Cucumbers are a delicious addition to salads, sandwiches, rice bowls, and even cocktails, but they rarely get the spotlight they deserve. To really enjoy cucumbers in all of their crispy, crunchy glory, make a quick cucumber salad. Tossed with just a few simple ingredients, it’s the perfect summer side dish for your next grill-out, picnic, and more.
To keep cucumbers front and center, this salad only has a few additional ingredients. Thinly sliced shallot adds a little more texture and a bit of punch; soaking it briefly in water helps remove a bit of the bite and helps prevent onion breath. You can swap it for red onion if you like. Vinegar adds a lovely tartness, while a touch of sugar balances out the flavors. A fresh herb like parsley livens things up a bit.
Any kind of very fresh cucumber will work for this recipe, but varieties with thinner skins and smaller seeds (like hothouse, English, and Persian) will produce a crunchy salad with minimal labor. If you’re using a thicker-skinned variety like garden cucumbers, we recommend peeling them first. Sometimes garden cucumbers also have large, slightly bitter seeds that you may want to remove before using as well.
- 1 large shallot
- 1 pound cucumbers
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, optional
Steps to Make It
- Gather the ingredients.
- Peel and slice the shallot into thin rings. Add to a small bowl, then top with cool water. This will help mellow the shallot’s spicy bite; set aside.
- Trim the ends from the cucumbers, then slice into thin rounds. If your cucumbers have a thick peel, you can peel them first.(For cucumbers with large, bitter seeds, cut into quarters instead. Slice the cucumber lengthwise into two long halves, then again into quarters that look like big pickle spears. Slice off the pointed edge of each triangular spear, removing most of the seeds, then chop into bite-sized pieces.)
- In a medium mixing bowl or serving bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Add the cucumbers and toss to coat completely.
- Drain the shallot well, then add the slices to the cucumbers. Add the parsley, if using, and toss to completely coat.
- Serve right away or, for even better flavor, cover and chill the cucumber salad for 15 to 30 minutes. Toss again before serving.
How to Store
For maximum crunch, serve quick cucumber salad within an hour of making. Leftover salad will keep for a day or two in a covered container in the fridge, but will lose its crispness over time.
It’s easy to tweak this simple cucumber salad to make it your own. Here are a few ideas:
- Swap the red wine vinegar for apple cider vinegar for a slightly different flavor.
- Replace the red wine vinegar with seasoned rice vinegar and add a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil for an Asian-inspired cucumber salad. Add a sprinkle of green onions or sesame seeds for crunch.
- Swap the parsley for another herb. Fresh dill is a popular choice and gives the salad a dill pickle-like flavor.
- The shallot can be replaced with red onion, yellow onion, sweet onion, or even chopped green onions (no need to soak green onions).
- Add a chopped tomato or two to make this a colorful summertime salad.
- Stir in crumbled feta cheese for a creamy, salty addition.