HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Help! My tzatziki sucks!!

Deborah Jun 22, 2011 05:03 PM

Just back from 3 weeks in Greece and had tzatziki at least once a day. Loved theirs. I can't get the same richness, sweetness and mouth feel that I had in Greece. I am using a 0% Skotidakis brand Greek Yogurt that is made in Eugene, Ontario and like it better than the available Liberte as it is richer in taste and thicker. I am almost 100% sure that I have to use a full fat Greek yogurt to get that great taste. I would prefer staying with a lower fat yogurt as we eat a lot of it. My question....would EVO, a tbsp. or 2, help to add the "fat dimension"? Or is there anything else to add for flavour other than the grated cucumber, garlic, dill/mint, and some lemon juice?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. chowser RE: Deborah Jun 22, 2011 05:09 PM

    I use full fat yogurt and drain it in cheesecloth (or coffee filters) overnight. I think the fat makes a big difference and adding EVOO wouldn't be the same. How do you do your cucumbers? Do you seed, cut, salt and drain? Making sure to eliminate some of the liquid helps. And, salt is important.

    1 Reply
    1. re: chowser
      Deborah RE: chowser Jun 22, 2011 05:45 PM

      Yes, I seed, grate, salt and drain my cucumbers. And after draining for at least 30 min. squeeze out excess moisture. I think you are right....I need to use full fat yogurt. Thanks.

    2. s
      smtucker RE: Deborah Jun 22, 2011 05:22 PM

      My tzatziki has a lot more ingredients than yours. My Greek cousins never leave a bit, so I assume that it is pretty darn good. To be honest, I really dislike Greek yogurt, so I make my own thickened yogurt by draining 2 cups of either Stonyfield 0% or Brown Cow 0%. However, I assume that using about 1 3/4 cups of Greek Yogurt would make you happier.

      1 lb cucumbers
      1 teaspoon salt
      2 cups yogurt
      1/4 cup red-win vinegar [I buy a Greek one which is very light. If you don't, reduce a bit]
      1 tbl extra-virgin olive oil
      2 cloves garlic, put through a press or shredded on a microplane
      1/2 tsp sugar
      1/8 tsp white pepper
      1/4 cup sour cream
      2 tbl minced dill

      So, I start the day before [usually] by draining my yogurt. Then shred the cucumbe, toss with salt and let it drain in a colander.

      Stir the yogurt and cucumbers together. Stir in the vinegar, oil, garlic, sugar and pepper. Then stir in the sour cream [btw, I add this for company, omit for myself] and then the dill. Taste, adjust the salt, garlic and vinegar. Let sit in the fridge for a couple of hours, and serve.


      5 Replies
      1. re: smtucker
        Deborah RE: smtucker Jun 22, 2011 05:51 PM

        Oh boy smtucker, your tzatziki sounds good. I am going to use your ingredients with my Greek yogurt and do a taste test with a good plain drained yogurt. I see you use a little sugar (I wonder if that might have helped). Thanks for your input.

        1. re: Deborah
          Isolda RE: Deborah Jun 25, 2011 05:23 PM

          Sugar is essential. I tried making it without it, and my tzatziki really missed some depth.

          1. re: Isolda
            Deborah RE: Isolda Jul 15, 2011 04:09 AM

            Isolda and Smtucker. You were right about the sugar. It made a vast difference in the taste of my tzatziki! I used the 0% Skotidakis Greek Yogurt and I decided to try the sugar before I added some other ingredients, such as sour cream, that were suggested. I didn't need anything more. Just the yogurt, cucumber, sugar, dill and a little acid. (I used a little Champagne vinegar but could use lemon or red wine vinegar). We are finding the tzatziki is tasting delicious and we use it on everything. Thanks!

            1. re: Deborah
              smtucker RE: Deborah Jul 15, 2011 04:56 AM

              Wonderful! I bet that the Champagne vinegar is a really nice acid for this dish. Not too harsh. I can't imagine not including garlic, but isn't this why we cook at home? To flavor our food just as we want?

              I am so happy for you that you have found your own "house" tzatziki recipe.

              1. re: smtucker
                Deborah RE: smtucker Jul 15, 2011 05:23 AM

                smutcker....I forgot to say I did use garlic! 3 cloves.....we like our tzatziki garlicky.

      2. n
        Nyleve RE: Deborah Jun 22, 2011 05:37 PM

        Curiosity: if you would be willing to add, say, 2 tbsp. of olive oil to your tzatziki to help with the texture of the finished product, why wouldn't you be ok with using a full-fat yogurt? Is there more than the equivalent of 2 tbsp. of fat in the yogurt? Fat, after all, is fat - milk fat, olive oil, bacon grease - the calories are the same. I'm not asking this to be smart-ass - I actually am wondering about this. I've noticed several posts recently where people were willing to use olive oil in place of butter because of some perceived superiority of the olive oil. And these folks aren't vegans.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Nyleve
          Deborah RE: Nyleve Jun 22, 2011 05:55 PM

          Nyleve...you are so right! I even thought of that as I was writing my post. If I'm willing to add EVOO then what's the difference with using a full fat yogurt? I do believe though, that olive oil is healthier than butter since butter is saturated fat.

          1. re: Nyleve
            ellabee RE: Nyleve Jun 22, 2011 06:05 PM

            I'm not going to argue superiority, but there are real differences in chemical makeup among fats, which affects how they interact with your body. It's not just a question of calories/fuel. Some fats are saturated (most from animal sources, and a few plant fats -- coconut; avocado?), others unsaturated. It's a complex subject that I'm not up to tackling here, but is covered in very understandable detail in Harold McGee's _On Food and Cooking_.

            1. re: ellabee
              Deborah RE: ellabee Jun 22, 2011 06:11 PM

              ellabee, thanks for your input. I hear what you are saying....I probably made a very sweeping generalization!

              1. re: ellabee
                Nyleve RE: ellabee Jun 22, 2011 06:38 PM

                I take all this food chemistry with a large dollop of salt. I won't argue with you about the relative healthiness of various fats because I can't back any of my beliefs up with science, but I'll always prefer a whole food - whether it's caffeinated coffee, or a whole egg or full-fat yogurt - to something that's been meddled with. My gut feeling is to trust whole foods. Eat less of them if you must, but don't mess with them. Of course, there's a whole diet industry that's built on the exact opposite theory - so clearly I'm out of step with much of the world.

                1. re: Nyleve
                  Deborah RE: Nyleve Jun 22, 2011 06:56 PM

                  I do agree with you Nyleve. I think you are saying "eat in moderation". I am comfortable though, with lots of 0% fat yogurts that haven't been meddled with and since we eat a lot of yogurt, I prefer the 0% when possible. I have a scale for weighing meats etc.. and am amazed when "eye balling" a cut of meat and thinking it isn't much, seeing that it is twice the weight I anticipated.

            2. r
              rasputina RE: Deborah Jun 22, 2011 06:09 PM

              Yep full fat yogurt is a must.

              1. chefj RE: Deborah Jun 22, 2011 06:21 PM

                I have had good luck with drained yogurt and half sour cream, that takes care of the lack of richness! I think that it is a common device to imitate the the yogurt in Greece.

                5 Replies
                1. re: chefj
                  Deborah RE: chefj Jun 22, 2011 06:59 PM

                  Chefj: Does this work with 0% yogurt and sour cream? Thanks so much, a great suggestion.

                  1. re: Deborah
                    chefj RE: Deborah Jun 25, 2011 09:31 AM

                    Sure, sour cream is about 20% fat so it add all the fat back in for you!

                  2. re: chefj
                    hungryann RE: chefj Jun 25, 2011 11:55 AM

                    A lot of greek restaurants do that, since the yogurt you get in N. America is not the same as the one in Greece.

                    1. re: hungryann
                      chefj RE: hungryann Jun 25, 2011 04:04 PM

                      Exactly where I got it from. I can not remember which Greek restaurant but it was in Manchester N.H.

                      1. re: hungryann
                        Isolda RE: hungryann Jun 25, 2011 05:26 PM

                        I've found that full fat Greek yogurt here in the US is very close to what I've had in Greece. The trouble is that most Greek-style yogurts in the US are not made with whole, unpasteurized milk. They're very hard to find. The next best thing is draining organic, whole milk yogurt.

                    2. Phurstluv RE: Deborah Jun 22, 2011 06:36 PM

                      I just made a gorgeous leg of lamb for Father's Day, and used Ina Garten's tzatziki recipe, and it was wonderful! She adds a 1/2 cup of sour cream to it, it has wonderful flavor, all has full fat.


                      1. goodhealthgourmet RE: Deborah Jun 22, 2011 07:27 PM

                        the tzatziki you had in Greece was likely made with *sheep's* milk yogurt, which is often richer & sweeter than yogurt made from cow's milk - i'll bet that's why you're having trouble replicating it...try using drained sheep's milk yogurt and see if that tastes more like it.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                          Isolda RE: goodhealthgourmet Jun 25, 2011 05:29 PM

                          That makes a lot of sense and explains why adding sugar to cow's milk yogurt helps.

                        2. oana RE: Deborah Jun 25, 2011 09:36 AM

                          Add grey sea salt and white pepper. If you are using low fat yogurt, consider leaving the cucumber out so that it does not add more liquid. For essence and color you can just grate in some peel. You can also try making it with labneh. To die for darling. To die for. :)

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: oana
                            smtucker RE: oana Jun 25, 2011 09:37 AM

                            Without cucumber, it really isn't tzatziki.

                          2. Breadcrumbs RE: Deborah Jun 25, 2011 11:28 AM

                            Deborah, since you live in Ontario I thought I'd post a photo of an amazing pressed yogurt that I purchase at a local Persian shop. Without a doubt, it produces the most delicious tzatziki I've ever made. Unfortunately I can't read the label so I thought if I posted it, perhaps someone else could assist. My favourite Greek recipe for tzatziki comes from a cookbook called The Olive & The Caper. Interestingly, it calls for 1 tbsp of red wine vinegar for every 500ml of yogurt. We've been very pleased w the results.

                            Also, Loblaws recently added a Greek Yogurt to its President's Choice product line. Though I've never needed to use it for tzatziki, I really like this yogurt for its thick texture and creamy flavour. SInce it has 0% MF, I thought I'd mention it in case you hadn't tried that brand yet.

                            13 Replies
                            1. re: Breadcrumbs
                              Deborah RE: Breadcrumbs Jul 12, 2011 08:32 PM

                              Breadcrumbs: thanks for the information. I will look for the pressed yogurt. We just picked up the "new" Loblaws Greek Yogurt and while it is good we still prefer the Greek yogurt from Eugene, Ontario. Will keep in mind the suggestion of red wine vinegar.

                              1. re: Breadcrumbs
                                smilingal RE: Breadcrumbs Jul 13, 2011 07:54 AM

                                Thanks for the recipe suggestion. Question: would you serve a small dollop of tzatziki on cucumber rounds?

                                1. re: smilingal
                                  Breadcrumbs RE: smilingal Jul 13, 2011 08:22 AM

                                  You absolutely could do that smilingal. I often use tzatziki as a dip for veggies. I add 3 of the baby cucumbers, grated and drained to my recipe and I still think it would be delicious atop cucumber slices. . . I love the fresh flavours of cucumber. I also love it on grilled veggies!

                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs
                                    smilingal RE: Breadcrumbs Jul 13, 2011 09:15 AM

                                    i am still so stuck - I am the one making that greek tasting this weekend - I think I am now finalized at spanakopita, galaktoboureko and am thinking of cucumber slices with a small dollop of tzatziki. All need to be finger food or easily eaten and served. The galaktoboureko I am thinking of serving in the little white paper cups - but I guess I will need to provide forks along with the little plates.

                                    1. re: smilingal
                                      Breadcrumbs RE: smilingal Jul 13, 2011 10:03 AM

                                      What are you stuck on smilingal? Were you hoping to avoid forks or, just looking for other menu items? I've made the spanakopita in little triangles so they can be picked up w one hand. Another option would be mini souvlaki served in a plastic cup w a dollop of tzatziki in the bottom.

                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs
                                        smilingal RE: Breadcrumbs Jul 13, 2011 10:07 AM

                                        i guess I have been frustrated with making the final menu selections so that I can get the ingredients and move forward. The spanakopita are definites. I guess the galaktoboureko is almost a definite - I have been considering trying lilgi's recipe for Kourambiethes - so that the forks wouldn't be necessary - but I really loved the flavor of the galaktoboureko - I suppose with all the sugar that goes into the recipe - what is there not to like - and also yesterday, I realized after I came home, that i purchased the wrong size of souffle cups from Restaurant Depot to serve it in - so today I go back for those! So now, it would just be that third thing that I would like to present - and I am hoping that the tzatziki won't slide off the cucumber - but I think it should be ok.

                                        1. re: smilingal
                                          Breadcrumbs RE: smilingal Jul 13, 2011 10:16 AM

                                          I make cucumber cups by slicing cukes approx 3/4" thick then using a small spoon to scoop out a small indent to place a filling. That would work for you too. your menu sounds lovely.

                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs
                                            smilingal RE: Breadcrumbs Jul 13, 2011 10:26 AM

                                            that sounds like a nice idea! I was just coming back to tell you that I've done enough analyzing....lol - I had just cut the english cucumber into about 1/2" pieces, futzed around with a ziplock baggie and a tip and squoze out the filling and was satisfied. Perhaps I will try your suggestion - but I am stopping the fretting about the ingredients. Now off to the stores - and also going to look for pretty platters.
                                            Thanks so much!

                                            1. re: smilingal
                                              Breadcrumbs RE: smilingal Jul 13, 2011 10:52 AM

                                              Enjoy your meal smilingal, let us know how it goes!!!

                                2. re: Breadcrumbs
                                  greedygirl RE: Breadcrumbs Mar 4, 2012 04:25 AM

                                  Maybe the pressed yoghurt is labneh, Breadcrumbs?

                                  As an aside, I think the full fat (10%) Greek yoghurt (or in my case Turkish) is much more delicious than the 0% version, and even the 3.5% is a big improvement. Yoghurt is a reasonably healthy product anyway, so why not push the boat out?

                                  1. re: greedygirl
                                    Breadcrumbs RE: greedygirl Mar 4, 2012 12:33 PM

                                    You know what, I bet you're right gg....I bet it is labneh. No wonder it's so delicious.

                                  2. re: Breadcrumbs
                                    ecclescake RE: Breadcrumbs Mar 5, 2012 01:46 PM

                                    How much cucumber do you use for that amount on yoghurt?

                                    1. re: ecclescake
                                      Breadcrumbs RE: ecclescake Mar 5, 2012 02:58 PM

                                      I use 3 or 4 of the mini cukes (approx 6" long and 1.5" in diameter) I grate and drain them well prior to incorporating.

                                  3. s
                                    smilingal RE: Deborah Jun 25, 2011 11:41 AM

                                    i am planning on making this in the next few days - I have made it once before a few years ago - it is from a CIA course that I took:
                                    1/2 cup plain yogurt
                                    1/2 cup sour cream
                                    1/2 cup grated cucumber, with or without skin, squeezed dry
                                    1 tsp minced garlic
                                    1 TBS EVOO
                                    1 TBS minced fresh dill
                                    1 tsp lemon juice
                                    1/2 tsp grated lemon zest

                                    Wondering how this compares with some of your tried and true favorites?

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: smilingal
                                      smilingal RE: smilingal Jul 1, 2011 04:01 PM

                                      Don't bother with the above recipe - when I had made it a few years ago I remember it being very yummy (albeit - it was at the CIA) - but it wasn't very good this time!

                                      1. re: smilingal
                                        smilingal RE: smilingal Jul 2, 2011 08:00 AM

                                        I must admit - the recipe I posted definitely got better with the extra day or two in the fridge!

                                    2. c
                                      cajundave RE: Deborah Jun 25, 2011 09:03 PM

                                      I found that 2% vs 0% makes a big difference. I don't know your brands but Fage makes 2% that is Greek and is pretty good. I don't bother draining it.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: cajundave
                                        Deborah RE: cajundave Jul 12, 2011 08:41 PM

                                        Fage is raved about....I'm not sure if I can get it in Ottawa, Ontario. But, I am starting to realize that a little fat in the Greek yogurt might very well improve the tzatziki.

                                        1. re: Deborah
                                          eclecticsynergy RE: Deborah Jul 16, 2011 02:05 PM

                                          Deborah, if you can't find Fage where you are, there's a thread about making your own called "Success! Homemade 'Fage' Yogurt! Easy! Cheap!"


                                      2. THewat RE: Deborah Jun 26, 2011 05:21 AM

                                        Deborah - I'm so glad you posted; I'd also love to make an outstanding tzatziki. If you come up with something you think is great, please report back.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: THewat
                                          Deborah RE: THewat Jul 12, 2011 08:36 PM

                                          THewat: I will definitely report back when I find the "best" tasting tzatziki. I have so many wonderful suggestions.....must get going on testing.

                                          1. re: Deborah
                                            THewat RE: Deborah Jul 13, 2011 10:35 AM

                                            I've just met Cabot Greek Yogurt for the first time - it's kind of a Wow. It's 10% milk fat, contains live cultures, and has - I think - outstanding flavor. I don't know what it will do to tzatziki, but I'm looking forward to finding out.

                                        2. ROCKLES RE: Deborah Jun 26, 2011 05:51 AM

                                          are you using English cucumber ?

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: ROCKLES
                                            Deborah RE: ROCKLES Jul 12, 2011 08:37 PM

                                            Using lovely Lebanese cucumbers from the farmer's market and making sure there are no seeds.

                                          2. applgrl RE: Deborah Jul 1, 2011 04:09 PM

                                            suggestions as you experiment:
                                            --temper the raw garlic in the lemon juice for 1/2 hour before proceeding to mix everything
                                            --seed the cukes before salting/draining
                                            --try a bit of honey instead of sugar, goes better with the milky flavour, I think
                                            --sometimes I add a pinch of minced shallot with the garlic to give it an onion-y flavour

                                            Probably getting further from pure tzatziki, but works for me

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: applgrl
                                              bearfromobx RE: applgrl Aug 29, 2012 05:40 PM

                                              I love honey in tzatziki and for a change, use lime juice instead of lemon. It makes a small, but noticable difference, especially when served with a plain carrier like flatbreads.

                                            2. k
                                              Krislady RE: Deborah Jul 2, 2011 05:42 AM

                                              Although I don't follow this recipe specifically, I do add the splash of ouzo - not enough to taste it, just a little glug - it really does made a difference.


                                              1. s
                                                ssharp RE: Deborah Jul 3, 2011 05:13 PM

                                                Whoo boy, I'm sure to get flack here. Let me say, it's only to SAVE tzatziki, not to be used in a recipe EVER!! I do think if your tzatziki is lacking a bit of fattiness, a dollop of mayo just may save it. We're talking MAYBE a TBS.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: ssharp
                                                  Deborah RE: ssharp Jul 12, 2011 08:38 PM

                                                  Ssharp: not a bad idea....could be worth a try!

                                                2. s
                                                  sushigirlie RE: Deborah Jul 13, 2011 05:15 AM

                                                  Olive oil simply doesn't have the rich, creamy taste and mouthfeel of dairy fat. If you're using non-fat yogurt, your tzatziki is bound to suck.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: sushigirlie
                                                    prima RE: sushigirlie Aug 29, 2012 06:11 AM

                                                    It's common practice to drizzle some olive oil on tzatziki in Greece and in Greek homes- regardless of whether full fat, low-fat or fat-free yogurt is used. The olive oil isn't meant to replace the fat that's missing when one uses lower fat or fat-free yogurt, it adds texture and flavour to any tzatziki, regardless of the fat content of the yogurt being used.

                                                    I've been using non-fat Greek-style yogurt for my tzatziki this summer, and it doesn't suck.

                                                  2. jinet12 RE: Deborah Aug 29, 2012 06:19 AM

                                                    Use full fat Greek Yogurt like Fage and add a bit of full fat sour
                                                    cream. You'll notice the richness and consistency change. Be sure to us English Cukes. .

                                                    Show Hidden Posts