This incredibly simple vinegar cucumber salad is a delicious chilled salad to eat all summer long! Thinly sliced and salted cucumbers marinate in a simple, slightly sweet apple cider vinegar dressing to make the perfect veggie side dish for cookouts/barbecues or any summertime meal. Also, it's an excellent way to use up those garden or CSA cucumbers!
More commonly known in my family as "vinegar cukes", we enjoyed this vinegar cucumber salad at most meals I can remember growing up! Especially in summer, this was one of our go-to recipes for a flavorful, refreshing side salad to accompany any lunch or dinner.
This salad would go well on the side of grilled recipes like turkey pesto walnut burgers, or just as well on the side of a pasta dish like simple caprese pasta bake! Any time you need to round out a meal with a simple vegetable side dish, vinegar cukes are here for you.
The "dressing" is very similar to a vinegar brine for pickling (without the boiling), but it's more similar to a vinaigrette because it includes a bit of oil whisked in. Your cukes will be submerged, possibly even floating, as they marinate in the sweet and tart flavors. Growing up, my cousin and I called it "the juice", and we almost always drank it plain afterwards... don't knock it till you try it, I guess?
For vinegar cucumber salad, it's simple; all you need are:
- Cucumbers - In summer, go for any garden, farmers market, and CSA cukes you can get your hands on. They are the freshest, BEST cucumbers!
- Sweet onion - Same as above -- garden fresh is SO good, but any sweet onion will do 🙂 This is an optional ingredient, but I love the added flavor.
- Salt - Brings out the flavor of the cucumbers, as well as draws some of the water out to flavor the salad.
- Apple cider vinegar - There are some amazing health benefits to apple cider vinegar, and I think it's the best vinegar for these vinegar cukes. In a pinch, you could sub with other vinegars.
- Neutral-tasting oil - I recommend grapeseed oil, light extra virgin olive oil, canola, or even avocado oil.
- Natural cane sugar - You could also use maple syrup or agave to sweeten. For this one, I wanted to stay true to my mom's recipe but avoid using a super-refined white sugar, so a natural cane sugar worked best. Date sugar is also a great option!
- Salt and pepper - You'll add more salt and pepper at the end to finish it off and adjust the flavor to your liking.
Making vinegar cucumber salad is SO easy and only requires a few minutes of hands-on time, plus a bit of time chilling in the fridge.
First, you'll peel and slice your cucumbers into thin coin shapes. Then, you'll add salt and gently stir so that salt is in contact with most of the cucumber surface areas. For the next ten minutes, allow the salted cucumbers to sit in the fridge (covered) while you dice onions and make the quick cider vinegar brine.
For the brine mixture, add the neutral-flavored oil, apple cider vinegar, natural cane sugar, salt, and pepper to a mason jar. Shake vigorously to thoroughly combine. Alternatively, you can whisk these ingredients together in a bowl or blend them. Next, dice up some sweet onions into small pieces, and add them to the cucumbers after they've had 10-30 minutes, salted, in the fridge.
Finally, pour the brine all over the cucumbers, which should be mostly submerged in liquid. The salt will have pulled some water out of the cukes, which you may notice in the bottom of your bowl/container. No need to drain, as this will add flavor! Taste and add more salt, pepper, or sugar if desired. Then, chill in the fridge until you're ready to eat. Note: You can serve them immediately, but they are extra good when chilled for at least 30 minutes.
Success Tip: While the cucumbers are chilling in the fridge after you've salted them, and place another bowl or plate on top to weigh the cucumbers down. This will help extract more cucumber water!
Substitutions & Variations
Natural cane sugar - Maple syrup, agave, or date sugar all work well as substitutions for natural cane sugar. Note that maple syrup and agave will have a distinct flavor to them, but it will be diluted by the vinegar and oil.
Sweet peppers - Add some small-diced sweet peppers to the cucumbers for more flavor!
Fresh herbs - Any fresh herb would go really well in this recipe. Simply chop your herb of choice into super small pieces, and sprinkle some in. Dill is one of my favorites with cucumber!
Vinegar cukes are made with some pretty basic equipment: a vegetable peeler, knife, cutting board, bowl or any storage container for mixing the cucumbers, another bowl for weighing the salted cucumbers down, and a bowl/whisk or airtight jar for mixing the apple cider vinegar brine.
You can totally save on equipment by making the cucumbers in the vessel you plan to store them in!
Store vinegar cucumber salad in any airtight glass container for up to a week. Mason jars are great for grab-and-go!
This probably goes without saying, but these are not freezer-friendly 🙂
Apple cider vinegar is my favorite both for flavor and for all the health benefits it provides! That said, you can still get delicious results with any vinegar you have on hand.
Once all the cucumbers are eaten, there will most certainly be some apple cider vinegar brine left. You can easily keep prepping and adding cucumber slices until you use it all up!Print
Vinegar Cucumber Salad
This simple vinegar cucumber salad recipe is one of my favorites to eat all summer long! It comes together quickly for a healthy, refreshing side dish for summer cookouts/barbecues or any meal.
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Total Time: 10 mins
- Yield: 4 1x
- Category: Salad
- Method: Combine
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegetarian
- 3 medium cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced into coins (~4-5 cups slices)
- ¼-½ teaspoon salt
- ⅓ cup sweet onion, finely diced
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 3-4 tablespoon neutral-tasting oil (such as grapeseed oil or a light olive oil)
- 1-2 tablespoon natural cane sugar
- ⅛ tsp each salt and pepper, plus more to taste
- Cucumbers: Place cucumber slices into a large bowl, add salt, and stir to make sure salt is distributed. Toss in the diced onions, cover, and place in the fridge for at least 10 minutes to allow the salt to draw water (and flavor!) out from the cucumbers.
- Make the vinegar brine: Combine apple cider vinegar, oil, sugar, salt, and pepper into a mason jar. Close with a tight lid and shake vigorously to combine. Alternatively, whisk these ingredients together in a bowl.
- Combine: Pour the brine over the cucumber slices and stir gently so the cucumbers are submerged.
- Chill: This step could be optional, but is highly recommended! Chill the vinegar cukes for 30 minutes or longer prior to serving.
- Vinegar: If you don't have apple cider vinegar, feel free to swap in white vinegar, rice vinegar, or another vinegar.
- Storage: Store the finished salad in an airtight container or mason jars for up to a week.
- Flexibility: The vinegar-to-oil ratio, sugar, salt, and pepper can all be adjusted to your taste!
Keywords: vinegar cucumber salad