This cool and creamy Homemade Tzatziki Sauce is perfect on all kinds of grilled meats, but also with spiced toasted pita wedges and crunchy fresh vegetables!
This is part of a series of recipes here on the site that I’m calling “Back to Basics“. In this series you’ll find recipes that are common building blocks for beginner cooks, as well as homemade versions of pantry/store-bought staples, such as cream of mushroom soup, cocktail sauce, garlic bread, etc. With easy to follow instructions, detailed notes, and step by step photos, you’ll be on your way to being a master in your kitchen in no time!
If you’ve ever had a gyro and wondered what that amazing cool and creamy sauce was… it was tzatziki!
Luckily, it’s really easy to make yourself, using simple, easy to find ingredients. And it stores well for about 4 days, so you can enjoy it almost all week long.
Tzatziki is ultra creamy, tangy, herby and cool. Not only is it fabulous on meats, like grilled chicken, but I like to use it as a dip for vegetables and pita chips.
It’s also great as a spread for sandwiches. Talk about versatile!
How to make homemade tzatziki sauce?
This is just an overview; the full ingredients and directions are in the recipe card toward the bottom of this post.
- Strain yogurt. This makes for a thicker sauce, but isn’t 100% required, as long as you don’t mind a thinner sauce.
- Salt and drain cucumber. This adds flavor, but also draws the excess moisture out, so you don’t end up with a watery sauce.
- Stir to combine. Once everything is strained, mix it all together in a bowl.
- Chill. This allows all the flavors to really come together.
- Make pita wedges. This is optional, but one of my favorite ways to enjoy tzatziki, so I’ve included my recipe and directions for that below as well.
I really recommend using a seedless or English cucumber for this recipe. The skin is thinner, less bitter, and the seeds (if any) are also much more digestible. Straining the cucumber is also pretty important; I don’t recommend skipping it. Otherwise the cucumber can weep liquid into the sauce over time.
Variations of this recipe
- Sour cream – if you’re not a fan of greek yogurt, you can make this using full fat sour cream. I found lower fat or fat free sour cream required more straining since there was more liquid.
- Dried herbs – I really prefer the taste of fresh dill in this sauce, but if you don’t have any or can’t find any, dried dill weed will work in a pinch. I would use about half of the amount, since dried herbs are more potent than fresh.
- Shredded – instead of dicing the cucumber, you can shred it on a box grater.
- Peeled – if you don’t like cucumber skin, feel free to peel it before dicing and using in the recipe.
- Non-strained – if you don’t have time to strain the yogurt, you can skip that step, but try to pour out as much of the liquid from the container as possible. Otherwise you’ll end up with a watery, sloppy tzatziki.
This classic sauce tastes creamy, tangy, herby, and a little garlicky.
Probably the most popular way to use tzatziki sauce is on a gyro, but it’s great on all kinds of grilled meats! I also like to use it as a dipping sauce for pita chips, fresh veggies, or as a spread on a sandwich.
I make zero claims when it comes to this recipe’s authenticity, this is just my way of making tzatziki.
Making tzatziki sauce ahead of time
By nature, this recipe is a make ahead recipe since it needs to chill for about an hour.
But it can be chilled ahead longer than that, just don’t go longer than 3-4 days.
Tzatziki sauce should be refrigerated in an airtight container and eaten within about 4 days.
I love these mixing bowls for two main reasons: the non-slip bottoms make mixing easier, and the airtight lids mean you don’t have to transfer the contents to another container to refrigerate!
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @the_chunky_chef on Facebook and Instagram!
- 2 cups full fat plain Greek yogurt
- 1 seedless or English cucumber minced
- 2 cloves garlic very finely minced
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice fresh is best
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh dill chopped
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt divided
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- extra olive oil for drizzling (optional)
- extra cucumber and herbs for garnish (optional)
Spiced Toasted Pita Wedges (for dipping – optional)
- 5 slices pita bread
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- pinch of dried oregano
- pinch of ground sumac or smoked paprika
- Add yogurt to a large piece of cheesecloth, and place over a colander set inside a bowl for about 30-45 minutes. Keep refrigerated while it’s draining. This ensures a thicker sauce. *if you don't have a cheesecloth, add the yogurt to a fine mesh sieve*
- Add minced cucumbers to a mesh sieve placed over a bowl, and sprinkle with 1 tsp of the salt. Stir and let sit for 30 minutes.
- Fold a paper towel in half and press down gently but fairly firmly on the cucumbers, to get out as much liquid as possible. This ensures you don’t have a watered down sauce.
- To a mixing bowl, add yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, dill, olive oil, black pepper and remaining 1/2 tsp salt. Stir well to combine.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, but sauce will keep for about 4 days.
- While the sauce is chilling, slice each slice of pita bread into 6 triangles. Arrange on a baking sheet. Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush each triangle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with sumac and oregano to taste.
- Bake for 6-8 minutes, until pita is crisp at the edges.
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The Chunky Chef is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.