Cucumber salad is a refreshing and easy side dish. This version is a Chinese-style one I learned how to make from my mom and is still one of my favorite easy salads. Learn which cucumbers are best for salad and how to prep them so they’re crisp and crunchy.
Growing up, my mom almost always served salads as a side dish for our dinner. One of the most popular ones with my family and with my friends is her soy sauce cucumber salad. It’s common Chinese salad that is easy to make and tastes great especially in the summer.
Best Cucumbers for Salads
Over the years, my mom has switched from using regular-sized cucumbers (also known as slicing cucumbers) for Kirby or Persian cucumbers, which are crunchier. You can tell the difference by looking at the size and color. Here are the differences between them:
- Slicing cucumbers are the ones you see most often at mainstream grocery stores. They are usually uniformly dark green with waxy skins.
- Kirby cucumbers are small and thick and their skins are not waxy but often have a few bumps on them. They are often used for making pickles. They are very crunchy and a good choice for salads, too.
- Persian cucumbers are thin and short (around 5-6 inches) with smooth skin. They have very few seeds and are very crunchy.
All three will work fine, but my favorite is Persian cucumbers.
Ingredients for the Dressing
- Soy sauce
- Sesame oil
Depending on your tastes, you can adjust the ingredient amounts. So, feel free to play around with the ingredient amounts and make this salad your own.
Tips for Making the Best Cucumber Salad
This salad is easy to make but you do need to allow time for the cucumbers to “sweat”, which I explain below. Other than that, it’s as simple as slicing the cucumber and tossing them in the dressing.
To prep the cucumbers, wash and peel them. I like to slice the cucumbers lengthwise and then cut each half into quarters. From there, slice them into cubes.
It’s important to draw out the moisture from the cucumbers before assembling the salad. This process is called “sweating”.
How to Sweat Cucumbers
- Place the cubed cucumbers in a large bowl and sprinkle salt over the top.
- The salt is what draws out the moisture, which will accumulate in the bottom of the bowl after about 20 minutes at which point you can discard the liquid.
- If you skip this step, your salad could be soggy and the cucumbers won’t be as crisp.
After the cucumbers have released their moisture, all you need to do is mix up the dressing and toss the cucumbers in it. I like to keep the salad in the refrigerator for thirty minutes or so before serving it. It tastes delicious after it’s chilled.
How long does cucumber salad last?
Technically, this salad will keep for two to three days in the refrigerator but it’s best served the same day it’s made. The cucumbers will continue to release moisture as the salad sits, which means your salad could be watery after a day or so.
More Cucumber Salads
I’ve made several different kinds of salads with cucumbers over the years, so here are a few more favorites for you to try.
Soy Sauce Cucumber Salad
- 2 large cucumbers
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp vinegar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tsp salt
- Wash and peel cucumbers. Chop cucumbers into small cubes. I usually divide the cucumbers in half (lengthwise) and then divide each half into another four sections before I begin chopping them into smaller cubes. My cubes measure about 1/2 inch x 1/2 inch.
- Put chopped cucumbers into large bowl. Scatter salt evenly around top of cucumbers and set aside for about 20 minutes. Water should accumulate in the bowl. Drain out water.
- Add in all other ingredients and mix thoroughly. You can adjust the measurements to fit your tastes. Serve chilled.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.