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!
- 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
- 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.
- Finely dice 1 garlic clove, and chop 1 tablespoon fresh dill.
- 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.
- To serve, drizzle with olive oil; if desired, garnish with olives and a dill sprig. Serve with pita, crackers, or vegetables.