Sesame Cucumber Salad

Add some thinly sliced basil as an option, Thai basil or Vietnamese basil works best, though regular Italian basil works too!

  • Prep time: 7 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2-3


  • 2 medium sized cucumbers (about 1 lb total)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons toasted (dark) sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
  • 6 basil leaves, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds (optional)


1 Peel the cucumbers. Cut them into quarters, lengthwise. (If the seeds are bitter, scrape out the seeds and discard.) Cut the cucumbers again, crosswise, into 1/2-inch thick pieces.

2 Place cucumbers into a serving bowl. Sprinkle with salt. Toss with sesame oil, seasoned rice vinegar, basil (if using), and chili flakes. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds if using.

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  • Lillianne

    Can anyone tell me what “seasoned” rice vinegar is? Any different from regular rice vinegar from the Asian store?

    • Elise Bauer

      Seasoned rice vinegar has a little sugar in it. So if only regular is available, add a little sugar to the dressing.

  • Kathy

    This recipe is so simple and so yummy! Thanks!

  • Rose

    Always looking for a way to add more vegetables to our diet and my husband (not a vegetable fan) loves cucumbers. So I made this to serve with teriyaki pork chops and a little fried rice. It was yummy and I got approval to save the recipe and serve it again. The one thing DH suggested was to cut the cucumbers smaller as a previous comment suggested.

  • Diana

    This cucumber salad is also amazing with just a bit of garlic and/or Sichuan peppercorn. :)

  • Jean

    So simple and delicious! I had this as a side salad with Korean short ribs and steamed rice. I didn’t have red pepper flakes on hand so I just added a sprinkle of sesame seeds instead.

  • Becky

    I’m eating this salad as I write. Delish. Had all the ingredients on hand, so that’s nice about it. Macerating not needed at all, unless you’re trying to use nasty winter hothouse cucumbers or something. The red pepper flakes add the perfect bite. I usually make the old classic cuke salad– sliced, salted, vinegar and sugar, black pepper– but this is a really nice alternative.

  • [email protected]

    I always have these ingredients in the house, yay!

    PS. I refrigerate my sesame oil….

  • Lindsey

    I just made this and it was so easy and so delicious. My only modification: thinly slicing the cukes to get a higher surface area to dressing ratio. :)

  • Tess Danesi

    Just made this and it was wonderful. Husband and daughter both want it again. Definitely refreshing and perfect for summer.

    I keep my sesame oil in the fridge to prevent it for going rancid too quickly. Seems to work for me.

  • Bee | Rasa Malaysia

    I love cucumber salad of all sorts, just so easy to make and refreshing – Chinese-style, Thai-style, Japanese-style. I also love cucumber water, especially great after sauna/steam room/spa treatment. :)

  • Zipi

    I add a little bit of sugar and a little bit of grated ginger and I sprinkel some sesame seeds on top.
    next time I will try it your way.

  • Leisureguy

    I also am surprised that the cukes were not macerated. I’ll make this on the weekend, but I definitely will macerate the cucumbers. I also like the suggestion in the comments to add garlic…

  • Amber Stanley

    This is very similar to my Cucumber Sonoma…just replace the Sesame Oil with 1-1/2tsp of grated ginger! Yummy!!

  • Carrie Ann

    I bet this would taste great with watermelon too.

  • Paul

    Elise, Sorry to hear about your northern California weather doldrums.(Insert Mark Twain’s most fitting quote here; “The longest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”) Its our third muggy day of 90 degree plus heat here in Philly.

    The salad looks great and ripe for variations on a theme. The ubiquitous cuke can be dressed so many ways: lemon juice, garlic, black pepper and oregano for a Mediterranean flair or dill, wine vinegar and onion for farther north. I know you can’t relate to this under your current circumstances, but “well chilled” is essential for any cuke salad.

    Good vibes to you: Here comes the sun!!

  • Anne

    This looks wonderful! However, I don’t like cucumbers. Will this turn me into loving them? Or even liking them? The problem I have is cucumbers are tasteless. Will this help?

    Everyone’s tastes are different. Why don’t you make it and find out? ~Elise

  • Cris

    It’s a fresh salad, perfect for the summer. I make one similar but I add wakame seaweed and toasted sesame seed instead of red chile flakes. It’s a japanese salad.

    Certainly, yesterday Germany said that they were wrong, poisoning has nothing to do with the Spanish cucumbers. They are still investigating the cause.

  • Jennifer

    This sounds awesome! Have you ever tried adding black sesame seeds? I have only found them at Penzey’s or at some large food stores in the bulk section. When you toast them they have the most amazing smokey flavor that the white ones lack. Thanks for your blog. I used to live in Citrus Heights and miss all that great California style cooking. You give me so many great ideas.

  • ben

    this is similar to the cucumber salad my mom use to make when we grew our own cucumbers in the backyard.

    some differences: peeled and diced cucumbers were lightly salted and drained of their liquids (~20min). and in addition to the ingredients listed here, she would add soy sauce and sugar. always came out delicious.

  • mantha

    Tried this with some small, tender zucchinis instead, lightly steamed and still warm, and with the sesame seeds sprinkled on. So good!!! I was already fond of the exact same treatment to those long, thin, tender string beans, with some strips of roasted red pepper tossed in.

  • Ron

    Except for that cucumber scare in Europe,

    One of my ‘all time’ favorites is peel and quarter cukes toss into leftover dill pickle juice then add garlic and onion slices.

    Leave in refer a few days and pig out…d;^)

  • bureaucrat

    The salad can be made even more tasty with the addition of jellyfish. Growing up, my mum used to make it (and you can get it a good yum cha restaurant). The jellyfish is slippery and crunchy and goes well with the clean cucumber salad. I googled a recipe:

  • Randall

    Reminds me a lot of paihuanggua, a common starter here in China. Only real difference with the Chinese version is you chop the cukes with the blunt side of the cleaver (the “pai” – “beaten,” “smashed”), and add a ton of crushed garlic.