How to make the best cucumber salad! We toss thinly sliced cucumbers with a sweet, tangy dressing made of vinegar, a little sugar, and Dijon mustard.
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You can make the best, most flavorful cucumber salad with a few simple tricks. It’s incredible how much of a difference they make. First, we salt our cucumbers so that they taste amazing and stay crisp. Second, we deflame our onions in cold water, so their raw flavor doesn’t overpower the salad. This salad is dairy and mayo free. Click over to our Tzatziki Cucumber Salad for a creamy salad.
The Secret to the Best Cucumber Salad
The secret to this cucumber salad recipe is salting the cucumbers. The salt makes the cucumbers taste better and removes excess water, diluting the dressing.
You see, cucumbers are made mostly of water. So by salting them, we draw out excess water before tossing the cucumbers with the dressing. We’ve done this in other recipes — remember our mayonnaise-free coleslaw salad and this creamy cucumber salad made with Greek yogurt?
Salting the cucumbers makes the dressing tasty, not watered down. It also makes the cucumbers taste more like cucumbers. It intensifies their flavor. The salting process takes about 30 minutes and is well worth it.
Here’s how we do it: Slice cucumbers into thin coins — we use our mandoline slicer, but a knife works, too. Toss the cucumber coins with salt, then let them sit in a colander — we set ours in the sink — for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, rinse the cucumbers with cold water. Rinsing removes any excess salt so the salad won’t be too salty. Finally, squeeze them dry by adding them to a clean dishcloth and squeezing.
When you have salted, rinsed, and squeezed cucumbers, it’s time to make the salad. The dressing is simple and made with vinegar, mustard, and a little sugar for balance.
To finish, add a handful of sliced red onion. Easy! You can enjoy the salad straight away, but it does get better after an hour in the fridge.
More Easy Salad Recipes
- This Lemony Chicken Breast Recipe with Feta and Cucumber Salad – it is quick to make and is perfect for weeknight meals.
- Easy Chickpea Salad with Lemon and Dill — the salad comes together quickly and it made with fresh lemon, fresh dill, crisp cucumber and tomatoes.
- This delicious and Easy Potato Salad Recipe is mayonnaise free and has lots of fresh herbs.
- Creamy Cucumber Salad Recipe with a tzatziki-inspired dressing made with Greek yogurt, vinegar, fresh lemon, garlic, and dill. It’s light, refreshing and less than 30 calories per serving!
Our Best Cucumber Salad
The secret to this salad is salting the cucumbers. After slicing them thin, we generously salt and leave them alone for 30 minutes. As they sit, the cucumbers become even more “cucumbery” and release extra moisture, which, if not removed, would make the dressing watery. Then, they are tossed with a simple dressing and left to marinate for at least 1 hour, but no more than a day. The salad takes a little extra time with salting and marinating, but your hands-on time is minimal.
The inactive time for this recipe is 1 1/2 hours. We like to slice the cucumbers thin (1/16-inch or 1.5 mm) for this. After making the salad, the cucumbers are crisp but a little floppy. If you’d like the cucumbers to be more substantial, slice them thicker.
Watch Us Make the Recipe
You Will Need
2 hot house or seedless cucumbers, about 1 1/2 pounds
2 to 3 teaspoons granulated sugar, depending on how sweet you like the salad
1/4 cup (60 ml) cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 of a medium red onion, thinly sliced
1Thinly slice cucumbers, toss with two teaspoons of salt, then add to a colander set over the sink or bowl. Let sit for 30 minutes.
2Rinse cucumbers with cold water, then squeeze excess water from them. (To make this easy, we add the cucumbers to a clean dish towel, then tie it up and squeeze).
3In a large bowl, whisk together two teaspoons of sugar, vinegar, and mustard. Taste, then add the additional teaspoon of sugar if needed. Add cucumbers, and red onion, then toss. Refrigerate salad at least 1 hour and up to a day before serving.
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- Seedless cucumbers: You will often find seedless cucumbers sold wrapped in plastic. They have thinner skin and are a little sweeter than regular cucumbers. Other names include English cucumber and hothouse cucumber. If you cannot find them, use regular cucumbers and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds before slicing. If the cucumbers have thicker, waxy peel, we recommend peeling all or some of it away.
- Variation – Add Lettuce: After marinating the cucumbers, you will notice quite a bit of liquid will be sitting at the bottom of the bowl. If you would like, transfer some of the liquid to a small bowl then whisk in 2 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil, making a salad dressing. Then, tear up lettuce leaves, toss with dressing and serve cucumbers on top.
- We like the cucumbers thinly sliced. You have two choices when slicing — use a sharp knife or use a mandoline slicer. If you have it, the mandoline does wonders with making things go quickly. If you’re using a mandoline, buy yourself a kevlar glove for safety.
- Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA Supertracker recipe calculator to calculate approximate values.