Stef’s Authentic Tzatziki Recipe (and a tangent about Greece)

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I spent a month in Greece once.

It was in my pre-James days. I was single, I was a teacher, and the kids were at their dad’s for the summer.

I went with 2 girlfriends, Ros and Margaret. Ros is a brilliant physical therapist buddy of mine, and Margaret is a fellow teacher and a total crack-up. You definitely want Margaret around when globe-trotting, she makes everything more fun.

Here’s Margaret and me watching the World Cup while Ros napped. We wore her out.

Ros had been hanging out in Greece every summer for years, and had picked up the language. Yes, she’s one of THOSE people. Just picks up languages! She says they’re like music to her, and you just have to memorize the sound in that same way. Whatever. I think she’s got like 5 languages now. And she sings like an angel, which is probably where that music/language analogy comes from.  I hate her.

So it wasn’t a typical “touristy” type trip. Greece was sort of a second home to Ros. She had friends over there who were like family, and we got to have experiences beyond the touristy scene. I won’t bore you with the trip details, but just know it was one of my top 5 incredible life experiences.

Even doing laundry in Greece was a blast!!!

After that trip, I became addicted to making Greek cuisine. Tzatziki became one of my go-to staples, especially since it’s easy as dirt to whip together. In Greece, tzatziki is typically served as a sauce with grilled meats, but I like to think of it more like a dip. And if you saw my recipe from LAST week, you know about my dip love-affair.

As for making tzatziki as authentic as possible, there are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years. First, you want to use full fat Greek yogurt. You need a yogurt so thick that a spoon easily stands up in it. Greek is good like that. Icelandic skyr yogurt works great, too.

Second, you need to strain the bejeezus out of the shredded cucumber. This is the most time-consuming part of all…get that water out! I usually start by mashing it into a fine metal strainer and then pushing it until I’m getting no more juice. Then! I pick it up in a little wad and squeeze it between my hands. From there, I’ll set it spread out on a paper towel for a good 10 minutes, careful not to push it into the paper towel because it gets hard to remove.

Third, it really does taste better the next day. I think that’s because the garlic has time to mesh with the yogurt. So if you’re making this for a special occasion, I recommend making it the day ahead.

And finally, any of the ingredients can be adjusted according to taste. In fact sometimes I use a whole cucumber instead of half, just because I don’t want the leftovers. The recipe is forgiving like that! Anything goes!

So, here’s the recipe, and by the way…it’ll go SMASHINGLY with last week’s grain-free sesame cracker recipe. This one’s for you, Velda! Dip away! xoxo

Authentic Tzatziki Recipe

Author The Fit RV


  • ½ large cucumber
  • 1 ½ cup full fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill minced
  • 1-2 cloves fresh garlic very finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt


  1. Grate the cucumber. Strain it through a fine metal sieve, working to get all the water out. Squeeze it in your hands to get even more out. Place it on a paper towel for >10 minutes to absorb even more water.
  2. Combine all other ingredients and place in the fridge until the shredded cucumber you spread on your paper towel is done sitting.

  3. Add the cucumber and stir.
  4. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes before serving.


After 15 years as an educator in both the public K-12 setting and the University level in Special Physical Education, Stef made the leap to her true passion… the fitness world. She’s currently a personal trainer and wellness coach specializing in seniors, medical conditions, and injuries. Stef loves running, cycling, and being “Mugga” to her two favorite mini-humans — Punky and Marshmallow. ❤️

    13 thoughts on “Stef’s Authentic Tzatziki Recipe (and a tangent about Greece)

    1. Mr Rashid Keki Mukadam

      I roasted a green chili on the flame until it turned black and mixed it with the youghat it turned out just too good.Thanks and keep up the good work

      1. Stefany - Post author

        That sounds INCREDIBLE! I’m a huge green chili fan…comes from all my years living in New Mexico. I’ll have to try adding some next time I make it!

    2. Courtney

      I’ve never used olive oil . I wonder why I didn’t know out should be in here…i will add it next time

    3. Tracey

      I love tzatziki but have never made it myself. Gonna have to give it a try. Have you ever tried putting your cucumber in a couple layers of cheese cloth and squeezing it? I not done it but may allow you to really get out a lot of the water. Thanks.

    4. Diane

      Stefany, we lived in Glyfada, Greece which is right outside of Athens for 3 years. I made may trips to the local markets and grocery stores with my Greek neighbors and learned many new recipes and learned their secret to making great tzatziki. They helped me learn the Greek language and I helped them with english. The locals used yogurt from Poland, yup that’s right, Poland…it was the best flavor and thickness of any yogurt I have ever seen and the Olive Oil that the Greeks used is not process like the Olive Oil that we purchase here in the US, even if it is from Italy or Greece, it has to be processed to enter the US. The flavor of the Olive Oil in Greece is like no other and is so flavorful, full bodied, yum, yum, I miss it just thinking about it, LOL. Our best choice in the US is the Greek Yogurt………and processed Olive Oil, but that is okay….we have it on a regular basis and just love it on french bread if nothing else!!! I do add a little sour cream to my yogurt as it comes the closest to the flavor, texture and thickness that I can achieve……………now with all that said, if you visit the Islands you will find the tzatziki just a little different and if you visit the Peloponnese of Greece it will also be a little different. One final Note: Greece has the best potatoes in the world!!!!

      1. Stefany - Post author

        What a fantastic comment, Diane! And yes, olive oil in the US is such a terrible shame. You’re very lucky to have such easy access to fresh and authentic olive oil in Greece. Interesting the addition of sour cream. I’ve never bothered but do love sour cream tangy-ness. Will try it! When I visited Greece, I hit Athens…because that’s a no-brainer, had to see the ancient ruins. But we spent most of our time on the islands of Skiathos, Rhodes, and Crete. Each place such a different & amazingly diverse world from the other. Also I remember sometimes tzatziki was made with vinegar instead of the lemon…. 🙂

    5. Denise

      I gotta try this recipe! I adore dill, garlic, and cucumbers. The picture of the ingredients shows olive oil but your recipe does not include it. Does this mean you make it without olive oil? That would certainly cut down on calories!

      1. Stefany - Post author

        Oh my, Denise! I will go add the olive oil to the ingredients list…so glad you caught it! There should be one tablespoon (at least, could do a bit more)!

    6. Alain

      An alternative to the thick greek yogurt, is to take regular yogurt and let it sit overnight in a sieve lined with cheese cloth. The excess liquid will have drained leaving a thicker yogurt. But not with sweetened vanilla yogurt…LOL

      1. Stefany - Post author

        Out of desperation once, I actually tried using a vanilla Greek yogurt! I had convinced myself if I tripled all the other ingredients perhaps the vanilla would be masked. Yeah…didn’t work. Ha! Great tip on thickening regular yogurt, Alain! thanks for sharing! xoxo

      1. Stefany - Post author

        Something about it is so comforting and easy to eat. Is it just because it reminds me of my amazing month in Greece? Who knows, but I know this…I just love tzatziki!!!


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