Cucumber Onion Salad is a simple, classic recipe of sliced crisp cucumbers, sweet onions, and tangy vinegar to create a side dish that’s refreshing and full of flavor.

It’s an easy yet delicious addition to your summer cookouts, offering a delightful interplay of sweet and tangy flavors.

Overhead view of a bowl of cucumber salad.

If you want a cool, refreshing side dish for your next picnic, you will love this recipe for cucumbers and onions in vinegar. It’s quick and easy to make and keeps for several days in the refrigerator.

This cucumber onion salad recipe is the perfect side dish for fried chicken, grilled chicken, barbecue, pork chops, burgers, and hot dogs. 

And the salad also makes a great addition to a vegetable plate with butter beans, sliced tomatoes, and corn on the cob. You can serve cucumber salad at room temperature or cold from the refrigerator.

Eating cold cucumbers on a hot summer day is so refreshing. And don’t you just love a great make-ahead dish with simple ingredients?

Did you know cucumbers are a nutritious and low-calorie vegetable choice? That’s what I love about summer–so many healthy and fresh options! 

We usually have a bowl of this cucumber onion salad in the refrigerator all summer. You can easily add to it by dropping a few more cucumber slices in the vinegar as the week goes on.

Ingredients for cucumber salad

See the recipe card below for full ingredients and instructions.

This easy cucumber onion salad recipe is best in the summertime when cucumbers are fresh and crisp.

Ingredients to make cucumber salad.
  • Fresh cucumbers – you want firm, crisp ones for this recipe
  • Sweet onion (we’re partial to authentic Vidalia onions from Georgia) 
  • Vinegar (white vinegar or apple cider vinegar) – personal preference
  • Water
  • Granulated sugar
  • Celery seeds
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Mandoline – use this to slice your cucumbers and other vegetables

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Large white bowl of cucumber onion salad.

Variations

While the classic cucumber and onion salad is a delight as is, you can always play around with additional flavors or ingredients to add to the basic recipe.

Here are some variations you might want to consider:

  • Use red or white onions for a more robust flavor and vibrant color.
  • Add fresh dill or mint for a herbaceous note.
  • Substitute the granulated sugar with honey for a natural sweetener.
  • Incorporate thinly sliced radishes or bell peppers for an extra crunch.
  • Add a few red pepper flakes for a little heat.
  • You could also try this creamy cucumber salad for a different taste!

How to make cucumber onion salad

Making this easy cucumber salad recipe is as simple as it gets.

  1. Preparation: Peel (if desired) and slice cucumbers and onions. You’ll need a sharp knife or a mandoline.
  2. Season: Place the sliced cucumbers and onion slices in a large bowl and sprinkle lightly with salt. 
  3. Make dressing: Then, in a saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, celery seeds, salt, and pepper and heat until just hot but not boiling.
  4. Combine: Allow the vinegar dressing to cool, then pour over the cucumbers and onions. 
  5. Serve and store: Place in an airtight container, cover, and refrigerate.

Tips

  • Always choose fresh, firm cucumbers and onions for the best cucumber and onion salad. The crispness of the vegetables makes a huge difference in the final result. 
  • Make sure the vinegar mixture is cool before pouring it over the vegetables to maintain their crunch.
  • Use a mandoline slicer to get thin slices of the cucumbers. I like the cucumber slices to be about a 1/4-inch thick, so a knife works fine for me.

FAQs

Which cucumber should you use?

We like regular American slicing cucumbers, but you can use whatever kind you like. Many folks use English cucumbers or Persian cucumbers, and some use pickling cucumbers. 

How long does cucumber salad last?

Cucumber salad can last up to a week in the refrigerator, although it’s best when eaten within the first 3-4 days.

How do you store the salad?

Store the fresh salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This will help maintain the freshness and crunch of the cucumbers.

Can you freeze cucumber salad?

Freezing is not recommended for cucumber salads as it can lead to a mushy texture once defrosted. For best results, enjoy your cucumber salad fresh or refrigerated.

Small white bowl filled with cucumbers and onions in vinegar.

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4.29 from 39 votes

Cucumber Onion Salad

Cucumber Onion Salad is a simple, classic recipe of sliced crisp cucumbers, sweet onions, and tangy vinegar to create a side dish that's refreshing and full of flavor.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 servings

Equipment

Ingredients 

  • 3 cucumbers, sliced
  • 1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup vinegar (white or apple cider)
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon celery seeds
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • Place cucumbers and onions in a bowl and sprinkle a little salt over them.
  • Combine the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and cook until just hot, not boiling. Allow to cool completely.
  • Pour over the cucumbers and onions. Cover and refrigerate.

Notes

  • Use white or red onion if desired.
  • Keeps in refrigerator for several days and is better the second or third day.

Nutrition

Serving: 6servings, Calories: 65kcal, Carbohydrates: 13g, Protein: 1g, Sodium: 200mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 11g
Course: Sides
Cuisine: American
Calories: 65
Keyword: cucumber onion salad, cucumber salad
Love this recipe?Mention @southernfoodandfun or tag #southernfoodandfun!

Update Notes: This post was originally published June 14, 2013, and on July 10, 2023, was updated with one or more of the following: step-by-step photos, video, updated recipe, new tips.

This post is part of my favorite Southern Foods at Home collection.

Check out our entire Appetizer Collection!

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About the author

Hi, I’m Lucy! I’m a home cook, writer, food and wine fanatic, and recipe developer. I’ve created and tested hundreds of recipes so that I can bring you the best tried and true favorites.

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Recipe Rating




3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I have thoroughly enjoyed your Southern Classic recipes and have pinned most of them since I use Pinterest as my go to cookbook while in the grocery store. Although all are familiar, there are always different twists to even someone’s favorite often cooked dishes. I can’t wait to try your recipes. Thought I might pass along a favorite of mine which came from my mother since your cucumber and onions recipe made me think of it. You would think it would taste horrible but it’s actually quite good. No measurements — just slice cucumbers and onions, slather them up with sour cream and salt and pepper. So good. I think somewhere I’ve seen folks add a bit of acid such as fresh squeezed lemon, just a tad to this dish. Again thank you for sharing all these delicious sounding recipes. Rebecca

  2. 5 stars
    I have thoroughly enjoyed your Southern Classic recipes and have pinned most of them since I use Pinterest as my go to cookbook while in the grocery store. Although all are familiar, there are always different twists to even someone’s favorite often cooked dishes. I can’t wait to try your recipes. Thought I might pass along a favorite of mine which came from my mother since your cucumber and onions recipe made me think of it. You would think it would taste horrible but it’s actually quite good. No measurements — just slice cucumbers and onions, slather them up with sour cream and salt and pepper. So good. I think somewhere I’ve seen folks add a bit of acid such as fresh squeezed lemon, just a tad to this dish. Again thank you for sharing all these delicious sounding recipes. Rebecca