Sweet and Tangy Thai Cucumber Salad
Learn how to make an easy Thai cucumber salad. This salad is loaded with crisp cucumbers, robust red onions, and tons of toasted sesame seeds. The dressing is sweet and tangy and so refreshing!
Take it from someone who isn’t the biggest fan of cucumbers, that this is one addicting Thai cucumber salad!
It’s got everything I love in a good salad and more. Let’s start with the texture – every bite is loaded with a nice and satisfying crunch. And that dressing! It’s both sweet and tangy and has a little bit of heat from the red pepper flakes, more sesame flavor from the sesame oil and to round it all out umami from a few teaspoons of fish sauce. But don’t worry, if the f word makes you want to avoid making this delicious salad. You can easily leave the fish sauce out and move right along like it was never meant to be there in the first place. Removing the fish sauce also makes this salad vegan-friendly so everyone can enjoy it.
And I know what you’re thinking, it’s the last week of September, why the heck are we talking summery Thai cucumber salad recipes when the rest of the world is diving headfirst into all the fall comfort foods? The reality is that though my friends in the north are getting their first taste of a chill in the air, your friends down south are still working up a sweat with no end in sight.
In fact, I feel like the tropical storm/depression that hit us last week ended up making the temperature (and lord, that humidity) even worse.
What do you need to make Thai cucumber salad?
- Hothouse cucumbers (or English/Persian cucumbers)
- Thinly sliced red onions
- Chopped peanuts
- Toasted sesame seeds
Do I have to use peanuts in the Thai cucumber salad recipe?
No, you absolutely do not! If you have an allergy or just don’t care for them, this salad is just as delicious without them! I don’t always use them!
A note on the peanuts: I found that if you anticipate leftovers, it’s best to add peanuts to your own serving of salad right before consuming. The peanuts get weirdly soft if they sit in the dressing for too long, but pleasantly enough, the cucumbers do not soften!
What do you need to make the dressing for a Thai cucumber salad?
- Rice vinegar
- Granulated sugar
- Toasted sesame oil
- Fish sauce
- Red pepper flakes
How to make the best Thai cucumber salad:
- The first step to making the salad, is making the dressing. The easiest way to make the dressing is in a 1 cup measuring cup that has a spout. Just add the rice vinegar, granulated sugar, salt, toasted sesame oil, fish sauce, and red pepper flakes to the cup and whisk using a small whisk.
- Then, just combine the cucumbers, red onions, and toasted sesame seeds in a bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and stir until all the ingredients are evenly coated in the dressing. I find that the salad does taste best if you let it marinate for 1-2 hours covered in the refrigerator. But it’s ready to serve in as little as 15-20 minutes. So if you plan on serving this for dinner, make the salad first and while you prepare your main course, the salad has a chance to marinate!
If you like this cucumber salad recipe, you might also like:
- Spicy Thai Carrot Soup
- Thai Butternut Squash Red Curry
- Chopped Thai Chicken Salad with Skinny Peanut Dressing (meal prep)
- Garlic Lovers Thai Basil Chicken
- Thai Green Curry Chicken Soup
- Rainbow Thai Noodle Salad with Peanut Lime Dressing
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoon EACH: toasted sesame oil AND fish sauce
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Thai Cucumber Salad:
- 1 large hothouse (English) cucumbers, thinly sliced
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced
- ⅓ cup chopped peanuts (optional)
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- DRESSING: If you aren't the biggest fan of fish sauce, start with 1 teaspoon instead of two. Combine the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.
- THAI CUCUMBER SALAD: Combine the ingredients for the salad (except the peanuts) in a medium bowl. Pour the prepared dressing on top and stir so all the cucumbers are evenly coated in the dressing. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid and allow the salad to marinate in the refrigerator for roughly 15-20 minutes or up to 1-2 hours. Add the peanuts to the top right before serving.
- Leftover salad can be stored in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to 2 days. If you anticipate leftovers, consider adding the peanuts to individual servings rather than adding them to the entire batch. I find the peanuts do get soft as they sit in the dressing overnight.