Easy creamy cucumber salad recipe that’s perfect for barbecues or busy nights. Crisp vegetables soak in a sweet and tangy marinade then get tossed with sour cream and dill dressing. It’s a light summer salad to pair with your favorite protein.
Cucumbers are the unsung heroes of salads
When thinly sliced, these green veggies deliver unbelievably crunchy texture and they hold their shape even after soaking in an acidic marinade. Not to mention, the subtle melon-like flavor effortlessly infuses the taste of other ingredients to give a more complex flavor experience.
Instead of just mixing all of the components together, I give the sliced cucumbers and red onion a little time to marinate in a sweet and tangy liquid. In just 30 minutes the unsuspecting vegetables transform into quick pickles. It’s a really light and refreshing salad that doesn’t require much hands-on time. Just chop, soak, and stir! Pair it with grilled meat or seafood, for a refreshing side dish.
How to make creamy cucumber salad
To elevate the flavors of this simple dish, I marinate the thinly sliced cucumbers and onions first. I use a combination of apple cider vinegar, water to slightly dilute the strong acidity, honey, and salt to create a quick pickling brine.
I suggest at least 30 minutes for soaking, but you’ll notice a significant flavor change after just 15 minutes. Make sure to stir the vegetables halfway through so that all of the pieces get even exposure to the flavorful liquid. Afterward, simply drain and toss with the sour cream dressing.
I use English cucumbers for this recipe. The thin skin requires no peeling and the small seeds don’t need to be removed. The firm and robust texture make it the perfect candidate for brief pickling, as it doesn’t become too flimsy and wilted. I use them in my classic cucumber salad as well.
Thinly slice the vegetables
The ideal size to cut the cucumbers and onions are ⅛-inch thick. This ensures rapid soaking of flavor from the marinade. Any thicker and the red onions would have a very harsh taste. For the cucumbers, you can use a chef’s knife or a mandoline grater as a quick way to make even slices.
Quick pickling process
When the sliced vegetables sit in the apple cider vinegar brine, the acids quickly transform the taste and texture of the cucumbers. After a brief soak, the bright and tangy flavors shine. The cucumbers will slightly soften, however, leaving the skin on keeps the exterior crisp.
Also, exposure to the salt and sugar forces some of the moisture out of the vegetables during the marinating process. This makes it so there will be less available water to be drawn out when mixed with the sour cream. Therefore, the dressing stays creamy and flavorful.
Easy creamy dressing
What draws people to this salad is that irresistible creamy dressing. To enhance the taste of the tangy sour cream, I add in a little more apple cider vinegar and honey for a hint of sweetness. To add savory notes, I use garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Fresh dill adds a refreshing herbaceous taste to the dressing.
Wait to combine the cucumber and dressing together until right before you’re ready to serve. This will keep the richness of the cream and nicely coat all of the vegetables. You can also use plain Greek Yogurt instead of sour cream if you want to add extra protein and probiotics to the dish.
What to serve with this salad
Why does a cut cucumber get watery over time?
It’s best to enjoy the salad the same day otherwise the dressing becomes watery. Cucumbers are very high in moisture and when sliced, the cell walls of the plant are exposed. When it comes into contact with salt or sugar from the dressing, the moisture gets drawn out by osmosis. That liquid is gradually released into the sour cream dressing, diluting the creamy consistency.
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Creamy Cucumber Salad
- 1 pound english cucumber, cut into ⅛-inch thick slices
- 1 cup red onion, cut into ⅛-inch thick slices
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon honey, or pure maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- In a medium bowl whisk together ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, water, 1 tablespoon honey, and ½ teaspoon salt.
- Add the sliced cucumbers and red onion. Stir to combine. Allow to sit for 30 minutes in the refrigerator, stirring halfway through. Thoroughly drain the vegetables.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the sour cream, chopped dill, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon honey, garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
- Add the pickled cucumbers and onions to the sour cream dressing, stir to combine. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as desired.
- Recipe Yield: 3 cups
- Serving Size: ½ cup
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