Tzatziki sauce is easy! All you need is greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, dill, and just over 15 quick minutes to make this irresistible Greek recipe.
Serve it as a topping, dip, starter, or side dish with grilled vegetables, salads, pita bread, fritters, and falafel. And you can substitute Greek yogurt with dairy-free yogurt to make a delicious non-dairy tzatziki recipe.
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Tzatziki (pronounced Tsaht-ZEE-kee!) is a yogurt dip or sauce from Greek cuisine and is popular all over the world.
It's made with strained yogurt, traditionally from sheep or goat milk, mixed with fresh herbs (such as dill, mint, parsley, or purslane), cucumber, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt.
While Tzatziki is mainly known for being Greek, similar sauces are popular in Turkey (cacik), the Balkans (tarator), Cyprus (talattouri), and the Middle East (jajeek).
It seems that the root of the word Tzatziki (τζατζίκι in Greek and cacık in Turkish) comes from the Persian word zhazh, which might refer to herbs used for cooking.
There are many variations of Tzatziki; some use strained yogurt, and others dilute the yogurt with water.
Here we show you how to make a simple homemade tzatziki sauce with ingredients you can easily find at the store.
Pick your greek yogurt or non-dairy yogurt of choice, some fresh cucumber, and a box grater, and you'll have this delicious greek tzatziki sauce in about 15 minutes.
Traditionally Tzatziki is made with yogurt from full-fat sheep or goat’s milk, which is hard to find and might not be everyone's cup of tea.
We recommend using either Greek yogurt (full-fat would be tastiest) or, if you'd like to make vegan Tzatziki, you can use plain unsweetened non-dairy yogurt.
Some like to strain the yogurt themselves in a sieve covered in cheesecloth; however, we think this step is unnecessary, and it's much quicker and easier to squeeze some water out of the cucumbers.
You can use any cucumber. We tested most varieties (English cucumber, American slicing cucumber, Italian cucumbers, and Greek cucumbers), and they all worked.
What's important is that your cucumber is fresh. Old cucumbers are not as sweet and might be a little bitter. However, you can keep the peel on when making Tzatziki.
Garlic is a crucial ingredient in Tzatziki. Fresh garlic adds a tangy, sharp garlicky flavor to this greek yogurt sauce.
We recommend grating the garlic cloves finely with the small holes of a grater. It'll melt in the sauce this way.
Before grating the garlic, I'd recommend cutting it in half on the long side, then with the tip of a small knife, remove the germ or sprout in the center. This way, the garlic will be easier to digest.
You can't replace garlic with garlic powder; the Tzatziki won't taste the same.
Freshly squeezed lemon juice is another crucial ingredient, and it adds freshness and tang.
Some like to replace it with white vinegar. Others like to add lemon zest to their recipe. We tried, but we prefer it without.
Best if you use extra virgin olive oil. Adds texture and flavor. I love drizzling a small teaspoon of good olive oil on top of the Tzatziki to add flavor and color.
Tzatziki needs salt; unless you are on a low-sodium diet, we recommend adding fine sea salt.
You can use fresh dill, fresh mint, fresh flat-leaf parsley, or fresh purslane. Pick one or more.
Dill is most common, sometimes mixed with some mint leaves. We don't recommend using dried herbs to make Tzatziki.
1. Grate and drain the cucumber
Wash, dry, and grate the cucumber with the large holes of a box grater. You can keep the peel on as it adds color and a little crunch to the sauce.
Drain the cucumber. To do so, squeeze the liquid out of the cucumber with your hands.
We do this to eliminate excess moisture and avoid making the Tzatziki too watery.
Tip: If you are using strained yogurt, you can avoid this step. But I'd recommend squeezing and draining the cucumber for most commercial yogurts (from Greek-style yogurt to soy and coconut yogurt).
2. Stir all ingredients
To a medium bowl, add the yogurt, grated cucumber, salt, freshly squeezed lemon juice, finely chopped dill, extra virgin olive oil, and a grated clove of garlic.
Tip: to make garlic more digestible, cut it in half lengthways, then remove the core (sprout) with the tip of a knife. You can use a garlic masher, the small holes of a box grater, or a zester to grate the garlic.
Stir the ingredients until well combined, then taste and adjust for salt and lemon juice.
Keep in the fridge before serving, then garnish with some finely chopped dill or mint leaves on top and a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil.
Serve this tzatziki sauce recipe as a topping, dip, or sauce in a sandwich. It goes well with Greek, Balkan, Turkish, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern dishes.
Anything grilled and charred is delicious with this tzatziki sauce, and in Greece and Cyprus is often served with lamb, pork, beef, or chicken souvlaki or gyros.
We love serving it on a platter with veggies and breads, such as:
- Easy homemade pita bread.
- Tomato salad, Greek salad, pitted olives, and hummus.
- Roasted veggies such as roasted bell peppers, potatoes, eggplant, zucchini, broccoli, and brussels sprouts.
- Crostini, pita chips, breadsticks, naan bread, and bruschetta bread.
- Chickpea Frittata (chickpea flour, olive oil, zucchini, red onion, etc.)
- No-knead focaccia (flour, instant dry yeast, sugar, olive oil, rosemary, sea salt, etc.)
- Tomato confit (cherry tomatoes, garlic, oregano, olive oil, sugar, etc.)
- Socca (chickpea flour, olive oil, water, black pepper, parsley, etc.)
- Caponata (eggplant, crushed tomatoes, olives, capers, onion
Or serve it as a topping or side dish with:
- Stuffed bell peppers (garlic, onion, parsley, bell pepper, salt, pepper, etc.)
- Zucchini fritters (grated zucchini, garlic, and herbs)
- Falafel, veggie meatballs, rice balls, and fried tofu.
- Sauteed green beans (garlic, red pepper flakes, olive oil, green beans, etc.)
- Flatbread pizza (flour, instant dry yeast, sugar, parsley, garlic, olive oil, etc.)
Make Ahead & Storage
Make Ahead: tzatziki is an excellent recipe to make ahead as it keeps well in the fridge for several days.
Refrigerator: store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Freezer: we don't recommend freezing this recipe.
More Sauces and Dips
Get inspired by these quick and easy dip ideas:
- White bean dip (cannellini beans, tahini sauce, garlic, parsley, etc.)
- Marinara sauce (crushed tomatoes, garlic, onion, fresh basil, salt, etc.)
- Guacamole or avocado spread (avocado, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, etc.)
- Muhammara (tomato, bell pepper, parsley, almonds, pomegranate seeds, etc.)
- Eggplant dip (roasted eggplant, tahini, lemon, parsley, paprika, garlic, etc.)
More Cucumber Recipes
Got cucumber leftovers? No problem, make these quick and easy recipes with cucumber in no time:
- Asian cucumber salad (red onion, lemon juice, soy sauce, rice vinegar, cucumber, etc.)
- Tomato cucumber salad (red onion, tomato, cucumber, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, etc.)
- Italian Panzanella (stale bread, tomato, red onion, basil, cucumber, olive oil, etc.)
- Chickpea salad (chickpeas, corn, avocado, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, parsley, etc.)
- Shirazi salad (tomato, mint, cucumber, lime, lemon, olive oil, etc.)
For many more side dish ideas, check out our sides category page.
- Grater or box grater with large holes
- 1 cup Greek yogurt or unsweetened non-dairy yogurt
- 1 packed cup (6 oz) cucumber grated with large holes of box grater
- 2 tablespoons fresh herbs finely chopped, pick one or more between dill, mint, flat-leaf parsley or purslane
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Prepare 1 packed cup (6 oz) cucumber, grated with the large holes of a box grater. Keep the peel on.
- Drain the cucumber by squeezing out its liquid with your hands. You can do that over a plate or bowl. Discard the liquid.
- To a medium bowl, add the grated and squeezed cucumber, 1 cup Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons fresh herbs (finely chopped), 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 1 clove garlic (finely grated), and ½ teaspoon salt.
- Stir well with a spoon, taste, adjust for salt and lemon juice, and store in the fridge until serving time.
- Garnish with mint leaves or dill and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil before serving.