Nonna’s authentic Greek tzatziki sauce is a light refreshing dip or spread that is perfect for any warm weather entertaining. This creamy sauce is perfect for dunking veggies or pita chips into or for adding a Mediterranean flare to sandwiches.
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My husband’s Nonna lived next door to a lovely Greek couple for quite awhile.
Ever the the chatty, friendly lady, she made friends with the couple and they would regularly invite each other over for dinners.
While Nonna would always serve up a mix of Northern/American and Italian cuisine, her neighbors would mostly make traditional Greek food.
Nonna, not one to like to show up empty handed at any gathering, would always ask what she could bring.
Her neighbor would normally say nothing, but eventually gave in and asked her to bring the tzatziki sauce recipe that her family had shared with her.
Nonna was happy to oblige and whip together this easy, creamy spread anytime.
What is Tzatziki Sauce?
Tzatziki sauce is a yogurt based dipped popular in Greece and other Mediterranean countries.
Most recipes combine Greek yogurt, chopped cucumber and fresh garlic.
Sometimes you’ll see other ingredients like lemon juice, dill or other spices.
I’m giving you two versions of this yummy recipe: the more authentic version Nonna’s neighbor taught her and a more spiced up, herbed version that my own family tends to prefer.
For the base authentic version, you’ll need:
- Cucumbers– You’ll want to use English or Hot House cucumbers. These are the ones sold wrapped in plastic wrap at the store. Peel them and grate them.
- Sour cream– Full fat sour cream will give the best flavor.
- Greek yogurt– Plain, full fat Greek yogurt. Be sure not to pick up flavored Greek yogurt.
- Garlic– Minced fresh garlic works much better in this than dried garlic powder.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil– For a little extra richness. Don’t substitute another oil.
Optional ingredients include:
- Lemon juice– Go for fresh lemon juice over bottled for optimal flavor.
- Dill– Fresh is best. Chop it up well.
- Oregano– Here you can use the dried spice.
How to Make
The Authentic Version
Part of the reason why Nonna loves making this is it’s so easy to make.
To do it, use a vegetable peeler to peel the cucumbers.
Once you’ve peeled then, grate them using a box grater.
Add the grated cucumber to a waiting colander set in a sink.
Then, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt over the cucumbers to draw the water out.
Stir the cucumbers to distribute the salt and let them sit undisturbed for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, using the back of a sturdy wooden spoon, press the cucumbers against the edges of the colander to release excess water.
Do this several times.
Add the sour cream, yogurt, garlic and oil to a mixing bowl and whisk everything together until evenly combined.
Once combined, fold in the cucumbers.
The authentic tzatziki can be served as is, or stored until ready to use.
The Seasoned Version
Making this version is pretty much the same, you just add in the extra spices when you are whisking the sour cream, yogurt, garlic and oil to the mixing bowl.
For everything else, the process stays exactly the same.
How to Use It
Part of the appeal to this recipe is just how versatile it is!
You can use it as a dip for:
- pita chips
- carrot and celery sticks
- sweet peppers
- cherry tomatoes
- kebobs or grilled meats
You can also use it as a spread for gyros, pitas and sandwiches.
Or, to make the leftovers into a sauce (think pasta salad, chicken salad, or potato salad) just thin it with a bit of milk.
For a creamy Greek salad dressing, thin the sauce with more olive oil.
Store leftovers covered in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
After that it will start to go bad.
Tips and Tricks
- Don’t have Greek yogurt? Some places it can be hard to find. Spoon plain regular yogurt into a coffee filter and the excess moisture drains away quickly, leaving behind a much thicker yogurt similar in consistency to the Greek version
- This recipe makes a lot- perfect for entertaining or serving a crowd. If you are planning to only serve your family or a smaller crowd, half the recipe.
- Can’t find English cucumbers or have a ton of regular cucumbers growing it your garden? Feel free to use them, but there’s more moisture to squeeze out. Make sure you drain them well in order to avoid a watery sauce.
Other Easy Spreads and Dips
Nonna’s authentic tzatziki recipe yields a creamy dip we love!
Make it for your next gathering and enjoy some authentic Mediterranean flavor.
Looking for other easy spreads and dips? Try these:
- Pesto Cream Cheese Spread with Sun Dried Tomatoes
- Everything Bagel Dip
- Delicious Dill Dip Recipe
- Italian Garlic Butter Spread
If you’ve tried NONNA’S AUTHENTIC TZATZIKI RECIPE, or any other recipe on the site, let me know in the comment section how it turned out, we love hearing from our readers! You can also follow along with me on PINTEREST, FACEBOOK, and INSTAGRAM to see more amazing recipes and whatever else we’ve got going on!
Nonna's Authentic Tzatziki Recipe
- 3 English cucumbers
- 1 1/2 16 oz containers sour cream
- 1 16 oz container full fat Greek yogurt
- 3 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Non Authentic Ingredients (Optional)
- 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tbsp freshly chopped dill
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano
- Peel the cucumbers, and then grate them. Add the grated cucumber to a waiting colander set in a sink.
- Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt over the cucumbers, stir, and then let them sit (undisturbed) for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, using the back of a sturdy wooden spoon press the cucumbers against the edges of the colander to release excess water. Do this several times.
- To a mixing bowl, add the sour cream, yogurt, garlic, and oil. Whisk everything together until evenly combined.
- Using the wooden spoon, fold in the cucumbers.
- The authentic tzatziki can be served as is, or stored until ready to use.
If Making The Seasoned Version
- Add the extra ingredients to the mixing bowl, along with the original ones called for. Again, whisk until everything's evenly combined.
- Fold in the cucumbers.
- You can serve immediately, or cover & chill until ready. The flavors will deepen as the spices are left to sit in the base mixture.
- Serve with your favorite assortment of dipping options.
This post may contain affiliate links. As an amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. See my full Disclosure Policy for details. As always, all opinions are my own.