Although both of these delicious sauces start with a T, tzatziki is a refreshing cucumber and yogurt-based Greek dip while tahini is the Middle Eastern condiment that’s a paste made from toasted and ground sesame seeds.
Tzatziki sauce is often served as an accompaniment to grilled meats—like gyros, lamb, chicken souvlaki, etc.—and is made from some combination of yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, salt, lemon juice, fresh herbs, and sometimes olive oil. A great tzatziki recipe is a true gift—you can adapt it to whatever fresh herbs you have on hand and whip some up in only a few minutes. The key to great tzatziki is making sure that you drain the moisture from the cucumbers, as well as the yogurt that you’re using, if you want a thicker sauce.
Tips to make tzatziki sauce
- The secret to successful tzatziki sauce is to reduce the water. Preparing your cucumbers correctly is key to that.
- Slicing the cucumbers in half the long way so you can use a spoon to scrape out the tender inner portion and leave the crisp outer remainder for chopping.
- Once you’ve chopped the cucumbers I put them in a strainer with salt and then actually take handfuls and squeeze out the water. This may seem labor intensive, but it makes all the difference! Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes
- Another way to strain the cucumber is using cheesecloth or kitchen towel. Take a handful of the cucumber and squeeze out the water
- If you would like to strain the yogurt to make a thicker tzatziki (which is more traditional), add 2 cups plain Greek yogurt to a large rectangle of cheesecloth. Strain the yogurt over a bowl for about a half hour to an hour. I placed the cheesecloth over a colander and then set the whole thing over a bowl, and left it in the fridge.
- If you don’t like Greek yogurt, you can substitute it with 2 cups of sour cream and 2 tablespoons non dairy milk
- To make this vegan or dairy free, use non dairy yogurt and add more seasoning, according to taste.
Tzatziki SauceCourse: Sauce, Dipping, DressingCuisine: Middle EasternDifficulty: Easy
Tzatziki sauce is often served as an accompaniment to grilled meats—like gyros, lamb, chicken souvlaki, etc.—and is made from some combination of yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, salt, lemon juice, fresh herbs, and sometimes olive oil.
2 cups plain Greek Yogurt
1 English cucumber, diced small
1 teaspoon kosher salt, for cucumbers
1 clove garlic, smashed and minced
zest from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
black pepper to taste
- Slice the cucumber lengthwise, scrape out the center with a spoon, then dice. Add the cucumber to a mesh strainer and set over a bowl. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and stir to combine. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes
- Use your hands to squeeze the salted cucumber over the sink. (don’t rinse it ) Try to get out as much liquid as possible.
- (If you are in a hurry, skip straining the yogurt and skip salting the cucumber. You should still squeeze the cucumber and get out as much of the liquid as you can. Stir the cucumber into the yogurt. Add a little more salt to the mixture, according to taste. Your tzatziki will not be as thick, but it will still be delicious.)
- Add 1 clove minced garlic, zest from 1 lemon, and juice from 1 lemon (2 tablespoons, or up to 3 tablespoons to taste).
- Add 2 tablespoons fresh dill, 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste), 1 tablespoon olive oil, and a few grinds of black pepper.
- Stir it all together. Chill for about an hour before serving, if you have time. (It will still be good even if there’s no time for this.) Store covered in the fridge. The bite of the garlic will decrease the longer you refrigerate it. It will keep in the fridge for up to a week