What is Tzatziki?
Greece is also well known for its dips and sauces, and perhaps the most popular condiment/sauce—and the most familiar to those of us non-Greeks—tzatziki. Tzatziki is served with everything from pita as a dip, to grilled fish or meat as a condiment, to gyros as a sauce. It’s very refreshing, based on a mixture of salted cucumber, yogurt and garlic, and then there are a lot of interpretations and versions.
What is in Tzatziki?
So, the base is cucumbers and yogurt, and there is usually garlic, though you can change out the garlic for shallots, or another member of the onion family. I usually keep the amount of garlic fairly light, so that the soft simple flavors of the yogurt and cucumber doesn’t get obscured—add more if you wish.
Often fresh herbs are added such as dill, oregano, mint, or parsley, or a combo of herbs. Even the fronds of fennel bulbs. Olive oil is often added for a bit of richness, anywhere from a tiny splash, to a generous glug, which thins the sauce, but adds another level of richness and silkiness. And there is usually some sort of acid, usually lemon juice, to give it a little kick.
What to Do with Leftover Tzatziki
And if you are as fond tzatziki as much as I am, you may want to make extra to serve up with pita chips the next day, or perhaps to dollop on a piece of grilled chicken or a chop. Leftover roasted meat thinly sliced and piled into a pita with tzatziki makes a great makeshift gyro (lamb, beef, pork, or yes, turkey!). Tzatziki is best eaten within a day of making, as the mixture can start to become a bit watery from the cucumbers.
Do You Need to Peel the Cucumber for Tzatziki?
Some cooks say yes, some say no, and really it’s your call. I like to leave the skin on the cucumber, unless it’s quite thick, for the extra pop of dark green color.
What Kind of Cucumber to Use for Tzatziki
If you have a choice, go for a seedless cucumber. Yes, there are still seeds in a seedless cucumber, but they are smaller and there are fewer of them. These usually have thinner skins, as well, so there is no need to peel them. You could also do this with baby cucumbers.
The most popular, versatile and refreshing Greek condiment and dip, made with chopped cucumber, yogurt, garlic, and fresh herbs.Tweet This
How to Make Tzatziki
Peel the cucumber if you wish— it’s not necessary unless the skin is particularly thick. Slice it half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds with a teaspoon.
Grate the cucumber using the large holes on a box grater, or the grating blade in a food processor. Toss the cucumber with kosher salt and place in a strainer over a bowl, or in the sink. Let rest for 10 to 30 minutes.
Use your hands to squeeze the cucumbers to press out any extra liquid, then place the cucumber in a medium bowl.
Add the remaining ingredients: yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, 2 teaspoons oregano, mint, garlic, pepper and additional salt if needed. Stir well, and add pepper and any additional salt as needed (remember the cucumbers were salted at the beginning).
What to Serve with Tzatziki:
- Roasted Chicken Thighs
- Baked Chicken Legs with Herbs and Lemon
- Panko Crusted Fish with Tzatziki
- Slow Cooked Mediterranean Leg of Lamb with Tzatziki
- Lemon-Garlic Semi-Boneless Leg of Lamb
Other Greek Inspired Recipes:
- Greek Tabbouleh Salad
- Easy Greek Chicken Pasta Salad
- Greek Salad with Flank Steak
- Greek Tomato and Cucumber Salad
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- 1 medium 10-ounce or so seedless cucumber, peeled if the skin is thick
- Kosher salt
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt preferably whole
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
- ½ teaspoon finely minced garlic
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Slice the cucumber half lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds with a teaspoon. Grate the cucumber using the large holes on a box grater, or the grating blade in a food processor. Toss the cucumber with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and place in a strainer over a bowl, or in the sink. Let rest for 10 to 30 minutes.
- Use your hands to squeeze the cucumbers to press out any extra liquid, then place in a medium bowl. Add the yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, 2 teaspoons oregano, mint and ½ teaspoon garlic. Stir well, and add pepper and any additional salt as needed (remember the cucumbers were salted at the beginning).
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
This lives in my fridge to be eaten on torn pita, pita chips, alongside grilled chicken or lamb, so very good.