Al’s Famous Hungarian Cucumber Salad (Video)
If you like cucumbers, my friend Al’s Hungarian Cucumber Salad just might become your favorite cucumber salad ever! For people who like cucumbers, sour cream, and flavorful Hungarian Paprika, this is a salad you’ll make over and over.
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When my friend Al Church offered to make his famous Hungarian Cucumber Salad with me and share it with Kalyn’s Kitchen readers, I couldn’t wait to try the salad. Al is not only a former restaurant critic and food writer but he’s one of the most food-savvy people I know, so if this was his favorite cucumber salad, I knew it was going to be good!
And I love the combination of sweet paprika and sour cream that’s used in Hungarian cooking plus I’m a huge Cucumber fan, so of course I absolutely loved this salad! And this is a salad I think everyone should make at least once, so I’m featuring this favorite cucumber salad for Friday Favorites to entice you to try it! If you have garden cucumbers, or even if you need to make a trip to the store for the long English cucumbers we used, you must make this right away!
What ingredients do you need?
- English cucumbers or fresh garden cucumbers (cucumbers with small seeds are best for this)
- fine-grind salt (for drawing the water out of the cucumbers)
- garlic cloves
- white wine vinegar (see notes)
- sweet paprika, preferably Szeged Sweet Paprika (affiliate link)
- sour cream
- extra-virgin olive oil
- fresh ground black pepper to taste
What gives this cucumber salad Hungarian flavors?
The use of sweet Hungarian paprika, finely chopped garlic, and sour cream are the ingredients that gives this salad those great Hungarian flavors.
What if you don’t have white wine vinegar?
You can use other types of mild vinegar, even red wine vinegar that has a good flavor for this salad but don’t use a sweet vinegar like balsamic.
More Recipes with Hungarian Paprika:
Check out Slow Cooker Hungarian Pot Roast or Instant Pot Hungarian Pot Roast, Paprika Chicken, Goulash Soup, or Pork with Paprika, Mushrooms, and Sour Cream to see more favorite recipes where I’ve used Hungarian Paprika.
Want more Cucumber Salad ideas?
Check out my huge round-up of Low-Carb Cucumber Salads if you’re a fellow cucumber fan!
How to Make Al’s Famous Hungarian Cucumber Salad:
(Scroll down for complete printable recipe with nutritional information.)
- It’s best to use cucumbers with small seeds, and two long English cucumbers were perfect for this. Peel the cucumber, cut in half crosswise, and then score the edges with a fork.
- Al sliced the cucumbers with my Mandoline Slicer (affiliate link) on the 3mm blade.
- Please be VERY CAREFUL when you’re using the mandoline (just eat the last bits of the cucumber when your hands start getting close to the blade!) You can also cut the slices with a knife, but the mandoline is quicker and makes more even slices.
- Put the sliced cucumber pieces into a bowl and sprinkle with 2 tsp. fine table salt. Then use your clean hands to toss the cucumbers so they’re all covered with salt. Let cucumbers sit to draw out the water for at least 15-20 minutes.
- While cucumbers sit, make the dressing. We used my beloved garlic chopper to finely minced two cloves of garlic.
- Then mix together the white wine vinegar, paprika, oil, sour cream, garlic, and black pepper to make the dressing. Al recommends authentic Szeged Paprika (affiliate link), which is my favorite too!
- After cucumbers have released their liquid for about 20 minutes, drain them into a colander.
- Al uses a small plate to press down on the cucumbers and press out as much liquid as you can, or you can also put them in a clean kitchen towel and gently squeeze out the liquid. We blotted the cucumbers with a paper towel as well.
- Then toss the drained cucumbers with the dressing ingredients. (The salad is best if you can let it sit for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors blend before you serve it.)
Thanks Al, I absolutely loved the salad. (If you like this recipe you might also like Al’s Hungarian Summer Squash with Sour Cream, Paprika, and Dill!)
Make it a Low-Carb Meal:
This salad would make a perfect side dish for Pork with Paprika, Mushrooms, and Sour Cream, Paprika Chicken, or Grain-Free Breaded Pork Chops for a low-carb meal.
More Tasty Cucumber Salads:
Spicy Chopped Greek Salad with Peperoncini
Cucumber and Radish Salad with Feta Dressing
Al's Famous Hungarian Cucumber Salad
This Hungarian Cucumber Salad just might become your favorite way to eat cucumbers.
- 2 English cucumbers or 3-4 fresh garden cucumbers (cucumbers with small seeds are best for this)
- fine table salt (for drawing the water out of the cucumbers, see notes)
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced (more or less to taste)
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar (see notes)
- 1/2 – 1 tsp. sweet paprika, to taste (see notes)
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
- fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Peel the cucumbers, cut in half crosswise so they are easier to hold in your hand, and score the outside of each cucumber by drawing a fork down the side, until all the outside is scored into ridges.
- Slice cucumber into even, thin slices. (We used my Zyliss Mandoline with the 3mm size blade, but you can also cut the cucumbers with a knife if you don’t have a mandoline.) Please be VERY CAREFUL when using the mandoline. It’s better to eat the end piece of each cucumber than to slice your fingers!
- Put the sliced cucumbers into a bowl and sprinkle with table salt.
- Use your clean hands to toss cucumbers together so they’re all covered with salt, then let cucumbers sit and release their liquid for at least 15-20 minutes.
- While cucumbers are sitting, make the dressing.
- Finely chop 2 cloves of garlic.
- Whisk together the minced garlic, vinegar, sweet paprika, sour cream, and oil.
- I would start with 1/2 tsp. of paprika and then taste to see if you want more (we did.)
- Season the dressing with freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- After cucumbers have been sitting for 15-20 minutes to release the liquid, put them into a colander and let the liquid drain off. Then put a small plate over the cucumbers in the colander and gently press down to squeeze off as much liquid as you can. (You can also put cucumbers inside a clean dish towel and gently squeeze to remove the liquid.)
- Blot cucumbers dry with a paper towel.
- Put cucumbers back into the bowl (which you have dried out with a paper towel).
- Add the dressing mixture and gently combine.
- This salad is best when it sits for about 30 minutes before serving to let the flavors combine.
- Serve with additional sour cream and paprika to add to the salad at the table if desired.
- This salad will keep overnight in the fridge, and may even be better the second day.
- I gobbled up all my leftover salad for breakfast the next day, so I don’t know if it will last longer for one day in the fridge.
Use about 2 teaspoons of salt to draw water out of the cucumbers. Most of that salt gets rinsed off by the water. Any mild vinegar can be used, but don’t use a sweet vinegar for this. Al recommends Szeged Paprika (affiliate link), which is also my preferred brand!
This recipe is adapted from the traditional recipe in The Art of Hungarian Cooking, which Al says most closely resembles the salad from his grandmother’s Hungarian restaurant.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 94Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 105mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 2g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.
Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
I would eat Al’s Hungarian Cucumber Salad for any phase of the original South Beach Diet and it’s also great for low-carb diet plans. The South Beach Diet recommends light sour cream, but other low-carb eating plans would prefer full-fat sour cream, and personally I’d definitely use full fat Daisy Sour Cream in a salad like this. And trust me, Al would never use low-fat sour cream, and he always buys Daisy sour cream!
Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Salad Recipes to find more recipes like this one.Use the Diet Type photo index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.
39 Comments on “Al’s Famous Hungarian Cucumber Salad (Video)”
This recipe was delicious! Great flavor! This was very yummy….
Would rice wine vinegar work in this recipe?
I think unsweetened rice vinegar would work.
Looks nice and is easy to prepare:)
When I was a child, my mother's friend from Paris made this salad all the time. It is such a refreshing salad and I can't wait to make it after all these years.
Hope you enjoy; I love this salad!
Steph, I agree; that's the only paprika I buy! Hope you enjoy the blog.
I just found your blog, I'm in a mid summer slump and needed new inspiration for healthy recipes. I am half Hungarian and grew up with Cucumber salad, it tastes like summer to me. I just wanted to say I agree with Al's choice for Paprika. Szeged is the best you can get in the states. I like the hot version, it has a smokier flavor.
Thanks for sharing this seasonal recipe!!
This is fabulous. I think I can get my daughter on board for this one. She's a cucumber gal big time. Great recipe.
Vivzilla, I really need to get Al to come over and cook some more Hungarian food!
Aaaah, my parents and grandparents made a version of this salad when I was growing up. Its super great. Looking forward to seeing more hungarian cooking on the blog.
Neil's suggestion of lesco would be excellent. In addition to being tasty by itself, it also a good base to combine with other things. Eg in a risotto dish or in an omelette.
Pille, I promise you will LOVE this!
Intrigued, Kalyn, and have bookmarked this for next summer, when cucumbers are aplenty again!
I made this today & it was great – can't wait to take it to work tomorrow for lunch too! Thanks!
Tessa, when the water drains out of the cucumbers, it should rinse off most of the salt. Maybe toss the cucumbers in the colander a few times when they are draining, or drain a little longer.
I thought I followed the recipe but it tastes unbearably salty from the salt on the cucumbers. How do I avoid this?
Barbara I found it at one of my regular stores (either Smiths or Fresh Market, can't remember which.) It was down on the bottom shelf under the bottles of spices. The Szeged is great (I like their sharp paprika too) but I think any Hungarian paprika sold in a tin would work.
Planning on making this soon. Where did you buy your Szeged Sweet Paprika?