Tzatziki is an appetizer, called “orektiko” in Greek,  made from Greek whole fat strained yoghurt, cucumber, garlic, salt and extra virgin olive oil, usually served with pitta bread and served as  a mezes.  In Cyprus, mint is added and it is called talatouri.

What makes our tzatziki so delicious is the Greek yoghurt, which is velvety, thick, rich and full of flavour.   However, using a low fat Greek yoghurt with 2% fat makes it equally delicious and you can save on some calories. We just add a few ingredients in it and it is perfect.

I have seen a lot of recipes in which dill, oregano or lemon or vinegar is added in the tzatziki.  These are probably Americanized versions of tzatziki.

If you ever visit Greece you will see that neither dill or lemon or vinegar or oregano is added in any Greek tzatziki and the cucumber is always grated, so that you can enjoy the velvety taste of the yoghurt.

If you don’t have Greek strained yoghurt, line a colander with cheesecloth or a coffee filter and put your regular yoghurt inside. Leave it for 4 – 5 hours, or preferably overnight in order to drain.

Cucumbers in Greece or Cyprus do not have any big seeds.  If the cucumbers you are using have big seeds, remove them before grating.




  • 1 full fat strained Greek yoghurt (250 grams – 8.80 oz)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 (or more) pounded cloves of garlic*
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 small cucumber grated (about ¼ cup after fluid is removed)
  • 1 tablespoon dried mint (optional)


  1. Peel and grate the cucumber using a box grater.  Place in a colander, sprinkle some salt on top and let it drain.  Then squeeze it to remove excess liquid.
  2. Peel and pound the garlic together with the salt.
  3. Add to cucumber as well as olive oil and yoghurt and mix all ingredients together (not with your hands as seen in some posts!!!).
  4. Sprinkle the mint on top.
  5. Cover with cling film and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving, always keeping it covered to avoid smell in the refrigerator

Note:  Greek garlic is very strong so I do not use too much.  You can adjust the amount according to your taste.



This recipe and many others are included in my cookbook Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste as well as in Volume 1 of the e-cookbook.

Other relevant recipes:


Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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14 Comments on How to make real Greek Tzatziki or Talatouri

  1. Fetatziki? says:

    […] you love tzatziki, I am sure you will love fetatziki (this is how words and recipes are […]

  2. pixen says:

    Which is suppose to be…with Vinegar or lemon juice? I’m confused here as my friend told me it should be vinegar and not lemon juice for Tzatziki…

  3. In Greek tzatziki we do not add lemon or vinegar.

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  8. […] course, Tzatziki is a must in every  Greek table.   What make real Greek tzatziki delicious is primarily the […]

  9. Sharon says:

    The first time I tried tzatziki was in the store where they were serving it with honey glazed naan bread. Fell in LOVE with it. Absolutely delicious. And now I can try to make it myself! Thanks for sharing =)

  10. Dimitris says:

    I disagree. I’m from Athens, Greece and everywhere in Greece I tried tzatziki (including of course homemade versions), it contained a little vinegar.
    The dill is optional, not the mint which must be a Greek-American addition (like the lemon). The grated cucumber is always there (grated and then strained), and the yogurt must be strained as you mention (we also call it “sakulas” meaning bag, from the bag in which it is strained).
    Just commenting to help you out in a more authentic version like the ones we have here:)

  11. Domniki says:

    I agree with Dimitris. My parents are from different regions, I’ve been to Greece many times, and I don’t recall ever having tzatziki without an acid–either vinegar or lemon. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that without an acid to balance out the fat of the yogurt and oil, tzatziki would be “incorrect” or taste unbalanced or off. Mayonaise has an acidic component, as do salad dressing and another Greek favorite, taramasalata. Why would tzatziki be any different? There may be regional differences, and I know that dill is optional and the quantity of garlic variable by region (in Thessaloniki where my mother is from, they use lots of garlic in everything). But vinegar or lemon are traditional, correct and appropriate to the flavor of the dip.

    • Thank you for posting your opinion Domniki. I don’t know how old you but I am old enough to know this is not traditional. With the internet you don’t know what is traditional any more and what isn’t. I’ve seen many recipes using vinegar or lemon juice but I can assure you that I’ve been living in Greece for 34 years and not once have I been to a restaurant where tzatziki is served with any acid or dill. If you like adding vinegar and lemon juice why not add it. It’s the same as adding more or less garlic.

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