This crisp and creamy cucumber salad recipe is simple and incredibly refreshing! It makes a great appetizer or side dish all summer long.
Love dill and cucumber? Try this Creamy Tzatziki Sauce next.
Why you'll love it
There are endless variations of cucumber salad out there, but this is definitely our favorite. It's creamy, crisp, and simple to make. It's reminiscent of the kind of salad I grew up on having a European mom. This is basically a German cucumber salad (Gurkensalat) with its irresistible sour cream dressing!
Our kitchen is a little obsessed with how good this recipe is for how few ingredients it has. There's something to be said about simplicity. Why mess with the basics? Dill. Cucumber. Sour cream. Yes please! This is also a fabulous last-minute side dish for your summer cookouts and BBQs.
Ingredients you need
- Cucumber - I recommend English cucumbers (hot house). You don't need to peel them (the skin is thinner/less tough), the seeds are small, and they're just good all-around cucumbers for salad.
- Salt - for drawing out the liquid from the cucumber slices
- Sour cream - I like using full fat for ultimate creaminess
- Vinegar - we're using classic white vinegar
- Sugar - a pinch of white sugar in the dressing adds a little sweetness that balances the tanginess of the vinegar
- Dill - fresh dill adds herby brightness
- Pepper - I wouldn't skip it. The peppery kick complements the dressing
- Onion - red onions are the best variety for eating raw in salads and additional crunch
How to thinly slice cucumber
- The easiest way is to use a mandoline slicer. It takes less than a minute to slice up an entire English cucumber, creates thin and even slices, and as long as you use a protective glove and/or guard, it's perfectly safe and simple to use.
- My mandoline has a 2mm setting, but models can vary, and some have 1.5mm (1/16") setting instead, so use that setting if that's what yours has available.
How to make creamy cucumber salad
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Thinly slice the cucumber. Add the slices to a colander along with the salt. Let it sit for 30 minutes so that the water drains from them. It's important to salt the cucumber slices before adding them to the salad. Meanwhile, add the dressing ingredients to a bowl and stir. Refrigerate until needed.
Chop the red onion and add it to a bowl. When the cucumber is ready, give it a quick rinse with cool water to remove some of the salt, and then thoroughly dry with paper towel. Place in the bowl along with the dressing, combine, and chill or enjoy immediately.
How to salt cucumber
- Salting releases some moisture from inside each slice so that the cucumber is nice and crispy and less watery. Unsalted cucumbers dilute the dressing and don't pack as much of a crunch.
- Slice the cucumber up, add it to a colander, sprinkle on a fairly generous pinch of salt (about a teaspoon is good), and then toss the slices with your hands so that everything is evenly coated. Let it sit and do its thing while you prepare the dressing. I find 30 minutes is enough, but you could leave it for even longer.
- I do recommend quickly rinsing the cucumber slices off prior to patting them dry with paper towel. I've tried it before without doing that, and the salad ends up a bit too salty.
Substitutions and variations
- Sour cream is more traditional, but you could sub with Greek yogurt since it's also fairly tangy.
- I recommend fresh dill, but if you don't have any, you can use dried dill. I'd start with 1/2 tablespoon and add more if needed.
- As always, feel free to taste and adjust the dressing as needed. If you're unsure about adding a bit of sweetness, start with half the sugar and add more if needed. You could even try subbing it with honey if you wish.
- If you're feeding a crowd, this recipe easily doubles. Just straight double all the ingredients!
Leftovers and storage
- This salad will keep in the fridge in a covered container for a day or two, but keep in mind it will become more watery over time and the cucumber will lose its crunch quite fast.
- You could add a touch more sour cream to revive the dressing if you like.
Questions about this cucumber salad recipe? Let me know!
Creamy Cucumber Salad
- 1 English cucumber
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon white sugar see note
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- Pepper to taste
- 3-4 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
- Slice the cucumber thin. I do this quickly using my mandoline (I cut it into 2mm slices). Add the cucumber slices to a colander. Sprinkle them with the salt and toss with your hands to evenly distribute it. Place the colander in the sink or on a plate to catch the water that will be released. Let it sit for about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the dressing by adding the sour cream, vinegar, sugar, dill, and pepper to a medium bowl and stirring together until smooth. Taste & adjust if required. Refrigerate the dressing until needed.
- Chop the onion and add it to a salad bowl.
- Once the cucumber is ready, give it a quick rinse in cold water and then thoroughly dry it using paper towel. Add it to the salad bowl, pour the dressing over, and toss. It should still be salty enough, but if not, add more salt prior to serving. I recommend eating this salad within a short time of making it because it does go more watery the longer you leave it, but you can chill it for 15 minutes or so prior to serving if you wish.
- If you prefer less sweetness, use half the suggested sugar amount and then add more if needed.
- Serves 4 as an appetizer or side salad. Recipe is easily doubled.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information. The salt is mostly rinsed off, so it's not included as part of the nutrition info calculation, but keep that in mind if you need to consider salt for health reasons (there will still be more than indicated).
This recipe was originally published on October 10, 2016. It's been tweaked to be even easier, tastier, and has new photos!