This simple vinegar dressed German cucumber salad with dill is fresh, light and such a delicious way to enjoy cucumbers. Made from a handful of simple ingredients, and ready in under 10 minutes, this light and refreshing summer salad is a tasty recipe to use up a glut of cucumbers.
What is gurkensalat
Thinly sliced cucumbers are mixed in a oil-vinegar dressing together with dill to make a light German cucumber salad. While creamy cucumber salads are common throughout Germany this variation, with a vinaigrette dressing, is a traditional Southern Germany dish.
Why we love this recipe
- Easy – chop the cucumber, spring onion and fresh dill, mix the vinaigrette, then combine.
- Dairy free German cucumber salad – with no sour cream or yogurt, this salad is suitable for those on a dairy free diet or vegan diet.
- The salad is also gluten free.
- It is such a refreshing salad, and really delicious on a hot summers day.
- This traditional German side dish is perfect for bbqs, with grilled meat or fish, or schnitzel.
Ingredient notes and substitutions
- Cucumbers – use English cucumbers (hothouse cucumbers) or Lebanese (Persian) cucumbers as they have thinner skins.
- Dill – this fresh aniseedy herb is popular in Southern Germany, but you could use finely chopped parsley as is often used when making gurkensalat in Northern Germany.
- Salt – sea salt or kosher salt
- Sugar – white granulated sugar.
- Spring onion – aka green onions. You can substitute with a little finely diced onion. If you don’t want the harsh onion taste then soak the onion in hot water for 2 minutes and drain before adding it to your cucumber salad.
- Oil – I often use a mild olive oil, you could use another neutral tasting oil such as avocado oil or grapeseed oil.
- Vinegar – white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
How to make Gurkensalat from scratch
- Mix the olive oil, vinegar, salt and sugar together to make the dressing.
- Thinly slice the cucumbers (either with a sharp knife or using a mandolin), and mix with chopped spring onions and fresh dill.
- Pour the dressing over the sliced cucumbers and stir to combine. Chill for a couple of hours before serving.
It depends on the variety of cucumber. English cucumbers and Persian/Lebanese cucumbers have thin skins so you don’t need to peel them.
The liquid released from cut cucumbers seeps in to the dressing, making the cucumber salad watery. To prevent this from happening, remove as much liquid as possible from the cucumbers by salting them and leaving them for a few minutes before patting dry. The salt removes the moisture from the cucumbers, meaning it won’t seep in to your salad.
Salting the sliced cucumber will help to keep it crunchy. When storing cucumbers in the fridge, make sure they are dry, and keep them cold but not too cold – you don’t want them to freeze as this makes them go mushy.
If your cucumber has large seeds in the centre, these watery seeds can make your cucumber salad watery. You can remove them by using a spoon to scrape down the centre of the cucumber.
My recipe tips
- If your cucumbers are waxed, peel them with a vegetable peeler before slicing. If they are unaxed you don’t need to bother with this step.
- Slice the cucumbers really thinly. Either carefully with a sharp knife or use a mandolin.
- Don’t skip the sugar – this is an important ingredient in authentic German salad recipes like this one.
- Let the salad rest in the fridge for 3 hours to chill down. It will become slightly more watery, but don’t worry.
- If you are making the cucumber salad and are leaving it in the fridge overnight, and don’t want a watery salad, salt the cucumbers, leave for 15 minutes in a colander to drain, then pat dry with kitchen paper towel before adding to the dressing.
You can serve this German cucumber salad cold or at room temperature.
- Pork – it goes so well as a side to grilled or baked pork chops, sausages,
- Chicken – we love it with this chicken traybake
- At a bbq or potluck alongside sausage rolls, beetroot and feta salad, ezme, kisir
This salad will keep in the fridge, covered, for 24-48 hours. I find the cucumber becomes a bit too soft for my liking after 24 hours, but Mr Jones still liked it after that time.
Why not try…
You may also like these other German recipes:
German Cucumber Salad (Gurkensalat)
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- pinch granulated sugar to taste
- pinch sea salt to taste
- 1 cucumber or 2 Lebanese cucumbers
- 1 spring onion
- ½ tablespoon dill finely chopped
- In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar and olive oil with a pinch of white sugar and salt. Check seasonings and place to one side.
- Finely slice the cucumbers and the spring onions and finely chop the dill, and place on a plate or in a bowl.
- Pour the dressing over the cucumbers and mix well.
- Serve immediately or keep in the fridge for up to 2 days. (If you intend to keep in the fridge overnight I recommend salting the cucumbers first to avoid a watery salad, see tip below.)