Although both of these delicious sauces start with a T, tzatziki is a refreshing cucumber and yogurt-based Greek dip while tahini is the Middle Eastern condiment that’s a paste (similar to peanut butter) made from toasted and ground sesame seeds.
Tzatziki sauce is often served as an accompaniment to grilled meats—like gyros, lamb, chicken souvlaki, etc.—and is made from some combination of yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, salt, lemon juice, fresh herbs, and sometimes olive oil. A great tzatziki recipe is a true gift—you can adapt it to whatever fresh herbs you have on hand and whip some up in only a few minutes. The key to great tzatziki is making sure that you drain the moisture from the cucumbers, as well as the yogurt that you’re using, if you want a thicker sauce.
Tahini is a delicious dip on its own, but it’s more popularly known as the basis for many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes like hummus, baba ghanoush, and sweet desserts made with halvah. Tahini is easy to make at home with sesame seeds, but it’s also easy to pick up a jar or can from your local grocery store—make sure to stir it up thoroughly though as it tends to separate quickly. You can choose tahini made from unhulled or hulled sesame seeds. The tahini made from unhulled sesame seeds tends to be a bit more bitter but contains more nutrients. You can also choose between raw tahini, made from untoasted sesame seeds, or tahini made from toasted sesame seeds. No matter which type you buy, be sure to pick out a tahini that doesn’t have any additional oils or added ingredients.
Try our seven recipes for tzatziki and tahini that will help you get a fantastic and delicious meal or mezze platter on the table in no time.
1. Tzatziki Sauce
This is the classic recipe that you can adapt endlessly. Cucumber, whole-milk yogurt, finely chopped herbs (cilantro, mint) and freshly squeezed lemon juice with some chopped garlic. Cumin, salt, and ground pepper finish it off perfectly. Get our Tzatziki recipe.
This is a great step-by-step guide to making your own tahini at home. Try experimenting with unhulled and hulled sesame seeds to taste the differences between the two and pick out your favorite rendition. Get the recipe.
3. Homemade Tzatziki
This tzatziki recipe features Greek yogurt and contains two tablespoons of white wine vinegar, which contributes some additional acidity to the freshly squeezed lemon juice. Garnish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Get the recipe.
4. Easy Hummus
It doesn’t get much easier than some basic hummus. You can use canned chickpeas if you’re in a rush or soak the dried chickpeas overnight if you have time to plan ahead. This recipe calls for one clove of garlic, but add to taste. Get our Easy Hummus recipe.
5. Feta-Stuffed Falafel
These falafel balls—made with mint, cumin, parsley, feta, lemon, garlic, and dried chickpeas—are fantastic when topped with some homemade tzatziki sauce. Make a double batch and serve these the next day for lunch. Get our Feta-Stuffed Falafel recipe.
Halvah is like the Middle Eastern take on fudge—it’s easy to make at home and you can serve it on its own or cut into small pieces dipped in chocolate. It’s extremely simple with only a few ingredients: sugar, vanilla, lemon, tahini, and salt. Get the recipe.
7. White Bean Kale Salad with Tahini Dressing
Tahini is a great base for any salad dressing and can be endlessly adapted. Garlic, maple syrup, lemon juice, tahini, salt, and pepper are mixed together with the addition of hot water to thin the dressing’s consistency to your liking. Whisk it together rapidly to keep from separating. Get the recipe.