Come learn how to make classic tzatziki sauce. Coming together in 10 minutes or less, tzatziki is incredibly quick and easy to make! The combination of creamy yogurt, cool cucumber, tangy lemon, fresh herbs, and a garlicky kick make tzatziki incredibly bright and refreshing. It’s also very versatile and can be served with a wide variety of meals. Not to mention, I love recipes where we can get several of the ingredients straight from the garden!
What is tzatziki?
First things first: tzatziki is pronounced tsah-zee-key, where the first “tsah” is said much like the second syllable in the word “pizza”. Tzatziki sauce hails from Greece where it is a staple and treasured side dish enjoyed with gyros, falafel and more.
The key ingredients for tzatziki include yogurt, cucumber, garlic, lemon, and usually dill or mint, though slightly different variations are made throughout the Mediterranean region. Rumor has it that tzatziki roots were deeply inspired by the Indian yogurt sauce raita. The word itself is Greek but has Turkish origins.
Ways to use tzatziki sauce
Traditionally, tzatziki is served alongside falafel, gyros, lamb, and/or pita bread. You can either drizzle the sauce over your meal or dip right into it. Its thick creamy texture and cool bright flavors makes it an ideal dipping sauce for veggies like carrot sticks, bell pepper, celery, or even more cucumber.
We’ve also enjoyed our homemade garden tzatziki with zucchini fritters, as salad dressing, and to dress up veggie burgers, sandwiches and wraps. It’s also often served in place of tartar sauce with calamari or other other battered fish. Heck, you could even drizzle it over a baked potato or dip french fries in it! Really, the options are endless.
Ingredients for Garden Tzatziki Sauce
- 2 cups of plain Greek yogurt (whole fat, unsweetened). To make vegan tzatziki, simply use your favorite unflavored/unsweetened vegan yogurt alternative instead. The thicker, the better!
- 1 large cucumber. English or “burpless” cucumbers are best since they have thin tender skin.
- 2 or 3 large cloves of garlic, minced. Use 1 or 2 cloves for a more mild flavor, and 3 or 4 for an extra garlicky kick!
- 1/3 packed cup of chopped dill, or about 1 standard clam shell herb package (sub with fresh mint or parsley if desired)
- 2 tablespoons of fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon of coarse black pepper (or to taste)
- 1 tsp red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar (optional, but adds a nice little tang in addition to the lemon!)
- Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle on top at the time of serving
- First wash the cucumber, and then use a box cheese grater (or similar) to shred it. A food processor would also do the trick. We never peel our homegrown cukes, though you may want to at least partially peel it (stripes) if your cucumber’s skin is thick and tough. Transfer the shredded cucumber into a colander where it can sit and drain while you prep the other ingredients.
- Combine the called-for yogurt, minced garlic, finely-chopped dill, lemon juice, optional vinegar, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl.
- Gently press and wring out the shredded cucumber to remove excess moisture. This step prevents the cucumber from watering down your garden tzatziki sauce, thus keeping it nice and thick! I like to reserve the juice to add to my drinking water.
- Mix the shredded, drained cucumber into the tzatziki sauce.
- Technically you can enjoy your garden tzatziki right away, but the flavor will be stronger if allowed to sit and meld in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours before serving. Now enjoy it with your meal of choice!
- Optional: drizzle a tablespoon or two of olive oil over the top at the time of serving.
- Store in a refrigerator in a glass container with an airtight lid. The sauce will be good for about a week, but is best if used within 4 to 5 days.
So easy, right? With abundant cucumbers coming out of the summer garden right now, I’m always stoked to find more tasty ways to use them. I hope you enjoy making your own homemade garden tzatziki sauce as much as we do! Please feel free to leave a review in the printable recipe below.
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Easy Garden Tzatziki Sauce (Cucumber Yogurt Dip)
- 2 cups plain whole-fat Greek yogurt to make vegan, substitute with thick unflavored vegan yogurt alternative
- 1 whole English cucumber
- 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh dill sub with fresh mint or parsley if desired
- 3-4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbsp lemon juice fresh-squeezed, if possible
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp coarse black pepper (or to taste)
- 1 tsp red wine, white, or apple cider vinegar optional
- 1 Tbsp olive oil drizzle over at serving
- Wash and shred the cucumber using a box cheese grated or food processor. (Peel at least partially if not using thin-skinned English cucumber. Otherwise, leave unpeeled). Set grated cucumber in a colander to drain.
- Combine yogurt, chopped dill, minced garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and optional vinegar in a bowl.
- Gently press and wring out the shredded cucumber to remove excess moisture, then add it to the sauce bowl.
- For the best flavor, refrigerate at least 1-2 hours to overnight before serving to let the flavors meld.
- Enjoy! Drizzle with olive oil at the time of serving.
- Store in the refrigerator in a glass container with airtight lid. Use within 5 days for the best quality.