This tangy and sweet German Cucumber Salad is a delicious side salad that takes only minutes to make.
This is the number one salad I grew up with when I lived in Germany. It's always been my one of my favorite things to eat.
My Oma made this Cucumber Salad whenever I was at her house. I talk a lot about German food, and there are lots of recipes I love to share. But this one is special.
It brings back all those feel-good childhood memories and how lucky I was to learn so much from Oma. And looking back, it's the recipe that started my love for food and cooking.
What Is Gurkensalat?
Cucumber Salad in German is called Gurkensalat. It's one of the most popular side dishes in Germany. Generally speaking, we have two different kinds of cucumber salad.
The one in this recipe is made with a simple dill dressing, and our creamy Cucumber Salad is made with sour cream.
CREAMY GERMAN CUCUMBER SALAD - There is another German cucumber salad! It's made with a creamy dressing. And it's just as German as this one but has a creamy dressing. I have seen it in Germany made with white onion.
This is how you pronounce Gurkensalat in German:
Why This Sweet and Tangy German Cucumber Salad Works
TASTE - It is a very refreshing side dish. Once the cucumbers had a chance to absorb the flavors of the dressing, they become soft, almost chewy, and ultra refreshing.
EASY - Who doesn't love easy and delicious recipes that require only a handful of ingredients? Our traditional German Cucumber Salad fits the bill.
PARTY FAVORITE - Light and refreshing, this German Cucumber Salad is the perfect dish to bring to your next party, potluck, or family gathering. It's easy to double, triple, or even quadruple the recipe.
DIFFERENT - This salad is a bit different than some salads you might be used to. First, you'll notice that there's a lot of dressing. A lot. And that's ok. Unlike other cucumber salads, we don't remove the inside or try to remove the excess water.
At first, the dressing is quite intense, but the excess liquid of the cucumbers creates a deliciously balanced tangy, sweet and refreshing summer salad. Cucumbers are not very flavorful, but they take on the flavoring of the dressing.
Please use the recipe card below for a detailed, printable ingredient list.
CUCUMBER - You will want to get English cucumbers (sometimes called hothouse cucumbers). Despite their "English" name, they are the seedless cucumbers we use in Germany.
LEMON - Fresh lemon juice is a must (for me). Some recipes use white wine vinegar, but I like fresh lemon best. If you are interested in alternatives, read the next sections below when I go into more detail about substitutions.
Use 1-2 lemons. You'll want to have about a third to a half cup of fresh lemon juice.
OIL - Use your favorite oil. We used to use vegetable oil or sunflower oil at the time, but these days I mostly use olive oil when making this salad. If you want a more traditional salad, use the other oils I mentioned.
SUGAR - Use regular granulated sugar.
SALT - Adding salt lifts and brightens all of the flavors.
DILL - Fresh, chopped dill is ideal for this easy dill dressing.
VINEGAR. - In Germany, most of the time, we use fresh lemon. But sometimes, we used a German vinegar Kühne Zitronen Essig. It is a lemon-infused vinegar. Although you'll find it in every German grocery store, I haven't been able to source it in the US.
Some people seem to use Apple Cider Vinegar, and as far as I can remember, this wasn't even a thing growing up. But if that's your personal preference, there is nothing wrong with it.
Because we used fresh lemons, you'll have to make some adjustments. I'd probably start with a ¼ cup of vinegar. If that's not tangy enough, increase it to ⅓ cup.
And if you'll find it too tangy, add more sugar. This is a fool-proof, very forgiving recipe.
You'll have to experiment to find that perfect balance for yourself. Just remember the dressing will taste more intense than what you might be used to from other salads.
FUN FACT: Cucumbers are made up of over 95% of water!
ONION. - I've seen German Cucumber Salad recipes in the US using raw onions, sweet onions, red onions, and sometimes even green onions. And there is nothing wrong with it. If you like onions, add them. But if you want to create an authentic German cucumber salad, skip the onion.
I will say that this applies to the kind of clear dressing German cucumber salad I am writing about today.
That's how it works with traditional recipes. Regional differences are very common.
How To Make This German Cucumber Salad Recipe
- CUCUMBER AND DILL - Peel and slice the cucumbers into thin slices. Mince the fresh dill. Combine sliced cucumbers and the fresh dill in a large group, and toss until well combined.
- DRESSING - In a small bowl, combine oil, lemon juice, salt, sugar, and juice and whisk until the sugar has dissolved.
- REST - Allow the salad to rest for 15-30 minutes in the fridge.
Recipe Success Tips
MANDOLINE SLICER - You can use a sharp kitchen knife and slice the peeled cucumber. Or, if you are like me, use a mandoline slicer. I have this adjustable mandoline, it's perfect, and I use it all the time. I use the number 2 setting for cucumbers.
STORE - Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. You might find that the salad tastes best on the second day.
TIP - When it's time to enjoy the leftover salad, remove it from the fridge about 15-30 minutes before serving. You can also add a dash of salt to liven the flavors.
FREEZE - Don't freeze a cucumber salad.
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More Simple Salad Recipes You'll Love
TUNA SALAD - This sweet and savory salad is perfect for sandwiches and wraps.
EGG SALAD - Perfectly cooked eggs are tossed in a savory, lightly tangy creamy dressing.
SHRIMP SALAD - This classic creamy salad can be served as a delicious salad for lunch or dinner or made into a delicious sandwich.
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Oma's German Cucumber Salad
- Peel and slice the cucumbers. Place cucumber slices into a large bowl and combine with chopped dill.
- In a small bowl, combine oil, lemon juice, sugar, and salt and whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the dressing over cucumbers and combine well.
- Cover the bowl with a lid of plastic foil and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Serve and enjoy.