Chinese Smashed Cucumber Chicken Salad


This Chinese smashed cucumber salad with bits of shredded chicken is so fast and easy. Great for hot summer nights.

Photography Credit: Sabrina Modelle

Is there anything more refreshing than ice cold cucumber on a hot day?

This Chinese-style cucumber salad with bits of shredded chicken (or tofu!) takes almost no effort to prepare and makes a fantastic light summer meal.

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Smashed Cucumber Salad with Chicken

This salad is one of my favorite ways to use up leftover chicken. Shrimp is also great if you have it, and tofu is excellent option for a meatless meal.

A few keys to success when making this salad:

  • Use thin-skinned cucumbers like English, Persian, or Japanese
  • Make sure your ingredients stay nice and cold right up until you toss the salad together and serve.
  • Salt your cucumbers for 20 to 30 minutes (no longer!)
  • Eat it immediately! Smashed cucumbers can get an off texture if they sit around too long.

Smashed Cucumber Salad with Chicken

Why “smashed” cucumbers?

Sweet and mild, cucumbers are already a perfect vehicle for flavorful dressing, and smashing them gives a nice uneven surface for the sesame vinaigrette to cling to. Smashing also brings out the flavors and aromas in the cucumber itself.

Chinese Smashed Cucumber Chicken Salad Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Resting time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings

For a vegan version, substitute 1 block cubed tofu for the chicken.

Two poached chicken breasts will make enough for this recipe. See: How to Poach Chicken Breasts.


For the salad:

  • 2 large English cucumbers or other thin skinned cucumbers, such as Persian or Japanese (2 to 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound (about 2 cups) shredded cooked chicken, cold from the fridge
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, to serve
  • Cilantro leaves, to serve (optional)
  • Dried red chili flakes, to serve (optional)

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro


1 Smash the cucumbers: Wash cucumbers well and pat dry. Use the flat edge of a large knife or cleaver to smash the cucumbers in several places along their length. The cucumbers should split into several strips.

Use your hands to break the cucumbers into bite-sized pieces.

Smashed Cucumber Salad with Chicken Smashed Cucumber Salad with Chicken

2 Salt and drain the cucumbers: Transfer the cucumber pieces to a colander and place the colander inside a large bowl. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and toss gently so all the pieces are salted evenly.

Refrigerate for 30 minutes. As they sit, the salt will draw moisture from the cucumbers, which will collect in the bottom of the bowl.

Smashed Cucumber Salad with Chicken

3 Make the dressing: Whisk together rice vinegar, soy, honey, ginger, minced garlic, and cilantro. Chill in the fridge while cucumbers are draining.

Smashed Cucumber Salad with Chicken

4 Assemble the salad: Transfer the cucumbers to a serving bowl. Add the shredded chicken and dressing. Toss to combine and dress the salad. Taste and add an extra splash of vinegar or soy sauce if needed.

Divide between serving plates and top with sesame seeds, dried chili, and more cilantro. Serve immediately. (Leftovers do not keep well.)


Smashed Cucumber Salad with Chicken Smashed Cucumber Salad with Chicken Smashed Cucumber Salad with Chicken

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Smashed Cucumber Salad with Chicken

Sabrina Modelle

Sabrina Modelle started The Tomato Tart in 2010. Since then, recipes and photographs have been featured in media outlets, worldwide. The site features handmade, homemade, food that happens to be gluten free. When she’s not working, Sabrina can be found with her nose in a cookbook and a dog in her lap.

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4 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Greg

    It was so good! I cooked some spaghetti, rinsed it well with cold water, drained it well, and tossed with a few drops sesame oil and chilled in the fridge with everything else. Then tossed it all together for a cold noodle chicken cucumber salad. Really good and hearty for us guys!


  2. Divina

    Dish super easy and practical for those who arrive tired of the service, hungry, the cucumber-chicken mixture is unusual for me but seems to work well and get very tasty, I loved the tip.

  3. Jeanine Murray

    Just forgot to add ‘garlic’ in step three, it just says ‘minced’… Making this for lunch, looks amazing! Love your blog. It’s my go-to for great recipes! Thanks.

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Smashed Cucumber Salad with ChickenChinese Smashed Cucumber Chicken Salad