Last updated on March 23rd, 2023 at 10:45 am
Got 5 minutes? Then you can make this delicious healthy tzatziki recipe! It will elevate any dish and make it simply irresistible. Tzatziki can be served as a healthy appetizer and is a great addition to fish, calamari, meat or just with salad and bread.
I’m also sharing a second, a little bit different, vegan dairy-free recipe for tzatziki that you can make if you can’t or don’t want to eat yogurt!
What Is Tzatziki
Growing up there were 2 salads we made at home: this refreshing tomatoes and cucumbers salad and garlic-filled tzatziki. As a kid I did not like both of them – I was more focused on chicken and pizza, and salads were for old people.
Now that I’m old(er) and wiser I know there’s nothing better than tzatziki – it’s healthy and full of flavor. I’m pretty sure this fresh, fragrant, tangy little Greek dish was invented by one of the Greek gods. It gets everyone addicted.
You might say tzatziki is not a salad, that it’s actually a dip, an appetizer. But to me, it will always be a salad, we’ve always been eating it in huge amounts at home. Tzatziki is easy to make, quick and so good that it makes you forget you smell like you’ve swum in a sea of garlic for lunch/dinner/breakfast.
If you don’t want to smell like garlic, but want to drown your face in tzatziki today, you can do this: Add a little garlic flavor by letting a smashed garlic clove in olive oil for around 30 minutes, then remove the garlic, before you add the oil to the rest of the ingredients. This would remove that pungent, yet mesmerizing garlic smell.
But honestly, there’s really no fun in that.
What You Need For The Best Tzatziki
The best tzatzki(s) I have ever had is usually made with really thick strained yogurt, almost like cream cheese. You can add it to anything you want – any cooked meal and it’s amazing in any kind of wrap or with falafels, vegetable burgers… anything. Everything gets better with a little tzatziki.
So, the easier and quicker version is to use yogurt. But that’s probably not great if you’re vegan, dairy-free or paleo and just have to stand by and watch while everyone is devouring that tzatziki going mmmmmmmmmm. It would be like being sober while everyone else is drunk. You just wanna punch them to sleep.
Vegan Dairy-Free Tzatziki
Now because I truly, like a Miss Universe, care about World Peace, I came up with an amazing vegan dairy-free recipe for tzatziki. This version is also paleo, soy- and gluten-free and everyone will love it!
It needs a little more preparation than the healthy yogurt tzatziki which is made in 5 minutes. You’ll have to be very patient and soak cashews overnight to then make your vegan cream cheese out of those the next day. But it is worth it.
The vegan tzatziki is slightly sweeter than the yogurt-based tzatziki, because cashews are kinda sweet. But the sweetness did not bother me at all. The tzatziki gets better with time (like women and wine).
Keep it in the fridge for up to three days. The cucumbers do let some water out, but all you need to do is mix well, so that the “cream cheese” and water combine and everything gets creamy again.
What To Serve The Dairy-Free Tzatziki With
Let me tell you, this delicious thing goes really well with grilled things. Meat, fish, meatballs, shrimp, calamari or grilled vegetables like zucchini.
For a plant-based dish, you can serve the dairy-free tzatziki with some baked potatoes, or like I did in my beautiful and famous 5-minute Mediterranean bowl. I think of this bowl like a proud mother, I’m telling you.
Both versions – vegan and non-vegan are surprise surprise – good for you! Thanks to garlic you can help your liver detoxify your body quicker, you can lower your blood pressure, fight bacteria, viruses and all those evil monsters.
Cucumber hydrates and contains like all fruits and vegetables antioxidants that help you prevent oxidative stress and thus diseases and aging in general. Yogurt is rich in calcium and in probiotics, which are both good for your skin.
And if you go for the vegan/dairy-free tzatziki: cashews like all nuts are heart-healthy, prevent cancer and help you lose some weight. And with so much lemon juice, the vegan tzatziki is also bursting with collagen-building vitamin C to keep your skin forever young.
You see, whichever version you prefer – it’s good for you.
Quicker Healthy Tzatziki Recipe With Yogurt
- 1 cup probiotic yogurt, strained, thick (around 10% fat)
- 1 small cucumber (around 1/2 cup sliced in squares), washed, peeled if not organic
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove
- Optional: chopped Walnuts or some sesame seeds to garnish
- Stir yogurt well with a fork in a small bowl (for dips), so it gets very creamy.
- Add olive oil. As mentioned, if you don’t want to smell too much like garlic infuse some olive oil with garlic by crushing the garlic clove, and letting it sit in the olive oil for 30 minutes. If you don’t care (I like your style) – press and add the garlic afterwards. Combine well until smooth.
- Dice cucumber into small pieces. Add to the rest of the ingredients. Combine and garnish with walnuts or sesame seeds.
And now for the vegan dairy-free version that uses cashews.
Healthy Tzatziki (Dairy-Free & Vegan)
Need a vegan or dairy-free recipe for tzatziki? Then soak some cashews and make this easy healthy tzatziki. You can add it to Mediterranean bowls or wraps! It's delicious!
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 tbsp lemon juice (one small lemon)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 tbsp water (add one at a time)
- 1 tsp white pepper
- ½ tsp salt (add gradually to taste)
- 1 tsp marjoram (optional)
- ½ cup thinly chopped cucumber
- 1 tbsp fresh dill
- Add cashews, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, white pepper, marjoram, garlic cloves to a hand blender cup or to a highspeed blender cup. If you don’t want to smell too much like garlic infuse some olive oil with garlic by crushing the garlic clove and letting it sit in the olive oil for 30 minutes. Then remove garlic and add infused olive oil to the rest of the ingredients.
- Blend until smooth. It should get creamy – add water one tbsp at a time. Mine took 6 tbsp. When this cashew sauce is ready transfer to a small bowl.
- Chop cucumbers thinly and add them to the vegan cashew yogurt. Add salt to taste, I needed about ½ tsp.
- Optionally you can add more dill, it will give the tzatziki even more freshness.
- Garnish with ground/chopped nuts or sesame seeds.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 146Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 200mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 4g
More Healthy Mediterranean Recipes
Hope you make either one of these healthy tzatziki recipes, maybe even both of them! If you enjoy it, you will most likely also enjoy these delicious Mediterranean recipes:
This recipe was originally published in July 2016 and updated in March 2023.
I’m not sure what kind of yogurt to use for this recipe. My go-to plain yogurt is Fage 2% Greek yogurt. Would that work?
Thank you so much!
Any type of yogurt can work, but if you use a lower-fat one the Tzatziki will be a little thinner. I usually go with whatever I have at the moment, but the best versions that I’ve had were made with thick, strained yogurt.
Hi, what do you soak the cashews in overnight?
in water 🙂
Marie Beaulne says
Can you substitute the cashews for a different nut? (Food allergies)
Hi Marie, I’ve also used sunflower seeds to make this, I have a similar recipe here
Can you use the reserved ‘soak’ water from the cashews for cashew milk?
I usually throw the soaking water away, but you could try it
I am just curious if you use roasted cashews or raw?
the cashews are raw for this recipe