Creamy Cucumber Salad

This Creamy Cucumber Salad is easy, refreshing, satisfying and goes with practically everything!

This easy Creamy Cucumber Salad recipe is crunchy, creamy and requires only 10 minutes hands-on prep!  It boasts crisp cucumbers, sweet fresh corn, crunchy bell peppers tossed in an intoxicatingly Lemon Chive Sour Cream Dressing spiked with fresh dill.  This cucumber salad recipe takes just minutes to prep and is the perfect side dish for any potluck, barbecue, or dinner. This cucumber dill salad can all be prepped ahead of time then just tossed together when ready to serve for an effortless win every time!

creamy cucumber salad in a bowl with dill dressing

Cucumber Salad

This Creamy Cucumber Salad boasts minimal effort with a vibrant, crunchy, fresh reward. It is one of my favorite side salads all spring and summer long because it’s so light and refreshing but deeply satisfying with its dance of texture and flavor.  It reminds me of tangy tzatziki with all the fresh crunch of healthy, garden cucumbers.  It requires just a few ingredients and is completely customizable beyond that. 

Crispy, crunchy cucumbers are obviously the star of this creamy Cucumber Salad recipe but you can customize it with any of your favorite veggies.  I like to throw in sweet corn straight off the cob and red bell peppers for both their texture and sweetness.

If you’ve never tried corn straight off the cob – you’re in for a delightful treat.  It adds a juicy, sweet crunch that is fresh and so satisfying.  You can also add or swap these veggies for any of your favs such as carrots, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, etc.

The Cucumber Salad with dill is further elevated by the Lemon Chive Sour Cream Dressing.  It is riddled with fresh herbs, tangy lemon and SO creamy – no watery cucumber salad here!  Just creamy, crunchy, YUMMY!

top view of cucumber salad with mayo in a white bowl with golden serving spoons

What to Serve with Cucumber Salad RECIPE?

Creamy cucumber salad is simple, vibrant and refreshing, making it the perfect complimentary side practically everything!  We particularly love serving it with:

two golden serving spoons tossing cucumber salad with sour cream

WHAT KIND OF CUCUMBER SHOULD I USE FOR EASY CUCUMBER SALAD?

There are almost 100 varieties of cucumbers grown in the world and pretty much all of them will work in this easy cucumber salad recipe because we are going to sweat the cucumbers to get rid of the excess moisture first.  The variety of cucumber will just determine if you need to peel the cucumber or not and will slightly affect the flavor.  I typically use either English cucumbers or baby cucumbers (pictured) for this recipe.  Here’s the deets:

English cucumbers

  • English cucumbers are sometimes referred to as seedless, European, burpless or hothouse cucumbers.
  • English cucumbers are longer and narrower than slicing cucumbers and have more flavor.
  • They have less seeds than slicing cucumbers but you will still need to sweat them first because they release a surprising amount of moisture.
  • Their seeds are much smaller and easier to eat and they have a milder, almost sweet taste in general.
  • Their skin is not bitter like slicing cucumbers and is thinner and often wrapped in plastic instead of waxed so you can eat their skin (easier and more nutritious).
  • The skin of English cucumbers is also not bitter like slicing cucumbers. 
  • When using English cucumbers, you may also stripe peel the skin for aesthetics.  
top view of showing how to make cucumber dill salad by chopping cucumbers

Slicing Cucumber

  • If you cannot find English cucumbers, you are more than welcome to use common slicing cucumbers, commonly known as garden cucumbers.  
  • Slicing cucumbers are less expensive than English cucumbers but you will need more of them for this cucumber salad recipe (see below).
  • Slicing cucumbers have a thick, waxy, tough skin which is also more bitter than English cucumbers, so you will definitely need to peel your cucumbers before using.

Mini cucumbers

  • When using mini cucumbers, I go for mini Persian cucumbers. They are sweet, thin skinned and crispy.
  • They are about 6 inches long and smaller in diameter than the aforementioned cucumbers.
  • Mini Persian cucumbers are similar to English cucumbers in that they don’t have to be peeled, and have a mild- flavored skin.
  • I like that they are a little firmer so they stand up to the dressing.
  • Make sure you don’t confuse these mini Persian cucumbers with Kirby’s which are also short but more suitable for pickling because they’re so crunchy and have a thicker skin.
far away view of cucumber dill salad in a white bowl on a golden and marble serving platter

How many cucumbers do I need for cucumber salad RECIPE?

This easy Cucumber Salad recipe calls for 6 cups or 2 pounds of cucumbers.  The easiest way to purchase the correct amount of cucumbers is to weigh the cucumbers at the grocery store scale.   If not handy, here are approximate measurements:

  • English cucumbers:  1 medium English cucumber (approximately 14″ long) yields 2 cups sliced cucumbers, so you will need 3 English cucumbers. If you decide to omit the red bell peppers and corn, you will need 4 English cucumbers.   
  • Slicing cucumbers:  1 medium slicing cucumber (approx. 8” long) yields 1 ½ cups sliced cucumbers, so you will need 6 slicing cucumbers.
  • Mini cucumbers:  Baby cucumbers vary greatly in size, so you will need anywhere from 10-14 baby cucumbers.  It is easiest to just weigh them or toss them in a large measuring cup as you slice them.

CUCUMBER SALAD DRESSING

What elevates this Creamy Cucumber Salad above the rest – in my humble opinion- is the intoxicating, vibrant dressing. This sour cream dressing is based off of the dressing in my BLT Pasta Salad recipe.  It’s lusciously creamy so it beautifully envelops the cucumbers and doesn’t leave you with a thin, watery disappointment and it’s adeptly seasoned so it infuses the cucumbers with tangy lemon and fresh herbs which cuts through the richness of the dressing and leaves you feeling satisfied and refreshed.

Ingredients and Substitutions for Cucumber Salad Dressing:

  • Sour cream:  you may sub Greek yogurt (see section below)
  • Mayonnaise: you may sub sour cream or Greek yogurt (see section below)
  • Chives:  I highly recommend fresh chives but you may substitute 1 tablespoon dried
  • Dill:  I highly recommend fresh dill and think it is worth the money -dried simply doesn’t taste the same –  BUT you may substitute 1 ½ teaspoon dried (or more to taste).  Fresh dill is often sold in small packages in the produce section located next to the other herbs. 
  • Lemon Juice:  fresh is always best plus you need it for the lemon zest
  • Dijon mustard: just a teaspoon will do the trick; you can omit it if you don’t have it
  • Seasonings: dried oregano, pepper, garlic powder, salt to taste
  • Sugar: ½ teaspoons balances the tangy lemon; you may substitute honey
up close of cucumber dill salad with chives and creamy cucumber salad dressing

CUCUMBER SALAD WITH SOUR CREAM

Sour Cream is the main ingredient in the Cucumber Salad Dressing.   It is smooth and tangy envelops the cucumbers beautifully.

Can I use Greek Yogurt Instead of Sour Cream?

Yes!  I’ve tested plain Greek yogurt and sour cream and I think it comes down to personal preference.   I personally prefer sour cream so that is how I’ve written the Cucumber Salad recipe.  If you want to substitute the sour cream with Greek yogurt, I suggest omitting the lemon zest. You can add it back in once you taste the dressing if you would still like it tangier.  

If using yogurt, you MUST use Greek yogurt.  Greek yogurt is strained yogurt which makes it much thicker and higher in protein than regular yogurt.  If you use traditional plain yogurt, your cucumber salad dressing will be too runny. You may use either Greek whole-milk yogurt, low-fat or non-fat yogurt.

far away view of cucumber salad recipe with sour cream dressing

CUCUMBER SALAD WITH MAYO

Mayonnaise is a standard ingredient in Cucumber Salad – so the big question is:

Do I have to use Mayonnaise?

Yes and no. If you want the BEST Cucumber Salad, then I highly suggest mayonnaise.   

Mayonnaise (by definition) is an egg emulsion with oil and lemon juice which produces a lusciously creamy result.   When added to dressings, it binds all the other ingredients together – in this case sour cream and lemon juice – to create a silky, cohesive creaminess that cannot be achieved any other way. 

In this Cucumber Salad with Mayo, we are only using ¼ cup, far less than other recipes – so you can barely taste it, but we get the benefit of its silky binding properties.

Can I USE Greek Yogurt instead?

If you are vehemently opposed to mayonnaise, you may substitute with additional sour cream or Greek yogurt, but be aware, your dressing will not have as much body and will likely separate a little, especially after the salad sits. 

showing how to make cucumber salad recipe by tossing cucumbers with dill dressing

HOW TO MAKE CUCUMBER SALAD

This Creamy Cucumber Salad recipe is super simple to make – the only real trick is to sweat the cucumbers (which is easy HANDS-OFF time) or else you will end up with watery Cucumber Dill Salad.  I have tried making this salad with and without sweating the cucumbers, and let me confirm, it is a MUST, even if you are using English cucumbers. 

STEP 1:  PREPARE CUCUMBERS

  • Peel cucumbers.  If you are using slicing/garden cucumbers, you will want to peel off the thick, waxy, bitter skin.  If you are using English cucumbers, you can skip this step.
  • Slice cucumbers.  I recommend ¼ inch slices because the cucumbers will soften slightly when mixed with the salt water.  A little thicker texture ensures they retain their beautiful crunch.
showing how to make creamy cucumber salad by slicing English cucumbers

STEP 2:  SWEAT CUCUMBERS

  • Add cucumbers to a salad spinner.  Remove the colander from your salad spinner and place it in the sink. Add cucumbers. This will allow the cucumbers to drain without sitting in water.
  • Sprinkle with salt. Toss the cucumbers with 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt.  The salt draws out and gets rid of the excess moisture of the cucumbers BEFORE its added to the salad.  This prevents the cucumber salad from become a watery disappointment.
  • Let sit.  You’ll want to let the salted cucumbers rest for 30-60 minutes but no longer, or they start to lose their fresh crunch.
showing how to make cucumber salad by sweating cucumbers with salt

STEP 3:  MAKE CUCUMBER DRESSING

  • Combine cucumber salad ingredients.  While the cucumbers are sweating, I like to multi-task and make the dressing.  The Cucumber Salad Dressing couldn’t be any easier.  It’s made by whisking together sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, lemon zest, Dijon, chives, dill and dried seasonings. 

STEP 4:  DRY CUCUMBERS

  • Spin cucumbers.  Add the salad spinner colander with the cucumbers back to the salad spinner and give it a good spin until the cucumbers seem pretty dry.
  • Dry cucumbers.  Finish drying the cucumbers by turning them out onto paper towels or a clean kitchen towel and patting dry.
showing how to make cucumber salad by drying cucumbers with paper towels

STEP 5:  COMBINE

  • Add ingredients to a bowl.  Transfer cucumbers to a large serving bowl along with corn and bell peppers.  Add desired amount of dressing.  Refrigerate remaining dressing separately and add more when serving if desired. 
showing how to make cucumber salad by tossing cucumbers and dressing together

STEP 6:  CHILL CUCUMBER SALAD

  • Chill for 30 minutes.  The Cucumber Salad can be eaten right away if you’re short on time, but it hugely benefits from chilling for 30 minutes which allows the flavors to build and meld together.

STEP 7:  SERVE

  • Adjust taste before serving.  Before serving the creamy Cucumber Salad, give it a taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed. 
cucumber dill salad in a white bowl with sour cream and mayo dressing

Cucumber DILL Salad Tips

  • What to look for in cucumbers?  Select cucumbers that are firm, bright and even in color.  Avoid cucumbers that are soft, have any soft spots, blemishes, or yellowing.
  • How to store cucumbers?  Store cucumbers in the vegetable crisper.  Don’t remove the plastic wrap from the cucumbers until it’s time to prepare them.
  • Do I have to wash cucumbers? Only rinse cucumbers right before preparing them otherwise they can soften prematurely.
  • Which cucumbers are best? You can use regular garden/slicing cucumbers, English cucumbers, or Persian cucumbers for this cucumber salad recipe.  My favorite is English cucumbers.
  • Do you peel the skin off of a cucumber?   The skin of cucumbers is edible and contains most of the fiber and nutrients.  I recommend leaving the skin on English cucumbers.  If you use traditional waxy cucumbers, you will want to peel off the skin, however, because it is tough and waxy.
  • Can I use table salt?  Make sure you use KOSHER salt and NOT regular table salt as kosher salt is much less salty.  Kosher salt will easily come off of the cucumbers with the excess water whereas table salt will stay with the cucumbers.    
  • Do I season with salt?  Once the easy cucumber salad has chilled with the dressing, you will want to taste and season with freshly cracked salt.  The amount will vary depending on how much kosher salt your cucumbers absorbed earlier.   
  • Do I have to sweat the cucumbers?  Yes, DON’T SKIP sweating the cucumbers.  This step is essential for crisp cumbers and creamy, not water cucumber salad dressing. 
  • Can I use different herbs?  You can swap the chives for red onions in the salad or with another favorite herb in the dressing. 
  • Do I have to use all of the Cucumber Dressing?  You may not use all of the Cucumber Dressing depending on personal preference.  This also means you don’t have to be exact in your cucumber measurements because you can add more or less dressing to taste. 
creamy cucumber salad in a white serving bowl with sour cream dressing

CUCUMBER SALAD RECIPE VARIATIONS

  • CUCUMBER ONION SALAD:  Half the chives in the dressing and add thinly sliced red onions to the cucumbers with the salt.
  • CUCUMBER DILL SALAD:  Increase the freshly chopped dill to 3 tablespoons.  You can even use more to taste.
  • CUCUMBER TOMATO SALAD:  I suggest adding halved cherry tomatoes as opposed to chopped Roma tomatoes because they are less watery but still juicy and will hold their shape.   
  • CUCUMBER TOMATO ONION SALAD:  Now it’s getting crazy!  Add both red onions, tomatoes and whatever your heart desires. 
  • CUCUMBER AVOCADO SALAD:  Add 2 chopped avocados to the salad right before serving.  Make sure the avocados are on the firmer side of ripe so they don’t get mushy when tossed in the salad.   I also like to tomatoes, corn and bell peppers when adding avocados to make Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad.
  • CUCUMBER TOMATO FETA SALAD:  In addition to adding tomatoes, add feta either directly to the salad or stir some into the dressing.  The feta pairs particularly well with red onions.

HOW LONG DOES CREAMY CUCUMBER SALAD LAST?

Creamy Cucumber Salad can last up to 3 days in the refrigerator stored in an airtight container but it is best the first day.  I prefer the salad just 30 minutes after it has been tossed and refrigerated with the dressing (especially if serving company).  This allows the flavors to build and meld but the cucumbers still remain crispy. 

Cucumber Dill Salad is still safe to eat for up to five days after making, but the longer it sits, the less crispy and even soggy the cucumbers become.  The cucumbers also continue to release water, so the flavor of the dressing literally gets watered down and become runnier so you will want to drain off any excess liquid.   

side view of cucumber salad with sour cream

HOW TO MAKE CUCUMBER DILL SALAD IN ADVANCE

  • THE SALAD.  Sweat, dry and toss the cucumbers with the other veggies in a paper-towel lined air-tight container up to 24 hours ahead of time.  Store container in the fridge and pat off any excess moisture with the paper towels before adding the dressing. 
  • THE DRESSING.  Make the Lemon Chive Sour Cream Dressing up to 24 hours in advance and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you choose to make it this far in advance, you might want to add a little more lemon before tossing as the lemon will mellow over time – just taste first and then make the call.
  • COMBINE. Toss the cucumber dill salad with the desired amount of dressing right before serving or up to 30 minutes before serving. 

Looking for more summer salad recipes?

up close side view of creamy cucumber salad with sour cream, mayo and dill

Want to try this Cucumber Salad RECIPE?

Pin it to your SALAD, SIDE or SUMMER Board to SAVE for later!

Find me on Pinterest for more great recipes!  I am always pinning :)!

©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

Creamy Cucumber Salad

This Creamy Cucumber Salad is easy, refreshing, satisfying and goes with practically everything! It’s crunchy, creamy and requires only 10 minutes hands-on prep! It boasts crisp cucumbers, sweet fresh corn, crunchy bell peppers tossed in an intoxicatingly Lemon Chive Sour Cream Dressing spiked with fresh dill. This cucumber salad recipe takes just minutes to prep and is the perfect side dish for any potluck, barbecue, or dinner. This cucumber dill salad can all be prepped ahead of time then just tossed together when ready to serve for an effortless win every time!
Servings: 12 -16 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 English cucumbers (6 cups/approx. 2 pounds) 1/4” sliced*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • corn from 1 ear sweet corn
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped

Lemon Chive Dressing

  • 1/2 cup sour cream omit lemon zest if using Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives may sub 1 tablespoon dried
  • 2 tablespoon fresh chopped dill may sub 1 ½ teaspoons dried
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Zest from one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp EACH sugar, oregano
  • 1/4 tsp EACH pepper, garlic powder
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  • Place cucumbers in the inside colander of a salad spinner and place in the sink (without the outer spin bowl). Sprinkle with kosher salt and toss until the salt is evenly distributed. Let stand in the sink for 30 minutes to release excess water.
  • Whisk together all of the Lemon Chive Dressing ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to use. May be made 24 hours in advance.
  • After 30 minutes, add colander to salad spinner (don’t rinse cucumbers) and spin dry. Transfer cucumbers to paper towels and pat completely dry.
  • Transfer cucumbers to a large serving bowl along with corn and bell peppers. Add desired amount of dressing and let chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • If not serving within 30 minutes, keep salad and dressing separate in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Notes

*You may also use traditional slicing/garden cucumbers but you will need to peel them first.  You will need approximately 6 slicing cucumbers.

Cucumber Salad Tips & Tricks

  • What to look for in cucumbers?  Select cucumbers that are firm, bright and even in color.  Avoid cucumbers that are soft, have any soft spots, blemishes, or yellowing.
  • How to store cucumbers?  Store cucumbers in the vegetable crisper.  Don’t remove the plastic wrap from the cucumbers until it’s time to prepare them.
  • Do I have to wash cucumbers? Only rinse cucumbers right before preparing them otherwise they can soften prematurely.
  • Which cucumbers are best? You can use regular garden/slicing cucumbers, English cucumbers, or Persian cucumbers for this cucumber salad recipe.  My favorite is English cucumbers.
  • Do you peel the skin off of a cucumber?   The skin of cucumbers is edible and contains most of the fiber and nutrients.  I recommend leaving the skin on English cucumbers.  If you use traditional waxy cucumbers, you will want to peel off the skin, however, because it is tough and waxy.
  • Can I use table salt?  Make sure you use KOSHER salt and NOT regular table salt as kosher salt is much less salty.  Kosher salt will easily come off of the cucumbers with the excess water whereas table salt will stay with the cucumbers.    
  • Do I season with salt?  Once the easy cucumber salad has chilled with the dressing, you will want to taste and season with freshly cracked salt.  The amount will vary depending on how much kosher salt your cucumbers absorbed earlier.   
  • Do I have to sweat the cucumbers?  Yes, DON’T SKIP sweating the cucumbers.  This step is essential for crisp cumbers and creamy, not water cucumber salad dressing. 
  • Can I use different herbs?  You can swap the chives for red onions in the salad or with another favorite herb in the dressing. 
  • Do I have to use all of the Cucumber Dressing?  You may not use all of the Cucumber Dressing depending on personal preference.  This also means you don’t have to be exact in your cucumber measurements because you can add more or less dressing to taste. 
  • Can I use Greek yogurt?  Yes!  I’ve tested plain Greek yogurt and sour cream and I think it comes down to personal preference.   I personally prefer sour cream so that is how I’ve written the Cucumber Salad recipe.  If you want to substitute the sour cream with Greek yogurt, I suggest omitting the lemon zest. You can add it back in once you taste the dressing if you would still like it tangier.  
  • Do I have to use mayonnaise?  Mayonnaise (by definition) is an egg emulsion with oil and lemon juice which produces a lusciously creamy result. When
    added to dressings, it binds all the other ingredients together to create a silky, cohesive creaminess that cannot be achieved any other way.  You may substitute the mayo with sour cream or Greek yogurt but expect some dressing separation. 

STORAGE

Creamy Cucumber Salad can last up to 3 days in the refrigerator stored in an airtight container but it is best the first day.  I prefer the salad just 30 minutes after it has been tossed and refrigerated with the dressing (especially if serving company).  This allows the flavors to build and meld but the cucumbers still remain crispy. 
Cucumber Dill Salad is still safe to eat for up to five days after making, but the longer it sits, the less crispy and even soggy the cucumbers become.  The cucumbers also continue to release water, so the flavor of the dressing literally gets watered down and become runnier so you will want to drain off any excess liquid.

HOW TO MAKE IN ADVANCE

  • THE SALAD.  Sweat, dry and toss the cucumbers with the other veggies in a paper-towel lined air-tight container up to 24 hours ahead of time.  Store container in the fridge and pat off any excess moisture with the paper towels before adding the dressing. 
  • THE DRESSING.  Make the Lemon Chive Sour Cream Dressing up to 24 hours in advance and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you choose to make it this far in advance, you might want to add a little more lemon before tossing as the lemon will mellow over time – just taste first and then make the call.
  • COMBINE. Toss the cucumber dill salad with the desired amount of dressing right before serving or up to 30 minutes before serving
 

Did You Make This Recipe?

Tag @CarlsbadCravings and Use #CarlsbadCravngs

Leave a Review, I Always Love Hearing From You!

Carlsbad Cravings© Original

Reader Interactions

leave a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

8 Comments

  1. Gabs says

    When I had my skin disease, cucumber was a must-eat for me. Now It is my routine to eat it. I’ll surely improvise these to my routine.

    • Jen says

      Awesome Gabs, I hope you love it!

  2. Maggie O. says

    I love your recipes, but sweetheart – way too much verbiage and photos before you get to the actual recipe.

    • Jen says

      Hi Maggie, the detailed info is how I have built a thriving business and my google authority. You can always use the “jump to recipe” button at the top of the page 😉

  3. Kat says

    I don’t have a salad spinner. Would you suggest shaking in the colander before patting with paper towels?

    • Jen says

      Yes, that will work. I would let them sit in the colander for a while to drain then shake and then pat VERY well with paper towels. Enjoy!

  4. Sheryl says

    Can I substitute vinegar for lemon and what type of vinegar would you recommend?

    • Jen says

      Hi Sheryl, you can try substituting the lemon juice with red wine vinegar but the dressing will lose the lemon flavor.