Homemade Tzatziki Sauce is super easy and delicious . Great as a healthy dip, sauce for grilled meat, or spread for sandwiches. Thick, rich and creamy. Flavored with garlic, lemon and dill. Amazing!
Who doesn’t Love Tzatziki Sauce?
I adore Mediterranean food. All the healthy, fresh, delicious ingredients and flavors. It’s the kind of food you can feel good about eating!
Growing up, I never even tried it. How weird is that! It’s not something my family was familiar with. Way back in the day, sleepy Orange County didn’t have a plethora of Mediterranean Restaurants either.
Then I met my husband and all of that immediately changed. He was raised on Meditteranean food almost exclusively. The food he and his family exposed me to quickly became my absolute favorite.
His mom was an amazing cook, so I, of course, quickly and eagerly learned absolutely everything I could from her. I also read every cookbook I could get my hands on. I still collect new recipes from the region and often try them out. I can’t get enough of it!
If this type of food isn’t part of your regular cooking rotation, I humbly say, you’re missing out on something really delicious!
So, today, I’m really excited to share with you one of my all-time favorite Mediterranean dishes, authentic Tzatziki Sauce Recipe. It’s the deliciously familiar white sauce you’ve probably had on a gyro recipe.
Traditionally, it’s served with the iconic Greek dish, Souvlaki. Souvlaki is a popular Greek street food. It consists of meat that’s been cooked on a skewer, served on a warm, soft pita, with a few fresh veggies topped off with Tzatziki Sauce.
While variations of this sauce can be found throughout the Mediterranean, Tzakiki originates from Greece. It was traditionally made with a very thick type of Greek yogurt made from goats or sheep’s milk. Today, especially in the US, Greek yogurt is made from cow’s milk. As with any regional iconic food, there are a million different recipes for it. Every Greek grandmother has her own recipe with slight variations in ingredients and technique, but, all of them are of course fairly similar.
Where To Use It:
Homemade Tzatziki sauce is really easy to make. Seriously, I’m addicted to this stuff! It has a ton of uses in literally every type and ethnicity of food. Because it’s equally useful as a cool, tangy, refreshing sauce or dip, once you try it, I think you’ll be surprised by its versatiliy…
Serving it with homemade Souvlaki is, obviously, a no-brainer, but it’s also great as a condiment or sauce over almost any type of grilled fish, lamb, chicken or even veggies. It adds lots of extra tangy flavor to these dishes and also some extra moisture. This can be a lifesaver if you accidentally overcook your meat.
One of my favorite dishes to serve it with is lollipop lamb chops. It’s perfect drizzled artfully over the tops of them or served on the side as a dipping sauce.
It’s also great to have around the house for those times when you need a quick protein packed snack. Dip a few slices of fresh pita bread or pita chips in it and you have a snack that’s not only delicious, you have one that’s actually good for you.
Want a lower calorie or maybe a paleo friendly version, substitute the pita with sliced veggies or Romaine leaves. Btw-dipping the Romaine leaves in the Tzatziki and sprinkling with chopped tomatoes is one of my hubby’s all-time favorite snacks. He eats paleo most of the time to manage his ideal surfing weight! How cute is that!?!?
I think we all are used to reaching for the hummus at times like these, but trust me, you’ll be happy to use this easy Tzatziki sauce recipe instead! Tzatziki sauce contributes calcium and probiotics.
It’s a great, flavorful substitute, to slather on a sandwich instead of mayonnaise. All the delicious dill, lemon, and garlic are nowhere to be found in plain ole mayo!
One of my favorite sandwiches, which I serve for both lunch and dinner, is made up of a La Brea bakery Torta sandwich roll, sliced rotisserie chicken, mozzarella cheese and Tzatziki sauce. Since I buy everything at Costco except my homemade Tzatziki sauce, I call it my “Costco Run” sandwich. LOL!
Homemade Vs. Commercial?
Oh please, please don’t even compare the two.
Yes, you can buy premade Tzatzikik at most grocery stores or even Trader Joes.
As with most commercially made versus homemade recipes, this homemade version literally blows the commercial one out of the water. Even the Trader Joes product doesn’t measure up and believe me, I’m a huge fan of good ole TJ’s!
I promise, this Tzatziki sauce recipe is so, so, so much better! It’s much thicker and has a creamier consistency. The cucumber, which is a really significant ingredient, tastes sooo much better fresh. You won’t believe it!
I highly recommend making this recipe the day before you want to serve it and storing it overnight in the fridge. The time in the fridge allows the garlic paste to completely infuse and more importantly mellow out. If you serve it the same day you make it the garlic can have a much harsher bite.
So, in this post, I’ve tried to give you all the facts that I’ve collected over the many, many years so that you can make this sauce authentically. My main purpose in doing so is so that you have a strong foundation from which you can make the worlds best tzatziki sauce recipe customized for you and your family.
Tzatziki sauce recipe with sour cream is not in any way authentic. I must be opinionated and unyielding on this point, please forgive my hubris! It’s just not right.
Lemon zest, however, is a lovely, albeit nontraditional, addition. I have to say I like it though!
The base of Tzatziki is plain, unflavored yogurt. Traditionally, it is always made with the full-fat version. Making your own gives you the flexibility to use whichever you like.
You can use nonfat, low-fat or whole milk yogurt. I use all types depending on what I’m using the Tzatziki for. Clearly, nonfat will make the most calorie friendly Tzatziki. The whole milk yogurt makes the richest Tzatzikik sauce and is the one I personally prefer to make most often.
Most authentic recipes called for “strained yogurt.” This refers to a yogurt that has been strained to remove some of the whey, which results in a thicker consistency. Here in the US, it’s what we know as Greek-style yogurt. No endorsement here, but I usually use Fage brand.
When this sauce is made in Greece, it is made with a yogurt that is thicker than the standard Greek yogurts commercially available to us in the US. Personally, I’m totally fine making this recipe with a good quality Greek-style yogurt.
If you want to use a thicker version you can start this recipe with plain “regular” yogurt if you’d like, then strain it yourself. Doing it this way allows you to control how much liquid is removed or left in. The longer you strain it, the thicker it will become. It can be strained to the point it becomes the consistency of a cream cheese. When it is strained to this point it is generally referred to as yogurt cheese. If you’re straining your own yogurt for this recipe, don’t strain it to the point where it becomes a cheese, that’s too thick.
The cucumber can be shredded or diced. It really comes down to a matter of preference on the size issue. Shredded is the most authentic way to prepare it. The diced pieces give the sauce a heavier texture than the shredded do. The larger the dice, the heavier the texture. The finer the shred the finer the texture.
The most important point I want to make in regard to the cucumber is that it absolutely must be salted, allowed to sit then squeezed dry. If you don’t do this you will have a very watery Tzatziki. Please don’t skip these steps. Here’s how to do it:
- Shred the cucumbers.
- Place the cucumbers into a sieve, sprinkle with salt, stir and let sit 20-30 minutes.
- Wring out the cucumbers with a clean dry dish towel.
All this liquid came out of the cucumber after they were salted!!!!
Traditional recipes call for the garlic to be pressed into a paste. This allows the garlic to blend perfectly into the sauce and also infuse its flavor thoroughly. Making a garlic paste is easy, just follow the few steps I’ve listed below:
Here’s how to make a garlic paste from fresh garlic:
- Mince the peeled garlic cloves and arrange them in a neat pile.
- Sprinkle the top of the garlic with some table salt.
- Hold the blunt edge of your knife with both hands and drag the shape edge of the knife across the surface of the garlic, holding the blade at a slight angle so it flattens and smashes the garlic. Continue this process for a few minutes until the garlic becomes a paste.
The herbs traditionally used in Tzatziki sauce are a very hotly debated issue. Many people believe that authentic Tzatziki sauce contains no herbs at all. Some say it should have the only dill while others say both dill and mint must be included.
Hubby’s original family Tzatziki recipe has only dill in it. His family only used about 1 tablespoon. This is the only place I personally deviate from their original recipe. I love dill. I add 3 full tablespoons of fresh, chopped dill.
If you make this at home, I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment here or on my Facebook page.
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Tzatziki Sauce Recipe
Homemade Tzatziki Sauce is super easy and delicious . Great as a healthy dip, sauce for grilled meat, or spread for sandwiches. Thick, rich and creamy. Flavored with garlic, lemon and dill. Amazing! Homemade Tzatziki Sauce is super easy and delicious . Great as a healthy dip, sauce for grilled meat, or spread for sandwiches. Thick, rich and creamy. Flavored with garlic, lemon and dill. Amazing!
- 16 ounces Plain Greek Yogurt
- 1/2 English Cucumber
- 4 Large Fresh Garlic
- 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
- 3 Tablespoons Fresh Dill Finely Chopped
- 1 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
Peel the cucumber and cut it in half lengthwise. Using a teaspoon, scrape out all the seeds. Shred the cucumber with a box grater into a fine mesh sieve. sprinkle the cucumber with 1 teaspoon salt and stir. Let stand 30 minutes. Press on the shredded cucumber with the back of a large spoon to remove some of the excess liquid. Spread the cucumber in a line down on a clean kitchen towel. Twists each end of the towel in opposing directions and wring out as much liquid as possible. Place cucumber in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add yogurt to the bowl.
Press the garlic into a paste (follow instructions above in Recipe Notes). Add garlic paste to mixing bowl.
Add 1 teaspoon of salt, black pepper, chopped dill and lemon juice and stir well until mixture is evenly combined. Cover bowl and refrigerate overnight. Before serving, stir well and adjust salt and pepper.
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