My spicy cucumber salad is loaded with thinly sliced cucumbers bathed in a creamy dressing spiked with just the right amount of heat. This simple recipe is the perfect summer side dish, easy to prepare, and a flavorful way to get more fresh produce in your diet. This is a great side to serve at any picnic or dinner party, and the perfect way to use up a bounty of cucumbers from your garden.
This creamy summer salad was inspired by my Gurkensalat recipe, with a few flavorful twists. I added sliced red onion for a subtle kick of flavor, while a fresh jalapeno and crushed red peppers bring the heat. This is not an aggressively spicy salad, as it is balanced out by a touch of sweetness, but you can amp up the spice level easily enough.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Cucumbers - Use regular cucumbers such as English cucumbers, or any variety of cucumber your grocery store carries. You can peel the cucumber skin if desired, or keep the peel on for more of a crunch.
- Red onion - The strong flavor of red onion cuts through the creamy dressing better than a sweet onion would.
- Kosher salt
- Sour cream - Greek Yogurt can be substituted for a healthier salad.
- White vinegar - White wine vinegar would also be a good choice.
- Dill - I strongly recommend fresh dill rather than dried dillweed.
- Sugar - The sweetness helps balance the heat.
- Black pepper
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- Jalapeno - A serrano pepper can be used for additional heat.
How to make it
To begin making this spicy cucumber salad recipe slice cucumber and onions thinly. You can use a sharp knife, but a mandoline slicer will give you more consistent cuts, do the job quicker, and cut thinner. I recommend making slices ⅛"-¼" thick, based on your personal preference.
Once sliced it is best to place the cucumbers and onion in a colander with a half teaspoon of kosher salt, and allow the excess water to drain out for two hours. This is an optional step, but it is a good idea because it prevents the dressing from getting too runny.
While the cucumbers are draining, prepare the simple dressing by quartering your jalapeno lengthwise, and then adding it to a small bowl along with the remaining ingredients: sour cream, vinegar, dill, sugar, black pepper, salt, and crushed red peppers. Mix the sauce well to combine, and let it rest in the refrigerator until the cucumbers are done draining.
Note: The jalapeno slices will infuse the sauce with flavor as it sits.
Finally, add the sliced cucumbers and onions to a mixing bowl and pour in the dressing. Mix everything together well with a spatula and serve.
Ways to Customize this Spicy Salad
- If you enjoy eating raw jalapenos, they can be sliced into thin rings and served with the salad.
- Other chili peppers such as a serano pepper can also be used.
- Hot sauce or hot chili oil can also be added.
- If you love Asian flavors, a splash of soy sauce would work very well in this dish.
How to store leftovers
Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator and enjoyed within five days. You will notice the dressing will get runnier as it sits. The reason for this is because the cucumbers will continue to release liquid each day.
More Fresh Salads
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Spicy Cucumber Salad
- 2 large cucumbers sliced ¼" thick
- ½ red onion thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt divided
- ½ cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill chopped
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon crushed red peppers
- 1 jalapeno quartered
- Using a sharp knife or mandoline, thinnly slice cucumbers and onion ¼" thick, or thinner as desired.
- Place the onion and cucumber in a colandar and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of kosher salt and let the excess liquid drain for two hours. (this step is optional, but recommended)
- Prepare the dressing by first cutting the jalapeno into quarters by slicing in half lengthwise, and slicing each half lengthwise again. Leave the seeds and membrane attached.
- Combine vinegar, sour cream, dill, sugar, black pepper, crushed red peppers, and jalapeno spears in a small bowl and mix to combine.
- Set the dressing in the refrigerator to meld while the cucumber slices drain.
- Finally, add the dressing to a large bowl with the sliced cucumbers and onions. Mix well to combine.*