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The Best Tzatziki Cucumber Salad

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.

Bowl of Greek cucumber salad
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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.

Sliced cucumber salad with tzatziki dressing

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!

I am a huge fan of oregano (see my shrimp oreganata and clams oreganata recipes!)

Chopped herbs for tzatziki salad

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.

Bowl of tzatziki dip

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.

Ingredients to make tzatziki cucumber salad

More fresh dill recipes: Fresh Fish Loaf

Ingredients

  • 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

Equipment

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:

Instructions

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.

Thinly sliced cucumbers on a cutting board

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.

Sliced red onion marinating in lemon juice

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.

Ingredients for cucumber tzatziki salad in a bowl

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.

Peeling cucumber with a vegetable peeler

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.

Bowl of whole milk Greek yogurt

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.

Make-ahead tip

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!

Plate of tzatziki cucumber salad
Print Recipe
5 from 6 votes

Tzatziki Cucumber Salad

This Greek-inspired cucumber salad with tzatziki dressing is light, flavorful, easy to make, and even easier to eat. It goes great with almost any protein, and is an awesome summer side dish!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time0 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American, Greek
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Servings: 4
Author: Kate

Ingredients

  • 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

Special equipment

Instructions

  • 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 sliced cucumbers on a cutting board
  • 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.
    Ingredients for cucumber tzatziki salad in a bowl

Notes

Cucumber: If you have a slicer cucumber with tough skin, I recommend peeling it, at least halfway. For English cucumbers and Israeli cucumbers, I find the skin soft enough to leave it on. I used a 14-inch English cucumber for this salad.
Greek yogurt: Whole milk Greek yogurt makes the creamiest, tastiest dressing and still comes out to a very light salad. You can use reduced fat or fat-free if you prefer. Make sure to use plain unsweetened, unflavored yogurt. If you only have regular yogurt (not Greek), strain it in a colander lined with paper towels for an hour or so. You can also use sour cream instead of yogurt.
Adjust these ingredients to your taste: red onion, lemon juice, fresh herbs, salt, pepper.
Leftover tzatziki salad will get a little watery in the fridge, but it is still good to eat. You can strain off the liquid or use a slotted spoon to serve leftovers.
Don't want leftovers? Simply mix together as much as you plan on eating, and keep the sliced cucumber separate from the rest of the tzatziki dressing, mixing them together right before serving.
Time-saving tip: Just use ½ cup store-bought tzatziki dip and combine with sliced cucumber and red onion to make this salad!
The nutrition facts will vary depending on the actual ingredients used.

Nutrition

Calories: 27kcal (1%) | Carbohydrates: 3g (1%) | Protein: 1g (2%) | Fat: 1g (2%) | Saturated Fat: 0.3g (2%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.02g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 154mg (6%) | Potassium: 209mg (6%) | Fiber: 1g (4%) | Sugar: 2g (2%) | Vitamin A: 123IU (2%) | Vitamin C: 3mg (4%) | Calcium: 31mg (3%) | Iron: 0.2mg (1%)

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.

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