Tzatziki (pronounced zat-ZEE-key) is a classic Greek garlic-yogurt sauce made with strained yogurt, cucumber, garlic, olive oil and salt. It often has fresh lemon juice along with a generous amount of mint or dill and is served as an appetizer ('meze' if you're in the Mediterranean) with fresh pita (make your own with this easy pita bread recipe) or vegetables for dipping, or as a dip for grilled meats like chicken and lamb. It also works wonderfully as a spread for shawarmas or gyros (try this Gyro Meat recipe too) and alongside other creamy spreads like white bean hummus and Baba Ganoush.
I know that many recipes call for Greek yogurt, but I'm going to ask you to strain plain, whole milk yogurt instead. You'll have to start a day in advance but you'll be rewarded with an ultra thick and creamy base for your tzatziki sauce - a texture more like cream cheese than yogurt.
How to Make Tzatziki
1. The day before you'd like to serve the tzatziki, strain two cups of yogurt overnight through a coffee filter or two layers of cheesecloth set in a strainer set above an empty container to catch the liquid as it drains (more than a cup will drain out!). You can use commercial Greek yogurt instead, but it won't be as thick.
2. Shred the cucumber and set it in a fine mesh strainer to drain overnight.
3. The day you plan to serve, stir all of the tzatziki recipe ingredients together then cover and refrigerate for an hour or more to allow the flavors to meld. Serve.
If you're like me and love your tzatziki sauce thick and spreadable, not thin and watery, I predict this will become your go-to recipe!
Tzatziki Recipe Video
- 2 cups full-fat plain yogurt
- ½ English cucumber
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice about ½ lemon
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- Strain yogurt mixture by pouring into a coffee filter or double layer of cheesecloth set over an empty container to catch liquid as it drains (about 1 cup of liquid will drain). Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Shred cucumber and place in a fine mesh strainer set over an empty container to catch liquid as it drains (a few tablespoons of liquid will drain). Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- In a medium bowl, stir strained yogurt, drained cucumber and remaining ingredients (salt through garlic). Cover and refrigerate for an hour or more to meld flavors. Serve chilled.