Kalyn's Kitchen

Spicy Cucumber Salad

This Spicy Cucumber Salad has an easy dressing with Asian flavors, and this sweet-sour-spicy cucumber salad is a refreshing side dish! I love the salad topped with toasted sesame seeds!

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Spicy cucumber salad in serving dish with plate and chopsticks in background

I love cucumbers and Asian flavors, so it’s not surprising that this Spicy Cucumber Salad would be something I’d enjoy and want to make over and over. The combination of cool cucumbers and spicy dressing ingredients gives this so much delicious flavor!

This recipe is perfect to make with the European cucumbers which are never bitter, and the recipe calls for the cucumbers to be salted and allowed to sit for 30 minutes to release water before they’re combined with the spicy dressing. I’ve made this quite a few times skipping that step, so feel free to do that if it seems too fussy for you. But if you like spicy Asian flavors, you have to try this recipe! This is a definite repeater for me.

This was one of the first cucumber salads I posted on my blog, so I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to update the photos! But I do want to mention that through the years I’ve found myself adjusting the dressing ingredients so the salad has more sweet, sour, and spicy flavors from sweetener, rice vinegar, and chili garlic sauce and less soy-sesame flavors from the soy sauce and sesame oil. This updated recipe has the proportions of those ingredients I now prefer. When you make it, I encourage you to get all the dressing ingredients out on the counter, make the dressing, and then taste it to see if you’d like to add a bit more of any of the flavors!

What ingredients do you need for this salad?

Do you really need to salt the cucumbers?

The step of salting the cucumbers for 30 minutes, draws out some of the water that’s in the cucumber. If you’re going to eat the salad right away, I definitely think you can skip that step. If the salad is going to sit in the fridge or you have leftovers, the soy sauce in the dressing will draw out some water which will make the salad just slightly more watery. I find that the European cucumbers I recommend don’t release as much water as some kinds of cucumbers, and I’ve made the salad many times using those and skipped the salting step.

What other types of cucumbers can you use?

There are many different types of cucumbers, and most of them will work for this salad. Of course any cucumber salad is always great with fresh garden cucumbers, and I’d always use those if I have them. But if you’re buying cucumbers at the store I would prefer the long European Cucumbers (that come wrapped in plastic) or small Persian Cucumbers (sometimes called mini-cucumbers) for this salad. Garden cucumbers will have a bit more water than the other two, so they will benefit most from the salting step if you choose to do it.

What ingredients give this salad Asian flavors?

This cucumber salad has Asian flavors from soy sauce, Chili Garlic Sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and sesame seeds.

More salad ideas for people who love cucumbers:

If you’re someone who loves cucumbers like I do, check out my collection of Low-Carb Cucumber Salads to Keep You Cool! There are more than 25 different tasty cucumber salad ideas there to make all summer long.

Spicy Cucumber Salad process shots collage

Tips for making this Spicy Cucumber Salad:

(Scroll down for complete recipe with nutritional information.)

  1. Peeling cucumbers is optional (unless you’re using regular store-bought cucumbers that have a waxy skin.)
  2. I like the look of the stripes, so I peel cucumbers and cut in half lengthwise, then slice. If your cucumber has large seeds, I’d scrape those out with a spoon after you cut cucumbers in half.
  3. Toss cucumbers with 1 T salt (preferably Kosher salt) and let drain for 30 minutes. This is less necessary with European cucumbers or Persian cucumbers, but it does make the salad less watery. (I’ve made this salad quite a few times skipping this step, so take your choice on it!
  4. While cucumber sit to release water, whisk together dressing ingredients. Then taste to see if you’d like to adjust the flavors a bit, adding any ingredient you’d like a bit more of.
  5. After 30 minutes, wipe cucumbers dry, which removes most of the salt as well.
  6. Then toss the cucumbers with dressing, and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. YUM!

spicy cucumber salad in serving dish with plate and chopsticks in background

Favorite Low-Carb Salads with Cucumbers:

Al’s Famous Hungarian Cucumber Salad
Spicy Chopped Greek-Style Salad with Peperoncini
Cucumber and Radish Salad with Feta Dressing
Cucumber, and Radish Salad
Cucumber and Avocado Salad with Lime, Mint, and Feta

close-up shot of Spicy cucumber salad in serving dish with plate and chopsticks in background

Spicy Cucumber Salad

Yield 6 servings
Prep Time 40 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes

Spicy Cucumber Salad has a fabulous dressing that's a wonderful combination of Asian flavors, and this is delicious and easy to make.

Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 2 European cucumbers (see notes)
  • 1 T salt, for salting cucumbers to remove water (optional)
  • 2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp. soy sauce (see notes)
  • 2 T rice vinegar (see notes)
  • 2 T Chili Garlic Sauce (see notes)
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic 
  • 2 T Golden Monkfruit Sweetener (see notes)
  • 1 T Asian sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Peel strips of skin from cucumbers and cut in half lengthwise.
  2. Scrape out seeds with a sharp spoon (if the cucumber has large seeds), then cut cucumbers into slices.
  3. Put cucumbers and salt in a colander and let drain for at least 30 minutes (I've made this many times skipping this step, but it will make a salad that's less watery. Your choice on whether or not to do it.)
  4. While cucumbers drain, whisk together soy sauce or Gluten-Free Soy Sauce, unseasoned rice vinegar, Chile Garlic Sauce, minced garlic, Golden Monkfruit Sweetener or sweetener of your choice, and sesame oil.
  5. Let dressing ingredients hang out at room temperature so flavors will blend. (I recommend tasting the dressing to see if you want to adjust by adding more of any of the ingredients.)
  6. After 30 minutes, or when desired amount of water has been released, wipe cucumbers with paper towels and place in plastic bowl. (The goal is to remove water as well as most of the salt.)
  7. Stir in dressing, and toss enough to coat cucumbers with dressing.
  8. Toast sesame seeds for about 30 seconds in dry pan over very hot heat, then sprinkle over salad. (I buy pre-toasted sesame seeds from the Asian grocer, but I still toast them for a few seconds to release the sesame flavor.)
  9. Serve immediately and wait for compliments!

Notes

If you don't have long European cucumbers I's use three medium cucumbers or 6-8 small Persian cucumbers would also be great. I'd use Golden Monkfruit Sweetener (affiliate link) for this salad, but use any sweetener of your choice. I used Chile Garlic Sauce (affiliate link) but any Asian type hot chile sauce will work. Use Gluten-Free Soy Sauce (affiliate link) for this recipe if needed. Don't use seasoned rice vinegar which contains sugar if you want a salad that's low in carbs.

Recipe adapted slightly from The Best Vegetable Recipes (affiliate link).

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 48Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1357mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 1g

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.

If you make this recipe I'd love to hear how it turns out. Leave a star rating or share on social media with the hashtag #KALYNSKITCHEN, thanks!


thumbnail image of spicy cucumber salad in serving dish

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
Spicy Cucumber Salad is a great dish for low-carb diet plans including Keto, and this salad is great for any phase of the original South Beach Diet.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Salad Recipes to find more recipes like this one. Use the Diet Type Index 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.

Historical Notes for this Recipe:
This favorite cucumber salad was first posted in 2007! It was updated in 2021 with greatly improved photos, plus a slight change to the dressing ingredients to make a salad with more sweet, sour, and spicy flavors and less soy and sesame flavors. Adjust dressing to your own taste, and enjoy!

Spicy Cucumber Salad Pinterest image

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    17 Comments on “Spicy Cucumber Salad”

  1. Your link for Golden Monkfruit sweetner links to several monkfruit sweetners, none of which are “Golden” although one brand has a “Gold” that is a brown sugar replacement using both monkfruit and erithrytol. Which one are you recommending? Or is this just the affiliate you are connected, and, basicly, any monkfruit will do?

    • When I click the link it goes directly to Lakanto Golden Monkfruit Sweetener. I don’t know if Amazon targets to what you have purchased, but that’s definitely the brand I prefer.

  2. Pingback: Thai Basil Chicken Recipe (Kai Kraphao) - Andrea Meyers

  3. This is a wonderful spicy salad and has that pickled asian flavor that I love. Made it with Asian ahi. Excellent.

  4. I love love love cucumbers. So much, that I’ll take them to work as my snack – which, for some reason, a lot of people find odd. This looks great.

  5. Kalyn:
    Reminds me of my trip to Thailand.
    My mouth is watering in anticipation of the delightful taste of their chili salad dressings. Will have it tomorrow. Thanks!
    Wanda

  6. mmm that looks so good -my kids love cucumbers.

  7. This is a nice recipe…I would only change it slightly and could have on a wide macrobiotic diet (which I follow). I’d probably use rice syrup for the sweetener. Thank you.

  8. Katie, no idea where the cucumbers come from that we get in the dead of winter, but they’re surprisingly good.

    Kevin, me too, I never actually “cook” them, but they are one of my absolute favorites. This year though my garden cucumbers were terrible. I never found the type I wanted but I did discover two types I NEVER want to grow again. Next year, I’m even more determined to find sweet slice variety for the garden.

    Katerine, agreed. I guess they aren’t my favorite either, but definitely in the top ten.

    Pam, good luck with freezing the Thai basil. Keep me posted on how you’re using it.

    Anh, thanks! Glad you liked it.

    Tanna, I just LOVE that Thai Chili Garlic Paste. To me it’s the best flavor ever.

    Maria, it was great! Will make it for you sometime.

  9. Dear Kalyn, my first time here, just love your blog, the header made me smile, and cucumbers are a fav with me.

  10. I am glad you were able to use some of your thai basil. This salad looks like it has a lot of great flavors going on!!

  11. Gadfry, I’ve got to do this one. I just know we’ll love this one!

  12. Kalyn.

    A great use of Thai basil (I just had them for my beef noodle salad today)..

  13. I love asian cucumber salads! And I’ll be freezing my thai basil tomorrow.

  14. I can understand why they aren’t anybody’s favorite – in everyone’s top ten but not favorite. At least that is how I look at them. Maybe it is also because you can get them year round in lots of places. I am surprised to hear that isn’t true everywhere!

  15. Cucumbers are one of my favorite vegetables. I pick at least one up at the grocery store every week all year round. I usually eat cucumbers plain and when I was thinking of my favorite vegetable I though “What vegetables have I enjoyed ~cooking~ with this year.” Since I usually do not cook with cucumbers they did not even enter my mind… This cucumber salad sounds good. It reminds me of cucumber sunomono.

  16. You’re lucky that you can get them year round! Once August is over we don’t see them and I don’t even think of them…of course we absolutly pig out for June, July and August…
    I’ll mark this one for next summer…