This spicy cucumber salad, inspired by the cucumber kimchi at our local Korean market, is a delicious summertime staple that packs a punch!
- 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 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.
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.
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.
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
- Grilled Zucchini
- Easy Grilled Carrots With Basil Vinaigrette
- Roasted Beet And Citrus Salad With Cilantro-Lime Dressing
- Strawberry Cucumber Salad With Feta And Mint
- Dilled Pea Pasta Salad
- 5-Minute Summer Corn Salad
- Creamy Homemade Coleslaw (No Mayo!)
Spicy cucumber salad
- 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.