Authentic Greek Cucumber Yogurt Tzatziki Sauce or salad, is the most refreshing and versatile use of yogurt, cucumber, fresh herbs and garlic you will ever taste!
What Is Authentic Tzatziki?
Tzatziki has been a Mediterranean favorite sauce, dip, salad and meze for centuries!
Every country that brings this unique sauce to their favorite recipe, has a variety of twists as to the ingredients they will use.
So what makes my Tzatziki authentic?
Because, once married to a Greek, I was told, “The Greeks said so”!
However, shhhh, don’t tell the Greeks, but tzatziki, known as Kh’yar bi laban in Arabic, originated in the Middle East!
So yes, my tzatziki is authentic, because my mom was Syrian and we often made this, making the yogurt herself!
Origin Of Cucumber Yogurt Tzatziki
First authentic fact that makes my Mediterranean Tzatziki Sauce fabulous, is that I am a Syrian-American.
I grew up with a Syrian mom, who shared her kitchen, regularly with her girlfriends, who would get together to cook.
Her girlfriends were Lebanese, Egyptian, Greek, Iraqis, Turkish, and Sicilian.
These women fast became friends with my mom because they all shared common Mediterranean cuisines.
Specifically, these women were looking to connect with other women of similar ethnicities; wanting to preserve the authentic recipes they brought to America.
This yogurt and cucumber sauce or salad was made by each of the friends of my mom, with their own twist.
Preserving Traditional Tzatziki and Yogurt
Preserving recipes from every immigrant, that made America their home, is what has made America the best dining experience in the world!
If you don’t believe me, then you might want to be watching The Great American Recipe, with PBS, of which I brought my traditional foods to, as did nine other contestants.
Second fact that makes my Tzatziki Sauce an Authentic Greek Tzatziki?
Right out of high school, I married a Greek!
Not just an American Greek boy, but a Greek, Greek boy whose entire home-life, here in America, was Greek!
Yep, I had a Greek mother in law… don’t ask!
REAL Yogurt Makes Authentic Greek Cucumber Tzatziki
Go to the grocery store and buy the yogurt, cucumber and herbs?
Nope! The real, healthful yogurt, in my home, was always made at home.
I learned to make yogurt since I was a kid, the old fashion way, in a big pot with a gallon of milk and only my finger as the temperature tester!
My easy yogurt recipe can be found here: Homemade Yogurt.
Greek Yogurt Tzatziki
The homemade yogurt needed to be thickened, which is what we, here in America, call Greek yogurt. Any yogurt can be made into Greek yogurt.
Place a large cheese cloth (a thin cotton fabric with lots of tiny holes), over a bowl. Tie the ends of the cheese cloth so the yogurt stays inside and the watery substance from the yogurt drips out. Allow it to drip for about 2 hours.
There, you have thick Greek yogurt! This can be made at anytime and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Cucumbers In Greek Yogurt Tzatziki
Next is the intensely nutritious cucumber.
While visiting Greece (and relatives), I noticed that many restaurants on the islands had huge gardens behind them.
Cucumbers grew all year, as did the herbs.
While we were out in the garden to gather the cucumber, we cut dill and mint as well.
I swore that one day I would have a garden like this.
Now I do, except here where I live in the states, I only have a summer garden.
Preparing Cucumbers For Tzatziki
The cucumbers for the tzatziki sauce, back in that taverna in Greece, were prepared a little differently than I’ve seen it done here.
Cucumber skins were left on, the seeds were sliced out, therefore eliminating the need to drain the cucumbers.
Greek style cucumbers were cut into large chunks for the tzatziki that would be served as a salad, side dish or meze (appetizer).
For a dipping sauce, the cucumbers were cut into tiny chunks.
I loved having the skin left on, because it gave the tzatziki color and substance, and the removing of the seeds kept the tzatziki from getting watery.
Herbs In Authentic Greek Cucumber Yogurt Tzatziki Sauce
Both dill and mint are used interchangeably in the tzatziki, or together.
I think the use of dill or mint really depends on preference.
In my opinion, dill is very dominant in tzatziki, where as I find mint to compliment the other gentle flavors of the yogurt and cucumber.
In my tzatziki, I use mint.
Tzatziki is a recipe I make often throughout the summer months.
It is an easy and refreshing addition to many of my summertime meals.
It also gives me a reason to grow my own mint and cucumbers and a reason to make my own yogurt.
I guess I’m still hanging on to old fashioned traditions, in hopes it will rub off on my kids!
With plenty of farmer’s markets scattered throughout America, you too can easily find the fresh ingredients to use in your Greek cucumber tzatziki yogurt recipe.
Greek Cucumber Yogurt Tzatziki On Television
Authentic Mediterranean Tzatziki here in America? I can’t think of a better place to showcase an authentic recipe than on TELEVISION! Yep!
I had the most exciting opportunity to make my tzatziki recipe while cooking on Guy’s Grocery Games!
The show aired August 14, 2019 and was called Grandma Grocery Games, sometimes found on YouTube Season 20 Episode 24.
I made my recipe for tzatziki to be served as a refreshing side salad to go along with a Kofta on Pita bread that I made.
While the kofta was met with a few crazy challenges, the judges raved about my authentic tzatziki recipe.
I am elated to share my Mediterranean Tzatziki recipe with you here!
More Like This
Summertime calls for cool, refreshing additions to our grilled foods.
For this reason, I often make Cold Greek Yogurt Lemon Cucumber Soup, to be enjoyed as a light lunch, or an appetizer while food is grilling.
If you aren’t into cold soups (a Mediterranean ‘must try’), perhaps you would enjoy Lemon Cucumber Salad, made from homegrown heirloom lemon cucumbers.
- Olive oil
- Cutting board
- Chopping knife
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Mixing bowl
- Citrus press
Authentic Greek Cucumber Yogurt Tzatziki Sauce
- Cutting board and knife
- Airtight container
- 2 cups Greek yogurt or homemade yogurt drained to thicken
- 1 1/2 cups Cucumber skin on, seeds removed, cubed
- 2 tbsp Mint finely chopped, extra for garnish
- 2 Garlic cloves crushed
- 2 tbsp Lemon juice about 2 lemons
- 1/2 tsp Salt or to taste
- 1 tbsp Olive oil more for final drizzle
- If using Greek yogurt, which is already thick, you do not need to strain it. If using homemade yogurt or other type of yogurt, strain the yogurt with cheesecloth over a bowl for about 2 hours, which drains the watery aspect of yogurt and retains the thick texture of yogurt. This step can be done days in advance.
- Place the cubed slices of cucumber in a large bowl. Add the mint, garlic, lemon juice, salt and olive oil. Toss and let stand a few minutes. Add the yogurt and mix gently. Chill and serve.