“Cool, crispy, cucumber slices combined with sweet, crunchy slices of sweet onion in a tart, sweet dressing that’s perfect for dinner on a hot summer night.” That’s what one of our recipe testers said of this blissfully simple and outrightly traditional summer side. Sorta sums it up quite well. The author of the recipe tried playing around with more complicated approaches yet finally settled on the simplest approach, concluding that worked best. Indeed, it does.–Renee Schettler Rossi

A serving of cucumber and onion salad being lifted from a serving bowl with silver salad tongs.

Cucumber and Onion Salad

5 / 2 votes
This cucumber and onion salad is a simple summer side composed of crunchy marinated cucumbers and onions in a tangy vinaigrette. Perfect for backyard barbecues and picnicking.
David Leite
Servings8 to 10 servings
Calories76 kcal
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 25 minutes


  • 4 medium(about 3 lbs) cucumbers, halved lengthwise and sliced into half-moons
  • 2 small (1 lb) sweet onions, sliced into 1/8-inch (3-mm) rings
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup white vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped mixed fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, basil, chives, or whatever you like)
  • 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt (or as little or as much as you fancy!)
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper


  • In a large bowl, combine the cucumbers and onions.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, vinegar, water, olive oil, sugar, and fresh herbs. Pour the dressing over the cucumbers and onions.
  • Refrigerate the salad for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Season with the salt and pepper. Serve.

Adapted From


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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 76 kcalCarbohydrates: 3 gProtein: 1 gFat: 7 gSaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 5 gSodium: 150 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 2 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2020 John Currence. Photo © 2020 Peter Frank Edwards. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Surprisingly good. I was hesitant to try this one because of the amount of vinegar in it. It’s a simple dish in terms of ingredients, and quite tasty, with the vinegar turning out to be less overpowering than I thought.

I used Armenian cucumbers, basil, and parsley.

I grew up with a similar version of this salad and we just called it Refrigerator Cucumber and Onions. It was always a favorite in the summertime! This salad, however, is a little different since it adds minced garlic, olive oil, and fresh herbs to the mix. Sounded interesting, so I wanted to check this one out.

First, I needed to halve this recipe since there’s just the 2 of us in my household and 4 cucumbers and 2 sweet onions would make way too much salad for us. So, I halved all the ingredients and followed the instructions as noted. I whisked all the scaled-down dressing ingredients together and used Italian parsley for the fresh herb since I had a lot of that on hand and I also used white vinegar for the acid. I ended up with a large bowl of cucumbers and onions, and I poured the dressing over all and stirred well before putting it into the fridge. Since I had a tight lid on the bowl, I shook the bowl every 10 minutes for the next hour to keep the liquid moving through the veggies.

At the end of the hour, I tasted the salad and opted to only add ¼ teaspoon of salt and a nice grinding of black pepper and then put it back in the fridge to have later for lunch. After another hour or so, when I was ready to serve it, I tasted the salad again and it was still perfectly seasoned, so I served it in little bowls with a little extra grinding of black pepper.

This salad was wonderfully refreshing with its vinegary-sweet crunch of English cucumbers and onions and the added garlic, olive oil, and fresh herbs gave my old favorite a nice little update. I’m glad I halved the ingredients, because I ended up with a large bowl that could easily serve 4 to 6 people, depending on how it’s served. We’ll happily be munching on this salad for a while.

My granny used to make a recipe just like this when we visited her in Kentucky during the summer. This took me right back to her kitchen. Cool, crisp, and tangy, it makes the perfect no-cook side dish for a picnic on a hot day.

I also like that it can hold up for a few days in the fridge without getting mushy. My only small change would be to add some salt before refrigerating it, rather than waiting until later. That way all the components get salted all the way through.

I used regular cucumbers. I peeled off a few strips to make them more decorative. I just used one large one because I felt like it was plenty for the amount of cucumber. I used half basil and half dill for the fresh herbs.

I started by adding half (1 tsp) of the salt right away before refrigerating–I thought it needed to get IN to the cucumbers during the marinading. After 1 hour, I added another 2 tsp because I thought it really needed it to bring out the flavors.

I only added about 1/2 tablespoon of black pepper. I liked that it was there, but felt there was a little bit of “bite” already from raw onion and garlic. I’d recommend a whole tablespoon only if you’re a big black pepper fan.

I read this recipe and thought what a refreshing sounding salad with my two favorite salad ingredients combined. As I was going on a picnic, I thought that this would be a perfect salad to bring with me as it should hold well.

And, yes, I was correct! It was very refreshing and it really is a good salad for travelling. The vinegar gives a piquancy against the coolness of the cucumber which is great when the weather is hot. Especially when served alongside richer foods such as cheese and salami. As the ingredients are so simple, it’s very easy to make and can be whipped up very quickly. It can stay in the fridge for up to 3 days before it starts losing its flavor and crunch. I preferred it on the second day as the flavors had time to integrate.

Overall, this is a good, simple salad which would be great with most summer dishes.

I ended up using 2 really long English cucumbers. I reckoned they were the equivalent of 4 normal cucumbers along with chopped basil and chives.

With an abundance of Burpee’s Hybrid cucumbers in my garden, this was a no-brainer recipe pick and the results were exactly what I expected. Cool, crispy, cucumber slices combined with sweet, crunchy slices of sweet onion in a tart, sweet dressing that’s perfect for dinner on a hot summer night.

Since I had just harvested some rather large cucumbers from my garden and was only making this for two, I decided to cut the recipe in half. Despite my efforts, this was still enough to serve the 2 of us for several meals (i.e., the equivalent of 6 servings). Nevertheless, it held up well over the course of several days and never tasted anything less than on day one. I used a mix of thyme, basil, and oregano plus white vinegar, and added about a teaspoon of sea salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper at the end. The cucumbers I used tend to have slightly bitter skins so I peeled one and scraped some of the seeds out of both.

Overall, this is a light, refreshing summer salad that can go well with practically any main dish, especially something grilled.

Fresh, simple, cool—just what we needed during a heat wave.

The salad comes together in just 10 minutes and all that’s needed then is to wait the full hour, turning the cucumbers over in the marinade each ten minutes – the flavors need to meld for that full hour. We used about a pound of Persian cucumbers with fresh mint. We saved some for the next day and the flavor is just as good, though the cucumbers wilted a bit. It seems like a lot of salt and pepper, but the flavors were balanced. Served six.

This salad was a very refreshing healthy side dish on a hot summer day! The crunch of the cucumbers and onion and the sweet acidic dressing was a super palate pleaser. The dressing wasn’t overly sweet but instead had a nice balance. A perfect use for the cucumber harvest from my garden!

I made this in the afternoon, preparing it ahead so it marinated for 4 hours before serving. Regular bush cucumbers from my garden were used.

Herbs used were fresh basil and oregano. White vinegar was used.

As sodium intake is a concern in my house I only used 1/2 tsp of salt and about 1 tsp black pepper.

Love the flavor. Super fresh, perfect for the weather that day I made it, which was quite hot.

This salad was DELICIOUS (yes, in all caps!)! The salad has a lot of room for doing just about anything with it, but this will be a summer staple of a salad for us. I had made similar salads before, but the ones I had made before were heavy on the vinegar.  The blend of herbs, spices, sugar, oil, and vinegar was superb and well blended. Also, the dill that I used really came through and was a great complement to the cucumbers.

I love cucumbers but am not a lover of all of the seeds. So I used seedless English cucumbers for this salad (the kind that are wrapped in plastic when you buy them). I used 4 whole cucumbers. I left them whole and sliced them approximately 1/8 inch thick. I had also never used English cukes in this type of salad, but will be again. They were super easy to slice (I left the skins on) and made for nice bite sizes!

The onions were sweet Vidalia onions. I sliced both the onions and all of the cucumbers on my mandoline. I used a cup of white vinegar and then followed the rest of the ingredients exactly.

For the mixed fresh herbs, I used a mix of basil, parsley, dill, and green onion (just the green part). I whisked everything together and refrigerated.  About once an hour I went in and shook the bowl and turned it over once or twice to keep the vegetables covered with the dressing. I also only used a teaspoon of salt because 2 teaspoons seemed like a lot, and I’m trying to watch my salt intake. I also used a teaspoon of the black pepper.  The salad stayed refrigerated until we ate it for supper late in the afternoon. I made it about noon and we ate at about 5.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    So simple, so refreshing, so delicious. I used a mandolin to slice the cucumber and left the slices whole to match the onions. As both ingredients were previously refrigerated and my slices were quite thin, the salad only needed 5 minutes to rest before serving.
    I served this with another 2 salads as accompaniment to smoked turkey legs for a cold alfresco dinner. The simplicity of the light yet layered flavours complemented the robust smoked meat like a charm.

  2. Memories of my mom’s salad with everything from the garden. This is a repeater-keeper!

    Sliced one cucumber on the thin side of the mandolin and the other on the thick. We preferred the thick.

    Had enough for 2 dinners for two.

    Uncharacteristically, I will skip the garlic next time.

  3. 5 stars
    I make a similar version of this salad, we add sour cream, fresh many times in the summer.