How to Make Tzatziki Dip




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Greek tzatziki dip with pita bread triangles

How to Make Tzatziki Dip ~ a refreshing and healthy Mediterranean appetizer that is absolute heaven on sweltering nights… if you’ve OD’d on hummus lately, (and who hasn’t?) this garlicky yogurt and cucumber dip has got your name all over it.

Greek tzatziki dip with pita bread and dill

The next time you’re having friends over, surprise them with this refreshing dip, it works equally well with crisp veggies, pita bread, or chips.

Tzatziki has been part of my life forever, at least it seems like it has.  It was one of the earliest recipes I made on a regular basis.  In fact I think most of us first learn to feed ourselves with simple no-recipe recipes like this.  What a bonus that it’s so delicious and healthy, with a long culinary pedigree.

What exactly is tzatziki?

  • Tzatziki (ta – ZEE – kee) is a dip, sauce, or soup from Greece, Turkey, the Balkans, and the Middle East.  
  • It’s made primarily with yogurt, cucumber, garlic, and fresh herbs like dill and mint.
  • Tzatziki can be used as a dip, like I’ve done today, with cut veggies or pita bread.  But it’s also commonly used as a sauce or side for grilled meats and chicken.  And I make it frequently in its soup form, which is one of the most refreshing recipes on the planet.

A plate of tzatziki yogurt and cucumber dip

Tzatziki is incredibly healthy

Yogurt is one of the world’s healthiest foods, but some of us struggle to incorporate it into our daily diets, at least I know I do.  My husband has yogurt and fruit every day for lunch, leaving me feeling sort of jealous and resentful.   Tzatziki is a different (savory!) way to enjoy yogurt even if it doesn’t normally appeal to you.  You can totally pig out on this creamy dip and still feel great about yourself ~ score!

Squeezing excess moisture from shredded cucumber for homemade tzatziki dip

This is a low tech recipe that’s been made in rustic villages for centuries ~ all you’ll need is your box grater and a clean kitchen towel to prep your cucumber.

Cucumber water in a small glass

The best way to make tzatziki

  • It starts with shredding cucumber, and then squeezing out the excess moisture.  Do that with a kitchen towel, a nut milk bag, or a fine mesh strainer.  You want to remove the water so it doesn’t release later and make your dip watery.  The ideal texture of tzatziki should be thick and creamy, not goopy.
  • By the way, don’t toss that cucumber water, drink it up, it’s so good for you!
  • Some recipes have you drain the yogurt as well as the shredded cucumber, but I don’t find that’s necessary when you start with a good thick yogurt.  I love to use whole milk yogurt for the best flavor and texture.
  • The flavorings are critical to tzatziki because the base would be quite bland on its own.   I make a paste out of a clove of garlic and some sea salt…this way the garlic can be infused into the dip and nobody bites into chunks of raw garlic.  Simply rub the garlic and salt together with the side of a knife on a cutting board until it’s a uniform creamy paste.
  • Fresh herbs are essential, do not try this with dried.  Dill and mint are traditional, but you can also add parsley.
  • A little squeeze of lemon juice wakes it all up, and I like to garnish with a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper, or sumac, both wonderfully zesty Mediterranean spices that you can find in better stores, or online here and here.

Making tzatziki dip with yogurt and shredded cucumber

How to serve tzatziki 

colorful cherry tomatoes

We had a little fun serving our tzatziki with skewers of burst cherry tomatoes…the charring brings out the natural sweetness in the tomatoes which goes beautifully with the dip.  Just thread up your skewers and grill or broil for a few minutes until the tomatoes start to burst their skins.  

Tzatziki with burst cherry tomatoes

About the garnish: what is Aleppo Pepper, Sumac, and smoked paprika, and how do they differ?  

All three spices are a shade of beautiful crimson red, but they differ quite a bit in flavor.  Any one of them will give you a lovely effect.

  1.  Aleppo pepper is a bright red Syrian/Turkish coarse ground chili powder.  It’s got a moderate  heat and a deep fruity flavor.  I love it!  I’ve used it as a coating for my Jewel Box Labneh Balls, and in my Chicken with Cracked Olives and Herbs.
  2. Sumac is a Middle Eastern spice made from ground sumac berries.  It’s not hot, but has a bright zesty citrus flavor.  I use it in the dressings for my Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad (Balela) and my Fattoush Salad.
  3. Smoked paprika is a Spanish paprika, or chili powder, made from smoke dried chiles.  It comes hot or mild, (I love the hot.)  I use it to make Chicken Paprikás and Muhammara Dip.

tzatziki with burst tomato skewers

How to Make Tzatziki Dip
Rate this recipe
14 ratings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Category: appetizer

Cuisine: Greek, Middle Eastern

Servings: serves 8-10

A plate of tzatziki yogurt and cucumber dip

How to Make Tzatziki Dip ~ an incredibly refreshing and healthy Mediterranean appetizer that is absolutely heaven on sweltering nights... if you've OD'd on hummus lately, (and who hasn't?) this garlicky yogurt and cucumber dip is a great alternative.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium or 2 small cucumbers, about 9 ounces or 245 grams
  • 2 cups, or 490 grams, whole milk yogurt, the thicker the better.
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice (more to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh mint
  • 3 Tbsp fresh minced dill
  • a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper, sumac, or smoked paprika

Instructions

  1. Wash but don't peel your cukes and trim off the stem ends. Grate them on the large holes of a box grater. Put the shreds into a nut bag, cheesecloth, clean kitchen towel, or fine mesh strainer and squeeze or push out the excess moisture. Save the cucumber water to drink!
  2. Put the yogurt and the grated cucumber in a mixing bowl. Mash the garlic clove and the salt together to make a paste, and then add to the bowl, along with the lemon juice and fresh herbs. Stir everything together to combine.
  3. Plate the dip and spread out with the back of a spoon. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with spice.
  4. Serve with vegetable crudité, pita bread, or chips. Tzatziki can also be served as a sauce or side for grilled meats.

Notes

Tzatziki can be made up to a day in advance.

How to serve tzatziki ~

 

Thanks for pinning!

 

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18 Comments

    Leave a Reply

  • Reply
    Didi
    July 16, 2019 at 8:39 pm

    Absolutely delicious and sooooo simple! Thank you! Can’t wait to try the menu ideas from the comments.

    • Reply
      Sue
      July 18, 2019 at 6:05 pm

      Me too!

  • Reply
    Michelle Pavel
    July 10, 2019 at 3:03 pm

    We love Tzatzki in my home and literally the other day I was thinking how do I make this myself and the email pops up from you guys :)

    We use it on homemade pizza, Tandori Chicken with Avo… amazing, plus we have it on top of all our Indian dishes if they are a little spicy.

    Thanks for the easy recipe.

    • Reply
      Sue
      July 10, 2019 at 3:08 pm

      What great timing, that makes me so happy! I’ve never tried it on pizza, that’ll be next here :)

  • Reply
    John / Kitchen Riffs
    July 10, 2019 at 7:37 am

    Love this stuff! And I’m going to be featuring it later this summer. :-) I like it with corn chips, too. Or potato chips. Or heck, just from the bowl by the spoonful. :-)

    • Reply
      Sue
      July 10, 2019 at 7:41 am

      I crave it more the longer the summer goes on…can’t wait to see (and taste) yours :)

  • Reply
    Laura
    July 8, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    I love tzatziki, Sue, and make it to go with practically any Greek veggie or lamb dish. I totally agree, full-fat yogurt is a must. But I’ve never drained my veggies, what a great idea! Thanks! And also, thanks for the Amazon link for aleppo pepper, I can’t seem to find it in ANY local grocery.

    • Reply
      Bonny
      July 12, 2019 at 6:42 am

      Great recipe…we LOVE tzatziki sauce! I do add a tablespoon of tahini and mild miso to mine, inspired by Dreena Burton’s recipe in her Plant-powered Families book. Try it…it is flavor balancing at its finest!

      • Reply
        Sue
        July 12, 2019 at 7:27 am

        Interesting touch, thanks Bonny :)

  • Reply
    Alexandra
    July 8, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    Is great as is; sometimes I have it for dinner with some pita bread. Sue, you are an honorary med food blogger!

  • Reply
    mimi rippee
    July 8, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    Tzatziki is pretty wonderful, and so refreshing! I love your photos.

  • Reply
    Laurelei
    July 8, 2019 at 8:56 am

    I looooooove tzatziki!!! Also I love smoked paprika; it’s one of those “secret ingredient” spices that takes everything right over the top. I recently discovered another amazing secret-ingredient chili flake called gochugaru, the sweet-smoky mild-heat rough-flake chili that gives kimchee it’s signature flavor and dresses *anything* up in red. I googled it after seeing it listed as an ingredient in Chris Morocco’s version of bulgogi, and found this Bon Appétit post: https://www.bonappetit.com/story/gochugaru-korean-chile-flakes. Christina’s enthusiastic raving sold me on the spice, and even though I haven’t made kimchee or bulgogi yet, it’s already become a favorite. LOL In case you need another favorite chili flake.

    • Reply
      Sue
      July 8, 2019 at 10:00 am

      Thanks so much Laurelei, I’m always looking for a new favorite spice!!

  • Reply
    low and slow
    July 8, 2019 at 8:23 am

    We have a very similar recipe that goes on our Turkish Lamb burgers served in Pita Bread with tomatoes,lime pickled red onions and Feta cheese.However you`re addition of Aleppo Pepper sounds great! The burgers are already made but I`m going to try and use it tonight either in sauce or on the burgers. BTW the burger recipe is in The Complete Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly.

    • Reply
      Sue
      July 8, 2019 at 8:50 am

      That sounds so good I might make them tonight, yum!

  • Reply
    monique
    July 8, 2019 at 6:38 am

    Pinned this too..Having 13 peeps in Aug..ranging from 10-78, my family..I have so many ideas in my head why don’t you just tell me what to make lol..Thinking great different bacon burgers lol..maybe your asian salad..hopefully many of my tomatoes will be ready..maybe your lemon blueberry cake and something else..one chicken burger;) other salads..a great app..What do you suggest? On second hand..just send me a menu please LOL:)

  • Reply
    Tricia B
    July 8, 2019 at 3:45 am

    We adore this luscious spread and can eat it on everything. Beautiful photos!

    • Reply
      Sue
      July 8, 2019 at 6:32 am

      Thanks Tricia, I’ve been making this forever, it’s such an old favorite!