Tzatziki… well, is it a dip? Or a sauce? Or perhaps spread? The correct answer is all of the above. Isn’t that cool? As cool as it sounds. Cool refreshing grated cucumbers folded in lusciously thick creamy yogurt, with a hint of zingy garlic and fresh lemon, along with fresh green herbs. It’s done in 15 minutes… oh wow, yes!!
My verdict- Yes, it’s a dip for all those fresh or roasted vegetables along with your pitas and crackers.
Yes, it’s a sauce for all the grilled meats like those Greek souvlakis, gyros and falafel.
And yes, it’s a spread for all the sandwiches and pitas and wraps… Dig in guys!!
The Super Bowl is coming, and with that big parties and get togethers with friends and family. Are you looking for some cool ideas for how to make the crowd happy chappy? You want something super easy, and of course something that looks great and is super tasty.
Have you considered making some kind of crudite platter for them? It could be as simple as just some fresh veggies like colored bell peppers, some gorgeous cherry tomatoes, carrots, maybe some snow peas, some crackers and pita… along with this Tzatziki, that’s it!
Well, you can take your crudite to mezze level by adding my Mediterranean stuffed peppers. Hmm… how about my gorgeous homemade hummus? Throw in some olives, salami and of course put this Tzatziki as the centerpiece. It’s going to be massive hit with your crowd!
What is Tzatziki?
Tzatziki is the popular garlicky cucumber Greek yogurt sauce, dip or spread that is mostly served with grilled meats and gyros. In fact, Greek food lovers know that gyros without this creamy, luscious sauce are practically impossible. Though if you tend to associate Tzatziki with Greek, think again. You would certainly find this sauce served all over the Mediterranean and even in the Middle East, albeit sometimes with different name or variations.
Traditionally Tzatziki is made with strained yogurt, mostly from goat or sheep milk. But you can achieved the same goodness with Greek yogurt, along with shredded cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and some fresh herbs. The most common herb is dill, but many people like mint and even parsley, thyme or chives. The end result is always cool, refreshing and addictive.
By the way, how do you pronouce it?
“tsah-see-key”…pretty cool, ahh? Whenever I say Tzatziki, I can’t stop saying it one time, it gets stuck on my tongue.
Though its super easy to make, some tips and techniques can make your Tzatziki “oh so good, I can’t have just one bite” and save it from mediocre, bland, stringy, or God forbid runny Tzatziki!! All you need is the correct ingredients and few extra steps…
- Cucumber – You can use any type of slicing cucumber or English cucumber. Those with less seeds are better. You can scrape the seeds if they are too many. Some people peel the cucumber, but I don’t. I love the green color and texture coming from the fibers, and it’s good for you.
- Greek Yogurt – Yes… that’s the MUST for great Tzatziki. Greek Yogurt is strained yogurt which is much thicker and creamier than regular yogurt. Regular yogurts will make Tzatziki runny and watery. We love whole milk Greek yogurt for our Tzatziki, but you can use low fat or non-fat if you prefer.
- Fresh Lemon – This helps brighten the flavors. We recommend fresh over bottled lemon juice.
- Extra virgin olive oil – Oh yes, it gives tons of flavor and body to Tzatziki. Some people skip it, please don’t.
- Sea salt – You will need salt first to sweat the grated cucumbers and remove the excess moisture from them. Later you might use more for flavor.
- Garlic – Fresh garlic goes so well with cucumber and yogurt. We like to mince it finely before stirring in. Depending on your taste, you can use more or less. We suggest starting with one garlic clove and see how it goes. You can always add more to your liking, but can’t subtract once it’s stirred in.
- Dill and Mint – Dill is more traditional than any other herbs in Greek Tzatziki. Always fresh. You will also find mint in this one, as we think cool mint really compliments this cool cucumber yogurt sauce.
Good news… this is the easiest thing you will ever make! The only trick is to sweat your grated cucumbers (we don’t even peel them, and de-seed only if there are excess seeds) before mixing into yogurt. I use largest holes on a box grater to grate my cucumbers.
To sweat them, add the grated cucumbers to a colander, toss with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. Rinse out the salt and then squeeze out most of the water by hand. You will be surprised how much water these cucumbers hold. We sure don’t want that in your thick, creamy sauce.
Once this is done, it’s quick. Simply combine all of the ingredients in your bowl and give it a good stir to combine everything. Taste and adjust to your taste… more lemon? Dill? Garlic? Salt?
Chill for at least hour before serving so all the flavors merge with each other. Serve with hint of olive oil and few sprigs of dill and mint.
People Often Ask:
This sauce can be made in advance and chilled before serving. You can grate, sweat and squeeze the cucumbers and keep them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When it’s time to finally make it you can whip it up in no time. Tzatziki can be stored in the refrigerator for 4-5 days, but it tastes best the first 2 days. It can become runny as the cucumber releases more moisture as time goes by.
Hmm… usually I am big on flexibility in my recipes, but to get a really good authentic tzatziki you really need a good thick Greek Yogurt and some nice extra virgin olive oil. Sometimes you just can’t take shortcuts. The mint I added is not necessary, but please stick with the other ingredients. You can try adding extra fresh herbs you happen to have around for some unique flavors.
Oh my, this is one of the most versatile things you can have in your kitchen! It’s the perfect dip for just about any veggie of cracker. It’s a wonderful condiment for sandwiches and wraps. Use it as a salad dressing. Sometimes, when I just need something quick, I will just slather a nice layer on a piece of toast. Experiment, please, you really can’t go wrong!
But then once you have Tzatziki in your fridge, there are so many options open for quick lunches or dinners or just guilt-free snacking, as it’s very healthy. The yogurt is a great source of protein and calcium. Go ahead and start munching your veggies with generous helpings of this deliciousness, or put it in your Greek themed Buddha bowls. Slather it over gyros or falafel.
And go ahead and plan a Greek or Mediterranean style party for the coming Super Bowl with your very own Tzatziki and my Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers and Homemade Hummus. I bet they would be the stars for your mezze platter.. Opa!.. Enjoy!!
Greek Cucumber Yogurt Sauce, alongside chicken souvlaki, on my Gypsy Plate… Enjoy!
Try these other great appetizers from around the world!
Shrimp de Jonghe
Moutabal (Eggplant Dip)
Cheesy Taco Skillet
Guasacaca (Venezuelan Guacamole)
Garlic Butter Steak Bites
Spanish Garlic Shrimp
Chicken Chapli Kebabs
- 1.5 cups Greek Yogurt
- 1 large cucumber
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp fresh dill
- 1 Tbsp fresh mint
- Salt to taste
- Grate cucumbers into colander. Toss with 1/2 tsp salt, to extract water from cucumber. Let sit 10-15 minutes. Manually squeeze water out of grated cucumber.
- Combine all ingredients in bowl. Taste and adjust. Add extra salt, lemon juice, herbs or garlic to your taste.
Nutrition InformationYield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 61Total Fat 4gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 2mgSodium 90mgCarbohydrates 3gFiber 0gSugar 2gProtein 5g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
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