5 Tips for Cooking with Greek Yogurt

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Anastasios71)

I believe one of the most valuable tools you can have in the refrigerator is a tub of Greek yogurt. It’s what I lean on most mornings for a quick and satisfying breakfast, but I know that it can also do so much more. I find myself reaching for it when I whip up lunch, dinner, and those in-between snacks, since it can be a swap-in for a number of ingredients. I never tire of the creamy, tangy flavor it brings to recipes. Here’s what you need to know to welcome Greek yogurt into your cooking routine.

1. Cook with plain full-fat or 2% Greek yogurt.

Unless you’re making a sweet dessert where vanilla yogurt adds a little something extra (like in this cake) generally the only kind of Greek yogurt you should go for when cooking is plain.

It’s also best to go with whole milk, full-fat Greek yogurt for the best flavor and texture, but 2% can be used if you prefer. Avoid nonfat yogurt, as it can not only contain fillers and stabilizers that can alter the taste and texture of what you’re cooking, but it also just doesn’t have the same rich flavor and mouthfeel as varieties with fat in them.

2. Swap yogurt for mayo in salads and dressings.

The easiest way to start using yogurt in your cooking is to swap it for other types of dairy or mayo. Lighten up chicken, tuna, egg, or potato salad by swapping some or all of the mayonnaise called for in a recipe with Greek yogurt. It will make for a finished product with a pleasant tang. Or, use it place of mayo in a creamy dressing recipe, like Green Goddess. You can actually even swipe some Greek yogurt on the bread of your turkey sandwich, instead of mayo, and I guarantee it will be just as tasty.

3. Try it as a marinade for meat or fish.

Greek yogurt makes for a great marinade base, as it clings to the meat while tenderizing it and ensures it cooks up to be moist and flavorful. It can be as simple as a mix of Greek yogurt, a drizzle of olive oil, and some salt and pepper, or you can jazz the marinade up with things like lemon juice, Dijon mustard, chopped garlic, fresh herbs, or spices. Let your chicken, steak, or fish hang out in the marinade for a couple of hours in the fridge, and then either grill or roast it.

4. Use it in place of sour cream in dips and for dollops.

I rarely have sour cream in my fridge, but I always have Greek yogurt, so I swap it in (one to one) in dip recipes and also use it to dollop my quesadillas, tacos, and baked potatoes. It’s just as tangy and creamy as sour cream, and you and your fellow diners will hardly know the difference.

5. Stir it into soups or toss it with pasta, instead of heavy cream.

Soups and pastas that are enriched with heavy cream are indeed decadent, but they can be a little too rich for my taste sometimes. I love stirring a little Greek yogurt into a simmering pot of puréed soup, like potato and leek or tomato, just before serving. It not only makes it creamy, but it also thickens it a little and gives it a touch of tang that really balances the flavors. Or go ahead and use it in place of some or all of the heavy cream in pastas and pasta bakes — it provides that creamy mouthfeel, but won’t weigh the dish down.

What are your favorite ways to cook with Greek yogurt? I’d love to hear about them!