Tangy and garlicky, this versatile Greek cucumber-yogurt dish is easy to make
Looking for the perfect summer dish? Tzatziki is here!
It’s quick to prepare (no cooking!) and endlessly versatile. You can serve it as a dip, but it also makes a dandy sauce (it’s particularly nice with chicken or fish). Or use it as dressing for salad. You can even thin it out and serve it as soup.
We’ll drink to that. Make ours an ouzo.
Recipe: Tzatziki Dip, Sauce, and Dressing
So, how do you pronounce tzatziki? In the US, it’s usually zat-zee-key. The Greek pronunciation is closer to chat-chee-kee.
You can find variants of this dish in any part of the world where yogurt is a staple. India has raita. Turkey has cacik. The Balkans have tarator. Iran has mast-o-khiar. And so on.
Ingredient quantities are flexible for this dish. So feel free to adjust ingredients to suit your own taste.
Assembly time for this dish is under 15 minutes, but you need to salt the cucumber and let it sit for a bit to release its liquid. So plan on at least 30 minutes from start to finish.
Leftovers keep for a few days if refrigerated in an airtight container.
- 1 seedless (English) cucumber (see Notes for substitutions)
- ~1 teaspoon kosher salt (see Notes)
- 4 cloves garlic (or to taste)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 cups whole-milk Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint or dill, chopped (or a mix of the two; or to taste)
- ~2 teaspoons red wine vinegar or lemon juice (to taste)
- Peel the cucumber, then grate it (using the large-holed side of a grater or a food processor grater attachment). Toss the grated cuke with about one teaspoon of salt, then let it drain in a strainer or colander for about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, peel the garlic and mince it. Mix the minced garlic with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then let it sit while the cucumber is draining.
- Rinse the drained, grated cucumber with water. Then place the cuke pieces in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze them to remove any excess water. Pour the cuke pieces into a mixing bowl (or, if you’re not ready to make the dip quite yet, just let them dry on paper towels). Add the yogurt and the chopped garlic (with its accompanying olive oil).
- Wash and mince the mint and/or dill, then add it to the mixing bowl. Add another tablespoon of olive oil, then mix all the ingredients together. Add about 2 teaspoons of vinegar or lemon juice and mix again. Taste, then add more vinegar or lemon juice if needed. Add salt if necessary.
- You can serve the tzatziki right away or let it chill in the refrigerator for an hour or two.
- Using tzatziki as a dip? You could serve it with cut-up veggies and bread (pita bread is particularly nice). Or potato chips. Or any kind of chip, really.
- Whole-milk yogurt works best in this dish. You can use 2% or fat-free yogurt if you insist, but the flavor won’t be as good.
- Some recipes call for letting the yogurt sit in a sieve for a couple of hours so that the excess moisture can drain from it. With Greek yogurt, we find that step isn’t necessary. But if you’re using regular yogurt (which often is on the watery side), sieving it is probably a good idea.
- English cucumbers are the long, seedless variety that generally come wrapped in plastic protective seals.
- Don’t have English cucumbers on hand? You can substitute ordinary slicing cucumbers (the kind most commonly found in US supermarkets). If going this route, use two or three cukes (to taste). These cucumbers have a lot of seeds. So after peeling them, cut the cukes in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon before grating them.
- Don’t want to grate the cucumbers? You can dice them finely instead.
- Why salt the grated cucumber in Step 1? Because salt helps draw out some of the moisture (which could make the tzatziki too watery if not removed).
- Mint and dill both work great in this dish (which is why they’re the herbs that people most frequently use). We have an abundance of mint in our garden at the moment, so we went with that. But we often use both mint and dill.
- Want to serve this dish as a soup? Just thin it with water. Or maybe cream (we haven’t tried that, but it sounds good).
- We like to use red wine vinegar in this dish, but lemon has its charms, too. Or you could use white wine vinegar if you prefer.
- Why marinate the minced garlic in olive oil? To infuse the oil with garlic flavor (and soften the flavor of the garlic itself – making it more mellow).
- We use kosher salt in cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If substituting regular table salt, start with about half the amount we recommend.
“Outstanding dish,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “It’s the real dill.”
“Mint condition too,” I said. “Fresh from the not-hot kitchen.”
“Pita we don’t make this more often,” said Mrs K R.
“Let’s not mince words,” I said. “We l-o-v-e the garlic flavor.”
“Great party dish too,” said Mrs K R. “People will line up for it. They’ll be queue-cumbers, you might say.”
You may also enjoy reading about:
Green Goddess Dip, Dressing, and Sauce
Mediterranean White Bean Dip
Jalapeño Black Bean Dip
Salsa and Picante Sauce
California Clam Dip
Smoky Salmon and Cream Cheese Dip
Artichoke Dip with Cheddar Cheese
Crab Rangoon Dip
Or check out the index for more