The famous tzatziki sauce we all know and love wouldn’t be the same without the refreshing and watery element only cucumber can provide. Still, the good news is that there are substitutes that deliver the same quality for those days when you don’t have cucumbers at home.
In my free time, I like to experiment with alternatives, so if you want to explore new flavors, there’s something here for you, too.
List of Cucumber Substitutes
When substituting the cucumber, it is essential to know what feature is most important for you to retain. There is no full substitute, but the ones I give you below come quite close to the real deal. Those are zucchini, green bell pepper, radish, celery, mint, and jicama. But let’s see how to use them.
Green Bell Pepper
If you have a tzatziki sauce with green bell peppers instead of cucumbers, you’ll definitely notice the difference, as they don’t mimic the flavor of cucumbers at all. Still, you will be getting a delicious sauce. It may even taste more original, so it is definitely worth a try.
Grate the bell pepper the same way as you would grate a cucumber. Although no adjustments are needed in terms of the amount, you will still need to adjust the spices. They will envelop your sauce with their signature pepperiness making it stronger-flavored than a cucumber would.
Since green bell peppers are more flavorful than cucumbers, they don’t need much flavoring, so reduce the amounts of salt, pepper, and especially herbs and garlic.
Zucchini is the best cucumber substitute for tzatziki as it delivers an almost identical flavor and texture. It offers the soft yet slightly crunchy texture of the cucumber; it is watery, making the sauce thinner and lighter, and it interacts with the tzatziki spices very similar to a cucumber would.
I often use zucchini instead of cucumber because it has a slightly crunchier texture, which I like very much. You can make zucchini tzatziki the same way as you would with cucumbers, so no adjustments are needed. The zucchini may need more straining to drain the extra liquid, but that’s more of a mechanical adjustment, not a flavor-related one.
Radish is another excellent replacement for cucumber in this sauce. It has a rather peculiar taste but is very absorbent of the surrounding flavors, so it won’t overwhelm or dominate the sauce.
Radishes provide the same refreshing crunch of the cucumbers with a bit of magic of their own. Start by peeling and grating three radishes and mix them in the sauce. See if it tastes good, and add more radishes if you like.
I like them because of their subtle sharpness, which pairs excellently with the rest of the sauce ingredients. Don’t add too much salt and pepper, though; it may get a little too much for your taste buds.
Celery is significantly drier than cucumber, so you shouldn’t expect the same moisture. Still, it’s a flavorful cucumber alternative. The gentle yet expressive celery flavor will give your sauce a whole new dimension, and you will either like it a lot or not at all, so the middle ground is not an option here.
Choose herbal spices, such as dried or fresh herbs. I like to season my celery tzatziki with coriander and basil. Add just a pinch of salt and powdered garlic.
Although mint is a herb and not a vegetable, it does a great job substituting for cucumbers in tzatziki. It will taste very natural, herbal, and fresh. Its signature mintiness will give your tzatziki a whole new definition.
Mint won’t do much texture-wise, and it definitely won’t deliver the cucumber effect. Still, it offers a slight crunch and a whole lot of color. Don’t go too far with the garlic with this substitute, but you can be very generous with the lemon juice.
There are also many benefits of mint, and you can learn more about them in the video.
Jicama is a root vegetable that looks a lot like a turnip. It tastes just like an apple, but it isn’t as sweet. Jicama can convincingly deliver the cucumber crunch and the fresh note it offers in the Tzatziki sauce.
Grate it and mix it into the sauce. I don’t adjust the recipe, but I always reduce the amount of lemon juice when substituting cucumber for jicama.
Have you ever used any of these in your tzatziki sauce? Can’t wait to read about it in the comments below!
Green Bell Pepper Hazelnut Tzatziki
- 1 cup Greek Yogurt
- 1 ¼ cup Green Bell Pepper (Finely diced.)
- 2 Garlic Cloves (Finely minced.)
- ¼ cup Hazelnuts
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
- 2 tbsp Chopped Fresh Dill
- Combine all the ingredients together in a bowl.
- Let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes for the flavors to set.
- Serve and enjoy!
Before diving into the nutritional details, please review our Nutritional Disclaimer page for important context and clarifications.