Spicy Cucumber Salad

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This spicy cucumber salad, inspired by the cucumber kimchi at our local Korean market, is a delicious summertime staple that packs a punch! 

Overhead view of Korean cucumber salad in a white bowl.

What you’ll love about this cucumber salad recipe:

  • Bold Flavor. An irresistible combination of garlic, chili oil, and sesame seeds that will keep you coming back for more.
  • Nutrition-Packed. Cucumbers are low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals, making this salad a healthy choice.
  • Naturally vegan and low-carb!

Spice Up Your Life with This Easy Cucumber Salad

One of my favorite hobbies is exploring local ethnic markets and farm stands, looking for fun and unique new foods to try. One of my favorite recent finds was the homemade cucumber kimchi at our local Korean market. 

Cucumbers have always been one of my favorite vegetables to snack on, and the spicy crunch of these had me hooked at first bite.  

This spicy cucumber salad is inspired by that kimchi, but with the heat level taken back a few notches. I also focused on using ingredients that you can find in any American supermarket, so you can enjoy it even if you aren’t lucky enough to have a specialty market in your neighborhood. 

My take on this cucumber salad isn’t 100% traditional, but it’s delicious and I’m excited to share it with you! 

It’s great as a side dish to add some excitement to your burger and hot dog at barbecues this summer, but I also love adding it to stir fry noodles for a super easy, satisfying meal. 

Ingredients for spicy cucumber salad.

Ingredients and Substitutions

Seedless Cucumbers. The star of this salad! Choose firm, dark green cucumbers with thin skin and no soft spots or blemishes. 

Salt. Salt helps draw excess moisture from the cucumbers and enhance their flavor. You can use flaky kosher salt or sea salt.

Soy Sauce. Adds a savory, umami flavor to the salad. For a gluten-free option, use tamari or coconut aminos instead.

Garlic. Crushed fresh garlic brings a bold and aromatic element to the dish. If you’re not a fan of raw garlic, try using garlic powder or roasted garlic for a milder taste.

Rice Vinegar. This mild, slightly sweet vinegar helps bring the flavors of this salad into balance. You can substitute apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar.

Chili Oil. For a spicy kick! Adjust the amount to your desired spice level.

Sugar. Adds a touch of sweetness to the salad. You can use any granulated sugar or substitute honey or agave syrup for a natural option.

Sesame Oil. This fragrant oil adds extra depth and a hint of nuttiness to the dish – it’s one of my absolute favorite ingredients! If you don’t have sesame oil, try using a mild-flavored oil like avocado or grapeseed oil, but be aware that your salad will be far less flavorful. 

Toasted Sesame Seeds. These tiny seeds give the cucumbers extra crunch and nutty flavor. You can use black or white sesame seeds, or a combination of both! 

Green Onion. You can also use chives or thinly sliced red onion for a different twist.

Did You Know?

Cucumbers are made up of about 95% water, making them a hydrating and low-calorie food. The term “cool as a cucumber” stems from the idea that cucumbers always seem cold and refreshing, thanks to this high water content.

Cutting a cucumber into spirals.
Mixing the ingredients for the spicy marinade.
Mixing the ingredients for the spicy marinade.
Spooning the sauce onto the salted cucumbers.

How to make it

Cut the cucumber into thin rounds or spirals (see note below).

Add the cucumber to a large bowl and mix with salt. Let the cucumbers sit for 10 minutes, then drain any liquid that has accumulated.

Mix the ingredients for the spicy dressing in a small bowl.

Spoon the dressing over the cucumbers. For the best results, let the cucumbers sit 10 minutes before serving.

Pro Tip: How to Make cucumber Spirals

Cutting the cucumbers into spirals is super fun, plus it helps that delicious dressing cling to each and every bite.

To cut cucumbers the way, balance them between two chopsticks and slice the cucumbers thinly at an angle, using the sticks as a guide to prevent you from cutting all the way through.

Cutting cucumber spirals.

Flip the cucumber over, and repeat the same process, cutting straight slices from the other side. (Cutting an an angle on one side and straight on the other will help ensure you don’t accidentally cut all the way through!)

If you don’t want to make spirals, you can also use julienne peeler or spiralizer for fun noodle-like shapes.

Spiral cucumber salad (Tiktok recipe)

Commonly asked questions

How to store Leftovers

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. Note that the cucumbers ill soften over time, so this salad is best enjoyed within 3 days of making it. 

Can I freeze This?

Sorry, this recipe doesn’t freeze well. 

Can I use a different type of cucumber? 

I love making this with Persian cucumbers, which are super small and extra crunchy, but English cucumbers also work well and are easy to find. Kirby cucumbers, often used to make pickles, also work well. 

Can I make it less spicy? 

You can adjust the heat level to your preference by increasing or decreasing the amount of chili oil. If you accidentally add too much, you can balance things out with a little more oil and a pinch of sugar to tame the heat.

What can I serve this salad with? 

This salad pairs well with grilled meats, fish, or tofu. I also love eating it with noodles and a fried egg!  It also makes a great addition to a picnic or potluck. 

Is this the same as Spicy Korean cucumber salad (oi)? 

It’s similar to oi, which is served as banchan in many Korean restaurants, but oi is traditionally made with Korean chili flakes called gochugaru. I adapted this recipe to be made with more typical American ingredients.

More summer salad recipes and side dishes

Korean cucumber salad.
Overhead view of Korean cucumber salad in a white bowl.

Spicy cucumber salad

Get ready to turn up the heat on your summer cookouts with the spicy crunch of this irresistible salad. One bite and you’ll be hooked!
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Save
Course: Healthy Salad Recipes
Cuisine: Asian
Keyword: cucumber salad, spicy cucumber salad
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 77kcal


  • 6 Persian cucumbers
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon chili oil
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 green onions sliced
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil


  • Add rice vinegar and all of the oil. Mix.
  • Cut the cucumber as desired and place them in a large bowl.
  • Add the salt and mix well. Let sit for 10 minutes, then drain away any liquid that has accumulated.
  • In a small bowl, mix the remaining ingredients. Pour the dressing over the salted cucumber slices.
  • For the best flavor, let the cucumbers sit in the dressing for 10 minutes before serving.
Nutrition Facts
Spicy cucumber salad
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 77 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Fat 5g8%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Sodium 1915mg83%
Potassium 161mg5%
Carbohydrates 8g3%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 148IU3%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Calcium 34mg3%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @HealthyDelish or tag #HealthyDelish!

Hi, I'm Lauren!

I'm a certified plant-based cook and enthusiastic omnivore who loves looking for creative ways to make weeknight meals more nutritious. I'm the author of Heathy Eating One Pot Cookbook and Healthy Meal Prep Slow Cooker Cookbook. I also blog at The Busy Foodie. Read more...


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