Authentic Greek tzatziki sauce (cucumber and yogurt sauce)

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My love for Greek food dates back to when my husband and I lived in Chicago more than 20 years ago. We were poor students, and we couldn't afford tickets to professional sports or high-end theater, but we could afford to take the train from Hyde Park to Greektown for a Greco-American meal served with a theatrical flair. If you have never been to the Greek town of Chicago, I recommend going there. It's a lot of fun, with rows of restaurants decorated with white columns, grape leaves, and everything Greek. If you're going to Greektown, be sure to try the burning saganaki, a Chicago-made fiery cheese appetizer you won't actually find in Greece. Another thing you'll find on almost every table is authentic Greek tzatziki sauce, a traditional white sauce made with yogurt, cucumbers, olive oil, fresh herbs, and garlic. It is served with roasted or roasted meats, or as a sauce with crackers or pita wedges.

Tzatziki sauce is a classic Greek yogurt sauce that tastes great on just about everything.

I got this recipe for authentic Greek tzatziki sauce from a vacation I took in Greece last year, so I can truly say it is authentic. My husband, 18 year old daughter and I took a Greek cooking class, and it was one of the best moments of our trip! Like many traditional cuisines, Greek cuisine is based on a few basic ingredients that combine and recombine in infinite ways. This recipe combines Greek yogurt, cucumber, olive oil, fresh herbs, and garlic for a totally addictive, fresh, hot sauce!

The process of making authentic Greek tzatziki sauce begins with the cucumber. Grate one long unpeeled English cucumber, or 2 smaller cucumbers, using a food processor or box grater. How thin or how thick you grate the cucumber is up to you, but I like a medium texture. Salt the grated cucumber generously and put it in a strainer so it can drain. The recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of salt, which is a lot, but don't worry because most of it will drain. You should remove as much water as possible from the cucumber, so that your sauce is creamy and not watery. After the cucumber has drained for 15-30 minutes, squeeze out as much water as possible with your hands. It will end up looking like this:

Grate and squeeze the fresh cucumber to remove most of the water before adding it to the Greek tzatziki sauce.

While the cucumber is depleting, you can mix the rest of the ingredients: Greek yogurt, olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, fresh pepper and chopped fresh mint. Use extra virgin olive oil, preferably from Greece. I only buy Greek olive oil if it is on sale, because it is expensive where I live. For yogurt, I like the Fage brand, which is a favorite in Greece. My Greek cook insisted that you should use full-fat yogurt, but I think it's either low-fat or fat-free, because the sauce has a lot of olive oil.

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Greek chefs debate whether mint or dill is better for tzatziki sauce. Peppermint is considered refreshing, while dill is considered sharp and spicy. I've tried both, and I don't think there is much difference, but I prefer mint. Use the one you like best. If you don't have fresh herbs, dried herbs work well, but use 1/4 to 1/3 of the amount.

Greek tzatziki sauce (yogurt-cucumber sauce) is perfect with grilled chicken, pork, or lamb, or as a sauce with crackers or pita wedges.

Once you have combined all the other ingredients, add the well-drained cucumber to the sauce.

Make your own Greek tzatziki sauce (yogurt-cucumber sauce) with just a few fresh ingredients.

Once everything is mixed, taste the sauce and add more salt, pepper, vinegar, garlic, or herbs as desired. If possible, let the tzatziki sauce rest in the fridge for an hour or more so that the flavors mix.

That's! Making authentic Greek tzatziki sauce is super easy and worth the time it takes. Lately I've been making a batch of this almost every week, and eating it with gluten-free cookies for a lunch or light snack. I've also been serving it with grilled meat like these Greek grilled pork chops. It is one of my favorite, and the world's favorite, ways to eat Greek yogurt.

Authentic Greek tzatziki sauce (cucumber and yogurt sauce)

Authentic Greek tzatziki sauce (cucumber and yogurt sauce)

Tzatziki's authentic Greek sauce is spicy, fresh and addictive! Serve with chicken, pork or lamb, or as a sauce with crackers or pita wedges.


  • 1 long English cucumber or 2 smaller cucumbers
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 cups of Greek yogurt
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, preferably Greek
  • 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint or dill, your choice (or substitute 1 tablespoon dry)
  • ½ teaspoon fresh black pepper


  1. Wash the cucumber and cut the ends. Grate using a food processor or box grater.
  2. Put the grated cucumber in a strainer and sprinkle with salt, mixing so that all the cucumber pieces are covered. Place the strainer over a bowl so that the salt can extract the moisture from the cucumber. Allow the cucumber to drain for 15-30 minutes.
  3. Combine the other ingredients in a medium bowl.
  4. Press and squeeze the cucumber with your hands until you have extracted as much water as possible.
  5. Add the cucumber to the yogurt mixture. Try and add more salt, pepper, vinegar, garlic, or herbs if desired.
  6. Tzatziki tastes best if it is allowed to cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour.


5 g of fat, 1 g of carbohydrates, 2 g of protein per serving. Nutritional information based on the use of nonfat Greek yogurt.


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