy tzatziki!
In-fact, I have often use Tzatziki as a spread in Greek-Style sandwiches. So next time you make a sandwich for lunch, reach for healthy Tzatziki instead of mayo or mustards. Honestly, with low-fat yogurt, and flavor bong of garlic, herbs, and spices.. I consider Tzatziki Sauce the official healthy summer dip of the year.
Let's not wait and make some Tzatziki [tsä'tseke]!
Greek Falafel platter is my favorite menu item in Greek restaurants but I'm never so happy with a tablespoon serving-size portion of tzatziki. A plate of 4-6 falafels and 1 tablespoon tzatziki! Really? Why do restaurants cut-cost on sauces, the quintessential flavor makers!?
Honestly, I prefer to make a batch at home! Specially, when I make Mediterranean food at home, I never miss the opportunity to mix few cups of tzatziki sauce. Every one loves this sauce, hands down! I never have leftovers! If any, those work great as salad dressing, even as sauce in morning breakfast wraps.
Disclaimer: Tzatziki is called sauce but really, it has the consistency of a creamy dip that you can enjoy with chips. Thank you for understanding my frequent switch between sauce and dip. :)
Once, one of our neighbor brought homemade tzatziki sauce in a community party. It was so delicious and herbaceous that I ate it with spoon. She told me that original tzatziki recipe often has more herbs, and may or may not have lemon juice. Restaurants mostly add dill leaves because that is most common flavor contributor after yogurt, garlic, and cucumber... Since then, I often add some fresh mint (whenever available), dill leaves, and even some chopped parsley in tzatziki.
To make tzatziki sauce, I grate hothouse cucumber on coarse grater (you can also small dice), salt it and leave aside. This helps cucumber loose water which helps keep yogurt dip fresh longer. Once cucumber loose water, then wrap it in muslin cloth and squeeze out as much water as possible. This step is important otherwise tzatziki will get watery very quickly. (Do check my notes if you plan to make Tzatziki ahead of time.)
I then mix Greek thick yogurt with tzatziki seasonings - garlic, lemon juice, salt and black pepper... then fold cucumber and fresh herbs in it. I also add hint of cumin powder for more depth of flavor.
Note: I skip lemon juice or add less if yogurt is very tart.
That's it! Easy! Right?
Tzatziki sauce should always be served chilled which makes it a perfect healthy summer dip. Chilling in refrigerator also brings out flavor of dill and garlic with yogurt. If serving next day, I highly recommend adding salt 15-20 minutes before serving.
HOW TO MAKE GREEK-STYLE YOGURT AT HOME?
In-case you don't have Greek yogurt in hand and still want to make Tzatziki? Try this simple trick to make Greek-style yogurt at home. In-fact, at home you can make Greek Yogurt without thickeners but it does need extra time.
To make Greek yogurt, take regular plain yogurt (not a watery yogurt drink but regular plain yogurt). Add 2 cups of yogurt into a double fold of muslin cloth. Gently grab four corners of the cloth and loosely tie a knot or close with a rubber-band. Leave aside on kitchen sink, in a colander.
If you live in a hot-humid place, place yogurt with colander and a draining bowl in refrigerator.
Leave aside for 2 hours-up-to overnight. In this time, most water from yogurt drains. Left behind is thick cream yogurt. A clean thickener-free Greek-style yogurt it is!
Once seasoned (mainly salted), the yogurt as well as cucumber loose water as sit longer. So if you planning to make Tzatziki ahead of time. I recommend following tips to avoid ending up with a watery dip.
- Don't add salt in the Tzatziki until ready to serve.
- If using regular cucumber with seeds. Discard the seeds before grating. Seeds will not taste very appealing in Tzatziki and also it will dilute the dip as it sits longer.
- Grated cucumber yields more water than diced. So, add small diced cucumber in Tzatziki instead of grated.
- Cure the Cucumber - Salt-cure the cucumber. Grate the cucumber, add salt and leave aside for 15-20 minutes. This will make cucumber sweat most water. Squeeze water out then add to yogurt.
- For best tasting, long lasting Tzatziki Sauce, follow above tips and always use thick Greek yogurt (without water). Always drain any whey/water sitting on top of yogurt.
When I shared Chicken Souvlaki yesterday.. I wanted to add recipe for tzatziki too but decided to share a separate post. Two reasons: first because chicken souvlaki is dairy free. So I wanted to keep recipe dairy free. Second, tzatziki is not just a side, it is a complete robust sauce of it's own. It can be great option for vegetarian dinner with side of rice and grilled veggie kabobs. So tzatziki recipe gets it's own spot on CDH. :) It is also gluten free when served with gluten free sides/main course.
On a side note, it's good to learn one new word in one day. Like yesterday, we learnt [soov-lah-ki].. Today, [tsä'tseke]. :)
I'm sure you will have some yogurt and cucumber in refrigerator. Grab seasonings from pantry and try refreshing Cucumber Yogurt Tzatziki.
How To Make Tzatziki
Learn to make delicious Greek Tzatziki, a Greek yogurt and cucumber sauce. I love Tzatziki as refreshing condiment on the side of grilled meat. It is perfect as sauce and even delicious as dip with side of Pita Chips.
Easy Tzatziki Sauce
- 1. Prepare Tzatziki Ingredients : Grate cucumber, place in a bowl, sprinkle 1/4 tsp salt on top. (See Note 2) Mix well. Set aside. Grate garlic. Chop mint and dill leaves.
- 2. Season Yogurt for Tzatziki : In bowl, add yogurt, grated garlic, olive oil, cumin powder, and black pepper. Add half of salt and a tablespoon lemon juice. Mix well. Additional Notes: Pro Tip: For exceptional difference in flavor, dry roast cumin seeds for 30 seconds and then grind to powder.
- 3. Assemble Tzatziki Cucumber Yogurt: Transfer grated cucumber in a muslin cloth, and squeeze to remove as much water as possible. Into the bowl with yogurt, now add grated cucumber, chopped dill leaves, and mint leaves. Fold into the seasoned yogurt with spatula. Taste and adjust salt and lemon juice (if needed. See Note 4). Refrigerate until ready to use. Serve with pita chips or serve on the side of grilled meats. Enjoy! Additional Notes: Check suggestions for Greek chicken and meat recipes to serve with Tzatziki
- Make-Ahead Tzatziki:Once seasoned (mainly salted), the yogurt as well as cucumber loose water as sit longer. So if you planning to make Tzatziki ahead of time. I recommend following tips to avoid ending up with a watery dip.
a. Don't add salt in the Tzatziki until ready to serve.
b. If using regular cucumber with seeds. Discard the seeds before grating. Seeds will not taste very appealing in Tzatziki and also it will dilute the dip as it sits longer.
c. Grated cucumber yields more water than diced. So, add small diced cucumber in Tzatziki instead of grated.
- Salt-Sweat the Cucumber - This recipe uses technique of salt-sweating the cucumber. Grate the cucumber, add salt and leave aside for 10-20 minutes. This will make cucumber sweat most water. Squeeze water out then add to yogurt.
- For best tasting, long lasting Tzatziki Sauce, follow above tips and always use thick Greek yogurt (without water).
- Lemon Juice or No Lemon Juice? I skip lemon juice or add less if yogurt is very-very tart. I recommend, mix all ingredients then taste and decide as per you preference.
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