Tangy Cucumber Salad

How to make the best cucumber salad with a sweet and tangy dressing made of vinegar, a little bit of sugar, and Dijon mustard. Jump to the Tangy Cucumber Salad Recipe or read on to see how we make it.

Tangy Cucumber Salad

More easy salads: We love this green bean salad with crispy shallots or this creamy cucumber salad with dill!

With a few simple tricks, you can make the best, most flavorful cucumber salad. It amazing how much of a difference they make.

How to Make the Best Cucumber Salad

The secret to this cucumber salad recipe is salting the cucumbers. The salt makes the cucumbers taste better and get rid of excess water, which can dilute the dressing.

How to Make the Best Cucumber Salad

You see, cucumbers are made mostly of water. By salting them, we draw out excess water before tossing 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.

Salt the cucumbers

After 30 minutes, rinse the cucumbers with cold water. Rinsing gets rid of any excess salt so that the salad won’t be too salty. Finally, squeeze them dry by adding them to a clean dishcloth and squeezing.

Rinse then squeeze the cucumbers dry

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 bit of 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

Recipe updated, originally posted June 2013. Since posting this in 2013, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear. – Adam and Joanne

Tangy Cucumber Salad

  • PREP

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 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.

Makes approximately 4 servings

You Will Need

2 hot house or seedless cucumbers (about 1 1/2 pounds)

Kosher salt

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 medium red onion, thinly sliced


    Thinly slice cucumbers, toss with two teaspoons of salt then add to a colander set over the sink or bowl. Let sit for 30 minutes.

    Rinse 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).

    In 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 a 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.
  • 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.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

Nutrition Per Serving: Serving Size 1/4 of the recipe / Calories 45 / Protein 1 g / Carbohydrate 9 g / Dietary Fiber 2 g / Total Sugars 6 g / Total Fat 0 g / Saturated Fat 0 g / Cholesterol 0 mg
AUTHOR: Adam and Joanne Gallagher

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21 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Lisa Barette April 5, 2021, 1:06 pm

    Thanks to my restrictive diet, I need to find healthy alternatives minus the diary, tomatoes broccoli and vinegar. I am looking forward to receiving your recipes.

  • Judith Hodge September 25, 2020, 9:00 am

    Can honey be use instead of sugar

    • Joanne January 2, 2021, 1:00 pm

      Yes, absolutely.

  • Emilia August 8, 2019, 6:02 pm

    Omg ? tastes SO amazing!!

  • Pamela Kieffer July 10, 2019, 9:28 am

    Love your recipe for potato salad. I thought mine was the best until I tried yours. simple change made the difference. Have you ever tried a small amount of vermouth?

  • Peggy Luke August 9, 2018, 5:58 am


  • MookieMe February 7, 2016, 5:09 am

    Store had sale on cukes! Went wild and bought too many. Love em, but WHAT was I thinking?! This simple recipe to the rescue! Its really easy and very good. I used regular cukes. I cut in various thicknesses. Also varied skin removal. All…so I could see what I liked best for the next time. Recipe is definitely a keeper. I think I like thicker cut with just a little skin. Seems the cukes held together better. I also made Xtra dressing to use on salads. It’s really good stuff. Now, I have no fear of over purchasing cukes. Lol. Oh, I will try the honey instead of sugar next time. Thanks for sharing this recipe. A total 5 star review.

  • Stephanie May 5, 2015, 3:20 pm

    Looks good! Would white wine vinegar work as well?

    • Joanne May 27, 2015, 10:45 am

      Yes, white wine vinegar would be great.

  • Orah Ruth Kamienny December 30, 2014, 5:28 am

    I have been unable to eat cucumbers without considerable burping ever since I can remember, so it is a food I largely ignore. Because of the salting step, I decided to try your recipe and see what would happen. Miraculously, I am able to eat and enjoy with no ill effect. Thank you for a tasty cucumber salad I can eat.
    P.S. I used regular cucumbers and left the seeds in but left in salt for 1 hr. Great!

  • Di June 6, 2014, 7:05 pm

    Very good! I just made it without leaving it in the fridge, or taking the water out of the cucumbers. Substituted one tsp of sugar for one of honey. It is delicious!

  • blanca May 21, 2014, 6:37 am

    I made this for a sunday brunch. the bowl was licked to clean. it was a total hit I think I’m gonna make it again for lunch :):):)):):)

    • Joanne June 20, 2014, 2:08 pm

      Licking the bowl is the best! So glad you enjoyed the salad.

  • I_Fortuna April 4, 2014, 3:04 am

    If you would like your cucumbers to stay crunchy, salt them (use a lot of salt between each layer) and put them in a Japanese pickle press. This presses out the excess water that causes the cucumbers to go soft. Wash the salt off with fresh water and use them as you wish. They will be nice and crunchy. Also, to avoid the sharper, bitter flavor of freshly cut onions, I blanch them for a few seconds in boiling water, rinse them in cold and they are much more mild and palatable.

    • Joanne April 4, 2014, 11:28 am

      Thanks for the tips!

  • Hannah October 26, 2013, 11:04 am

    Great recipe! I’m doing it right now.
    I just noticed that it says I can’t marinate or more than a day.
    In case there are left overs, can I keep them in the fridge for another day or two?
    Newbie in the kitchen, any help appreciated.

    • Joanne October 30, 2013, 9:56 am

      Yep, you can keep leftovers. The cucumbers do soften and loose some crunch over time, though.

  • Paula September 18, 2013, 12:54 pm

    Do you really mean 1 and 1/2 POUNDS kosher salt????

    • Joanne September 18, 2013, 1:54 pm

      No, the recipe calls for 1 1/2 pounds of cucumber

  • Carolyn June 17, 2013, 7:29 am

    This looks so fresh and delicious! Bookmarked and pinned.

    • Joanne June 17, 2013, 9:25 am

      Awesome 🙂


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