This twist on the traditional creamy cucumber salad takes on all the tangy flavors of Greek tzatziki sauce. Serve it at your next potluck, as a cool relief to a spicy dish, or as a healthy side.
You may know tzatziki as the notoriously difficult-to-pronounce and delicious-to-eat sauce served on gyros made with yogurt, grated cucumbers, garlic, and dill. It’s awesome as a dip, sauce, or relish. But I usually just want to eat a bowl of it. So I made it into a salad.
You're going to love this
Easy to make. You can whip this up in 10 minutes or less. The thing that takes the longest is slicing the cucumbers. Sometimes I use a mandolin, and other times when I don’t feel like dirtying a whole other thing, I just use my knife and deal with the imperfectly cut slices.
Refreshing and cool. When you need a cooling dairy dish next to your flamin’ hot wings or spicy tacos, this is perfect.
Very versatile. This dish is like a Swiss Army knife. It’s great as a dip, a sandwich filling, topping for a baked potato, tossed with pasta, or served simply alongside warm pita.
Mix and match your heart out. Looking to zhuzh it up? Add other Mediterranean flavors you love like kalamata olives, red onions, halved cherry tomatoes, or feta cheese.
Customize your cucumber. Classic tzatziki has shredded cucumbers, I chose slices to emulate the creamy cucumber salad of my Midwestern childhood. Spiralized cucumbers would also be fun!
Yogurt. The "real deal" recipes always call for full-fat yogurt. I always instinctively reach for low-fat. Choose what you like.
Olive Oil. When using olive oil for a dressing or a stand-alone dip, I buy the best bottle of extra-virgin olive oil I can afford. Sometimes that means getting a really small bottle for "finishing" and a larger, less-expensive bottle for general cooking.
Lemon. Lemon juice from a bottle will not give you the fresh burst of citrus you are looking for. Always opt for fresh lemons if you can.
Garlic. Always opt for fresh garlic whenever possible. If all you have is garlic powder, use about ⅛ teaspoon in place of one fresh clove.
Fresh Dill & Mint. Some classic tzatziki recipes use dill, some use mint, some use both. I'm more of an "and" than an "or" kind of person, so I use both. Use the flavors you like.
Cucumbers. I always buy the English cucumbers that are wrapped in plastic. They have a thin skin that I don't have to peel. Standard cucumbers in the store are coated with edible wax that really should be peeled off. Organic cucumbers that aren't shiny are fine to eat unpeeled. Peel or not peel -- up to you!
For roasting, sauteeing, etc., I make my own blend of 50% olive oil and 50% canola oil. Because canola oil is so neutral, it takes on the flavor of the olive oil and the blend has a higher resistance to burning. Olive oil on its own burns easily.
Before cutting or juicing a lemon, roll it between your hand and the countertop -- applying quite a bit of pressure. This breaks up the membranes inside and allows you to get more juice. Some people swear by microwaving it for 15 seconds first.
I have found the best strainer for lemons -- and the one I always have handy -- is my hand. Just squeeze the lemon into your cupped hands and catch the seeds, while letting the juice flow through.
Fresh herbs are always best, but I get that they aren't always available in smaller town stores. If you opt for dried, know that dried herbs have a more concentrated flavor. Use one teaspoon of dried herbs for every tablespoon of fresh.
How to make Cucumber Tzatziki Salad
Thinly slice cucumbers. If using a mandolin, set the thickness to around ⅛ inch.
Mix yogurt, olive oil, juice and zest of lemon, dill, mint, garlic, and salt and pepper together in a bowl.
Add cucumbers and toss until they are completely coated. If it seems a little thick, just wait ... nature is about to step in and help you out.
Set aside in refrigerator for approximately 2 hours before serving. The cucumbers will release liquid during that time and naturally thin the dressing.
Cucumber Tzatziki Salad
- 8 oz plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ lemon, juice and zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
- salt & pepper, to taste
- Thinly slice the cucumber using mandolin or a sharp knife.
- Stir together all ingredients, except cucumber. Add cucumber slices and toss until coated.
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.