This easy cucumber salad consists 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).
Using Garden Cucumbers With Cucumber Salad
About this time of year, we start having an easy cucumber salad almost every night with dinner. If you are a gardener, you know how prolific cucumbers are, right? They can easily grow out of control, climbing up the tomato cages and all over other plants we may have in the garden bed.
Every other day I bring in a handful, peel them and chop them up for this simple, easy cucumber salad to serve as a side.
To Seed or Not to Seed Cucumbers
With cucumbers you can either seed them or not. Some varieties have thicker seeds that can be a little harder to digest or a bit bitter if the cucumber is on the mature side.
There is a lot of flavor right around the seed, so if the cucumber's seeds are still small and tender, you can easily leave them in.
To Peel or Not to Peel Cucumbers
Should you peel your cucumbers for cucumber salad? Again, it depends on the variety and maturity of the cucumber. English or Persian cucumbers have thin skins which you do not need to peel.
Regular market cucumbers may have thicker peels that can be tough and bitter, so it's best to peel those.
How to Determine the Bitterness of a Cucumber
Cucumbers can vary in their level of bitterness. Usually the older they are, the more bitter they are—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.
Make-Ahead and Chill
This salad is great to make and eat immediately, or you can assemble it ahead of time and chill it in the fridge. Note that if you let the cucumber salad sit longer than an hour or two, chilled or room temperature, the cucumbers will start to lose their crispiness.
What to Serve With Cucumber Salad
Suggestions & Substitutions
So many of you have made this salad over the years and sent us notes about how you changed or added to the recipe. Here are a few favorites!
- Top with toasted sesame seeds
- Add thinly sliced red onions, sweet onions, or scallions
- Toss with feta cheese
- Add chopped summer tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
- For a creamy version, add a few spoonfuls of mayo or sour cream, or even a splash of heavy cream
- Add a few pinches of sugar if needed
Stay Cool as a Cucumber With These 5 Salads
- Cucumber Salad with Mint and Feta
- Cucumber Salad with Grapes and Almonds
- Sesame Cucumber Salad
- Cucumber Yogurt Salad (Tzatziki)
- Chinese Smashed Cucumber Chicken Salad
Easy Cucumber Salad
Cucumbers can vary in their level of bitterness. Usually the older they are, the more bitter they are—and the seeds are often more bitter than the flesh. Once you cut into a cucumber, taste it. Scrape away any bitter seeds or soak the chopped cucumber in salt water to help offset the bitterness.
We almost always peel thick-skinned cucumbers, but there are some varieties with thin, mild peels that you don't need to peel. Taste first if there is a question.
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.
- 1 to 2 large cucumbers (or 4 to 5 smaller cucumbers), peeled (if using thick-skinned cucumbers), quartered lengthwise, then sliced crosswise
- 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, basil, or Thai basil (see Recipe Note)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
Make the salad:
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat.
Serve the salad:
You can serve this immediately, or make ahead (up to a couple of hours) and chill.