This Asian cucumber salad recipe is a perfect way to add a light, healthy dish to your spring and summer meals. The marinated cucumbers with just a little heat add interest without extra work. It’s easy and perfect for summer barbecues! Originally published September 11, 2013.
Today I spent more money at the grocery store than I have ever spent in my life. I actually got the shakes when I was checking out and saw the number go up and up and up. Sweaty, tremble-y hands, discombobulated, everything. I’m like the antithesis of a shopaholic.
It’s not that I can’t spend money.
It’s just that usually when I spend that much money on something, I’ve thought about it for a while, and of course talked to Eric about it. I can’t handle the fact that I just randomly went and spent hundreds of dollars on a Monday afternoon.
When Eric interviewed for his job, they talked to him about “sticker shock.” It’s something we were expecting. You don’t move to California and expect your grocery bill to be the same. Plus, whenever you move into a new place you have to stock up on everything that is usually just already in your fridge: mayonnaise, salad dressing, ice cream. What, ice cream isn’t a staple in your freezer? You will probably live longer than me.
Well, I’m just glad I’m so cheap that I took the time to pack up my entire pantry before we moved. When all the kitchen boxes were finally emptied, I had 4 pounds of powdered sugar, 30 or 40 cans of beans and tomatoes and fruit, 4 containers of cocoa powder, tons of pasta, Crisco, chocolate chips…you get the idea. I think I had more food packed in those boxes than my brother had in his entire kitchen (before I started cooking for them, of course.)
How to Make Asian Marinated Cucumbers
Here’s a quick overview of how to make this salad; for complete instructions, scroll down to the recipe card below.
- Thinly slice cucumbers with a chef’s knife or mandoline.
- Toast your sesame seeds.
- Toss dressing ingredients together and mix with cucumbers and sesame seeds.
- Cover and chill for at least an hour before serving.
We loved this salad. It is a perfectly light side dish. And I mean it when I say light, don’t expect the flavor to kick you in the mouth. It’s delicate. If you have a mandoline, use it. If not, then you will have to slice by hand, but other than that part, this is a really easy and fast recipe.
Asian Cucumber Salad Recipe Ingredients
Here’s a quick shopping list to help you gather your ingredients. See the recipe card below for the full ingredients and instructions!
- Sweet onion
- Rice vinegar
- Sesame seeds
- Dill, fresh or dried
- Red pepper flakes
Which Cucumbers to Use for Cucumber Asian Salad
If you go to the grocery store, you’ll probably see two kinds of cucumbers: a regular cucumber, and a long, thin English cucumber. Regular cucumbers have noticeable seeds, which can sometimes be bitter (they don’t bother me, personally). English cucumbers are a bit sweeter and have only tiny seeds. Either one works great for this salad, but if you’d like to avoid needing to seed your cucumber, buy the English ones.
Cucumber Salad (Asian) Variations
Here are a few ideas to switch up the flavors in your Asian Cucumber Salad.
- Use brown sugar instead of white for a deeper, caramel sweetness.
- Try a dab of Korean gochujang paste instead of the red pepper flakes.
- Mix in a little miso paste for Japanese umami flavors.
- Add some minced garlic in addition to the onion.
What to Serve Asian Cucumber Salad with:
I made this salad to go with these Asian Salmon Burgers with Wasabi Mayonnaise. DO IT! Seriously. You won’t regret it. Both of these recipes are from my friend Rebecca over at Foodie with Family. She’s an amazing blogger with tons of awesome recipes! She even just came out with her first cookbook, Not Your Mama’s Canning Book. It’s so fun! Check it out!
This salad is also perfect for serving with these Asian-inspired recipes:
- Asian Pork Tenderloin with Ginger Glaze (Slow Cooker) << easy, healthy, and made in the slow cooker.
- Asian Seared Chicken with Stir Fried Green Beans << an amazing low-carb meal with crispy, Asian-inspired chicken.
- Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowls (Slow Cooker) << super easy weeknight meal with homemade teriyaki sauce.
- Sheet Pan Asian Salmon with Broccoli, Carrots, and Rice Noodles << a 30-minute meal with the most tender chili-spiced salmon.
How Long Will Cucumber Salad with Rice Vinegar Last?
You can refrigerate this salad for up to five days, which makes it perfect for meal prepping easy work lunches. Just toss gently before eating.
Cucumber Salad Recipe (Asian) FAQ
Cucumbers naturally release liquid when they’re sliced. If you don’t like the cucumber water (and any extra dressing), then serve your cucumber salad with a slotted spoon so you’re just getting the lightly dressed cucumbers and leaving the liquid behind.
If you’re willing to take the extra time, you can also salt the sliced cucumbers and place in a colander to drain before mixing them with the dressing. After 20-30 minutes, just pat them dry and then dress them. This will allow them to release liquid before you put them in your salad.
Cucumbers will naturally get a little softer and more pliable over a few days. If you’d like to avoid the sogginess, you can release their liquid ahead of time by salting the sliced cucumbers, draining them in a colander for 20-30 minutes, patting them dry, and then dressing them. It’s not necessary for a tasty salad, but if you love crispy, crunchy cucumbers, it helps keep them that way a bit longer.
The delicious flavors from the rice vinegar and sesame seeds combine with crushed red pepper flakes to make this delicious spicy, Asian-inspired cucumber salad. It’s such an easy side for whatever stir-fry, curry, rice, or noodle dish you’re serving.
You will like these cucumber salads too!
- Cilantro Lime Cucumber Salad
- Pistachio-Pear Cucumber Salad
- Mexican Cucumber Salad with Cilantro and Lime
- Greek Salad Recipe
- Strawberry Cucumber Salad with Honey Balsamic Dressing << this is such a unique dish! I love it!
- Korean Cucumber Salad from Taste and Tell
- Kicked Up Cucumber Salad from Aggie’s Kitchen
- Cucumber Salad with Grapes and Poppyseed Dressing from Oh Sweet Basil
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Asian Cucumber Salad
- 1 large Cucumber, seedless English variety, very thinly sliced
- ¼ sweet onion, very thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 tablespoon dill , minced & fresh dill or ½ teaspoon dried dill weed
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, crushed
- Slice the cucumbers as thinly as you can without slicing your hand. Or go buy a mandoline.
- Throw your tablespoon of sesame seeds into a small dry frying pan. Set over medium heat and stir occasionally until the seeds just begin to brown. You don’t want to overdo it.
- Gently toss together all of the ingredients until everything is evenly coated. Put in a container with a tight fitting lid and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Marinated salads like this always improve with time, so feel free to make this ahead of time. Refrigerate for up to 5 days. Gently toss again before serving.
This is the yummiest snack I’ve had in a while!! Made this afternoon but just got a chance to try and had to come back and leave a review. SO GOOD! I added some toasted sesame oil because I didn’t have a chance to roast the seeds and it was Good! Can’t wait for my husband to get home and try these.
I love cucumbers and I love salads.
Made it exactly as instructed and it came out wonderfully. Perfect compliment to a bulgogi and spam fried rice dinner. No spicy at all.
That sounds like an amazing dinner! I feel like I need to work more spam into my life. Thanks for the review!
After years of watching my Mom make regular pickles, why isn’t there enough liquid to cover the cukes? Did I do something wrong?
Hi Bobbi! This isn’t a pickle recipe, it’s just a cucumber salad. You wouldn’t want that much liquid in your salad!
Great recipe. I’ve been looking for a good recipe since I have tons of Asian cucumbers that I grew from seeds this year that I picked up at the local Asian store.
Here are some pictures
I can’t believe the seeds are pink! Awesome! So glad you enjoyed it, thanks for the review :)
YUM! This sounds absolutely amazing! I will be trying this sometime next week and adding it to my Pinned & Did section on my blog! Thank you so much for sharing!
No problem Chanda! Hope you love it as much as we do!
Yum! I can’t wait to make this. I think my little boy (2 and a half) would enjoy this as well! He loves cucumbers.
If he loves cucumbers, I’m sure he’ll love this! Happy cooking Shayna!
Tried it tonight, I let it marinate for about 45 min. at room temperature. Served it with chicken satay and basmati rice. It was delicious !!! Definitely one of the best dinner this week. This salad is a keeper :) BTW, Really like your recipes and your pictures are gorgeous !!
Thank you Julie! I’m so glad you liked the recipe! I just got a mandoline a few months ago so I’m making this all the time lately because NO SLICING! haha. Love the idea of pairing this with chicken satay. YUM! Thanks for coming back to comment!
I’m going to make this with the asian pork tenderloin you’ve got.
when I was 18 I boarded with this german lady and her daughter and she made a thinly sliced cucumber salad every meal. they were soaking in lemon vinegar with a little water.
I think this salad would go great with that pork! Yum. I like the lemon vinegar idea, I’ll have to try that! Thanks for the comment Mike!
Delicious cucumber salad. I Googled Marinated Cucumber and chose this recipe because it used rice vinegar. I had already sliced the cucumbers a little thicker then called for, before I decided to check for a recipe. Otherwise, I made the salad according to the directions for a 1/2 recipe and ate all of it while cruising your blog. I will visit more often now that we have met!
Love the rice vinegar in there! Good stuff. I’m so glad it turned out well for you Tiffany! The cucumber size is a personal preference anyway I think. Thanks for visiting, and for commenting! I love hearing from people who make my recipes :)
Made this last night & tried it this morning. Love the delicate flavor and the no oil factor. It’s moved from my “to try list” to my “keeper list”. Looking forward to trying your Cilantro-Lime Cucumber Salad too. Found you on Pinterest. Mahalo!
I’m so glad you liked it Nancy! Thanks for stopping to leave a comment! It always makes me so happy to know that people are enjoying my recipes.
Sounds so good! I can’t wait to make this :)
You might like some cucumbers we make in Sweden, well at least my mom always did. thinly slice English cucumber and put it in the a mason jar pour over some distilled vinegar/water and sugar mix. With the distilled vinegar here in the states I would say I use about half half with water and vinegar and then taste myself with sugar. You don’t it overly sweet, more like a sweet tart and then add freshly chopped parsley. We pretty much only had the curly back home but I have used flat leaf here in the US as well. Enjoy!
Ooh Andrea that sounds so good! I love marinated cucumbers, they are so so good. I just made another version yesterday, I think I’m posting it on Monday. I will have to try out your Swedish version! (My family is Swedish after all! :) Thanks for commenting Andrea!
Oh how funny, and what a small world. I came across your blog on Pinterest and had no idea you have a Swedish heritage :) I love cucumbers as well in all shaped and used to drive my mom crazy when I was a kid as I used to get them and eat big chunks as snacks. We pretty much only have the English ones at home which are so much more tasty!
At least you were sneaking something healthy right? The only thing I was ever sneaking as a kid were cookies!!
So, you may not want to marinate much longer than what is recommended… I made this at about 2pm or so. We ate dinner at about 5:30, maybe 5:15, and it was all mushy. :( I was sad because the flavors were good. Maybe I made the slices to thin? Not sure. By the way, I love you.
Hm, this might not be the salad for you actually. The cucumbers aren’t supposed to be crisp after you marinate them. I don’t know if mushy is the word I would use, but definitely soft. It’s like coleslaw. Maybe you would like it better as a fresh cucumber salad–make the dressing, let that sit for an hour or two to allow the flavors to meld, then top some sliced cucumbers with it. It would still be really good. I love you too!