Spicy Cucumber Salad

Spicy Cucumber Salad, also known as Spicy Korean Cucumber Salad or Spicy Asian Cucumber Salad, is a tangy and crisp side dish or appetizer with thinly sliced cucumbers soaked in chili garlic sauce.

This simple cucumber salad is just cucumber mixed with spicy garlic sauce low in saturated fat and high in vitamin C. It also has both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat as well, giving it 5 stars in the nutrition department too. Homemade Salads are the best! You can customize them any way you want and enjoy them as a side dish or main dish. 

a bowl filled spicy cucumber salad

Asian Cucumber Salad

Although many think this is an Asian salad, preparing cucumbers with this delicious recipe was not noted in Korean food recipes until well after the 1800s. In fact, the first recipe for cucumber salad was German, published in a cookbook in 1701. However, there are different styles of cucumber salad from all over the world. The Polish salad is called Mizeria and it has cucumbers with sour cream or kefir and vinegar. Israeli salad is made from diced cucumber, peppers, onion, and tomatoes.

overhead shot of spicy asian cucumber salad with a spoon in it

Ingredients:

  • Persian cucumbers: Thinly sliced cucumbers. If you use Persian cucumbers or another kind with thin skin, you do not have to peel it. 
  • White granulated sugar: Just a bit for sweetness.
  • Toasted sesame seeds: Toasted seeds make them taste nuttier and the crunch is better.
  • Chili oil: Just a vegetable oil with pepper juice infused in it, you can get this mild, hot, or extra hot. Perfect for having a bit of heat that sticks to the cucumbers.
  • Sesame oil: Using oil made from sesame seeds makes your salad healthier and gives it a vibrant flavor.
  • Low-sodium soy sauce: Light soy sauce is best for this salad. Dark soy sauce is too strong and will overpower the rest of the delicious flavors.
  • Rice vinegar: You could also use apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar.
  • Minced garlic cloves: Freshly minced is best but you could use powder if that is all you have.
  • Korean chili flakes: Also known as gochugaru, Korean chili flakes are less spicy than the red ones with a smoky and sweet taste.
  • Kosher salt: Any kind of salt will do for your cucumbers.

How to make Asian Cucumber Salad?

  1. Salted cucumbers: First, thinly slice the cucumbers and add them to a large bowl. Sprinkle them with salt and stir before letting them sit for 10 minutes. Drain well and dry out the bowl. 
  2. Drain and dry: After the cucumbers have sat for 10 minutes, rinse them under cold running water, drain, and pat dry with a paper towel. 
  3. Mix it up: Next, put the remaining cucumbers back into the bowl and add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, chili oil, sesame oil, sesame seeds, sugar, garlic, and chili flakes. Stir well until completely combined.
  4. Best served chilled: For best results let your cucumber salad chill for 30 minutes before serving.

overhead shot of spicy asian cucumber salad with minced garlic

Variation:

  • Add protein: Add extra protein with grilled chicken, pork, turkey, shrimp, or tofu.
  • Noodles: Combine your spicy cucumber salad with some kind of noodles, rice, or pasta for a hearty meal.
  • Vegetables: Try using different vegetables like bell peppers, green onions, mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, or red onion for more flavor and color.
  • More crunch: For an even more refreshing crunch, toast raw sesame seeds before using them.
  • Add herbs and spices: Use some herbs and spices like fresh ginger, ground cumin, cilantro, mint, and basil.
  • Extra spicy food: For even more spiciness, add a pinch of Korean red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper.
  • Toasted sesame oil: For a unique nutty flavor, use toasted sesame oil instead of regular.
  • No sugar: Instead of sugar, you can use honey, agave, or maple syrup.
  • Coconut aminos: Instead of soy sauce, use coconut aminos for a sweeter and tangier flavor.

a blue bowl of spicy cucumber salad

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of cucumbers are best?

The best kind to use are the small ones with thin skin like Korean cucumbers or Persian cucumbers. You want them to be firm and crisp cucumbers. If you cannot find Korean cucumbers, English cucumbers work well as far as the taste goes. You could also use Kirby cucumbers or Japanese cucumbers of any kind. If you end up using regular cucumbers, you will need to peel them. 

What are mini cucumbers?

Mini cucumbers are not just regular cucumbers that are not ripe. They are a different variety that stays small no matter how long they grow. Sometimes called gherkins or cornichons, are shorter and thinner than regular cucumbers at about four to five inches long and about an inch wide. Mini cucumbers can have bumpy or smooth skin.

Why is my salad watery?

Nobody wants watery cucumber salad. To prevent a watery salad, make sure you drain the cucumbers after salting them. Pat cucumber slices completely dry before adding them to your salad. If there are any seeds, you could also remove them. Sometimes, it could be the other veggies you add like celery, green onion, and tomatoes. 

a bowl of spicy asian cucumber salad with a fork next to it

How to store leftovers:

  • Store: You can store your leftover spicy cucumber salad in an airtight container in the fridge. It will stay fresh for several days.
  • Freeze: Freezing is not recommended.

More easy and delicious salads:

a bowl of spicy cucumber salad with a spoon in it

 Recipe tips:

  • Gluten-free soy sauce is available at most stores if you are allergic to gluten. Regular soy sauce has gluten.
  • If you do not have chili oil, you can use chili powder instead.
  • Add a dash of lemon or lime juice or zest for extra tangy flavor.
  • Use a vegetable peeler to make spiral cucumbers for a more attractive dish with a different texture.
  • If you use regular cucumbers, peel them and remove the seeds for the best flavor and texture.
  • Salted cucumbers are best when you are worried about having too much moisture because the salt draws out excess liquid which then drains away.
  • To ensure consistent texture and flavor in each bite, try to cut each slice the same size.
  • Refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  • If you are worried about nutrition, calories, and fat, check out our nutritional information at the bottom of the page.
5 from 4 votes
a bowl filled spicy cucumber salad
Spicy Cucumber Salad
Prep Time
20 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 

Spicy Cucumber Salad is a refreshing salad with a crisp, tangy, and invigorating taste. Bursting with fresh ingredients and a zesty kick!

Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Asian
Keyword: Spicy Cucumber Salad
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 38 kcal
Author: Catalina Castravet
Ingredients
  • 6 Persian cucumbers sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili oil
  • 1/3 teaspoon sugar or honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/3 teaspoon chili flakes
Instructions
  1. First, slice the cucumbers and add them to a bowl. Also, add salt, and stir them, let them sit for 10 minutes.

  2. After that, drain any liquid accumulated in the bowl.

  3. After the cucumbers have sat for 10-15 minutes, rinse them under cold running water, drain, and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel. Add them back to the bowl.

  4. Next, add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. For best results let the salad chill for 30 minutes before serving.

  5. Also, you can serve it immediately, or refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.

Nutrition Facts
Spicy Cucumber Salad
Amount Per Serving
Calories 38 Calories from Fat 18
% Daily Value*
Fat 2g3%
Saturated Fat 0.3g2%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Sodium 440mg19%
Potassium 150mg4%
Carbohydrates 4g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 138IU3%
Vitamin C 3mg4%
Calcium 20mg2%
Iron 0.4mg2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

easy spicy cucumber salad pin

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