Creamy, garlicky and tangy, this vegan tzatziki is the perfect dip for flatbread, fresh or roasted veggies and olives. Quick and easy to make, it’s great spread on wraps, burgers and sandwiches, and as a dollop in a free-style Buddha bowl! It’s amazing on baked potatoes (think: a dairy-free alternative to sour cream!)
What is Tzatziki?
Tzatziki is a classic Greek chilled appetizer (or “mezze”.) It’s a dip or sauce made from thick yogurt, grated cucumber, olive oil, garlic and fresh dill. Perfect on the classic Greek gyros sandwich – check out this Vegan Cauliflower Gyros recipe!
Traditional tzatziki is made with strained, or Greek, yogurt as the base which gives the tzatziki its creamy and tangy characteristics. When developing this dairy-free tzatziki recipe, I decided not to use vegan yogurt. Instead, I have used cashew sour cream: a combination of cashew cream, lemon juice and wine vinegar.
Store bought plant-based yogurts vary wildly in texture, thickness and flavor between brands. This means we’d get different tzatziki results depending on the dairy-free yogurt used. Some vegan yogurts are really runny, some have a somewhat floral flavor even when labeled unflavored and unsweetened, while others are thicker and are indistinguishable from dairy-based yogurt. Given this range in differences, I decided to go with a yogurt alternative so that this tzatziki recipe will always yield the same delicious results without the yogurt as a wild card.
I love the creaminess cashews create. They are fairly neutral tasting but have a mild butteriness to them which makes them to being perfect for replacing dairy products. With the creaminess and body from the cashew cream, and the tartness and acidity from lemon juice and wine vinegar, you would never know that there’s no yogurt in this tzatziki let alone that it’s vegan!
How to Make Vegan Tzatziki
- Make cashew sour cream: Blend the cashews with water, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and salt.
- Grate and drain the cucumber
- Stir the grated cucumber and dill in with the cashew cream. Enjoy!
Making Cashew Sour Cream for Vegan Tzatziki
Cashew sour cream takes only a couple of minutes to make if you have a high-speed blender. Blitz the raw cashews, water, vinegar and lemon juice together until smooth. If you don’t have a high speed blender, soak the cashews so they can soften to be smoothly blended in a regular blender or food processor. You can either soak your cashews overnight or do a quick soak:
- to soak cashews them overnight, place them in a bowl. Cover with cold water and place in the fridge, or,
- if short on time: quick soak by placing the raw cashews in a small pot. Cover with water and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes. Drain, rinse and continue with the recipe.
Once you’ve made the cashew sour cream, blend in the garlic and salt. Pour it into a bowl, and stir in the grated cucumber. We don’t want to blend up the cucumbers. Grated cucumber provides a really nice texture which tzatziki is known for.
Preparing the Cucumber for Tzatziki
Grate the cucumber on the large grates of a cheese grater or food processor. From here we need to get the excess water out of the cucumber. If we skip this step, the tzatziki will be really watery and have a much stronger cucumber flavor.
To drain the water out the cucumber, you can use a cheesecloth or sieve but I find the easiest and fastest way is to just use my hands. Take small handfuls of the grated cucumber and squeeze really hard over the sink. Some recipes call for salting the cucumber to draw out the water but I don’t like doing this for two reasons: 1) it takes too long, and 2) it adds extra salt to the vegan tzatziki recipe which can end up being too much.
Type of Cucumber to Use in Tzatziki
While field cucumbers and English cucumbers both work in this vegan tzatziki recipe, I prefer using the longer, thinner English cucumbers. They have a greater peel to white insides ratio. Less white insides result in less water content and more pretty green flecks in the tzatziki. I also cut the cucumbers in half and scrape out the watery center with the seeds are to further reduce the moisture.
More Delicious Vegan Dips and Spreads:
If you make this Vegan Tzatziki, please give it a rating in the recipe card and leave a comment below! Follow along on Instagram and can tag me in your creations using my recipes. I love seeing what you’re cooking! You can also follow me on Pinterest for vegan recipe inspiration and on Facebook. Thank you for joining me!
- 1 cup cashews, soaked*
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/2 large English cucumber
- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp fresh dill, minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- black pepper to taste
- Blend the cashews with the water until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add in the garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and salt just until blended. If blending has heated up the cashew cream, set aside in the fridge to chill – warm or hot cashew cream will “cook” your cucumbers and draw out more moisture. Pour the cashew cream into a medium sized bowl.
- Meanwhile, cut your cucumber in half. Scrape out the seeds and grate the cucumber with a standard cheese grater or grater blade in a food processor. Taking a handful at a time of the grated cucumber, squeeze it with both hands over the sink. If preferred, drain the grated cucumber in a cheesecloth. You should get about 1 packed cup of drained grated cucumber.
- Stir the grated cucumber and fresh dill into the cashew cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use – it will thicken as it chills. If any separation occurs, just give it a stir.
The Nutrition Information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the Nutrition Information for any recipe on this site cannot be guaranteed.
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