This crunchy Asian cucumber salad is cool, fresh, crisp, and has a delicious balance of salty, sweet, and tangy. Spicy flavors and other variations are included. Enjoy this gluten-free, vegan marinated cucumber dish at potlucks, BBQs, picnics, and more!
This Asian cucumber salad recipe is what started my love for healthy cucumber recipes and salads. It led to me sharing my favorite recipes for cucumber salads. Like this spicy Korean cucumber salad and cucumber and onion vinegar salad. They’re crunchy, crisp, vibrant, and packed with flavor, perfect for serving with so many meals!
This Asian cucumber salad is packed with some of my favorite Asian flavors, including toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, and ginger. Better yet, with just a few tweaks, this recipe is easily adapted to be more regional in style. This includes a Japanese sunomono cucumber salad (with wakame) and a Thai cucumber salad (with peanut, lime juice, and Thai basil).
If you think of cucumber as a boring, bland ingredient, think again. This marinated cucumber salad Asian style requires minimal effort (and budget) to prepare, with no peeling or deseeding necessary. It also packs in enough flavor to be a crowd-pleaser on any occasion!
Which Cucumber Is Best for Cucumber Salad
Persian cucumbers, Turkish, or English cucumbers are my usual go-to’s for their best flavor, thin skin, and low seeds. Japanese mini cucumbers also work very well. Avoid regular American cucumbers, which are watery with thick skin.
If you can only use a seedy cucumber, slice it in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Snack on them or add them to smoothies and other recipes.
This Asian cucumber vinegar salad recipe relies on a few ingredients, most of which are pantry staples. It is the perfect side dish to pull together at a moment’s notice.
- Cucumber: Use low-seed or seedless cucumber varieties.
- Spring onions: (or scallions) add an extra fresh element to the salad.
- Vinegar: I used rice wine vinegar, but regular white vinegar would also work well. A combination of vinegar and lemon or lime juice would also work.
- Sesame: A combination of toasted sesame oil and sesame seeds packs in tons of flavor to the Asian cucumber salad recipe.
- Soy sauce: Use regular or reduced-sodium soy sauce. For a gluten-free version, use tamari or coconut aminos.
- Ginger: Use fresh ginger root. I like to store mine in the freezer, making it easier to grate.
- Sugar: I love to use brown sugar or coconut sugar. However, feel free to use regular sugar or maple syrup/honey. Use a sugar replacement like erythritol/ swerve if preferred.
- Salt: For salting the cucumbers.
- Chili: (Optional) If you’d like a spicy cucumber salad, you could add some chili powder. Or add red pepper flakes and/or chili oil (chili paste) to the marinated cucumbers. Hot sauce would also work.
Asian Cucumber Salad Recipe
First, wash and dry the cucumber and then thinly slice it.
How to Cut Cucumber for Cucumber Salad
To slice the cucumber, use either a sharp knife or a mandoline (for perfectly even slices). I recommend slicing them around 1/8-inch thick. This way they’re not overly thick but sturdy enough not to become soggy and limp too quickly.
If you want slightly more surface area, cut them on a diagonal. You could also make ribboned cucumbers using a vegetable ribbon tool.
Note that the texture of the marinated cucumbers will vary based on the way you cut the cucumber and how thick the slices are.
Optionally, use a fork to score lines down the side of the cucumber to provide ridges for the dressing to cling to the cucumber. You won’t regret it!
Then, transfer the cucumber slices to a colander and sprinkle with salt. Leave it in the sink to drain naturally for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the Asian cucumber salad dressing. To do so, grate the ginger, chop the spring onion, and combine them with the remaining dressing ingredients.
For extra flavor, toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan until golden and fragrant. Only then should you add them to the Asian cucumber salad.
Finally, pat the cucumber slices dry, wiping away any excess salt. Then combine them with the dressing. Allow it to marinate in the fridge for 1-2 hours (longer is better), then serve!
Make ahead: This Asian cucumber salad recipe includes a 30-minute salting period and a 2-hour marinating period. So, make sure to take this into account.
Store: Once assembled and marinated, this Asian cucumber vinegar salad is best within a day for the crispest texture. However, even as the cucumber releases more liquid, the salad should still be okay for an additional day or two.
You can also add a few fresh cucumber slices to freshen it up again before serving it once more.
What to Serve with Asian Cucumber Salad?
This light and refreshing cucumber salad Asian style is a welcome addition to any picnic, potluck, or BBQ. It can be enjoyed with many sides, including:
- Rice paper rolls, Rice paper dumplings, gyoza, sushi, etc.
- Teriyaki salmon or other salmon dishes.
- With rice noodles and other noodles
- Burgers or Tacos
- BBQ favorites – like chicken wings, grilled chicken and fish, kabobs, etc.
- Pasta salads
- Grilled proteins like fish, chicken, shrimp, or tofu/tempeh.
- Add to salad/buddha bowls.
- Thai red curry or green curry.
Even after salting the cucumbers, they will continue to release water into the dish and become watery. Just make sure to salt the cucumbers to avoid a watery cucumber salad.
The cucumber peel should be thin enough to add a nice crunch without being tough. Therefore, I don’t recommend peeling it unless you’re using cucumber with tough skin.
Omitting it entirely will alter the tangy, salty, sweet balance. However, some people prefer their cucumber vinegar salad to be super tangy. So, feel free to reduce or omit it.
You could also use a sugar alternative to add sweetness.
More Fresh Recipes
- Crunchy Asian Salad Without Noodles
- Lettuce Wraps Recipe
- Bow Tie Pasta Salad
- Thai Cucumber Salad with roasted peanuts
If you try this Asian cucumber salad recipe, I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions below. Also, I’d appreciate a recipe card rating below, and feel free to tag me in your recipe recreations on Instagram @Alphafoodie!
Crunchy Asian Cucumber Salad
- 11.6 oz cucumber 1 large; use low seed or seedless varieties with thin skin, like Perisian, Turkish, English, and small Japanese cucumbers
- 1/2 teaspoon salt for sweating the cucumbers
- 0.7 oz spring onion 3 stalks; or scallions
- 0.1 oz ginger 1/2 tablespoon grated
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce regular or low sodium; use tamari or coconut aminos for a gluten-free option
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil toasted
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar or coconut sugar, maple syrup/honey; use a sugar alternative if preferred
- 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar or white vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds toasted
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder or red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 teaspoon chili paste or chili oil, optional
- Wash and dry the cucumber and then thinly slice it.To slice the cucumber, use either a sharp knife or a mandoline (for perfectly even slices). I recommend slicing them around 1/8-inch thick so they're not overly thick but sturdy enough not to become soggy and limp too quickly.If you want slightly more surface area, cut them on a diagonal. Optionally, use a fork to score lines down the side of the cucumber to provide ridges for the dressing to cling to the cucumber. You won’t regret it!
- Transfer the cucumber slices to a colander, sprinkle with salt, and leave in the sink to drain naturally for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the salad dressing. Grate the ginger, chop the spring onion, and combine them with the remaining dressing ingredients.Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan until golden and fragrant before adding them to the Asian cucumber salad.
- Pat the cucumber slices dry, wiping away any excess salt. Then combine them with the dressing. Allow it to marinate in the fridge for 1-2 hours (longer is better), then serve!
- Make ahead: This salad recipe includes a 30-minute salting period and a 2-hour marinating period, so take this into account.Store: Once assembled and marinated, this salad is best within a day for the crispest texture. However, even as the cucumber releases more liquid, the salad should still be okay for an additional day or two.You can also add a few fresh cucumber slices to freshen it up again before serving it once more.
- Time saver hack: Use a mandoline or slicing disk in your food processor to get the cucumber cut in practically just seconds.
- Make sure to sweat the cucumbers: This is necessary to avoid a soggy salad.
- Allow it to marinate: This allows the ingredients to all meld so no one flavor tastes overwhelming (which can happen if you try to eat it immediately).
- Adjust to taste: This Asian cucumber salad recipe is super simple to adjust to your taste, whether you want it sweeter, tangier, spicier, etc.
- Other veggies: Red onion, shredded carrot, edamame, finely chopped bell pepper, sugar snap peas, corn, radish, and even avocado would work well in this recipe.
- Cilantro: Instead of or alongside the spring onion.
- Garlic: Just a tiny amount of minced garlic, added to taste.
- Beans: White beans or chickpeas will add fiber and protein.
- Korean cucumber salad: I’ve already shared a recipe for a Korean version with gochujang chili and garlic for a spicy cucumber salad.
- Thai version: Add some roasted peanuts and lime juice (in place of the vinegar). You can also add some Thai basil and optionally a little fish sauce (or vegan fish sauce).
- Japanese cucumber salad: (Sunomono) wakame or a seaweed blend sprinkle it a common and popular addition. For a more traditional sunomono salad, omit the sesame oil and chili.