Cucumber-sesame salad with yogurt, mint, and garlicky chili oil. This Asian cucumber salad is light and nutritious, and super easy to make.
Why You'll Love this Cucumber Salad Recipe
Cucumbers and yogurt is one of the most refreshing combinations of all time. However what really adds a layer of intrigue to this combo is garlic and chili flakes. The garlicky chili oil adds depth, complexity, and just enough kick to liven up anything you pair it with. For example, grilled fish, burgers, chicken, or even strips of baked tofu.
The chili oil is also fantastic as a stand-alone condiment. You can drizzle it over just about any grilled protein or vegetable you're cooking up.
Serve this refreshing Asian cucumber salad as an appetizer or side dish this summer. It's the perfect recipe to use up your bounty of homegrown 'cukes, and will become a seasonal staple.
- Cucumber: You can use any type of cucumber in this salad, however I prefer English or Persian because they're seedless. English are also called hot-house cucumbers, and they're long and thin with dark green skin. If you use garden cucumbers, it's best to remove the seeds.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic does some serious heavy lifting here in terms of flavor. The key is to cook them in oil over medium-low heat to avoid burning.
- Chili Flakes: You can use standard crushed red chili flakes, Korean, or Aleppo-style pepper flakes in this recipe. The latter two offer more dimension in terms of flavor, however they can be harder to find.
- Vinegar: The recipe suggests unseasoned rice vinegar, however seasoned will also do the job.
- Yogurt: Plain, whole-milk Greek yogurt creates the creamy foundation for the Asian cucumber salad. You can also use your favorite plant-based yogurt if making vegan/dairy-free.
- Sesame Seeds: Toasted sesame seeds add crunch, depth, and a jolt of nutrients to this salad. You can purchase sesame seeds already toasted, or toast them yourself. For the latter, toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
Step 1: Make the Garlic Chili Oil
Heat ¼ cup of olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Once hot, add garlic and chili flakes, and gently cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the garlic is deeply aromatic. Remove from heat, stir in salt and sesame seeds, and transfer to a bowl. Let the chili oil cool completely while you prepare the rest of the salad.
Step 2: Slice the Cucumbers
Slice the cucumber(s) width-wise into 1-inch long coins Next, place each cucumber coin on one of the flat sides, and slice once horizontally and once vertically to create four spears. Transfer the cucumber to a medium bowl and toss with mint, vinegar, sugar, and salt.
Step 3: Prepare the Cucumber Salad
Spread yogurt in a bowl or on a serving platter. Next, scatter Asian cucumber salad overtop, and drizzle garlic chili oil overtop. To garnish, sprinkle extra sesame seeds or fresh mint leaves overtop.
FAQs and Expert Tips:
Is Cucumber Salad Healthy?
Cucumber salad is a light, flavorful, and nutritious option. Even though cucumbers have a high water content, they actually offer a nice hit of potassium and vitamin C. Sesame seeds also provide a slew of nutrients, such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and B vitamins.
And then, of course, we have Greek yogurt, which adds protein, probiotics, calcium, and vitamin D to the mix.
Can I Make Cucumber Salad in Advance?
You can prepare the cucumber mixture and chili oil up to 3 days ahead. However, I suggest waiting to assemble the salad until ready to serve. Just keep the cucumbers chilled and the chili oil covered at room temperature for best results.
What to Serve with Cucumber Salad:
Cucumber salad is highly versatile, and can be served with just about any protein. For example, grilled chicken or fish, burgers, or shrimp skewers. Alternatively, you can serve cucumber salad alongside a bowl of soup or a hot pressed sandwich.
More Fresh Cucumber Recipes
10 Minute Asian Cucumber Salad
Chopped Greek Pasta Salad
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Cucumber-Sesame Salad with Garlicky Chili Oil
- Small skillet
- Serving bowl or platter
- 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ tsp. kosher salt divided
- 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds plus more for garnish
- 1 lb. Persian or English cucumbers
- 2 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. fresh chopped mint leaves plus more for garnish
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 dash fish sauce (optional)
- 1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
- Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-low. Once hot, add garlic and chili flakes; cook 3 to 5 minutes, until garlic is golden and aromatic. Pour into a small bowl, stir in ¼ tsp. salt and sesame seeds. Let cool completely.
- Meanwhile, slice cucumber(s) width-wise into 1-inch long pieces. Place each piece on one of its flat sides, and slice once vertically and once horizontally, creating 4 spears. Place cucumbers in a bowl and add vinegar, mint, sugar, fish sauce (if using) and remaining ¼ tsp. salt; toss to combine.
- To assemble, spread yogurt on a platter or in a wide-rimmed bowl. Top with cucumber mixture, and drizzle garlic chili oil overtop. Garnish with additional fresh mint and sesame seeds, if desired.
This was INSANELY good! So crisp and refreshing! Paired with your miso-maple salmon (grilled on a cedar plank) and your Asian BBQ cauliflower for a knockout dinner. Thank you for another hit!
Delicious, and not overly spicy, as I had worried it would be. I served it with tofu lettuce wraps for me and grilled chicken satay with peanut sauce for the meat eaters. Definitely a lovely complement to any Asian inspired dish. Thanks for a great recipe!
Really delicious! Skipped the yogurt and served it with leftover Chinese, loved it!
Oh that sounds delish!! So glad you enjoyed it, Marit!
Light, delicious, and refreshing! We enjoyed it with grilled shrimp and it was a lovely compliment.
Great recipe. I used the smashed cucumber method and it turned out great. So easy and simple to make. It took me about 3 minutes start to finish plus the 15 minutes in the fridge. The salt released a decent amount of water from the cucumber during the fridge time and that, mixed with vinegar and seseme oil, made a nice, light and fresh dressing for the salad. I’ve had this dish in many places but this was one of my favorites so far – fresh makes everything better.
I'm so glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for taking the time to leave a note. Cheers!