How to Make Tzatziki

Tzatziki is a classic Greek spread made with yogurt, cucumber and fresh herbs. 

Homemade Tzatziki

Tzatziki is a classic Greek spread made with yogurt, cucumber and fresh herbs. This recipe is adapted from San Francisco's popular Greek restaurant Kokkari, where it’s a popular starter. 

Gather the Ingredients

To make it, start with 1 large English cucumber, 2 scallions, about 2 cups Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup olive oil, a bunch each of fresh mint and dill, a small garlic clove and a lemon.

Peel the Cucumber

Peel the cucumber. The skin is slightly bitter and would also impart an unpleasant color to the final product.

Scoop Out the Seeds

Slice the cucumber in half, and scoop out the seeds with a large spoon. Try to scoop out as much of the watery membrane as possible, while retaining the denser flesh of the cucumber.

Grate and Slice

Grate the flesh of the cucumber on the coarse side of a box grater, or use the grating attachment of a food processor. Slice the scallions in half and chop finely, using both the white and the green portions. Combine them in a large bowl with 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, and toss well.

Let It Rest

Transfer the mixture to a colander lined with cheesecloth set over a bowl and let rest for 15 minutes. Moisture will seep from the cucumber and drain into the bowl below.

Remove Liquid

Gather up the corners of the cheesecloth and squeeze the cucumber mixture aggressively to remove as much moisture as possible. This is an important step. If you do not squeeze out enough moisture, your tzatziki will be thin and watery. Discard the liquid.

Combine the Ingredients

Chop the dill and mint coarsely. Mince the garlic clove. Combine the squeezed cucumbers and scallions in a large bowl with about 1 tablespoon each of the herbs, garlic and olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Stir to combine, and add salt, pepper, herbs and lemon juice to taste, keeping in mind that the flavors will intensify over time.

Serve as a Dip or Condiment

Serve the tzatziki as a dip with warm pita bread, or as a condiment alongside grilled meats like lamb chops or kofta. The dip is best made at least a few hours ahead, preferably the night before. It will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to a week.

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