Tzatziki, the Greek Yoghurt Dip
Tzatziki (tza-tzee-kee) is the quintessential Greek dinner party dip. Like many Greek recipes, it is so simple to make with our authentic tzatziki recipe, and yet so delicious. The combined flavours of the Greek Yoghurt, dill and garlic, make for a tasty combination.
Tzatziki is a delicious Greek sauce or dip made with yogurt, cucumber, garlic, and herbs. It is usually served with grilled meats, pita bread, salads, or as a snack with fresh vegetables. It is easy to make with our recipe and has a refreshing and tangy flavor.
Authentic Greek Tzatziki Recipe
To make authentic Greek tzatziki, you need quality ingredients:
- Strained Greek yogurt provides the perfect creamy base
- Freshly grated cucumbers add a refreshing crunch
- Garlic, a key ingredient, provides a pungent kick balanced by the smoothness of extra virgin olive oil
- Dill and lemon juice add a zesty, herbaceous layer that makes tzatziki a complex yet harmonious sauce
The secret to creamy tzatziki
The secret to velvety tzatziki is in the yogurt. The use of strained Greek yogurt is critical as it provides a thick, rich texture. If Greek yogurt is unavailable, you can strain regular yogurt through cheesecloth to achieve the desired consistency.
Balancing flavors in tzatziki is an art. The key is to start with a base of yogurt and gradually add grated cucumber, minced garlic, and olive oil, tasting as you go. This allows you to adjust the flavors to your liking, ensuring a perfect blend of spicy, garlicky, and creamy notes.
- 1 large grated and strained cucumber
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups Greek strained yogurt
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
- ½ lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint (optional, choose based on your preference)
- more salt and ground black pepper (optional) to taste
- 1 sprig of fresh dill for garnish
Directions – How to improve flavor and texture
Start by preparing your cucumber. Grate the cucumber using the large holes of a grater. In a medium bowl, sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon salt over the grated cucumber. Let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. This process is important because it draws out the excess juice from the cucumber, resulting in a more concentrated flavor in your final dish.
Next, prepare your yogurt base. Pour the yogurt into a separate bowl and set it aside for now. Once your cucumber has rested, it’s time to remove the excess moisture. Transfer the cucumber to a strong, absorbent paper towel or cloth towel. Squeeze the cucumber firmly to extract as much liquid as possible. This step is critical to achieving the desired creamy texture in your dish.
Now stir the cucumber into the yogurt. For a burst of flavor, add finely chopped garlic, a pinch of cayenne pepper for subtle heat, and freshly squeezed lemon juice for a tangy zest. Stir these ingredients into the yogurt and cucumber mixture until well combined.
For an aromatic touch, gently fold in freshly chopped dill and mint. These herbs add a refreshing, herbaceous flavor that enhances the overall flavor profile. Season the mixture with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
To allow the flavors to build, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Let it chill for 3 to 4 hours, or leave it overnight to intensify the flavor. This resting period allows the ingredients to infuse, creating a harmonious blend of flavors.
When ready to serve, transfer the mixture to an elegant serving dish. Garnish with a delicate sprig of dill and a light dusting of cayenne pepper to add a visual and flavorful touch to your dish. This garnish not only enhances the presentation, but also adds a final layer of flavor that makes your dish truly exceptional. Enjoy this as a delightful accompaniment to your meal, offering a creamy, herby and slightly spicy experience.
Facts and Info for Greek Tzatziki
Here are some facts about tzatziki that you might find interesting:
- Tzatziki is best served chilled, after letting it rest in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. This allows the flavors to meld and the sauce to thicken. You can store tzatziki in an airtight container for up to a week in the fridge.
- Tzatziki is a popular condiment in many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines, especially in Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, and Lebanon. The word tzatziki comes from the Turkish word cacık, which means “herbed yogurt”. Tzatziki is also known as tarator, jajeek, or mast-o-khiar in different regions.
- Tzatziki can be used in many ways, such as:
- As a dip for pita chips, crackers, breadsticks, or fresh veggies like carrots, celery, bell peppers, or cherry tomatoes.
- As a sauce for grilled or roasted meats, such as chicken, lamb, beef, or fish. You can also use it as a marinade before cooking.
- As a dressing for salads, such as Greek salad, tabbouleh, or coleslaw. You can also add some feta cheese, olives, or nuts for extra flavor and texture.
- As a spread for sandwiches, wraps, burgers, or gyros. You can also add some lettuce, tomato, onion, or cucumber slices for crunch and freshness.
- As a topping for baked potatoes, rice, or pasta. You can also sprinkle some parsley, oregano, or paprika for color and aroma.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make Tzatziki without dill?
Yes, while dill is a traditional ingredient, you can omit it or substitute other herbs such as parsley or mint to suit your taste.
How long can I store tzatziki?
Properly stored in an airtight container, tzatziki will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. The flavors will develop over time, making it even more delicious after a day or two.
Is tzatziki a healthy option?
Tzatziki is a healthy and nutritious sauce, as it is low in calories and fat, and high in protein and calcium. It also contains probiotics, which are beneficial for your gut health and immune system. Cucumber is rich in water and fiber, which can help you stay hydrated and aid digestion. Garlic and herbs have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can protect your cells from damage and infection.
Freezing and Thawing Tzatziki: Is it Possible?
While freezing tzatziki is not traditionally recommended due to texture changes, it can be done for longer preservation. Thawing should be done gradually in the refrigerator to maintain its consistency.
Other Recipes for Tzatziki
If you want to try making your own tzatziki, here are some recipes that you can follow:
- Best Tzatziki: This recipe yields about 2 1/2 cups of tzatziki and uses fresh dill and mint as herbs.
- Authentic Greek Tzatziki Sauce Recipe: This recipe comes from a restaurant in the Greek island of Paros and uses only dill as the herb.
- Tzatziki Sauce Recipe: This recipe adds some warm pita bread and sliced vegetables for serving and uses only mint as the herb.