Whenever I go out to my favorite Greek restaurant the one item on the menu that I absolutely must have is the tzatziki. Whether it’s slathered on my gyro or I’m dipping into it, it must be on my plate — so naturally I needed to make a homemade tzatziki sauce recipe.
This delicious sauce is among the top easy recipes I keep on hand for when I need a great dip or an easy sauce in a hurry. It’s so simple and it goes with so many things.
The bright flavors make it a no-brainer for spring and summertime snacking or with meals, but it’s also ideal for heartier dishes like with a roasted leg of lamb or roasted chicken. You can even make it a day or two ahead to take to a party.
No matter how you choose to use it, this sauce is so easy you can’t help but keep the recipe handy to toss it together quickly. Next time you need a simple recipe for a weeknight dinner, or to impress guests, consider making tzatziki.
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What is Tzatziki Sauce?
Tzatziki is a Mediterranean yogurt-based sauce — in the U.S. it’s found most commonly in Greek restaurants. You’ll see it served as a dipping sauce for vegetables, pita, or protein and also spread in traditional sandwiches like gyros.
Essentially this is a bright, creamy cucumber sauce — you take fresh cucumber that’s been chopped (or grated) and strained, then mix it with plain Greek yogurt, lemon, and a few other simple ingredients. It couldn’t be an easier or quicker sauce recipe.
Not only is this sauce versatile, it’s also entirely customizable. You can make it your own with flavors that you love to use and change it up depending on what you’re pairing it with.
Whether you use it as a healthy dip or as a creamy sauce, if this is your first time trying this sauce, be prepared for tzatziki to become your new favorite dip.
- Greek yogurt – Using full-fat Greek yogurt is ideal for the best results, but you can substitute a low fat variety with less calories or even use sour cream.
- Lemon juice – This adds a brightness to the dip. You can use fresh lemon juice or a store bought variety.
- Dill – You’ll want to use fresh dill for the best flavor. Make sure to chop it coarsely.
- Cucumber – You can either finely chop or use grated cucumber (grate using a box grater). Be sure to have a coffee filter or paper towels handy to strain and avoid having excess moisture — you don’t want to introduce too much liquid to the yogurt.
- Kosher salt – Just a bit of Kosher salt adds the bit of kick necessary to round out this sauce.
- Garlic cloves – Be sure to mince the garlic cloves finely to avoid any large chunks.
- Heat – If you like a little spice, try adding a dash of roasted red pepper flakes or cayenne. For just a wee bit of heat, try black pepper.
- Nuts – Try adding pine nuts, or any crushed nuts that you like, for a little texture if you’re using it as a dip.
- Cheese – Mix in some feta for a salty, cheesy kick and a little added texture.
- Mexican – Instead of adding mint, chop up cilantro (and then use the dip on tacos or taco salads).
- Tomatoes – Try adding in diced tomatoes or even sun-dried tomatoes for a pop of color and brightness to your homemade tzatziki sauce.
- Fresh herbs – if you have extra herbs of any type in your garden, consider chopping them up and adding them.
- Olive oil – You can add some earthiness to the dip with a touch of extra virgin olive oil.
- Garlic – Roast the garlic ahead of time and whip it up with just a touch of olive oil before mixing with the other ingredients to add some earthiness.
- Avocado – In a food processor, mix the dip with avocado for a thick dip with beautiful color. Adjust the herbs and spices to taste.
- Lemon zest – If you really adore lemon flavor, adding a bit of lemon zest will dial it up.
- Dill – Increase the amount of dill for more of that fresh flavor.
- Mint – The addition of fresh mint will add even more freshness to the sauce.
How to Use Homemade Tzatziki Sauce
- Dip – Use this as a dip for anything from fresh vegetables to pita or potato chips.
- Spread – Spread this on any sandwich from a gyro (of course!) to, chicken sandwiches, burgers (beef, veggie, or especially lamb) or even your lunchtime turkey sandwich.
- Mayonnaise substitute – Use it for your favorite deli-style salads like tuna, chicken, or egg salad.
- Pasta or potato salad – Turn your pasta salad Mediterranean by using this combined with the diced veggies that you choose. Try topping it with feta, too.
- Cucumber salad – Instead of dressing sliced fresh cucumber with just sour cream and vinegar, use tzatziki instead.
- With proteins – Any meat or seafood right off the grill or out of the oven is made better with this homemade tzatziki sauce as an accompaniment.
- Salad dressing – Use this sauce as a healthy alternative to other mayo or oil based dressings, especially for a Greek salad.
- Potatoes – Try using tzatziki on baked potatoes or as a dip for your french fries. Also, mix it into mashed potatoes or serve on the side of some steaming hot latkes for Mediterranean twist.
- Wings – Instead of blue cheese or ranch, dip your wings into this cooling sauce.
- Breakfast – Try substituting tzatziki where you might use hollandaise, or just drizzle it over the eggs. It’s a perfect dipper for hash browns, too.
- Marinade – Use it prior to cooking! Just marinade your poultry or pork for a few hours before cooking – the yogurt will help make it more tender.
Storage and Freezing
Store this homemade tzatziki sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Make sure to give it a good stir before serving.
Freezing is not recommended.
More Sauce Recipes
Homemade Tzatziki Sauce Recipe
- 1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons fresh dill coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup cucumber finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3-4 large garlic cloves finely minced
- Combine plain Greek yogurt, lemon juice, fresh dill, cucumber, Kosher salt and garlic in a small bowl, stir until combined.
- If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it goes!