Try this 15-minute Spicy Cucumber Salad for the perfect blend of bold, refreshing, and fiery flavors! Drenched in a chili garlic sauce, each slice of cucumber is bursting with spice and zest. Pair it with your favorite main dishes or enjoy it as a standalone snack any day of the week!Jump to Recipe
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Versatile serving options: This spicy Asian cucumber salad is the perfect companion to a range of dishes, from grilled meats to sushi.
- Wholesome: Cucumbers are not only hydrating but also packed with vitamins and minerals, meaning this salad can fit a variety of dietary needs.
- Adjustable heat level: You can easily tailor the spiciness of the sauce to suit your preference by modifying the chili crunch quantity.
Addicting spicy cucumber salad
Whenever I need a refreshing (and quick) side dish or snack, I love to make cucumber salad. However, I’ve recently been on a spice kick, so for a flavor-packed twist on my usual, I switched things up with a spicy cucumber salad!
It comes together in 15 minutes and offers a fiery twist with its Asian-inspired spicy sauce. Each bite combines the refreshing crispness of cucumber with the bold undertones of garlic, soy, sesame, and chili crunch.
Enjoy this refreshing, savory, and hydrating dish with ramen, stir-fries, spring rolls, sushi, grilled meats, and other Asian-inspired meals!
Ingredients & substitutions
- Persian cucumbers: I suggest using mini cucumbers for this spicy cucumber salad. They’re ultra-crisp and perfectly bite-sized. If Persian cucumbers are unavailable, opt for English cucumbers, not field cucumbers.
- Kosher salt: Draws water from the cucumbers, preventing a watery salad. Don’t skip marinating the cucumbers in salt for at least 10 minutes.
- Sugar: Adds a hint of sweetness to balance the spice. For more complexity, you can try using brown sugar or coconut sugar instead of granulated sugar.
- Soy sauce: Brings umami depth. For a gluten-free option, use tamari.
- Rice vinegar: Imparts a mild acidity with slightly sweet undertones. White wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar will work in a pinch.
- Sesame oil: Imparts a toasted, nutty aroma. You can also use a light olive oil.
- Garlic: Elevates the sauce’s richness. Garlic powder can be used if fresh isn’t available.
- Chili crunch: Adds a fiery kick! If you don’t live near Trader Joe’s, you can replace chili crunch with any chili garlic oil, store-bought or homemade. Or, use red pepper flakes.
- Garnishes: I love to top my spicy Asian cucumber salad with fresh, crunchy toppings like sesame seeds and green onions. Alternatives include chives or black sesame seeds.
How to make spicy cucumber salad
- Marinate the cucumbers: Start by slicing your cucumbers, then mix them in a bowl with salt and let them chill out for about 10 minutes. After their rest, drain any excess liquid they’ve released.
- Make the sauce: While the cucumber slices are marinating, mix the sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, and chili crunch together in a small bowl.
- Assemble the salad: Combine the spicy sauce with the drained cucumbers, then finish your salad off with a touch of green onions and sesame seeds.
What to serve spicy cucumber salad with
Enjoy this spicy Asian cucumber salad on its own for a refreshing mid-afternoon snack, or serve it alongside mains like beef yakisoba noodles, garlic shrimp soba noodles, and crispy skin salmon with veggies and noodles.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, leaving the skin on the cucumbers is the best option since it adds more texture. It’s also where many of the vitamins and minerals are found.
Marinating the cucumbers in salt helps draw out their liquid. This prevents the salad from turning out too watery, so I do not recommend skipping this step.
The secret to crunchy cucumbers is to soak them in salt. I suggest soaking them for about 10-25 minutes max. Any longer and it can have the opposite effect.
For any leftover spicy Asian cucumber salad, follow these simple storage tips:
- Fridge: Once assembled, spicy cucumber salad will last in the fridge for up to 4 days. I always prefer it freshly made, so I recommend keeping cucumbers in the fridge and a jar of chili garlic sauce at the ready.
- Protein: For a high-protein option, add in some grilled chicken or crumbled tofu.
- Sugar-free: For a lower-carb variation, swap the sugar out for a sugar-free alternative.
- Spiral cuts: For a unique presentation, rest the cucumbers on top of two chopsticks and slice them to make cucumber spirals.
- Nuts: Throw in some crushed peanuts, cashews, or slivered almonds for added texture.
- Herbs: Try adding a mix of fresh basil, cilantro, and mint to elevate the flavors.
- Citrus: Incorporate orange or grapefruit pieces for a tangy element.
- Cheesy: Crumbled feta or goat cheese adds a salty, umami flavor.
- Veggies: Mix in thinly sliced radishes or red bell peppers for extra crunch and color.
- Choose fresh cucumbers: The fresher your cucumbers, the crispier your salad will be. Make sure they don’t have any dark or yellow spots or wrinkled skin.
- Drain the cucumbers: Remember to drain the cucumbers before mixing them with the spicy sauce. This will prevent the salad from turning out too watery and salty.
- Let the salad marinate: Allowing the salad to sit for an hour or so in the fridge will give the flavors a chance to meld together better.
- Use a chilled bowl: Serve your spicy cucumber salad in a chilled bowl for added freshness.
- Use a mandoline: To create evenly thin cucumber slices, try using a mandoline.
Looking for more refreshing salads?
If you enjoyed this spicy cucumber salad, take a peek at some more refreshing salad recipes like these:
If you try this Spicy Cucumber Salad Recipe, let me know what you think! Rate and review this recipe in the comments below. Don’t forget to take a picture and tag me on Instagram @lenaskitchenblog!
15-Minute Spicy Cucumber Salad
- 6 Persian cucumbers sliced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Prep the cucumbers
- Add cucumbers and salt to a bowl, toss to combine, and let them sit for st least 10 minutes. Drain the liquid.
Make and add spicy sauce
- Add the sauce ingredients in with the drained cucumbers. Stir to combine. Add the green onions and sesame seeds, stir to combine. Enjoy immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 days.