An easy recipe for tzatziki sauce made with Greek yogurt. In the summer, I add enough water to turn it into a deliciously refreshing chilled soup.
I’ve been making this tzatziki recipe for several years now. While it’s often served as a sauce that accompanies meats (such as these lamb meatballs), it can also serve as a chilled soup.
That’s how I like it most – wonderfully tasty and refreshing chilled soup for summertime. To achieve a soup-like consistency, simply add a little water. Just as much as it takes to turn it from a thick sauce into a delightful, super-refreshing chilled soup.
The ingredients you’ll need
You’ll only need a few simple ingredients to make tzatziki sauce. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here’s an overview of what you’ll need:
Greek yogurt: Plain whole-milk is best. I don’t recommend using a reduced-fat yogurt in this recipe and certainly not nonfat yogurt.
Extra virgin olive oil: This is one recipe where I insist on using the best, highest-quality, extra-virgin olive oil. It’s delicious, and it will make a difference.
Fresh lemon juice: When I don’t have fresh lemon juice, I sometimes use half the amount of a mild vinegar such as white wine vinegar.
Kosher salt and white pepper: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use, or the dish could end up too salty. And if you don’t have white pepper, it’s fine to use black – just realize that the black dots will be visible on the white sauce.
Minced garlic: Mince it by yourself or use the stuff that comes in a jar.
Grated cucumber: I grate it by hand – it’s easy. You can leave it unpeeled.
Chopped fresh dill: If you don’t like dill, you can omit it. But if you do like it, please use it – it adds great flavor.
Water: If you’d like to make a chilled soup rather than a sauce.
Use good olive oil
Much like another wonderfully flavorful chilled soup that I love – gazpacho – tzatziki is thick and substantial. The quality of the olive oil you use makes a big difference, so make sure you use good extra virgin olive oil.
White pepper or black
I use white pepper to avoid the appearance of black dots in the pretty white chilled soup. But if you don’t have white pepper, it’s OK to use a small amount of black pepper.
Full-fat yogurt is best
It’s also important that you use full-fat Greek yogurt when making tzatziki sauce. It’s true that low fat or nonfat Greek yogurt can taste pretty good. But it does not taste as good as full fat.
And in this recipe, where the yogurt is the star of the show, the quality of the yogurt is very important. My favorite brand of Greek yogurt is Straus. It’s thick, rich and very creamy, almost like sour cream.
However, it’s fairly high in carbs compared with other Greek yogurt brands. So I often use Fage yogurt, which is also excellent.
How to make tzatziki sauce
It’s so easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
1. Start by whisking together the yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
2. Next, stir in the garlic, cucumber, and dill.
3. Now, if you wish to make it into a chilled soup, add as much water as needed to reach a thick soup consistency. Start with 1/4 cup.
4. Chill before serving.
How to serve it
As a chilled soup, it’s great all on its own, or serve it with some almond flour crackers on the side.
Chill the tzatziki before serving
Another tip for making this recipe a success: take the time to chill the soup, allowing the flavors to meld.
It won’t taste bad if you eat it right away. It will still be tasty. But it will taste even better after an hour or two in the fridge. And if you have leftovers, they keep well in the fridge for about 2 days.
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- 2 cups plain full-fat Greek yogurt (I use Fage Greek Yogurt)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice or vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper (black is OK but will be visible on the white sauce)
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 large cucumber peeled, coarsely grated
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
- 1/4 cup water (if making a chilled soup rather than a sauce)
- In a large bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, kosher salt and white pepper.
- Mix in the garlic, cucumber and dill.
- If you'd like to make a chilled soup, add as much water as needed to slightly thin out the tzatziki, starting with 1/4 cup. Don't add too much water – you want this thick and hearty.
- Cover and chill for one hour to allow flavors to develop. Mix the tzatziki one more time before serving.