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Cucumber and Onion Salad – A Classic Summer Side Dish Recipe

In the middle of summer you can bet that my refrigerator will have Cucumber and Onion Salad in it nearly every day of the week. It is simple and easy to make, and you can’t beat the refreshing taste that it provides on a hot and humid day.

It is a simple dish that starts with thin slices of cucumbers and onions. Then you make a simple mixture of apple cider vinegar, water and sugar to provide a slightly sweet, tangy liquid.

Once it has time to chill in the refrigerator the flavor of the liquid penetrates into the cucumbers and onions. This is what provides you with that surprisingly light and refreshing taste of a cool summer salad that pairs perfectly with any summer main dish, including Bacon Wrapped Barbecue Chicken.

cucumber and onion salad
Cucumber and onion salad is a light and refreshing side dish that can be served all summer long.

Add Tomatoes (Optional)

Although some people add tomatoes to this salad to this type of recipe, I most often make it without. However, if you find yourself with an abundance of cherry tomatoes or vine ripened tomatoes in the middle of garden season, by all means, add them as well.

And if you are looking to add another layer of flavor to this classic salad recipe, add a little cayenne pepper or hot pepper flakes. The coolness of the liquid will help balance out the heat and you end up with just the flavor of the pepper powder, and not just the heat.

However, if you like things spicy, feel free to add as much hot pepper powder as you want. Although, I would suggest doing so on individual servings rather than on the entire batch.

But before I get to the actual recipe, let me clarify what type of cucumbers, onions, and vinegar that are best to use for this salad recipe.

What Type of Cucumbers To Use

Although you could use just about any type of cucumber to make this salad, it is best to use small pickling or English cucumbers. The reason being, these two types of cucumbers have a very small seed core, leaving you with a larger cucumber surface area.

pickling cucumbers
It is best to use pickling cucumbers or English cucumbers for this recipe.

However, if you find yourself with a few larger, slicing cucumbers you can still make this recipe. Just be sure that you slice the cucumber in half lengthwise and use a spoon to remove the seeds.

The seeds of cucumbers are what most people can’t tolerate. Therefore, if you remove them, more people can enjoy this delicious salad!

What Type of Onions To Use

This recipe calls for a sweet onion. However you can use a white or red onion instead. Choose whatever type of onion that you prefer.

I personally like the color that the red onion provides to this recipe. It is not only more visually appealing but it tastes great as well.

Which Is The Best Type of Vinegar To Use In Cucumber and Onion Salad

Although you could use white distilled vinegar, it is best to use apple cider vinegar. This type of vinegar provides another depth of flavor that compliments the the cucumbers and onions perfectly.

slicing onions
Use a half of a medium or large onion and make thin slices.

Cucumber and Onion Salad Recipe

*A printable recipe card is located at the bottom of this article which contains the specific measurements, temperatures and cook times. However, continue reading below to learn about more helpful tips about this specific recipe.


  • 5 or 6 small pickling cucumbers or 2 or 3 English cucumbers
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • cayenne pepper, (optional)


The first step in making this salad is to determine if you want to peel the cucumbers or leave the skin on. Although the choice is up to you, I find that the texture of the salad is more pleasant with the skins removed.

Although, if you want a great balance, peel only part of the cucumber, leaving some of the skin exposed. Do this by running a vegetable peeler down the cucumber.

Then move your peeler about 1/4-1/2 inch, leaving some of the peel in place. Then peel another stripe of the cucumber. Repeat the process until the cucumber has only stripes remaining.

slices of cucumbers and onions in a dish
Place the vegetables in a dish and then prepare the dressing.

Next, slice the cucumber in 1/4 inch rounds. Place the cucumber slices into a large bowl or container.

Peel and slice the onion into thin rounds or half rounds. Then add the slices of onion to the bowl with the cucumbers and set aside.

Cucumber and Onion Salad Dressing

In another bowl add the apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and garlic. Whisk vigorously until the sugar dissolves.

When you no longer see sugar crystals you can stop whisking. Then pour the dressing over the cucumbers and onions. Toss the mixture to coat.

Then cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving, but preferably overnight. When you are ready to serve, sprinkle with black pepper for additional flavor if desired.

Helpful Recipe Tips

1. Use A Mandoline Slicer

If you want to make this salad even faster, use a mandoline slicer to cut your cucumbers and onions. Not only will it save you time, but it will also cut the vegetables in even slices.

However, be sure to use the finger guard while you are cutting. The blades are extremely sharp and can take off the flesh of your fingers or thumb before you know it. (Yes, I am speaking from experience!)

pouring dressing
A simple homemade vinegar dressing being poured over the cucumbers and onions.

2. Reuse The Dressing To Make A Second Batch

Once you consume the cucumber and onion salad, you will be leftover with a lot of dressing. The good news is that you can reuse the dressing to make a second batch of the salad.

Simply reserve the liquid in the container and add new slices of cucumber and onions to the dish. Let them refrigerate overnight and they will be ready to eat in the morning!

However, I would suggest that you replace the dressing for the third batch as the flavor begins to dilute after it has been used twice.

3. Keep This Cucumber and Onion Salad In Your Refrigerator All Summer Long

Be sure to keep a dish of this salad in your refrigerator all summer long. Not only does it make for a great side dish, it is also a nice refreshing snack in the middle of a hot summer day!

The crisp cucumbers and onions are flavored perfectly and once they are stored in the refrigerator you will find yourself reaching for some every time you open the door!

Enjoy! Mary

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cucumber and onion salad

Cucumber and Onion Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Cucumber and Onion Salad with a vinegar based dressing. A classic salad recipe that should be in your refrigerator all summer long.


  • 5 or 6 small pickling cucumbers or 2 or 3 English cucumbers
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ground black pepper


  1. Peel cucumbers and slice in 1/4 inch rounds. Peel and slice onion. Add both the cucumbers and onions into a large bowl.

  2. In another bowl add the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and garlic and mix to combine until the sugar dissolves. Pour the mixture over the cucumbers and onions. Toss to coat.

  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving, but preferably overnight. Sprinkle with black pepper if desired before serving.


If you like it spicy, add 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the mixture.

You can also add halved cherry tomatoes to your salad if you prefer.

Recipe provided by

Nutrition Information
Yield 4
Amount Per Serving Calories 60Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 539mgCarbohydrates 13gFiber 2gSugar 8gProtein 2g

Nutritional Information is to be used as a general guideline only . Nutritional calculations will vary from the types and brands of the products used.

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