Before I made the switch to a dairy-free diet, one of my all-time favorite sauces was homemade tzatziki. Sure, you can pick up tzatziki from the stores, but making my own allowed me to get the perfect balance of creamy yogurt, freshly grated cucumber, and subtle garlic. I even throw in a handful of mint leaves for a delightfully fragrant and fresh dressing!
But since turning vegan, I’ve had to let go of some of my favorite creamy sauces, as they’re often made from animal by-products that are terrible for my health and the environment – not to mention the terrible conditions that dairy livestock often find themselves in!
However, for us vegan creamy-sauce lovers, all is not lost! I’ve discovered a trick to making non-dairy tzatziki sauce that might even be more delicious than the original recipe and takes practically zero effort to perfect!
For this recipe, I didn’t bother with expensive or hard-to-find ingredients like vegan yogurt. Instead, I made my vegan cucumber sauce from one of the best meat-and-dairy-free ingredients known to man: the humble tofu!
Tofu ensures a healthy tzatziki dip that’s low in fat and high in protein, perfect for dolloping over your Greek dishes or slathering on pita bread.
What is Tzatziki?
Tzatziki is a cucumber and yogurt-based condiment, often used as a dip, sauce, or even soup in Southeast Europe and the Middle East. It’s particularly popular in Greek cuisine, where it’s often served as part of a meze and eaten with bread, fried eggplant, or zucchini.
What is Tzatziki Usually Made From?
Greek tzatziki is usually made from strained goat or cow yogurt, grated cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and herbs, with a little olive oil. Sometimes tzatziki will also be made with fragrant fresh herbs such as dill, mint, or parsley.
Because the base of tzatziki is yogurt made from goat or cow’s milk, this dip isn’t usually suitable for vegans, who shun dairy products in their diet.
How Do You Make Tzatziki Sauce Vegan?
Many non-dairy tzatziki sauce recipes will call for a simple substitution of dairy-free yogurt in place of the typical cow-or-goat-milk yogurt base. You can pick up vegan yogurt in some stores, and this makes tasty tzatziki. However, store-bought vegan yogurt can be incredibly expensive, and few stores stock it.
To avoid having to buy from specialist stores, you could make your own vegan yogurt to create a vegan tzatziki base, but I tend to go another way.
Instead of wasting time and effort making my own yogurt (although I must admit it’s really not difficult) or shopping for elusive store-bought vegan-friendly yogurt, I generally prefer to make delicious tofu tzatziki!
By using tofu, it’s easy to create the texture you want from your sauce by varying the firmness of the tofu for a thicker or thinner vegan tzatziki dressing. Tofu also offers the added benefit of being a super healthy vegan ingredient that’s low in fat and high in protein, helping make this tzatziki recipe a little healthier and more nutritious (as if I needed any more incentives to indulge!).
Is Vegan Tzatziki Sauce Healthy?
Despite the creamy taste and texture, both the dairy and non-dairy varieties of tzatziki are seen as a relatively healthy dip that’s relatively low in calories. To keep your tzatziki as healthy as possible, use fresh, healthy ingredients and avoid cheap vegetable oils packed with saturated fats.
Unlike many other creamy sauces, tzatziki is filled with protein (especially when you use tofu) and healthy fats, with a few extra nutrients from the fresh cucumber and other veggies.
Homemade Tzatziki Sauce Recipe
This vegan tzatziki is incredibly easy to make and is ready for serving in just 10 minutes! Made from fresh ingredients and packed full of nutrients, you’ll love how delicious and healthy this sauce can be!
Calories per serving: 79
How to Store Vegan Tzatziki Tofu
If you don’t want to eat your tasty tzatziki sauce immediately or have any leftovers (not a problem in my household, but you never know!), then you can place the freshly made tzatziki in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. It will thicken slightly in the fridge, so if you want a thicker dip, it’s a great idea to prepare the tzatziki a few days in advance.
It is safe to freeze vegan tzatziki in an airtight container for up to three months. However, be aware that this can alter the texture and consistency of the sauce. Be sure to thoroughly defrost the tzatziki before serving and give it a good stir to ensure all the ingredients stay nicely combined.
I absolutely love using vegan tzatziki as a healthy dip to go with sliced cucumbers, carrots, and pita bread triangles. It’s also delicious with homemade baked falafel or drizzled over tasty vegan veggie fajitas.
I often prepare a large bowl of vegan tzatziki dressing whenever I’m making spicy dishes, as the soft and creamy taste of the tzatziki is the perfect way to cool down hot dishes and soothe the tastebuds. The fresh flavors also make an excellent contrast to richer dishes like tofu chili.
For an authentic dish, try serving this vegan tzatziki in a classic Greek bowl with quinoa, fresh tomatoes, olives, roasted chickpeas, and a fresh and fragrant cucumber salad. It’s delicious and healthy, perfect for a summer evening!
Final Note: Vegan Tzatziki Recipe
If you think being vegan means you can’t enjoy creamy dips and sauces, this vegan tzatziki recipe should prove that you don’t need to pick between your ethics and tasty treats!
Not only is this sauce low in fat and high in protein, but it also offers the perfect textures and flavors to complement pretty much any dish, whether you’re using it to cool your mouth after a spicy treat or as a fresh, fragrant dipping sauce for veggies!
How to Make Tasty Vegan Tzatziki at Home
225g medium-firm tofu, pressed and drained
2 tbsp olive oil
2x garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp dried dill
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ English cucumber
Use a tofu press (like this one) or DIY pressing method to squeeze all the excess liquid out of the tofu before you start making your vegan tzatziki.
Once the excess water has been removed from the tofu, put it in the blender with all the other ingredients (excluding cucumber).
Pulse several times to combine the ingredients together, stopping to scrape down the sides as required.
Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise, then scoop out the seeds.
Grate the deseeded cucumber halves, then remove any excess water by squeezing it over the sink by hand.
Add the grated cucumber to the blender with the other ingredients and pulse a few times until everything is well combined and distributed.
Transfer to a bowl and serve immediately, or place in an airtight container in the refrigerator.