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Authentic Tzatziki (Greek Yogurt Cucumber Dip)

Tzatziki (Greek Yogurt Cucumber Dip) | A Couple Cooks

Tzatziki (Greek Yogurt Cucumber Dip) | A Couple CooksTzatziki (Greek Yogurt Cucumber Dip) | A Couple CooksTzatziki (Greek Yogurt Cucumber Dip) | A Couple Cooks

Tzatziki (Greek Yogurt Cucumber Dip) | A Couple CooksTzatziki (Greek Yogurt Cucumber Dip) | A Couple Cooks

We just returned from Greece and we’ve been working to recreate some of the fabulous eats we had there. If you’ve been to the country or are a fan of Greek food, you probably know about tzatziki, that famously creamy and garlicy yogurt cucumber sauce. It’s commonly eaten as a dip on pita or veggies, or as a condiment for gyros (one of our favorite sandwiches, when we flex our flexitarian muscle).

Tzatziki in Greece tastes like heaven, so we went about creating authentic tzatziki here at home. Turns out, just as with the best potato salad or tomato sauce, everyone and their grandmother has an opinion on the “right” way to make tzatziki. Fortunately we were prepared for this, since we posted a tzatziki recipe back in June 2012. If you look in the comments, you’ll see there are varying debates: dill or mint (or both)? lemon juice or vinegar? olive oil or none?

We set about to try our hand again, and after lots of research and many attempts later, we found a contender. We learned:

  • Less cucumber than expected keeps a creamy consistency; make sure to grate it (not chop it in the food processor, oops!) and squeeze out as much moisture as possible
  • Dill is traditional (usually not mint), though some recipes we’ve seen even omit the dill
  • Olive oil is important for taste and texture; we used 1 tablespoon, but have seen even more used in some recipes
  • White wine vinegar was our preferred acid, not lemon juice (though this appears to be a matter of preference)
  • Full fat Greek yogurt is key (we tried straining it to make it even thicker, but found this wasn’t necessary)

While we’re not Greek ourselves, this is the culmination of our research, recipe testing, our best memories of Greece, and the consensus of our taste testers. One last tip: we noticed it was usually served in a shallow dish or plate (instead of a deep bowl, for easy dipping), garnished with a drizzle of olive oil and many times an olive.

What’s your best tzatziki recipe? We’d love to hear your tips!

Tzatziki (Greek Yogurt Cucumber Dip)
 
by:
Makes: 2½ cups
What You Need
  • 10 ounces cucumber (1 medium cucumber or ¾ large)
  • 1 medium garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (do not substitute dried)
  • 18 ounces full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
What To Do
  1. Peel the cucumber. Cut it in half, then scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Using a box grater, grate the cucumber into very thin strips. Place the cucumber in a fine mesh strainer, and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Sprinkle with kosher salt, then let stand for at least 10 minutes to drain any remaining water. Squeeze once more to drain.
  2. Finely dice 1 garlic clove, and chop 1 tablespoon fresh dill.
  3. When the cucumber is ready, mix cucumber, garlic, dill, 18 ounces Greek yogurt, 1 ½ tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon olive oil, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, and a few grinds of fresh ground pepper. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours (or more) so the flavors can marry. Keeps up to 1 week in the refrigerator.
  4. To serve, drizzle with olive oil; if desired, garnish with olives and a dill sprig. Serve with pita, crackers, or vegetables.

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Comments 17

  1. Kathryn

    I love tzatziki – it’s such a refreshing and cooling dip and just perfect for anything from bread to grilled meat. Your tips are super helpful; I think I always go too heavy on the cucumber and I can’t wait to make batch after batch over this over the summer.

  2. E.J.

    Not to distract from the main point of your post, which looks delicious, but if you’re looking for a gyro without having to flex, Sinking Ship has a vegan one that’s amazing.

  3. Ana- Amendoeira em Flor

    That is a great recipe for summer indeed. I’m curious to try this new and improved recipe you brought from Greece. Love this of kind of simple, healthy and beautiful recipes… Great post! ;)

  4. Alex

    I am of Greek descent and make this wonderful dip often. I do not use dill, as some people don’t like it and find it doesn’t add or detract from the yogurt-cucumber flavor. I am a lemon lover so prefer it to the vinegar bite…..and have only strained “American” yogurt before the Greek style was so available. I do use the box grater for the cucs, better on the tongue than the strips. But great post and I will follow you along on your food journey.,
    Thanks for your input.
    PS My sister is Sonia and I am Alex. How’s that for a oddity?

  5. Emma

    Indeed, your recipe is authentic (I’m greek, was born and raised in Greece- lived there 25 yrs). You can use a 2% or less, if you strain it (Faye is a good brand to use). Also, in some places in Greece, together with the cucumber they grate a pickle. Yes, I know, sounds strange. But it tastes awesome too!

  6. Eve

    Thanks for a great recipe. I made this for a barbeque tonight – delicious!! I’m not a dill fan so I substituted fresh oregano from my garden. Served it with peppers and snap peas and homemade pita chips.

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  7. Andrew Geist

    I lived in Greece for over a year in the early 1990′s (about 6 months in Athens, the rest in Hellenikon Crete), and am baffled by references to mint, dill, vinegar and other stuff. All the ‘tzeziki’ I had (a LOT) was just yogurt, cucumber and garlic. The cucumber was peeled, too. Peeling it keeps it from having that ‘too strong’ cucumber taste. Peeled cucumber remains light and fresh (refreshing?) and is probably impossible to have too much. I can imagine some people putting lemon in, since it’s the second most popular tree in Greece (after olive), but that’s about it. I made it in the U.S. for the last 20 years, often adding sour cream for thickness (real Greek yogurt has only become available in the last few years). I grate the peeled cucumber onto a couple heavy paper towels and squeeze out all the moisture. Never had s problem with “too much cucumber” making it “not creamy”. In Crete especially there were only two kinds of tzeziki: “garlic” and “extra garlic”. The extra garlic usually meaning its just older, since it gets stronger the longer it sits. (Mine is often too strong for my wife the second day, so I started making hers separately with less garlic). Most of the places I had tzeziki just used powdered garlic, too. The more ‘touristy’ spots might add a crushed clove or two just to have the ‘bits’ in it. However, since personal taste is paramount, I would suggest that people experiment a few times. Divide the yogurt and cucumber mix into a few small bowls, then add garlic (various amounts), lemon, or whatever else to the different bowls and see what you like. Also, most places just served it with “plain bread” …the closest thing here would probably be fresh Italian bread. Almost forgot–olive oil? Never saw it, but Greeks will often put it on anything and everything, so I wouldn’t be surprised.

  8. Beth@mealsalone.com

    Just made it and I am having a hard time waiting for the “marrying” period, but I know it will be well worth it. I made it to go with a batch of kofte. Not sure but it may need a little honey.
    I love tzatziki so much and don’t want to change it at all but I must do what tastes the best for the kofte and my readers.
    Greek yogurt is the key to great tzatziki. Mmmm!

  9. cyndi

    I just made this – it’s sitting in the fridge but tasted pretty good already! I will say, tread carefully if you don’t have white wine vinegar on hand and use lemon juice for the acid. I added it about 1/8 tsp at a time, mixed, tasted, and I think added prob 1/2 tsp or so total – so depending on your lemon it may need a lot less :) Figured I’d throw out a warning since I’ve ruined enough things learning to cook by accidentally adding too much lemon in the past.

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