Crisp sliced cucumber is served in a creamy dressing made from a thinned out sour cream vinegar mixture, and tossed with fresh dill, salt and pepper.
There are plenty of different variations on creamy cucumbers in plenty of cuisines like Greek tzatziki. In Germany this combination is called Gurkensalat and is commonly served as a component of a salad plate called Salatteller. Some German cucumber salad recipes are made with oil and vinegar as the base while others, like this, are made with a creamy dill dressing.
This creamy cucumber salad is extremely easy to make from ingredients you probably already have in the fridge. It’s served chilled, making it a perfect pairing for the warm summer months. Cucumber salad can be made ahead of time which creates a refreshing side dish alongside simple grilled or roasted chicken, fish, or fried crispy schnitzel like this pork recipe here. My mom used to make a similar salad when I was growing up and even as a picky eater I always went for seconds.
Adding a bit of salt and sugar to the sliced cucumber an hour or so before serving removes some of the additional water from the vegetable and keeps it from watering down the salad later. This also helps to bring out the subtle flavor of the cucumber and slightly pickles it. Cucumber is a hydrating vegetable – it contains a high percentage of water with antioxidants and nutrients, but with few calories.
Key Ingredients in This Recipe
Cucumber – Since the cucumber is simply sliced, I prefer to use English hothouse cucumber for this recipe. The seeds are smaller and less noticeable than American slicing cucumbers which can also be a bit more bitter. English cucumbers are long and thin and can typically be found wrapped in plastic at grocery stores. They have a mild, sweet taste and the thin skin is edible so there is no need to peel it. Look for fresh, firm cucumbers that are unblemished for this summer salad recipe.
Sour cream – Sour cream is used as the base of this creamy dressing. I recommend using full fat sour cream in this recipe.
Vinegar – White vinegar is used to add a touch of acidity to balance the flavor of the rich sour cream.
Onions – I add thinly sliced, almost shaved slices of red onion to add additional flavor to the salad. Soak the slices of onion in water for a few minutes to dull the flavor so the onion flavor isn’t overpowering.
Dill – Chopped dill adds a fresh herby flavor to the salad which offsets the tangy sauce. For a Greek spin add oregano instead of dill and a bit of feta cheese.
How to Make Creamy Cucumber Salad
Season and drain the cucumber. About 15 minutes to an hour before serving, toss the cucumber slices in salt and sugar and add to a strainer. This will help the cucumber drain excess water and slightly pickle it.
Make the sauce and combine. In a large bowl whisk together the sour cream, milk and vinegar to make the creamy dressing. Add the cucumber slices and stir to combine. Toss with the onion, fresh dill and season with pepper and additional salt if needed.
Serve. Serve immediately or cover and chill until ready to serve.
Tips and Tricks for This Recipe
While English cucumbers, also called hothouse cucumbers, are best for this recipe other types of cucumber can be used in their place. Persian cucumbers are another great option as they’re smaller in circumference than other types of cucumber and have fewer, smaller seeds though they’re often expensive.
The sour cream in this recipe can easily be substituted for a lighter option like Greek Yogurt.
Mayonnaise can also be used in place of sour cream in the dressing.
While fresh dill is best, dry dill can be substituted in a pinch. The flavor of dried dill isn’t as strong as fresh. Substitute 1 teaspoon of dry dill in its place.
This recipe can be made a day ahead of time and stored, covered in the refrigerator until ready to use.
If the dressing becomes a bit watery when it sits, simply give it a stir before serving.
Store any leftovers the same way for up to one day.
To quickly slice the cucumbers thin, use a mandolin. It’s super sharp and you can adjust the thickness of the blade for how thick you want the slices. I’ve linked to a good option here.
Other Recipes to Try
If you enjoy this creamy cucumber salad recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:
About 15 minutes to an hour before serving, toss the cucumber slices in salt and sugar and add to a strainer. This will help the cucumber drain excess water. Pat dry with paper towels.
In a large bowl whisk together the sour cream, milk and vinegar to make the creamy dressing. Add the cucumber slices and stir to combine. Toss with the onion, fresh dill and season with pepper and additional salt if needed.
Serve immediately or cover and chill until ready to serve.
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