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Refreshing Cucumber Salad

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This refreshing cucumber salad is a versatile side dish perfect for all your summer dinners! It’s sweet, savory, and just a little bit spicy.

Overhead view of cucumber salad on plates

Sometimes your meal just needs a simple side dish to round things out. You don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking something else when you’ve just made a big dinner, but you also want to serve something a little bit more exciting than steamed vegetables. 

This easy cucumber salad is the perfect solution. It’s a cinch to make, but it’s also packed with flavor. The sweet vinegar dressing is balanced by savory thinly sliced onions, and it has just a touch of heat from red pepper flakes.

Because cucumber salad is best served cold, it’s perfect for hot summer evenings when you’re craving something cool and refreshing!

Cucumber salad in large glass bowl

What You’ll Need

Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

  • White vinegar – Rice vinegar can be used instead.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Red pepper flakes – Use more or less, according to your tastes and preferences.
  • Kosher salt
  • Persian cucumbers
  • Red onion

What Are Persian Cucumbers?

When it comes to cucumbers, there are three main types sold at American grocery stores and farmers markets: garden, Persian, and English.

Garden cucumbers are the most common; they’re the kind with thick skin and large seeds in the middle. 

Persian cucumbers are the small, thin cukes that you often see in plastic packs at the grocery store. They’re about the size of a carrot, and they have thinner skin and smaller seeds, which makes them a great choice for this cucumber salad. 

English cucumbers are the long cucumbers that are usually sold wrapped in plastic. They’re about twice the size of a Persian cucumber, and they have thicker skin, a ridged appearance, and fewer seeds than a garden cucumber. If you can’t find Persian cucumbers, English cucumbers are a good substitute in this recipe!

Overhead view of cucumber salad in large glass bowl with gold serving spoon

How to Make Cucumber Salad

This recipe really couldn’t be any easier! Here’s what you’ll need to do.

Make the dressing. Whisk together the vinegar, sugar, pepper flakes, and salt in a large bowl. 

Add the veggies. Place the cucumbers and onions in the dressing and toss to coat.

Chill. Refrigerate the cucumber salad for 2 hours, or up to overnight, and serve it chilled.

Cucumber salad in glass bowl, with cutting board in background with cucumbers and onions

Tips for Success

There’s not much involved in the process of making this recipe, which is why the ingredients you use (and how you prep them) matter so much. Here are some tips to help you make a perfect cucumber salad!

  • Use fresh cucumbers. Cucumbers are 95% water, so they can go bad quickly. Make sure you use fresh cucumbers that are firm and have bright green skin. Avoid cucumbers that are soft, mushy, or have brown spots.
  • Slice the cucumbers and onions as thinly as possible. I like to use a mandoline for this, but you can also use a sharp knife. 
  • Need to use garden cucumbers? You can do that, but I recommend scooping out the seeds first. Cut the cucumber lengthwise, then use a spoon to scoop out all the seeds before slicing. This will keep the salad from getting watery.

Cucumber Salad Variations

Want to switch things up and make this recipe your own? Here are some ideas:

  • Add some Asian-inspired flair. Use sesame seeds, a splash of toasted sesame oil, and rice vinegar instead of white vinegar.
  • Make it Middle Eastern. A pinch of sumac or baharat seasoning will add some Mediterranean flavor. 
  • Use more fresh summer veggies. Sliced summer tomatoes from the garden are an excellent addition to this salad.
Overhead view of cucumber salad in glass bowl

How to Store

Cucumber salad is best served cold, so store it in the fridge in an airtight container. It will keep for up to four days. This salad isn’t suitable for freezing.

Serving Suggestions

I like pairing this cucumber salad with:

Overhead view of cucumber salad on plates

Refreshing Cucumber Salad

This simple cucumber salad is cool, refreshing, and just a little bit spicy!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Julie Chiou
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Ingredients 

  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced (I used a mandolin and sliced them 4mm thick)
  • ¼ of a red onion, thinly sliced (I put it on a mandolin too and sliced them 4mm thick)

The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.

Instructions

  • Whisk together vinegar, sugar, pepper flakes, and kosher salt in a large bowl. Toss cucumbers and red onions in mixture and make sure everything is coated well.
  • Place in fridge for 2 hours to overnight and serve chilled.

Recipe Notes

Cucumber salad is best served cold, so store it in the fridge in an airtight container. It will keep for up to four days. This salad isn’t suitable for freezing.

NUTRITION FACTS

Serving: 1 serving | Calories: 23 kcal | Carbohydrates: 5 g | Protein: 1 g | Fat: 1 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1 g | Sodium: 100 mg | Potassium: 120 mg | Fiber: 1 g | Sugar: 3 g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cucumber onion salad, easy cucumber salad, spicy cucumber salad
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