Yogurt Garlic Sauce

Yogurt garlic sauce in a bowl alongside lemons, garlic cloves, and herbs

The Spruce Eats

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 5 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
37 Calories
1g Fat
4g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 37
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Cholesterol 3mg 1%
Sodium 80mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 1mg 6%
Calcium 106mg 8%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 140mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Our yogurt sauce is a versatile addition to your arsenal of recipes, as it can be added to a variety of foods and can also act as a replacement for heavy cream when you want a lighter version of certain recipes. Most people think of yogurt sauce as the Greek cucumber-dill tzatziki sauce, but yogurt sauce doesn't have cucumber or dill. It is, in fact, faster and easier to make and more adaptable to many courses because it doesn't have herby flavors and can tone down spicy foods without taking the focus from the main flavors.

Yogurt sauces can be found anywhere there's heavily seasoned or spicy food, so many cultures have a version of this sauce. In Indian cuisine, yogurt sauce is called raita and may contain cucumbers, red onion, cilantro, and spices like ground coriander and ground cumin. Turkish cuisine features a yogurt dip called haydari which is served thick and flavored with herbs, garlic, and olive oil. There's also a yogurt sauce called cacik, which differs from haydari in that it's thinner and does not contain cucumbers.

When dining at a Middle Eastern, Greek, Mediterranean, or continental cuisine restaurant, many types of meat and sandwiches come with a side of a tangy sauce. Think of our recipe as a base sauce that you can experiment with and combine with other spices to suit your preferences. However, this sauce, as is, is an incredible accompaniment to chicken cutlets, kebabs, or tabbouleh, and can be served with anything from veggies to pasta salads, and shouldn't just be limited to Middle Eastern dishes or snacks.


Click Play to See This Tangy Yogurt Garlic Sauce Come Together

"This yogurt sauce is a snap to whip up and is the perfect complement to nearly any dish. I think yogurt sauce is an incredibly underrated condiment, and it can really bring your dish together. I think once you make this it will become a household staple." —Tracy Wilk

Yogurt garlic sauce in a bowl with a spatula
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for yogurt garlic sauce gathered

    The Spruce Eats

  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, and salt. Mix well.

    Yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, and salt in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats

  3. Serve immediately or keep refrigerated for up to five days until use.

    Yogurt garlic sauce in a bowl with a spoon, ready to use

    The Spruce Eats

Recipe Variations

Yogurt sauce counteracts the heat and spices of dishes by balancing the flavors in the mouth and bringing a cooling down effect. Most sauces have in common the use of garlic, but from there the possibilities are endless. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Add chopped cilantro, parsley, dill, basil, or a combination of two or more for a flavorful yogurt sauce.
  • Add 1/4 of a cup of soaked sun-dried tomatoes. Once they're rehydrated, blend all of the ingredients instead of mixing them to obtain a smoother texture.
  • Add nuts or seeds for a chunky sauce. Sunflower seeds, chopped pecans, cashews, or pine nut swill give the sauce a crunch.
  • Add more garlic but grate it on a Microplane for a more delicate flavor. The tang of fresh garlic is a great pair to meat, chicken, or lamb. To this garlicky version, you can add a small chopped shallot and a splash of red wine vinegar.

For thicker or thinner sauces:

  • For an extra-thick yogurt sauce, one that will hold up well to being used as a dip, use plain Greek-style yogurt. You can even strain it a bit through a piece of cheesecloth to thicken it even more (sort of a variation on labneh).
  • For thinner sauces, use low-fat or fat-free yogurt. The flavor won't be as rich as full-fat yogurt, but with good seasoning and plenty of lemon juice, this thin sauce can be a great cold pasta or salad dressing. A tablespoon of olive oil can replace some of the fat that the yogurt is lacking.

How to Use Yogurt Sauce?

Yogurt sauce can be served on the side of multiple Middle Eastern or other dishes. Here are a few ideas:

  • Use it for shawarmas, sandwiches, crudités, or grape leaves.
  • Serve it with a platter of kibbeh, falafel, or alongside kebabs.
  • Use it as a dressing for pasta, potato, or vegetable salad.
  • Make a DIY sandwich bar, with choices of bread, cheese, and cold cuts. The yogurt sauce will beautifully accompany flavorful meats like corned beef or Italian charcuterie like mortadella.
  • Drizzle some yogurt sauce on spicy beef or chicken in your taco recipe.