Cucumber Salad

4.80 from 25 votes
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This quick and easy cucumber salad recipe makes for a delicious side dish, but it’s also great for topping on sandwiches. Crunchy vegetables are thinly sliced and marinated in a flavorful sweet and tangy dressing.

Cucumber Salad in a white bowl with sliced red onions and dill.

Cucumbers make the perfect vegetable side dish as they go well with just about any meal. This long-shaped ingredient is high in fiber and moisture, which makes it neutral-tasting, but easy to infuse with new flavors. This recipe includes a simple brine that adds tangy pickling in just one hour!

Marinating the thin-cut pieces of cucumber with pungent red onions, vinegar, honey, and salt adds a sweet and tangy pickled taste. The longer the vegetables sit, the tangier they become, making it a great make-ahead dish. Just slice, stir, and soak! It’s a great refreshing summer salad to serve with barbecued meats, or layer a few on top of burgers and pulled pork sandwiches.

Recipe Resources

Slicing thin slices of an English cucumber with a handheld mandolin for cucumber salad.

How to Make Cucumber Salad

Cucumbers and onions are marinated in an acidic vinegar and salt solution. Honey adds a balance to the pungent taste of the brine. Typically, the vinegar mixture is boiled first, which helps mellow out the vinegar and kills any bacteria for long-term preservation and storage of the vegetables.

However, since this dish was developed to be served the same day and kept no longer than a week, spoilage isn’t as much of a concern. Plus, I wanted the vinegar to be as potent as possible to flavor the vegetables. Allow the ingredients to soak for an hour, drain, and then toss with fresh dill right before serving.

1. Pick the Right Cucumber

Use English cucumbers for this salad recipe. These long and slender gourds can grow to a foot long, perfect for making a big batch. I like to use them because their skins are tender, and no peeling is required. Keeping the skin on helps retain the crisp texture better during the marination process. Also, the seeds are very small and not pulpy, so you don’t have to remove them.

Large bowl of sliced cucumbers surrounded by smaller bowls of ingredients for a delicious cucumber salad, including salt, pepper, sliced onions, honey, dill, and vinegar.

2. Properly Slicing the Vegetables

The perfect width to cut the cucumbers is about 1/8-inch thick. Wafer-thin slices will become too watery and not stay as crunchy. Too thick, and the dressing won’t infuse fast enough if enjoyed within an hour of preparation. Use a chef’s knife or a mandoline grater for a fast method to make even slices.

3. Pickling Vegetables Made Easy

This recipe requires a little patience to marinate the vegetables in a vinegar mixture for maximum flavor. Don’t worry – in just an hour, the taste change is noticeable. I use a combination of white vinegar, water, honey, salt, and pepper to soak the cucumbers and onion. It takes about an hour for a quick pickle flavor.

Make sure to stir the vegetables after 30 minutes to ensure even contact with the tangy brine. I keep the salad in the refrigerator during pickling so that the vegetables stay cold and snappy when ready to eat.

A bowl of potent pickling marinate, made with vinegar, water, honey, and spices.

FAQ

Can you make cucumber salad ahead of time?

Yes! This cucumber salad can be made up to 5 days in advance. I recommend transferring it to an airtight container with the dressing. The pickled flavors get stronger each day. However, the cell walls will begin to soften and become more flexible. I find that you still get a little crunch, though.

What’s the best vinegar to use for salads?

There are many different types of vinegar, and each pair best with different types of salad – it all depends on the flavor you’re going for. For this cucumber salad, I use white vinegar, which is tangy and pungent. A white wine vinegar would be more mellow and would not pickle the vegetables as much. Apple cider vinegar and champagne vinegar would work in a cucumber salad; both kinds of vinegar are more mellow with fruity, mild undertones.

Can you eat cucumber skin?

Yes, you absolutely can eat cucumber skin! I find leaving the skin on the sliced cucumbers in this salad gives them more of a crunch plus adds a pop of vibrant green color. Cucumber skin also contains fiber and Vitamin A. Just make sure to thoroughly wash the cucumbers before slicing.

What to Serve with Cucumber Salad

A close up shot of thin slices of pickled cucumber, sliced onions, and dill - a delicious spoonful of homemade cucumber salad.

Recipe Science

How Vinegar Affects Taste and Appearance

The acetic acid in vinegar flavors the vegetables while preventing spoilage for a short period. You can use any type of vinegar to make a cucumber salad. Distilled white vinegar was selected for the cleanest and most neutral taste. White wine or unsweetened rice wine vinegar has a similar profile. If using apple cider or red wine vinegar, the taste will be more complex, but change the color of the salad to a darker shade.

Cucumber Salad

An easy homemade cucumber salad with a tangy vinegar dressing. Thinly sliced pickled cucumbers and onions mix with zesty dill for a healthy and refreshing summer salad.
4.80 from 25 votes
Prep Time1 hour 5 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Total Time1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Course Side
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill
  • 1 pound English cucumber, cut into ⅛-inch thick slices
  • 1 cup red onion, cut into ⅛-inch thick slices

Instructions 

  • Make Vinegar Dressing – In a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, water, honey, salt, and black pepper until salt is dissolved, some larger grains may remain.
  • Slice Vegetables – Cut the cucumbers and red onion into ⅛-inch thick slices.
  • Mix Vegetables & Dressing – Add the sliced onions and cucumbers to the vinegar mixture, stir to combine.
  • Chill Salad – Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 60 minutes, stirring halfway through. The salad can be refrigerated and stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
  • Drain & Season – Right before serving, drain the vegetables. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as desired.
  • Garnish with Dill & Serve – Stir in the fresh dill, then transfer to a serving bowl.

Notes

  • Recipe Yield: 3 cups
  • Serving Size: ½ cup
  • Sweetener substitution: Granulated sugar or pure maple syrup can be used instead of honey.
  • Vinegar substitution: White wine, rice wine, or champagne vinegar can be used instead of white vinegar. Apple cider or red wine vinegar can be used but will yield some color change of the vegetable.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 6 servings
Calories 43kcal (2%)Carbohydrates 10g (3%)Protein 1g (2%)Fat 1g (2%)Saturated Fat 1g (5%)Sodium 198mg (8%)Potassium 150mg (4%)Fiber 1g (4%)Sugar 7g (8%)Vitamin A 79IU (2%)Vitamin C 4mg (5%)Calcium 18mg (2%)Iron 1mg (6%)

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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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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Recipe Rating




9 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Al Smith says

    Your tag line “food scientist” was my initial attraction. I’ve continued to follow your recipies via emails I receive without disappointment. I will make this wonderful salad all summer long. Thanks Jessica!

  2. Dotster says

    Love this recipe, Jessica! Making it Keto by simply omitting a sweetener. Gotta love that tang! 🙂 You’re the best on the ‘net!

  3. Larry Vaught says

    I’ve made this salad several times now and it’s absolutely delicious. Very easy to make in no time. I’ve used Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar and white vinegar. Both do a good job. Bragg’s has a little more kick to it. Thanks for the great recipe Jessica!

  4. Michael Eugene Shaner says

    Thank you, Jessica!

    I tried & enjoyed your recipe yesterday, and I’m so glad I have some left to enjoy today, too!

    The tasty brine marinade really transforms this into a flavorful, healthy, and refreshing salad!

    Kudos & thanks again for sharing this incredibly tasty recipe!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      The cucumbers get even tastier the next day! Thanks for your feedback Michael, happy cooking!

  5. Wesley Low says

    Jessie, I use Persian cucumbers. My brine is white vinegar, wee bit of water, and equal parts salt, sugar, and sambal oelek.