Asian Cucumber Salad is one of the easiest side dishes that is made with simple ingredients. This recipe comes together in under 10 minutes and has mouthwatering Asian flavors. One of the best salads to have on a hot summer evening.
This crunchy Asian Cucumber Salad is so delicious that it makes a tasty snack on its own. However, it is a perfect side dish next to all kinds of Asian cuisine such as Asian Chicken Stuffed Peppers, Easy Peanut Noodles or Asian Chicken Sriracha Bowls. Keeping in line with the crunchy texture, I love it with Sticky Lemon Chicken or Crispy Sesame Beef.
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- English Cucumbers– This variety is very easy to find in grocery stores.
- Toasted Sesame Oil– Use toasted sesame oil over regular sesame oil for the deep flavor it gives this salad.
- Rice Vinegar– Also know as rice wine vinegar, this vinegar adds the acidity that gives this salad its tangy flavor.
- Soy Sauce– This seasons the salad and gives it a delicious Unami flavor. For gluten free needs use a Tamari such as this one or coconut aminos.
- Salt– Salt is essential in making this salad because it helps to balance the sweetness of the honey. Also, it brightens and enhances the other flavors in the salad. Since I need to be careful with my total iodine consumption I not only use Maldon’s Salt as a finishing salt, I cook and bake with it also.
- Honey– The honey adds just a touch of sweetness and flavor. Additionally, it balances the acid from the vinegar and the salty from the soy sauce and salt.
- Crushed Red Chili Pepper Flakes– The additions of red pepper flakes adds just a slight spice, helping to round out the other flavors.
- Green Onions– Also know as scallions or spring onions, these onions sliced thinly adds a pop of bright freshness to the salad.
- Sesame Seeds– Use either toasted or regular white sesame seeds as a garnish. However, adding them is optional as the toasted sesame oil does the trick in the flavor department.
How To Make 10 Minute Crunchy Asian Cucumber Salad
- Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the cucumbers at an angle to desired thickness.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together oil, vinegar, soy sauce, salt, honey and crushed red chili pepper flakes.
- Slice green onions at an angel.
- Toss cucumbers with dressing and green onions.
- Garnish with sesame seeds.
Best Type of Cucumber to Use
The ideal cucumber to use for this easy cucumber salad will be the varieties that have thin skins and are on the firmer side. English cucumbers fit this description and are readily available in U.S. grocery stores. Also, English cucumbers have the least bitterness.
Additionally, Japanese cucumbers (use 3-4 for this recipe) or Persian cucumbers (aka mini cucumbers, use 6-8 for this recipe) work well also.
Thickness of Cucumber Slices
The thickness of the cucumber slices comes down to personal preference. However, an 1/8- 1/4 of an inch is most ideal when cutting by hand. For a thiner cut, use a mandolin.
Pro Tip: For bite size pieces when using an English cucumber cut the cucumber in half length wise and then cut into diagonal slices.
Honey vs Other Types of Sugar
Adding honey to the Asian dressing for this salad helps to balance the saltiness of the soy sauce and the acidity of the rice vinegar. It also helps to marry all the flavors together. If honey is unavailable white sugar, brown sugar or maple syrup may be used in its place. However, I recommend starting with 1 tablespoon and taste testing a cucumber first. If more sweetness is needed, add 1/2-1 tablespoon more.
Variations for This Simple Recipe
This is an incredibly tasty salad as is. However, here are a few fun changes that many people enjoy.
- Use Gochugaru (Korean Red Pepper Powder) in place of the crushed red chili pepper flakes for a fun Korean spin.
- Add 2 teaspoons of crushed garlic along with 2 teaspoons of grated fresh ginger for more amped up flavor.
- Thinly sliced red onion (1/2 cup) or red bell pepper (1/2 cup) can add a pleasant crunch.
- Garnish with both toasted sesame seeds and toasted chopped peanuts for the extra crunch and nutty flavor.
- Replace 1-2 tablespoons of sesame oil with a hot chili oil for a spicy cucumber salad.
- Use lime juice in place of rice vinegar for a refreshing twist.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can regular vinegar be used in place of rice vinegar?
Yes, in a pinch white vinegar or white balsamic vinegar is an excellent substitute. Apple cider vinegar can also be a substitute but it has a bigger impact on changing the flavor of the salad.
Do the Cucumbers need to be salted prior to making this Asian cucumber salad recipe?
Many recipes call for salting the cucumbers before making the salad because it draws out moisture in the cucumbers and many feel that it improves the flavor and texture of the cucumbers. I personally feel it is not necessary as long as you purchase good quality English cucumbers.
However, if you choose to salt the cucumbers prior to making the salad remove both the salt and honey from the dressing.
- Cut the cucumbers into but size pieces and place into a colander with a large bowl under the colander.
- Sprinkle the salt and 1-2 tablespoons of white sugar over the top of the cucumber slices.
- Place the colander in the refrigerator for 1 hour. The bowl underneath will be filled with cucumber water.
- Proceed with the recipe making sure to eliminate the honey and salt from the dressing.
What is the easiest way to cut the cucumbers?
The easiest way to cut the cucumbers is by hand cutting at an angle as shown in the video above.
Can the cucumber skin be peeled off for this recipe?
Yes, however it is not necessary when using Japanese, Persian or English cucumbers. Peeling and removal of the seeds becomes necessary when using the standard American cucumber (aka regular cucumbers) as the skin is tougher and the cucumber is more watery. To peel a regular cucumber simply use a vegetable peeler.
What other oils can replace the toasted sesame oil?
Peanut or avocado oil can replace the toasted sesame oil. However, these oils will not give this salad the incredible flavor that toasted sesame oil does.
Why do some recipes call for smashing the cucumbers?
Similar to other variations of this salad, smashing is a personal preference. Many people feel that smashing the cucumbers helps to improve the texture and allows the flavors from the dressing to cling to the cucumber slices. To smash the cucumbers simply roll in a sheet of plastic wrap and hit a few times with a fairly heavy item such as a pot or pan.
How should this salad be stored and how long will it keep?
Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for no longer than 3 days.
More Delicious Cucumber Recipes
Asian Cucumber Salad
- 2 large English cucumbers See Note #1 below
- 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 6 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce *use Tamari or coconut aminos for gluten free needs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup sliced green onions *from 2-3 stalks
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds *optional
- Using a sharp knife carefully cut the cucumbers at an angle into 1/8 inch slices. Set aside. See Note #2 below.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together the oil, vinegar, soy sauce, salt, honey and red chili pepper flakes.
- Toss the dressing with the sliced cucumbers and green onions.
- Refrigerate until needed and garnish with sesame seeds. Store the leftovers with their juices in an airtight container in the refrigerator for no longer than 3 days.
Really good side for an Asian themed meal
Thank you Kara for giving the recipe a try and coming back to comment.
Very tasty and easy to make. In fact I am pretty much addicted to this salad at the moment.
I am so happy to hear this. We adore this salad during the summer months also. Thank you so much for giving the recipe a try and coming back to comment.
Looks delicious! Will regular sesame oil (not toasted) work in a pinch?
Hi Stacie. Yes, regular sesame oil will work. It just won’t have the deeper nutty flavor that toasted sesame oil has. However, it will still be delicious.
I hope you enjoy!
This came out pretty good. I followed the recipe exactly. The next time around I would add one more tablespoon of sesame oil and probably another tablespoon of soy to bump up the Asian flavors.
I love that you are going to personalize. I have definitely had some readers tell me it was too much oil. However, this salad is super easy to customize. Thank you so much for giving it a try.