Tzatziki sauce: the ultimate, creamy symbol of Greek cuisine that supersedes even gyros and spanakopita. While it's a yogurt-based reminder of why I LOVE Greek food, how to pronounce tzatziki is difficult for a distinctly non-Greek girl like myself. Tsah-chiki? Ta-zeek-y? My tongue didn't know what to do.

I enlisted the help of my sorority Little, Sofia, to help decode this Mediterranean staple mystery. As she is half-Greek, president of the Greek American Student Association, and is a seasoned traveler of Greece, her pronunciation was *sublime* and made my efforts seem like a warbled mess. Here's how to pronounce tzatziki in a Greek fashion that would make Gus from My Big Fat Greek Wedding proud. 

A Brief Etymology of the Sauce

Mackenzie Patel

Tzatziki is a Greek dip consisting of yogurt, garlic, cucumbers, olive oil, and other mix-ins depending on the cook and level of “Greekness.” Although the word hails from the Greek language, its origins lie in the Turkish word “cacik,” the Ottoman version of tzatziki sauce. The key difference between the two is the type of milk used to produce the yogurt: cow’s milk for cacik and sheep’s for tzatziki.

The Different Ways to Say "Tzatziki" 

When I googled “How to Pronounce Tzatziki,” at least three articles popped up with titles like “Here Are Foods You’re DEFINITELY Pronouncing Wrong.” This innocent, succulent sauce is a mystery to English speakers around the globe – it’s not like caramel, which has different articulations based on location and Latin history.

Most people create their own variations, saying whatever feels right between bites of lamb gyro and dolmades. According to my Little, the correct way for an English speaker to pronounce tzatziki is "tsah-see-key." She emphasized the "tsah" part, likening it to saying “pizza” without the first two letters (I practiced by saying “piz-za-ziki” first—it really helped).

Tzatziki doesn’t lead with a simple “z” or “t” sound; it’s the combination of the whistle-like “tsah” that produces the correct noise. However, according to Pronunciation Trainer on Youtube, the Greek-language version sounds more like “cha-chiki" {insert shrugging girl emoji here}. It’s all Greek to me!

When To Whip Out The Tzatziki Knowledge

Mackenzie Patel

Although learning how to pronounce tzatziki sauce seems trivial, your local Greek restaurants will appreciate the nod to their rich culture. The Greek eatery by my University, Gyro Plus, is run by two Lebanese brothers who cook mouthwatering halal gyros and baklava dripping with honey. And believe me, they’re surprised when I don’t fumble over “tzatziki” and even give me an extra cup for free. 

The Consensus 

Mackenzie Patel

And “tsah-see-key” reigns supreme! Next time you’re slathering this sheep’s yogurt over your red onions, lamb, and black olives, remember the “tsah” and devour that pita. It took me a straight hour of coaching from my Little (thanks, Sof) and endless repetitions to finally nail down the pronunciation.