This sweet and sour cucumber salad is light, crunchy, refreshing, and the perfect accompaniment to any summer meal.
It’s Friday! But not only Friday, the Friday before a LONG weekend. It has been a beast of a week so I am totally looking forward to saying BYE BOY to work calls and spreadsheets and HEY GURL to sleeping in and dinner out.
So instead of rolling out my usual 1000 words on childhood, food trends, and thoughts on the weather, I’m going to dive right into today’s recipe. Which, like this post, is fast, easy and ready for the weekend. It’s a light and tangy salad of sliced cukes and onions, doused in vinegar and honey, which is great fresh out the gate but totally gets better as it sits.
Oh, but one quick piece of business before we dive in. I’m hosting a giveaway this weekend over on Instagram. I’m so excited to be partnering with my friends at Bee Seasonal to give away a variety pack of beautiful single origin honeys, plus a couple other goodies. So if you’re into beautifully made honey, pop over to my Instagram and enter the giveaway. You’ve got until Sunday night at 11:59 PM EST, and the two winners will be announced on Monday. Enter here and good luck!
Sweet and Sour Cucumber Salad
Because this dish is so simple, it fits into a variety of situations. I love this stuffed into a pita with crispy falafel and lemony hummus, or stabbed up between bites of crispy chicken and juicy peach tabbouleh. And even though this salad will never be the star of the show, it’s totally the best way to get something light, refreshing, and crisp onto the table to balance out bigger, bolder flavors.
Tips for Making Sweet and Sour Cucumber Salad
A recipe this quick and easy doesn’t involve a lot of hand holding, but here are a few helpful hints that will make it the best it can be.
- Start with seedless cucumbers. This is really a misnomer because they’ll still have seeds, but far fewer. Sometimes they’re marketed as English cucumbers, but either way they’ll usually be wrapped in plastic and will have a thin, un-waxed skin.
- Slice your cucumbers thin, but not wafer thin. You need the cukes to be sturdy enough to stand up to all the acid, salt, and other stuff going in here. So opt for sliced cucumbers rather than shaved.
- Slice your red onion thin, wafer thin. Because onions can be very strong when raw, you want them to mellow out a bit. Slicing them paper thin makes them milder and more palatable.
- Season aggressively. Cucumbers are mostly water and they’ll let go of even more as they sit. So make sure your seasoning is a little bit strong at the get go.
Substitutions and Additions
Of course this recipe is great as is, but creativity is always king in the kitchen (except maybe when you’re baking) so here are some of my fave swap outs and add ins.
- Shallots for onions. Shallots are a little milder, with a slight garlicky vibe.
- Vinegar for lemon. Any vinegar will do nicely here, except perhaps balsamic which might turn everything a weird shade of brown.
- Sugar for honey. I personally love the nuanced flavor you get from honey, but sugar does give you a very pure, straightforward sweetness.
- Dill for parsley. Really any tender herb would be great here, but dill and cucumbers is a classic combination.
- Sesame seeds. A nutty, crunchy garnish is delightful here. And if you’re feeling especially extra everything bagel spice would be fab too.
- Sriracha or chili paste. Turning up the heat a bit never killed anybody, right?
More Light and Delicious SaladsPrint
Sweet and Sour Cucumber Salad
Sweet and sour cucumber salad is the refreshing, crisp, and delicious side dish that’s perfect for a summer dinner party.
- Prep Time: 10 Minutes
- Cook Time: 0 Minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 6 Servings 1x
- Category: Salad
- Method: No Cook
- Cuisine: American
2 seedless cucumbers, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Juice of 2 lemons
2 T honey
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Toss together all ingredients until honey is dissolved. Let sit for at least ten minutes before serving.
This can be served room temperature or chilled.
Feel free to substitute shallots for onions, vinegar for lemon juice, sugar for honey, or any tender herb for parsley.
This salad will change as it sits. I like it both light and fresh as soon as it’s made or more pickled and a little softer after about an hour or two.
Keywords: jo eats, cucumber salad, easy side dish, summer salad
The sweet and savoury combo sounds delicious, but you know what really appeals to me? The crunch! Love crunchy cucumber and red onion! Happy long weekend Jo!
Thank you Leanne! I hope you’re enjoying the last cries of summer!
I would love to try this and use vinager in stead of lemon, and sugar in stead of honey. How much is to be used? Measurements are missing in this recipe
Those sound like wonderful substitutions. I would opt for the same amount of vinegar in place of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of sugar for the 2 tablespoons of honey called for the in the recipe. Measurements should be clear in the recipe card located near the bottom of the post, but I would err on the side of less sugar, as it tends to be a clearer, more forward “sweet” flavor than honey.