This creamy cucumber salad recipe, also known as gurkensalat in German, is cool, creamy, and oh so refreshing for the summer months.
This simple side dish is perfect whether you’re looking for a cucumber salad recipe like you’d find in Germany or need a tasty way to use fresh garden cucumbers.
Half-German Mr. Savvy gives this his stamp of approval as the perfect side dish for any German meal.
It’s an easy summer salad made with fresh ingredients like cucumbers, onions, and herbs with a tangy creamy dressing.
The ingredients you need to make this salad include:
- Sliced cucumbers – I like using English cucumbers as they have smaller and fewer seeds and a thinner skin but any variety of fresh cucumbers should work
- Salt – I use either fine sea salt or kosher salt to help draw excess moisture from the cucumber slices
- Onion – I like using sweet onions but yellow or red onion (also known as purple onion) is also good
- Sour cream – I use regular sour cream but light should also work okay. If you really don’t want to use sour cream, plain Greek yogurt should also work well.
- White sugar – If you want this cucumber onion salad to be sugar-free or low carb you can use your favorite sugar substitute
- Vinegar – I prefer using white vinegar for this recipe but apple cider vinegar is a close second
- Dill – Fresh dill weed is best but dried dill will also do
- Chives – Fresh is best, but I have used dried chives when out
- Garlic – I prefer using granulated garlic as raw can be a bit sharp but you can grate fresh garlic on a microplane if preferred
- More salt and ground black pepper to taste
- Garnish ideas: More fresh herbs, sliced green onions
Here are the kitchen tools I used to make this classic cucumber salad.
- Vegetable peeler
- Sharp chef’s knife, mandoline, or food processor with slicing blade
- Cutting board
- A strainer or colander – for salting the cucumbers to sit and drain in
- Cheesecloth or flour sack towels
- Large bowl
- Measuring cups – dry and liquid
- Measuring spoons
- My favorite containers for storing this salad
1. Peel the cucumbers if desired (and depending on the kind of cucumber). Peeling them will help the cucumbers soften more while leaving the peel on leaves them crispier. If you’re not using English or Persian cucumbers, it will be important to peel them and deseed them if there are a lot of large seeds. Peel the onion and cut it in half.
2. Using a food processor, mandoline, or sharp knife, thinly slice the 2 cucumbers and half of the onion, about 1/16th or 1.5 mm thick.
3. Layer the cucumber and onion in a strainer with a generous pinch of salt between the layers, about 1 teaspoon of salt in total. Set over a clean bowl or sink for about 1 to 2 hours so the excess moisture can drain. This helps the cucumbers soften and will result in a less watery salad.
4. To minimize salt intake, you can rinse the cucumbers and onions with cold water after they have softened. I opt to not rinse them. Then drain the cucumbers thoroughly by wrapping them in clean cheesecloth or a flour sack tail and squeezing them.
5. Make the sour cream dressing by mixing together 1/2 cup sour cream, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 tablespoons vinegar, 1 tablespoon fresh dill, 1 tablespoon fresh chives, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (optional), and a pinch of salt and ground black pepper.
6. Add the drained cucumbers and onion and stir until everything is evenly coated.
7. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hour or preferably overnight as this creamy version of cucumber salad is best the next day. Stir just before serving.
Leftovers will keep covered and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days, though the simple salad will get more watery the longer it sits.
🍽 Make It A Meal
Here are some more German-style recipes that are delicious served with this German cucumber salad.
Entrée: Pork and Sauerkraut
Dessert: German Plum Cake
- 2 large cucumbers, such as English; you can also use 4+ pickling cucumbers
- Salt for draining, I use about 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 large onion, I like to use a sweet or white onion
- 1/2 cup sour cream, I always use full-fat
- 2 Tablespoons white granulated sugar, or to taste
- 2 Tablespoons white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
- 1 Tablespoon fresh dill, washed and chopped finely
- 1 Tablespoon fresh chives, washed and chopped finely
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, or 1 small clove, finely chopped (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Wash cucumbers and then peel if desired. Peeled cucumbers will be a bit softer while unpeeled will be a bit crisper. If using pickling cucumbers, you'll definitely want to peel as the skin is too thick.
- Very thinly slice cucumbers and onion (cut in half), about 1/16" or 1.5mm thick, where you can almost see through the slices. A mandoline makes really easy work of this.
- Place cucumbers and onion in strainer and sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon salt and toss to coat. Let sit over a bowl or clean sink at least 30 minutes, but preferably an hour or more, so excess water can drain. If you don't do this the cucumbers won't soften as they should, and your salad can end up very watery.
- Once cucumbers and onions have softened, lightly rinse (can skip if you like a saltier salad) and squeeze out any excess water, allowing to drain on a paper towel or clean kitchen towel while you make the dressing.
- In a large container or bowl, mix together sour cream, sugar, vinegar, dill, chives and garlic.
- Add in cucumber and onion and toss to coat evenly.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you want it tangier, add a touch of vinegar, if less tangy or sweeter, a touch of sugar.
- Cover and store in the refrigerator for several hours before serving, preferably overnight. Stir just before serving.
- Salad will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days, though it will begin to get watery the longer it sits.
Change up the flavor by adding different herbs. You can also use dried herbs, just use 1 teaspoon instead as dried herbs are more potent.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1/8 of recipe
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 64Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 381mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 1gSugar: 6gProtein: 1g