Essential Recipe: Simple Cucumber Salad

If you tend to think of lettuce (or some kind of leafy green) as a must-have for a dish to be called a “salad,” then this simple cucumber salad might be just what you need to refresh your salad game.

Crisp, bright, and refreshing, this quick cucumber salad checks all the boxes.

If we think of “salad” as just some veggies doused in a tasty dressing, isn’t that just more interesting than pigeonholing salad into “a bowl with lots of leaves?” (Not that I’ve got a problem with that– eating leaves is fun!) Cucumbers in a house salad are delicious– they amp up the crunch, add some welcome moisture, and have a cool, refreshing flavor. They are the perfect balance to richer additions like cheese or creamy dressings. This simple cucumber salad is all of those things, too, just more so!

There isn't much that this salad wouldn't complement perfectly...!

I really love to serve a nest of these cucumbers next to rich proteins like salmon or pulled pork. Here are some other tasty pairing ideas, to get your gears turning:

  • Serve with any kind of salmon. It’s great with lox or a side of poached salmon on a brunch platter.
  • Speaking of fish, whip up this salad next time you crack open a can of tinned fish. Make some toast and voilà! A full meal!
  • With burgers (both meat and veggie). It’s the perfect juicy fresh salad that won’t wilt when you take it to a cookout.
  • With falafel or other bean fritter. The bright juicy crunch of this cucumber salad is the perfect foil for the crunchy fried texture of falafel.
  • Next to a platter of kebabs or other type of skewer (think kofte, satay, or garlicky shrimp). The freshness of the cucumber balances the rich flavors perfectly!

Notes for Success:

You can technically eat this salad as soon as it’s been dressed. But by letting it sit and marinate, you are coaxing extra juiciness out of the cucumbers, and letting the flavors of the dressing really penetrate each slice.

One thing to keep in mind is that as with any high-acid dressing, eventually you will get pickles! If you have leftover salad, store it in the fridge in the dressing. You can still eat it as a tasty crunchy salad, but because the cukes are sliced, they’re also fantastic in sandwiches and wraps.

Change up the flavors to suit the rest of your meal. For example, are you serving it with a French-inspired roasted chicken, with plenty of butter and thyme? Try using champagne vinegar and a few teaspoons of whole grain mustard. Or, if serving with sumac spiced mushrooms, try adding lemon zest and toasted sesame seeds!

Essential Recipe: Simple Cucumber Salad

An incredibly simple salad of marinated sliced cucumbers. This makes an excellent side for poached salmon brunch, stuffed in pita with falafel, or with anything from the grill.
YIELD4 Servings
TOTAL TIME 1 hr 5 mins


  • 2 medium English cucumbers, thinly sliced into half-moons (If subbing regular hothouse cucumbers, use 3-4 and remove their seeds)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt
  • ½ cup white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
  • cup water
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper


  • In a large bowl, toss the cucumbers with the salt until liquid begins to gather at the bottom, about 1 to 2 minutes of tossing.
    In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the vinegar, water, sugar, and pepper. Pour over the cucumbers and let stand as long as possible, ideally at least 1 hour.
    To store, refrigerate the cucumbers in their liquid in an air-tight container. The cucumbers will continue to soften as they sit.

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