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Tzatziki

A bowl filled with tzatziki garnished with dill, viewed from above. The gray table top from the 1950s can be seen in the background.

Tzatziki is a typical simple Greek starter and side dish made out of yogurt, cucumber, and garlic. This homemade tzatziki is vegan and at least as delicious as the original. Making vegan tzatziki sauce yourself is easy and worth it! I’ll show you two dairy-free options, one without yogurt, and tell you what you have to pay attention to so that nothing stands in the way of authentic creamy and thick Tzatziki.

Tzatziki is once again proof of how great the cuisine of Greece is. It doesn’t take much to conjure up something delicious. The green bean stew “Fasolakia“, the spinach rice “Spanakorizo” or the spinach strudel “Spanakopita” are other simple Greek delicacies that I present to you on my blog.

Success factors of yogurt and cucumber

Tzatziki sauce consists essentially of yogurt and cucumber. There are important points to consider with both ingredients so that your tzatziki turns out really well. Let’s look at the yogurt thing, I’ll go into more detail on the cucumber below.

A bowl filled with tzatziki and lots of dill

Vegan alternatives for Greek yogurt

Original Tzatziki is usually prepared with Greek yogurt and is therefore not vegan and has dairy. Greek yogurt contains a lot of fat and is therefore nicely firm, and creamy. That’s the only ingredient you have to swap for something plant-based to have a non-dairy tzatziki sauce.

Since I haven’t discovered any vegan Greek yogurt in Vienna yet, I use Alpro’s vegan Skyr, because it’s quite thick and creamy – like our desired Tzatziki consistency. Tzatziki is therefore, despite the similarity, a counterpart to the rather thin and watery Indian raita.

I saw that Tzatziki is often called Tzatziki sauce in English, but original Tzatziki actually has nothing to do with a sauce (unless you want to make cucumber yogurt sauce). So we call it sauce but try to make it thick …

The vegan Skyr from Alpro has 3.3 % fat. In comparison: the sugar-free soy yogurt from Alpro 2.3% and Greek yogurt around 10 %, which makes it nicely thick and creamy, just as Tzatziki should be. Therefore I add some olive oil to thicken and fatten the Skyr. I would rather not use coconut yogurt because of the coconut taste.

You could also use drained plain soy yogurt instead of the Skyr. Or if you want to make tzatziki without yogurt you could make it with cashew sour cream. Both options are very uncomplicated and I describe them in this Liptauer “cheese” spread recipe.

I have also seen tzatziki recipes with mayo. Please no!

A bowl filled with tzatziki, garnished with dill.

The thing with the cucumber

The correct processing of the cucumber is the second important point to making delicious vegan tzatziki sauce yourself.

It is very important that you get as much liquid as possible out of the cucumber, otherwise, you run the risk of making a “tzatziki soup”. Please do not skip this uncomplicated step. All you have to do is salt the grated cucumber, let it stand a little, and then squeeze it. A small step, with a big effect!

I prefer to do this with a cloth, like a cheesecloth *). A tea towel works too. To do this, I put the grated and salted cucumber on the cloth, then grasp the ends upwards, twist the cloth shut so that the cucumbers don’t fall out, and then press firmly.

Recently I measured how much liquid I got out of the cucumber, and that was a good 250 ml (8.5 oz), i.e. a glass full of “cucumber water”. Unfortunately, it was too salty to drink. But you see – that’s quite a lot. If you want to make creamy tzatziki be ambitious to squeeze the cucumber.

Incidentally, you can go one step further and halve the cucumbers lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. That takes the liquid out of it all. However, I find it such a pity to throw away the seeds. And I think that the squeezing session is sufficient.

By the way, should the cucumber be peeled before grating or not? Good question, one I’ve often asked myself. My solution is in the middle, between a finer skin vs. preserved vitamins. So I only peel half the cucumber.

A bowl filled with tzatziki garnished with dill, viewed from above. The gray table top from the 1950s can be seen in the background.

Other ingredients of tzatziki

Yogurt (Skyr) and cucumber are the main ingredients, but a tiny bit more is needed to make delicious authentic vegan tzatziki sauce.

First, as mentioned already you need salt for the cucumber. And of course garlic. Every tzatziki needs garlic. I further add olive oil as also said before, to add some fat as I don’t use the 10 % fat Greek yogurt.

Then you also need some acidity, I usually go for red wine vinegar. Some people use lemon or even lime juice. But that is more used for an Indian raita I would say. If you want an authentic Greek taste please use vinegar.

And then we have dill. I love to use lots of it. You can use a bit less. Or, if you ask yourself what you can use instead of dill in tzatziki sauce, I would go for a little bit of fresh mint or a mix of dill and mint. You can also skip the herbs, it still tastes nice, different, but still good.

Speaking of spices, I sometimes see “tzatziki spice mixes”. Please, this is not necessary. No Greek grandma would make her tzatziki with something like that.

And speaking of authentic tzatziki: I have already spent a few months in Crete, in the south, in the area around Matala and Lentas. At that time I was still a vegetarian and tzatziki was a must at every meal. I, therefore, dare to claim to know how really good original Greek tzatziki tastes. In Crete, there wasn’t quite as much cucumber and dill in the tzatziki as in my recipe, but that’s how I like it best and I think it still tastes very authentic.

What to eat with tzatziki sauce

Wondering what goes with tzatziki? The Greek cucumber yogurt sauce, for example, goes wonderfully with baked potatoes or baked vegetables in general or with zucchini fritters (at this point I promise that I will post the recipe for my beloved best zucchini fritters on this blog, one day ). I also love to eat falafel with tzatziki. Simple pita bread is also a great fit.

But you could also easily prepare a delicious tzatziki feta dip by adding some chopped feta, preferably this delicious homemade vegan almond feta, to your tzatziki.

The tzatziki is also great for a barbecue party, as is this classic potato salad, this vegan pizza scrolls, or this Mediterranean summer pasta salad with zucchini and arugula.

Or you can just grab your tzatziki and a large spoon and eat it as it is. That’s how I like to do it in summer, when I want to cool down from the inside out – and when I don’t feel like standing in the kitchen forever and would rather be in a pool or on the Danube.

Tzatziki vs Sirtaki

Incidentally, I will never forget how a Greek guy at a later (or earlier, depending on your perspective) hour after far too many rakis tried to confuse me and tried to explain to me that the food is called sirtaki and the dance is called tzatziki.

He laughed at me when I told him he was talking nonsense, after all, he’s Greek and will know better. After all the drinks, I was a bit confused. But now I’m pretty sure I’m not describing any dance choreography to you here.

Yield: 1 bowl (as seen on the photo, with 14 cm = 5.5 in diameter)

Homemade Vegan Tzatziki Sauce - Easy & Authentic

A bowl filled with tzatziki garnished with dill, viewed from above. The gray table top from the 1950s can be seen in the background.

Recipe for an easy homemade vegan tzatziki sauce that is thick and authentic and is in no way inferior to the Greek original. Two options for dairy-free tzatziki, one without yogurt.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400 g (14.1 oz) vegan unsweetened yogurt (skyr is best as it is thicker and creamier)
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • about 2-3 tbsp fresh dill, chopped

Instructions

  1. Peel the cucumber (I peel half of it, see note) and grate coarsely.
  2. Place the coarsely grated cucumber in a colander and mix well with a teaspoon of salt.
  3. Hang the strainer over a bowl or saucepan. After half an hour or more, the cucumber has already "lost" a lot of water.
  4. Squeeze the cucumber, either directly in the colander (press on it with your fist), or, even better, with a tea towel or cheesecloth *). To do so, spread out the towel, place the grated cucumber in the middle, gather the ends upwards, and press firmly on the "ball" with the cucumber inside.
  5. Mix the skyr in a bowl until smooth.
  6. Then add the garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and dill.

Notes

  • I like my tzatziki with lots of dill, reduce the amount a bit if necessary.
  • You no longer have to salt the tzatziki, the salt from the cucumber is sufficient.


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