Easy Cucumber Onion Salad

4.87 from 199 votes
135 Comments

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This easy Cucumber Onion Salad is a light, refreshing, summertime side dish, made with just six ingredients and done in 10 minutes!

Cucumber salad with marinated cucumbers in a bowl and a plate with a fork holding a bite-sized piece
Featured with this recipe
  1. Ingredients in Cucumber Onion Salad
  2. Where this Recipe Came From
  3. Types of Cucumber to use in this Salad
  4. The Best Dressing for Cucumber Salad
  5. Salad Dressing Substitutions
  6. Is Cucumber Salad Keto Friendly?
  7. Suggestions for Cucumber Onion Salad
  8. Frequently Asked Questions
  9. More Fresh Side Dishes
  10. How to Make Cucumber Onion Salad
  11. Cucumber Onion Salad Recipe

If you’re looking for a light, fresh side dish to serve at your next barbecue, picnic, or potluck, look no further than our Cucumber Onion Salad. This vinegar-marinated cucumber salad is a perfect complement to the flavors of summer, whether you’re cooking out on the grill or enjoying a picnic in the park. It’s the perfect side for grilled chicken, hot dogs, steaks, burgers, you name it!

Ingredients in Cucumber Onion Salad

This is one of those easy recipes that I always keep on hand, because it’s so easy and goes so well with everything summer. Six simple ingredients:

  • Cucumbers – I usually start with five fresh, crisp cucumbers from my garden or the grocery store. Add more or less, , depending on how many you’re serving.
  • Red onion – The color of this onion is so gorgeous in this salad. It really pops against the onion. If you prefer a more sweet onion, you can include a Vidalia onion as well.
  • Apple cider vinegar – This vinegar is so flavorful and tangy, it’s delicious in this salad. You can also substitute white vinegar, red wine vinegar, or rice vinegar.
  • Sugar – about half a cup, or more depending on your personal preference for sweetness.
  • Water – half a cup
  • Salt – one teaspoon, along with some black pepper to taste.

You can serve them as an appetizer, snack, or side dish. They’re perfect for picnics because they keep well in the fridge and can be made ahead of time.This Easy Cucumber Onion Salad is a light, refreshing, summertime side dish. Add regular or cherry tomatoes to make it an even more colorful cucumber salad.

Where this Recipe Came From

In our humble opinion, this is the best cucumber salad recipe out there! Our mom made this salad often when we were growing up, and we still make it today. It’s the perfect side dish and a great way to bring some freshness into your meal! The sliced cucumbers and red onions soak up the sweet and tangy vinegar dressing so well. It tastes so fresh and delicious. This is definitely one of my favorite salads for summer nights. You can serve immediately or store in the fridge in an airtight container to eat as a snack or to complement a quick lunch.

Types of Cucumber to use in this Salad

You can use any variety of slicing cucumber for this salad and it will taste great. Cucumbers fresh from the garden are always a first choice, no matter what the variety. However, English cucumbers, Persian cucumbers, or the regular grocery store variety cucumbers are also delicious. If purchasing cucumbers, choose cucumbers that are firm without any blemishes or soft spots.

Cucumbers marinated in vinegar in a bowl with red onion slices


The Best Dressing for Cucumber Salad

It is hard to beat cucumbers in vinegar with a little sugar, which is the basis of the dressing in this recipe. The vinegar enhances the natural flavor in the cucumbers, and every crunchy bite is refreshing. The flavor of vinegar used in the dressing is a matter of preference. Apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, red wine vinegar, and white vinegar all give their own unique flavor to the dressing.

Salad Dressing Substitutions

There are also creamy cucumber salads that use a sour cream and mayonnaise based dressing. Again, it’s a matter of preference. This adds calories to the salad, and makes a heavier dressing that can dominate the fresh cucumber taste. With the vinegar based dressing, this cucumber salad is only 66 calories per serving.

Sliced cucumbers and red onion in cucumber salad

Is Cucumber Salad Keto Friendly?

Leave the sugar out or replace the sugar with a monk fruit sweetener (or your favorite keto sweetener) to make this cucumber salad keto-friendly! Even if you decide to add mayonnaise, it will still be ok to eat on the keto diet. It is also gluten-free!

Suggestions for Cucumber Onion Salad

  • Turn the vinegar marinated cucumbers into a colorful summertime salad by adding cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, or sliced tomatoes, and a splash of olive oil.
  • You could also toss in a diced green bell pepper, red or yellow peppers, slices of squash, feta cheese, fresh parsley, mint or other fresh herbs to the mix. Fresh basil or fresh dill add a burst of flavor. There is no wrong way to dress up this salad.
  • Season the salad with minced garlic, or spice it up with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.
  • Any kind of onion will work for this cucumber salad recipe. I like red or purple onion for the color, but any onion you have on hand is great.
  • You can make this recipe right before serving or ahead of time to let the cucumbers have longer to marinate. To do this, divide the cucumbers into a couple of quart jars and pour the vinegar mixture over the top instead of putting in Ziploc bags (as directed in the recipe card below). This makes it easier for snacking right out of the jar.
  • You can store these vinegar marinated cucumbers in your fridge in a jar or air-tight container for up to three days. Any longer than that and the cucumbers will lose their “crisp-ness” and become limp. There is also a slight risk for microbes forming after three days, but I know some people keep them in their fridge and continue to eat them for up to a week without any issues.
Marinated Cucumber Salad in a clear glass bowl with wooden serving spoons

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should you marinate cucumbers?

At least 20 minutes and up to 3 days.

Should I peel the cucumbers?

If the skin of the cucumber is light and thin, you can totally leave it on. Just remember to wash it first. If the peels are thick and tough, it is best to peel them.

What does a cucumber salad contain?

The most basic cucumber salad is made from sliced cucumbers, sliced onion, and a vinegar based dressing. Herbs, tomatoes, chickpeas, feta cheeses, and other ingredients can be added according to your taste.

More Fresh Side Dishes

Looking for more summer side dish ideas? Check out some of our favorite BBQ side dishes, including our Chopped Broccoli Salad and our refreshing Watermelon Feta Salad.

How to Make Cucumber Onion Salad

Cucumber salad with marinated cucumbers in a bowl and a plate with a fork holding a bite-sized piece

Cucumber Onion Salad

4.87 from 199 votes
This Easy Cucumber Onion Salad is a light, refreshing, summertime side dish. Add regular or cherry tomatoes for a more colorful cucumber salad.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 10 people

Video

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Peel and slice cucumbers into thin slices.
    Cutting Cucumbers
  • Cut onion in half and cut into very thin slices.
    Cutting Onions
  • Combine onions and cucumbers in a large bowl.
    Mixing cucumbers and onions
  • In a separate, medium-sized bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Stir until sugar dissolves. 
    Stirring together marinade ingredients
  • Pour vinegar mixture over cucumbers and onions. Stir until the cucumbers are evenly coated in the dressing.*
    Pouring marinade over cucumbers
  • Refrigerate at least 20 minutes. Before serving, drain liquid and place in a serving bowl to serve.
    Draining marinade from cucumbers

Notes

*You can also combine the cucumbers, onions, and dressing in a resealable plastic bag to marinade. Drain liquid from the bag and pour the salad into a bowl to serve.
*See notes above for instructions on saving in refrigerator.
*You can store these vinegar marinated cucumbers in your fridge in a jar or air-tight container for up to three days. Any longer than that and the cucumbers will lose their “crisp-ness” and become limp. There is also a slight risk for microbes forming after three days, but I know some people keep them in their fridge and continue to eat them for up to a week without any issues.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 66kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 237mgPotassium: 220mgFiber: 1gSugar: 13gVitamin A: 108IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 25mgIron: 1mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her three beautiful girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

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Comments

  1. Could I just use this marinade as a dressing (instead of a marinade) and pour it on vegetables, baby greens. etc? I plan on mixing small batches because I only cook for one more person. Thanks so much Erica !

  2. 5 stars
    I make this salad frequently. My young grandchildren love it with cherry tomatoes. I have always used a sweet onion. I will be trying a purple onion next time.

  3. 5 stars
    My daughter hates vinegar (but likes red onion) and she loved loved loved this dish. Served it as a side for turkey burgers and crunchy smashed potatoes. This recipe is a keeper!

  4. 5 stars
    I am 70 years old and my dad made this when I was a kid. I always loved it; very refreshing. When I married I found out husband hated watermelon, and, by extension, cucumbers because they tasted like watermelon rind. But when he tasted this way of serving cucumbers, he was completely blown away by how much he liked it.

  5. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe! I tripled it after making 1 batch – shared it with family and friends! The rating continues to be a 5 from all who are sharing in the amazingly, cool, crisp, refreshing taste of summer all year around!

  6. Best recipe closest to my Dads and Grandmas. I did add a bit more sugar. Very refreshing on days that are over 100.

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