I am unapologetically one of those people who encourage homemade over store-bought. Always. Not in a holier-than-thou Gwyneth Paltrow kind of way, but in a it just tastes better! kind of way.
I used to eye roll at this claim before I’d ever shaken up my own salad dressing or blended my own hummus or pesto. But once I did it, I understood. And there was no looking back.
Homemade tzatziki is no exception to the whole homemade-is-better claim. The flavor is bigger and brighter; it’s more refreshing and has way more zing.
Which makes it perfect for slathering over grilled goodies, pitas, or using it as a dip or salad dressing.
How to make homemade tzatziki.
Making tzatziki is incredibly easy and quick for the most part—though it’s worth mentioning that it tastes best next-day, after the flavors have mingled and gotten to know one another. So if you can make it ahead of time, great; if not, go for it anyway. It’s still delish.
One crucial step is draining your cucumber to rid it of its excess water. (If you’re into it, you could squeeze the minced or shredded cucumber over a clean bowl and save that refreshing cucumber water for smoothies.) (What was that about not being all Gwyneth?).
Some recipes call for salting your cucumber and letting it sit in a colander in the sink for 30 minutes so that the salt can draw the water out. I’ve tried this and honestly, I find it quicker, easier, and much more efficient to just grab a handful of minced cucumber and squeeze it over the sink with all my might. Or at least most of it. When I’m done, I just throw the cukes into a bowl along with everything else. You’ll see that I slice my cukes super thin—they’re basically ethereal. You can slice them and mince them in a chunkier fashion if you prefer. Do your thing.
Is straining yogurt worth it?
Not in my experience, so I wanted to mention it in hopes o save you some time. I’ve stumbled upon many recipes that call for draining the yogurt/squeezing it in cheesecloth to rid of excess water. I’ve tried it and it made zero difference. This may be because the Greek yogurt I buy is super thick, but that extra step of draining yogurt has never made a difference, so I skip it. If your Greek yogurt is less thick, you may want to try it. Let me know if you try it and see a difference! I’m all about taking the proper steps to get the best tasting stuff, but I’m also about skipping unnecessary steps to take it easy.
If you make this dish, snap a photo and tag me on the Insta @killing__thyme! I love seeing your creations.
How to Make Tzatziki
This homemade tzatziki is refreshing and brightly flavored. It goes perfectly with grilled food, pitas, falafel, as a dressing, or as a dip.
- 2 cups plain Greek yogurt
- 1 English cucumber, finely minced or grated
- 1-2 garlic cloves, finely minced garlic will get stronger as the tzatziki sits, so use your own discretion. I love garlic, so I used 2 cloves.
- 2 TBSP chopped fresh dill
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- Freshly-squeezed juice of 1/2 a lemon
- Kosher salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
Dump the Greek yogurt into a large bowl.
By the handful, grab the minced cucumber and give it a good squeeze over the sink or a bowl to rid of the excess water. Place each handful into the bowl with the yogurt once squeezed and drained.
Add the garlic, dill, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
Cover and let it sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes; best if over night as the flavors will become brighter and stronger.
When zesting the lemon, make sure to only zest the yellow rind and avoid the white pith beneath it. The white pith is bitter and will bring bitterness to your tzatziki, which obviously, you don't want.