Tzatziki is the cucumber/ yogurt sauce that is often served with meats in Mediterranean cooking. I make this whenever we do Traditional Syrian Shish-Kebab or Pork Souvlaki.

Update 07/2020: I posted this recipe 5 years ago, and recently when I made it I captured photos of the process.


  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, & grated
  • 1 quart unflavored yogurt
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed or pressed
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried dillweed
  • salt & ground black pepper
  • Garnish: additional olive oil

Place a piece of cheesecloth in a colander or use a large, fine mesh strainer. Place the cucumber in the strainer, spreading it across the bottom.

Gently pour the yogurt on top. [Dumping the yogurt in will cause some of it to go through the strainer.] I started lining the strainer with shredded cucumber to keep the yogurt from going through, which it will regardless of how gently the yogurt is put into the strainer.

When I have time, I start this the day before and refrigerate it. When don’t have time (or more correctly, didn’t plan far enough in advance), I let it rest on the counter for 2 to 4 hours.

Juice from the cucumber and whey from the yogurt will remain in the bowl. This can be used in soups and other recipes. Note: The cheaper the yogurt, the more whey drains from it.

Mix all remaining ingredients and chill. To serve, place in serving dishes and drizzle additional olive oil over it. Serve as a spread for bread or as a dip for vegetables or meats. This is generally served as a first course.

Notes: This is best made a day ahead and allowed to set so the flavors blend. Store covered in refrigerator and it will keep for 2 or 3 days.

Important: DO NOT use cheap yogurt. I have found that most store brands truly stink for this purpose. When possible I use the Bulgarian yogurt we get from Neomonde. That one doesn’t drain off much whey, although the cucumber still requires draining.

Dannon is “ok”, Chobani is better if you don’t have access to a Mediterranean market.

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