Greek cooking and classic dishes like Souvlaki, Horiatiki salad, and Tzatziki date back thousands of years. Tzatziki (pronounced tuh-zee-kee) is a sauce traditionally made with yogurt, herbs, and cucumber. For this recipe, we have tzatziki sauce with a twist: it’s made with zucchini instead of cucumber.
The word tzatziki is actually thought to come from the Persian word "zhazh", meaning herb mixture. Different variations of the sauce are popular among other Middle Eastern countries like Balkans, Turkey, and Albania.
If you’re in need of a lightened up sauce to pile over pita chips, veggies, meat kabobs, sandwiches, or salad bowls — look no further. This sauce was developed from Mackenzie Burgess, a registered dietitian nutritionist and founder of the Cheerful Choices food and nutrition blog, giving it a healthy mark of approval. She was inspired to create this dish after having a plethora of leftover squash from the summer season. This is the perfect recipe to use up any extra zucchini lying around or just a fun way to mix up your classic tzatziki sauce.
Gather your simple tzatziki sauce ingredients
Forget the store-bought stuff. Packaged tzatziki sauce is typically filled with unnecessary additives and preservatives. Instead, make your own homemade.
This recipe calls for just seven simple ingredients and it’s so easy to make. Get all your items out before starting this dip so everything is ready to go. Once you have everything out, it takes less than ten minutes to whip up this sauce. It’s just a matter of adding zucchini, plain Greek yogurt, olive oil, chopped dill, lemon juice, garlic and salt to one bowl and mixing it up.
Tips for choosing your zucchini for the tzatziki sauce
Traditional tzatziki calls for cucumber, but in this recipe we are mixing it up and using zucchini. Zucchini is low in calories and provides important nutrients like fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, riboflavin, potassium, and manganese. Choose a medium zucchini that weighs about 8 ounces. It should feel firm and be free of nicks and cuts. If you don’t have zucchini, you could also opt to use the classic cucumber.
Feel free to leave the skin on for grating your zucchini–the skin actually provides more fiber and lends less food waste. However, if you are wanting a creamier dip, peel the skin off with a vegetable peeler before grating.
Use a box grater to grate the zucchini for the tzatziki sauce
Use the large holes on a box grater to get the job done. Once the zucchini is grated, squeeze out any excess liquid. You can do this by putting the zucchini in a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth and squeezing until there’s no more liquid dripping down.
If you don’t have either of these, you could also use a few layers of paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Squeezing out the liquid helps ensure the sauce stays together and isn’t overly runny, especially since zucchini contains more than 90 percent water. After squeezing, the grated zucchini should come out to about 1 cup packed.
Mix your tzatziki sauce ingredients
Once you have your zucchini ready to go, it’s as easy as adding your ingredients to a beautiful bowl and giving it a good stir.
Start by adding your yogurt. I chose a non-fat plain Greek yogurt to lower the calories and fat content. If you are wanting a richer, more decadent dip, use a whole fat Greek yogurt. Either option you choose will be packed with protein. Protein is important for keeping our muscles strong and helps us feel more satisfied from a meal.
Then, add in your grated zucchini and all other liquid ingredients. For this recipe, use an extra virgin olive oil for a bright flavor. As a note, you want to avoid using extra virgin olive oil in most cooking applications because it has a lower smoke point of 325 degrees. This means if it is heated for a long period of time above this temperature it can turn rancid.
What to serve with zucchini tzatziki sauce
One of Mackenzie’s favorites to serve with this sauce is pita chips. This versatile tzatziki also goes great over veggies, meat kabobs, pita sandwiches, or salad bowls.
This recipe makes quite a bit, so if you have leftovers, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. As the sauce sits, it may have some extra liquid that comes to the surface. Not to worry, simply give it a good stir.
To make the presentation as elegant as possible, add over some extra chopped dill and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil before serving.
- 1 medium zucchini (about 8 ounces)
- 1 ½ cups plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from about 1 small lemon)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- Grate zucchini on a box grater and squeeze out excess liquid in a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. After squeezing, grated zucchini should come out to about 1 cup packed.
- Add zucchini and all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine.
- Enjoy tzatziki sauce over pita chips, veggies, meat kabobs, sandwiches, or salad bowls.