Need an easy, incredibly delicious cucumber salad?? Make this Tzatziki Cucumber Salad! This salad is very simple, made with a homemade tzatziki dressing from Greek yogurt and a few Greek-inspired seasonings. This cucumber salad is very light in calories but full of flavor!
This salad goes so well with any favorite protein—chicken, fish, steak, and is always a favorite summer salad or BBQ side dish.
What is tzatziki salad?
This cucumber tzatziki salad is inspired by the Greek tzatziki dip. Tzatziki dip is traditionally made by combining Greek yogurt with grated cucumber, garlic, fresh herbs, a bit of lemon juice, and a drizzle of olive oil.
Well, in the usual Babaganosh style, I wanted to see if I can add more veggies to a traditional dish. Instead of grating a little cucumber into Greek yogurt, I chopped up a whole long English cucumber and mixed it with a delicious creamy Greek yogurt dressing. The result is a light and tasty salad.
A little protein, a little veggies, lots of flavor?? Yes please!
I find that if I make a tasty salad like this, we end up eating a LOT more cucumber than if I simply served fresh cucumber with a dip. And more veggies is always a win around here!
Try this other favorite cucumber salad: Sesame Cucumber Salad with Everything Bagel Seasoning
What makes this tzatziki cucumber salad better than others?
Three things: Fresh herbs (dill and mint), a little red onion, and some dried herbs (oregano). The oregano really adds a nice savory flavor that goes well with the whole Greek theme. Since not everyone has fresh oregano on hand, I used dried oregano. I find that oregano is one of the few herbs where the dried version is almost as good as the fresh version, and I use it often!
The other thing that makes this recipe better than others is that I chop the cucumber after it is sliced, so I end up with small, thin cucumber slices. I think those are so much more pleasant to eat than large cucumber circles, so I think it's worth it to take the extra minute to chop the cucumber thin and even.
I recommend using a mandoline slicer and then stacking the cucumber slicers in a 2-3 inch stack and carefully chopping them into quarters.
Leftover tzatziki idea
Of course, you can use leftover tzatziki dip to use as the dressing for this salad. Tzatziki has grated cucumber in it while the dressing for this salad does not, but it won't affect the salad negatively! You'll need about ½ cup of leftover tzatziki for 1 English cucumber. Feel free to adjust the flavor with additional salt, garlic, or lemon juice if needed.
More fresh dill recipes: Fresh Fish Loaf
- 1 large English cucumber (or medium-large regular cucumbers, see recipe tips below)
- ¼ - ½ red onion, to taste
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (from ½ small lemon)
- ½ cup whole or reduced fat plain Greek yogurt (see tips below)
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh dill, finely minced
- 10-20 fresh mint leaves (sweet mint, not peppermint if you can find that), finely minced
- ¾ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon salt (I used a rounded ¼ teaspoon)
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
More fresh cucumber recipes: Cucumber Lemonade
Aside from measuring spoons and cups, you'll want to use a mandoline slicer (if you have one) for slicing cucumbers evenly, thinly, and quickly. Keep in mind that if you're using a mandoline slicer, you HAVE TO wear cut-resistant kitchen gloves. Mandoline slicers are so sharp and leave really bad cuts. (Ask me how I know.)
You can slice the cucumbers with a knife if you don't have a mandoline.
Other tools to make the job easier:
- A vegetable peeler, if you have a cucumber with tough skin
- Lemon squeezer (fresh lemon juice is BEST for this salad!)
Step 1: Optional: peel the cucumber (I recommend this if it has tough skin), or peel it halfway (alternating green strips with white peeled strips). Also optional: scoop out the seeds after slicing the cucumber in half lengthwise. I used an English cucumber and left it unpeeled and with seeds intact.
Step 2: Slice the cucumber very thinly, and if you want smaller pieces chop the circles into quarters. You can do this two ways: (1) by slicing the cucumber into quarters long-wise and then thinly slicing each cucumber strip, or by (2) using a mandoline slicer to slice the cucumber into circles, then stack the circles into 2-3 inch stacks and chop into quarters. You should have about 2 cups of chopped cucumber.
Step 3: Thinly slice the red onion, then chop the red onion slices into roughly the same size as your cucumber pieces. Combine the sliced red onion with the lemon juice and salt in a small non-reactive bowl (use a glass bowl, stainless steel bowl, or ceramic bowl), stir, and let sit while you gather the rest of the ingredients.
Step 4: In a large bowl, combine the chopped cucumber along with the rest of your ingredients and the red onion and lemon juice. Mix well. Adjust the flavor if needed with more salt and/or lemon juice. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate and enjoy within 1-2 days.
Recipe FAQs and tips
What kind of cucumber should I use?
I recommend using an English cucumber for this tzatziki salad. English cucumbers are the long ones (about 14 inches long), often wrapped in plastic wrap individually at the store. Those cucumbers have a thin skin that I don't peel and small seeds that I don't scoop out (more on that below!). English cucumbers are also typically never bitter, unlike many typical "slicer" cucumbers.
But ultimately, use any cucumber you have on hand! You'll need about 2 cups of sliced cucumbers for this salad, which is about 14 inches of cucumber (so 1 English cucumber, or two smaller 7-inch cucumbers). And if you have more cucumber or less cucumber, you can always adjust the dressing amount as needed.
Should I peel the cucumber?
That depends on the type of cucumber you use and your personal preference. I like to leave the skin on English cucumbers and Israeli cucumbers because I find their skin to be very soft. If you have cucumbers with tough skin, I recommend peeling the cucumbers, or peeling them halfway (use a vegetable peeler to create green and white strips of peel and no-peel). This will make it easier to chew the salad.
Cucumber skin container fiber and nutrients, so if you have organic cucumbers with soft skin, I encourage you to leave it on.
Should I scoop the seeds out of the cucumber?
This also depends on the type of cucumber you have and your preferences. If your cucumber has a LOT of large seeds, you can slice the cucumber in half and then scoop them out with a spoon.
If you have a cucumber that doesn't have a lot of seeds, such as an English cucumber, you can leave them in.
What kind of Greek yogurt should I use? Can I substitute the Greek yogurt?
I recommend whole milk Greek yogurt because it is the thickest, creamiest, and more flavorful one compared to low-fat or fat-free Greek yogurt. Make sure to get plain unsweetened unflavored Greek yogurt. However, I often use fat-free or low-fat Greek yogurt just because that's what I have on hand, or because I want to cut down on calories.
If you have sour cream instead of Greek yogurt, you can use that.
What else can I add to this cucumber salad?
I love adding thinly sliced radishes to this salad. Daikon radish would work well too, and it is more mild in flavor than small red radishes.
Sometimes I add a little bit of cooked edamame (removed from the pods). That no longer makes it traditional Greek cucumber salad, but I think it goes quite well together, so why not!
A little crumbled feta would go great with the Greek theme and add a lovely creaminess. And if you're adding feta, then some sliced olives would also add a great pop of color and flavor!
Related recipe: Olive and Feta Greek Hummus
Fresh herbs tips
I recommend getting fresh dill for this recipe instead of dried dill. Rinse the dill and pat it dry before chopping it. Fresh mint is also a great addition. It does not make the salad taste minty, just makes it taste fresh. I use mint in a lot of Mediterranean-inspired salads, such as this couscous tabbouleh, summer chickpea salad, quinoa cucumber salad, and lentil tabbouleh salad.
If you don't like dill or mint, or don't have any available, you can use freshly diced parsley and/or a little fresh basil. Dried dill would also work as a substitute (start with 1 teaspoon).
If you have fresh oregano available, go ahead and use a little bit of that instead of dried oregano!
Related recipe: Greek Pizza with Olives and Feta
Storing leftover cucumber tzatziki salad
This salad will keep well in the fridge for up to 2 days if stored in a sealed container. It is however best served fresh, because cucumber contains a lot of water and it releases that water when combined with the dressing, making the salad watery. It's still fine to eat, so you can use a slotted spoon to serve some onto your plate, or strain the liquid off using a colander.
I do recommend only mixing as much salad as you plan on eating in one sitting, and keeping the rest of the ingredients separate from the cucumber.
This salad can be prepared in advance! Just slice the cucumber and keep it refrigerated separately from the rest of the ingredients so the cucumber doesn't release juices. You can, however, combine the rest of the ingredients (red onion, yogurt, all the seasonings, etc) to make the dressing in advance, and keep that dressing refrigerated in a sealed container.
If you want to "cheat" a little, you can simply buy tzatziki from the store and combine it with thinly sliced cucumbers and red onions!
If you enjoyed this recipe, let me know with a comment and a star rating below. And don't forget to share it on Facebook and save it on Pinterest for later!
Tzatziki Cucumber Salad
- 1 English cucumber - (or medium-large regular cucumbers, see notes below)
- ¼ - ½ small red onion - to taste
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice - (from ½ small lemon)
- ½ cup plain whole fat Greek yogurt - (or reduced fat, see notes below)
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh dill - finely minced
- 10-20 fresh mint leaves - finely minced
- ¾ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon salt - (I used a rounded ¼ teaspoon)
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Optional: peel the cucumber (I recommend this if it has tough skin), or peel it halfway (alternating green strips with white peeled strips). Also optional: scoop out the seeds after slicing the cucumber in half lengthwise. I used an English cucumber and left it unpeeled and with seeds intact.
- Slice the cucumber very thinly, and if you want smaller pieces chop the circles into quarters. You should have about 2 cups of chopped cucumber.You can do this two ways: (1) by slicing the cucumber into quarters long-wise and then thinly slicing each cucumber strip, or by (2) using a mandoline slicer to slice the cucumber into circles, then stack the circles into 2-3 inch stacks and chop into quarters.
- Thinly slice the red onion, then chop the red onion slices into roughly the same size as your cucumber pieces. Combine the sliced red onion with the lemon juice and salt in a small non-reactive bowl (use a glass bowl, stainless steel bowl, or ceramic bowl), stir, and let sit while you gather the rest of the ingredients.
- In a large bowl, combine the chopped cucumber along with the rest of your ingredients and the red onion and lemon juice. Mix well. Adjust the flavor if needed with more salt and/or lemon juice. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate and enjoy within 1-2 days.
The nutritional information displayed is an estimate and not to be used as dietary or nutritional advice. Consult a nutritionist or dietician for nutritional info based on the exact ingredients you use.