Tzatziki Recipe & Effects on Lactose Intolerance

Tzatziki Sauce
Tzatziki Sauce is a nutritious yogurt based dip.

People have been asking me to post this for so long and I am finally sharing how to make tzatziki! Tzatziki sauce is easy-peasy to whip up and serves as a great dressing for salads, falafel, salmon, and more.

What is tzatziki?

Tzatziki is more than a difficult word to spell. It's a nutritious dressing, sauce, or dip from the Mediterranean region. It is also popular in the Middle East.

What does tzatziki sauce taste like?

With yogurt as its base, tzatziki tastes like a creamy lemon and garlic dip. It sometimes has herbs such as dill or mint added to it.

People who don't eat yogurt actually tend to enjoy tzatziki if they like other sour cream or mayo-based dips. It adds a fresh flavor to otherwise dry foods like falafel or pita.

If I'm lactose intolerant, can I eat tzatziki?

Tzatziki is made from yogurt. Although people with lactose intolerance often avoid yogurt, many can digest it better than milk because most yogurts contain live cultures that help break down the lactose. (1) Full fat and Greek yogurts also have less whey (milk product) than other yogurts.

According to, "Both yogurt and cheese are produced by the fermentation of milk by lactic acid bacteria. During this process, a certain quantity of lactose is converted to lactic acid. Therefore, yogurt is generally well tolerated, particularly those with active bacterial cultures, which help digest lactose. In addition, the semisolid state of yogurt slows gastric emptying and gastrointestinal transit, providing more time for lactose digestion."

Lactose loads of 15g or greater produce symptoms in the majority of lactose-intolerant people. (Some can tolerate up to 20g of lactose.) However, when lactose loads of up to 12g are eaten, symptoms can be minimal or absent. (1)

Product Lactose Quantity

Milk 12g per cup

No Fat Yogurt 14g per 6 oz.

Full Fat Yogurt 8g per 6 oz

Greek Yogurt 4-6g per 6 oz.

One study found that when people with lactose intolerance ate yogurt with probiotics, they were able to digest 66% more lactose than when they drank milk. The yogurt also caused fewer symptoms, with only 20% of people reporting digestive distress after eating the yogurt, compared to 80% after drinking the milk (2). If you have lactose intolerance and you want to try yogurt, start with a small amount of a yogurt labeled "probiotic," so you know it has the live cultures of bacteria to break down the lactose. You can also start with a small amount of probiotic Greek or full-fat yogurt to reduce the whey.

Yogurts that have been pasteurized, which kills the bacteria, may not be as well tolerated.

Here's a homemade tzatziki recipe:

Homemade Tzatziki

Prep Time: 5 mins.

Yield: 1 serving

Tzatziki Sauce
Tzatziki Sauce


  • 2 small scoops of plain, full fat Greek yogurt (about 1/2 cup)

  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (if making thicker dip; use whole lemon if making thinner dressing)

  • 1 garlic clove

  • 1 Tbsp dried dill

  • Optional: shavings of cucumber flesh

  • Optional: 3 muddled mint leaves


  1. Add 2 scoops of yogurt to a small bowl. (No need to measure)

  2. Squeeze lemon juice into yogurt.

  3. Mince garlic and add to yogurt. Add dill.

  4. Optionally, you can use a grater to add cucumber shavings and a pestle & mortar to muddle the mint before you add it.


(1) Savaiano, D.A. & Levitt, M.D. (1987). Milk intolerance and microbe-containing dairy foods. Journal of Dairy Science, 70(2):397-406.

(2) Savaiano, D.A. (2014). Lactose digestion from yogurt: mechanism and relevance. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 99(5 Suppl):1251S-5S. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.073023.

(3) Lactose intolerance: Health authorities' recommendations.

For nutrition appointments with a registered dietitian, book online at: ZEST Nutrition

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