This tzatziki recipe is a creamy, garlicky, and incredibly refreshing Greek sauce that goes with everything! It's easier than you think to master this classic in your own kitchen.
Can't get enough fresh cucumber? Try this Creamy Cucumber Salad.
What is tzatziki sauce?
It's an extremely versatile Greek cucumber and yogurt sauce that's served with many foods like gyros, pita, and fresh vegetables. This Mediterranean dish is immensely popular in North America. I've tweaked my recipe over the years to arrive at a version I absolutely adore. It's wonderfully garlicky and fresh.
Have you ever visited Greece? It's definitely high up on my list of places to go. In the meantime, I eat plenty of this tzatziki (tsaht-ZEE-key) all the time, especially in the summer, but it's great anytime. It's really simple to make, and once you try it homemade, you won't want to buy it from the grocery store ever again.
What you'll need
- Greek yogurt - I prefer using full-fat (10%) Greek yogurt whenever possible. Yes, it adds a couple of calories, but they're well worth it! The taste is richer, creamier, and incomparable in my opinion. This dish is still healthy overall.
- Cucumber - we're using English cucumber, unpeeled
- Garlic - always use fresh garlic. It's effortless to mince with this garlic press.
- Lemon juice - for brightness and acidity. Use freshly squeezed and never the concentrated stuff.
- Salt & pepper - be fairly generous with both
- Dill or mint - choose one or the other (or both) to give a bright herby flavor. Either way, it's important that they're as fresh as possible!
- Oregano - dried oregano is a fun twist but totally optional. I especially like to use it when I'm out of fresh herbs.
- Olive oil - for drizzling on top
- The key to making tzatziki successfully is squeezing the water out of the cucumber. This step is really crucial, so don't skip it! Cucumber holds a lot of excess liquid. You can use a cheesecloth or simply your hands over a bowl or the sink.
How to make tzatziki sauce
This is an overview, and full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Grate the cucumber, and squeeze out the excess water.
- Then add the Greek yogurt to a bowl along with the cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, salt & pepper, and optional add-ins (mint, dill, oregano) if using.
- Stir well, give it a taste, and adjust the seasonings to your liking as needed. Garnish with a splash of olive oil on top. You can serve right away or let it chill for a bit in the fridge.
Substitutions and variations
- Add a pinch of cayenne pepper for a little heat. One of my favorite restaurants actually does this with their version.
- Some tzatziki recipes mix plain yogurt and sour cream, which is another thing you could try if you're in an experimenting kind of mood and enjoy the tangy taste of sour cream.
- You can use more or less garlic depending on your tastes. I love garlic, so I sometimes add even more than I suggest in this recipe!
What to serve with tzatziki
- Kalamata olives are a must-have with it. They just complement each other perfectly.
- It's great to use as a dipping sauce with warm pita bread. Make it a meal and serve it on a meze platter with hummus, melitzanosalata, baba ganoush, and taramasalata.
- You could also try pita chips, crackers, or raw veggies. It's a fantastic accompaniment on any appetizer tray, basically.
- It pairs well with grilled meats like lamb, chicken souvlaki, or gyros.
- You can even use it as a spread to top a sandwich or burger.
- Falafel or Saganaki (Greek fried cheese) are more tasty vegetarian options!
Leftovers and storage
- Tzatziki will keep in the fridge for 4-5 days no problem. Just make sure it's in an airtight container for freshness.
- If it accumulates liquid on top in the fridge, that's normal! Simply stir it right back in.
- I'd dispose of it if it's been sitting out for more than a couple of hours.
Made this recipe? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. Questions? Feel free to ask!
Creamy Tzatziki Sauce
- 2 cups plain Greek yogurt see note
- 1/2 English cucumber grated
- 2 cloves garlic minced (or more to taste)
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional add-ins: fresh chopped dill and/or mint (up to 1 tablespoon each), and/or a pinch of dried oregano to taste
- Olive oil optional, for drizzling on top
- Grate the cucumber using the large holes in a box grater. You can either grate it into a sheet of paper towel and then wring it out to remove the excess liquid, or simply grate it into a bowl and then squeeze out the excess liquid with your hands.
- Add the Greek yogurt to a bowl and stir in the cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and the optional add-ins if using. I am quite generous with the salt. Be sure to taste & adjust ingredients to your liking (I've included a bunch of tips/suggestions in the recipe notes).
- Let it sit for at least 10 minutes, up to a few hours so the flavors mix and intensify. Serve with olive oil drizzled over top.
- 2 cups Greek yogurt = 16 ounces (this is half of a 32 oz. container). Here in Canada, I just buy the 500g containers and use the whole thing.
- You can use full-fat Greek yogurt to make this tzatziki extra rich and delicious (I highly recommend it). I often make this with 2% Greek yogurt, but I've also made this with plain yogurt instead of Greek yogurt. It's not as thick a consistency but it still tastes great.
- This will keep in the fridge for a few days.
- Customization tips:
- Fresh mint and dill add some amazing flavor if you get get some. If using dried dill, use 1 teaspoon.
- Dried oregano adds another layer of flavor if you want to try something a little different (start with adding 1/4 teaspoon or so).
- If you prefer a less tangy tzatziki, skip the lemon juice.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.
This recipe was originally published on August 3, 2015. It's been updated with new photos and better instructions but is the same great recipe!