Cucumber Salad

About this time of year we start having cucumber salads almost every night with dinner. The cucumbers are growing a bit out of control in the garden, climbing up the tomato cages and all over the zinnias that line the raised beds. Every other day I bring in a handful, peel them and chop them up for a simple salad consisting of nothing more than the cucumbers, some rice vinegar, either dill or basil, and salt and pepper. You don’t even really need the herbs; cucumbers are crunchy and cool with just some vinegar, salt and pepper. But added dill or chopped fresh basil will elevate this simple cucumber salad to something just a bit more interesting. I like adding a mix of regular basil and Thai basil (the one that tastes somewhat licorice-y).

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Cucumber Salad Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 2-4.

Cucumbers can vary in their level of bitterness. Usually the older the more bitter, and the seeds are often more bitter than the flesh. Once you cut into a cucumber, taste it. If bitter, scrape or cut away the seeds. You might also want to soak the chopped cucumber in salt water to help offset the bitterness. The cucumbers we get are usually fine as is, but I have had some bitter ones. With regards to peeling, we almost always peel our cucumbers, but there are some varieties with thin, mild peels that you don't need to peel. Taste first if there is a question.

Ingredients

  • 1-2 large cucumbers (or 4-5 lemon cucumbers), peeled, quartered lengthwise, then sliced crosswise
  • 1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill, basil, or Thai basil*
  • 2-3 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

*To chop the basil, chiffonade it by stacking the leaves on top of each other, rolling them up like a cigar, and taking thin slices from one end to the other.

Method

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, toss to coat. Serve immediately, or make ahead (up to a couple of hours) and chill.

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41 Comments

  1. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    Cucumbers love rice vinegar. I like to slice my cukes very thin, on a mandoline, and toss them with a bit of red pepper flakes, salt and sugar, and the vinegar. I always need to make more than I’m planning to serve, because I can’t help but nibble on the cucumbers as soon as the vinegar hits them.

  2. Linda M.

    First I have to say that being such a late bloomer in the world of the internet & then blogs, I’ve been enjoying you on my yahoo homepage for a long time & only recently realized that you are indeed a blog………LOL…oh boy, anyway, I have you & PW on my homepage & that should tell you how much I love,love your blog! You do such a great job of giving us everyday things to make & you make it so “simple” Thanks for that!
    I also love to have cucumber salad around as much as I can. I too make it with the sugar in it & my sons & now my grandchildren enjoy it every time. Whether you slice them thin or in chunks I think they’re the best in the summer salad recipes!

    Thanks for saying hello! ~Elise

  3. Mitchell

    We add a touch of sour cream and a bit of sugar to these ingredients for a little more oomph–and chopped parsley (curly) is nice too!

  4. Amanda

    This method is equally delicious with tomatoes! When I lived at home we had tomato salad with rice wine vinegar, salt, and pepper almost every night in the summer. Sometimes a splash of Italian dressing or a cucumber would find its way in there too. Now that I live in an apartment in a city and can’t grow my own tomatoes, I only have it about twice a week and it makes me sad. This salad is also the only way I will eat canned tuna fish. It is delicious mixed in with the tomatoes! Try it sometime for a quick lunch!

  5. Natasa

    It helps to cut near the stem and then simply rub the cut off piece over the cut surface (sorry for the clumsy explanation :D). Some white bubbles appear during process, so I cut the nest piece like 3mm away from it and use the rest of the cucumber. I don’t exactly understand the chemistry of it, but it does extract the bitterness.
    Enjoy the summer :)

  6. Soma

    Love the Asian kinda dressing here.Back in India, I remember having cucumber every single day with our meals during summer… kinda picco de gallo.

    To get rid of the bitterness what I remember doing to the cucumbers was to cut the 2 ends, & rub the each end with the smaller cut pieces; some milky whites will come out. it is told that this makes the bitter juices come out;-) might work!

  7. Sally

    This (or some variation thereof) is one of my family’s favorite salads. I think I could make it daily and it would be a long time before anyone complained!

    I’ve got to look for lemon cucumbers at the farmer’s market. I grew them years ago and they were great, but now I have no garden.

  8. Gloria

    Oh, let me tell you about a terrific salad I just discovered this season. My cucumbers (regular, non-lemon cucumbers, since the one time I tried to grow them, they came out misshapen and frankly a bit scary…but I digress). Cucumber and Honeydew melon. I know it sounds odd, but chop up equal amounts of cukes and honeydew. You can add some finely chopped red onion if you want. Dress it with a combo of mint, plain greek yogurt, salt (more than you think) and basil. Chill. Yum! You can also whiz it up in a blender, minus the salt and basil and plus grated ginger.

    Oh, that sounds interesting! Thanks for the suggestion. ~Elise

  9. Debbie Chapman

    I make a similar cucumber salad, but now will try with dill or basil!

    Tech question: Is there a trick to printing your recipes with the comments included? I love your recipes, but also enjoy the comments and your replies. My printer always just gives me the recipe only. Would love to know how to get both!

    Debbie

    Hi Debbie, many recipes have dozens of comments that if you printed them would go on for several pages. So we don’t print the comments. If you really want to print a comment you can copy and paste them into a word processing or email program and print them from there, that’s what I do. ~Elise

  10. Bob C

    This one is a little more work, but not much. It is delicious.

    Minty Cucumber Salad

    This is out of ‘The Silver Palate Cookbook’. I use about 1/2 (1/4 cup) of the oil that the recipe calls for, but the rest remains the same. It’s a delicious, refreshing, cold salad, that is a great summertime dish. It’s also nice to take to potlucks or on picnics. They suggest serving it with lamb but it goes well with just about anything.

    3 large cucumbers, peeled, halved and seeded
    1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
    1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
    Grated rind of one orange
    1/2 cup olive oil
    1 cup red wine vinegar
    1/4 cup granulated sugar

    Mix the oil, vinegar, sugar, and orange rind in the bottom of a large bowl. Cut cucumber halves crosswise into crescents. Mix well the cucumbers, dressing, parsley and mint in the bowl. Let salad refrigerate for at least 4 hours and toss again before serving very cold. 6 to 8 portions.

    p.s.- a Cuisinart works very well for this salad. The slicing blade for the cukes, and the chopping blade for the parsley and mint.

  11. Rachel

    Thank you for showing off the lovely cucumber, especially this time of year. My grandmother every summer would make a German cucumber salad with a little red onion, sour cream, mayonnaise and salt and pepper. That salad filled my summers every week with all vegetables from her garden. Thanks again, I love your blog!

  12. Chuck Dunn

    I think chilled cucumbers are the best tasting and crunchiest. To quick chill this dish, simply add some ice cubes to the bowl, stir, and let sit for a few minutes.

  13. Sue Landay

    For the past couple of years, I’ve been making a recipe similar to this, where I add in any (or all) of the following:

    tomatoes
    feta cheese
    corn (cut off the husk)
    dash of olive oil

    It’s so forgiving, I don’t even measure anything.

    So simple, yet everybody seems to love it.

  14. MrsTooth

    Simple cucumber salads really are the best! Our family version also uses sour cream, but adds in red onions. Not sure if it really is Polish, but it comes from that side of the family:

    1 cucumber sliced thin
    1/2 red onion sliced thin
    Mix sour cream, vinegar (either cider or white wine is best), salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dill to taste. Combine with the vegetables , adjust the balance if necessary, and put in the fridge for a while to let the flavors meld. Yum!

  15. Michele

    I make something like this but I add chopped scallions and a little heavy cream… wow is it ever good! Love those fresh cucumber salads!

  16. Mary T

    What a fantastic idea! I’m having this for lunch right now. Only, I don’t have any rice vinegar (sigh, I just got back from the store, too. Ah well, next trip) so I made it with apple cider vinegar. I imagine it’s a very different taste from what you were going for, but pretty yummy non the less. Thanks again.

    Seasoned rice vinegar has a little sugar in it, so if you only have regular vinegar, you could add a little sugar to taste. ~Elise

  17. beda

    Try seasoned rice vinegar and a dash of garlic chili sauce, the one with the rooster on the bottle. We add chopped Walla Walla sweet onions.

  18. Pat

    We love cucumber salad! I usually add tomatoes, onions and italian dressing to my cucumbers, and it gets so sweet tasting. A friend of mine, lives in Mexico, gave me a recipe that the street vendors sell. It has cucumbers, mango, lime juice and black pepper. It is outstanding too! Thanks for sharing.

  19. Dale

    I like to place my sliced cucumbers in a colander, lightly salt them and let set for about 30 minutes. That draws a lot of the excess moisture out and helps prevent the cucumber salad from becoming watery, especially if making a creamy salad.

  20. Haley J.

    Cucumber salads, though plain fare, are really one of my favorite foods. I spent last summer devising how many different ways I could prepare them. In the end, slicing them plain or eating them in the manner you described above remained my favorite in the heat of summer. Glad you shared this and glorified the simple cucumber.

  21. maris

    Hi Elise! It was so nice meeting you this weekend at BlogHer. I’ve heard such nice things about you from Kalyn and Lydia, and yours was one of the first food blogs I read so it was great to finally put a face to your name.

    Cucumber salad is a big family favorite of mine – oddly, my cousin makes it every Thanksgiving. She uses mayo in the dressing but I like it a little lighter – never thought about adding dill!

    Great to meet you too! ~Elise

  22. gretchen

    I lived in Walla Walla for 30 years and when most of us make this, we add in sliced Walla Walla sweet onions to the equally thin sliced cukes, drown them in vinegar, add salt and pepper and a little sugar to taste- you can keep adding to mix, both the veggies and dressing as it seems to get better after a day or so. On occassion, my son-in-law would wait til everyone was done and then drink the ‘juice’.

  23. Lander

    Here is how we do it in the caribbean.Don’t have the exact measurments as this is something I learned by watching my mom. You peel, remove the seeds and slice the cucumbers into desired thickness. Add some salt and let sit in the fridge or on the counter for about a half to one hour. Drain the liquid that comes out. Add some finely chopped onions, thyme, parsely, scallion (not too much), some black pepper or hot pepper (not sauce) of your choice and some veg or olive oil (not too much depending on how much cucumbers you use). You mix every thing together and taste to see if you need more salt etc. Let sit at room temp. or in the fridge for at least 3o minutes. Stir and taste. Make adjustment if needed. Serve with dinner, lunch even breakfast.

  24. Brian

    I agree this needs a little sugar and a tablespoon of dill is too much. The picture shows hardly any. I will add some sugar and some sour cream. I think it would be better with the cucumbers sliced thin rather than in chunks as pictured and as I made the recipe.

    Actually there is sugar in the seasoned rice vinegar, so you do not need to add any if you are using that kind of vinegar. If you are using regular rice vinegar or a different kind of vinegar, a touch of sugar would be good to add. I like the thinly sliced cucumbers too, though I find they get soggy more easily. ~Elise

  25. Carla

    When growing up, my mother used to make a couple of different cucumber salads. One was with the cucumbers slice fairly thickly, and dressed with a bit of sugar, salt, pepper, dill & white vinegar. My fave, though, was when she would shred (grate) the cucumbers, omit the dill, add a bit of celery seed and a touch of heavy cream (with less vinegar). She would chill this good before supper, and then serve it with whatever meat dish she maid that nite. So good!! Simple, basic tiny-town middle america food @ its best!

  26. Cookin' Canuck

    What a perfect way to eat these fresh veggies! It’s a tradition in my family to have a variation of this dish whenever we barbecue a salmon fillet. We slice the cucumber (usually the English/European ones) VERY thinly and then let them sit in a mixture of vinegar and a little bit of sugar. Perfect!

  27. Rachelino

    This looks like the perfect use for the two armenian cucumbers I brought home from the farmers market today.
    Elise, I know you aren’t a gardening blog, but I am also in Northern California (but close to the coast in north Berkeley area) and I planted crystal apple cucumber and cornichons, and the plants looks awful, with a white bloom on them, and yellowish leaves. The cornichons are still producing fruit. A friend who heard my descriptions think they have a virus/blight, and also told me not to ever water the leaves of the plant, only to water close to the ground at the bottom of the plant. Do you do this with your cukes? I want gangbuster cukes like you!

    Most of my watering is done with a soaker hose. I rarely water by spraying. A white bloom on your leaves sounds like some type of fungus or blight. I would check your local nursery to see if there is something you can do. ~Elise

  28. Debo Hobo

    I could eat cucumbers all day! I like to add a small amount of sour cream to my salad. The dill is a must.

  29. don

    If space is a problem growing cukes, go vertical! That’s right cukes will happily grow upward with yields equal to ground growing! In our region(zone 1) one healthy plant should yield at least 6 good size cukes & probably more! Select a non-bush variety that shoots out tendrils(little grabber-like strings) and train the plant to a fence or any kind of miniature trellis, insure a few hours of sunlight, water excessively and feed occasionally with manure/compost soup! My cuke crop is far more important to me than tomatoes and this method has rewarded me a crop and a half for many years!

  30. nia

    We eat this all the time! The only difference is that my dad grows scotch bonnet peppers and my mom cuts a tiny piece and add it. It heats ups the cucumbers and goes great with baked chicken and rice.

  31. Kathy Bair

    Just made a salad with my own cucumber dressing.

    Salad with Cucumber Dressing
    2 medium cukes, cubed
    2 medium tomatoes, diced
    1 medium onion, diced
    2 ounces white vinegar,
    1/2 cup mayonnaise
    1/2 head iceberg lettuce, cut to bite sized pieces
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Stir together mayo, vinegar, salt and pepper until creamy. Add tomato, cucumber and onions.
    Refrigerate at least one hour to allow ingredients to marry. Serve over lettuce.

  32. MARCIAP

    This is not a salad, but a great way to use “cukes” when they are plentiful. I serve them sliced on a cheese tray instead of crackers. Everybody loves it and thinks it’s so unique. I just think it’s simple and yummy. Love your site. Plan to try many of the above variations for my cucumber salads.

  33. Laura Caland

    For those who comment that they use vinegar AND sugar on the cucumbers, how much of each ingredient do you use. Is it equal parts?
    Thanks for the recipe, Elise!

    Just add sugar to taste. It will be less than the amount of vinegar, that’s for sure. ~Elise

  34. Catherine Y.

    I have a different version of the cucumber salad that I absolutely love. It was by my boyfriend’s father in Paris. You add diced pears and mint leaves with cucumber, squeeze in fresh lemon juice and let it sit in the fridge for 2 hours. Mix in roasted pine nuts before serving. It is absolutely refreshing!

    Sounds terrific! Thank you for sharing the idea with us. ~Elise

  35. Marjorie Howe

    This recipe won me first prize of $50. Confetti Tomatoes: In a quart jsr, add 1/3 cup each of Vinegar,Water and Sugar and 1/2 teaspoon Salt. Shake. Add enough Diced Tomatoes,Green Peppers,Cucumbers and Onions to fill the jar. Chill for a few hours.To serve,Pour into a glass dish.At a picnic,serve from the jar. The leftover vinegar will be strong enough for one more filling of veggies. For variety, add 1/2 teaspoon of Basil or Dill to second filling.

  36. John Goucher

    Thank you for sharing this recipe, Elise. I like to do a variation on your recipe…I slice cucumber and red onions (thinly), and toss with vinegar, black pepper and little feta. Chill in the fridge for a bit, and it’s the perfect dish for these humid mid-Atlantic summers.

  37. Stash

    Toasted sesame seeds work well too in place of the basil.

  38. Rand All

    I’m eating this salad right now, as I type. For something so simple, it’s surprisingly tasty.

  39. Sara

    In addition to being bitter, cucumber seeds can upset the digestion (causing gas). Many people who think cucumbers disagree with them find that with the seeds removed, they have no trouble. The easiest way to remove the seeds is to cut the cuke in half long-ways, and then scoop them out with a tablespoon.

  40. Penny

    Made this with basil from the garden and it ws so nice! Served with sesame noodles. Will have to try the honeydew combo mentioned above as well. Thanks Elise!

  41. Phoenix Amsterdam

    freeze cubed cucumber first, then defrost and apply the recipe; surprising difference

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