Crunchy Asian Cucumber Salad with peanuts and a bright sesame dressing is just the recipe to keep you cool in hot summer months.
When the summer heats up, this simple Asian cucumber salad is one of the side dish recipes I look forward to most. (This Black Bean Corn Salad is also on my list.)
It’s quick, fresh, cooling, and alluring.
Plus, it comes with an unexpected secret ingredient: honey-roasted peanuts.
Beyond crunch, their touch of sweetness wakes up the cucumbers and pairs fantastically with the zippy sesame dressing.
It truly makes this the best Asian cucumber salad recipe!
If cucumber salads (like this Creamy Cucumber Salad) have not traditionally been top of mind for your summer potluck needs, it’s time to change your thinking, pronto.
They’re the perfect refreshing accompaniment at any cookout. (This Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad is a guaranteed winner too!)
5 Star Review
“Delicious!!! A hit !! Will Definitely be making this again!! Thank you for this fresh recipe!”— Martha —
How to Make Asian Cucumber Salad
The ingredients in this recipe couldn’t be simpler, but they work together to create a spectacular salad. (This Healthy Coleslaw is another summer potluck winner made with kitchen staples.)
Minimal ingredients. Maximum payoff.
This is summer cooking at its finest!
- Cucumber. This cool, refreshing ingredient is just what your potluck needs on a hot summer day. (I especially love cucumbers in Salmon Salad!) They’re hydrating thanks to their high water content and are a good source of fiber too.
- Honey Roasted Peanuts. The secret ingredient! They up the crunch factor (always a positive with a cucumber salad) and work well with the simple dressing.
- Sesame Oil. This ingredient gives anything to which you add it complexity and nuttiness. Just 1 little teaspoon ups the satisfaction factor of the dressing.
- Rice Vinegar. This tangy component balances the honey-roasted peanuts. It gives the dressing a sweet and sour factor, making it the best Asian cucumber salad dressing ever.
- Soy Sauce. No salt is needed. Soy sauce has the necessary umami factor to perfectly season this easy cucumber salad and wake up all the other flavors.
- Garlic. To give our dressing some zip.
- Sugar. Just one teaspoon balances the saltiness of the soy sauce and the sourness of the rice vinegar.
- Chili Flakes. You won’t find a complex blend of spices here. A dash of chili flakes is all you need if you’re looking to add a little kick to this simple cucumber salad recipe.
- Slice the cucumbers and place them in a large bowl. Add the peanuts.
- Whisk together the soy sesame dressing in a small bowl.
- Stir the dressing into the salad, add a sprinkling of chili flakes (optional) and ENJOY!
Here are some of my favorite ways to put a spin on this simple Asian cucumber salad recipe:
- Thai-Inspired Asian Cucumber Salad. Add a dash of fish sauce, fresh ginger, cilantro, and a tablespoon or two of fresh lime juice.
- Extra Spicy Asian Cucumber Salad. Toss in some extra red pepper flakes and a few teaspoons of Sriracha or chili oil to taste.
- Asian Cucumber Salad with Seafood. Add some protein to turn this salad into a complete meal. Asian cucumber salad with crab, tuna, or cooked shrimp are a few of my favs.
- Korean-Inspired Asian Cucumber Salad. For a Korean twist, add a few teaspoons of gochujang chili paste to taste and garnish with gochugaru chili flakes, green onion, and toasted sesame seeds.
- Asian Cucumber Salad with Red Onion. A reader-favorite way to kick this salad up a notch is to follow the instructions above but add thinly sliced red onion to the salad. Yum!
- To Store. This salad tastes best the day it is made but can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Taste and season the leftovers with a little extra soy sauce as needed.
- To Freeze. I do not recommend freezing cucumbers. Their high moisture will cause them to become mushy.
Meal Prep Tip
Mix up the dressing up to 3 days in advance. Store in the refrigerator.
Wondering what goes with Asian cucumber salad? Here are a few of my favorite pairings.
- Asian Cucumber Salad with Salmon. Toss with greens and this Teriyaki Salmon for a tasty lunch salad.
- Teriyaki Burgers with Grilled Pineapple—i.e. Hawaiian Teriyaki Burgers. Moist, juicy chicken or turkey burgers topped with a sweet and tangy teriyaki burger sauce, grilled pineapple, and onion.
- Soy Ginger Salmon—i.e. Baked Soy Ginger Salmon. An easy, foolproof recipe for moist and flavorful baked salmon with honey soy ginger glaze. Simple, healthy, and scrumptious!
- Crispy Asian Chicken Tenders—i.e. Oven-baked Crispy Asian Chicken Tenders. Juicy on the inside, crispy on the outside, with an easy ginger, soy sauce, and garlic marinade.
- Egg Roll In A Bowl. The BEST egg roll in a bowl recipe! This easy egg roll in a bowl with ground turkey and broccoli slaw is a healthy and low-carb meal.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Sharp Knife. The most essential of kitchen tools. A mandoline is another great option for making uniform cucumber slices.
- Non-Slip Cutting Board. Cut cucumbers (and everything else!) more safely.
- Liquid Measuring Cups. Dishwasher safe, microwave safe, and perfect for measuring and mixing dressing at the same time.
Summer is here, and so is Asian cucumber salad season!
Frequently Asked Questions
Japanese cucumbers, Persian cucumbers, and Asian cucumbers are sometimes sold under the name “mini cucumbers.” All of these will work in this recipe. Look for narrow cucumbers with a thin skin.
English cucumbers are your best bet if you can’t find mini cucumbers. They also have thin skins (so you still won’t need a vegetable peeler), but they contain seeds, and I find them to be more watery. Therefore, you will want to halve them lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and dry them with paper towels first.
Sunomono, which translates to “vinegared thing” in Japanese, is a traditional cucumber salad from Japan. This recipe is loosely inspired by the classic recipe, which also contains cucumbers marinated in rice vinegar with sugar. See Just One Cookbook for a recipe.
Asian Cucumber Salad
- 6 Persian or Japanese cucumbers* often labeled “mini cucumbers”
- 1/2 cup honey-roasted peanuts chopped
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Crushed red pepper flakes for serving
- Using a sharp knife or mandoline, slice the cucumbers into 1/4-inch pieces, transfer to a bowl.
- Add the peanuts.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, and sugar.
- Add the dressing to the cucumber slices and peanuts and toss to combine. Add a sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes to taste and serve.
- TO STORE. This salad tastes best the day it is made but can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Taste and season the leftovers with a little extra soy sauce as needed.
- TO FREEZE. I do not recommend freezing cucumbers. Their high moisture content will cause them to become mushy when thawed.
- *INGREDIENT NOTE: You also can swap 2 medium/large English cucumbers. Before slicing, cut the English cucumbers in half lengthwise, then with a small spoon, scrape out the seeds.
- Recipe reprinted with permission from The Secret Ingredient Cookbook by Kelly Senyei. The original recipe calls for 2 Persian cucumbers, but I am a fan of the higher veggie ratio, so I added extra. Feel free to adjust to your taste.
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Asian-inspired salads make crowd-pleasing, fresh side dish options for cookouts and healthy dinners.
The recipe calls for one teaspoon of sugar, but the article mentions using just a pinch, which I believe is closer to 1/16th teaspoon. Can you please clarify this? Thank you.
Hi Marilyn! GREAT question. I was using “a pinch” as a synonym for “a little” vs. indicating a specific amount. 1 teaspoon is correct.
Thanks for this great recipe. I might go easier on the hot pepper flakes next time, lol, but this is such a refreshing change and great use for cucumbers. Thank you for posting. I will be making this again soon.
Hi Linda! So glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for this kind review!
Have made this twice now and it was delicious. My husband really liked it and it was absolutely amazing with Teriyaki burgers. Yum
Hi Alice! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
Delicious!!! A hit !! Will Definitely be making this again!! Thank you for this Fresh recipe! I took the suggestion of adding extra veggies. I added broccoli, onions, shredded carrots & red & yellow peppers. I paired it with an Asian salad & it was Amazing!
Hi Martha! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
Excellent recipe. Yummy as a side for almost anything, mostly if it’s “picnicy”. My sole change was I added a few quarter-sliced white onions. Hey, there’s garlic here, so onions is a no-brainer.
Lastly, so EASY to make. Luckily, I did find “mini cucs” today in the produce department. A suggestion: if you have to make this recipe with English or regular cucs, I would salt them first to extract excess water.
Hi John! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
Absolutely delicious, definitely recommend trying!
I’m so happy that you enjoyed it, Anouk! Thank you for sharing this kind review!
Oh, how I love this salad. It’s SO EASY to throw together. I have made it as written and I have made it with subs due to what I had on hand. Today I made it with cane vinegar instead of rice wine and I added in some very thinly sliced red onion, a spoonful of fine Korean chili flakes (not very spicy) and also a spoonful of my homemade chili oil (recipe is thanks to Mikey Chen). It is amazing both ways and so incredibly delicious.
Hi Jenifer! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
I used the ingredients listed above, but used Gochugaru pepper flakes, and both sesame oil and olive oil. Absolutely divine.
This is also my new go to dressing for a really refreshing cole slaw.
Hi July Girl! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!