Wednesday, August 19, 2009

World's Best Tzatziki Sauce Recipe - Greek Yogurt and Cucumber Sauce

World's Best Tzatziki Sauce
Tzatziki sauce is the white sauce often served on Gyros; it's delicious no matter what you serve it on!

(First posted in 2007, updated with step-by-step photos and printer-friendly recipe and added to Recipe Favorites August 2009) Tzatziki is one of the classic sauces in Greek cuisine, with as many versions as there are cooks who make it. I can get away with calling this the World's Best Tzatziki Sauce Recipe because it was made by my friend Georgette, who's not only 100% Greek, but also one of the best cooks I know. In the archives I also have Georgette's Really Lemony Greek Pilafi and Georgette's Greek Zucchini. I keep telling Georgette that someday she'll have her own page in the recipe archives, and when she does, this Tzatziki Sauce recipe will be at the top of the list.

Georgette brought this sauce to my house when I cooked some lamb. If you've had a Gyro (pronounced yeero), Tzatziki is the type of white sauce that's often served with it. I love Tzatziki on grilled meats like Salmon, Kubideh, Souvlaki, chicken, and of course lamb. I've never had a version of Tzatziki sauce I didn't like, but this was hands-down the best I've tasted. Try it if you've never made Tzatziki yourself!

The sauce is made with Greek Yogurt, and there are many good brands, some of which are fat free or low fat. If you can't find Greek yogurt, you can make something similar by straining regular plain yogurt for several hours to remove the liquid and thicken the yogurt. I use the yogurt strainer you see in this photo, but if you don't have one Georgette recommends using two coffee filters inside a colander, placed inside a bowl to catch the liquid. This photo shows the yogurt starting to drain.

Let the yogurt drain on the counter for 2 hours, or until it reaches the thickness you want. This photo shows how much liquid had drained out after 2 hours, when the yogurt was nice and thick.

Since Tzatziki contains finely-chopped cucumber, it's best to remove the seeds of the cucumber so the sauce doesn't get too watery. Use a sharp pointed spoon to scrape out seeds as shown in this photo.

Then cut cucumbers into thick slices and put in a colander placed in the sink. Sprinkle on salt and let cucumbers release water and drain for at least 30 minutes or more. (The water released rinses off most of the salt, but if you're limiting salt in your diet you can rinse them and pat dry with paper towels.)

Tzatziki traditionally contains fresh dill, which makes me glad I have this lovely dill from my garden. Use the fine dips of the dill leaves and discard the thick stems. Some versions of Tzatziki use mint, and I'm thinking dried dill weed would also work in a pinch.

Put the cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, dill, and black pepper into food processor and process with the steel blade until cucumbers are finely chopped. When you see the liquid in this photo you can tell why it's important to drain the cucumbers first.

Then stir the pureed cucumber mixture into the Greek yogurt (or yogurt you've drained.) Let this refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using to give flavors a chance to develop.

Tzatziki (Greek Yogurt and Cucumber Sauce)
(Makes about 3 1/2 cups. You can cut the recipe in half, but it's so good, you really shouldn't. Recipe courtesy of Georgette.)

3 cups Greek Yogurt (or regular plain yogurt, strained as described above)
juice of one lemon (about 3 T)
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 medium cucumbers, seeded and diced
about 1 T kosher salt for salting cucumbers
1 T finely chopped fresh dill (can substitute mint leaves for a slightly different version)
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

If you don't have Greek yogurt, strain plain yogurt as described above. Peel cucumbers, then cut in half lengthwise and take a small spoon and scrape out seeds. Discard seeds. (If you use the small seedless or European cucumbers with few seeds, you can skip this step.) Slice cucumbers, then put in a colander, sprinkle on 1 T salt, and let stand for 30 minutes to draw out water. Drain well and wipe dry with paper towel.

In food processor with steel blade, add cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, dill, and a few grinds of black pepper. Process until well blended, then stir this mixture into the yogurt. Taste before adding any extra salt, then salt if needed. Place in refrigerator for at least two hours before serving so flavors can blend. (This resting time is very important.)

This will keep for a few days or more in the refrigerator, but you will need to drain off any water and stir each time you use it.

Click Here for Printer Friendly Recipe

South Beach Suggestions:
Yogurt is one dairy product where the South Beach Diet recommends always choosing non-fat or low-fat and there is a huge variation in the amount of fat in various brands of yogurt. I would check the label and choose the lowest fat and lowest sugar brand I could find when choosing yogurt. That said, Tzatziki is a condiment, and you won't be eating enormous amounts of it.


More Yummy Versions of Tzatziki
(Recipes from other blogs may or may not be South Beach friendly, check ingredients.)
I write about Tzatziki Sauce at BlogHer.com
Cheap Healthy Good writes a poem about Georgette's Tzatziki recipe!
Tzatziki with Mint from The Kitchen Pantry
Avocado Tzatziki from Anne's Food
Beetroot Tzatziki from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once
Vegetable Dolmades with Yogurt-Garlic Sauce from Well Fed
Olympics Tzatziki from Seattle Bon Vivant
Swiss Chard Tzatziki from Simply Recipes
Tzatziki with a Secret Ingredient from Kalofagas - In Pursuit of Delicious foods
Fava Beans with Garlicy Turkish Yogurt from Almost Turkish Recipes
Tzatziki Salad from Accidental Hedonist
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222 comments:

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Judit @WineDineDaily said...

Thank for the Delicious Tzatziki recipe!!!

MJG said...

This recipe is GREAT. Not only does the sauce taste wonderful, but the explaination of draining the yogurt and salting the cucumbers to remove water makes the sauce thick and not runny like most recipes.

Jerusha said...

today I made this recipe and made a slight modification. after making the base recipe I split it in half (so I could have some original still) and to one half added 1/4 cup roasted red bell pepper. Upon initial taste it is really good. I have to let it sit still but the temptation to have some right now is strong. :)

Kalyn said...

Glad people are still enjoying this! Jerusha, love the variation with roasted red peppers.

i'm stephanie. said...

just made this for the gyro meatballs. oh my gosh. soooooo good. could eat just sit here and eat it with a spoon! (even before letting it sit.)

Cheryl Colgan said...

Oh my! Just as with every other single recipe I've tried of yours, this one is SO DELICIOUS!! The meatballs are soooo flavorful. I made it with a Greek salad. Didn't have the yogurt on hand to make tatziki sauce, but will definitely try that next time. Thank you!!!!

Unknown said...

I bought bottled sauce at the store today, but thought "there must be a recipe for it somewhere." The internet to the rescue! I'm excited to try your recipe. I even have all the ingredients on hand including cukes and dill from my garden.

Ranjooo said...

Best tzatziki sauce ever!..Made it today and cant wait to try on Indian roti with veggies..

MadameMarsh said...

This was a great recipe, I loved how you explained everything. The only thing was when I blended the cucumber, etc it came out a bit too smooth for my liking so next time I'll probably grate and chop everything by hand so I can see the little bits of ingredients. Also, I only buy full fat Greek yogurt, it tastes way better and actually has more health benefits then reduced.

Cindy N said...

As a Greek - and PROUD of it! - I can honestly say that none of my family/friends *EVER* put mint in tzatziki. Ever. It's just not done in traditional family cooking.
This recipe is pretty spot on, except that we don't food process our cucumber (makes it too watery), rather we chop it - which makes the tzatziki chunkier too. And we put about half a garlic in, not just one clove. If you're not oozing garlic for a week, it's not good tzatziki!

Cristin said...

Oh my! Everyday I try a new recipe of yours, and today I wanted to clean out the fridge. I had a cucumber (it looked nice so I bought it, but I hate them), and I had non-fat Greek yogurt (leftover from the Ham & Cauliflower casserole). This seemed like a great way to use those items. Good thing I cut the recipe in half...this stuff is phenomenal!!! We're topping our crockpot roast (with dill, garlic, & onion) with this tonight (if there's any left...it tastes good on a spoon too). Hopefully on top of souvlaki or gyro meatballs soon! Day 5 of SBD phase 1 and you're making it so easy!

Kristi Shoemaker said...

Ok, I may have missed this, but was I supposed to peel the cucumbers first? It looks like they're peeled in the picture, but I didn't notice until after I scraped and diced.

Kalyn Denny said...

Yes, the recipe says "Peel cucumbers."

hopefromtheashes said...

Hi Kalyn,

Thanks so much for posting the recipe; my husband and I fell in love with each other and the food while in Greece. I do think I've done something incorrectly regarding the recipe because mine came out very thin. Any suggestions on how to make it thicker? Many thanks! Jill

Kalyn Denny said...

Hopefromtheashes,
If you followed all the instructions in the recipe I'd have to guess that it's the brand of yogurt or possibly bigger/more watery cucumbers that make it thinner. Do try again!

Karly Kelsay said...

I'm just starting the SBD and found your blog. Amazing!!! Can't wait for my Tzatziki to be chilled. Just out of curiosity, have you ever used Greek seasoning instead of just dill in it?

Kalyn Denny said...

Karla, I've never used Greek Seasoning in this, but I'd imagine it wouldn't be too bad. It would add salt, so I wouldn't use too much.

MaidofHearts said...

Is the T for the recipe Tablespoons or teaspoons?

Kalyn Denny said...

T = tablespoon. I use tsp. for teaspoon.

Michelle W. said...

This is some of the best Tzatziki ever! I have never drained the cucumber when making it, and like that trick! I did use Greek yogurt so no draining required. No need for extra salt as well (glad you put to check before adding) because the cucumbers gave off enough. Another good one :)

Teresa Miller said...

Kayln
This is 2014 and your recipe is my go too and I pass it on..

thanks for sharing

Kalyn Denny said...

Teresa, so glad you have been enjoying it all this time!

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