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Asian Cucumber Salad

Asian Cucumber Salad is cool, crisp, light and refreshing with knock-your-socks-off flavor. It’s naturally gluten free and superbly delicious!

Asian Cucumber Salad served in a square, white bowl sitting on a marble countertop. A watercolor print napkin is to the right of the bowl and a turquoise planter is in the background.
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My spin on an Asian Cucumber Salad may not be completely traditional. But, it is without a doubt, delicious!

This cucumber salad is sour and salty with hints of sweetness and each bite finishes with back notes of smoky and spicy.

The deliciously crisp Asian cucumber salad recipe brings a fresh flavor and perfect balance to heavy meals. Rich and fatty meals need the acidic pop of a great side to keep them from becoming overwhelming. This cucumber salad is perfect!

It’s also exceptional with some of your other favorite Asian dishes. Try it alongside my Egg Roll Bowls. These crunchy, spicy and sour cucumbers are also a fabulous addition to recipes like this Dubu Jorim, over at Recipe Mash.

Asian Cucumber Salad served in a square, white bowl sitting on a marble countertop. A watercolor print napkin is to the right of the bowl and a turquoise planter is in the background.

My Asian Cucumber salad recipe is a cross between a Korean cucumber salad and a Japanese cucumber salad. They both have similar ingredients.

I have definitely Americanized my cucumber salad by just cutting the cucumbers into thin slices. Traditionally, there are some beautiful and creative ways to cut the cucumbers.

And those methods would definitely make a difference in how the dressing clings to the vegetables. To see a couple of those traditional methods check out this You Tube video.

I think you’ll enjoy my lovely hybrid Asian Cucumber Salad as much as we have!

The Ingredients

  • Mini Cucumbers (Persian Cucumbers), sliced thin
  • Red Onion, slivered
  • Salt
  • Vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Coconut Aminos (Can sub tamari. And if gluten free is not important you can sub soy sauce.)
  • Fresh Ginger
  • Sesame Oil
  • Garlic Chili Sauce

What Are Mini Cucumbers (Persian Cucumbers)?

Mini cucumbers, aka Persian cucumbers, on a wooden cutting board with alongside cucumber slices.

At my small town, middle-America grocery store I’ve never seen any vegetable labeled Persian Cucumbers. However, my market does carry mini cucumbers. Good news! They’re the same thing.

The important thing about choosing cucumbers for this recipe is to choose a variety with thin skin that’s easy to eat and tastes good.

Turkish, Armenian or even English cucumbers work great in this recipe, too. The main pictures for this post were done with English cucumbers, because mini cucumbers were out of stock this week.

So, choose the thin-skinned cucumber variety available in your area and your Asian Cucumber Salad will be spectacular!

All of the above would also be great in Zuzana’s Dehydrated Cucumbers. Be sure to check out that easy, delicious snack.

Chili Garlic Sauce & Fresh Ginger

chili garlic sauce and a tube of fresh ginger puree

I used my Chinese Chili Garlic Sauce to bring the heat in this tasty Asian Cucumber Salad recipe. It’s an easy ingredient to find in my area and almost always in my fridge. You’ll find it in the ethnic food aisles near sesame oil, soy sauce and other Asian ingredients.

Chili Garlic Sauce is the integral ingredient in my favorite Sweet Chili Sauce recipe and it’s a great condiment when I want to “bring up the heat” on a burger. It’s versatile and something you would probably use frequently, if you had it on hand.

I give a measurement range in the recipe, for the Chili Garlic Sauce so you can adjust how mild or spicy you want your cucumber salad to be.

Asian Cucumber Salad served in a square, white bowl sitting on a marble countertop. A watercolor print napkin is to the right of the bowl and a turquoise planter is in the background.

If you don’t keep fresh ginger on hand, I get it. If you’re like me, sometimes you won’t use a whole root before it gets old.

In the produce section at my grocery store, I find ginger paste or puree, in a tube. It keeps better. Use 1 Tablespoon for every 1″ knob of fresh grated ginger a recipe calls for.

How To Keep Cucumbers Crisp in Cucumber Salad

Salted Cucumber Slices and Onion Slivers in a clear glass bowl. All moisture has been drained off.
How Do I keep Cucumbers from Getting Soggy in my Salads?

The easiest way to insure that your cucumbers stay crisp and wonderful in cucumber salads, is to slice and salt them before assembling the salad. Even a short 15 to 20 minute rest in salt will pull out moisture that would otherwise make your cucumbers soggy. Drain them and pat them dry with a paper towel. You’ll have crisp, crunchy Asian cucumber salad for two or three days!

I added the slivered onions to the cucumber slices when doing the salting step. And I would do the same if I decided to add bell peppers or any other vegetable to the salad. Pulling out excess moisture from them will keep the vegetables crisp and crunchy for days.

Possible Recipe Variations

Asian Cucumber Salad served in a square, white bowl sitting on a marble countertop. A watercolor print napkin is to the right of the bowl and a turquoise planter is in the background.
  • Substitute sliced green onion for the red onion slivers.
  • Add thin slivers of red, green or yellow bell pepper to the cucumbers and onions.
  • Use maple syrup or honey in place of the sugar. And if you prefer more sweetness, you could definitely increase the amount.
  • Substitute chili oil, instead of garlic chili paste, and add some freshly minced garlic to the recipe.
  • Skip the step to salt and drain the cucumbers, if you’re in a hurry. Just be aware that the cucumbers WILL release liquid and dilute your dressing. The cucumbers will also be less crisp.
  • Substitute tamari for the coconut aminos. Or if gluten is not an issue, substitute soy sauce. in your Asian Cucumber Salad recipe

What to Serve with Asian Cucumber Salad

Asian Cucumber Salad is a fantastic side dish for almost any meal. It brings the acidic balance that makes a heavy meal so satisfying.

It’s sheer perfection with Easy Crock Pot Cube Steak or my 20-minute Perfect Baked Chicken Breasts. And it would be delish with this rock cod recipe over at Giangi’s Kitchen.

It’s also a nice side for Egg Roll Bowls or a delicious condiment with my simple 2-ingredient Perfect Pulled Pork made in the slow cooker.

Asian Cucumber Salad is also scrumptious served with Rose Tteokbokki, a popular Korean street-food snack. Like the cream in the tteobokki recipe, the acidic pop of Asian cucumbers helps to balance the spicy heat. Be sure to check out Jack’s recipe over at Jack Slobodian.

I have even minced it up and used Asian Cucumber Salad as relish on hotdogs! You guys, it’s SO good!

The possibilities within any meal are pretty much limitless. Asian Cucumber Salad is going to be a good pairing a great complement to almost any protein.

How to Make Asian Cucumber Salad

Prepped cucumber and onion slices in a clear glass bowl. Dressing for Asian Cucumber Salad whisked in a measuring cup behind the cucumber bowl.
  1. Slice cucumbers into thin rounds.
  2. Cut the red onion into thin slices and then cut the slices into quarters to create the slivers.
  3. Place the cucumbers and onions into a mixing bowl with the salt and toss to combine.  Set the bowl in the fridge and let the salt draw out excess moisture, while you whisk together the Asian Cucumber Salad Dressing.
  4. To make the salad dressing, combine the rice vinegar, sugar, coconut aminos, ginger sesame oil and chili garlic sauce in a measuring cup and whisk until thoroughly combined.
  5. After 15-30 minutes, drain the cucumbers and onions.  Pat them dry with paper towels.  I dry the bowl they sat in and then add them right back to that bowl.
  6. Now, pour over the salad dressing your prepared.
  7. Stir the Asian Cucumber Salad recipe ingredients thoroughly, being sure that all the vegetables are coated.
  8. You can serve the salad immediately, but I like to let it rest in the fridge for about 15 minutes to give all the flavors a chance to meld.
  9. Serve as a side or a condiment.

The Recipe

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Asian Cucumber Salad served in a square, white bowl sitting on a marble countertop. A watercolor print napkin is to the right of the bowl and a turquoise planter is in the background.

Asian Cucumber Salad


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 16 reviews

  • Author: Glenda Embree
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 68 servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Asian Cucumber Salad is cool, crisp, light and refreshing with knock-your-socks-off flavor. It’s naturally gluten free and superbly delicious!  It’s quick and easy to toss together and will be the perfect side dish or condiment for dozens of your favorite meals.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 to 1 1/4 lbs. mini cucumbers, sliced thin (Persian, English or any thin-skinned cucumber works)
  • 1/4 cup red onion slivers
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut aminos (can sub tamari or soy sauce. SEE NOTES)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger (or 1 teaspoon dry)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
  • optional garnish: sesame seeds and/or red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. Slice cucumbers into thin rounds.
  2. Cut the red onion into thin slices and then cut the slices into quarters to create the slivers.
  3. Place the cucumbers and onions into a mixing bowl with the salt and toss to combine.  Set the bowl in the fridge and let the salt draw out excess moisture, while you whisk together the Asian Cucumber Salad Dressing.
  4. To make the salad dressing, combine the rice vinegar, sugar, coconut aminos, ginger sesame oil and chili garlic sauce in a measuring cup and whisk until thoroughly combined.
  5. After 15-30 minutes, drain the cucumbers and onions.  Pat them dry with paper towels.  I dry the bowl they sat in and then add them right back to that bowl.
  6. Now, pour over the salad dressing your prepared.
  7. Stir the Asian Cucumber Salad thoroughly, being sure that all the vegetables are coated.
  8. You can serve the salad immediately, but I like to let it rest in the fridge for about 15 minutes to give all the flavors a chance to meld.
  9. Serve as a side or a condiment.

Notes

Chili Garlic Sauce can usually be found in the ethnic food aisles at your grocery store.  Look where you would normally find soy sauce or sesame oil.

If gluten free is not an issue for you, you can sub soy sauce for the coconut aminos.  Tamari is a gluten free alternative that works.

  • Prep Time: 30
  • Category: Salad, Vegetable, Side Dish
  • Method: Cold Prep
  • Cuisine: Asian-American

More Easy and Delicious Salads

glenda embree

About Glenda

I believe cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be complicated and that YOU can do it. My simple recipes, tutorials, and cooking tips will help you get weeknight dinners on the table with less stress. Forget takeout or the drive-thru. Let me show you how to make homemade easy. Read more...

32 thoughts on “Asian Cucumber Salad”

  1. I totally agree about needing something acidic with rich meals. It’s such a perfect pairing and this salad sounds amazing — I think I will make a batch to serve with short ribs next week! I wonder though, could I use agave nectar in place of the sugar? I have a bottle I am trying to use up.






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  2. That hint of ginger in the cucumber salad is a winner flavor for me. I always have cucumber in my fridge, and this is a perfect salad to make when in a rush.






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  3. This cucumber salad is so perfectly refreshing! I love the fresh ginger as it gives it great flavor. Perfect side for any main.






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  4. This Asian cucumber salad turned out even better than I imagined. The onions are the perfect addition to the cucumber. It’s going to be a regular lunch recipe for me.






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