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.
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When thinly sliced, these green veggies deliver an unbelievably crunchy texture, and they hold their shape even after soaking in an acidic marinade. 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, 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 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.
I use English cucumbers for this recipe. The thin skin requires no peeling, and the tiny seeds don’t need to be removed. The firm and robust texture makes it the perfect candidate for quick 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 is 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.
How to make creamy cucumber salad
To elevate the flavors of this simple dish, I marinate the thinly sliced cucumbers and onions. I use a combination of apple cider vinegar, water to slightly dilute the intense 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 pieces get even exposure to the flavorful liquid. Afterward, drain and toss with the sour cream dressing.
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. You can pickle red onions on their own for a variety of uses. After a brief soak, the bright and tangy flavors shine. The cucumbers will soften slightly. However, leaving the skin on keeps the exterior crisp.
Also, exposure to salt and sugar forces some of the moisture out of the vegetables during the marinating process. This makes it so less available water will be drawn out when mixed with the sour cream. Therefore, the dressing stays creamy and flavorful.
Make the creamy dressing
What draws people to this salad is that irresistible creamy dressing. To enhance the taste of the tangy sour cream, I add a little more apple cider vinegar and honey for a hint of sweetness. I use garlic powder, salt, and pepper to add savory notes. Fresh dill adds a refreshing herbaceous taste to the dressing.
Wait to combine the cucumber and dressing until 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 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 on 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" thick slices
- 1 cup red onion, cut into ⅛" thick slices
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon honey, or pure maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Make the Pickling Liquid – In a medium bowl, whisk together ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, water, 1 tablespoon honey, and ½ teaspoon salt.
- Pickle the Cucumbers and Onions – Stir the bowl to combine and allow this mixture to sit for 30 minutes in the refrigerator, stirring halfway through. Thoroughly drain afterward.
- Make the Dressing – In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, chopped dill, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon honey, garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
- To Serve – Add the pickled cucumbers and onions to the sour cream dressing, and stir to combine. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as desired.
- Recipe Yield: 3 cups
- Serving Size: ½ cup
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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