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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!

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!

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.

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.

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


  • 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

22 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.

    Reply
  2. Fresh, sweet, spicy, tangy… this sal­ad had every­thing I was look­ing for! I’m going to be mak­ing this all the time. Thank you!

    Reply

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