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5 Ingredient Vegan Tzatziki Recipe

Updated: Jun 21

One of the most loved dishes from Greece is Tzatziki, a creamy, garlicky dip traditionally made with yogurt and cucumbers. But what if you could enjoy this Mediterranean staple in a vegan-friendly way? In this recipe I'm bringing together modern culinary products with traditional ingredients to create delicious, health-conscious dishes. Today, let's dive into making Vegan Tzatziki that's as authentic as it is nourishing.


upclose picture of creamy vegan tzatziki

The Origins of Tzatziki

Tzatziki has roots that run deep in the Mediterranean region, particularly in Greece. The word "tzatziki" derives several words from West Asian languages dip and is similar to many dips around this region of the world. However, the concept of a yogurt and cucumber sauce dates back to ancient times, with variations found across the Middle East and Southeastern Europe.


While tzatziki is quintessentially Greek, similar dips are enjoyed in various countries:


Turkey: Known as "cacık," this version is often thinner and more of a soup, enjoyed as a cooling dish in hot weather.

Bulgaria: Here, it's called "tarator" and is typically served as a cold soup with dill, garlic, and walnuts.

Middle East: Variations like "mast-o-khiar" in Iran include yogurt mixed with cucumbers, mint, and sometimes raisins or nuts.


Cultural Significance

At the Greek dining table you'll always find tzatziki as an essential part of meze, which are small dishes served as appetizers or side dishes. These meze dishes are integral to Greek hospitality and social gatherings because they encourage sharing and conversation. Meze dishes invite us to slow down and indulge in the deeper qualities in life that are meant to be enjoyed and not rushed through.


In Greek culture, food brings nourishment, but it's also a way to bring people together. Tzatziki is a prime example of this, often served during family meals, festive occasions, and communal gatherings. Its refreshing flavor makes it a perfect pairing to grilled protein, vegetables and bread, balancing richer profiles and dishes with its tangy, creamy profile.


A Personal Memory

My family gatherings were not exempt from this cultural tradition. Along with spanakopita, pastitsio, lamb & orzo at the table, Yiayia always made sure there were fresh batches of tzatziki served, and prepared from the day before. The whole family would come together, and my grandmother would prepare a feast. I remember watching her make the tzatziki, her hands moving rhythmically as she grated cucumbers and minced garlic. We would gather around the table, dipping fresh bread into the creamy dip, bantering and sharing stories, as she looked around at the family she created. I know deep down that that tzatziki, along with the rest of the food on the table was more than just food to her—it was a symbol of family, tradition, and the immense joy and gratitude of being together.


Health Benefits of Tzatziki

Tzatziki of course is very delicious, but it's also packed with health benefits, particularly when made vegan:


Probiotics: Vegan yogurt, especially those made from cultured cashews, contains beneficial probiotics that support gut health.

Hydration: Cucumbers are high in water content, helping to keep you hydrated.

Antioxidants: Garlic and olive oil are rich in antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation and boost overall health.


Making Tzatziki Your Own

One of the joys of cooking is the ability to adapt recipes to suit your tastes and dietary needs. Here are a few ideas to customize your vegan tzatziki:


Herbs: Add fresh herbs like dill, mint, or parsley for extra flavor.

Lemon: A squeeze of lemon juice can add a bright, tangy note.

Spices: Sprinkle in some ground cumin or smoked paprika for a different flavor profile.

Veggies: Incorporate finely diced bell peppers or grated carrots for added texture and nutrition.


Fun Fact: The Garlic Legend

Garlic is a key ingredient in tzatziki, and its use in cooking dates back thousands of years. In ancient Greece, garlic was believed to have protective properties and was often used for medicinal purposes. Athletes competing in the original Olympic Games were known to consume garlic to enhance their performance and stamina.


Bringing Tzatziki to Your Table

Integrating tzatziki into your meals can elevate everyday dishes to something special. Here are a few more serving ideas:


Gyros: Use it as a sauce for vegan gyros, made with seitan or chickpeas.

Potato Salad: Mix it into boiled potatoes for a refreshing twist on traditional potato salad.

Burger Topper: Add a dollop of tzatziki on your favorite veggie burger.

Pasta Sauce: Thin it out with a bit of water or extra olive oil and use it as a light pasta sauce.


profile picture of vegan tzatziki dip in a clear bowl, with rustic wooden background and table.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups plain vegan yogurt (cashew yogurt works best)

1 large cucumber

3-5 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

Dash of black pepper (optional)


The Magic of Vegan Tzatziki

Step 1: Prepare Your Yogurt Base

Begin by placing 1 1/2 cups of plain vegan yogurt into a medium-sized bowl. Cashew yogurt is particularly excellent for this recipe because of its rich, creamy texture and mild flavor, which mimics traditional Greek yogurt beautifully.


Step 2: Shred the Cucumber

Next, take a large cucumber and shred it directly into the bowl with the yogurt. Cucumbers add a refreshing crunch and a touch of natural sweetness to the Tzatziki. Make sure to stir the shredded cucumber thoroughly into the yogurt, ensuring that every bit is evenly distributed. If you prefer a thicker consistency, you can squeeze out some of the excess water from the cucumber before mixing it in.


Step 3: Add the Garlic

Now, it's time to add some zest to your Tzatziki. Mince 3-5 cloves of garlic, depending on your taste preference. Garlic is a cornerstone of Tzatziki, providing that distinctive punch that makes this dip so irresistible. Stir the minced garlic into the yogurt and cucumber mixture.


Step 4: Olive Oil for Smoothness

Finally, drizzle 1 tablespoon of high-quality olive oil into the bowl. Olive oil not only adds a touch of luxurious smoothness to your Tzatziki but also brings out the flavors of the garlic and cucumber. Mix everything together until well combined.


The Secret to Perfect Tzatziki

Here's the key to making your Tzatziki truly shine: patience. Once all the ingredients are combined, cover the bowl and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. This allows the flavors to meld together, creating a harmonious blend that's far greater than the sum of its parts. If you can manage to wait even longer, your taste buds will be even more rewarded.


Tzatziki is a versatile, delicious, and healthy addition to any meal. Whether you're looking to add a touch of Mediterranean flair to your cooking or seeking a refreshing, dairy-free dip, vegan tzatziki is the perfect choice. By embracing this recipe, you are not only treating your taste buds but also connecting with a rich cultural tradition that celebrates the beauty of simple, wholesome ingredients.


So, next time you whip up a batch of vegan tzatziki, take a moment to appreciate its history, savor its flavors, and share it with loved ones. Here's to good food, good health, and the timeless pleasure of eating well. Opa!


Enjoy it with Future Meals


CVK's Vegan Tzatziki uses creamy cashew yogurt, crisp cucumber, and zesty garlic to capture those traditional flavors in a plant-based, healthy way. It's a recipe I knew I had to share with you, so you can enjoy it with future meals, including this weekend's Tofu Chickn' Souvlaki Skewers. This tzatziki adds a refreshing and tangy touch to every bite and reflects our commitment to making delicious, nourishing food that's deeply connected to my motherland's roots.


If you’re eager to dive deeper into the flavors of the Mediterranean, join my Mediterranean Summer Cooking Class! Together, we’ll explore a variety of vibrant, plant-based dishes that are perfect for the season. You'll leave with new recipes, techniques, and a greater appreciation for the rich culinary traditions of the Mediterranean. Sign up now and let's cook up some summer magic!

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